Everyone has one. Now, this may already be causing several ideas to go through your mind because of course, you recognize that this could be one of many things. And in recognizing this, it should also remind us that we are so much more alike than we often treat each other. Living on the edge of THE 305, perhaps I have a bit of a jaded attitude, but then that should just be noted under Survival Skills for the savvy urbanista.
So, that thing everyone has that I was referring to...a story!
There's a moment you are sitting in, taking it all in, in an ephemeral state of enlightenment and you want to somehow bottle the space and search it for all it contains. No letting the contents escape or dissipate. Able to scrutinize or just float in it. It calls, it burns your soul, it trembles in the corners of the depths of the most cavernous recesses of the labyrinthic mazes comprising your essence...'
Blah, blah, blah...hu? What's happening here? No, not that kind of story! Okay, in all seriousness, getting to where I am hasn't been all fun and games. I've had weight issues ever since I was in my early 30's. Not officially obese though at one point, I did put on an extra 32 lbs. I know some of you may be thinking 'That's not so much' or maybe 'Yikes! Smack her ass and call her a bus!' but remember: this is the judgment-free zone so put your brain on idle, LOL! The journey to this place right here, where I WANT to share my struggle to find and become my biggest champion, where I am ready and willing to expose it all, has not been a short or easy one. I do however, want to keep it brief and entertaining as the past is not so important, only in that it propels us to the present and potentially, with an inner compass that is growing stronger and pointing us ever closer to our true North. And though the past has been the best teacher, the present is the professor we wish to engage.
I was in that place I mentioned earlier, the one beckoning me to slow down a bit and reevaluate my fitness routine and most importantly, what I legitimately thought I could expect from it in my current condition.* I was discussing it with a very dear friend and the response I got was 'You can accomplish whatever you set your mind to.' Pretty original, hu? What an amazing, mind-blowingly deep thought... Yes, I know! Nothing at all new! But-you know how sometimes in life the right words come at the right time and all of a sudden you hear them? Well, that was my time. I even marked the day and as of today, it was only 77 days ago (today is 12/30/15). I was inspired on many levels by that simple statement 'You can accomplish whatever you set your mind to' and most notably, by my first reaction to hearing that statement, which I realized was tending towards the camp of "Reasons Why That Will Never Happen At My Age". How did that inspire me?! Well, fortunately, the Tides of Change whispered "Champion, seek the Champion Stacey" at that very moment! I swear to you, this is an absolutely true story. I thought of the journey of a gazillion miles that starts with just one step. I thought of Rocky racing up the stairs with his theme song pounding in the background. I thought of Luke, considering Vader as the newly-found genetic missing link, causing him to dare the perils of Dagobah just to get a little one-on-one time with Jedi Master Yoda...Okay, maybe not so much Luke because let's face it - once the mask and voice-box are removed, Vader is just Vader and not so Darthy after all. But I digress.
*Current condition henceforth refers to being menopausal, mid-fifty and pissed off about every bit of it.
So I says - Self! I want to see what I can accomplish when I set my mind to it! If not now, then when? Truly - WHEN? What would I be waiting for? To get yet another year older? A bit lazier? Me thinks not! I decided to set a champion-worthy goal and chose entering into a Grand Masters division of Natural Bodybuilding (GM division is 50 - 59 years). No steroids, no drugs, not the size of IFBB contenders (thank goodness - no offense, my IFBB sisters), same poses required with a few slight deviations from Olympia contests (again, thank goodness), and most important - all natural. Bad news is I have a job that prevents me from entering a competition for the time frame that I have set for myself (10 weeks out, 3/16/16) but as this started to feel like a 'reason' for me not to become the best I could be, I decided I would pretend that I intend to enter a competition. Besides, it would be a great dry-run for a real competition and I could see if there might be an actual chance for me. Or, maybe it will just end with the symmetrical perfection I fantasize of creating instead petitioning more of a 'Dear God, what is that freakish thingy on her, her...wow, can you even tell what that is?!' response. Only one way to find out...
I started searching the internet for examples of other women my age who are already champions. Wanting to find motivation for myself, I didn't realize what a challenge this would be. I found plenty of video footage from Olympia bodybuilding contests but only a very small amount through the natural bodybuilding sites. A source that is aimed directly at the 50+ woman - it just wasn't there! It was as if we've reached a time in our lives when nothing really grand is expected of us anymore - we are done being mothers (as in, no more births), the children are away from home, our careers have usually peaked and we are working towards retirement. There is a huge need for women to lead the way for other women-in terms of fitness in particular, and so I am going to share my personal journey with you.
The opening photos are here just to give some very brief history. At 34 years old, I got hit by a car and was left with a permanent back injury. After a year of physical therapy 3X a week and no relief from pain, I was feeling miserable and with a 32 lb. weight increase to go along with it, I felt pretty lost. I found out about a method of training called SuperSlow, adopted it, became a certified trainer and began my own SuperSlow training business. These are my initial Before and After photos at age 36:
I had already lost about 12 lbs. when this was taken. Just to be fair, the rear view will get equal exposure:
After 60 days, the next set of photos were taken. Now, a 60-day transformation is nothing new but the method for me getting there was a very strange concept. I trained with weights twice a week only (so you're seeing the results of 16 workouts: 2 months=8 weeks x 2 sessions/week) using very specific speed and form which created an intensity I had never experienced. We can talk about the training method in another forum - for now, let's just focus on results:
Why, yes - I think that is a sly little smile on my face! While a proper 'After' photo should be done in the very same place as the 'Before', wearing the same clothes and in the same position etc., I was feeling a bit like a show pony after having lived as a Clydesdale for so long and couldn't resist a little hard-earned strut on the beach, LOL...and of course, equal time for the rear exposure:
I went on to operate a very successful personal training business, helped along by TV, newspaper and radio appearances, a writing gig with Natural Muscle Magazine, lots of public speaking on fitness and by having some good connections. This led to doing another makeover program under Ellington Darden, Ph.D. along with being featured in his book on this transformational approach titled 'A Flat Stomach, A.S.A.P':
Dang, that was a hard exercise! Wow, was I ever in my groove - fitness was my passion, my business was a tremendous success and I got to meet my idol Cory Everson! Life was good!
So how does an essential fitness guru become a fitness flop? In the interest of keeping it brief - this is where you insert 20 years of 'My Story' (from 'Everybody's got one...' referred to above). One day I woke up and felt that I'd been left with a physique that seemed to be more of an antagonist than a well-known friend. Something akin to a rebel presence trying to ensnare me in a web of listless shenanigans. I didn't feel good, I'm not proud of how I let myself go but I CAN change this. A little humility is good for the soul but I think I've been eating humble pie for a bit too long now.
The contest I am entering is my own. I hope to be inspired enough with my results over the next 10 weeks that my next goal will be to actually enter one. For now, I am hoping that you will be motivated enough to join me. Having someone there to share the challenges along the road to success makes positive results much more likely! And with that in mind, please bear with me as I reveal what I am working with and know how hard this was for me to get into this outfit and in front of a camera. Oh, and very bright lights.
I look at this photo and I almost don't know where to start. I felt so incredibly self-conscious in front of the camera, realized that I don't have a clue about posing, felt ridiculous trying to pose, and couldn't stop thinking how I must have looked 77 days ago, when I first decided to put my mind to becoming a champion. I should have done pictures then but I hadn't thought about doing this blog then and what a relief for you that must be! I did weigh in on 1/1/2016, something I HATE to do because it doesn't really mean anything (to be discussed later) and I will give my ending weight but I won't be posting my weight on a regular basis. While my goal includes losing body fat, I don't want to lose muscle size and wouldn't mind putting on just a little more size in a few places. I am 5' 7", weigh 152 lbs., and here are my beginning measurements:
Chest: 35 3/4", Abs (taken directly over the navel): 29 1/2", Right Arm (over largest part of bicep): 11 1/4", Left Arm: 11 1/4", Left Thigh (at largest part of thigh): 21 1/4", Right Thigh: 21 1/2", Left Calf (at largest part of upper calf): 13 1/2", Right Calf: 13 5/8", Hips: 36 1/4"
And now from the front, and oh my goodness, trying so hard not to let critical things come out of my mouth! There's that menopausal physique I've been griping about! I need sooooo much help on my thighs, abs and triceps - my trifecta of misery. And I'm re-thinking that comment I let slip a moment ago. I think I would like to lose some size - those thighs are scaring me!