The annual First Call-Out NPC National Qualifier bodybuilding competition date is rapidly approaching - exactly 12 weeks out from today's date. Promoter Rich Alvarez contacted me to ask if I would be making an appearance in the show, initiating the conversation with the question "Stacey, are you staying on point?" While I did reply, I certainly danced around the main subject: are you staying on point?
Now, I'm sure Rich is seasoned enough with athletes to know that when that question is answered with a list of To-Do items, this assuredly means No, not staying on point. While my 'reasons' are certainly legitimate, if I truly wanted to be there bad enough, I would find a way. I'm currently reading the book Conversations with God (Neale Donald Walsh) and have been contemplating a statement contained therein: 'All human actions are motivated at their deepest level by one of two emotions - fear or love.' When it comes to this competition, I realize my commitment to this lifestyle may not have been for the long-term and as much as I would like to do it again, I am afraid.
Afraid that I will not be as good as last time. Afraid that my body will not rebound with training to once again be stage-ready and stage-worthy. Afraid that I will spend months of hard work in vain. I don't like this part of me that feels afraid. For so long, I have pictured myself as a warrior, ready to take up the sword and pierce the heart of any challenge set before me - no matter how frightened I may be, no matter how daunting the task. There have been times I may have drug my feet and cried countless tears of frustration as part of preparation for action, but I soldiered on. And at the very root of this fear is the fear of aging.
Yes, I've had several setbacks in training, from 2 long bouts with near-pneumonia and a couple of small injuries though the worst has been lack of sleep. In the last 3 weeks, I've had approximately 62 hours of sleep. I'd be thrilled to experience 7 hours of sweet ZZZZZZZ time per night and over 3 weeks, that would total 147 hours. Instead, I'm experiencing a deficit of 85 hours, or getting an average of 2.95 hours/night. NO JOKE. I am amazed that I am still strong in the gym and that I actually still go to the gym. AND cycle hard 3X/week. But my recovery is practically zilch and my motivation has been low. I DRAG myself to exercise these days. My skin is getting crepey at an alarmingly fast pace. I realize I am also being very hard on myself because my strength and level of fitness are still pretty darn stellar and I do most things right: stay properly hydrated, regular exercise, pretty decent diet (though hardly on The Training Table menu), try to keep stress low, laugh often. Still, without the proper rest, all of these things become more complicated.
This does not mean I feel defeated. From early on in my life, there has been one battle after another. I've come to understand that most have been in my own mind, as in 'It's only as hard as you choose to see it' as this too shall pass, and what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger. We all struggle with emotional reactions of our own design. Learning to not take personally quick insults or victimize ourselves with worst-case scenarios demands almost constant monitoring of the thought process and honing the ability to be rational and calm - in any situation. Ask yourself: If you were to speak your thoughts aloud throughout the day, would you be proud of them? Would they be virtuous, noble, brave, kind? Would they make you run like a champion or sit on the sidelines of life?
I'm not done yet. Soon I will start a homeopathic treatment with HGH and I have high hopes for success with it. I may still be able to make the First Call-Out. I will take the time daily to mind my mind, remembering the wisdom contained in Hebrews 12:1b: "And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." To run a race well, we must continually mind our mind. Why? Because renewed minds lead to transformed lives. Lives mentally prepared to run.
Three steps you can enlist to prepare for running wisely include:
1. Plan your strategy. For me, it's all about training time and letting nothing interfere with this. Also means surrounding myself with what builds me up - positive people, positive imagery, positive and motivational reading and quotes as well as posting them where I can see them often throughout the day. Eating well and staying hydrated and obviously, plenty of rest (currently my Achilles Heel).
2. Become mental. Not as in 'needs a straight-jacket' but A-game thinking. Eliminate the words "I can't". You may experience pain and sacrifice and it is fine and just to acknowledge them, but remember that you are not alone. Countless others are experiencing pain and sacrifice as well, and many have laid down their lives so that you could live yours in freedom - Jesus being Number One. Resist giving in to thoughts of the strength or courage you think you don't possess to accomplish the task when the going gets tough - and then even harder. You are never alone. The Power is there for you!
3. Become deliberate. Set goals and keep your eyes on what matters. Don't look to the left or right, at who's in front or behind you. Stay focused and true to yourself without comparison to others or circumstances. Remember that victorious champions are really no different than you and I; they are simply people who choose not to blame, negate, doubt or complain but instead seek truth and renew their minds, finding their lives transformed through this pursuit.
Prepare for battle! Step beyond the misfortune of days past and release limiting thoughts of self-doubt and fear. Mind your mind and it WILL become your greatest ally.