Why Do I Compete?

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For years I have told people that I’ll do most anything for a T-shirt or a trophy. That certainly was true when I did the Moms Rock 5K run or the Spartan Race or the (four times) I’ve done the Polar Bear Plunge. But when it comes to bodybuilding it is much more than that. On almost every year I struggle to lose 25 – 30 pounds so I can get judged alongside 20-year-olds. And I don’t keep going because I have deluded myself that I am competitive alongside 20-year-olds. I know quite well where my body sags and what my body lacks. And the “T-shirt or a trophy” explanation doesn’t hold very well either. Many experienced bodybuilders have told me that your best competition is yourself: the “you” of this year compared to the “you” in past years. And I think that hits it on the nail. I do competitions for myself – against myself - and no one else.

I come from an athletic lineage. My father was twice a runner in the Olympics and my brother was captain of the swim team in high school. I, on the other hand, was the nerdy little sister with Coke bottle glasses. I was not exactly known for my athleticism. But some time in my 20's I stumbled on women’s bodybuilding and it stuck. I wanted to emulate early female bodybuilders like Rachel McLish and Cory Everson. I loved the strain and sweat of lifting and the changes that are created with iron. I also liked being different from what I appeared to be. I liked the juxtaposition of a nerd with muscles. And at this age I like the contrast of grey hair on an athletic body.

I am not perfect when I step on stage. I often cringe when I see pictures of myself in past competitions. But I think that’s okay. Perfection is not the goal. The best “me” possible is the goal. Whatever that “best” might be. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s enough.