Four weeks before a body building competition things start getting weird. The weeks prior to that are intense, no doubt, but mostly just dedicated to eating clean and lifting weights.
Four weeks out you have to start tanning.
Four weeks out you have to practice posing daily.
Four weeks out your diet changes and with each progressive week your carbs and calories get cut.
There are other things you have to do too, but I’ll save that for another day. Each week that counts down to the competition gets more intense because there are so many extra things thrown into your already busy schedule and with your diet growing more and more restrictive it is harder to concentrate, keep your energy up and maintain a sense of humor.
Then it’s the final day. You’ve been training for months and busting your ass and your time on stage lasts all of 30 seconds. You know after prejudging if you made it into the top five.
If this were Hollywood, I would have made it in the top 5 and walked home with a trophy. But it isn’t Hollywood, it’s Pflugerville, Texas and things are grittier here. I never even cared about winning until I lost. And then it hurt like hell.
Prejudging ends around lunchtime. Then you get a break for a few hours and have to come back for the 6pm show where they hand out trophies to other people. I noticed the backstage area was a lot less crowded at 6pm than at 7am.
I tried so hard to keep my emotions in check but lack of food, sleep and a trophy got the better of me and I began to cry in the hallway. That’s when I met Shannon.
My friend, Carla, introduced us and Shannon gave me a hug. And it wasn’t a fake “there, there” hug, it was a real one, the kind that actually makes you feel better.
“Why are you crying?” she asked me.
“I know I shouldn’t. It’s just that I worked so hard for nothing.”
Carla shook her head. “Lisa, it was your first show. You lost 50 lbs. in less than six months. Sometimes it takes a while to figure things out. Don’t give up.”
“And don’t do this for a stupid trophy,” said Shannon. “Don’t do this for the judges. Who cares what they think? Do it for yourself. When I had cancer I weighed 90 lbs and here I am today, doing fitness competitions! I do them for me. They keep me in shape and it makes me feel good. You just have to remember to do it for yourself.”
Thank you, Shannon Belanger, for putting things in perspective. You are an inspiration.
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