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Why Bodybuilding?

In March of 2016, my unfinished dream of competing in the 2016 CrossFit Games was stripped away from me (see previous blog: Why I Did It) and I was forced to find a new aspiration. It felt like I was inches away from the finish line of the world’s longest marathon, when suddenly the race gets called off and rescheduled for another day. All that preparation, all those hours of training in and out of the gym, were put to a screeching halt with no setting to apply it.

Following my suspension, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Training for the Games was literally all I knew- I had spent thousands of hours perfecting my craft and was perplexed on how to capitalize on it. I was such a great athlete but now nobody wanted anything to do with me because of what I did. I was embarrassed, scared, confused, and ashamed. In the beginning, I continued life as usual, as if it had never happened- I got up at the break of dawn, started training at 5am, coached my classes, then trained some more. I figured that if I couldn’t compete at CrossFit-sanctioned events then I was gonna compete at local events instead. But that plan didn’t last long either.

I had emailed several competition coordinators, asking them for permission to compete at their event. Some didn’t reply back to me at all, others said “no”, and only one said ok contingent on the fact that I’d have to forfeit all prize money and awards if I won. It was yet another slap in the face, but I swallowed my pride because I knew I deserved it. I understood and respected their reasoning for not allowing me to compete, and was fortunate that one event actually said yes. It was my saving grace because it gave me something to keep my mind focused on for the next month or so. However, that local competition didn’t turn out to be so great, and ultimately led to my decision to switch sports.

I knew going into this local competition in May 2016 that I had to forfeit the prize money and I was totally okay with that; I honestly just wanted to play with everyone else like a normal athlete. However, it quickly became apparent that I was no longer a “normal” athlete. I wasn’t treated the same as everyone else and it hurt. My name wasn’t on the Athlete list, I didn’t get a “goody bag” during check-in, I didn’t get any MC attention even when I won the events, and I didn’t even receive a score for any of the workouts. I knew I was going to “stand out” but I didn’t think I was going to be that disrespected, especially by the staff and coordinators running the event. It just felt like I wasn’t wanted there and it stung pretty bad. I wish I knew beforehand that was the way I was going to be treated otherwise I wouldn’t have paid the $100+ registration fee, made the 4-hour drive and 2-day accommodations. Going into the final event, I just had enough- I decided that if this is the way I was going to get treated then I never wanted to compete again.

I pulled out of the competition (not like anyone cared or noticed), through in the towel and started to think about what was next for me in my life. I knew I still wanted to compete in something because thats what I’ve alway been good at, being an athlete. Although the journey is tough, in retrospect, I enjoy the challenge, the peaks and valleys, the pain and the discipline required to be great at something; very few people have the mental strength to endure the athlete journey, and I’ve always taken pride in being part of that small group that has what it takes. So I made a list of different sports that I could pursue and do relatively well at. The list included about 10 different sports, ranging from snowboarding to MMA. I was looking for something that I thought I could excel at and something that I could use all the strength and performance I had built up from CrossFit. I eventually narrowed it down to motocross, olympic lifting and bodybuilding. Motocross was the first to get crossed off because there was no career path as a female, and my skills were further behind the pack than I had thought. Olympic lifting was crossed off next; it would’ve suited me well because the sport scores you on your strength relative to your bodyweight, something that I’ve excelled at. Although olympic lifting is a challenging sport in its own way, I just didn’t think I would enjoy the monotonous training side of it. I wanted training that would make me sweat, breathe hard and question my ability to persevere. Even though I knew absolutely nothing about bodybuilding, it seemed to offer many of the elements I was looking for- strength training, cardio, and discipline. Although it consisted of several aspects I enjoyed, it had just as many that I was not particularly fond of, including: stage presence, subjective results, and an unhealthy relationship with food and body image that I was not yet made aware of.

Despite the negative particulars, I was up for the challenge and decided to compete in a physique show in October of 2016. I had absolutely no idea what to to expect; all I could be certain on was that I willing to out-train the rest of the competition and I used that to my advantage. My goal was to look so damn good on stage that it didn’t matter what kind of suit I was wearing, how good my posing was, or what color my hair and make up was. I can happily say that I achieved that goal to a “T”. I had borrowed a boring black suit from a friend, did my own hair and makeup (which is similar to a child doing it), and my posing was atrocious, but I was in such good conditioning that I left no room for questioning and ended up winning both my class and the overall. The pain and suffering I endured to get to that level of physique is a blog of its own, but lets just say I had never stressed my body to that degree ever before; it was the most emotional challenging experience I had ever faced.

I was content with my winnings but I wasn’t satisfied. I wasn’t cocky but I was confident that nobody would be able to outwork me. If I really wanted to be tested, I had to step it up to the national and pro level, so that is what I set out to do. Winning the Regional show qualified me to compete in a National show, so I’m currently planning on doing the USA Nationals in Chicago, IL on June 16-17, 2017. The top 2 winners from that show receive a pro card and the ability to compete in a pro show for the chance to quality for the Olympia. Those of you that know me know that I believe in setting high expectations, so qualifying for the 2017 Olympia is the goal and I whole-heartedly believe I can do it. Within this next level of competition, however, I can no longer rely on my conditioning to carry me through; I will be standing on stage with girls that look just as good if not better than me, and will need to utilize every tool at my disposal. I can guarantee you that I will be ready and I will own that stage as if I was a seasoned competitor. You can follow my journey through my social media and YouTube channel, as I will be documenting the ride along the way.

Comments 3

  1. Hey Natalie. I was sorry to read this. What strikes me here is the hypocrisy of the CF community and especially your experience with local competitions and them basically treating you like shit.

    We all know many of the CF elite are on PED’s of some kind, they just haven’t been caught.

    Anyway, I applaud you for keeping on and walking to your own beat. Good for you.

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      Author

      Thank you Clinton! Ya thats why i just had to walk away, couldn’t take it anymore. We’ll see if returning to cf is in my future…

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