I moved to Texas from the east coast and wondered what would I do with my free time, as I did not know anyone in town. I visited the Life Time Fitness center in Garland, Texas. My first impression was, My goodness, this place looks like a country club. I decided right then and there to become a member. My goal was to get in shape, so I started by taking a yoga class. You know, work myself up to the other stuff, like the treadmill and bike. I was never big into working out. For me, sweating was not something I could see myself doing, let alone enjoying. The only time I wanted to sweat was when I was lying on the beach and could cool myself off by taking a dip in the ocean.
While in a yoga class I met the most amazing woman. I took one look at her and thought, Wow, I wish I could look like that. Her name is Toni Smith Snow. Little did I know that this woman would change my life forever. She introduced herself and explained that she was a personal trainer. I had lots of free time, so I decided to train with her. It wasn’t easy at first. I had never lifted weights or even thought of strength training. I couldn’t lift dumb bells weighing 5 lbs— that’s a bag of sugar for crying out loud! Yep, I was officially a wimp. There I was at the gym struggling with weighs and barbells, sweating like I was in a sauna. Gross, so I thought.
There was no way I could envision myself getting excited about lifting. This was particularly true when Toni would schedule me for leg workouts. On days when she would workout my legs I thought to myself, Why am I doing this? Is it supposed to hurt this much? Do I really want to pay to be tortured? So I trained on and off for a while. I wasn’t seeing the progress I thought I would see but then again I wasn’t fully committed to the training. I also continued to eat like I always did as I considered myself to be a healthy eater.
Like most women I was obsessed with my weight. Toni suggested I meet with the on-site nutritionist. That’s when I realized that while I was eating healthy for the most part, I was not eating a well-balanced diet (not enough protein too many carbs). I also learned that I did not eat enough. Come on, you know you are all guilty of this. How many times during the week do you skip breakfast, then hit the salad bar for lunch? You would think that eating would actually make you gain weight. At least that’s what I thought. It actually turns out I was not eating enough protein. She wanted me to eat more! Are you kidding me! I’m trying to lose weight here. Turns out they were right. Once again my trainer and the nutritionist knew best.
This January Toni asked me again what my goal was. I recited my usually line: lose weight and get in shape, but now I also wanted some muscle. Toni looked right at me and said, “Evy, everybody wants to lose weigh and get in shape. You said that last year.” She wanted me to train for a bigger purpose, a goal to become an athlete. She told me that she would help me reach my goals but I needed to be more serious about my training. I had to take an active role in my own development. Hum, where had I heard that before? I knew in my heart that it was up to me, that in the end only I can make it happen.
So in June, right after my birthday I decided to get serious about weight training. I wasn’t getting any younger and I really wanted to do something different in my life. It was time for me to step out of my comfort zone and tackle a new challenge. By the end of the summer, I was amazed at how much progress I had made and decided to step it up another notch. My trainer is an avid figure fitness competitor. I could not help but wonder what it must feel like to compete. Toni and I agreed that we would train me to compete in a bodybuilding competition. I know, that’s what I thought as well. Me bodybuilding? Really? Yes, really.
I remember putting on my posing outfit (which by the way is smaller than my bikini) and six-inch high heels. As I stared at myself in the mirror I thought, Is this really me? Who is this woman staring back at me? I couldn’t recognize myself. Not only did I look different, I felt different. So there I was, a figure fitness competitor at the Texas State Natural Bodybuilding Competition. As I stood up on the stage many thoughts raced thru my head including, Wow, this is a long cry from yoga. Talk about stepping out of the box! No turning back now, you’re on stage, so go for it. Never even my wildest dreams would I have thought that I, Evy, who did not even like to workout, would be competing. Just goes to show that you never know what you are capable of if you don’t try.
I am very proud to let everyone know that this past November not only did I compete in the Texas State Natural Bodybuilding Competition, but I won. Yes, I won. I have not stopped feeling a total sense accomplishment and unbelievable joy. A part of me still does not believe what happened. For the next two months I occasionally caught myself wondering if I could do it again. So as part of my New Year’s resolution, I decided that I would enter into another competition. Like they say in the lottery, “you never know.”
My goal was to compete in the Ronnie Coleman Classic on March 31, 2012. This is the largest competition in the state of Texas with over 400 competitors. I knew the competition would be tough and that I would have to train harder than ever. To stay motivated I posted photos of myself from the last competition everywhere, including in the food pantry and on the refrigerator door. I did everything my trainer asked. I also enlisted my husband to run track with me and asked him to push me everyday. I’ll be honest with you: There were days when I just did not want to get up but my husband would roll over and say, “The others girls who are competing against you are at the gym training.” That would bring a smile to my face and get me up.
When I arrived at the event and looked around at the other competitors, it gave me such a rush of adrenaline. There were so many figure fitness competitors that we were lined up on stage, two rows deep. When the announcer began to call out the names of the top five competitors I held my breath, and then it happened. My name was called out as one of the top five. The smile on my face said it all. I won third place. I had proven to myself that I am now an athlete, a figure fitness competitor.
Just goes to prove that if you work hard at what you want, you can achieve your goal. I set the goal, believed I could achieve it, monitored my progress and diligently applied myself everyday. I will never be able to thank my trainer for her support and constant encouragement. The best way I can thank her is to continue to train hard as I believe that my success is also a reflection of her commitment to me.
My trainer had inspired me and now I want to pay it forward by inspiring others. Not to become a figure fitness competitor, but to show by example that you should never give up on your dreams, whatever they may be. Whether you want to lose weight, go back to school, start a business, anything. Just go back to that place in your mind when you were a child and had dreams. Dreams you put away because life got too busy and you thought it was too late now. It’s never too late. Don’t live your life with should haves and could haves. Live your life with no regret. You’ll never know if you could have achieved your dream if you never tried.
So do I now enjoy working out? Absolutely! No rocking chair for this old lady, only a rock hard body!