That One Time I Competed…

It has been almost four years since I stepped on stage at the Oklahoma City Grand Prix. WOW! Four Years?!?! That really seems like forever, plus one day ago. I had been wanting to be in a show for two years prior to making a commitment to compete in the GP. My friend who had been competing for several years gave me the best advice, “Just pick a show that you want to compete in, and do it.” I feel as if he made it sound easier than it really was, but that’s exactly what I ended up doing.

I legitimately had no idea what I was doing, so I ended up hiring a coach, who guided me through the nutrition and cardio aspects of prepping. I hired a second coach to teach me how to pose, which was honestly my favorite part of prep.

After two months of preparing for my first show, I finally woke up with abs, I am pretty sure that I started laughing because I was so excited. FINALLY, my hours and hours of cardio, and planned meals were starting to pay off.

My goal was to place top 5. I placed 5th.

That night, I drove back to my apartment in Tulsa, my roommate/best friend surprised me with chocolate covered strawberries, peanut butter pop tarts, champagne, and all sorts of candy. I basically ate it all. The next day I had a beer, mimosa, garlic knots, pizza, Asian food and my favorite peppermint brownie sundae…I threw up I was so miserably full.

I LOVED competing, it was exhilarating, fun, and gave me structure. But unfortunately, I ended up struggling with binge eating for years, YEARS after my show. I kept trying to prep for another show, and I just could not mentally handle the strict diet. My binge eating was starting to get to the point where I felt so much shame and guilt for eating that many excess calories. (Sometimes I would go to the grocery store just to get a roll of cookie dough. I didn’t even wait until I was home to open the cookie dough!!!!)

The rebound of competing in a show, combined with the inability to eat normally, caused me to gain an excessive amount of weight (relatively speaking). The real truth of it all for me is that I have been trying to get back down to a healthier body composition since the completion of my first show. Four years later, I don’t have “binge sessions” anymore, which has greatly helped me with achieve a better state of mind. Don’t let that fool you though, I still have my moments where I don’t feel confident, skinny enough, or fit enough.

Everyone struggles with their own internal battles and insecurities, because we all have egos (some are bigger than others). It might not always be physical insecurities that an ego latches onto, for some it could be status (i.e. fancy belongings that give other people the notion that you have money and come from status and power), or wealth. Our egos feed off of competition and suck us into a dark hole of negativity. Once you start down that ugly path, it feels even harder to get out of your “funk.”

Moral of the story, no matter where you are in your lifelong fitness journey, there will be fluctuations, and you must remember that your self-talk is more important to your well-being than you might realize. Yes, it is so important to put all of the best foods into your body and exercise daily, but it is so vital to feed your soul with positivity and love.

I am going to say it again, everyone struggles with their own internal battles and insecurities, but don’t forget to be kind to yourself. My body doesn’t look anything like these pictures posted above and below. But I have to remind myself constantly that our bodies are incredible, and no matter what you look like on the outside, your internal workings are always striving to keep you as healthy and happy as it can, in my opinion this is amazing.

You are your worst critic, so focus on putting great food into your body, staying active, and being positive! You got this!

People STILL ask me if I plan on ever competing again..the answer is that I don’t know! 🙂

Paige Bradshaw



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