Name: Karin Caldwell
Location: Buffalo, NY
Why I decided to transform
I have to admit that it was a long time before I finally committed to a more structure eating plan. Going out to eat, happy hours with friends, outdoor concerts and festivals, and so on were all things I took part in regularly and enjoyed. Still, the thought of competing and getting on stage lingered in my mind for years. In January 2013, I finally felt "close enough" to my ideal physique.
I had been working with a trainer for the past two years, doing more CrossFit-style workouts. I told him about my desire to compete. At that point, workouts completely changed to strictly weight training, kickstarting my journey toward the stage's spotlight.
I didn't think I had it in me to commit to such a strict diet, but I told as many friends and co-workers that would listen about my goal. This helped keep me accountable. After all, there's no way I could broadcast to the world my plans and not follow through (how embarrassing would that be?!). Some friends couldn't understand why I would impose a strict diet regimen on myself, as if I were putting life and "fun stuff" on hold. Others (such as my best friend) were very supportive, and together we'd eat lunch and "snacks" whenever it was time for a meal.
My mother didn't get it (and still doesn't), but at the end of the day everyone is so proud of me! Co-workers commented daily on my eating habits and applauded my commitment and willpower. (They also got sick of the fishy smell that pervaded the office whenever I baked fish in the toaster oven.)
The strict eating, getting all the training in, and pushing through despite negative mumblings around the office - these all made me realize my full capabilities. If I set a goal, I will get it!
How I accomplished my goals
"You're a no-excuses person now! You found a way to get it done," my trainer said to me one day. I realized he was exactly right. As I look back on my preparation leading up to competition, I choke back a few tears of my accomplishments. I'm a single mom with a full-time, traveling sales job. There were many times when I ate cold haddock (and cold chicken, too!) in my car between appointments.
Looking back, I chuckle because it wasn't the most fun nor appetizing, but I was not going to make any compromises to my diet and carefully calculated macros. As for training, I started my day off with an early morning cardio session and bookended my work day with strength training.
One of the most helpful things for keeping me motivated was taking weekly progress pics to track my progress. Never once did I allow myself to think about quitting—just kept moving forward. I pre-empted my thoughts of quitting by registering for the show early, ordering my competition suit early, paying for shoes, and going to posing classes. That way, if I ever got cold feet, I'd think about all the time, money, and "done deals" that had already happened by this point and get right back on track!
What aspect challenged me the most
The diet was (and has always been) the most challenging. The workouts are the easy part! I love the feeling that follows a kick-ass workout, but there's little satisfaction in eating boiled, unsalted chicken breast and some green beans (no offense to those who enjoy it).
The rigid structure around it all presented a new challenge for me. Every day was the same: Meals at the same time and training at the same time. I was up by 6 A.M. for cardio, in the shower by 7 A.M., got kids on bus by 8:30 A.M., got to work by 9 A.M., hit the gym by 4:30 P.M., picked up the kiddo by 6 P.M., put together dinner and prepped our meals by 7:30 P.M., and did everything else before bed by 10 P.M. Every day ran like clockwork, with basically no time for anything else.
My future fitness plans
Currently, I am in off-season training. I'm working on building my deltoids, back, hams and glutes. I have my eyes set on competing in the NPC competition this June.
Suggestions for aspiring transformers
The diet is the most important aspect of training. Don't kid yourself about "eating healthy" packaged snacks or quick foods. Oatmeal from McDonald's or Tim Horton's for breakfast are not the answer.
Stay away from sugar and GMOs.
Learn as much as you can about macro and micronutrients as you can.
Eat clean 90 percent of the time. I never kept processed foods in the house.
Keep fresh vegetables on hand.
Have a cheat meal once a week.
Have patience; things don't happen overnight! Stay the course and eventually, you'll see the changes. You know all those clich?s you read about change and fitness transformations? There's quite a bit of truth to them!
Set smaller, mid-range goals.
Positive attitude! Know that you can do whatever you set your mind to accomplish. If you think you can't do it, you're right.
You make time for what is important to you, what you're passionate about. I don't find the time, I make the time.
Of course, your goals may change due to life or whatever other circumstances, but that's okay because you're learning and improving. Kudos to everyone trying to transform. Stick it out, and the results will come.
Once you reach your goal, you will only set new ones. The whole experience is so enriching because you learn so much about yourself and what you may discover may surprise you.
I remember looking at competitors, looking at their social media posts, and never understanding why they wanted to improve despite their already great bodies (in my previous "untrained" eyes, anyway). Now I understand their mentality. You never stop learning or improving.
How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals
BodySpace on Bodybuilding.com has so many supportive members. It's such an awesome feeling to get comments and "likes" from other like-minded members.
The information on nutrition and training are invaluable as well. I absorbed as much as I could, using my slow-paced 60-minute treadmill sessions to catch up on reading. I ended up inspiring others, too—what a great feeling! To know that others might look up to you is the reward in itself.
Karin's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Chrome" by Trace Adkins
- "Downtown" by Lady Antebellum
- "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
- "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line
- "You Look Good In My Shirt" by Keith Urban