I was one of those kids who was never good at sports. I couldn't run very fast, throw hard, or jump high. I was never part of a team, preferring to read or just ride my bike. My first introduction to exercise was in my early 20s when I started jogging because I had a friend who jogged. As I started to become fitter my interests expanded to include swimming, and then by chance, I found my way to the weight room.
I found that weightlifting was a sport I was actually pretty good at. I started following a program written by Dr. Lynne Pirie in her groundbreaking book "Getting Built." I still have my original copy!
Medical school followed, then residency. My fitness program went on the back burner as work and family demanded more of my time. By the time I started practice I really had no fitness program to speak of, though there were times I would work out for a few months. Weight gain was inevitable. I weighed in the 110s in my teens, 120s in my 20s and so on. By the time I reached my 50th birthday I was nearing the 150s, well over my ideal weight. Buying my first pair of jeans in a "Women's" size woke me up! I wasn't going to just give in.
In February 2010, I began to alter my diet. Looking back at what I was eating then, it is a wonder I didn't weigh more. I stopped eating many extra calories that weren't really food. It wasn't a rapid process. Every week or two we weeded out foods that we would choose not to eat and replace those with healthier choices.
I returned to the gym. I always had a membership, but had never really used it. I started out on the elliptical, but made little progress. Then I remembered how good it felt to lift weights and I was back in the weight room before I knew it. As I lifted more and more regularly I felt better and better.
I worked my way through "The New Rules of Lifting for Women" and "The Female Body Breakthrough." One of my husband's friends asked him how long I had been a bodybuilder. I hadn't really considered it before, but I liked the idea. I looked at the women on the covers of fitness magazines and thought "Yeah, I can develop muscles like hers!
In December of 2011, I was contacted by a trainer through Facebook who helped me start my journey of proper diet and exercise toward my first figure competition. I started training in earnest in January 2012.
After six months of training and diet, I entered my first competition, the Tulsa Naturals. As a health professional, I felt it was important to compete in an event that was 100 percent tested using a polygraph. I was shocked to win not only the beginner, novice, and over 40 categories, but also the open competition! What a thrill! I can't wait to compete again!
I have been privileged to meet so many wonderful people in the sport of bodybuilding. I have encountered people who have an uncommon dedication and commitment, but who also have full and satisfying professional and personal lives. Bodybuilding is a sport with room for athletes of all ages and abilities. You really compete against yourself, so there is nothing to do but improve. I hope I can be an inspiration to my friends, acquaintances and patients so that each of them can find their inner athlete.
I tell my patients that we should all live life as though we were going to reach 100. The aim of the game is to stay as able and as independent as possible as long as we can. Life will throw us curves, but we still have to do our best to take care of our health and improve our fitness. Bodybuilding is good for building great muscles, strong bones and an iron will. We need all of those to get through the stresses of daily life.
I can now say I am fitter than I ever was as a teen or young woman. It is never too late to get better at life! I am motivated to improve as long as I am physically able.
When I started my fitness journey, my husband started his. He has lost over 100 pounds and reversed his heart disease. Whenever I feel like I can't get into the gym I remind myself that he relies on me to keep us both motivated. I also go to the example set by my trainer, Jamie Keen (IFPA Figure Pro), who has been a tremendous positive force in my life, never letting me slack off. Even though most of our contact has been online, I ask myself what she would think if I took the day off.
I have started training for this November when I will compete in a Pro Qualifier in Council Bluffs, IA. After that, I plan to continue competing as long as I am physically capable.
Pay attention to technique and posture! I have seen so many people come out guns blazing only to injure themselves and have to take an extended time out. Technique and muscle visualization are so much more important than the amount of weight one lifts!
Also, don't forget the importance of recovery and flexibility training to round out your program.
I so admire Adela Garcia. At 40 she just gets better and better! She is a master's level competitor who has the ideal combination of beauty, strength, proportion and symmetry.
I have had so much help from Bodybuilding.com. I use the exercise library and the mobile app to look up exercises so I get my technique correct. The videos are a great help and are beautifully detailed. I have used the workout programs on the website when I want to change things up. There are so many it is difficult to choose! I use the printable workout logs to keep track of my lifting progress and they are very convenient to customize and print.
I buy supplements which are delivered right to my door. Since I live in a rural area this is a great service and saves me time driving to the nearest large center more than 100 miles away. I look forward to trying the new line of supplements being launched by Bodybuilding.com!
I have met other competitors on BodySpace and they have given me lots of encouragement and support as I have worked through my training. I have been able to post progress pictures there and the feedback I have received has been very helpful!
Photo Credit: High Ten Photography
Thanks To: Fred and Jan Rowlett of Laser Sharp Fitness in Kansas City and the NANBF who organized the Tulsa show.