To The Aspiring Bikini Competitor

To The Aspiring Bikini Competitor

An open letter to all future bikini athletes.
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Being a bikini competitor is almost the new norm for anyone who wants to take their fitness dedication to the next level. On local and national stages, their divisions are taking over -- sometimes with 30 to 45 girls in each 6 height classes. Almost everyone is either a competitor, training to become one, or contemplating giving it a shot. What people don’t realize is that preparing for a bodybuilding show is tough. It's serious business and the last word I would use to describe it is "easy." It is, without a doubt, one of the most challenging things I have ever mentally, emotionally and physically done, but after competing in five shows myself, I can confidently assure you it's equally one of the most rewarding. It's worth it. It really is. But before you get excited about the sparkling swimsuits, high heels, tan skin, and hot bod you're about to have, take a listen. You need to read this first.

Before you decide to take the plunge, you need to objectively and realistically evaluate why you want to compete.

I highly recommend not competing if you simply want to “look good” and be “skinny.” Because contrary to popular belief, that “hot” body is yours for approximately one day. Months of dieting, weight lifting, and double cardio sessions just to look your best for one day. I'm not kidding -- one day. Before you know it, the show will be over, you’ll enjoy a few post-show cheat meals and those chiseled abs and bicep veins will disappear. The body you have on show day is not maintainable, so don't expect it to stick around. It won't.

You have to come into this world (yes, the bodybuilding community is something of itself) with more of a purpose -- or else you’re going to find excuse after excuse to give up and give in to your cravings and exhaustion when your show is over. Your body will be changing, and your muscle-defining tan fades to a blotchy, reptile-like appearance, and your perfect show day makeup is wiped off. Plummeting self-image, body dysmorphia, binge eating disorder tendencies, and post-show depression are common once you survive your first season of competing and transition into your off-season. These things are real and more athletes suffer from them than you'd think.

To compete, you should be sound with yourself and everything you are and aren't. You have to be accepting and loving of your body in all stages and forms. Your worth is not equivalent to your physique. You are more than just your degree of leanness or a plastic trophy. If you haven’t found acceptance and self-love, I recommend continuing to train, building muscle, and working on yourself. It's not your time. The stage isn't going anywhere.

So when you think you’re ready to compete, be real with yourself. Are you ready? Are you actually ready for this rollercoaster? Are you ready for the mental and emotional battles you’re about to face? The selfishness it requires? The self-control you’ll be forced to develop? The pressure you’ll put on yourself to succeed? Are you ready for the constant second-guessing? The doubt? Are you ready to commit your time and energy for months on end for one day? For 30 seconds on a stage? To be judged solely on your appearance? Are you ready to climb mountains and dig ditches to better yourself on every level?

Think about your “why.” Find it. Search for it, and make sure it’s good. Decide if competing is right for you for where you are in your life. It’s not for everyone. But when you decide to take that leap of faith, make it through your first bodybuilding prep to the stage, and feel the hot lights beaming down on you, you’ll understand why your “why” matters so much. Competing changed my life, and it can change yours. But know that once you start, you probably can't stop. Thankfully, you won't want to.

Cover Image Credit: Chris Benjamin Photography

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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An Incurable Disease Doesn't Change The Love I Have For You

Because one day the one you love the most is fine and the next day they're not, it causes devastation you never truly recover from.

nadoty
nadoty
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Loving someone with an incurable disease is the most emotionally straining thing I have ever experienced.

My significant other and I have been together for almost six years. During the summer of 2018, we all noticed the significant changes he was going through. He had lost around fifty pounds and had a lack of appetite. We had figured something was going on, however, we didn't realize it was anything serious.

Fast forward to the Fall semester of 2018. I had visited my boyfriend and we had expressed certain concerns, such as, through the night I would try and get him to stop uncontrollably itching his legs to the point of bleeding, or that he was looking a little yellow and was exhausted all the time. After seeing his sister in November, while I was at school, she pleaded with him to go to urgent care because he did not look good. He was yellow, exhausted, and very sickly looking. We didn't realize that the urgent care visit would be the precedent of the rest of our lives.

After coming home for Thanksgiving and spending a week straight in the hospital with him, it finally set in that something was not right. Between all the vomit, getting moved for testing, the weakness, the constant calling for medications because the pain was so severe, and the almost month-long stay in the hospital, it hit me full force that something was really wrong. Words will never truly describe the emotions I was feeling, or the burden of my thoughts that I felt were too selfish to pass on anyone, so I kept them to myself.

When we finally got the diagnosis, we were surprised. PSC, otherwise known as Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, is an incurable liver disease that affects the bile ducts which become scarred and inflamed, more likely than not lead to cirrhosis and an inevitable transplant. There was no cure, rather the only solution was a liver transplant, and even then the disease can be recurring.

I was thinking selfishly. I was torn in two. What would our future look like? Could we have children? Could we ever do the things we used to?

Loving someone with an incurable disease is a mix of emotions. There is a constant fear in the back of my mind that he is going to wake up in intense pain and have to be rushed to the hospital. There is a constant fear of every time waiting for the bi-weekly blood test results to come back, in fear that his Bilirubin spiked again or he is undergoing a flare up and needs to be hospitalized. There is a constant anxiety that one day he's going to be fine, and the next day he won't be. Even the simple things, such as laying beside one another, was a constant fear I had, due to the pain he was in every day. What if I hit him in my sleep on accident? What if I accidentally hugged a little too tightly and caused him pain?

Loving someone with an incurable disease can be a fluctuation of emotions, however, he makes it worth it.

nadoty
nadoty

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