For the past 7 or so years I’ve had an on again off again workout schedule. I started out running slow 5k’s, did a couple half marathons and eventually did a few sprint triathlons with some weightlifting sprinkled in every once in awhile in for good measure.
About 3 years ago, I became one of those crazy Crossfit people and started working out more regularly. When I started I simply wanted to supplement my running workouts with more regular weight training and different methods of cardio to improve my running times. Because of the consistency I gradually became stronger and was able to add some muscle mass.
When a friend started talking about bodybuilding competitions a couple years ago I was intrigued but I convinced myself that it was something I could never do because I did not have the dedication to stick with the diet. I remember her saying, “This is something I always said I never thought I would or could never do, but here I am.” After hearing that I realized the only thing that was keeping me from doing it was telling myself that I could not.
I started my prep mid-January 2014, I originally planned to do two shows but ended up doing three, so my prep lasted five months. I had to fully commit to the meal plan and the workouts so very few food cheats, no skipping the gym. My weeks started out with me preparing all of my meals for the week, I ate six meals a day so there was a lot of food to prepare, but this made sticking to my meal plan much easier. A typical day consisted of a workout before I would go to class, another workout after I was finished at school, and thinking about ice cream non-stop. I also had weekly posing sessions and would practice posing a few times a week (to be honest I always used to laugh at bodybuilders and their posing, but posing practice was a workout within itself).
Before my prep began I was honest with myself about what extracurricular activities I would be able to participate in, knowing that my prep would consume a lot of my time and energy. As a result I had a very uneventful social life during those few months, the plus side to that was having “extra” time to prepare for classes and patients.
Ultimately I won my pro card, which allows me to compete against other professional bodybuilders and win prize money. I am taking the next year or two to improve my physique so that I can be more competitive when I compete as a pro.
This is without a doubt one of the most difficult things I have ever done but something I am so glad I decided to do. I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of, which is way more than I give myself credit for and I think that is true of most people. So while I realize being muscular and over tan (during the course of 3 months I had 11 layers of spray tan applied, that’s just crazy) is not for everyone, I hope to encourage people to choose a goal that pushes them and do it. If you do it with consideration and devote yourself wholeheartedly to it I promise you’ll surprise yourself and find that there aren’t many things that limit you.
Leaha Nels- Class of 2016