Why compete?

Why compete?

While I have mentioned competing several times in my blog, I haven’t actually explained what led me to the decision to do so. As the day looms closer and the more I read about how hard it really is, the more intimidated I feel. Yet at the same time I’m increasingly inspired to do it – and the negativity I’m constantly met with only spurs me on further.

The most common response I get from people when I tell them I lift weights is one of surprise, confusion and almost disgust in the fact that I’m not some wimpy chick clinging to the cardio machines. That response is only amplified further when I tell them I’m competing – their eyes glaze over as they picture me morphing into a juiced-up shemale. I’ve now learnt to block this negativity out and instead focus on the day I’ll be able to benchpress them!

So why do I want to compete? I’m a naturally competitive person and throughout my entire life I’ve always strived to be the best I can be. During high school and university I studied my butt off so I could beat everyone else, and I work damn hard at my job to make sure I’m at the top of my industry. I achieved a lot of things at a young age, and take pride in the fact that I’m a good decade ahead of where an “average” 22-year-old would likely be.

Why would my approach to fitness be any different? I’ve been active from a very young age, and always strived towards the highest goals – many of which regular people dismissed as unattainable. When I began lifting weights, sculpting a perfect body was almost a natural goal for me. After attending my first competition in May, I was captured by the dedication and passion those competitors had for their sport.

Erin Stern at her latest competition this past weekend

I have to admit that the idea of getting down to such a low level of body fat took me a while to warm to. I originally wanted to enter the bikini division but soon decided it would not provide the challenge I really craved, and there’s no way I could be happy with entering a contest where some competitors look like they don’t even make an effort (I’m talking about amateur bikini comps here, not pro level!). Once I understood that women who compete in figure competitions do not have their ribs sticking out and their shoulders popping all the time, I quickly embraced the off-season body.

My teenage life was consumed by dancing competitions, so I’m no stranger to getting glammed up for the stage. Considering I’m taking out the complicated routine part, a figure competition seems like a piece of cake 😉

Yeah right! For anyone who’s ever read anything about competing or witnessed the process firsthand, it’s the furthest thing from easy. Dieting for an extended period, eating the same food all day every day with absolute zero cheats allowed, doing hours of cardio when you’re exhausted, not being able to sleep because you’re so hungry….definitely sounds like a walk in the park.

In the final weeks leading up to a competition, I’ve been led to believe that your brain turns to mush and you have trouble concentrating, speaking and doing anything that involves thinking. I’m almost crazy to willingly put myself through this, especially considering my job involves writing 6000+ words a week on economics.

Breaking through those challenges and not caving in to temptation is what separates the weak from the strong, and what makes the real difference on stage. Do I think I can do it? Absolutely. Will it be hard? Most definitely. But I want to push my body to its limits and do something that I will always feel proud of looking back at in the future.

While I know there are some people close to me who will never understand my decision, the person who matters most is completely behind me. Without getting too sappy, my husband is my rock and without him I would not be where I am today. I wouldn’t even have a blog if it wasn’t for him! He believes in me more than anyone else and I know he will support me no matter how cranky and food-deprived I get.

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