How I Trained to Be a Pro Athlete

I first started jogging back in the summer of 1984. I remember that evening like it was yesterday. In July of 1984 my family and I experienced a difficult and life-threatening catastrophe. I luckily was able to escape my house while it was on fire. We lost our home, our cat and all our belongings. As we rebuilt our home my family (Mom, Dad and 3 brothers) lived in a trailer alongside our destroyed home.

The stress of the fire and the aftermath of losing my cat and all my “stuff” was intense. I remember one evening feeling as if the trailer walls were closing in around me. Feeling desperate and overwhelmed I bolted out the trailer door and just started running (similar to Forest Gump!). I ran as fast as I could. The act of taking control and running helped direct my energy, and I felt better.

I jogged into my 40’s. While running, I strictly adhered to my my own “rules.”  Running was “my time” and my thoughts were solution-oriented and positive. If I had issues in my life to work on, I used that time to figure stuff out. Running became cathartic for me and an outlet for stress.

In addition, running burnt a ton of calories and I could continue to eat almost anything I wanted. I loved fast food, chicken wings, pizza and cereal. I could practically eat a box of Frosted Flakes at one time.

But in my late 30’s I saw my body began to change, and I was not responding the same to my daily runs. To maintain my weight, I had to run faster and longer. I had to run more days than none. My results were diminishing. And I was exhausted. But my pitta-mindset pushed forward, and I kept my nose to the grindstone.

Then in my late 40’s, crisis hit my personal life; my 20+ year marriage was crumbling. During this difficult time in my life, when I was not sure which way was up or down, I found the gym and weight training. Going to the gym helped bring focus to a very confusing time.

Body transformation and learning and applying all different philosophies to growing and changing muscle was interesting to me. I became a certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I began a successful business in helping others to transform their physique.

At the same time, I began to research and learn about macronutrients and nutrition. Body transformation is achieved with both physical exercise and proper nutrition. You cannot out train a poor diet.  

Weight training and body building turned out to be a great fit for me. Body building is about discipline and routine. And as it turns out, I thrive in that environment. But competitive bodybuilding? THAT I never imagined. Never. But I kept an open mind and I decided to explore the possibilities.

Competing bought an even more intensity to training and a high level of accountability to what had become a hobby. This was something I needed at a confusing time.

Competing and winning my professional athlete status taught me much more than building a first-place physique. I learned the value of patience. It takes time to create muscle and build a physique. A bad workout is better than no workout. A single workout may feel insignificant, but each workout has great value in your overall aggregate effort.

The physical aspect of training was not nearly as challenging as the discipline of dieting. Competing in Women’s Physique requires a full muscular physique. My diet was between 2000 to 3000+ calories. To maintain my results, I needed to hit my calorie goals every day. I kept to this structure for over 2 years. I was driven. I knew what I wanted.

Earning my professional status gave me unintended “gifts.” The physical and mental challenges taught me patience, discipline, and the value of the struggle. I put my faith in the “process” and saw firsthand that we don’t always notice the small changes that are happening. But small changes lead to great things.

I carry these lessons with me every day of my life.