What made you want to compete for the first time?
I was looking to challenge myself. I have spent 12 years in the military and had finally achieved my career goal of maxing the Army Physical Fitness Test. After accomplishing that I celebrated for about a day and then began yearning for a new goal to conquer. I had a fellow Soldier who had competed before who recommended it and although at first I was very hesitant. The deeper I researched it the more intrigued I became until I finally pulled the trigger and emailed Autumn.
What has been your greatest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been believing in myself. The entire process has been amazing, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t grueling at times as well. I have had several issues in my personal life that have attempted to derail me and have added to my challenge. It is amazing how much stress can affect you and your body even when you think you are dealing with it effectively. As the stress in my personal life grew it began to make changes to my body that I couldn’t comprehend and for the first time in my life I really felt I was failing at something that I really wanted. Needless to say that added even more stress! But I kept working the system and believing that it was going to work out and one day I looked up and realized that the stress in my life was gone, or at least back to normal, and suddenly my body was responding like it should. That burst of confidence gave me a boost in every facet of my life and suddenly I thought I could do this. I'm not going to pretend that I don’t have to continue that fight everyday of believing I can do this, all the way up to 24 hours before the show I thought there was no chance I was actually going to make it, but I now have a new tool in my chest with which to combat that fear.
What did you wish that you knew before you had started this journey?
The sense of accomplishment I would get from just competing. The team, the coach, and really everyone I met backstage was amazing. People I have seen a hundred times before in the gym and never spoke to suddenly seemed like friends. For a guy who definitely didn’t think he belonged in this sport with such amazing physiques, I suddenly felt like I did. And as crazy as this sounds I was completely content with walking out of the building finishing last in my class just because I had did it and made that next step. Then the most amazing thing happened; I didn’t finish last. I never thought I would get so much satisfaction from such a small accomplishment but I did. I couldn’t believe it and it still mystifies me as to how much that meant to me. For a person who has spent his whole life believing if you're not first your last, the fourth place finish felt like I had won something far more important to me. I promise there has never been a person prouder of a fourth place anything than I was that night!
What have you learned from your experience with competing?
I don’t think I could fit all I have learned about myself in the last few months into a book much less a short answer. But if one thing stands out it would be trust. I have always been kind of a take care of it on my own kind of person who never believed there was a situation that enough hard work couldn’t fix. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes you just need to trust that others do have your best interest in mind and even though you may not understand it if you trust them it will pay off. Outside of my children my health/physical fitness have always been the most important thing to me. As someone who is not genetically gifted and who has been obese before, I value the amount of work I have put into getting/staying healthy. Handing all that over to someone else took a huge leap of faith for me but there is not a second now that I am not glad I did.
What advice would give to someone who is considering competing?
So many people will tell you to trust in the process, but I would take it a step farther and say believe in the process. It is not just a matter of doing what you’re told but fully embracing the lifestyle change. Don’t fight the fact you are going to be doing things different than you have because the new actions will output new results. Try not to overthink the process or focus on the things you gave up, but embrace it and bask in all that it will give you.
Tell about your support system!
My support system is amazingly small and unique. As someone whose family is not local and doesn’t have a lot of friends, I have vicariously taken on support from this team. As odd as that may sound considering that I am a pretty quiet person and have actually met very few of them their post and quotes on Facebook have been inspirational for me throughout the process. Most of them will never know how much some of their testimonials, stories, and even likes have meant to me throughout the process.
What is your next goal?
My next goal is improvement. Now that I have a taste of competition I am even more excited for the sport that I have fallen in love with over the last year. Maybe next time I finish 3rd, maybe better, but I know that someday with enough faith and work I can improve and to me that will always be the most important thing.
Continue to follow Rob’s fitness journey on Instagram @sggfoushee!