What made you want to compete for the first time?
I was getting ready to turn 38 in 2014, I decided it was time to get myself into shape, I had let myself go after having my daughter at 32. I’ve been a mother for what seems my entire life, 25 of my 40 years, so I’ve never been able to focus on me. When I was younger I went to the gym did my cardio, yoga and some circuit machines. This time I wanted it to be different, so I hired a personal trainer that introduced me to weight lifting and I fell in love with it. However, I used the excuse that life happens and was sporadic in my training, miss a few days here, miss a week there. My diet wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t great either. About a year into my sporadic training I injured my knee, not in the gym. Again, I had an excuse, I was out of the gym completely for over 6 months and ate very poorly. Then came knee surgery, I vowed to myself that the excuses were over and I was taking control of my health, physically and mentally, I felt like crap. Knee repaired, recovery over, I stepped back in the gym and hit the ground running, and didn’t look back. I fell even more in love with training as the months went on, but I wasn’t getting where I wanted, I wasn’t even sure where that was yet. In June 2016, I walked into a hair salon and met the owner, a figure competitor, and that’s when I realized where I wanted to go on this fitness journey. For the next few months I toyed with the idea of actually competing, but never really thought I would ever be able too. I talked about with my previous trainer and he was constantly encouraging me to do so. I was doing some research on competing, training and coaches, because I research everything! I happened upon On-The-Grind training, I bit the bullet and met with Jenny Wax and began some training sessions with her. I knew then that I didn’t just want to compete, I knew I was going too. The decision to compete wasn’t about the stage or awards, it was to challenge myself to make to a level of fitness, that I otherwise wouldn’t. I wanted to compete every day against the woman I was the day before. The goal to be a competitive bodybuilder, I love that I can call myself that, gave me the drive I needed.
What has been your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge on this journey has been time. I am a single mother that works full time. My daughter is active with cheerleading, tumbling and girl scouts. Some days I would train on my lunch hour, other days I would take her to the playroom at the gym after work. When I started training with Jenny I was able to train in the mornings before work, so I was there when the gym opened at 5AM. 5AM training was perfect, it left evenings for my daughter. Then 5AM was no longer an option and training had gotten to where my lunch hour wasn’t enough time. I didn’t want to give up my time with my daughter to train by sending her to the playroom, and my new gym, The Factory, was much more suited for my goals. So, I chose to make gym time mommy daughter time when I was able too. It wasn’t always ideal, but we were still able to spend time together and I was able to get my training in. As I got further into prep, time became more of a challenge, I needed 36 hours days! Fasted cardio, training, posing classes, cheerleading, girls scouts, food prep, family events, etc, etc…somehow, we got it all done, every day!
What did you wish that you knew before you had started this journey?
There are two things I wish I had known before I started this.
1. The confidence I would gain in myself along this journey, I would have started it a lot sooner.
2. The emotional roller coaster that came along with my prep and competition. Most days were great, because I felt great and was very proud of the progress I was making and all I was achieving. But there were some days I was so overwhelmed I wanted to throw in the towel, not just on competing, but everything. Life had thrown some curve balls at me during my first prep, and a few times my emotions got the best of me. With my support system and some inner strength that I gained during this process, got me through.
What have you learned from your experience with competing?
I could possibly write a book on all I’ve learned during this experience!
The most important thing I’ve learned is to love myself, I’m not talking about just my physique and the aesthetics, but my inner self as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned to love my body as well, for the first time in my life, stretch marks, bumps, dimples and all. I’ve learned to love the woman I have grown into during this process, the confidence that I have found in myself that isn’t about vanity, it’s about knowing I can achieve what I set my mind too.
Self-discipline is something I’ve struggled with my entire life, I am an impulse action person. You cannot make it through this process without self-discipline, learning this was huge for me, not just in fitness but life.
I’ve learned what it actually takes to take care of my body, and not just half-ass it. Fit and healthy is extremely different than just being ok with how you look.
You need other people, you cannot do everything on your own. There have been arguments had with people I’m close to on this subject. My adult life has been me doing everything for me, do not ask for help from anyone, unless it is something that would affect my children. I’ve become ok with reaching out for help or accepting help that is offered. I couldn’t have done this without the help of my coach and teammates, the occasional babysitter or someone to come mow my lawn because I didn’t have time.
I’ve also learned to tolerate cardio. This was probably the hardest lesson, LOL.
What advice would give to someone who is considering competing?
Do it! You have to really, really want it though. It’s not the horror stories that I read before I did it, not with my coach anyway! But, it does take sacrifice, commitment and a lot of self-discipline. The pay-off though, there is nothing more rewarding than looking at the person you were and the person you’ve become!
Tell about your support system!
My support system consisted of a lot of “good for you” and “proud of you” from a far from my son, parents, siblings and friends. I won’t lie and say that it isn’t a little disappointing, because it is. But the support I did have was enough.
My cheerleader, my partner, my 8 year old, she was sure to keep me on track. “Mommy, you can’t eat that!” “Mommy, don’t you have to do cardio?” “Let me see your muscles” “I want muscles like you”
My biggest supporter, my best friend, has encouraged, motivated and pushed me every single day. I know there are days he probably didn’t want to deal with me, but he was there every step of the way. He helped in any way possible, even sat through girl scouts. He wouldn’t allow me to give up on the days I wanted too. I definitely could not have done this without him.
My coach, my team, and people in the gym, that I don’t even know, always had words of encouragement and compliments when I couldn’t see any changes in myself.
What is your next goal?
My next goal is the one I have set for myself daily, to be better and stronger than the women answering these questions. With my first season under my belt, I’m ready to take this journey to the next level, the one that peaked my interest in the sport of competitive bodybuilding. I love the experience I’ve had as a bikini competitor and everything I have learned from it will help tremendously in my transition to a figure competitor.
Continue to follow Sharon’s journey on Instagram @srfitchic!