Quick post today. I just found out that I won the local portion of the Gold's Gym 2013 challenge for my age group (more on this in a later post)! There was no pomp and circumstance from the folks running the show. Got a quick phone call asking if I ever turned in an essay for the competition, which apparently I was supposed to at some point, informing they needed it ASAP so they could send it on to nationals. At which point I asked "...so I won then?" Without any further ado, I present my essay:
It was in high school wrestling where I discovered my desire for competition. People told me that taking the extra effort, spending extra time, or making sure you are challenging yourself pays off. I never really took it to heart till, one day; I gave it a try with wrestling. I went to the extra practices, paired off with the bigger guys, and paid more attention to the lessons. The more I did the better I got. I was beating opponents who had been much more difficult the year before. Sure, there were plateaus, but if I kept at it and found a new way to push I could keep progressing and it made me want more. Although I am proud time wrestling in high school, placing in a few tournaments, I came into the sport much later and never made it to the top. High School ended, focus shifted to school, work, and life in general and I seemed to forget about the lessons I had learned.
As life marched forward I continued to spread my attention across many hobbies, never taking any of them too seriously. I played sports recreationally lifted weights off and on and even did the occasional diet. I like to think this left me in a state of “not out of shape.” Sometimes my fluctuations would land me closer to fit, and sometimes I could stand to lose a few pounds, but I never seemed to challenge myself.
Because of my fairly neutral physique, people would tend to have strange reaction when I would show interest in taking the training or diet up a notch. They would point at dangerously overweight people or shows like The Biggest Loser saying these are the people who need to lose weight, you don’t need to go on a diet, you already exercise. I started to notice, the word “diet” had become a very negative term. If you are not dangerously overweight, mention a diet and people assume you are eating nothing but salad and water as you wither away. I am not unhappy with the way I look, but that does not mean I can try to be more.
I once again found myself again at that stage where I felt I could stand to lose a few pounds and was thinking I needed to try something different. It was around that time I started seeing pictures around the gym for this year’s Gold’s Gym challenge. I had been a member for several years but had never really given it much thought. This time I really read the description about what Gold’s Gym was looking for in its competitors. I always assumed the company was just the biggest person they can find so they could say “look how many pounds this person lost!” I was surprised to find that the winner Gold’s was looking for are the people who could show the greatest change. The message is not to simply lose weight, but to strive to become better. It does not matter you are dropping 50 pounds, or going from average to underwear model, they just want to see people make that change.
This challenge really resonated with me. I was not extremely overweight, but I sure did not stand out in a crowd and I certainly didn’t have any muscle definition. This was going to be my challenge to show my friends and more importantly my family that, not matter where you are in regard to your health; you can always challenge yourself more. So, after getting some support from my loving wife, I signed up for the challenged determined to show people what diet and exercise can really do for you.
I took this competition very seriously and made excellent progress over the first 4 weeks. As I spent more time in the gym I got to know one of the excellent trainers named Ted. From the first day of the challenge Ted took an interest in me and suggested, if I worked hard enough, I could compete in amateur bodybuilding shows. At first I thanked him and politely went on my way. I suspect coming to the gym and working with a new determination and a direct goal is what reminded me of when I wrestled in high school, but I found myself craving competition after years of a casual lifestyle. This led me back to trainer Ted and what has become a new passion in my life. For 10 weeks we set about the process of preparing for my first bodybuilding show. As the days rushed forward I began to see amazing changes in body, attitude and self-esteem. I had blown past all my expectations from the day I started the challenge. Two weeks before my show the Gold’s Gym challenge ended, I got my photos taken, and got to see a side by side comparison of where I started to how far I had come. My old pictures, where I once felt I was in decent shape, looked downright pudgy and it was truly amazing. I went on to lose a few more pounds the last two weeks after the challenged and won second place in my division at my show.
In the end I have realized that the lessons I learned on my high school wrestling team could still be applied today. It does not matter if you are overweight, average, or at the top of your game or what your end goal is, you can and should always strive to improve.