My journey to becoming a professional figure competitor was as equally challenging emotionally as it was physically. I experienced the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and everything in between. If I had to do it all again, I would. Not only was every moment worth it, I am all the better for it.
Whether your goal is to train for a bodybuilding competition, attend your high school reunion, compete in a racquetball tournament, or fulfill your life dream of hiking Machu Picchu, you are going to experience emotional highs and lows. A lot of people do not realize all that it takes to accomplish a major goal. For instance, people saw me on stage competing but never thought about the hours, days, and months of sacrifice it took for me to step on stage. The process was not always fun or exciting but my love to meet my goals propelled me on days I wanted to give up. You too can overcome the many obstacles that you will face striving to achieve your goals. I hope my transparency and story provides you with insight and encouragement to keep pushing when you feel you want to give up.
Most people assume I have always been into fitness, but I have not. However, I have always been an athlete. Growing up, my best friend was male, and I was the only female my age in the neighborhood. Therefore, I spent much of my time playing sports with the boys. I never touched weights until my college roommate taught me how to lift. But it was not until 2005 that my passion for fitness sparked.
I saw my first bodybuilding show in April 2004; I was there to support a friend. While there, I had an opportunity to see some of the women competing in figure. At that moment, I thought to myself, I can do this. A sport I had never heard of amazed me because growing up, I was the kid that wanted to do everything. To me, this was a sport I had not tried, let alone conquered. When I set my mind to something, it is all about conquering that goal. At that time, it was all about conquering being on stage, like the women I saw. I wanted to see if I could transform my physique to new levels. In 2005, I decided to give the sport a try. The following year, I won my professional card and then competed at the professional level until September of 2018. Back in 2005, I never imagined I would fall in love with the sport, but I did, and the rest is now history.
Despite being highly driven, it can be quite challenging – even for me, to ignore instant gratification and focus on long-term results. Those who know me well know I love ice cream, cookies, pies, pizza, and Mexican food. I indulged and took part in the good life, but my overall goal was to eat clean 90% of the time during my off-season. I knew if I stuck with this, I would maintain my overall physique until it was time for me to begin training for my next competition. To be a top performer, your long-term goals must outweigh your short-term desires.
Like many people, I struggled with balancing everything in life and having a good off-season. On many occasions I was not able to make it to the gym more than a few times a week. What kept me going was:
- Knowing that I am and must be a walking talking billboard for clients;
- Listening to my body. When I am fatigued, I rest (aiming for 7-8 hours a day);
- Exercising early in the morning before my day gets started; and,
- Utilizing a season training model like the one I teach my clients.
Your body cannot stay in a high-intense training mode year-round. I trained according to my goals. My regimen when in-season for competing was completely different from when I was more relaxed in the off-season.
Human nature leads us to be our own worst critics. This can quickly foster self-doubt, especially when success does not come immediately. In my first show, I did not even come close to placing. My horrible placement caused me to train fervently during my entire off-season the following year. All my arduous work and sacrifice paid off; I won my professional card during my second show. However, I learned that pro-level competing was a monster all on its own. Between 2006 and 2009, I never placed in a show. I endured four long years of disappointments and setbacks. I began to question whether I could compete at that level. Despite my moments of self-doubt, I pushed forward. Finally, in 2010, I began placing.
As with any setback in life you must be resilient. That is what drove me to keep going year after year. At the end of the day, I was able to accomplish my goals, and retire with content. As Gandhi said, Glory lies in the attempt to achieve one’s goal and not in attaining it. Both peaks and valleys filled my journey. Overcoming those valleys brought me the most joy. Enjoy your journey and congratulations on taking the steps to conquer your dreams.
About the Author
Candice McField, MBA, ACE Certified Health Coach & Fitness Nutrition Specialist