So that competition I’ve been dithering about? Dear reader, I did it. I very nearly didn’t though – I literally left my decision until the last minute.
I woke up on the morning of the competition, weighed myself, was within competition weight and still wasn’t sure. So I went down to the club, got weighed in, put in my openers and still wasn’t sure. Then I put on my singlet and knee sleeves and thought, OK maybe I’m doing it.
What really made me completely decide was my friend Orla looking at the openers for the other lifters in the 72kg class, and saying Hey Laura, you could actually win this! I have never won a competition and I really felt like I couldn’t pass up the chance, you know?
I decided to go in with no expectations (as much as I could); I can get very very stressed and anxious about competitions and I didn’t want to end up hating myself, like I often do if I don’t do as well as I’d hoped. I put in pretty conservative openers (90kg squat, 50kg bench, 110kg deadlift) and resolved to feel OK even if I only got my openers.
In the end, all the fears I had about the competition didn’t come true: it wasn’t hot; even though it was crowded and full of newbies, no-one dumped their bars on the spotters, and no-one sprayed talc everywhere (my pet hate!!); and even though a few newbies didn’t know the commands & forgot vital equipment (long socks!), everyone was very respectful of the officials. Phew. I am such a worst-case-scenario imaginateer.
As for my performace: I got my first two squats in (90 + 100kg) but once again I got ruled out on 102.5kg for depth; I set a new benchpress pb of 55kg (WHAAAT); and I finished with a 120kg deadlift. I was disappointed not to get a pb squat or a chance to equal my pb in the deadlift, BUT I set a new pb total of 275kg!
Honestly I was so surprised to get a 55kg bench – I’ve never benched that much in the gym without a pause, let alone in competition with a pause!
And the best thing was… Orla was right, I did have the opportunity to win:
Woohoo! My first (and, let’s face it, probably only) 1st place trophy! OK so the other 72kg lifters were all novices, but still… 🙂
The day ended up going on just as long as I predicted (I arrived at the gym at 8am, and left at 8.30pm) and honestly I was falling asleep while refereeing (oops) but the event was really fun. 5 ladies from my gym did their first competition and everyone was so suportive and fun to be around. The good days like that are probably worth some of the angst I feel around going to the gym.
Talking of angst (great segue there, Laura) I had intended my relatively new Instagram account to be pretty much lifting-free, only following fatshion and tattooist accounts; but it got found fairly quickly by my gym friends and over the last week or so I’ve found my IG account tagged in fitness memes (a massive pet hate of mine) and similar. Sadface.
I was also tagged in some pictures from the competition, and one of the commenters on the picture was an account called “leanerstrongeryou”. You can probably see where this is going. Yes, I ended up descending into a hate-reading spiral, looking at “lean” IG accounts and having all sorts of feelings around, well, if only I was leaner and ate vegetables and protein then maybe I might be a better lifter and maybe I might win things more often and maybe I would look “like a lifter” instead of a chubby nearly-40-year-old and blah blah blah. God.
Honestly, as you know I really struggle with this. I have followed back a few people from the gym on IG but I kind of wish I hadn’t, as I just don’t want to see posts with macros and tupperwares of food and stuff like that. It feels really incongruous to see stuff like that in between the awesome plus-sized fashionistas I want to follow. There’s so much fatphobia in the fitness industry and I try to keep it as far away from my life as possible.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about possibly having a career break fom programming & maybe trying out some work in the fitness industry, but if it means I’m going to be exposed to ~nutrition woo~ then honestly I don’t think my mental health would handle it. I spent the week before my competition eating all the stuff you “shouldn’t” (Domino’s twice, sausages, fish & chips, crisps – SO MANY crisps) and I don’t want to be in a place where I feel judged for eating like that.
But can you make it in the fitness industry if you’re both not lean and not a super-strong athlete like your Andy Boltons and Lulu Zhous? Who knows. Something to ponder on, for definite.