This Girl Is On Fire

On Friday evening I set my alarm for 3am and went to bed. I woke up several times during the night and kept glancing at my bedside clock, eleven fifteen….one thirty…and then at last it was show time! I had been praying about this day ever since I decided to enter my novice fitness competition and start my training six months ago. I try to make the most out of every day and always find something to celebrate. Yet certain days hold unique significance or mark the beginning or end of a journey and 12 April 2014 was one of those days. I am not going to give a detailed account of the competition, but instead will use extracts from the experience over the next few weeks, to illustrate lessons I have learnt. However, I am humbled to share that in a line-up of twenty incredible woman, I was chosen as one of the top six finalists and achieved fourth position overall.

The sense of accomplishment was profound. I didn’t win or finish in the top three, but that didn’t matter. In my mind I had won because I had achieved my goal and that was worth celebrating! I have learnt that my body is capable of more than I thought it could handle. Pushing yourself to the limit physically and mentally is an acquired skill that develops with time and patience. It also takes self-confidence and boldness and during this process I have learned the joy of testing my boundaries.

Since the competition, I have received many compliments and messages congratulating me. As lovely as it has been, it is also very overwhelming and I have struggled processing it all. I battle to believe the generous words and feel I don’t deserve such praise. A friend told me that my failure to fully receive and embrace this, actually drains the joy out of the experience for the other person, who wants to bless me and share in the excitement. I am working on accepting others’ kindness graciously, as I know the resistance to do so, stems from my own deep-seated insecurity. Our free will is stronger than our feelings, so even though I am naturally shy and tend to be insecure, I didn’t let that stop me from going forward with this dream. I decided to walk out boldly on that stage, despite being afraid! Your will, like a muscle, becomes weak if it is not exercised, so I am planning on using mine more often and choosing to walk boldly through life from now on.

To all my amazing supporters, I genuinely appreciate your love and enthusiasm and am grateful for your encouragement and faith in me, as we’ve shared this remarkable journey. Thank you again!

Avoid Comparisons

The main theme of this blog is “Choosing Joy” and the joy that I am speaking of today is found in doing the best we can, with what we have and not comparing ourselves to others.

We are constantly fed the lie that we need to be something other than what we are and that a certain product or prescription or lifestyle can help us achieve greater recognition and happiness. However, if we strive for this illusion, we are guaranteed to end up miserable. Confidence begins with self-acceptance. Personally I think the only true way that this is possible is through a strong faith in God’s love for you and His plan for your future. That is something you need to pause and think about for a while. God loves you. Once you accept God’s love for you, you will realise that being loved and loving, make life worth living.

God does not require you to earn His love and He does not look for people who are worthy of His love either. His love is unconditional and He looks for people who need His love – that’s you and me. I think this topic deserves a few future blog posts of its own, but I wanted to introduce it now, as it came up at my posing practise yesterday (I am pleased to report that walking in heels is getting a little easier!) One of the ladies in the group saw me vibrating from fear before doing my solo routine, and said “God loves you, be confident in that”.

It was just what I needed to hear and to be reminded that I have what it takes because I am a child of God and He is pleased with me and I can do all things with His help. So can you! If you are always comparing yourself to someone, you are in fact rejecting the very person God created you to be. Entering the fitness industry this year is a real test, as it is easy to feel critical towards myself, especially when you are literally lined up alongside others and it is automatic to start comparing and wishing you were more like the woman next to you. These negative thoughts and defeated attitude can become rooted and sadden our spirit, while also preventing us from achieving higher and becoming all God intends for us to be.

This doesn’t mean you cannot make progress and improve. I do look to others for inspiration but we can’t let them be the regulation or rule that we follow. God won’t help you be someone else. Recently, while at gym, I caught myself thinking, I’m never going to have long, shapely legs like ‘Mary’ next to me and immediately this train of thought started to bring me down. Wishing won’t get me anywhere. It won’t help my calves and quads develop! Instead, I can work hard to build the best legs that my unique body and structure can possibly achieve. While comparing ourselves to others isn’t beneficial, negative self-talk isn’t either. I lay awake in bed at 4am this morning (our alarm went at 3:30am for my husband to get up and run a race and I couldn’t fall back to sleep) because I was rehearsing all my mistakes from the day before and stewing over how I battled to present myself in a confident manner at posing practise. I had to quickly shake off those negative thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations about my improvements from the previous week and instantly a new level of boldness rose up within me. A friend had complimented me during class but I struggled to receive the praise. You believe what you say about yourself more than you belief what someone else says. Unless you change what you believe on the inside, nothing is going to change on the outside.

Reprogramme your mind and pay attention how you talk to yourself. Always remember, God loves you. Be content with who you are and don’t compare yourself to others. Celebrate your uniqueness! And finally, appreciate others for who they are, while being confident and enjoying the wonderful person that you are too.

Be Bold, Be Strong!

When we consider our natural personality traits, it presents us with different challenges. In my first blog post, I mentioned I have low confidence, which is something I need to overcome, as well as the temptation to withdraw from challenges because of it. The good news is that when I do take the step of faith, into the unknown, I realize that God is right beside me. He created us all differently and although I will always tend to lean towards my introverted ways, I won’t let that stop me doing something I believe God wants me to do. If He has led me there, He will guide me through. It may be difficult and uncomfortable at first, but it will be worth it in the end.

I don’t want to live my life wondering “what if”. I am learning to be bold and take action!

I am nervous to stand up on stage in a few weeks time to compete in my first bikini fitness competition. My mind automatically thinks of all the things that could go wrong. But daily I capture my thoughts and focus on the exciting things that can happen instead. Disappointment hurts and I used to think I was protecting myself if I didn’t expect anything good to happen. But this is a lie. We can trust God to bring good out of any situation. He wants you to focus on the possibilities, not the problems in your life. With God’s strength and the support of my friends, I am winning this battle. Positive thoughts are always full of faith and hope and produce a positive life. I refuse to be afraid to hope and this belief has kept me going through some very difficult times.

In the same way that I need to practice walking in those heels, I need to practice being positive in each situation that arises. If whatever is happening in your life right now is far from ideal, expect God to keep His promise and bring good out of it. Even if things don’t work out the way you would like them to, if you have a positive outlook, you can go ahead and enjoy yourself no matter what the circumstances.