• Michele

Starting Over...again.

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

It feels different this time. Ten years ago my mindset was the sky is the limit and the belief that second place is the first loser.

Overall Figure Champion Circa 2006

20 years ago my mindset was driven by a hunger to accomplish as much as I could in the least amount of time.

I'm not really sure what the rush was.

Throughout my youth when I fixated on something, nothing stopped me from reaching my goals. I loved doing and I wanted everything yesterday.

Today my decisions happen a lot slower and I take a lot more into consideration in the process.

I can remember the last few times I competed on stage. I torpedoed into a show with only maybe 6 or 7 weeks to get stage ready. I was tired from a year of prep for a previous show that didn't turn out the way I had hoped, I was training while nurturing a torn hamstring, and I wanted to win this next show so badly that I was doing double sessions of cardio and lifting even on days I was fasting.

Yeah you read that right.

I remember waking up in the middle of the night with the most agonizing hunger pains on those fasting days. I remember secretly crying while lifting too. But my physique was behind schedule so my mindset was if this is what it takes, then so be it.

Needless to say I didn't show up on competition day in peak condition, so this show didn't go as I had hoped either.

Left Aug 2013 - Right November 2013

I felt like a complete failure.

AND.. I was so darn tired.

I gave competing one last shot 6 months later before realizing that, as a Figure competitor, I was probably too muscular for the federation I was competing in - and not muscular enough - for the other federation I wanted to compete in.

The only other option at the time was the newly introduced, and less muscular division, called "bikini," but I felt it portrayed women in too sexual of a manner.

I take the sport of bodybuilding very seriously. My first competitions before there was such thing as even the "Figure" division was as a natural bodybuilder

Circa 2003

in my early 20s. I didn't like the provocative posing or the excessive flirting with the judges that was happening all across the bikini stages. I didn't feel like these things belonged on a bodybuilding stage.

Fortunately, "Bikini" has evolved since then into a much more muscular and less sexual category than it was in its infant stages...but it didn't resonate with me at that time so I didn't consider it an option.

As a result, after these last three shows I lost my drive to compete and instead I decided to focus on building my fitness brand and the businesses that went along with it.

Six years later and I am still trying to build my vision. There have been many high points and a number of obstacles that have slowed things down along the way.

Some of the high points were:

Owning and operated a brick-and-mortar fitness facility where I launched a Michele Approved® movement in my community that took the guess work out of healthy nutrition, identified the best of the best businesses. and did things like this:

My Custom Grocery List At A Supermarket

I carved out a niche in the fitness industry by specializing in teaching the posing and stage presentation components for physique athletes competing in every division and every federation,

Women's Figure and Bikini Transformation

Men's Physique Transformation

I've head judged and panel judged competitions for multiple federations including world championship shows in LA and NY,

Head Judging A Bodybuilding Show

I've hosted posing and stage presentation workshops for all divisions and federations in Bodybuilding,

Hosting A Posing And Stage Presentation Workshop

I've finished school to become a certified yoga teacher so I could add more tools to my tool belt as a posing and stage choreographer and coach,

Acquiring My RYT-200 Yoga Certification

And I've graduated from an intensive Modeling and Acting School to add even more tools in my tool belt as a posing and stage choreographer and coach.

Graduating From Modeling & Acting Agency

And then there are the lows.

The things that diverted me off my path and made me feel like I was crawling up a mountain.

Things like financial ruin, selling all of my belongings including my precious fitness facility, becoming 65lbs overweight,

50lbs Overweight

divorce, depression, and even health issues that put me in the hospital a couple of times. Needless to say a lot has happened over the years and there has been a lot of zigzags in the road.

Then earlier this year I came to a crossroads. I had been feeling that the things that really excite me in life were a lifetime ago and I had little motivation to get out of bed in the morning. I got up because I had to pay the bills, not because I wanted to.

At the same time, my biological clock was ticking so I was contemplating whether or not to have children. At first I settled on the idea of having children.

But I found myself slipping deeper and deeper into sadness and didn't know why. I should be excited about children, right? Part of me felt guilty for not being excited. Like I was letting down "Mother Nature" or something. I might've been excited 10 years ago if the timing and the relationship was right, but now that I am 40 all I feel is the pressure of now or never, rather than the pure excitement of motherhood.

After a ton of soul searching I decided that I had to be real with myself. I had to come to terms with letting down "Mother Nature" because this was just an idea that came from my own insecurities about motherhood. There are many things I still want to accomplish...and the truth is....motherhood was in the way. Ugh. So harsh. But the truth can be ugly.

So I decided to let go and follow my heart. This was the hardest first step because I knew I couldn't come back from not having children later on in life, since this motherhood clock will eventually stop.

Letting go also meant I had to start all over with the things I wanted to accomplish too. I have so many notebooks full of ideas I carry, education that I have compiled over the years, and a passion to create tools for fitness competitors.

But everything is still just ideas right now since I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to ever get to them. So I have to allocate my time differently and start making the creation of these ideas a priority. Every day. A little at a time.

And then there is my personal fitness journey.

I want to prove to myself that I still "got it" in me to achieve goals I set out to accomplish twenty years ago.

I had achieved a WNBF pro card, a WBFF pro card, and a Fitness Universe pro card. Three pro cards in dramatically different federations....but I never earned the IFBB pro card.

I won an overall title in the NPC, which is the amateur part of the IFBB federation, but never earned the coveted pro card. I was under the impression that you had to be enhanced with performance enhancing drugs to earn the pro card so I stopped trying.

I wish I hadn't.

I think I could've done it naturally with strategic training, time, and consistency.

Unfortunately today's competitions are a lot different than they were six years ago so there is a lot to consider when choosing a show. The caliber of athletes has increased in ALL of the different divisions. The athletes have more muscle and are more conditioned than they were when I competed. Six years has gone by. I often wonder if I had kept trying if I would have made it there by now with consistent training and nutrition.

I have to stop myself from the shoulda-coulda-woulda that often creeps into my head. I already lost about 50 of the unnecessary 65lbs I had gained, and never did stop training; however, to be competitive on a pro stage I have to accept that I am starting over. At 40. And drug free.

I have to also decide which category to compete in since the look of the "Figure" category has evolved into what I would consider more of a bodybuilding look.

2019 IFBB Figure Olympia Winner

And the "Bikini" category resembles what I looked like when I was competing in Figure

2019 IFBB Bikini Olympia Winner

I am a "Figure" girl at heart but I'm also not delusional either. My 20 year old self would've said, "Are we there yet? Let's go!" but this 40 year old self is saying, "hold on a minute and let me think on it."

So I'm starting over....again.

I'm at the beginning stage where I need to "pick a show." The muscle and level of conditioning in Figure is what I used to strive for in bodybuilding. The muscle in Bikini is what I strived for in Figure except there is different posing, suit style, and judging criteria.

And now to add to the mix is a new division called "Wellness" that is similar to bikini except the new division favors much larger legs and glutes and there is no emphasis on symmetry from upper body to lower body like there is with bikini.

IFBB Wellness Pro & Champion

I'm honestly not sure how long it's going to take to feel prepared enough to compete in a show in ANY category. Maybe a year?

If I need to grow bigger muscles to achieve my personal fitness goals, that is going to take time. Being stage lean and focusing on cutting body fat may look and feel good, but realistically it takes time away from building. And building is what I need to do regardless of what division I end up in.

I'm going to assess again in 6 months and see where I'm at.

No longer do I just want to get on stage like I did in my 20s.

No longer do I want to torpedo into shows or run myself into the ground like I did in my 30s.

I am now taking my time to strategize, plan, look at the whole picture, and be realistic with my goals and expectations. I want to take all the ideas in my notebooks and create tools for the fitness industry and balance my time with working on my personal fitness goals. I don't want one OR the other.

It's going to be a long journey but I'm ok with that.

I'll continue to share it here with you in case you can relate or maybe you just want to be supportive along the way.

I'll also share real-time info on the 'Gram and Pinterest so head on over there at www.instagram.com/michelewelcome and www.pinterest.com/micheleapproved to stay connected in the mean time.

Either way, thanks for listening.

More to come....

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