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Saturday, June 25, 2016

So. . . I Don't Fit The Mold.

I'm Kristy Jo.

I'm a Mormon who lives in Utah.

I'm 29 (and 2 months 2 days--that's almost 30!).

And I'm Single.


As if it's unusual to be 29 and not married anywhere outside of Utah. . . 

...yet in the culture of "Utah Mormons," I'm actually older than the average marriage age. (Remember, Mormons is a nickname--the real name of our church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).

While this "age thing" may not seem a big deal to many, to me it was. And that's what mattered. The culture around me--by default--contributed my own interpretation of "failure" which resulted in spending the majority of my twenties in feelings of frustration, sadness, and disappointment that I wasn't going through life as it seemed the average girl was. Every other weekend I got a wedding invitation from someone. Every other weekend I watched as the "I'm engaged!" Facebook posts popped up over, and over, and over on my Newsfeed. I watched in jealousy as girls nearly a full decade younger than me had a ring on their finger.

From the age of 22-27 I wondered what was wrong with me.

I wondered if maybe I just wasn't "good enough" to find someone who I adored and respected who would drop to one knee and beg me to be his. Surely, I just wasn't deserving like every other girl or so I thought.

While I dated some incredible guys throughout my twenties, none of them worked out for one reason or another.

It didn't help that every time I saw a person I hadn't seen in awhile they would ask, soooo... are you dating anyone? or, How on earth are you single?  The list of compliments about all of these great things about me would go on and on, as if having an exhaustive "personal resume" were pre-requisite to finding a spouse.

If only it worked like that.

Pessimism and self-pity accompanied me as companions during these years. I was painfully aware I kept advancing past the age my younger self vowed I would never see as a single person. So much for setting goals, haha.

Every time I got together with family and saw what I did not yet have--a loving, committed relationship with the promise of children--my heart squeezed in pain.

Sadly, there were many times I didn't want to be around my family because it heightened my awareness I worked so hard to suppress.I did not have what I yearned for most, and what I knew the overall mission of my life should be--being a wife and a mother. Though my pain was all self-imposed and my family never once made me feel that I didn't belong, my own adopted feelings were tough to shake.

For a while, I sadly admit I even cast resentment at the "conditioning" I had received within the teachings of the Church, which I felt had led me to base my worth on my relationship, or the lack thereof. These were challenging years, and I'm grateful I had loving family and friends to help me crawl past the low-hanging clouds that encompassed me. I tried to find value through other things in life, but time quickly told me this would not bring me happiness at all.

You see, the only way to happiness--true happiness--is the Lord's way. But that took some learning to grow past my inner restrictions to happiness. 

In time, I began to grow past my resentment and began embracing the fact that I was single. I learned to harness my personal power to create a springboard for my life.

I began to embrace the fact that I was SINGLE, and that was okay!  This relationship status no longer defined my worth, my value, or my contribution to the world!

I could be the best auntie I could be!

I could find joy and motherhood through nurturing others in every way I could!

I turned my desire for my own creation of a family into my own contribution to others' lives through my passions.

While I am grateful for what I've learned and realized, I know of far too many other women who also have felt things similar to what I have experienced.

This post is actually for them, not for me.

The status of 'single,' 'divorced,' or 'widowed' can leave us feeling very isolated from the world, and especially, a place of belonging from within the Church.

Though I feel the majority of these feelings are self-imposed, they also make us hyper-sensitive to even the smallest fragment that another might say. Their inquisitions into our relationship status, or what we are doing "wrong" in our approach to dating, can often harshly scrape an already-exposed and bleeding wound.

And this is where we each must each be very careful.

Being single is a temporary state. This does not make you (or I) an outsider because we "don't fit the mold."

This state does not define our worth, our contribution, or our ability to be loved or give love.

Our value is bigger than the fact that we don't yet have that special someone to call us their own.

This feeling of isolation--from feeling that the Church is not the place for us because we "don't fit the mold"-- is exactly what the adversary, the enemy to God's plan of Happiness, would have us feel.

On the contrary, God wouldn't have us feel this way . . .

God would have us feel His all-encompassing love.

God would have us feel we are of incredible, eternal value.

We don't have to fit a perceived "mold" at all--God doesn't expect that from us! He expects us to be our best, to turn to Him, and to ask for His help in all things we experience in this life.

There is no such thing as needing to "fit a mold,' don't you see?

Every woman CAN be a part of this Church, participate fully in the gospel, and be of absolute value whether single, divorced, widowed, married, with children, or without children! We are ALL daughters of our Heavenly Father. He loves us! And we love Him!

The fact that many of our hearts long for more is counted in heaven, surely, but we get to use our God-given agency to choose for ourselves the attitude we will carry.

We get to create our lives!

We get to choose to live as the Lord would have us, using us as a tool for goodness!

We get to prepare ourselves for His light, invite it, and do our best to share that with others.

If this resonates with you at all, I invite you to join me as I speak at an all-new event for women in August: "So You Don't Fit The Mold!" 

On August 13, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., we will be sharing messages of confidence, enthusiasm, hope, and faith that will empower women to rise above their self-imposed limitations to step into more light.

I'm even more excited to be speaking specifically on my personal passion--the body.

My break-out session will be: "5 Sustainable Strategies to #PowerYourBody the Lord's Way."  In this class, I will teach women to power through plateaus and eliminate excuses the Lord's way.

My goal is to help each person in attendance learn to care for her body with a fresh point of view using strategic tools that will help her take baby steps into greater peace and confidence with her body--wherever she is currently at!

This event is for faith-driven women of all walks of life, and my goal for all those who attend my break-out sessions is that you will leave INSPIRED, ENCOURAGED, and CONFIDENT in who you are!

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION ENDS JUNE 30. Grab your tickets now and share this event with every woman in your life. She needs to join us and find that empowerment from within to remember--THERE IS NO MOLD.

We each get to create our lives in the Lord's way--a way that brings light, goodness, and love to this world.

That will look different for each of us. 

None of us are outsiders.

We are ALL "good enough."

As long as we keep the Lord at the center of our life, we can be assured we are on the path to doing with our lives as He would have us do.

Tag me in the Facebook group if you are coming, and please SHARE this event on your Facebook timeline so we can get every woman who needs this major PUMP-UP there!

See you there!
<3 p="">
Kristy Jo

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Helmet That Saved My Life

Yesterday I received a SnapChat message from my younger sister that sent a wave of memories flooding back. The photos were taken clear back in 2007 when I was a young college sophomore attending school at Dixie State in St. George, Utah.

I couldn't help but laugh at the image of a ticked-off, injured, dirty Kristy. The girl in the photo had some bruised ribs, a torn AC joint, and other "flesh wounds." 

She would have to go through a 6-month recovery process involving ultrasound and heat therapy to get her shoulder and arm to work properly again. Dance would be painful for her--her #1 passion--but she would do it anyway, as she had blazed through many injuries in her life previously.

What I laughed most at, though, was the emotion behind the eyes of this girl in the photo. While others close to me may know this look, I know it best. It screams:

I knew better, yet I did it anyway.

I've always loved to go fast. My older brothers' examples of speed and slick driving had worn off on me as their idolizing younger sister, so whether I was in the car, on a bike, dirt-bike, or four-wheeler, my need for speed was manifest. 

On a blazing hot summer day, my family took a day trip to Pine Valley Mountain (45 mountains North of St. George) to spend time at some friends' cabin. After riding the horses, we broke out their four-wheelers and commenced to ride the trails that weaved across the mountain. After an hour or so, my siblings grew tired and headed inside for something to eat. I kept going as it would be a lot more fun with them out of the way. I could go faster and try some of the jumps at full speed.

Though I lacked the wisdom to don appropriate riding attire (this would prove to be the second incident in my life where my tank-top-and-shorts outfit would be a dangerous oversight  in the debate of safety versus tan lines), I did have enough intellect to keep my helmet on.

Odors of gasoline and dust wafted through the air as I rode and kept the engine gunned. On certain curves, a little voice of caution began to surface in my heart, telling me to slow down and be more moderate--especially because I was out there alone. 

I quickly suppressed that voice of warning as I felt superior to incidents, and was above exercising caution. I could handle the four-wheeler and I was a brave soul. After all, racing around the trails like my brothers would made me feel I was "cool" like them. I admired Denz and Brand, and wanted to be a cool person like them.

I found much more control at these speeds when I wasn’t seated, but leaning forward over the handlebars in a hunched position, braced against the jostling. I could move as one with the machine. If someone saw me, they would know how brave I was.

I rounded the next curve at full speed, and saw something that caused my heart to jump into my throat.

The jump. 

The jump that I had taken going the other direction as the trail from which I came was straight and gave me space to land and accelerate into the next curve. The trail to which I was headed was curved. I would have no room to land, let alone accelerate into the curve And I was about to hit this jump. At full speed. And not make the turn.

As I was mid-air, all I could think was I know better! I know better! I should have slowed down!! I'm going to die!

 I was going to hit that tree straight-on. I braced myself for the worst.

When I came to, the four-wheeler was on top of me, my arm pinned awkwardly below me, and I couldn’t breathe. Terror engulfed me as I realized no one was within a mile of me. I was there all alone. No one would be able to help me. I would have to get through this by myself. But at least I was alive...

Don’t panic, I willed myself. Breathe deeply. Let’s do this one thing at a time. First off, you need to breathe. Let’s get the helmet off.

The helmet strap was cutting off my circulation. With shaking hands and forced, raspy breaths, I unbuckled the helmet and breathed deeper. Pain shot through my rib cage, but I was one step closer to being okay. Wait, was I okay? My ribs screamed and I thought I had broken some. White, hot pain stabbed between my collar bone and top of the shoulder bone. Had I broken my collar bone?

Next, I had to get the four-wheeler off me. With the best logic I could muster given my panic and pain, I brainstormed how to get the machine off that was pinning me down. I couldn’t use my arms, so I would have to use my free leg. With all the strength of a Decline Leg Press 1RM (one-rep-max for those new to gym lingo--I'll teach you this on my YouTube Exercise Demo channel), I hefted the machine off my other leg and torso. The machine landed on all four wheels and began rolling down the embankment. Worried that more damage would be done to the machine, I did my best to will my aching, bleeding body out of the weeds and chase it down (the engine was still idling). I turned off the machine, thinking it was too broken to ride, and began limping back to the cabin.

5 minutes later, I broke into tears as I saw my dad quickly walking toward me. 

“Are you okay?” he called. 

All I could do was shake my head and keep walking toward the person who always made me feel safe in any situation. As he got closer, he told me he had heard the engine idling, then stop, and knew he needed to check to see if everything was okay. I am so grateful that he did! He got me back to my mom and sisters who helped clean me up and give me the care I needed.

Wearing a helmet probably saved my life. I will always be grateful I did.

Refusing to listen to my conscious telling me to slow down was my mistake. I haven’t made that mistake since, and have not been in a significant accident since this occasion (knock on wood J).

What’s the lesson here?

I knew better, yet I did it anyway.

Ahhhh, how many of us are guilty of this? 

How many negative situations could be avoided if were to simply listen to our conscious, or the whisperings of the Holy Ghost?

As our good friend, Elder Henry B. Eyering reminds us, the Holy Ghost helps us watch over ourselves. We receive warnings that not only protect us physically, but emotionally and spiritually. Those whisperings of the Holy Ghost help guide us to greater happiness... if we will listen.

I am grateful for the memory jog these photos gave me of this important lesson to listen to those little thoughts and feelings I have. I know they will lead me to safety and greater happiness as I seek to be obedient to them. I hope we all can be a little safer as we seek to be obedient.

... and ALWAYS wear a helmet :) 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Flight I Never Took...

I was 23 and recently certified as a Personal Trainer. Zumba had made its triumphant entrance and was the newest thing, so I decided to fuse my passion for dance and fitness by certifying.

After registering for the 2-day certification workshop in LA, I booked my flight and hotel. I loved to travel by myself and found much joy in jumping on an airplane to explore and adventure in a new location.
Trainer Kristy Jo: 2010
It was two days prior to the flight's departure when I began to feel sick about the trip. No, I hadn't eaten something rotten. No, I wasn't nervous. It was a simple sick, negative feeling about the trip.

The feeling persisted and I canceled the flight. Though I wasn't able to get a refund on the flight, I did for the course. The day I should have been flying to LA, I was on alert to hear of an airplane crash, mass murder, or something else ultra traumatic. Surely, this would be why I had this feeling that I should not go.

Nothing happened. The world continued spinning and all who attended the Zumba certification course probably had a great time and are now master teachers. I never went on to become certified.

This whole situation has puzzled me for the past 5 years. I think of it occasionally whenever I hear a Sunday School lesson on promptings, or a friend tell me about the day being saved when they followed their gut (what I believe to be the Holy Ghost).

This morning I was reading in the 2nd book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon for my personal spiritual study of the day. I got only 5 verses into the first chapter when I stopped.

Read it again, I thought. So I did.

I went back and read Verses 1-5 a third time.

And finally, a little light bulb of clarity and popped on in my mind, as the Holy Ghost often speaks to me. As an aside, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints often describe their feelings of the Holy Ghost as a still, small voice. I'll tell you I have "heard" that voice only once in my life, and I describe it in the opening chapters of my book, The Power Foods Lifestyle. That voice is what has led to my online nutrition and fitness coaching business. Crazy, huh? 

But most of the time, I simply have little thoughts/feelings of direction. That is how most members of the Church experience promptings. Big, loud booming voices from heaven ARE real, but not so frequent for the majority of us ;)

So, back to my little moment of clarity. (Wait for it, I need to explain the context of these verses first):

So there Lehi is. He's the man of the hour, the wise father and prophet who was warned in a dream that he should take his family and leave Jerusalem back about 580 BC (give or take). So he did, and his family sure went through the ringer.

His wife, at one point, thought that her sons had all died as they were sent back to Jerusalem to get the records from the King (the King was not such a cool dude--he ended up getting his head chopped off).

Lehi's oldest sons were some really emotional pessimists who had a hard time having faith and trusting in a higher plan. They wanted life to be easy and often complained. But then there was Nephi, the stalwart, brazen warrior (I have always pictured him with the Rock's body, ha ha!). He had great faith, followed his father's direction, and was a man who constantly tried to be better.

So back to Lehi. He is sitting there talking to his family and teaching them, reminding them of all the amazing blessings God has done for them. He talked about how God had spared their lives many times as they traveled through the wilderness and as they crossed the great waters and made a new home in foreign lands (what we believe to be South America).

But here's the kicker and the point of this blog post:

In verse 3, Lehi says, " merciful the Lord had been in warning us that we should flee out of the land of Jerusalem.

He continues in verse 4. "...I have seen a vision, in which I know that Jerusalem is destroyed; and had we remained in Jerusalem we should also have perished."

So here's where the analogy comes in. Didn't I say that nothing problematic (to my knowledge as distributed by the media that day) had occurred? Yep. And God certainly didn't send me a vision in the night exposing the reason I shouldn't have gone to LA.

Was it because my life would have gone a different direction if I had certified as a Zumba instructor?

Would I have been physically hurt?

Would I have witnessed something I shouldn't then have to go in Witness Protection Program?

My mind can drum up hundreds and hundreds of possibilities!!

But you know what I realized this morning?

It donned on me that I didn't have to know. I don't need a reason right here and now of why I had to cancel my trip. Lehi and his family possibly needed to be shown that Jerusalem had been destroyed so they could continue onward confidently in their new life. Now, visions may not be as trustworthy as Fox News (oh wait, have I got that backwards?) but my feeling is the vision was more for members of the family who were lacking faith (hem hem, Laman and Lemuel). Those with faith probably didn't need that confirmation that Jerusalem had, indeed, been destroyed.

And so I am choosing to take this as doing okay in the faith department. I don't need signs or reasons to follow those promptings. I just do them. Now there was a time that I wasn't so high on faith, and almost made a life-changing decision. Thankfully, Heavenly Father sent an apostle directly to keep me on course. And that is a story for another day :)

Have faith. Don't worry about the things you don't know. We will know, some day. 

For now, our job is to keep plugging along, smiling, and do as Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin counsels: "Come What May and Love It!."

Sunday, January 3, 2016

His Grace Is Sufficient. . . And I Can Wear My Shirt.

"I'm a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it."
Two years ago, I found this shirt at my local Deseret Industries while I was scoping out essentials for a Halloween costume. I loved its message as I love being a "Mormon" (member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), so I paid a whole $2 for it and walked out of the store.

In my next business photo shoot, I threw this shirt on as the final shot as I thought there might be a good time to tell people more about my religion.

But...I've had this picture on file for 2 years, and I never could bring myself to share it.


Because I wasn't perfect.

And if I shared a photo with myself wearing a shirt that proclaimed how "Mormon" I was, then surely people would think I was perfect. Surely they would think I never make mistakes. Without a doubt they would think I don't fall short of living what I KNOW to the tee.

My thoughts on this topic pivoted dramatically this morning. As I was doing my makeup and hair in the bathroom, I performed my ritualistic search on YouTube for "Best LDS Talks." After a few moments of scrolling through the list of talks I had already watched, His Grace Is Sufficient by Brad Wilcox caught my eye. I hit play and continued my work in the mirror.

After only 5 minutes of listening to this talk, my gaze softened as I saw myself in the mirror. Perhaps I'm not as weak of a person as my self-talk makes myself out to be every day. Perhaps I had greatly neglected the center-most part of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, the fact that my Savior had paid the price of my sin so that I could keep getting better. This doesn't mean that He or anyone else should expect me to be perfect, but that He expects me to use His gift. He asks me to appreciate His gift so I don't have to feel like a failure. But that He literally picks me up again and again whenever I fall. . . when I ask and allow Him to.
"In all of these cases there should never be just two options: perfection or giving up. When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). When we understand grace, we can, as it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, 'continue in patience until [we] are perfected;" (D&C 67:13). --Brad Wilcox

You see, that's what I didn't understand. I didn't understand that by saying "I live it" I wasn't professing myself to be perfect; rather, I was professing my LOVE for my Savior and my commitment to keep trying!

When I say "I live it" I'm saying I trust in the peace and hope of His gospel which allows me to make mistakes, but to do my absolute best to learn, grow, change, and become more like Him every day. His grace allows me that new start whenever I yield my heart and humility to Him.

By saying "I live it" I am professing that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. It enables me, it empowers me, it cleanses me, it allows me another chance.

As many of us who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints feel the weight of our own perceived expectations upon us, we are counseled over and over again by our beloved Prophet and Apostles to turn to the Savior. Doing so is a reminder that if salvation and being cleansed from sin is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. (Let's remember that sin ranges from the greatest of great to the smallest of small, and anything that is sin makes us unclean and unable to return to live in God' presence).

Turning to the Savior is the way we gain hope and confidence that life, with its seemingly savage heartaches, pain, and trials, is worth it. Even I have wondered this at times as I have been faced with difficulty that, at the time, seemed insurmountable. I've seen the same things in others very close to me. Turning to the Savior is the empowerment to be more than we can be on our own and grants us the hope to hang on for just a little bit longer until the next respite and perspective arrives.

My heart has changed. I felt a small piece of heaven this morning. When I feel that little flutter or hope and light in my soul, I know that is the Holy Ghost, God's gift to me and the third member of the Godhead. The Holy Ghost speaks truth to me and to all other who have received it. The Light of Christ is the first intuition and "conscience" that pricks our hearts and helps us be good people. That gift is for all mankind. It is how we each first gain insights and inklings of truth that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ contains the fulness of what we need to know and do at this chapter of the earth and our own mortality.

Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, lives.

He will come again.

I am looking forward to that day.

Though terror and fear continue to rise in our world, the signs of the times are witnesses that He is coming. We don't know when, but we must be ready. We must be waiting. We must be alert and attentive.

I am doing all I can to be on the winning team. He is my #1 cheerleader (and yours too!) and given us the way to overcome our own self-defeat in behavior and thought.

Now, I can say confidently . . .

I'm a Mormon. 
I know it. I live it. I love it.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

How To Know What You're Worth

Since my blog post that exposed some sadness and darkness, much has changed in my life (HOORAY!). I am grateful for the warm outreaches and words of love that many expressed after reading the post. I was humbled to know I had so many friends and acquaintances who truly cared.

I knew I needed to be a person of ACTION in order to make change, and so I went about it. I moved to a small town where I could focus on myself and engage in a new life. I re-balanced my priorities and began scheduling KRISTY things into my days. I started journaling again (it's been three years). I started playing the piano. Dancing started to emerge from my body again. I re-strategized and launched a new business strategy. I made new friends, I went out of my comfort zone, and I explored nature.

I found myself among people who needed my help very quickly. I realized that in the journey to re-kindle my light, God would grant me that through serving others. People were placed in my path day after day in my new environment--people to serve and put before myself. People with more difficulties than mine--mental trials, addictions, divorce, and loneliness. My relationship with God soared as a result of my service each day and I found myself feeling very directed in my day's journey. I found I had purpose again. I am enjoying an LDS temple session once a week in the temple of my new town. I find great joy in smiling and saying hello to every person I pass in this small town. I am in a much better place with every passing day, and am grateful for the journey of my very difficult 2015.

I wanted to share a very important experience I had this past week, thanks to the teaching and inspiration of my mom (one of my best friends and greatest mentors/teachers).

It's short and worth the watch. I figured hearing it from me would be better than written form. It's more personable ;) I hope this story helps you also think into thinking what YOU are worth...

(three gold stars.)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bodybuilding Progress Report & A Piece of Real Life

Tongue-Tied. I'm not sure how to spit out the words as the desire to communicate my authentic thoughts and feelings is overwhelming.

Oh, where to begin...?

I have found great comfort in friends and family who knew me back when I was "Kristy," before I started going by "Kristy Jo" for the sake of business marketing purposes. Even dearer to me are those closest to me who call me 'Krist.' Isn't it amazing the power our names carry? It's these very people who have kept me grounded as my business has grown, as my goals have shifted, and as I've evolved into a new person over the past few years.

We all evolve, or at least, I'm pretty sure that's the goal of life. I feel I've experienced enough in the past three years that I can take a "bench seat" for the next ten years and not miss out on anything. I feel I haven't slept in three years. I haven't taken any time for ME. I've shut out friends, family, and become "that girl" that WILL cancel on your plans.

I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry! I've cried many tears over this!

I've been so focused on making my business succeed, on being there for everyone who called upon me, that I essentially lost myself. The past six months of my life is when it really took a nose-dive.

During this time I felt my soul sink deeper and deeper with each passing day. The things that used to bring me so much joy became things I loathed. I hated the gym. I hated cooking. I hated food in general. Anxiety set in, and my already short nights got shorter. I panicked when people called without an appointment. My heart-rate exploded with every new "buzz" of my phone indicating a text message had arrived. Even friendly texts and calls that weren't business-related became burdensome, and I grew to resent even people I loved for reaching out to me. There were many days I seriously almost threw my phone and computer out the window. I wanted to see everything smash to pieces . . .but then I'd sit down like a normal person and get to work :) I wanted to isolate myself. I began shutting my blinds and working in the darkness. I didn't go out, except to train or grocery shop. For much of this time, I lived alone and reveled in my isolation.

I was so focused on continuing onward toward the vision of reaching more people and being there for everyone who needed it that I forgot to "put on my own oxygen mask." Life had no purpose other than to be Kristy Jo and help everyone else. My own light began to flicker and threaten to go out. Oh the irony of it all, as this is the very thing I teach my clients day-in and day-out: the need to take care of themselves first. Surely, somewhere deep down, I must have overridden the switch-button that screamed TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE.

I continued to tail-spin down emotionally in the thick of it all in addition to a difficult break-up that surely intensified the entire situation I was in. At some of the darkest moments, I hovered over the delete button on the Facebook page I'd been working to grow for three years. I can't take this anymore, I thought on a daily, if not hourly basis. This happened more than 10 times. There were days I called home to my parents sobbing, not having any words to express the depth to which I felt I truly had lost myself.

Who was I anymore? Had I destroyed Kristy? Where was the silly girl who liked to read books, hike in the mountains, and dance with her friends? Where was the girl who loved to journal and play games? Where was the girl who spent hours on the piano? She was nowhere to be found, and my heart ached that I had betrayed her.

Kristy Jo had been holding Kristy underwater, watching her drown in the depths of the past that is used now to market the business. Surely there are things that had to change (and have dramatically) from the past, but ALL of Kristy didn't need to drown, did she?

I'm not quite out of the torrential emotions and thoughts that have come with this realization, but I have been able to make some big improvements in the past month:

1. I got a business line that I use to discuss anything business-related. I refuse to discuss business-related topics of nutrition and fitness if it's on Kristy's phone number. This has been WONDERFUL for helping me separate Kristy from Coach Kristy Jo.

2. I keep my phone on Do Not Disturb so that I don't get little "buzzes" all day long. If one of my loved ones really needs to reach me, my phone allows them to bypass the Do Not Disturb as they're on my Favorites list.

3. I'm in the middle of an entire business restructure to fix the broken model that left me on the verge of admission to a mental institution. I am grateful for the incredible expertise and insight from business professionals who have been helping me with this. It's been a humbling experience to accept help and entertain the thought of a new way of sharing what I love so much.

I'm not quite through processing what else needs to happen, and how that will occur.

But I do know one thing . . . and that is the fact that I'm done trying to fulfill my false perception of others' expectations of me, including my own.

There has never been a day in my life I went to bed fulfilled and satisfied with what I've done.

There has never been a day in my life I woke up and was genuinely okay with myself--you see, I'm an Achiever Personality, and wake up with my "points" at zero. I have to work all day long in order to acquire "points" to feel like I am good enough (which is a no-win personality type because no one gets to 100 points to go to bed fulfilled and satisfied).

I was counseled yesterday to look back on all I have accomplished and find satisfaction in it. Ever since then, I've had a very disturbed heart. I tried to do it--I really did.

But I couldn't see anything. All I saw was failure. All I saw was efforts that have been slammed by nearly anyone from whom I've asked advice.

All I saw was the added wrinkles to my face from the stress of sleepless nights and taking on far more than a person should ever carry. When I tell people I am only 28, they are very surprised as most tend to think I am in my mid-thirties. I'm not sure if that is due to my face, or my "maturity" (let's laugh together for a moment), but I have noticed the aging. Not that there is anything wrong with it--that is life--but it's indicative of the great stress I have brought upon myself.

I have looked back at my last two competitions--October 2015--in which I was mortified at the package I put on the stage. I was nowhere near lean enough. I was not ready to be on a stage. Sure, I took home a 1st place trophy, but competitions are all dependent upon who shows up. 1st place is one of the most ironically twisted defining factors in any competition of any nature. 1st place means nothing when I knew my body was not where it should be.

Though I'm very pleased with the development of my physique (muscle proportion/symmetry), I pummeled myself mentally as I have a brand to uphold and a growing team to lead into battle. What kind of a leader was I, to show up with less than anything but my A-game? I should have been shredded to get up there. And no, I was not being hard on myself, as several have implied. I'm a coach, and I know how a competitor should look. It's not a matter of "finish what you started." I compete to win. That is what makes a competitor a competitor.

And that's when I knew I was done. I looked deep, deep, deep inside and decided that I have zero ounce of desire in my heart to compete next week. I've been doing contest prep this fall competition season because I thought that's what people expected from me. Wow, how silly is that?

As I sat on my office couch all night long, sleep evading me and my heart throbbing in questions and confusion, I decided to be honest in sharing my decision.

I know of many who have been cheering me on toward my final competition of 2015 in Las Vegas, and I was sure many would think I'm just a quitter. That's what I was afraid of, but now I'm not. Let people think what they want, but I am the one living my life, and I'm going to live it for ME.

I've been living a crazy lifestyle the past few weeks seeking to get leaner for the final show of the year that actually mattered to me. But the fact is I am too burned out, too depleted, and my body won't budge. I have pushed this nutritional strategy as far as I could, I have maxed out the capability of what my energy stores can do, I have burned up the intensity at which I can push my body with my chronic pain, and I've used up all of my determination to grit my teeth through it all.. Because "go hard or go home," right? 

To a point, absolutely.

But there is a line, and I crossed it. Hardcore.

So instead of taking home a 1st place trophy at this show, I'm going to take home a 1st place personal responsibility trophy in life. I'm going to take care of me, and my reverse diet begins today. I haven't created new recipes for over 5 months due to being in contest prep mode, and I can't even express how much joy I had last night buying staples for a healthy lifestyle that I haven't eaten in months.

I will still be at the Musclemania show, but there to support members of Team BodBeasts. And whatever happens with my business, happens.

I'm relinquishing my future to the only One who knows me better than anyone, and knows what I'm supposed to do. I love coaching. I love teaching. I love sharing.

So, as Joseph B. Wirthlin said, "Come What May And Love It!"

(not Kristy Jo)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

And when I opened my eyes...

It's been a good long while since I made a personal blog post. Anyone who reads this may very well know how consumed in my business, Body Buddies, I have been. Taking my hobby into a full-fledged business has been the storm that almost sunk my ship many times. The demands on my every day life and the expectation for what needs done in any given 24 hours have, at times, caused me to call home crying, "I hate it! I hate it! I'm DONE!"

Thank goodness for kind and loving parents who told me they loved me and sought to help me figure out the issues that had me so perplexed.

Thank goodness for being blessed with a stubborn personality as well.

Except. . . there are time that my stubborness doesn't serve me well. Like yesterday, for example.

It was my good friend, Rachel's wedding, and I was to be a bridesmaid with the wedding party. I was tickled pink by her request, and had placed the outfit that 7 others would also be wearing in a Ziploc bag on top of my stack of plastic cubbies where I keep my gym clothes, socks, sweats, etc. Being so busy with appointments and to-dos prior to the wedding, I didn't think much about the outfit until it was time to get dressed and head over.

I had already done my hair and makeup, so was ready to put the final touches on. I walked to the closet, opened the door, and froze as I looked on top of the plastic cubby drawers to see the plastic bag was nowhere in sight. Surely, it had to be there! I had not moved it since I placed it there a few weeks previous.

However, 10 minutes passed as my slow, methodical searching progessed into a frenzied tossing and scattering.

What was I to do? 

Should I try to find an outfit in the same colors? Oh gosh no that would look so stupid!

Should I just not go and beg for her forgiveness later? No. That would go to show just how horrible of a friend I am (a fear of mine as everyone knows I'm "too busy" to go do stuff...).

I had been pushing back the thought to "stop and pray for help" during this time because:

1. I was already in a rush. I didn't need to take more time. I needed to find the outfit!

2. It was my own fault I had lost it. It wasn't God's problem that I had misplaced something. He had bigger things to worry about.

3. I didn't want to put a dent in my faith if I prayed, then still couldn't find the outfit (a topic for another post).

But when the clock was ticking and I was at a crossroads of "find the outfit or don't go," I finally threw my hands in the air and dropped to my knees in the closet right where I stood.

"Heavenly Father," I prayed. "I feel really silly asking for Thy help in this. But I care about my friend. I want to be there for her. I've looked for the outfit in every place I can think of. I am mortal and can only see with my eyes. If it be Thy will that I go to the wedding, please help me find the outfit... asap."

I closed my prayer, exhaled slightly, then opened my eyes. I looked straight forward as I sought to open my mind and my heart to be directed, to capture a fleeting thought or idea that might come. I was led to turn my head 45 degrees to the left and gasped.

There it was. The ziplock bag with the oh-so-important Bridesmaid outfit was wedged between two cubbies that I had already pulled out and thrown on my bed. I couldn't even get the outfit because tears started pouring from my eyes. It took me a moment to collect myself, offering a prayer of humble gratitude, before I donned the outfit and went off to enjoy the wedding.

As I reflect back on this experience, I realize how much of a valuable lesson I learned. I know I would have never found the outfit had I not dropped to my knees. I am getting teary-eyed even now, thinking of this. No, it was not a coincidence. No, it wasn't luck. This was a very important lesson for me to learn. Looking back on the reasons I didn't want to pray, I now would add these conjectures:

1. I was already in a rush. I didn't need to take more time. I needed to find the outfit!
Heavenly Father showed me that He could save me time when I humbled myself enough to ask for help.

2. It was my own fault I had lost it. It wasn't God's problem that I had misplaced something. He had bigger things to worry about.
God's greatest joy is in His children. He cares about me, and he cares about us all. He is always watching, listening, and waiting for us to turn to Him.

3. I didn't want to put a dent in my faith if I prayed, then still couldn't find the outfit (a topic for another post).
This is still a tough one for me to answer, and I'm slowly accumulating faith in this department. I would love to hear any reader's opinions in the comments below.

Heavenly Father hears our prayers.

He has reaffirmed this to me... again.

He is a very patient Father, putting up with His stubborn daughter. :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bodybuilding Progress Report -- November 25, 2014

Training for a competition is not easy. Point blank. But then again, I believe that anything we do in life is only as hard as we make it. Having competed in 6 competitions prior to this past weekend, I decided to take a different approach to competition #7.  This was been due to the following variables:

1. As a coach of nearly 40-60 clients on any given week, it is extremely difficult to find any remaining emotional energy to plan for and monitor my own body and its progress for competition purposes. For this reason, I have tried hiring coaches over the past six months, but never resonated with any of them as I know too much, and did not agree with their approach nor tactics. I respectfully stopped working with each coach after merely a week or two.

2. With a business that is growing rapidly, my travel requirements, obligations, and stress  have been at an all-time high. In the past three months, I have spent a total of 3 weeks at home,  slept in more than 10 different hotels and worked out in more than 20 different gyms.

After a disappointing outcome to my May competition in Surprise, Arizona with the ABA (taking 7th), I took the summer off to build and regroup mentally. I decided I would not step onstage for another year until Spring 2015 so I could build even more. The growth of my upper body has been a long time in coming due to genetics, as well as my scoliosis. I have put in the work day-in and day-out with extreme attention to my nutrient fueling and supplementation. Knowing just how much it would take for me to overcome my own physical limitations, I took that, and the bruised ego into consideration to say I would not step onstage again this year.

I am still a fledgling in this industry, and never once have pretended to know or be it all. I am not a pro. I am still competingin amateur shows. I am working hard to get my pro card. My clients all know this. I am often told that that sets me apart from other coaches—that I don’t profess to know it all. I’m learning right along with my clients, and together, we are all able to progress. Healthily. Happily. For the right reasons.

And so, after the urging and quiet encouragement of a dear friend that made me look deep inside, I decided to stop being weak-minded and try again. I began my competition prep for the Fitness America weekend—the biggest worldwide competition in the Musclemania organization in 2014.

After all of my studies and experience in teaching people about the principles of the Power Foods Lifestyle, I knew that I could utilize these principles to facilitate a competition prep without ever having a solid meal plan. A “typical” competition diet has a competitor following the same basic meal plan with small tweaks by the coach or trainer along the way for anywhere from 6-12+ weeks. I personally train my competitors in a way that has me change their meal plan every week so they benefit from variety and yummy foods while still meeting my macronutrient manipulation strategy for them and their body, blood type, and competitor category. Without a solid meal plan, refusal to step on the scale, and no time for progress photos more than once every 3-4 weeks, I would have no way of knowing if I had “arrived.” I would truly have to trust my approach, my body, and my compliance in behavior. It would be the greatest emotional and mental journey of the year.

Throughout this journey, I wasn’t sure if I would come in lean enough. I wasn’t sure if my theories would test true. I had no guarantee, just hope.  Even the day of my competition, I kept telling people that this competition was a “wash.” In other words, I did not think I was competitive enough to place. As I think back over my emotions, this was 100% in part to not feeling like I did competition prep “correctly,” as everyone else does it. It wasn’t until I was backstage and had a few of the competitors come up to me asking if I was in the Figure Tall category and catching glances of what I like to call "physique respect" did I even begin to think that maybe, just maybe, I had succeeded in my efforts.

It was such an amazing privilege to have one of my clients, Lynette of Las Vegas, walk on the stage right after me and share that special time with her. She looked radiant and it was so sweet to see all of her MONTHS and MONTHS of hard work culminate at this moment for her! My eyes filled with tears as I stood on the side of the stage, having just exited, and watched her pose so beautifully under the lights, her muscles shining with all their tanned and slicked-up slendor. Ahhhhhh I was so proud of her! That moment, as well as watching my two other clients in this competition do SO well, were worth it for me.  

So upon re-entering the stage and hearing my number and name called for second place was simply a shock. I was a little brain-numb after that. After exiting the stage, it finally hit me, and I allowed a few tears of happiness to leak backstage where no one could see me.

  • No one knew the extent to which I had gone to make this competition happen.
  • No one knew the incredible stress it had been on me to train two-a-days while traveling and sleeping 4-5 hours per night.
  • No one could ever see into the other sacrifices I made in my life each day to make not only this competition, but my business, a possibility.

But that doesn’t matter. Because I do all I do not for public recognition, but for the joy of doing it.
That is what I got out of this entire experience. Each of us have the opportunity to do much behind the scenes, without honor, applause, or fame. So we must look inside and ask ourselves WHY we do what we do. When we do things for US and our own personal journey, we will always feel that our efforts were worth it.

Was this style of training difficult? Absolutely. Not having any meals prepared required me to have my willpower and desire for change at an all-time high with each mealtime that came, regardless of my state of fatigue, stress, or emotions. I had to make a strategic choice, instead of having a meal already prepped, which takes the mental processing out of the equation. This is a reason that I encourage people following the Power Foods Lifestyle to prep their foods for the most part.

I did my best to keep real food in the foods I ate more than relying on protein powder or Quest bars (my favorite!). I try to keep a maximum of two shakes in my day, and have the other remaining meals  come from whole foods. I did find I went to the grocery store a lot more often than usual. I found that I ate at restaurants a lot more than usual. I found strategic foods to order at such well-known food places as Carl’s Junior, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Bajios, CafĂ© Rio, Applebees, and 5-star hotel buffets. I ate restaurant foods even through “Peak Week,” the week of competition.

As Power Foods Lifestyle principles state, a veggie must accompany every meal. I definitely had to get creative as I was often traveling. Baby carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, and Ziploc bags of spinach were regular items in my pink little cooler I take with me everywhere.  I learned to pack plastic bowls, plates, and utensils with me in my luggage, and keep some in my car when I was in Utah in my own car, not a rental. This allowed me to run into a grocery store and create an easy PVC or PVF (protein-veggie-carb) or (protein-veggie-fat) meal on the fly. I found that one of the easiest salads to create was with a can of tuna (you better believe I carry a can opener in my purse), spinach, and almonds with a little bit of cottage cheese and Ranch powder mix sprinkled on top.

I must give credit where credit is due: I had an incredible support system who kept me going and checked in on me often.  Huge thanks to Geoff, who was there at the gym with less than a 24-hour text notice to train with me when I was in town. He is one of the only people I will train with because he pushes me hard with no requirement for small talk or wasting time. We go to lift, and we lift hard. I appreciate him and his attention to helping me train around my scoliosis very much! Then there is Frank, a natural pro bodybuilder friend of mine who lives back East. He checked in on me often, was there to help me keep my emotions and mind in check, and keep me focused on the small tasks ahead instead of the big picture. And then there is Julian, my hulkish friend in Salt Lake who sent me inspiring messages that lit me up each and every day and got me pumped to be my best. These three people truly were a big part of what helped me to keep going, and reconfirmed to me the need for an accountability and support system in ANY endeavor toward a goal. Thank you, my friends!

My own personal bodybuilding journey continues. I have found so much personal development through this hobby, but more than that, I have found my life. The Power Foods Lifestyle is the result of my dipping my toes in the bodybuilding world. Body Buddies resulted from my wanting to share the simplicity of what I was learning and observing. I love the science of shaping the body naturally using food as fuel and weights as sculpting agents. I love what this hobby does for me mentally in being an optimist, an achiever, and pushing the limits. I am excited for what 2015 will bring for me personally, as well as the entire Body Buddies family. There are some very big things happening in the near future, and it’s just a privilege to be the Momma Body Bud.

Kristy Jo

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Reflection on Life . . . and Body Buddies

It happened . . . I finally reached my rope's end. I finally broke.

I had pushed and pushed and pushed for over a year to make the launch of Body Buddies happen that I made any and every sacrifice possible. I isolated myself from friends. I slept an average of 3-4 hours each night. I made other sacrifices that those close to me know of and the struggles there. I worked, and I worked, and I worked. I gave my all. All in the midst of the end of nearly a year-long relationship that meant the world to me. I kept my fire roaring and believed that once I reached the point of "launch," that I would be okay. That I would be able to breathe.


The launch finally happened at the end of December. The books I had taken over a year to write, revise (multiple times), and edit, were finally published. They were beautiful. I cried when I held them. They were my babies. I had watched them develop and grow and finally enter the world to bless other people's lives. The website went live, easing the means of communication for the waves of emails that come filled with question after question after question. It gave me the ability to simply redirect inquirers to the place that held the answers to their questions.

Body Buddies became an LLC and plans to expand the company have been at the forefront of my mind. I've laughed at myself every time I remember that warm summer night in 2012 that I had the random idea to start a Facebook page and call it Body Buddies. I didn't think anything of it, other than I thought maybe then people wouldn't think I was as self-absorbed in my body as it seemed. I wanted them to see that my obsession could be used for good.

I have wanted so desperately to help people. I have wanted so desperately to be the relief that so many seek for, in finding the answers to their nutrition and exercise issues. I have wanted so badly to "fix" people. And sadly, I have had to learn that I cannot. Oh, how I've tried! Oh, how I've cried when I've realized that I cannot do it for anyone else! I cannot make them comply! I cannot make them exercise! I cannot give them the fire that I have burning within me! Oh, how it has been a process to learn to emotionally remove myself and simply teach and encourage.

What I thought would be a plateau of pushing and enjoying the place I had pushed so hard to reach has instead been a nightmare. My sleep decreased from 3-4 hours per night to 2-3 hours per night, and 2 of those nights each week I didn't sleep at all. Those I am close to in the bodybuilding world and who are helping me reach my goal of getting my Pro card this year (winning a Pro Qualifying figure competition will qualify me as a professional Figure competitor) chided me as my muscles cannot grow, and I cannot train hard enough to be competitive, if I am not sleeping! While knowing this logically, I could not, and would not, watch my baby I had worked so hard to form go under. And so, I kept pushing.

My phone constantly goes off with text messages, emails, Facebook and Instagram dings filled with questions and comments and people reaching out for help. Not only have I grown to resent my phone, but those I date and those I spend time with have grown resentful as well. A person was never born to sit behind a computer screen, iPad, and cell phone 20 hours each day. While I love the people I help, I've realized I am only one person. And I only have 24 hours in a day--like everyone else. Yet, I have continued pushing, trying to be there for everyone.

A person's mind and body  is only so strong.

And so here I am, having shut down to the world and refusing to post or communicate with anyone until Monday morning, and having just woken up after sleeping 14 straight hours. I feel like this is my first day of being a human. Of having 2 seconds to even reflect and think for myself. I have been a daily journal-keeper my entire life--but have not made a journal entry in nearly a year. This will be the first.

Perhaps all entrepreneurs must go through this process. I've always heard that the first five years of starting a business are H-E-double hockey sticks. I can completely agree with that statement now, and it's only been one and a half years for me.

I'm grateful to the many people who have stuck by my side, in spite of me pushing them away. I realize I have alienated myself from those I care about. I hope they will accept my deepest apologies.

I'm grateful to my parents for loving me and encouraging me every step of the way. I'm grateful for the unselfishness of so many who have sought to help me grow my business and optimize the way I run it--Jared Peterson, Frank Gigante, Bensten Photography, Danny Eason, Paul Moore, Brandon Patch, and Gwen Coleman. I'm so grateful to my boss, Duane Toney, who has mentored and encouraged me as I have grown my business on the side of working for him full-time, then part-time, and now only a few hours a week (as I cannot remove myself from the business and employer who has shaped me over the past 2.5 years).

And so where do we go from here?

Life is all about baby steps, and I will continue taking those baby steps toward where I want to be. The quote below applies directly to everything I have been experiencing and feeling. I am determined to simply use this time to re-evaluate, re-direct, renew, re-charge, then press forward. And just as it says in Phillipians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bodybuilding Progress Report

When I was in middle school, I remember passing by a motivational poster each day in the cafeteria. I looked at it every day, and its message is one that has never left me. This message guides my goals and my decisions each day of my life.

"Shoot for the moon. 
Even if you miss, you will land among the stars."

16 months ago, I stepped onstage for the first time after only 7 weeks of relatively unguided training and competition prep. I didn't even place, and had my scoliosis*, under-developed** deltoids, back, under-conditioned*** glutes, and lack of posing technique blatantly pointed out to me. Several more competitions that summer gave me more experience and knowledge of just how many weaknesses I truly had. Although I somehow walked away with a second place in my class of Tall Women's Figure at one competition, I knew I had major work to do before stepping onstage again.

*I have a fifty-degree S-curve in my spine, which is a huge obstacle to the goal of perfect symmetry, proportion, and aesthetics in bodybuilding.

**Development is the muscle's ability to be emphasized in every possible region of the muscle. The goal in bodybuilding is for every muscle in the body to be proportionately developed in comparison with the others relative to the size and capability of the muscle.

***Conditioning is a term referring to the overall condition of all muscle groups. Each muscle group should have the same appearance of skin, or a similar level of body fat with the same stretch or pull over the muscles.

For the past 16 months, I have spent an average of 90 minutes in the gym six days per week. I have pushed myself to full capacity every single workout. I have researched and consulted with some of the best in the industry. I've been blessed with a boyfriend who is one of the most knowledgeable trainers I have ever met and who has helped and taught me so much (definitely not the reason I'm dating him, just an extra cherry on top). I was fortunate enough to land myself the most amazing posing coach--a judge for the NGA bodybuilding organization (not the organization in which I compete). I have dedicated myself to the next stage of training, which was to show people that in spite of my scoliosis, I could be competitive in this field of competition. My goal is to get myself a Pro Card, and the title of a professional Figure athlete.

The opportunity to compete came when one of my clients asked if I was considering competing at the same show she was (three weeks prior to my planned debut at the USSC Pro Bowl). I decided to take the offer and use the competition as an opportunity to get onstage again and get competition back in my blood. I was pleasantly surprised to walk away from the UNBA competition in California with a first place in the Tall class and a second place overall Women's Figure category. With a new confidence, I prepped even harder and came into the USSC Pro Bowl feeling more ready than ever.

The Judging Criteria for this competition is clearly stated and communicated to the competitors. The criteria for each class of bodybuilding is different, and the competitor should train specifically to meet that criteria. Bodybuilding is above and beyond looking "fit."

The first element of the Figure competition is the T-walk, where the competitor crossed the stage in a particular pattern, hitting several mandatory poses, but throwing in a few personalized ones as well. She does her best to maximize her strengths and minimize her flaws. After each competitor in the class has finished her T-walk, all competitors are brought to the front of the stage to perform side-by-side comparisons. These are the mandatory poses:

Quarter Turn Front
Quarter Turn Right
Quarter Turn Back
Quarter Turn Right (facing stage left)
Relaxed of "stage" pose

Judging Criteria is as follows:

Muscular Development:

  • Muscular, defined and toned figure 
  • This is not a bodybuilding competition so excessive mass will take away from the 
  • Overall muscular toned physique 
  • Separations between major muscle groups (ex. biceps to triceps) without visible striations in the individual muscles  
  • Symmetry and Proportion
  • No body part should stand out from the rest; train a complete package
  • There should be an even flow through the body 
  • Equal development between all muscle groups 

Stage Presence:

  • Confidence 
  • Execution of quarter turns and figure walk 
  • Skin tone, make-up, suit selection 
  • Overall presentation
I woke up with a stomachache Saturday morning which was very unusual for me. I had experimented with a few different foods in the last few days of peak week, (the week prior to competition which is extremely important to the overall appearance you have on the day of competition), but I had chosen to water deplete a bit later than usual. I usually stop drinking water on Friday at noon, but this competition chose to stop drinking water at 6 pm Friday. This stomachache caused me great concern as I didn't feel "dry" (water sucked out from underneath your skin to pull it tight against your muscle) and I felt a bit bloated. I was fortunate enough that my body responded very well to downing dry oats and honey (yes, poured straight from the bottle into my mouth) in order to suck up the last of the water and cause a spike in my blood sugar, so as to help "fluff" my muscles. 

I performed my T-walk and side-by-sides in the morning pre-judging event feeling great about my performance. I didn't feel I had "nailed it," but would have given myself an 8.9 out of 10. However, the commentary from my posing coach, friends, trainers, and other competitors who watched, made me feel as though I was a hands-down shoo-in for first place. The commentary from these people who actually saw the competition gave me a confidence that I later resented and regretted as I was given a second place medal in the main event that night.

I was shocked, and did my best to hide my disappointment which very rapidly turned to anger. The girl who I thought was my biggest competition actually took fourth, and the girl who beat me out for first place to compete for overall was the girl who took the overall in the Bikini category. This is a very important fact to note, because of the judging criteria I outlined above. It leaves one to wonder what on earth a competitor is doing crossing over between categories that are so different and outlined specifically as to criteria on which the competitor is judged.

The world of natural bodybuilding is very small as the main population of bodybuilders these days turn to non-regulated organizations where they can "supplement" as they please. I choose to compete naturally for multiple reasons and will continue to do so. Could I make great gains and become more competitive much more quickly if I were to dope? Sure. But that's not my purpose and I will not ascribe to the philosophies and justifications of those who do. Many of my friends do, and I love them, but I choose to walk my own road. The world of bodybuilding also has many teams--competitors who train with the same trainer or at the same gym, and form a group or camaraderie with each other. I have never been asked to, or chosen to, align with one of the Utah Teams. I have chosen to fly solo while my own business and team is growing. I have very quickly observed in this industry how closely affiliated many of the teams are with top spots on the "medal platform." I think the most interesting response I received when conversing with a competitor friend (who happened to win, and happened to be a part of one of these teams), was "maybe you just need to be more consistent in doing these Utah competitions and get your face more well-known."

This is an example of the unfortunate standard of the natural bodybuilding world.

The past 24 hours since then has been very interesting in processing all that has occurred. I think back to how and why I started this form of athletic competition. I think back to who I used to be, and how far I have come. I think back to the relatively little I once knew about bodybuilding and realize how much I have learned and what a great knowledge I now have and will continue to gain. I now look at my clients and how they are able to benefit from the experience and knowledge I am rapidly gaining. Team Body Buddies is rapidly growing and my girls are seeing great successes. I plan for my Team to continue to expand and be very competitive. I enjoy coaching and helping my girls reach their goals as well.

May 2012
September 2013

So what's the plan for me up ahead? I am choosing to pull the plug on competing for the remainder of this year. I'm choosing to take my emotions and feelings of frustration into my next year of training. I'm choosing to come back in one year's time to this exact competition and turn every head doing it. I'm choosing not to accept defeat. I'm choosing to fight, to keep my priorities straight, to focus, to strategize, and to work my tail off. I'm choosing to be a winner every day of my life. 

I'll see you at the USSC Pro Bowl 2014.