Samara Donald is: The Gym Coach

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The Art of Losing

front2My husband will be very upset with this title. He continues to correct me when I assert that “I lost” with “No, you didn’t win, it’s not the same thing.” It’s been an interesting debate we’ve been having about my placing at my first National competition. A personally disappointing 15th out of 16 competitors is “losing” to me, whereas to him there’s those that got trophies (top 5) and everyone else. Simple as that.

What’s interesting about this debate is that, according to the old adage at least, “it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s how you played the game.” And as I reflect on my experience at the Masters National NPC competition 1 week ago, I find that poignant. At the end of the day, I crossed the finish line. I did what I set out to do and experienced a national stage. I learned a LOT through the process, lessons that are even now still formulating. And the photo doesn’t lie – you can tell i’m just having fun!

My biggest lesson in all of this, is that it’s very hard to see yourself from the outside. Even with photos, videos, and a mirror, we can never really get an unbiased vantage point. Back stage, I was super confident. I thought: “I’m in way better shape than these girls! I got this.” But I didn’t. That has to do with two things: 1) Things on stage look WAY different than they do backstage, and 2) Definitions of “the perfect shape” are extremely subjective. You can learn from both but only do something about the first.

It’s even harder to be happy with yourself, especially when you don’t seem to fit in someone else’s mold. If I’m truthful, I think I looked awesome in the competition. If I’m more truthful, it was really hard to get to look like that and I’ll say impossible (and possibly unhealthy) to maintain and still live a “normal” life. My husband on the other hand can’t wait for me to ‘soften up’ and become ‘less muscly.’ That’s ok. We just have different views on what makes a nice physique, and luckily for me his is easier to maintain! The trick is (going to be) getting to a place where you feel good about how you look AND what you have to do to maintain it. I gave up a lot to look the way I did at competition. Yes I missed sweets and wine, but mostly I am looking forward to getting back to enjoy eating, food, and the social atmosphere that goes along with it. For that I’m ok with the trade off in how close I can be to my own “ideal” physique. In my heart of hearts I know that living life and focusing on my relationships and joy, not my outer self, is far more important than looking a certain way. And that is where I begin my next journey…

When we work very hard for a particular goal, it’s sometimes challenging to accept “just finishing” as the end of it. In this country at least, I believe most of us are raised to be competitive. I’ve been thinking a lot about growing up with the mindset that we must be 1st or we aren’t good enough, and why we let other’s definition of ‘ideal’ outweigh our own. For me, while finishing near last was bruising to my ego, in my logical mind I know that it only means that my interpretation of a great physique is not the same as these judges’. So to chase the trophy so to speak, requires falling into a bit of a trap of adjusting myself to someone else’s ideals. Will there be a next time? I’m a big fan of ‘never say never.’ I’m not bitter by any stretch, in fact I think there is more to learn from losing (sorry honey) than winning. At least for now, that’s enough for me.


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This entry was posted on July 29, 2013 by in Uncategorized.
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