Tuesday, 1 November 2016

What do you do when your daughter tells you she wants to be a bodybuilder?

Those who body build know that it’s not just your life that’s affected when you’re preparing to take part in a competition. The lives of those around you are massively affected also and your support network becomes a big factor in your success, or otherwise. I asked my mum to write a piece for my blog about her views on me becoming a bodybuilder and how she found the process, from the side lines.
Well never ever in my wildest of dreams did I picture myself sitting in the audience at Unity Hall in Wakefield, on a Sunday afternoon, 22nd May, watching the NPA Yorkshire Championships, let alone cheering on my youngest daughter in the Trained Figure Class 2 Competition.
What can I say? Rebecca has been into her keep fit and gym classes for quite a while now and loves her healthy lifestyle with a passion.
However, nothing could prepare me for the announcement that Rebecca casually dropped into a general conversation one day that she “wanted to compete”. I first thought it was a fad, typical Rebecca always striving for better things, bigger achievements etc. and to be honest I think my casual reply was something on the lines of “For God’s sake Rebecca, why?” or “What the hell for?” not taking what she had said too seriously. Big mistake. She was serious. She was determined. No matter what, she was going to compete.
Now as a mum of two beautiful healthy daughters, my own personal journey through the training and prep and strict diet regime was nothing less than a nightmare at times. The early stages I coped with ok as I would contribute by preparing batches of sweet potato mash, carefully weighed out and portioned into foil trays, cooking broccoli stems until I was gipping myself and I only prepared them! I had to make sure that when she came to ours for tea that accurately weighed chicken was plain and simple to accompany the lifeless mash and broccoli. I would on occasion get excited when she said she was changing her diet, thinking ‘oh thank the Lord’. Then she informed me that it would be a single portion of cod with accurately weighed peas!!! This was worse than the sweet potato mash and chicken. I tried to flavour and spice up the fish without adding calories. Not easy.
Now Rebecca’s dad, Steve didn’t like what he was seeing. As expected I was piggy in the middle.
“You need to tell her she’s not eating enough”
“She’s going to make herself ill” he would say.
Then I would have Rebecca saying to me “I’m not coming for tea if dad is going to be stuffing his face with pizza and wine. If I come I will eat before him and leave before he starts his supper”. This was a near impossible situation at times. “Dad never asks how my training is going” was another  question I had to try and explain.
Just let me make this clear before anyone reading this thinks that Steve doesn’t care. It was because he cared that he found it so difficult to support Rebecca on this occasion as much as he perhaps should have done.
As time passed by and the diet became more strict, the training more intense and Rebecca’s energy levels sometimes non-existent, her personality changed drastically too. This apparently is fairly normal for someone who is preparing for a comp and putting their body through such testing times. Life becomes so strict, no social life, no treats or alcohol, basically just training, sleeping (which also became drastically disturbed) and working was Rebecca’s life.
As a mum this was heart breaking to see at times. How I didn’t message her PT at times and ask him what the hell was he was doing to my daughter, I don’t know (Edit from Rebecca: Sorry Mikey I swear I never blamed you haha). The bubbly personality was quickly disappearing and being replaced by someone who was constantly snapping back, quiet and withdrawn from everyone. I found myself walking on egg shells when I was in her company.
Along with one or two of her friends I would then be the one left trying to lift her spirits, help to dry the tears that she shed and trying to support her when on more than one occasion she said to me “If I had known it was going to be like this mum I would never have done it”. But in true Rebecca fashion she never gave up. She was determined that she had come this far and she WAS going to compete!
As the competition date drew close I stocked her up with wine gums for the day of the competition and she had her bottle of wine ready for dehydration stage. Yes here I was again thinking to myself that Rebecca will be an absolute wreck if she ever makes it onto that stage and saying to her  “This isn’t right, this can’t be good for you”  “It has to be done mum” would be the reply.  Shut up Joanne and carry on as if it weren’t happening I thought.
Then comp day is finally upon us. I remember thinking to myself “let’s get this over with and get my real daughter back”
I get given the job of taking Rebecca and her comp tanning and support buddy, Lucy, to her PT’s house early in the morning. I leave them there, give her a hug and wish her well and I will see her at the venue. I then go on my next mission of collecting a dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme for the feast that Rebecca had planned with family and friends that evening.
I arrived at the venue that Sunday afternoon, full of nerves and not having a clue really of what I was going to witness. I sat with a couple of Rebecca’s friends one of which, we as a family have known well for many years; Steph. Now Steph along with me and my two girls is a Wakefield Wildcats fan and very inconveniently the competition date had fallen on the same day that the rugby league Magic Weekend fixture at Newcastle for Wakefield was to take place (Ironically Rebecca had bought me an overnight stay in Newcastle to watch the game as a gift for Mothers Day. This was quickly snatched back from me and replaced with a ticket to the NPA Championship!! - say no more on the subject Rebecca). Steph had it covered for me with regular score updates on her phone.
When Rebecca took to the stage I was so proud. All that she had worked for and sacrificed was now on show. You could see what it meant to her. All of a sudden I was cheering her on and chanting along with her friends as if I were on the terracing at the rugby match. She looked so good. Her bikini dazzled in the lights as she performed and posed on stage.
I don’t know much about these competitions but I do know that when she did her own individual routine, Rebecca was outstanding. So precise.  So accurately timed.  A different style to the other competitors. As near to perfect as could be. I was so emotional and excited for her but most importantly so proud. Her hard work and my mental torture was beginning to feel like it was worthwhile.  When they announced that Rebecca had been placed in her category and she collected her trophy, I couldn’t have been happier for her. It was so well deserved and meant everything to her.
 Every emotion you can imagine went through my youngest daughter that day. She had reached her goal and the bonus of a trophy was the icing on the cake.
She was glad it was over and at last she could return to a relatively normal life again. I remember her messaging me a couple of days later and it reading “I did it Mum”. I was choked.
As a birthday gift, Steve and I had Rebecca’s competition bikini and photograph framed as a memory and a keepsake of this special day which now sits proudly in Rebecca’s lounge.
After promising she was only going to compete this year for the experience and the challenge, she soon told me not long after that she wanted to compete again next year...watch this space!

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