For the last ten months of my life I have been completely disheveled: mentally, emotionally, and most days, quite literally, physically. A choice of my own making as I went on a personal overhaul of my health, physical appearance, mental capacity, and spiritual cognizance. Late last year I made an extreme decision to take ownership of my weight and weight loss. I decided I wanted to lose all of my baby weight from my twins (maybe some extra), transform my body and participate in a bodybuilding fitness competition. Knowing this decision was not light, the road would be long, hard and a challenge to say the very least, I accepted my personal call to action. Like anything else in my life, I was all in! No one could stop me. Yet, somewhere along the way I deviated from my original goal to transform my body. My waters muddied, my train running away from itself and this monster of a being began to emerge.
I no longer recognized the woman staring back at me, she was foreign and familiar. I hated her, she hated me and we loved to hate each other. This woman would snap at my kids in a hungry rage, her ferocity was vicious and loving and frightful all at once. This woman would stop at nothing to reach her goals. She was so driven by her tenacity that fear was her fuel. The fear of failure, the fear of being perceived to not have what it takes, the fear of being perceived as not having enough grit or drive pushed her deeper into the darkness. The uncontrollable fear became all consuming and I was reaching an apex of teetering between self destruction and no longer feeling self love. I finally said enough is enough.
On a Tuesday afternoon I sat in my vintage, velour, barrel chair and sobbed uncontrollably. Feeling embarrassed, ashamed, pissed, disappointed, lost, and defeated. What would everyone think? What would they say? What would I say? Waves of failure washing over me again and again. Overcome with what felt like grief coupled with my feelings of failure, anger and what can only be explained was that moment everyone felt when Forrest Gump just stopped running.
My trainer and I had a heart to heart as much as any could regarding fitness. We discussed the ugly truth of what would need to be done in order for me to compete. He strongly advised that I not take the road less traveled because I may not have a way back. The crazy part of me, the monster that hated me so badly was all in, she would do whatever it took to succeed. Crush the enemy. Win the war against myself. Anything but admit that this should not be done. 500 calories per day plus lifting, plus two hours of cardio was totally doable. Cutting carbs, going high fat was totally doable. We (myself and the other crazy chick in my head) knew we could do it, and I would drag the logical whiner with me to the death of this goal. In spite of wise words from my trainer that told me he did not suggest it, that he did not think to be a good idea, that the end result could be metabolic damage.
Until logic set it, the same logic that caused me to sit in my velour barrel chair and sob like a little girl. A text came across my phone from my best friend and her words echoed in my mind as I could hear her snarkiness, sass, and sincerity of love asking me:
“Would you be devastated if you didn’t compete or would you still be pretty fucking proud of yourself of where you’ve come in such a short amount of time?”
Her words mimicked those of The Chad who supported me regardless of my crazy connotations. Her words were mine that I had silenced in my head, because the thought of not competing meant defeat, failure, embarrassment, and the inability to follow through. Karie Noel (Hudson) Herring has NEVER had a moment of not following through with her tasks or goals. Until that afternoon. That afternoon I found a miracle in not following through. A text from a best friend was divine intervention. Best friends always know what to say, even if the Lord above had a hand in her timing and her words, I could not have been more thankful she was in my life.
What I realized with her text is that I did not need to crush this goal like every other goal, project and works I had done in my life. I looked at this moment like a softball game and the seven run rule. Why continue to be more victorious over the opponent in an apparent slaughter? The seven run rule causes the game to end early due to mercy. This opportunity was my mercy call, to allow for healing, self love and come out a winner without being a poor sport. A friend told me, “real winners know when it’s time to stop…the risk isn’t worth the reward.”
During this process I started to risk more and more. I risked my children seeing me at my very worst, even if only for a little while. They did not deserve the treatment and behavior they received from me due to being calorically, emotionally, physically and mentally deficient. No reward was greater than how awful I treated them, even if for just a brief moment in our timelines. I risked my marriage with my loving and understanding husband tolerating some of the same behavior as well as my lack of presence, physically, mentally and emotionally. The toll and stress of my drive to compete was getting the better of me despite my best efforts to find balance. I risked my daughter having a jaded, disgusting view about body image and self worth, one I have battled my entire life. I could not have this beautiful, strong, confident creature believe that her worth was tied to her beauty or physical appearance. Finally, I risked who I am, who I was, and who I was becoming as a person. The darkness was overtaking me as I stood before a mirror looking at the foreign and familiar woman, obsessing over perceived flaws.
At the end of the day when I made the decision to not compete in September I felt as if a two ton gorilla was lifted off my chest. God had sent his sign, everything was alright. My kids were alright. My husband was alright. I was alright. I was more than alright, I was filled with joy, love, gratitude, thanksgiving and a boat load of humility. A personal challenge had turned into a superhuman opportunity to share how good, strong and loving God can be in our lives. He showed me the way when I thought nothing was good enough. When I thought I wasn’t good enough. When I thought I wasn’t worthy enough. When I thought I wasn’t skinny enough. When I thought I wasn’t pretty enough. When I thought I wasn’t giving enough. He showed me that His love and grace IS enough. He showed me I am enough. He showed me in my madness that there is no other person like me. He showed me that no one but me can share this story, tell my story. He showed me who I am, who I was through the eyes of others. I was able to see what so many others saw and was in awe. I could not believe the woman I was looking at, she did not look like the woman I saw in the mirror. (The photos posted are all from other people taking them, with the exception of my side-by-side, so that I could see what they saw.)
When I accepted that not doing the competition was more about living for so much more, the feelings of shame, embarrassment and failure began to wane. Those feelings were my own dark, sinful, prideful manifestation and did not define who I was or who I am as a person. I achieved an amazing goal of having the clothing size of my teenage self but the curves and flaws of a woman who has lived with and for so much more. Choosing not to compete did not mean I was quitting. I wasn’t even giving up; I was choosing me. I was choosing my mental and physical health over the risk of metabolic damage and spiritual destruction. I was and am willing to accept that I am beautiful with all my flaws. I was and am willing to accept that I will never look perfect. I have accepted that in competition brain, the end result is never enough: not skinny enough, not lean enough, not big enough, not strong enough. I was and am still working to accept who this woman is in the mirror because often seeing yourself through the eyes of others is life changing. I am and have accepted that enough is enough.