I said in my last writing that my entire life I have been attracted to fitness, nutrition and anything related to either. This is also true of my recent adventures in Body Building, Figure Competitions to be exact. I have always wanted to compete. When I was a teenager I would watch bodybuilding on television with fascination. I wasn’t so much fascinated with the men, but the women. Though I had no desire to be manly big, I was in awe of their musculature, physique and overall low body fat! They just looked healthy and strong. I guess I love muscle. I am drawn to strength on pretty much any level, including the physically strong.
I don’t know when figure competing came into existence, but I love it! If you are not familiar with this aspect of the sport, it is like bodybuilding but a bit softer. The competitors have set poses they are to display. A figure competitor is expected to have muscle and symmetry, but she is also expected to display it wearing about five inch heels and a little bling to go with her sparkly posing suit. It’s kind of a fun way to glam up a bodybuilding show.
I would have maybe pursued competition earlier in life except I was quite busy being either pregnant or nursing for more than a decade of my adult life. So, I figure (pardon the pun) that it shouldn’t matter that I am over 40 and have had five children…I want to do it so I will! I did, I am and I do not plan to stop. Not yet anyway.
I competed in a very large Northern California Natural (drug free athletes) show this past weekend. It was incredible, sitting in the audience, enjoying some of the show before having to go backstage to prepare for my turn. I felt nervous. This was a really big show and the stage super glitzy and there were A LOT of people in the audience, approximately 600. Not to mention the level of competition was outstanding! This part I really liked and wanted. I desired to get a taste of what was out there and what was required for me to succeed in this sport. I had only done one show prior and it was a very small show. I enjoyed that one also, but it was my first and more to get my feet wet and see what I thought about this whole figure competition thing. After all, even though I like the sport, it takes a lot of courage to walk out onto a stage with complete confidence, while wearing very little. You may already appreciate what I am saying, but if you truly know how modest I am, then it takes it to a whole new level. I’m not one to crave center stage, especially in a bathing suit! All the while knowing there is a panel of judges sitting there taking notes on all of your physical shortcomings. This sport is not for the weak willed. You have to know how to let it slide right off and not take rejection or criticism personal.
I was thinking about that fact, do not take any criticism personal, but let it help me become better and give me direction on what needs to be attended to if I plan to continue to compete. If I allowed it to be personal, then I’d quit and so would everyone else. It takes a certain amount of mental tenacity and strength to stay confident even when rejected. Like I said before, I am attracted to strength on all levels, so it became another appeal to the sport (not get rejected, getting better).
If you aren’t aware, competitors have to take on a ridiculously dark tan for their competition so the lights won’t wash out the lines of definition in the muscles. I mean…we are crazy dark! Then, we put a layer of shine on all that dark so the stage lighting really captures the curves of the physique and makes an elegant framing to our silhouette. There are all different brands of oils on the market to give the athlete that “just right glow” for the stage presence. I’ve just been using an oil that my bodybuilder gym owner gave me to use. However, I noticed at the show I did last weekend that there were staff members who were assigned to be backstage and “grease up” the athletes. They were literally using Pam Cooking Spray to slather up the ladies and gentlemen to the highest shine. Shine they did. They had so much shine on their skin it reminded me of the tanning with baby oil days of the 80’s. If you are an 80’s child growing up in California, you know what I am talking about! When these gals walked on stage the lights glistened off of their bodies, reflecting the lights from above.
I’ve been thinking about the analogy this presented in my mind ever since. I am a writer with an analytical bent and of the inspirational persuasion; I cannot help but see analogies in just about everything. I wasn’t really planning to write about it, until late Sunday night. I had fallen asleep on the couch while John hacked away at his computer (kind of a regular routine actually). Usually, John wakes me when he is done and we go to bed at the same time, but this night I woke to the sound of Joel Osteen’s voice booming from the television. Mr. Olsteen was speaking on the very subject or analogy I had been pondering, only his didn’t use a bodybuilding analogy. He used the Teflon coating analogy and how we need to let it slip off of us and not be bitter or offended.
See, those girls had an extra coating of glaze on their skin that caused the lights to reflect and amplify the shadows of the definition of their strength. Without the glaze, the dark tan will absorb the harsh light and not reflect. Isn’t it true when we let harsh experiences slide off of us? When we allow God to shine through us like a protective layer of Pam on our skin, then we too will shine and radiate his strength, reflecting his Glory. The definition of our character is revealed, just like a bodybuilders physique. When we carry offense and bitterness then we are absorbing anything harsh that comes against us and the shine just isn’t there.
There is a simple formula for letting things go, allowing our feelings to be protected when people say or do things that hurt. Sometimes people do not know they have hurt you and sometimes they do. That part isn’t up to you to fix. All you can worry about is YOU and how are you going to respond. Will you react and absorb it? Or will you put on your shine and reflect and deflect it?
Ephesians 6 tells us to take up the whole armor of God that we can deflect the schemes of the Enemy. When trials, hard things, hard words, or difficult circumstances come our way, we do not have to be a victim because God wants us to be a Victor! Just like an athlete standing on the podium receiving a trophy or prize, God wants to elevate you and award you with a spiritual physique that resembles His image. Take on His Glory and cast His light from within. Put away malice, strife or unyielding or unwarranted worries that are only meant to tangle you up and defeat you. God has equipped you with every thing you need to succeed at everything you do. So don’t worry! FLEX! You’ve got spiritual strength chiseled upon your chest. God is your breastplate of righteousness and the Peace that holds your feet in His perfect pose. Position yourself for victories yet to unfold. The Banner over you is Love. God’s on your side and He’s got your back. When you’ve got a coach like that with a undefeated track record, you can’t help but win…but only when we do things the right way.
Many of you are facing dire trials that have offended you, hurt you, taken you back. Now is the time to dig deep and find that next gear. We are half way through another year, but God’s got so much more in store for you. Settle your “debts”, be your best, collect your thoughts (get mentally tenacious) and go for the Victory! Let is slide off your back because you have flex~appeal!