I have always been insecure about my body. Even though I’ve always been thin, I was never really fit. In January of 2013, I decided It was time for a change. None of my clothes were fitting any longer and buying a whole new wardrobe was just not in the family budget. Rather than starving myself back into an acceptable size of “skinny-fat” I knew I had to make a real commitment to my health. I needed to feel good about myself. I needed to set a good example for my daughters. I decided to hit the gym and found an online nutrition plan that worked for me.
I tried my best to follow the plan I had found, but made excuses around every corner. A friend’s birthday party or no time for meal preparation left me following the program only about 50% of the time for the first month. That was progress, but not enough. I started with Team Savage’s Nikki Crawford’s program and decided I would do the unthinkable. I would compete in a women’s bodybuilding fitness competition. I knew I had a long way to go to overcome my insecurities and step foot on stage in a bikini, but I made a commitment to myself that day. No shortcuts, no excuses, this was going to be different. This was one goal I was determined to start and finish.
I registered for my first show with the Drug Free Athletes Coalition. I had until October to prepare. It was daunting, but I knew it was possible. I had the support and encouragement from my family and friends, and my husband who knows all of my insecurities, has been my greatest support.
I quickly discovered that bodybuilding was more than just working out and eating right, but I was so inspired by women like Michelle Mein, that my determination to achieve my goal was solidified. I ate six (clean) meals a day on a schedule that required me to bring my food with me almost everywhere I went. I did four cardio workouts a week with alternating high intensity interval training and weight training five days a week using different muscle groups each day. It was difficult making the sacrifices required to accommodate my training schedule and dietary limitations, but seeing the results of my hard work created a new confidence I hadn’t experienced before. For the first time in my life it wasn’t about being skinny, it was about being strong, both physically and emotionally.
On October 5th, 2013 I stepped under the lights at my first competition. I was nervous, but more confident than I had ever been. I knew that this was the opportunity to validate all of my hard work. Whether I won or not, I knew that stepping on stage in a bikini in front of hundreds of people was an accomplishment for myself. All of the blood, sweat and tears had paid off.
I walked away with first place that day and have since earned my National Gym Association Pro Card and will continue to compete. I have fallen in love with fitness and found a new love for who I am. I have discovered an incredibly strong sense of self, something I could never say before I started this journey. I can now look in the mirror and see a woman who is strong, confident, and independent. It is no longer about the number on the scale or having six pack abs. It’s about finding comfort in my own skin. I know who I am and I love who I am and that’s a joy I want to help others find. It doesn’t happen overnight, and I know achieving a healthy, fit lifestyle seems overwhelming to some. It’s a process, it’s setting small goals and achieving them. With every milestone comes a greater sense of accomplishment. You are as worthy of your time and love as anyone else in your life!
Christie Bennett is a 36 year old competitive pro bikini athlete, wife, and mother of two beautiful teenage daughters. She offers personally tailored fitness and nutrition programs through her website. You can follow her continued journey on Facebook and Instagram.