I’ve contemplated this blog too many times to count. Since arriving home from Barbados I’ve felt the need to write, even an obligation to write, and yet have not felt centered enough to do so. A friend and client of mine in an email said to me, “I think your clients are probably curious about your experience in Barbados. I can’t wait to read your blog about it.” I suppose that’s my signal.

But I’ve been so up and down and all around that creating a coherent blog for you has felt arduous and impossible, in much the same way that I felt the day after I took the stage at the WNBF Pro Universe.

I made the decision to compete in Barbados last January. I asked my good friend, Liz, who is also a WNBF pro competitor, if she’d like to compete with me there. Neither one of us had aspirations to compete until the fall, but we both agreed that a trip to the tropics to take the stage together was something we didn’t want to pass up. So we began our preparation process.

I kept my prep quiet, as has been typical for me the last couple years. Striking as much balance in my life as possible while I’m preparing for a contest is my biggest goal besides improving from the previous show. The more I can minimize competition prep becoming the apex of my world, the  better. As I type this I am shaking my head. Any competitor knows that it’s a pipe dream to think that true balance is achievable when preparing for a bodybuilding contest. When the first think you do each day is weigh in, the second thing you do is take photos, and the third thing you do is have a specifically planned out breakfast, your life is governed by the one goal. I’m not implying this is a negative thing, but what I am saying is that over the years I’ve changed how I approach my prep, and there are many things I do that a lot of bodybuilders don’t. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just what I’ve determined has been best for me.

For example, you won’t find me eating by the clock. I schedule my meals around my client appointments. There is no way I’ll be going into a counseling appointment when I’m hypoglycemic. My clients deserve my best, and that’s what they’ll get. I don’t tell the world I’m competing. Why would I? I don’t do this for the attention. It’s a personal mental and physical challenge to see how far I can push my  body. I won’t post photos all over Facebook every time I take a progress picture and can see another striation. People have better things to do than look at my photos, and I don’t need others asking a lot of questions. “How are you feeling?” “What are your food levels?” “What did you have for breakfast?” “What’s your favorite high carb day meal?” No. Honestly, I have more important things to focus on, like the couple who’s marriage is falling apart that I’m seeing for therapy, and the book I’m writing that will help others to understand weight loss and how the psychological components are just as important as the nutritional aspects for permanency. I love bodybuilding. I will never quit bodybuilding. I love helping others who want to excel in the sport. I’ve met the most amazing individuals through participation in the sport. And there are many other areas of my life that take precedence. I digress.

Liz and I made the decision to compete, and we did, this past Saturday, June 23. I competed in Barbados in 2009 and did not take any time after the show to enjoy the setting. This time Liz and I stayed a few days afterward.

The first day following the competition I can barely remember. I think there was a lot of crying. A lot. Lying on the beach, the waves would come crashing onto the shore like the discouragement rapping loudly on the doors of our hearts. My ocean of emotion was ebbing, flowing, rippling, and roaring. I said to a friend when I arrived back, “I am experiencing a tsunami right now.” At that exact moment I was. And a moment later I was floating on the calm waters before the tide comes in. The tears were saturated with sadness, embarrassment, fear, gratitude, happiness, joy, confusion, trepidation, ambivalence….

I just let them come, waves washing over me and then retreating. Liz moved from a friend to a best friend with this shared experience. I knew not until our time together that we were long lost sisters who had been separated at birth.

By  now you’re probably wondering why such a crazy time.

I do seminars on the topic of the post competition period. Most individuals express a need to understand why they would binge after the show and the few days or months following the competition. More importantly, in my mind, is the significant emotional consequences that follow the competition. Like a  birth, a death, a job change, or a wedding, what I had devoted six months of my life toward was now over. The tremendous drive, focus, determination, effort, and energy expended mentally and physically was now being forced to transition, morph, or  be redistributed. The show was over. Now what? Couple that with a finish I was not anticipating, and I was reconciling in my mind what I could have done differently, if anything. So I was swimming in a sea of questions and unknowns, as many competitors do. Only I knew to expect this. Is it easy? Not exactly. For the first 4 days after I could just burst into tears without warning. A thought, an image, a look on Liz’s face, some words in the magazine I was reading– any one of these things could cause the dam to develop a crack or even a gaping hole.

When I arrived back in Evansville I felt a sense of relief but also had a strong desire to be one with the ocean again. For a few more days. I felt as if I’d been ripped away from it, and Liz, too quickly. Just as I was feeling the sandy floors of my heart begin to settle, we had to leave. Our embrace in the airport as we said goodbye was one I’ll not forget. After scarfing down an abbreviated lunch, barely saying anything but knowing what the other was thinking, I said, ” I love you, Liz,” and we hugged each other like we’d never see each other again. I will see her in a month, but it didn’t matter.

I’m contemplating my next move. Like I had to just start writing in order to formulate this blog, I know the decision will come to me in the same way. I can’t stop my life in order to generate answers. I have to live, and through living the answers will come to me. I have plenty to focus on- -a book, a magazine, childhood obesity curriculum, new programming, my telecourses, a roommate, oh, and my PhD–but I also know that I need a physical and competitive challenge to be involved in. Will I do another bodybuilding show? I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that I want a sense of “normalcy” in my life. I want to be able to wake up and not have the first question I get from my coach  be “how much do you weigh?” I want to laugh more, not be emotionally depressed (yes, it happens to all of us whether we realize it or not), and be able to go out with friends and not worry about what my macros are. My coach said to me the other day, “You’ve laughed and smiled 495% more today than you have over the past six months.” I take things like that pretty seriously.

As the days pass, my emotional hurricane dissipates. A week ago it was so salient I had to keep reminding myself that it was temporary.  It can’t go on forever. Whatever rises must fall. If there is a lesson in this for my readers it is to honor yourself. Let yourself feel. Know that not being okay is okay.

I didn’t get swept out to sea, lost, and drowning. I became the sea.

See the difference? Whether you’re a bodybuilder or not, it doesn’t matter. We all feel. Unfortunately, too many of us try to push those emotions away. They can free us, teach us, move us….if we’ll pay attention.

Published by kpropst

Dr. Kori Propst is the Wellness Director and Vice President of The Diet Doc, LLC. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology, a master of science in counseling, and a doctorate in health psychology and behavioral medicine. Her education is enhanced by certifications in personal training, health coaching, mindfulness meditation, & lifestyle and weight-management consulting. She is also an ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) clinician. The Diet Doc’s lifestyle based programming encourages individuals to adopt an approach of structured flexibility. With encouragement and the science of motivation built into every step of the process, clients adapt their behaviors and mindsets to facilitate safe, effective, and enduring health practices. Their individual metabolisms, lifestyles, food preferences, health conditions, activity levels, goals, and daily schedules are keys to developing their personal plans for success that can stand the test of time. Kori specializes in nutrition and weight loss consulting incorporating a flexible approach and customized programming, physical and mental training, mind-body integration, optimal athletic performance, eating psychology and emotional eating coaching, mindset and peak performance coaching, and overall well-being. Kori is one of a few athletes who have earned professional status in all three divisions of Bodybuilding, Figure, and Fit Body within the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation. She has also been a runner-up at the WNBF World Championships twice, and has earned pro titles at the Mid-America Pro-Am and the Pro-Cup in Sacramento. Now an avid road cyclist Kori can be found among the hills of North County! Published in the Journal of Nutrition and various community magazines, Kori serves on the advisory board for Oxygen Women’s Fitness magazine, is a contributing writer for UltraFitness magazine, is an avid blog writer, teaches at national camps and retreats, and provides international webinars. Kori coauthored 50 Days to Your Best Life with The Diet Doc founder, Dr. Joe Klemczewski in 2014 and has a new book in the works about the threats to self-determination of individuals pursuing nutrition goals. The Diet Doc programming, including a sophisticated digital resource system for clients blazes a trail for permanent success by simultaneously addressing the necessity of having flexible options while still employing a structure that will help accelerate body fat loss and optimal performance.

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  1. Thank you for sharing. I know that was hard. You are a multi-talented person who wears many hats and can’t easily be defined.Many people are so unidimensional that they can be defined as one thing, doctor, lawyer, butcher, baker, candlestickmaker and more often than not they derive their self-esteem from what they do, not from who they are. The show didn’t define you, the prep didn’t define you. Your values, your empathy, your wit, your compassion, your CORE ( and I don’t mean abs) define you. You are a dymamic person a bodybuilder yes, but that is not how you are going to be remembered some day and you wouldn’t want it any other way. If you weren’t so marvelously complicated I don’t think you would be feeling a thing right now but prepping for the next show like a Stepford bodybuilder. Enjoy your emotional ocean, you can’t drown.

    1. Caroline, you’re impressively articulate. I appreciate your comments here. Hard, yes. But I can handle hard. 🙂 I relish hard. You’re kind in your assessment of me- thank you– and bring up some important points that most people don’t realize. I believe you’re right in that we try to define ourselves and will use the roles we have in our lives to do so. Categorizing our lives gives us a sense of security but also limits our capacity to broaden who we are and what we may want to become. Aside from those aspects, however, putting ourselves in a box gets in the way of personal exploration. Can that be scary? Sure! But so what. Fear passes just like any other emotion, and if we let it thwart us then think how much we might miss. Let’s try on a bunch of hats together! 🙂

  2. Thank you Kori for your honesty! I admire you for your ability to be so vulnerable and real. That is so hard for me to do… I’m having such a hard time just articulating anything right now other than thank you! I think that’s why you have stood out to me in the bodybuilding world because I would look at you and think “wow, she seems so normal and together like me! to be a bodybuilder!”….haha….why is she or myself for that matter so compelled to compete in a sport where we are judged solely on how we look! And do it again and again knowing the emotional rollercoaster it’s going to take us on when it’s over, but damn the journey is such a high! Although I’m saying I’m done right now with physique competition, I will never say never but I’m personally enjoying some normalcy again and helping the general population just try to appreciate health and fitness on a basic level. I know you will figure out what to do next and if I ever decide to compete again I would love to use your expertise! Keep fighting the fight and know you are a special person that has touched many lives.

    1. Yes, wow! Thank you Kori, for sharing your knowledge, your work, your mountaintop experiences and your valleys, but most of all, thank you for sharing your life and your heart, the emotional movement of your passionate soul, that very core and essence of who you are, who you don’t want to be, and what and whom you desire and will to be. You show us that there are times when we need to focus on more that mere “mediocrity” and then there are times where we just need to be and to feel and to live more freely!

      You write that you “want to laugh more, not be emotionally depressed (yes, it happens to all of us whether we realize it or not), and be able to go out with friends and not worry about what my macros are. . . . Whatever rises must fall. If there is a lesson in this for my readers it is to honor yourself. Let yourself feel. Know that not being okay is okay.”

      As a counter to the occasional denial in the adage in the self-esteem movement of years gone by, which said “I’m ok, you’re ok,” I’ve heard it said, as well, that I’m not (completely) ok, and you’re not completely ok, but that’s ok.” Slowing down, especially after a time of hyper warp living (and training), allows us to rest and feel and breathe, and we so need this! We also prevent this process and indeed become the obstacle to it (or allow others to block it). There is a tremendous loss of relationship and intimacy that we experience because of fear and avoidance, or in being too busy, too much in our heads, too much doing instead of being and becoming! A well know relationship expert uses the wheel metaphor and says we must drive the vehicle, there will be imbalance, but we can re-balance before the wheels fall off or the (body and mind) breaks down. That illusive butterfly of balance is something to strive for, yet all the while realizing we will never attain it perfectly. It may be like humility, once you think you’ve found it, then you have just lost it. In closing I must say that we get so much out of your coaching, Kori Propst, your training, your knowledge about nutrition, but what moves us the most is when you share from the heart about the struggles you face, and that we all face, but are afraid to admit. I’ve heard it said that we must “make it real” in order to to accept it, come to terms with it, and move through and beyond it. You sharing your journey with us allows us to find greater soul in our own!

      1. Mark, You are consistently and impressively so articulate in your comments– thank you. At times I question (but it’s only fleeting and brief) the appropriateness of my vulnerability for those of you who I am in contact with in multiple capacities– friend, consultant, professional. I want to share who I am because I want you to share with me who YOU are. If we cannot be real with each other, what CAN we be? What do we gain by hiding? With that though comes my desire to demonstrate how faltering doesn’t mean we just fall apart and crumble into pieces. I want to show that I can be raw and strong at the same time. I know you well enough to understand that you have been through the hurricanes of emotion and have traversed the narrow, winding, and often very bumpy mountain roads of hardship, and so I respect your insights. You are genuine, and I appreciate you.

      2. Thank you again Kori, for your appreciation and authenticity as well, and that means a lot to us, to me, yes, falling apart no, but not being afraid to reveal our more vulnerable and human side at times, yes! I am reminded of a yoga term that is also used to describe the balance of disposition in our approach to training or yoga, or work-life in general —- “tender warrior” is the term men use to balance the strength and the more emotionally expressive side of us, the “feminine and masculine” if you will; though, neither term is necessarily ascribed to one or the other. There is no shame in males recognizing the “tender”, and there should be no shock the female acknowledging the “warrior” within. Although knowing how to live that out in our daily lives is an ongoing challenge, we can take great consolation and find wonderful peace in the opportunity of this

    2. Maureen, I wasn’t always like this. No. I’ve struggled with wearing the mask, fearing removing it and risking scrutiny, ridicule, and criticism. While I believed I was sheltering myself – the shade from a sprawling willow in the middle of a cracked desert- what I created was a dehydrated soul, choking from a lack of nourishment. I know that being vulnerable now means I lay myself bare. I understand that I’m more exposed than ever. But if I don’t let the wounds bleed a bit I’ll never heal.

      We choose bodybuilding for a lot of reasons, and those reasons change. What drove me to compete 6 years ago isn’t driving me anymore. When I started I was still ‘in hiding’ I think a lot of people do it as a distraction from facing and attending to other areas of their lives. For others it can be a hobby. But if everyone were willing to do some self introspection, I think what would be universal is that they’d learn a heck of a lot about themselves in the midst of preparing for competition. But that goes for anything in life that requires such will and determination.

      The emotional rollercoaster you know is ahead can’t deter you from pursuing something, but it’s often what causes us to steer the other direction. “I’m scared of what he’ll think…” or the “What-ifs” creep in. I could have decided not to write the blog because I was worried about what others would think. I could have said, “people are going to think I’m weak.” I had to say, “let them think it” and write.

      Thank you for your comments, Maureen.

  3. This is so beauitifully written, I can feel your emotion! Thank you for sharing this part of the journey, I think we all go thru it. It is definitely a journey that takes you to high and then in a day that seems long, it is over in a snap and you are left with all of this emotion!

  4. Really appreciated your thoughts n cld feel your pain n emotional roller coaster. Stated so clearly n someone who understands what I feel n experience when competing. Thks for sharing….

    1. Thank you for your comments, Monique. I know I’m definitely not the only one who feels these emotions so intensely–and it has taken me many experiences to learn how to ride their waves. I didn’t used to be so welcoming of the pain.

  5. I have planed three Goals to reach in the End of 2016. I want to become powerlifting German master under 66 kilogramms and want to bring my selfemployment on the next Level. Also I was excited because a exam was Standing in the house. I pass through two Things. I lost my championship and I failed my exam. But one Thing i went though. I earned 2000 $ per week first time in the end of december with purchasing. So we have to be Focus. Now i learning Wing-Tsun, Handstand and go through here. I become every day more Focus. It’s every day a fight against the universe but I’m the one who wins the war. After i bring my selfemployment in succes. Then my real Championship Bodybuilding comming onto the plan. I’m quite excited reading more about you, loveley Cori

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