Transformation is such an all encompassing word for what has gone in the past 5 months.  My body has changed significantly, as you can see from the pictures and I am proud of that.  It was hard work.  What you can’t see is the transformation that has occurred within.  This year has been without a doubt the most difficult one for me on record.  My mother, my best friend, my role model, passed on May 10th , 2016.   I pushed myself into a role that I was not ready for, but needed to be filled.  I became the rock for my siblings and my aging father.  I allowed myself to take on everyone’s stresses, sadness and fears, without really facing my own.  I became a caregiver for my father as his health began to decline and a confident to him as he faced his eventual fate.  During all of this, I made the decision to attempt a major challenge to celebrate turning 40.  I entered into a figure competition.

At first, prep did not go well.  Nichelle gave me all of the tools that I needed to achieve a level of fitness capable of a figure competition.  I cheated with meals, I skipped cardio, I didn’t push myself the way that I am capable of.  When I explained how I felt, Nichelle didn’t coddle me.  She was straight with me and very kindly told me that I was capable of so much more.  She told me to use my emotions during my workouts and to channel my grief into creating something strong.

During the rest of this process I did just that.  I used my frustrations, my stress and even my sadness during each workout.  When I felt like consuming comfort foods I reminded myself that it wouldn’t in fact fill the empty feeling that I have had in my heart.  When I needed comfort and support I turned to my team Laus ladies.  I honestly cannot thank each of them enough.  The personal messages of support and encouragement has pushed me to become stronger in every area of my life.

At the start of “peak week”, my father’s health took a major downhill slide.  It was heartbreaking to hear a man of such intelligence lose his grip with reality.  I gave serious consideration to skipping the competition that I had been working towards.  As pointed out to me, there will always be other competitions and only I could make that decision.  I consulted my siblings about this and they told me “do you know how mad dad would be at you for giving up right at the eleventh hour?”  I competed in my first figure competition on May 13th.  It was something that I will never forget.  On May 18th, 2017, my dad peacefully joined my mom.

I feel that although I didn’t perhaps do as well at the competition as I would have liked, preparing for it actually prepared me for something bigger.  I have been able to fill that difficult role that my family has needed.  I have been able to support them without losing myself.  The prep for this competition has helped me to become so much more than strong physically, I feel like I can handle any situation with grace and without the fears that I once had.  I have always avoided public speaking in the past but I actually volunteered to do my father’s eulogy.  I am very proud of that and I believe that my parents would be too.

Back to the transformation. The pictures can show how much stronger my body has become but my true pride is in all of the strength that I have gained.  Thank you so much Nichelle for pushing me to be stronger than I was and thank you to all of the incredible Laus women for all of your love and support.  I am forever grateful to all of you.

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