As I stand on this cliff at the edge of the Earth, I stare into the sunset and gather my thoughts. I clear my head, take a deep breath, slowly let it out, and remember these words by Russell Simmons. “Be encouraged. Stay on your hustle. You can’t fail until you quit.” I committed myself to a theory of this sort as a young girl that was lost in a world of pain trying to find my way to happiness. My only hopes were to forget all the pain. This is where I suppose it all started for me; strength that is. Strength to make a promise to myself to overcome the obstacles I have been through and grow to be a powerful woman that achieves everything she dreams of. I think back today and I am overcome with emotion knowing how my faith and strength have turned me into the woman that I could only dream of at a young age. I only hope to help others fight through their obstacles and encourage them to strive for what they want based on my story.
For many years, I shut down that place inside myself that needed to rage, cry, and ask questions, and basically express myself. I still wake up at night in a cold sweat screaming after seeing visions of “him”. “Him” is a monster to me that is now seen as inhumane in my eyes. However, now I am a woman who has recovered from what he did to me when I was younger. There were times when I thought everything was my fault, and after I was embarrassed to tell anyone what happened to me.
I will never forget the day that I knew I had to be strong and tell my mom and brother that my mom’s significant other had been sexually abusing me. It took every ounce of strength to get the words out of my mouth to my brother first. It was like a bad dream that you want to open your eyes from, but you can’t because it’s a dream. However, I finally pushed the truth out to my brother one day in the middle of the kitchen. We cried at first, but we both quickly gained faith and strength to plan our next steps. What was happened needed to stop. Once I said it out loud finally, I knew that what he had been doing to me was wrong. We didn’t hesitate in taking the next steps to tell our mom what was going on. In fact, we both told her that very night. I will always be thankful for how my mom reacted to such a horrible truth coming out. She didn’t doubt me for a second, and immediately removed me from that monster.
There are many factors that affect monsters going to prison for sexual abuse. In my case, it involved being pulled out of school for questioning day after day. Unfortunately, after everything I poured out, there was not a confirmed conviction. At times I think it could be a result of me not providing or remembering enough. However, the true fact is that it is very hard to get conviction for sexual abuse. Eventually, it was time to recover and find my way to being normal. Normal to others meant seeing a therapist. However, it just wasn’t for me. I told myself then that I would do everything I wanted to do in life, and I would never let this set me back. I began to learn that if you challenge yourself with something you know you could never do, you find that you can overcome anything. Frank Sinatra puts it simple, “the best revenge is massive success”. I knew then that I would do whatever it took to succeed.
Over the years I grew into a very goal oriented and competitive person. You name a sport; I played it. I played soccer, basketball, softball, and I ran track. I giggle to myself now remembering old times and how I would shed tears over losing a game. However, competition and goals are embedded in my DNA. I am my own toughest critic. If the team did well, but my performance wasn’t where I wanted it, I came crashing down on myself. This carried over with everything else like my schoolwork, and now with my career. I refuse to settle for just getting a job done.
I will always remember:
The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet keep looking. Don’t settle. – Steve Jobs
Entering my adult life I still stayed active playing in softball leagues, hiking, and running throughout the week. However, I did not understand heavy weight training and proper nutrition. I was always that person that said I would never give up my pizza, and I don’t want heavy weights to make me bulky. However, I tried a consistent nutrition plan to have proper fuel while training for a race that is held in Austin each year. After a few weeks of training, I saw a huge difference and became excited. Once I conquered the race, I was quickly searching for a new fitness goal. I call this the beginning of my obsession. A friend of mine who competed in figure through Texas NPC (bodybuilding world) quickly gave me a nudge to try the sport. Without knowing anything at the time in regards to how long it would take to train for a show of this sort, I set my heart on the Texas Shredder. Most people train for a show over 13 weeks or more. However, I set my goal on the Shredder and it being 6 weeks away didn’t have me backing down. Suddenly I was throwing heavy weight all over the gym, following perfect nutrition, and pushing my little heart out while running sprints. During this time, a particular quote from Ray Kroc is suitable. “Luck is dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.” I think I had sweated enough over six weeks to fill a lake! However, these wise words prove true. I was a very lucky girl when I stepped on stage 6 weeks later placing 3rd in my very first show.
Words cannot describe the feeling inside you when you step on stage for the first time. Throughout the process of training for a show there are times when you cry, times when you think you want to give up, times you are so sore you can barely walk, but you put one sore leg in front of the other to keep pushing. When you finally get on stage everything around you disappears. All you can think of is smile big because it is your time to shine like the biggest star. I didn’t remember a single thing I did after I got off stage for my first time. Everything basically becomes a blur when you show your transformation. All of the time, hard work, sweat, tears, and changes turn you into a new person. They say you change the most in your twenties; well I became a completely different person.
After seeing what I was capable of, I became addicted to competing in Bikini Division for TX NPC. I competed over the next few years, did amazing, went to nationals to compete at USA’s in Vegas, and started chasing a pro card for the sport. While training for nationals, I found that I was in the best shape of my life; yet so unhealthy. When training for a show, your body exerts everything out of it and you are usually competing at around 11-13% body fat. As a woman, it can be damaging to stay below 15% body fat for extended periods of time. Well, for me I stayed around 11% body fat for about 7 or 8 months. After nationals I tried to go back to being normal healthy, and I gained 20lbs. I was at an ultimate low depression in my life. None of my clothes fit, weight kept increasing, but I was eating very clean and working out hard. There was a time I vividly remember standing in my closet, breaking down into tears because not one pair of shorts would button. I couldn’t understand what was happening to my body, but I knew something wasn’t right. As a result, I began working with an amazing nutritionist who tested my hormones and confirmed that there was serious damage done to my body. He confirmed that no matter how perfect you eat, if your hormones aren’t doing well you will not be able to lose weight. After turning to a variety of hormone medications and perfecting nutrition to eat triple the amount I used to eat, I was throwing around weight in the gym and slimming up again in no time at all. I was back to myself just in time for competing season to begin again. Naturally, I wanted to keep pushing to chase my dream of turning pro in the sport. However, my nutritionist warned me that he could get me there but it wasn’t what my body needed. While he warned me I needed more time to eat more and do less cardio, I just thought about how I just wanted to get back on stage more than anything. Happiness was questionable at this point.
I began getting ready to compete in my practice show for nationals, but along the way I realized a very important lesson. I started competing to achieve ultimate health and fitness, and have a fun goal. However, over a couple of years I found that I really hadn’t lived at all. I traded in my clear pair of competing heels for life and fun. I wasn’t able to go out to eat with friends, I was too tired to attend any events at night, and I started missing very important times in my friends’ lives. My fiancé was the most patient out of everyone; standing by my side supporting my every move. However, I could count on one hand the number of times we had gone out to dinner in the past year. I found fun alternatives for family and friend, but it was still very hard to take on a normal life with continually competing all season. I also had another hard battle with always trying to change my body to achieve the “bikini look” and get a pro card. As you remember I was an athlete to begin with. I naturally have very muscular legs. In bikini it’s important to not be too muscular, too lean, and you must have a symmetrical body overall. I was critiqued at every show to bring down the muscle in my legs and increase my upper body in size. I am naturally built with very muscular legs, a log torso, and a petite upper body. This meant I was continually tearing down the muscle in my legs, piling on muscle in my upper body, and I had to hike the bottoms to my swimsuit up to give an illusion of shorter torso and longer legs. While prepping for my last competition I came to a reality check that I got “lost” in the sport and my obsession. What was originally a great fitness goal turned into an unhealthy obsession to change my body to what others wanted and cause unhealthy body images toward myself. One day I just really started thinking, “What are you trying to do?” When I couldn’t answer that question without saying, “I want to become a pro”, I knew I had to reevaluate my goals.
When I think back to the amazing feeling I had stepping on stage for my first show, I found that the feeling wasn’t the same as it used to be. Competing had become a job in my life. When I wasn’t in contest shape I became unhealthy with my body image and wouldn’t even want to get into a swimsuit in front of others. The goal of being in the best shape of my life got lost. I realized I was alone with hormone issues, and unhealthy body insecurities. I made a choice that I would go out of competing with the same show I came in with. I had put in the hard work of training for a show, and I wasn’t going to give up my goal just because I had a reality check. As a result, I competed at the TX Shredder once again. I placed 4th with the normal critiques that my legs were too muscular, and I wasn’t symmetrical. The fact is that I can continue to decrease muscle in my legs and increase my upper body, but I had to realize that I just didn’t have what it takes to turn pro in the sport. It’s the same as any sport, not every minor league baseball player can play in the major leagues. I really enjoy the world of competing, and support anyone who has a show in mind for his or her big goal. However, I had to remove myself from that world in order to become healthy and be happy with me again. Once I realized that I got lost in obsession with turning pro instead of competing for fun, everything else was simple for my decisions. I became to discover a new even stronger me that was still in love with fitness, but learning to love myself as well.
One amazing thing that competing did help me with was modeling opportunities. When I was younger I always said I wanted to be a lawyer and a model. Funny girl. I was too short and muscular for typical modeling, and I didn’t go to law school. However, I have made an amazing career as an education account executive and I am now a fitness model. The funny girl turns out to be a coincidental story in the end.
I love being a fitness model because it reminds me how strong and beautiful I am. It is better to balance with normal life, but it keeps me on track consistently with my fitness goals. I find the same thrill in meeting new people and jumping in front of a camera, as I did stepping on stage. Plus I am also still a bikini coach for girls that are looking to compete. I teach them the importance of having a nutritionist and resting your body. I can’t say I am 100% healthy with hormone damage and body image issues, but I have greatly improved. I am enjoying the discovery of a new me once again.
I like to revisit that cliff every now and again to gather my thoughts and ground myself with my goals. I know that I have been through many horrific issues in my life, but I know I will never let those things hold me back. I promised myself I would be a strong woman. That is something I am very proud to be today. As Michael Jordan says, “If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”.
Connect with Lindsey Meyer via Facebook.