For starters, this year has been a complete and utter whirlwind in so many ways. We started our journey in the gym on Jan 1 of this year, working out almost daily. Then that progressed into the 75 Hard Challenge. Then we lost and gained some jobs, started a podcast and worked a lot on the personal business tasks.
In June while I was in between Phase 1 and 2 of the Challenge, I saw something where they were starting a contest for Maxim Magazine. Every year, they hold a contest for the next new face Cover Girl. The grand prize winner gets money, trip to Paris, photoshoot and magazine cover. It's one of those things that I never would have even considered 10 years ago, let alone 6 months ago!
I was running myself ragged at home one day working on a million things at once and needed a quick break or distraction and said 'smurf it,' and filled out the application. I left it alone and forgot about it and went about my to do list. A couple days later, I get an email saying that I was chosen to compete in the competition. I kind of stared at it for a while in disbelief. Had to be a joke right? Maxim is graced with not just very very beautiful women, but sexy and sensual women. When I first applied, I thought maybe I have a pretty enough face to compete but in hindsight, I didn't take into account the body aspect of it, LOL (Clearly didn't think this through during that momentary distraction a few days prior.)
I started thinking about it. I mean I have lost over 180 lbs since my heaviest days and what if this was an opportunity to spread awareness about body image and bariatric surgery?
WHAT if, I became the first Bariatric woman to grace the cover of Maxim Magazine?! I started visualizing what it might look like to actually win. So I got pumped and I started posting about it. Let's treat this like the fitness challenges and see how far we can go with this. Now normally when I set my mind to something, I go hard and I don't stop until the task is completed. But I couldn't do that in this case. This time, it was going to be relied purely on the votes of people. This goal, I have to rely on the kindness clicks of others on a website in order to make it. People might think this is silly or stupid. How am I going to compete with people who have millions of followers all over the damn place??
So the contest starts with thousands of women, all put into smaller groups of 50 or more. Each "round" lasts a week. The first round was narrowing it down to the top 20 in each group. Then Top 15, Top 10 and so forth.
I started promoting like crazy, making posts on social media, sending out the links to family and friends and making a couple videos on Tik Tok. I wanted to think outside the box and I went with the Bariatric angle. I thought maybe that would help me to stand out as it could potentially inspire others in the community that if this chick can do it, so can they. I wanted to give hope that it doesn't matter where you are in this moment. You have the opportunity to rise above it and go for something once seemed impossible.
So after the first week, I advanced to the top 20! I couldn't believe it! This was literally insane to me and I kept repeating that to anyone who mentioned it.
Isn't it fun to have such deep rooted insecurities that you find yourself constantly questioning the validity of any good thing that happens? Like you aren't good enough or worthy enough of good shit? The mental mind fuck is soooo much fun LOL
The first couple rounds were rough mentally. Between the constant self sabotage mindset and second guessing, you also find yourself seeing who is supporting and who isn't. I didn't tell anyone at the time, but I was able to see the last 3 voters at any given time. It was disheartening to see the ones who you thought would invest their time without skipping a beat, didn't. Now obviously love is not measured by a silly vote online, I'm not completely crazy, LOL. But it was an eye opener to see some people that you drop everything for while you are in the midst of your own chaos, to help them through something but 30 seconds is too much work for them to commit back to you.
In the beginning I was fixated on this, which is terrible for your mental health, and would stew and self sabotage. But there was a day where I noticed a name, and it kind of surprised me because we rarely ever talked on social media. So here's this person who doesn't know me personally but knows my posts and took 30 seconds out of their day and cast a vote for me. I was floored. It was then I realized, I was focused on the wrong mindset. I shouldn't be focusing on the ones who didn't, I should be beaming from the ones who DID!
By week 2 or so, something shifted and I was getting excited. I was starting to get responses from the posts and people were starting to comment and send me messages of encouragement and support. The more love I was receiving, the more pumped I was getting.
By this time, it was time to start Phase 2 of the 75 Hard so it was back to the 2 workouts a day, water pushing, reading and diet plans. But this time it felt easier. Well, in fairness, l already knew it was going to be easier than Phase 1, but also, there was a goal in mind with this contest and I would want to look and feel my best in the mere chance of winning. I was visualizing the end results more and it was fueling me each day.
I started getting up at 5am to get the coffee morning routine out of the way so that I could be more productive, get more shit done and start some new routines. I was becoming pumped each day, excited to add and check things off the list and conquer shit.
I started making more dancing videos, lip synching to silly songs and posting them. I start getting messages from people how they love them and it brings a smile to their face.
I started getting messages from people congratulating me for putting myself out there and going for it and that it was inspiring and they were proud.
But then it went a step further. Then the messages and comments coming in were people who were inspired to start MAKING CHANGES IN THEIR OWN LIVES! They were now going for walks, eating healthier and making conscious decisions to bring small changes. Then it was messages of people sharing their new NSV's that they were inspired to try and that's when this all become more and more real. Getting through your own insecurities and fears is so hard, but when you decide to go for it and it somehow inspires someone else to be better, my GOD, that is the biggest compliment you can give someone!!! And when someone is watching you and using it to fuel themselves, it ignites something deep inside you where you don't want to let them down and you sure as hell don't want to let YOURself down. So you push a little harder, move a little further and do a little more each day.
In the last 6 weeks, I have accomplished more NSV's in this short time frame than I ever have in my life! Just a small list included doing a cartwheel, yoga poses, Back bridges, wearing crop tees, wearing a bikini in public and taking videos of my flawed body parts and plastering them on social media!
With each passing NSV challenge, my confidence was growing, I was starting to actually feel pretty and I was feeling confident. The more my confidence seeped out, the more responses were coming in. It's a VERY humbling ego boost for sure. It's one of those things you always secretly wanted but never assumed you would have it, so you never got prepared in how to handle it when it does come LOL
As we made it to top 5 in the group, I about shit myself! Top 5 out of 55 woman?! I started to pump myself up at the thought that I might actually advance to the final rounds! If I was going to visualize potentially winning a Maxim contest, I had to start playing the part and embracing it! So in between tasking one day, I decided to take some sexy photos of myself. But how do you look sexy if you have never really felt sexy? I sometimes still feel like the tomboy I was for so many years. I am a dork and a goofball. I am awkward and silly. How do you elude sexiness? LOL
Is duck face still a thing? Do you mimic Zoolander? How do you necessarily "smile with your eyes?" It's too much so I just said smurf it and started taking pics.
I went back and forth wondering if I should post anything because I was terrified of the loose skin showing, the flaps and especially scared of the potential comments and judgements from people. Social media is funny where we have all watched people become fierce commentators behind the safety of a computer or phone screen, LOL
But then I thought, if I can't post a pic to my own network of people, how the smurf am I going to be okay with showing it to the world in the chance that I won?!
So I posted that picture and cringed at myself while I clicked send.
When you overcome a fear and release it into the universe, something shifts inside of you and the lioness from within awakens from her decades long slumber and comes out roaring.
It's time to start embracing this more. Let's move the hips a little more, let's force ourselves outside our comfort and see what happens.
Now for the contest, all I had to do was make it to first place in my group and I was advancing into the final rounds. I was up against beautiful women with thousands, if not millions of followers. I am just small potatoes but I was feeling hearty and filling with the souls of those around me.
There were options to donate for extra votes but I refused to ask anyone to spend money on this. I knew I wasn't going to stand much of a chance with that approach but something like this, I wished for my entire life and I was prepared to work my ass off for it! If I succeeded, I never wanted to question myself it was from merit or money. A small handful of people donated on their own and I felt myself being upset that they were spending money and they would tell me they want to do it and they are fighting for me to win.
Having a tribe behind you is empowering especially when it's something you craved your life. I wish I spent more energy on building my tribe from the ground up back then instead of investing time helping other tribes build the fire who then kicked you out into the cold when it was finally lit.
But reflections show it's all for a reason.
Because of my lack of money begging, I ended the completion in 3rd place in my group in the last minutes of the round. It was a valiant effort that day as I promoted like crazy and did everything I could think of to secure votes.
I was bummed at first when I was bumped off but when I looked back to the last 6 weeks and how vastly my life has improved in so many aspects, it was truly an awesome experience. An unexpcted experience directly as a result of just making a silly decision to go for something. No prize can match that and I won far more than I set out to do.
I have been inspired to press on forwards and find new ways to put myself out there and conquer unimaginable shit!
My favorite part of this journey for myself was when my buddy took that pic I was so terrified to post and he turned it into a magazine cover for me to visualize the possibilities of winning. That is probably one of the greatest gifts someone can give you. The gift of genuine belief in you.
Thank you Ken for this photo.
Thank you to every single one of you who voted for me. It didn't seem like much for you, but it meant the world to me.
Thank you to every single one of you who messaged and called me. You lifted my spirits up each day and inspired me to push harder.
Thank you to every single one of you who rose from your own ashes as a result and are now becoming the best version of YOU!
Thank you to those of you who said you voted but really didn't. It's okay. I'm not mad but I learn lessons in everything now ;)
Sometimes the outcome might not be what you wanted it to be, but the road to get there is filled with so many riches and nutrients along the way that your wealth has grown far beyond what the end result could have been or given you.
I didn't reach the destination on this particular road......
But I just took a fucking detour that is going to be a game changer soon..