This scares the hell out of me, which is exactly why I must do it. Stepping out into the spotlight, I am about to take the last few steps of the journey that led me here to compete in a fitness competition.
Maybe people look at me and think, ‘She has everything,’ but things are not always as they appear. From the beginning of my journey, I stood out. Literally. I stood 5-foot-9 at 12 years old. I didn’t fit into typical girls’ clothes. I felt awkward, out of place and thought something was wrong with me.
One light in my life, however, was sports. Sports became a venue where I could escape and feel connection with others. Being part of a team gave me perceived value. Athleticism came easily to me, but I made sure I played just under my full potential so I wouldn’t stand out any more than I already felt I did. My heart was calling me to play well, but my mind was directing me to play small.
I struggled with anxiety, depression and eventually an eating disorder in my teens. I didn’t know how to deal with emotions; food was my therapy. I moved out on my own and left my tiny hometown in Saskatchewan when I was 17 — the same day I graduated high school. My eating disorder came with me.
International travel was the beginning of my healing. Seeing the world showed me there are many ways to live, many unique faces and body types all over the planet weaving humanity together. We are all relevant and our bodies appropriate. We all belong.
Time and experience also taught me to belong. A divorce and 10 years of raising three kids on my own led me to find a strength within myself I never knew existed. As I began to honour my body, nurture my spirit and value my life, it slowly became clear that the more I value and appreciate myself, the richer my contribution could be.
Many of us put our careers and the needs of others above our own health and wellness, until we get sick or burned out. Prioritizing ourselves enables us to contribute our best to our communities, families and careers. It builds a better world. We enrich our lives and the lives of others. Our health is our greatest wealth.
Today, at 42, I am happily remarried and raising a 7-kid blended family with my husband by the beach in Victoria, B.C. My mission is to be the change I wish to see in the world by inspiring and influencing positive change in people’s lifestyles. We have the power to create exactly the lives we want. We decide on and create the truth of who we are with every belief that goes through our minds. When you find your truth, it will light your path to more confidence, blast through your fear and build a healthy life.
I now know that beauty does not require perfection and have learned to see myself as beautiful — inside and out. Stepping out onto the stage for this bodybuilding competition brings a lifetime of challenges and training to a pinnacle, where all the knowledge I’ve cultivated about honouring my life, my body, my spirit and my mind, come together.
No more playing small.