Karen DandFebruary 24, 2012
2nd Place Winner
My mother who was an athlete raised me in a single parent home. Naturally, I developed a competitive spirit from a young age. My mother was an international competitive swimmer for England and played field hockey competing in the Commonwealth and Pan Am Games as examples.
Also, my late father was an endurance athlete participating in marathons and triathlons. I feel that being surrounded by active individuals has definitely made me more appreciative of being active. During my high school years we moved around a lot. I was very active in sports including basketball and volleyball. I received awards such as Athlete of the Year and Most Improved Athlete to mention a few. I frequently found that that I had to prove myself moving from school to school to qualify for teams because I was the “new girl” at the beginning of each season. Of course if you were not a great player you would not make the cut.
After graduating my life took a turn for the worse. To my disappointment, I found myself in a physically and mentally abusive relationship. The relationship took everything from me that made me who I was as an individual. It took me four years to leave him, but I finally did. After breaking away, I decided that I needed to focus on myself, and with the help of family and friends I regained my individuality back.
Shortly after this, I found myself in another very unhealthy relationship. This one took another two years to break free from. I then decided to move to the Sunshine Coast to stay with my mom. Here I found peace and sanctuary. This was the place I needed to be to regain myself again.
I decided to get a membership at a local fitness center. It was a very rural town so there was not much equipment and the aerobic classes were very small. I decided to follow a dream of being an aerobic instructor. So, I completed all my courses and six months later I was teaching classes. The classes were packed and it was great for repairing my self-esteem. I then met my next boyfriend. It was great in the beginning like it always is, but it soon deteriorated. We ended packing up after a couple of years together to move to Vancouver to pursue our careers.
Looking back, I now realize that we were just trying to escape the problems that we brought with us. He had a very serious drinking and drug problem and I guess we were both trying to avoid it. Living in Vancouver gave me new insight into further developing my career. I applied at a fitness center to teach classes. A couple of days later I received a returned telephone call and I auditioned. I was so scared going from teaching 10 people to 40, but I got the job. Next thing I knew, I had 10 classes a week at 5 different locations. At this time I decided to take the first step to becoming a personal trainer by taking a weight-training course.
It was easy for me. I got a full time job as a weight trainer at the same gym and I loved it.
Here I met some very influential people that were involved in the bodybuilding and fitness industry. One day I was approached by a coworker regarding an up coming bodybuilding show that she thought I could make the top five in. This excited me (just the competition alone). I decided to go for it. So, she provided me with the connections to get started and I followed through. I had a meal plan, workout schedule and posing practice designed. I started to train very hard. I was still teaching 6 – 7 classes per week and weight training approximately 12 hours per week. This commitment was trying on my relationship.
Home life with my partner became increasingly abusive as he became more jealous. I decided that I could no longer help him packed up my things and left. After couch surfing at a friends for a couple of weeks, I eventually found my own place. It was wonderful to have my own place free from obnoxious alcohol induced yelling. Unfortunately, during this time I had to give up my workouts. I ended taking off a couple of weeks to regain myself once again. Then without looking, I met the man of my dreams. We could communicate without having to say a word. We knew from the moment that we touched we would be together forever. This man gave me the support, guidance, love, trust, respect, honor, and loyalty I had been looking for my entire life. Through him I have met some great people and the one that stands out in my mind the most is T’ai Erasmus.
I remember the day I met him for lunch. He was not what I expected. I found him so full of life and excitement. I was drawn t his energy. We started talking and he shared details of his career with me and I was so interested in hearing it all. I then told him about my training for the upcoming bodybuilding competition. He was very surprised, look at me and said, “you should compete in fitness”. I laughed at him and said “yeah, right, I am way to big to compete in fitness”. He filled me with excitement that afternoon. T’ai helped me realize I could fulfill a dream, and that was to be a fitness competitor. Next thin I knew I was out buying shoes and getting a choreographer to help me with my routine.
T’ai and I decided that a meal plan was definitely in order if I was to everything right. He told me that if I stuck to the meal plan and listened to everything he said that I would be the competitor I dreamed of and that the results would “rock my world”! Well he was right. I started seeing results quickly as my physique was transforming nicely. At this time I was meeting with my choreographer twice weekly, training six times per week and teaching five classes a week. Three weeks before my competition I got pneumonia. I was devastated. I remember seeing the doctor and being advised not to work or exercise for one to two weeks. I cried in the car the whole way home. It was my dream to compete. I had worked so hard to up until this point, with many ups and downs along the way.
I then realized what a huge support system I had from my family, friends and most of all, my partner who was unbelievable! He said to me one night “just give it a couple of weeks and see how you feel”. I thought for sure that I would not be competing and became very negative. I had friends referring me to various practitioners and giving me all types of natural medicines to speed my recovery. T’ai kept saying over and over to me “you are going to compete, don’t even worry about it, just focus on healing right now”. A week went by and I started training again, slowly easing my way back into it. It was a week before the competition and I was training hard.
T’ai kept me on track every step of the way. I was calling two to three times per day asking him all sorts of questions. He never lost faith once and continually supported me in every way he knew how. Five days out from the competition my diet changed drastically and so did the training. It was unlike anything I have experienced before and it was awesome! To look the mirror every morning and see such huge differences in my physique was amazing. There was no turning back now! The last few days were crucial and T’ai made this very clear to me. I followed his every word.
Finally, the day was here and I was so excited. I was second up on stage. I remember going out on stage and giving it everything I had and more. It went by so fast that I didn’t even remember it. I ran off stage laughing and crying at the same time out of sheer accomplishment. I had finally followed through with something that had started as only a dream. It went by so fast! The posing round came next and I was up second again. I walked out on stage; again I gave it my all. I remember holding my poses and my legs shaking so badly I could hardly stand. The experience was more than I could possibly say. To top it off, I placed 2nd. I was ecstatic.
If I you are thinking about competing, I would say DO IT! Just keep going. When you feel down, your body doesn’t seem to be changing and your routine isn’t perfect, never give up! Find that beautiful place in your mind where you go to collect your thoughts and stay there for a while. Ask yourself again “why am I doing this”? Visualize! Visualize! See yourself the way you want to look and feel when you go on-stage. Visualize the huge smile on your face as you move through your routine, because as T’ai said, “enjoy every moment. It only happens once in your lifetime”.
Enjoy the months, weeks and days before the competition because it is a journey you will remember for the rest of you life. Last, but not least, you need someone to give you direction. It is difficult to do this whole process on your own. After the weeks of carbohydrate depleting and training so intensely, I could not have done it without T’ai. He gave me the knowledge and skills to do my part. The rest I left up to him, and yes it did “ROCK MY WORLD.”
If I were asked what were my most positive experiences, my first reply would be the amazing support group of loved ones. This was so invaluable! I found that the support made my desire to succeed even greater. Second, I learned that winning is not about placing first, but about being the best that you can be!