Hanging Up the Heels, Not the Sneakers

Always ask yourself: “What is my goal here?”

This weekend I was thrown a decision making curve ball. I spoke to the head judge from my competition who told me the only thing that set me apart was I needed to be leaner, especially in my lower stomach and legs.

I know, I know, my healthy minded self goes “LEANER?” But the competitor in me agrees. I knew it that day, and I felt the same way last year. While I prefer a healthier look, not going below a level of leanness has stopped the judges from fully seeing my abs, glute and leg muscles because they are covered by a healthy layer of fat. I love this layer, and I honestly think I hold onto it for dear life with a fear of sacrificing my health for a show every time.

To get the the level of stage lean I brought this year I pushed through faintness in the squat rack, lack of brain power on low carb days, hill walking at the end of a long day when my body was dying to rest. I PUSHED. I also rebelled. My Night Eating Disorder peeked up and I would snack on some seeds or dried fruit at night, loosely tracking and trying to work it into my meal plan, but then struggling with not enough fuel the next day. My intense treadmill runs turned to walks outside as I worried about pushing my body too hard when it was so depleted.

The problem is - that level of leanness needs that push.

I spoke to my coach about the feedback and we discussed competing again in September with the extra “push” to see how lean we could get my body. To see if that indeed, was the missing factor to a first place.


I spoke to Derek, who was not thrilled at the idea, and asked some friends. I had mixed reviews. They asked my ultimate “Why”, and I explained that I had not felt like I had brought my winning package and I might have something left to show.

I struggled with it all weekend as we did the things I haven’t been able to do - wine tasting, meals out, late nights. I struggled with the need for control that prep gives me while also loving the freedom that not being on prep gives me. I struggled with the idea of not honoring my intense inner drive and desire to improve. But here’s the thing - I struggled with it. And I have been really clear with myself lately that I can achieve everything I dream of with more alignment and less struggle.

So I decided, late last night, to hang up my heels - but not my sneakers.

I will likely compete again. But not soon. And I will likely achieve another level of leanness, but not like this. Over the next year or so I am going to:

  • Work on the things that held me back - my gut health and issues with bloating, my Night Eating Disorder and relationship with food and sleep in general and my stress levels. I have started working with a friend of mine who has been mentored in all of this and we are on a game plan. She will also help me negate the negative side effects of dieting when the time comes, and we will go the extra mile to protect my health, do blood work etc. so I can confidently go the next level feeling better protected.

  • Improve my running and sprinting to help with leaning out my legs, but also to get that extra push in cardio that feels AMAZING when I do achieve it.

  • Live, sleep, eat and recover like an athlete. The judge I spoke to said to me “Pros don’t get off seasons” and this resonated with me. I am not going to let go of my hard work, just improve it. I want to honor this passion with my daily actions and choices.

  • Work consistently with my athletic coach and my online coach, even through the non off season off season.

  • Set a goal for a bigger show I can get excited about next year (I have my heart set on one in a different scope and will share more soon.)

  • Love my husband and go for date nights and the occasional wine tasting while moderating alcohol as it isn’t great for my recovery or gut health.

That’s all for now guys.

This was a tough decision to be honest, but my ultimate goal is to be the best athlete I can be. I want to honor my body every year by getting stronger and better in what I do, and right now that feels like NOT competing so that I can do better next time is the right thing to do.

Love to you all.



Gillian YoungComment