Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sarah Kinney Column

I've realized something about myself as of late. I'm proud to say I'm a natural born learner.

What I mean by this is I take everything in stride and learn from the experience whether it be in my relationships, career, and yes, even (maybe especially?) the sport of Figure.

Everyone has life experiences, but how we deal with these things is very individual. There are people who can turn nearly everything, even positive journeys, into negatives and allow even the smallest hiccups to bring them down to ground zero, being around these kinds of people can become very emotionally draining. Then, there are those who choose to take everything on as a new experience and no matter what the outcome, or what road blocks pop up during the journey, they come out of the situation with a positive outlook and take it as a learning experience. I have the utmost respect for the latter of the two personalities and I happen to believe I'm in that group.

In regards to relationships, I've had my share of rough ones. They all lasted much longer than they ever should have, mostly caused by me being young and not knowing myself well enough to make smart decisions as well as not having the experience under my belt in order to know what I really want out of a partner. Like most people I've had relationships end on a good note, and then there are a few that have ended horribly. Sure, it sucks, there's no denying that. But in the end I've chosen to take these situations and turn them positive. Each relationship I've come out of I've learned something new about myself, about what I want for my future, and new lessons on compromise, honesty, openness, jealousy and much more. I'm becoming more fine-tuned and comfortable with myself and just being me.

The same holds true with my career. Every day is a new learning lesson. These lessons are of a different variety, but still intertwine with the lessons I learn from relationships. Like many, I deal with a variety of different personalities at work. Some conflict with my own and it's a struggle to work closely with those people, but I don't let it aggravate me (too much) or make my day miserable. I just learn how to interact differently with different people. There's always going to be someone you don't get along with quite as well as you wish, there will be personality conflicts, and heck, I'm not perfect either (what?!). You can either make these experiences ruin your day and cause frustration, or take a step back for a minute, collect yourself, and realize the other person or people are just as frustrated with you. Learn to work with the people in a productive matter, do what needs to be done, and press on through. If you can turn a negative situation into a positive one the people around you will most likely be grateful and more likely to do the same, which make a much more positive and happy environment!

The thing that made me think of all this was someone recently brought it to my attention that they feel the reason I love fitness so much is because, as I mentioned earlier, I am a natural born learner. With fitness it's an on-going process. You learn about yourself through trial and error with both nutrition and training. You learn what sorts of foods will react well with your own body as well as what sort of training gives the best results. There really is no single way to go about all of this, it's very individualized. You learn as you go, and that really is what I love about this sport. I will never reach the point where I'll run out of information to learn about nutrition, training or myself... it's an on-going process that I will be able to make a life long journey out of.

Now, what do you have when you take that journey one step further? You have the challenge of competing.

I've always been a competitor. I always want to be the best. But, for my first show I chose to go a different route with my mindset. I went the route of learning from the experience. I know that in the future I will win (mark my words, darnit!), but I didn't want winning to be all that this is about. I wasn't even sure if I'd LIKE competing (Thank goodness I did!). I had heard it many times before, "prep never goes one-hundred-percent smoothly, life will always throw a curve-ball". Well, life threw a few curve-balls during my prep. First, my boyfriend and who at the time I thought was my biggest supporter dumped me (through text message none-the-less... What? Who does that!?). Next, my very well known and experienced trainer did not pull through as expected. I was eight weeks out, still with no diet and no clue what I was doing, and then he disappears for a week and doesn't return phone calls. Yeah, classy! Lastly, I was sick three times leading up to the show! One of which was during peak week (I was actually hacking up a lung back stage as well, lovely!). Could I have given up? Sure. Did I? Heck no! I was determined to make it to the stage, I was determined to keep my upbeat attitude and find solutions to my problems rather than let the small things bring me down. So, step one: forget about the ex. That came easily. I realized I can do this on my own, this is MY journey, no one else's. Plus, I'm wayyyy too good for him (Duh!). That was an easy (yet at the time, stressful and sad) one to overcome. Step two: find a new trainer and diet plan. Check! I called on an old friend and she got me through the next eight weeks. Easy, breezy! Finally, step three: always carry cold medicine, ha! Now, all of these horrible road blocks seemed like nothing.

In the end, I made it to the stage. Was I competition for the girls? Eh, not really. Was I at my best? Definitely not what I could have been had I had more than 8 weeks, but I brought the best ME that I could bring at that point in my life. And I was beyond proud! I look back on the whole experience and realize how many things I did WRONG. Well, mostly everything! But guess what? I learned from it and I'll never make those mistakes again. Just wait until my next prep, you'll see, all those lessons I learned last time around will allow me to bring an even better ME to that stage. Watch out girls! I'm comin'!!


  1. Great article! My first figure competition is less than 8 weeks away and I was getting anxious about winning. After reading your article, I know I can strive to do my best and see it as an opportunity to learn, even if I don't win. Good luck on your future shows!

  2. Hi Patricia!
    Thanks for reading and I'm glad you gained something positive from my experience. Just go into your first show with a positive, fun, attitude and you're garunteed to come out a winner!! Have fun and good luck! =D