When I began testosterone therapy as a health necessity—my overall testosterone level was 10 and my free level was 0.2—my biggest fear was my voice changing. I had a lot of fears. But my voice changing loomed over them all like a great monster ready to pounce on my femininity.
My best friend lives in Washington, so we mostly talk on the phone. I would ask her day after day, week after week, "Is my voice changing?" Even though her answer was always "no," I still waited with bated breath for my mother to ask what was wrong with my voice. I heard it. Phantom changes. Imagined. My self-conscious thoughts flooded my voice box. I truly feared the disappearance of my ability to speak with my original voice intact.
It's not like I actually liked my voice to begin with. I remember being a sophomore in Honors World History and hearing my voice speak back to me out of a recorder my group and I used for a project assignment. I was horrified. That can't be me! I don't sound like that in my head. I have a huge nose, frizzy hair texture, a huge butt no one else has, freckles and pale skin. What is this? Rain down on Jodi? I have to have a voice that sounds pathetic too? Teenage girls are their own worst enemies, until they grow up to be women who don't love themselves. Then, they are their own true enemy.
Let’s return to reality now. My voice didn't change. But I have changed. Where I was once judgmental and stoic in my opinion of drug use in female competitors, I later learned to loosen the reins of my opinion. After all, I had officially jumped the natural ship and swum in the dark waters of steroids.
Women don't talk about this topic. And women hurt each other by not discussing it. I joke with others that men brag and exaggerate their usage details, but women downplay and deny. But only women can tell women truly what to expect with each type of drug in the bodybuilding world. Only women can relay to women the emotional war that will exist when we swallow or inject the supposed magic that will make our muscles grow and our fat disappear at levels and speeds the natural way seemingly could never do.
I am not necessarily prepared to open my book and bare 100% of my pages of this particular chapter to everyone. But I will tell you that I am honest and forthright with clients and friends. I explain where my line exists and why. I come from a background in which until I turned 41 and had to cross my line in the sand due to health reasons, I didn’t even step on the beach. So the line I have on this side of things…well, it's a pretty sharp line. I am 45 years old, and I like looking younger than some of the 20-year olds out there. Call it vanity. Call it sanity. But I have drawn my line, drawn it sharply, and so I have zero problems telling coaches or friends, "hell to the no," when certain suggestions are made that would help me reach that supposed magical level for my physique.
I remember a time—back when I was natural—that a guy told me, "You don't want to win badly enough." I became livid with him. I spouted (and probably spitted in my rush to fling words and emotions at him), "That's ridiculous! I do want to win." But I am older and wiser now. I can admit it. There are some things more important to me than winning. My health. I visit my doctor every six months; I get my blood work done every six months (or more if I am competing several times in the year); I ask tons of questions when I receive my prescriptions…both of my doctor and of my pharmacist…the one at CVS and the one at the legitimate drug compounding pharmacy. Not the one who sits on the bench at the gym and says he knows where to get stuff. I. Put. My. Health. First.
I wish more women would follow this. Or admit that they prefer winning above all else. It would make it easier on newcomers to make thoughtful, researched decisions that allow for wide open understanding of risks and consequences. It doesn't mean decisions will change. It just means a woman will enter the decision with everything laid out in front of her. No surprises. No gimmicks. No regrets.
I don't regret the decisions I have made with getting onto testosterone therapy. I HAD to get onto testosterone if I wanted a better quality of life. And I will be on it for the rest of my life. The side effects of my body having shut down almost 100% of its testosterone production and been in that shut down for a full year (quite possibly due to age) were too numerous and too overwhelming to deal with: depression, anxiety, breakouts, hair loss, vision loss, memory loss, sense of self loss, lots of loss. The people closest to me were begging me to put aside my pride of being natural and put my health and happiness first and foremost. They were right. I now can look back and see the silver lining to something that truly and originally devastated me. But that doesn't mean I enjoy doing it. I administer my shots weekly…by myself. In the bathroom. In the side of my quad. I take deep breaths. Take a few more. Close my eyes. Tell myself I hate having to do this. Remind myself I have to if I want to remain whole. If I want to avoid drowning in the deep waters of my depression. And then I prick the skin. Slowly slide the needle in. And let out the breath I forgot I was holding.
My voice hasn't changed. But I have a voice. And as I get older and quit caring more and more if I'll be shunned for choices I have made and transfer the care to the health and sanctity of women in this industry, I will use that voice to speak up. Will you do the same?
I am a coffee bean.
Waiting to be ground(ed)
Don’t make a mess
I serve you best when you allow me to percolate
Drip drip drip
Grumble then rumble
Pour me into your mug
Hold me close
Dip your finger in my darkness
Test my temperature
Water soothes me
The more you add
The less bitter I am
Drink me hot
Or let me cool
Whatever you do
I will awaken your soul.
--Jodi Leigh Miller, Copyright 2018
Three things for today:
1. I have wanted to post on my Instagram a particular picture by John Stutz in order to discuss a topic and make a point that I began in a previous Instastory poll. I even wrote up a blog entry. But I am beyond hesitant to post the image on social media and am debating just saving it for here, on my website. It’s an image that I asked John to not add into his Fit Girls Volume 1 book that he published several years ago, and I go back and forth on whether I should have made that request. There is a story behind that, and I wish to share it…but the image is definitively a part of that story. Yet the image is also of my backside…in a thong. And you’ll notice I have zero of those that I have personally posted on my social media. I just am not prepared for the backlash of negativity that might come with posting. So I am sitting on that image (no pun intended) for now.
2. Yesterday’s Instagram post was about me being a mess on some days. I had one comment that popped up and made me a little irritated, as it stated, “wow, that sounds pretty messy.” Think about messes in terms of baking cookies. The mess of the flour wafting in the air, the sugar spilling out of the stupid paper packaging when you rip open the box, the spills of baking powder, the eggs not cracking perfectly, the wet dough on the whisk, the bits of dough flying onto countertops, your fingers as you scrape dough off the spoon onto the baking sheet, the melted chocolate when you try to eat a cookie while it’s still ooey gooey ouch too hot from the oven. But the taste of the cookies is no mess. Sometimes, we must get messy and we must accept messy in order to get clean to understand clean to feel clean to be clean. It’s part of life, like anything that is cyclical. Take a shower, go workout, get sweaty, get messy, take a shower, go to bed, get sweaty, get messy, get up and do it again. Dirty the dishes, wash the dishes. Soil the clothes, clean the clothes. That’s the basics. Take it farther and look at anything in life. Humanity is constantly making messes and cleaning them up. Sure, some messes are so great, so tough, so out of control, they can’t be cleaned up. Those are the messes to truly worry about, those stains that no matter how much bleach you pour onto the fabric or floor, you still can’t dissipate the damage. My post yesterday was not one of those types of messes. That doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced a mess or two like that in my life. But my social media page won’t be the place that I discuss messes of that magnitude. What I do feel I am doing partly with my writing at this point in time is opening up more because over the next couple of years as I write more fiction, I will dig into the archives of my existence to create make-believe worlds based upon real occurrences. And when those two collide, you might end up surprised by what my brain sheds onto the page. So trust me when I say that some messes can lead to beauty.
3. I do feel a need to discuss what’s not a mess inside of me. What is shiny and polished, free of dust bunnies and emits a squeak when you run your fingers across my surface.
a. I have empathy. But that came from me being messy. The people who clean too much or only show the clean surface or who don’t collect anything because they don’t want to get dirty are the ones who can’t relate, can’t understand, can’t help you when you feel lost. Sometimes posing clients come to me because they feel I will understand them, won’t judge them, will help peel the off the sticky layers of a cocoon and help them spread their wings no matter the design on those wings.
b. I am intelligent. If you can spark my mind and move past boring small talk, you’ll find that I can carry on quite the conversation.
c. I have wit AND I have a slapstick, goofy sense of humor. I used to teach 15-year olds Shakespeare. If you think I can’t quip and retort, then you don’t know 15-year olds and you don’t know Shakespeare’s material.
d. I sing to my dog. Need I say more on this one?
e. I have an amazing ability of matching colors, coming up with the perfect combinations of colors, and finding the right colors for anyone with any skin tone. By the way: purple is universal. Some shade of it somehow will find a way to be a perfect hue for any one.
f. I love to read.
g. I have excellent grammatical skills. That is a dying ability in this day and age.
h. I talk to myself. I was an only child, so I can manage to entertain myself for however many hours for however many days that another human being does not infiltrate him or herself into my existence. I am okay with being alone. Though, I do prefer to have my dog with me.
i. I can move my hips. For dancing, of course.
j. I may love make up, but I am 100% fine with walking into Neiman Marcus fresh off of cardio and sweat stains and messy hair and no make up on my face.
k. I have green eyes. And I am a Scorpio. I have a unique intensity and passion that not many understand.
l. My gut is 99.99/100% right. And I’ve worked hard to listen to it these last few years.
m. I use my turn signal.
n. I hold the door open for strangers. Yes, even guys.
o. I can carry all of my groceries up four flights of stairs in one trip. I. Am. Superwoman.
p. I have a hyper sense of self. This quality cleanses me and messes me up. So this is a double-edged sword.
q. I have a huge personal bubble, which means I will not be one of those people who keeps walking closer to you as you are trying to get away from me. If anything, I’m the one who is trying to walk away in order to signal the end of a conversation.
r. I am strong. Inside and out.
s. I joked around in my “mess” post that I sometimes can’t control my mouth. That is true. Sometimes, I have an urge to say what I feel needs to be said that others wouldn’t say even though deep down they feel it. But I edit my thoughts and edit my spoken words just like I edit my writing. So I typically know exactly what I am saying when I am saying it. So if I am bothering to speak to you, know that I put thought into it and I rarely blow sunshine up a person’s butt just to clear the storms in their eyes.
t. I have outeaten any guy I have dated. I. Am. Superwoman.
u. If I can learn it, I can teach it.
v. I want you to be to you. I am me. I don’t want you to be me. I want you to be you. So don’t copy me. Be you. You’ll love yourself better that way.
w. I just realized I am on letter “w” and can’t stop four letters shy of completing the alphabet, so onward we go. And speaking of onward and upward, I love to travel and have been to 6 countries outside of the United States and have been to 15 states and am about to add one more to the list.
x. I am creative. If you doubt me, read my blog.
y. I have a diverse career background and have many options to return to if I so choose.
z. But in the end, I pushed myself (with no prodding from others) to complete my applications for graduate school, to risk rejection of my writing, to try for a goal and a dream that I have wanted for decades but never took the time or gumption to make it happen. Only one school of three accepted me, but it was a school that was my first choice, and all it takes is one “yes” in life to negate all of the “no’s”. I am scared. I am afraid I’ll screw up, make mistakes, not be able to write on command, not meet deadlines, find out I am not as good of a writer as I think I am or as others tell me I am. I am afraid of being in debt. I don’t know what the future holds after this program, though I do believe it will open doors that would not have opened if I had not stepped into this goal in the first place. I do believe I will travel vast and far, farther than I already have, and I will one day be like my grandmother when she was in her final days, whispering: “I am ready. I have loved. I have lived. I am ready.” I locked myself into the program by paying my tuition deposit and signing my letter of intent despite all of my fears. In a year when depression and doubt threatened to drown me, I swam to the surface, gasped for air, and fought to survive. That is not to say I won’t go under again. I will. But I understand that ups need downs, clean needs dirty, good needs bad, light needs dark. It is the opposites that make us appreciate the entirety of our lives. And without my mess I wouldn’t have anything to write.
Jodi Leigh Miller is a Women's Physique IFBB Pro with experience in all divisions. She is a record-achieving power-lifter, posing specialist, certified trainer, life coach, and author. She holds an English degree from The University of Texas at Austin and is a certified educator. Jodi was recently accepted into the low-residency MFA in Writing program at Pacific University Oregon and begins January 2018. She is an experienced, knowledgeable, multifaceted phenom who shares her soul in this blog.