Once a week during contest prep, I make sure to complete an outdoor run that is typically anywhere from 3 to 5 miles. I find that it helps my quads, glutes, and abs to tighten up and become more streamlined. I notice a distinct difference when I stop going for the run, and on the flip side, I notice a distinct difference when I get back on track with the run. It might be because of the cathartic release of emotions I tend to have on the run. It is just me and the pavement, something that I literally get to pound into submission without any adverse effects boomeranging back to me.
At the beginning of the route I typically take, there is a long and steadily-sloped hill. It makes starting this endeavor easy because the hill slopes downwards as I make my way out of my apartment complex and down towards a smattering of shops and a housing subdivision with its perfectly manicured lawns and vast array of colorful flowers and plants all equally and spatially arrayed. A usual upper-middle class, Dallas subdivision.
As I ran down this hill this past weekend, my ecru Nikes slap slapping the sidewalk while cars rushed by beside me, I realized that the term, “downhill,” is an interesting one in the English language. Like so many words and phrases, “downhill” carries multiple meanings that are actually quite opposite of each other. The act of moving downhill is typically easier than the act of moving uphill. Law of physics. Duh. So when we say, “It’s all downhill from here,” we could be meaning that it’s all a piece of cake. Wait. That’s another phrase I could probably write a paragraph on, especially in my carb-depleted mode at two weeks out from my next show. But I am seemingly distracted. Obviously, the word “cake” to me is like the word “squirrel” to my dog. So back to my point because this paragraph is quickly taking a downturn and going downhill. Which is my point: “It’s all downhill from here” can also mean that everything is going to hell in a handbasket.
So which is it? Is downhill easy or is it hard? Is it good or is it bad? It all depends upon the context in which you use it, like most things in life. That is contest prep. Is it good or is it bad? Is it easy or is it hard? Well, that depends. Depends upon the day, the minute, the movement, the mood, the food. There are certainly many phases of emotions and thoughts that a competitor experiences throughout a contest prep. The lengthier the prep, the longer the list of emotions and the more sway from one to the other that a competitor will experience. I have found that if one does not compete, that same one does not understand this phenomenon.
For the sake of keeping this blog post from becoming a novella, I will simply discuss one aspect of contest prep: the final 10 to 14 days before a show. They are interesting, to say the least. You’re spacey, dazed, exhausted, crazed. You’re excited and then plighted. One minute you love how you look. The next you’re ready to throw in the towel and say not now. You don’t have cravings, per se. At least I don’t. You just see normal food (and by normal food, I mean something as simple as bread and butter or a sandwich or a plum or a slice of pizza) and you start making a whimpering sound. Your face curls into a sad frown. Your mouth begins salivating all over the place. It’s like walking into a pet store to buy your dog a new toy and seeing puppies up for adoption. You haven’t thought about new puppies until this moment when their furry, floppy bodies wriggle about all over each other directly in front of your line of sight. Suddenly, you must go over and pet them, hold them, smell them. You even think of taking one (or three) home to snuggle and be with you forever. But you don’t. You know you can’t. You didn’t want a puppy before you saw the puppies. You have a dog already. So this is just a phase because the puppies are there, in front of your face and under your nose.
And yes, I have just compared puppies to pizza proving that I can take any one entity and link it to any other idea or being.
It’s also proving that my mind is working, sort of. In spurts. But I will conclude with this thought. So many writers are alcoholics. Or they regularly incorporate a drink or two or five during their writing interludes. As a bodybuilder who also writes, I cannot drink alcohol. I also cannot freely eat. So being creative while being in contest prep is quite interesting and often stalling. My ideal situation is sitting in front of my laptop with a box of Cheez-Its open, with the Donald-Trump-orange squares spilled out onto the glass surface of my dining room table and my orange-crusted fingers flying over the keys of my keyboard. My tummy full. My mind releasing. My cells alive.
But I’m starving. Hungry. Famished. Needing nourishment. For food. For words. So as I empty my body of whatever fat stores are left in these final days, I also empty my soul onto the page and find a way to create just like I find a way to lift a weight.
Now…leave me be. I am officially off to watch the Game of Thrones finale and eat my four ounces of red potato that I saved for this hour of bliss.
First, I feel the need to say that everything on my site is copyrighted and of my intellectual property, belonging to myself and Phlare Physiques, LLC. I once discovered someone (I didn't personally know her) had stolen my work and put it up online as her own. I ripped her a new one and got her to take it down. If you doubt whether I can tap into my angry, stern side, just remember these three things about me: 1) I am a Scorpio; 2) I was a high school English teacher; we tend to the meanest, toughest, but still some of the coolest teachers you'll have in your high school career, and 3) I've deadlifted 330 pounds after weighing in at 114.5 pounds the day before. It takes some kind of emotion (crazy?) to pick up that kind of weight.
Anywho, now that we got those unpleasantries out of the way, let us move into my typical method of writing poetry because this particular blog post is actually a poem and not just an act of threatening legal action against any nitwits who steal my work. My poetry often forms out of fragments, sentences, and paragraphs I've jotted down in the spur of a moment. There typically isn't much I can do with said formation of words in terms of inserting it into a short story or an essay, but the flow of words and the imagery within leave enough of a handprint on my heart that I feel the need to rearrange and change the format, turning it into poetry with my magic wand. I guess it's about the closest I'll become to being a fairy godmother. Yet other times, my poetry forms out of a particular sense that takes my spotlight that day. Sight, touch, smell, sound, taste. This little diddy below actually started when I was using "butterscotch" to describe something that I won't divulge just yet, and from there the thought of cinnamon wafted through my mind. The strength of such a spice. Then, an image and feel of biting into a cookie (and not just because I am in contest prep and want a cookie). Then how I felt in the moment, how I think I am sometimes perceived, how I don't mind being perceived as such and am still troubled by it all the same. Voila! The poem below was born.
And this leads me to one last thought before I allow you (yes..."allow") to read my poem. Writers open themselves to the public, like a man wearing a trench coat and flashing the goods before covering up and scurrying away into the shadows. The sight never leaves your eyes. My words should burn a memory, like a cigarette leaving its mark on a cotton sleeve. Not everything I write that is on the creative side of things is pure fiction; neither is it true truth. But every great writer takes some aspect of the real world, of things experienced, of loves lost, heartaches gained, happiness stolen, and morning rains that eventually clear to allow sunshine through before the moon pulls it all away. So is this poem the real me? Who knows. You surely won't. What of Cinderella is real? The glass slipper? The pumpkin? Both? Neither? Does it matter? Did it entertain you? Do I entertain you? If you answer yes, then read on. What do you have to lose...besides a touch of sanity and a little reality?
Do not call me nice.
For I have a little spice.
It seeps through my pores
And travels along my skin
Crawling on all fours
I am cinnamon…
With a bite.
I crunch in your teeth
Chew as you may
Chew all day
You won’t spit me out.
Stuck in the bony crevices
So bite down
But don’t bite more than you can chew
For I am tart
I am tang
I shall sting
And you will cling
All the while wanting to fling my crumbs to the floor
One swipe of the hand
One beat of the heart
Not with me
For I have spice
And I am not nice
Copyright 2017, Jodi Leigh Miller
I am always fascinated by the knowing of things being unknown. Let me give an example.
I distinctly remember sitting in my history class during freshman year at The University of Texas at Austin (the best school…hook ‘em!). I was writing my essay for a final exam, and the preparation for it had required me to read about five books, attend lectures, and be prepared to answer any number of questions that would require me to combine the knowledge I attained from these books and class lectures. It wasn’t easy. But I was prepared.
So there I sat in the tiny seat with the desk attached, and I read the question, opened my blue book, took pen to paper, and got about 10 sentences in when my brain began meandering into the knowing of the unknown. “I wonder how I’ll do on this test,” my inner voice nudged while I kept gliding the pen across the paper and writing sentence after sentence. I still had at least ¾ of that essay to finish; yet all I could think about was what my grade would be when the professor finished reading my words. When the professor finished reading words that I hadn’t even written at the point of my curiosity. It nearly drove me batty, as I feverishly continued writing and wondering, wondering and writing.
I am like this with almost everything in life. I believe it comes from having hyper-self awareness, partially cultivated from a childhood spent as an only child.
This very curiosity drives me when I prepare for a show. It lurks in my mind when I run outside. It pokes at my brain when I practice my posing. It sits in the corner and stares at me while I shower, wash dishes, lift weights, and apply my mascara. And with my background as an only child who has always had a vivid imagination and has never a boring moment even when all alone, I can certainly come up with make-believe stories about the day of a show, complete with emotions involved. But then I have to shake myself back to reality, to present day, to here and now. And I have to squash that desire of wanting to know what I don’t know so that I can go into the unknown being more in the know. I know. That’s a lot to know.
I think this is why I never say how I’m going to do at a show. I honestly don’t know. I don’t want to pretend to know. I don’t want to be pretentious. I don’t want to be rude to other girls who also don’t know how they will do on that same stage with me. I have to work very hard to stay in the present time, to not peer too deeply at the dark shadow and question mark that cover future’s face. Sometimes, if we squint and attempt to change focus in order to see what we definitively cannot, we lose sight of what is actually important and we distort the image of what is to come.
I cannot control the future. I can only control my actions that will lead to my future. It is one of the hardest lessons to learn in the bodybuilding world: letting go of control. Most of us are control freaks, maybe even Type A personalities or dealing with OCD elements. Understanding that there are a million and one other factors at play on show day is necessary to protecting one’s sanity along the way. I know I cannot control who shows up on that stage on that day. I cannot control how they look. I cannot control how judges will view me. I cannot control how judges will view the other physiques. I cannot control what judges desire most out of the competitors they examine. I might not even be able to control the chemical make up of my body and its reactions to things I have changed or left the same in the final days, hours, minutes before a show. But I can control my preparation. I can control my mindset. I can control my presentation. And that’s a lot. A whole lot of control that I have.
I’m okay placing first. I’m okay placing last. I’m okay placing dead middle. I’m okay with all of my placings in my past. I cannot control those anymore, and I think I am finally letting Alaska go. Except to prove to myself that I can look better this year and put that better onto a stage.
The rest is unknown.
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. She is an experienced, knowledgeable, multifaceted phenom.