Have you ever had one of those issues that you struggle with, thought you resolved, and then realized that, no, you’re not done with it yet?  Just can’t put it down?  I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing my stressors – I put them in little imaginary boxes and slide them off to the back of my consciousness.  I’ve had some snarly, slobbering, ugly ones, too.  The one I’ve been wrestling with for the last two weeks is not even in the major league of stressors.  It’s nothing.  But it has triggered something deep in me that I can’t quite identify.  So it keeps jumping out of it’s box.  It’s significant because it’s directly related to my program and it is a distraction.  I didn’t want to write about it, but I’m hoping this process will help me articulate what the nastiness is that I am not dealing with directly.

A couple weeks ago, I got an email from the organization that my coach works with asking me to review and sign a Code of Ethics.  I’m not going to share the details of that document, but the gist of it addresses how we athletes represent the sport of natural bodybuilding in public.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, and for all I know this is something they have always used, but I didn’t react well.  I was offended.  Since I’ve been working with my coach, I have been following a few of my other teammates online.  Most of them are guys and most post videos of their lifts, progress shots, and lots of pictures of food.  But occasionally, there are posts that I wish I had not seen.  There are comments made that are crude.  So they were asking this 50-something wife and math teacher to sign a Code of Ethics when I know damn well that my online behavior should not be an issue?  When I questioned the necessity of it, my coach responded quickly and reassured me that my online presence was never a concern for them.   My interpretation?  Someone crossed a line somewhere.  Shouldn’t have made me as agitated as it did.  My capacity to deal with stress, major or minor, will be reduced when I’m dieting.  After I got a couple of days with more food, rest from being on spring break,  I felt better about life in general, thought I moved passed it – but no.  So that means I still haven’t found the underlying issue.  I know my friends are going to make encouraging comments – trust me – I’ve told myself all these things.  And yet, I still feel like there is a sliver under my skin about this thing.

So I blog.  I’ve been using this tool since 2010 to process my thoughts.  Fingers crossed that it works this time.  It’s an annoying, noisy distraction.

Until they asked me to sign this thing, I was trying to have a ‘live and let live’ approach the few times I saw things posted by my younger teammates who play by a more relaxed set of rules than I do. Some posts have been so questionable to me at times that I would stop tagging the team name on my posts for a couple days because I know people who follow me would not like what they saw if they followed those tags.   So I tended to not follow those tags, either.  But yesterday I did and I saw things posted by female competitors that literally shocked me.   (If you’re following my posts on Facebook or Instagram, these posts are were the trigger for my question about sharing progress pictures.)   So I guess if those kinds of posts, made after this code of ethics was sent to us, are OK – well, I don’t know.  I’m confused.  It could be a matter of enforcement or battle-picking.  Or maybe my idea of “representing the sport” means something else.  There is so much fitspo out there that maybe they are all desensitized to the negative connotations of provocative images.

So is that my issue?  What is my issue??

I keep coming back to the idea that as much as I would like to feel like I belong, I really don’t fit in very well.  I don’t think it’s the team – I think it’s me and it might be an age thing.  Even though there are more middle-aged people competing, this is a young-person’s sport.  I’m certain I would have more in common with their mothers.   I follow some of my teammates on social media, “like”, and comment sometimes on their posts, but they rarely reciprocate.  I feel a bit ‘set-apart’ in this group.  I know the coaches are working to build a supportive online community, so this feeling creates a paradox that is hard for me to reconcile.  I am an introvert, you know.  I don’t jump into social things – I dip my toe in and see what happens.  After about a year of ‘toe-dipping’, my comfort level is the same as it was when I started.  I’m not sure why that is.  But it’s a distraction.  In 14 weeks, I’m on stage and if this isn’t going to help me, I can’t allow it to distract me.

So when this stressor crawled out of its box again yesterday, I reflected a bit.  Prayed a bit.  I’m still in the middle of it as I write this blog, but a thought popped into my head this morning during my lift.

I AM A TEACHER.

Despite my personal aspirations in my sport, that’s not why I was put on this path and given this voice.  A few people who follow me are involved with competitions, but most are people in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s who just want to be healthier and want to have an example to look at to know it’s possible.  When someone comments “I needed to read this today”, my heart fills up with gratitude.  My role is bigger than my aspirations.

And as far as this team thing goes, if I tag them in my posts, and someone follows that tag from someplace else, they might see what I post.  I have to use that thought to push back the negative stuff.  I might be different, but I’m a teacher.  I have something to contribute.

What matters is finding a way to get that stressor back in its box and shoved back in the corner.  It’s a dumb thing to stress about.  At this time, my path is well lit and I’m on it.

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