Celebrating My 10-Year Competition Anniversary! (6-min read)

Connie Pretula at 147 pounds July 2006 then 120 pounds Aug 2012 then winning third place in bodybuilding competition May 2013 in Kelowna BC
Connie Pretula Headshot

Connie Pretula

Connie Pretula is an inspiring health coach and Menopause Navigator to mature women, using a holistic approach to nutrition and life.

May 16, 2023

This past Saturday, May 13, 2023 was the 10-year anniversary of stepping on stage at my first and only bodybuilding competition, do I hear distant woohoos!

I’m often asked, how did I move from financial services technology to nutrition, it’s not the most logical path. My edited answer previously was, I realized I had a passion for nutrition and decided to follow it. Now I openly share what led me to study nutrition.

The real truth, it all started with wanting to do a boudoir shoot for my 50th birthday. If you remember the Sex and The City series, I was inspired by Samantha who decided to have a boudoir shoot done before her body aged and started to sag, her words not mine.

The bodybuilding was inspired by a friend who entered a competition many years earlier, I was amazed at how her body transformed.

I thought, why not do a competition to get my body in great shape for a boudoir shoot!

Many people don’t know, July 2006 when I was 45 years old, I was 30 pounds overweight. I decided to get back down to the weight I felt good at and started exercising at home. Truth be known, I was terrified to step into a gym, I was very intimidated by how fit women dressed because those are the only ones I noticed, and I had no idea how to use the machines or lift weights.

I started working out at home with bodyweight exercises then added in light weights and a stability ball. I woke up every morning early to do my routine before work, I was releasing my weight slowly and feeling better.

A friend of mine asked me what gym I was going to, I said none and admitted I was too scared to walk in as I had no idea what to do. He offered to take me to his gym to show me how to use the machines and do some free weight exercises. After one session, I was hooked! I loved watching how my muscles moved and being a Virgo, I love to perfect anything I do. Under recommendation of my friend, I hired a personal trainer to show me the right way to lift weights for my body.

Resistance training 3-4 days a week became part of my lifestyle, I loved how I felt and the results I was seeing in my muscle structure. Along with changing my eating habits, I released all the weight I wanted to.

In 2012 is when I decided to prepare for my bodybuilding competition and my boudoir shoot. I hired a personal trainer who had trained others for competitions, I also needed a nutrition coach and a posing coach.

When I reflect on it now, I had no idea the amount of work and dedication it was going to take. I trained 5 days a week for the first 4 months and 6 days a week for the last 4 months. Saturdays were grocery shopping days and Sundays were food prep days for the week. I was also working full-time, luckily I was not traveling. I had a special bag to take my meals with me when I was out and about as I had to eat 6 times a day.

My life revolved around my competition. The cool thing was, I was focused on building the best version of my body I could.

The competition became real when I had to select the material for my show suit, how I wanted it embellished with Swarovski crystals, and find sparkly jewelry to wear.

I practiced posing at lunchtime, I’d find an empty office to go through the moves in my mind. I also needed to practice walking in 4” platform stilettos.

Every so often, I look back at my photos I had to take each week and send to my nutrition coach so she could see my progress. Those photos would determine what I had to eat for the next 7 days. I’m proud of how hard I worked and my commitment.

The competition was in Kelowna BC which is about a 4-hour drive from Vancouver. My mom flew in from Manitoba, we packed up my car, picked up my coach and off we went to get settled in for a couple of days before the competition.

The last few days are easy days, no workouts. It’s about relaxing and mindset because I’m backstage by myself, it’s up to me to remember everything I’ve been guided on. My last dark spray tan was the night before which is a whole different experience. The room is filled with naked people and the people who are spraying the contestants, no room for shyness.

It was amazing to see all of the hard work everyone put into their bodies. I decided I was going to have fun and take it all in. I was in the Figure Class for women 35 and over.

My coach asked me months before if I had stage fright, I said no, I have presented many times in front of large numbers of people. What I didn’t think about, I was fully dressed in those presentations. This time I would be in the bare minimum to cover my bits and tits, no one cared how knowledgeable I was! Good thing is, everyone else on stage is wearing the same thing.

It was a long day that started very early in the morning with makeup and hair, very little food, and no water to reduce any chance of retention. Right before I stepped on stage, I closed my eyes and saw a virtual list of what I needed to do. The day transpires with a first presentation to the judges, go for a full lunch, drink water and then wait until evening to do one last presentation before the winners are announced. I knew I had done well as I was in the first group of call-outs.

To my surprise, I won 3rd place! I was on top of the world! I’m so glad my mom was there to celebrate with me.

Two days later I had my first boudoir shoot at 51 years old, it was such a fun day, I felt like a model. Ten years later, I still proudly display my pictures from that day, it is a reminder of my commitment and dedication to my goal. It was an amazing journey!

I was never athletic in school and this allowed me to see what I was capable of. The preparation was very hard on my body as it was one more thing along with years of long hours at work and high stress levels. I wanted to compete in the Provincials, unfortunately, shortly after my competition, my body started to break down, I was in pain 24/7, and my digestive system was a mess.

My competition days were over and now I was ready to start the next part of my journey of studying nutrition, healing my body and sharing my knowledge to help others.

My next blogs will be about the projects I have been working on and the specialized testing I use to give me insights on what type of support a body needs to get back on track.

Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

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