FFC Old Town membership representative Sophia shares how she overcame a pretty big obstacle in her pursuit of her goals and some tips for how to find motivation, even when things get tough.

A pivotal moment in my life arose from one of the darkest times in my life. In the late fall of 2017, I started to experience extreme pain in my spine and hips. I would try to fight against my body and workout but one day doing deadlifts, I could feel my hips lock up and I could barely move. As a competitive bodybuilding athlete, I focused solely on intense training and very little on recovery.

My lack of recovery resulted in me being out of the gym for 2 months during the winter. Personally, for me, I find it difficult to be as productive during the winter time. Since I was injured, I found it difficult to stay motivated. I wanted desperately to get back into the gym, but I was losing hope and patience to get back onto my routine. I spent several weeks in a depressed and confused state, it affected my performance in school, my relationships and how I treated myself. I thought I was a failure for not taking care of myself.

One day my dad said to me “The most successful people in the world have failed millions of times. If you don’t fail you will never grow. Wear your failure like a medal around your neck, and use it as the fuel to improve”. I thought hard about this and I sat down and opened up a fresh journal and started writing.

My vision of becoming a pro bikini competitor had not changed, it was now just a matter of developing a game plan to get back into the gym. To develop a strong body, one must have a strong mind. This means that as long as you have a clear goal in mind, a plan to get there, the right attitude, and persistence, you can achieve anything – whether that is a strong body, or landing that dream job, or changing a bad habit. Anything is possible with the right mindset.

Related: how did Sophia discover her passion for bodybuilding? Check out her post here!

How to Find Motivation: Set SMART Goals

One day in December, I opened up my journal to write down my goals for 2018. I committed to myself that I would land an internship for the summer, I would get all A’s and B’s in my classes, and that I would qualify for nationals in the fall of 2018. How to find motivation and achieve them? The first step was to commit to myself; the second step was to develop a strategic plan to execute my goals.

To achieve any goal, it is important to set a realistic time frame to complete it by. There is a difference in someone saying ‘I want to tone up for the summer’ vs ‘I want to lose 10 pounds by May 25th.’ I determined what dates I had to complete these goals by, which helped to create a sense of urgency.

Related: (SMART goal stands for ‘specific’, ‘measurable’, ‘achievable’, ‘relevant’ and ‘time-bound’ – time-bound being one of the most important factors). For more tips on how to set SMART goals, check out this post!

My plan for 2018 looked somewhat like this (I titled it ‘My Plan to Conquer 2018’).

  • Land an internship by May 11 (steps I took were to apply to at least 5 internships per week).
  • Get As and Bs in my classes by May 11 (steps I took were to review my notes before and after class, schedule monthly check-ins with my teachers, plan at least 3 weeks in advance for exams to begin studying).
  • Qualify for nationals by November 13 (steps were to, first and foremost, get my body back into the gym. I began to do yoga 3x a week, to meditate, and to stretch first thing in the morning. When I was able to start training again, I set a short-term goal to increase my weight by 5 lbs by June 10, which is when I began my cut for my competitions).

Achieving Success

I successfully achieved my educational and professional goals before the dates I had set! I believe it was because I stayed committed to all of the steps in my plan and I didn’t give up when I failed or doubted myself.

Fast forward to my competitions in November. My goal was to qualify for nationals, to do this, one must place in the top 2 in their category. My first show of the season, I did not place what I wanted. I got 9th place. I worked extremely hard for this, made sacrifices, and pushed my limits more than ever. I had my second show the following weekend. After licking my wounds, I analyzed the situation and realized that I had two options. I could pull out of the show or I could figure out what I did wrong at this show, make improvements, and try again.

The next day following the competition, I contacted one of the judges to get feedback. He told me where I lost points and what I could do in the next 5 days to place better. I entered my second peak week with every intention to perfect the improvements. The day of my second show, I had an internal feeling of calmness and happiness. I knew that no matter what happened on stage, I had already won.

I ended up placing 2nd in Open Bikini B, which qualified me for nationals. I was beyond thrilled, but not done yet. I celebrated my achievement, and reflected back to a year ago when I was at my lowest point in my life to where I had come. In less than a year, I had grown so much and achieved a goal that has gotten me closer to achieving my dream. The skills I learned in personal goal setting is something I practice daily. You can achieve anything with a strong mind.

Post written & photography provided by FFC Old Town membership representative Sophia Valbuena.

About Sophia

Sophia Valbuena is a membership representative at FFC Old Town. She has been in the fitness industry for over 5 years and it has entirely changed her life. In this series, Strong Mind | Strong Body, she will cover how she got into fitness, as well as mindfulness, nutrition, motivation and time management tips. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, you can follow along with her on LinkedIn here and Instagram here, as well as check out a behind-the-scenes article she wrote about her bodybuilding experience here.

How to find motivation and push through goals, even when things get tough