Injured Athlete Makes a Comeback as a Bikini Competitor
Program: 6 Week Bikini Competition Prep
I have played volleyball since I was 13 years old and it was by far my favorite sport. I grew up playing all types of sports – I twirled baton, basketball, volleyball, track & field, cross country. My parents believed in an active lifestyle and healthy food. Even in the 1980s when diet was not that big of an issue, my mom made sure we didn’t have cereal with more than 13 grams of sugar per serving, we always had to have fruits and veggies, we had to take our vitamins in the morning. She was 20 years ahead of her time! So I grew up with a solid base of activity and healthy living. After high school, I ran cross country and played volleyball in college. My knees began to bother me from constant running, jumping and lateral movements. After college, I played recreational volleyball that was still pretty competitive. The league was full of former all americans and honorable mentions.
The high level of play continued to wear on my knees and my shoulder was beginning to bother me. Finally in 2011, my body reached a breaking point when during a volleyball tournament, my left Achilles snapped and completely tore. My surgeon was wonderful and put me back together, but a week after surgery, I fell on my injured foot and stretched the Achilles out much too fast. To this day, my calf does not contract properly and my balance has since had issues. But not being one to stay on the sidelines, I worked my way through learning to walk on that foot again and after a year, I could play volleyball again! My shoulder was feeling better, but my knees were still bothering me. Then last August during the first game of the recreational season, I jumped to hit a ball and felt something in my knee snap. I played the last two games, but barely. The bruising was immediate and my knee was the size of a grapefruit. I waited to see if it was just the normal pain I had been feeling for 10 years and even trained in the gym. But after 10 weeks I finally got an MRI. My patellar ligament is halfway torn away from my kneecap, but the tear is on the under-side of the ligament, so surgery was not really an option. They would have to detach the whole thing in order to fix it. What is attached is strong, but I cannot jump, and so I cannot play volleyball. The risk of it tearing the rest of the way is greatest when jumping. So in that moment, I decided to compete.
I am an extremely competitive person, so there was no question as to whether I wanted to travel down this path. After PT on my knee, I was able to squat and run again. So training was possible. I had a pretty healthy diet, so eating right was possible. But I had no clue how to train to get the specific body the judges would look for. I could not find a coach. Everyone was too busy, out of the country, or simply did not respond. I can’t remember what I typed in on the google search engine, but gauge girl training popped up. At that time, I only had 8 weeks until my competition! It was go time, but I had no direction! Christine, you helped me when I was at my wits end! and I have to be honest, the training and diet you put together were like nothing I had ever seen. However, I knew I had to trust you and I moved forward day by day. Sure enough, my body started to transform. It was hard…..harder than I thought it would be. Especially with my sweet tooth screaming at me every day :) But by the time peak week was halfway through, exhausted I really took a look at myself and though, “wow. this is what I have always wanted to look like, but have never known how to get here.”
I was stressed during peak week. I didn’t have anyone to help me make food or pack and I still had to go to work every day. I took Thursday and Friday off of work because I just could not focus anymore. Thursday, I packed everything I would need for my last two days of the week and the competition, and I hit the road to my parents’ house (they lived only 15 minutes from the venue!). When I got home, they sprung into action. Neither my mom or my dad knew what was going on or what this sport was all about, but they helped me in any way they could and made all of my nerves vanish. On competition day, I had FUN instead of scrambling around with a bundle of nerves, and took 4th in both novice and open! How’s that for only 8 weeks?! I have fallen in love with my body, with this sport, with nutrition, with the gym, and with training. Thank you, thank you, thank you Christine. Once I get my comments from the judges, I’ll be training like a beast in the off season so next year, it will be 1’s across the board!
Christine Hronec is the Owner and food scientist of Gauge Girl Training LLC, an online meal planning, training, and coaching service; and also the owner of Gauge Life LLC, a dietary supplement based out of Philadelphia.