Most of us have dreams or goals that always seem unattainable for one reason or another. For Haley Walter, competing in fitness competitions was one of those dreams, but this past fall it became a reality—twice.
Walter has been active since childhood, when she was always climbing, cycling, roller blading or running somewhere. Fast forward to adulthood, and as a stay-at-home mom of four children, she never had enough time to dedicate to such a big physical goal while taking care of a young family.
When she saw a picture of a friend in a fitness competition, an idea began to take root. She hadn’t previously realized it was something she could do without becoming the bulky body-builder type. Yet entering such a competition wasn’t feasible for her to do at the time, so it was a dream she sat on for a decade or more.
Finally, when her youngest child entered kindergarten and she gained a little more time, a friend asked Walter if she would do a show with her and allow her to train her.
This time, her answer was yes.
“We decided to seize the moment as moms,” Walter says.
So last fall Walter competed in the bikini division of the National Physique Committee’s Pink Muscle Fest and All-Star KC shows. There were many hours at the gym and strict nutritional guidelines to follow in preparation, and she had to learn proper posing techniques.
She says despite what some people think, the bikini division is not about getting bulky. Instead it’s about creating balance and symmetry naturally.
“The eating healthy aspect wasn’t hard, but pushing myself to be disciplined was a level I wanted to personally achieve,” she says. “Working out wasn’t hard. Dedicating time each day without excuses—that was.”
Walter says competing is not necessarily something she wants to do year after year, but the experience allowed her to focus on something she wanted for personal achievement. Not only that, but she had the full support of her family during the process.
“Not only was it physically a challenge, but it was also lot of discipline,” she says. “It pushed me to take the time, hit my goals and stay with it.”
Walter says the camaraderie among the contestants was inspiring. For some of the contestants it is a hobby, and for others it is a lifestyle.
“Everyone is coming from a different place in life doing something like this,” she says. “Some are moms like me. There were plenty of amateurs, and there were some diehards.”
Overall, Walter has gained an appreciation for how the body works.
“Our bodies are absolutely amazingly structured and orchestrated,” she says. “We are designed to thrive. What we put in our bodies for nourishment and how we train is so key to overall health—emotional, mental and physical.”
For people looking to improve their sense of fitness and wellness, Walter says it’s important to never give up on personal goals or dreams. She says to be rational about timing and expectations in achieving your goals and to make sure your expectations are healthy for you. After that, she says to go for your goal.
“Remember self-discipline and taking care of one’s self isn’t easy and doesn’t always feel good in the process, but it is so rewarding in the long run,” she says. “I guarantee your strength, discipline and confidence will have a ripple effect on other areas and people in your life.”