Pro Bikini to Brain Surgery and Back Again- Meet Chelsea Lawson!
Chelsea Lawson IFPA Pro Bikini
Online Personal Trainer and Prep Coach of Elite Performance
Contact her: [email protected]
From: Norwalk, Iowa,
Graduate of Grand View University with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Promotion and Fitness Management in 2012
Lifting became a passion
Back on college, I ran track as a sprinter for one year and I realized how weak I was in lifting. It was embarrassing knowing I was the weakest person on our large track team and I wanted to change that. This was the start of my passion for lifting and my interest in bodybuilding. It took quite some time to learn exactly how to lift on my own and change parts of my life to become healthier and able to see changes within myself.
After about a year of lifting on my own, I decided to get a coach and sign up for my first competition, a year later, I hit the stage. I had no idea what I was getting into and I didn’t do much research on coaches but I made it through prep and placed 2nd in my very first competition at the NANBF Kansas City Classic in September of 2013. I was addicted from there. It wasn’t until my next competition in November that I heard about my current coach John Gorman and Leslie Franklin of Team Gorman. I was so excited to hear about how they coached using flexible dieting while their athletes did less cardio than traditional bodybuilding athletes, so I went home and emailed them right away to do anything to be on their team.
Fast forward to 2014, I was, and am a part of Team Gorman competing in 4 shows placing 1st-3rd in all of them. I earned my IFPA pro card at the Bluffs Classic Super Pro Qualifier November in Omaha. Since then, I have been reverse dieting and getting my metabolism strong and my strength up!
I was hoping to compete at my first pro show this past September or next May but at the end of July I had to have a type of brain surgery for Arnold Chiari Malformation. This is a structural defect in the cerebellum that controls balance and causes symptoms such as dizziness, muscle weakness, problems with vision, balance and coordination. So, I had to put everything on hold in my life for a while. I wasn’t able to lift weights for almost three months and was out of work for two months. I tried to stay positive through this time. I wanted to be mad and upset but I knew it wouldn’t get me anywhere. To best describe my feelings, I first felt a little angry. Then it became bummed followed by sad. I was angry because I didn’t want this to be true and it didn’t actually hit me until I was in the room for surgery. Anger also hit me when I wasn’t able to do anything on my own and needed help rolling over, bathing, getting food and even walking. I became bummed when I saw others doing the things I love to do while knowing I was nowhere near being able to lift or compete. Sadness came when I was able to go back to the gym and realized how weak I had become.
It took me a bit to shake off my feelings but I started to set small goals and as I continued reaching them, I became excited for a new beginning. Keeping a positive attitude helped me get through each day. I really wanted to show others you can get through any hardship when you don’t let it bring you down.
Back at it
I have been back in the gym for two months now and I am getting my strength back up FAST! My current goals include training for my first Powerlifting meet in the spring and I am bringing in areas for bodybuilding to make my pro debut… which will be kept a secret 🙂 I am also planning my wedding which is August 19th of next year!
Getting over ongoing struggles and appreciating my supporters
My biggest struggle is accepting my body through all of the stages of competing. After 6 shows, I am finally much better with my reverse dieting but still not perfect. It’s so hard to stay on plan without a specific goal close at hand. Powerlifting and knowing I am gaining lots of muscle is very rewarding and it helps keep my mind at ease no matter what the scale says. I love the challenge to set new personal records in the gym and transform my body in the process.
It is always tough to do this sport because your friends and family don’t really understand why I can’t eat certain things, why I have to go to the gym X number of days per week and why I want big strong muscles. It’s something only those who do what I do will fully understand. This is MY passion, my life and I have learned to disregard any negative feelings towards my lifestyle. My fiance is a HUGE supporter of mine. He will go to the gym with me just to spot me if he has already worked out, he will suck it up and do cardio when I am feeling unmotivated, hHe will prep my food, do my laundry and clean the house when I am exhausted from prep and life! I couldn’t thank him enough for all that he does to support me and be there along the way.
I currently share an online training business with my fiance, Justin called Elite Performance. We train clients using the “if it fits your macros” concept. This year I trained 10 clients to compete in bodybuilding competitions and I am currently working with many more for 2016! I was previously a personal trainer and club manager at Anytime Fitness but decided to become my own boss and take my training to the next level by doing all online training and I am loving every minute of it. I provide all of my clients with macro meal plans, workouts specifically for them to reach their goals, planned out cheat meals or refeeds and 24/7 support. The biggest thing I try and do for my clients is relate to them and let them know they aren’t alone in anything. I always try to make clients comfortable to be open and honest with me as well as trust me to help them through anything!
Overall, I am very happy with my success thus far and I hope to continue to inspire others to have a big goal and work for it despite what others may say and what obstacles are in your way. Always listen to your heart and make your own path through the rough because the ending is always worth it.
Check out Chelseas’ instagram and the progress she is making!