Do you believe in magic?

I just got home from a completely mind-altering weekend and I feel like I'm on top of the world! I attended my first Camp Savage Weekend with Cathy Savage and her amazing team. I had no idea what was in store...

From the moment we arrived there was an electricity in the air. You could feel the energy pulsing in the room. We were all there for so many different reasons; but, one goal...to feel empowered and to leave stronger, more confident women. I have to admit though, I entered the weekend with some skepticism as I have always been wildly self-conscious and self-critical. I've spent countless years putting myself down and berating my body and I wasn't sure this one weekend was going to have a hand in changing any of that.

On Saturday morning, I walked nervously in to the "assessment" room and watched Cathy give feedback to my fellow Savage sisters. I was petrified. Would she tell me I was too fat? Would she laugh at me when I told her about my goal of competing in figure AND bikini in April? It was like my butt was glued to the floor as I watched girl after girl receive her feedback. Finally, I mustered up the courage to stand up and shuffled to the center of the room. I was sweating and shaking all at once. I could feel everyone's eyes on me. The first words out of Cathy's mouth were, "Aren't you pretty?" I was stunned...did she just call me pretty? She continued on complimenting my symmetry and beautiful skin. She said literally, everything, I could have hoped for and more. I was speechless. Later, she complimented me on my walk and my poise. Cathy Savage was complimenting me and saying I had amazing potential...it was EVERYTHING I was hoping for all these weeks leading up to Camp. Yet, when I got back to my hotel room I was in tears. I felt horrible and had no clue why! I was questioning myself and doubting whether or not I'd be able to do it. I have lived so long putting myself down. It was my norm. Cathy's words contradicted everything I had believed about myself and this was a person I have a great deal of respect for. I couldn't understand the emotions I was feeling. I was confused and angry with myself. I was frustrated that this amazing Camp "experience" wasn't working for me. I had to be some sort of massive failure.

When we woke up on Sunday, I fought back tears all morning while I talked with my teammates and coaches and tried to grit my teeth and smile through it even though I had this storm of emotion brewing inside me. I had spent all this time and effort to come to Camp and was leaving feeling even more disappointed in myself then before I got there and I couldn't understand why!

And then it happened...

We had our last small group session with Cathy and had the opportunity to ask more questions. I decided to speak up about this "magic" the veteran competitors referred to all weekend long. This miraculous moment when they woke up with abs and a feeling like they knew they were ready, that it had all been worth it. This just sounded crazy to me...

Annette Perry (Fitness Universe Champion 2010) and Gretchen Coley (Ms. Bikini Universe 2010), two of the most wonderful ladies I've had the pleasure of meeting, answered my question passionately. They talked about their transformations and about taking this frightening leap of faith. They had been in my position and encouraged me to trust the process and our knowledgeable coaches. They looked at me and affirmed that I've done everything right to this point and just had to take the leap and believe. It was then that it clicked...

I cannot explain how incredibly important this moment was for me.

On the way home, I called my mom to tell her about my amazing weekend. I told her about my breakthrough moment and immediately started crying as I reflected all the amazing moments of the weekend. I realized that for the FIRST time in my life I truly believed in myself in this genuine way that I've never felt before. My mom said, "Amber, it has been there all along. You just couldn't see it..." and I knew exactly what she meant. I was letting go and giving myself permission to believe in me. I could see myself in the mirror for the first time...the actual person that I am, with the great muscles and beautiful skin and statuesque presence that Cathy talked about.

Now I'm not going all cocky on you; but, I'm seeing myself through a new lens. One that appreciates me for me and all my hard work and discipline. One that understands the missteps. One that is not going to let a cookie be my undoing. I've spent so many years torturing myself and berating myself for not being "enough." And suddenly, I could see that I am so much more than that. I was going to trust myself and this process and achieve my dreams....because I CAN.

I was surrounded by AMAZING, beautiful, strong, and courageous women this weekend. In all shapes and sizes that are perfect in SO many ways. Why don't I deserve to believe in me too? The strength I gathered from my experience at Camp Savage this weekend has put my mind at ease and helped me realize that all this worrying has been for naught.

It's time to believe in me. It's time to shine and take it to an entirely different level. 2011 is our year, my friends. Watch out world. The Savage girls are coming at ya....Congo line and all! xoxo

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