June 9, 2016

Family First: One Mom’s Journey to the IFBB

This is a guest blog post by Kara Dawdy, IFBB Women’s Physique Pro 



Competing was not something I was interested in until I turned 40. But that is where it all started for me.

Before that, I had been physically active. In my twenties I joined a gym and started in group fitness classes. Eventually I began working my way to the weight floor. Honestly, I was not sure what I was doing. My form was terrible and I was there at least two hours per day, because I took really long breaks between sets.

All I knew was that I did not want to get too big! I even made sure to never train my back or chest just so I would not start to grow muscles in these area’s. I laugh at my 28 year old self now, what a fool I was. I was limiting my possibility not only in my own physical strength but in my mind as well.

Later on after three boy’s, four if you count my husband, and a full time job on top of that I decided to go back to the gym when my youngest was four. Our corporate office had a training room that employees could use so I would train there about 4 times per week. I noticed some sagging body parts that were not cooperating. I think every women can understand this. So when I turned 40 I decided it was time to join a gym again, and this time I hired a trainer.

Results were immediate and I loved it! In the back of my head I was still afraid of being too big. My ideal look at that time was Jillian Michaels. It was around this time that I discovered competitions and decided I wanted to get on the stage and do a figure competition.

                                                                              (First Figure Competition)


I can admit now that I originally wanted to get on the stage for the attention. I was in complete denial about it at the time. Which is all the wrong reasons to do a show. I really had no idea the sacrifices that I would have to make and the changes in my mindset that would take place once I started the process.

Juggling a full time job, a family, training for 3 hours per day-seven days a week, posing classes, saving up money to pay for it all, and meal prepping was more than a handful! I honestly don’t know how I did it, but I do remember at one point my own coach at the time told me that I wasn’t being a very good mother to my three boy’s because I was having to find various people to watch them while she trained me, needless to say she wasn’t my coach for long.

The truth is I almost gave up, but I didn’t want the word “almost” to follow me around for the rest of my life. So I sucked it up and finished my 1st competition, and then three months later I did another, and then six months after that I did my third, and so on.

Finally by the end of my fifth figure competition I began to see a pattern, I wasn’t growing more muscular or changing. My placements were not getting any better, and my family was becoming accustomed to not seeing me. And the truth of the matter is that I was not liking who I was becoming.

Competing is my passion, but it took some very real and hard decisions to get where I am now.

🔹First of all I decided my family came first in all aspects of my life. Training would have to revolve around family, not the other way around.

🔹Second I needed to take at least a year off in between shows and let my body not only recover but allow muscle growth  to develop myself into my ideal (Dana L. Bailey).

🔹Third, find a new coach who believes in less cardio and more nutrition to feed the muscle, not tilapia and asparagus.

🔹Last was to make every training session count.

Making better use of my time in the gym was key. I do that by supersetting everything and working two muscle groups against each other. Going immediately from set to set allows me to keep blood in the muscle. I do at least 4 sets and my reps vary from 12 to 20 depending on where I am in prep.

Now I know if I’m in the gym longer than 1 hour I did something wrong. Instead of hating two hours of steady state stepmill cardio, I now enjoy 40 minutes of hiit (high intensity interval training) outdoors with fresh air and my music in my headphones.



In 2014, I switched to Women’s Physique and started to see my placing’s improve. With the guidance of my coach Shane, I took another year off. I hired a posing coach, Jacklyn Abrams. Jacklyn is a very good trainer and friend and my ultimate goal of muscle and conditioning. I trained the hardest I have ever trained and went to my 1st National level show in Pittsburgh, July 2015.

It all paid off! I entered 3 different placings for Women’s Physique and I won a 1st, a 2nd, and a 1st, earning a Pro Card from the IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding) in all three classes.


I don’t know where the phrase life begins after high school started, but for me life began in my 40’s. I have a supportive husband of eighteen years, three very grown up boy’s that encourage me to keep going, and a mindset for business. Follow all the steps correctly in the business of your life and you will succeed, and gain a passion for living and growing. I hope each one of you has a passion, thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.


Big thank you to Kara for sharing her story! 

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