Now that Mikaya Custance has a taste for provincial competition, she is hungry for even more success next year.
Custance recently competed in the provincial body building championships on June 22 in New Westminster -a goal she has been striving to achieve for the past year.
She didn't crack the top five, which would have qualified her for the national championships, but she did make the top 10.
She said the experience was unforgettable.
The organizers said it was the most competitive show they have seen in years," Custance said. "I met some incredible people and to get to that next level of competition, all the training and sacrifice was worth it. I learned a lot and I know what they [the judges] are looking for and what I need to do to improve and come back next year."
Custance qualified for the provincials by finishing third in the figure tall division at the Western Canadian championships held over the May long weekend in Kelowna.
"Last May I made a goal of really wanting to qualify for provincials," she said. "We [with trainer Charlene SanJenko] looked at what show could possibly qualify me to get to provincials and we chose the Western Canadians."
Custance hit the Cross-Trainers gym the whole winter and into the spring, training six days a week with a mix of weights and cardio and lots of running.
She also had to eat very clean, and as the competition date got closer, her food choices became even more limited.
"In January, I took out all the fast food, dairy, wheat and sugar and then in the last few weeks before Kelowna my diet was white fish, chicken, yams and green vegetables," she said. "It was hard to maintain, but at the same time, I had that goal, which kept me focused and kept me on track. I wanted the trophy more than the doughnut."
Custance has competed before, but those shows were more for experience and for the fun of competing. Since qualifying for provincials, she takes the sport very seriously and wants to "pump it up a notch" next year.
"I've always been into sports and competition. I was in the horse riding world for many years," she recalled. "When I met Charlene and got introduced to the sport, I was hooked right away. I love being in training. I love the travel to go to competitions, the high you get off doing well. I also think that it is the type of sport where you can be a role model for others. You can promote being healthy and active and maybe mentor others."
The sport can be a bit isolating at times with long hours in the gym and diet restrictions that can be taxing mentally, but Custance said the support from SanJenko, her training partners at Cross-Trainers and the love and support from her family and friends helped push her to the next level.
"Charlene has been incredible and has been there at 16 when I first met her and she has been there through every email, at 5 a.m. at every show and is always a phone call away," said Custance. "She has done all my diets and prep. I have met so many incredible people through her. I wouldn't know that this sport existed without her.
"My family and friends are just amazing. Without them, I couldn't have done this. We also have a pretty strong community of people who have been competing or training or interested in it, so it's great. The support from the Coast has been really good."
© Coast Reporter