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Struggles of competition

Staff Sgt. Cindy Sprague, 819th RED HORSE Squadron supply technician, center, poses with her team after a competition April 16, 2016, in Missoula, Mont. Sprague placed fourth in the Figure-A Novice Class, and plans on competing again at the Night of Champions in October. (Courtesy photo)

Staff Sgt. Cindy Sprague, 819th RED HORSE Squadron supply technician, center, poses with her team after a competition April 16, 2016, in Missoula, Mont. Sprague placed fourth in the Figure-A Novice Class, and plans on competing again at the Night of Champions in October. (Courtesy photo)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Fascination with fitness and transforming one's body through weightlifting was the goal that pushed a member of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron to consider competing in her first bodybuilding competition. 

According to Staff Sgt. Cindy Sprague, 819th RHS supply technician, she began considering competing in 2014 during her last few months of permanently changing stations from Okinawa, Japan.

"I thought I might as well go ahead and do a bodybuilding competition to showcase all the hard work I have put in over the past two and a half years," Sprague said. "The experience leading up to the competition was extremely crazy."

Before the competition, Sprague had to weightlift, add cardio twice a day and attend a posing practice at the end of each day.

"The amount of time needed to invest in preparation for a competition (can get a little difficult,)" Sprague said. "You will literally spend on average about four hours at the gym accomplishing all of the needed training."

According to Sprague, dieting is the most difficult part, and is at least 80 percent of the equation.

"My diet consisted mostly of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and a ton of vegetables," Sprague said. "For lean protein I ate chicken, fish and turkey during contest preparation. For complex carbohydrates I had oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes and with each meal I had either spinach or asparagus."

Before competing, Sprague's goal was to have an athletic physique, be healthy and feel good, but she ran into a few struggles along the way.

"I sit and think how much easier it would have been preparing for this show if I did not have to deal with so many other things," Sprague said.

Sprague said she encountered financial strain with an unexpected bill putting her in a difficult situation.

"I had to move to a new home and find a new roommate to split rental costs with," Sprague said.

According to Sprague, she faced other issues with personal and work relationships causing emotional distress. She was also in upgrade training for her seven-level career development courses.

"It almost seemed as if there were not enough hours in the day to do anything extra," Sprague said.

Sprague competed in her first competition April 16, 2016, in Missoula, Montana.

"I felt like all the hard work I put in during the contest preparation - the pain, the hunger, and exhaustion - did not matter," Sprague said. "Being on stage drowned out all of those thoughts and all I could think then was how much it was worth it."

Sprague placed fourth in the Figure-A Novice Class, and plans on competing again at the Night of Champions in October.

"I would do it all again in the exact same way if I had to," Sprague said. "The overall experience was remarkable."

Sprague advises others who are interested in competing to ask themselves if they are ready to fully commit their lives entirely for at least three months.

"Everything for preparation will revolve around training, posing, sauna sessions, supplementation and food preparation," Sprague said