Kathy Liddell - Figure Competitor

It has been quite a journey for me following a car accident in 2009 to get to where I am now. The injuries that I sustained from the accident left me without the use of my left hand for a time. I had a number of problems going on with my whole upper left side though including my neck, collarbone, shoulder, arm and hand. I also had venous and arterial circulation problems. I had been initially misdiagnosed by my doctor, and so the all-important timely and appropriate treatments that I should have gotten to encourage a speedy and successful recovery did not happen. I am a registered nurse myself, and I knew that something was just not right with the way things were progressing or rather deteriorating with my condition. I tried a number of treatments with a number of different kinds of therapists, but nothing was helping. In fact it was making the situation and symptoms worse. I had almost zero pain control along with everything else unfortunately. I was not able to work, and in fact could barely function on even the most basic level.

It is really quite humbling to go from a completely independent, capable person to someone who couldn't even tie my own shoes or do up the zipper on my coat!!! I tried to tell the doctor that I felt we were missing something but she would not hear any of it. It ended up turning into a situation where she just kept prescribing more and more medications to try and compensate for all of the things that were going on...even the pharmacist that I dealt with asked me what it was she was trying to treat. This was completely out of the norm for me...I barely took tylenol before this. I also tried to talk to the therapists that I was seeing and told them I didn't think that my diagnosis was correct and hence was not receiving proper treatment...that didn't go over well, to say the least !!! I suddenly went from being a health care colleague to someone who was a potential lawsuit waiting to happen. You have no idea how that changes everyone's perspective !!! I am not sure if my doctor thought that I was attention-seeking or drug seeking, but she lost interest for the most part in doing anything to help since I was contradicting her diagnosis, and most of the therapists took the hands-off approach to treatment.

I started doing a great deal of research on my own as to what the problem could really possibly be according to my symptoms. I ended up going back to the doctor numerous times asking for various tests to be done to try and narrow down the possibilities. She was compliant with my requests and really did pretty much what I asked of her...I think she just wanted me out of the office to be honest, but whatever, by that point I really didn't care as long as I got the tests ordered that I wanted. After months of failed treatments, therapies, medications, she finally decided on another diagnosis based on some of the test results...it fit my symptoms perfectly!!! Finally something that made sense!!! By this time she had already told me that I would never go back to work again...that I would be on disability for the rest of my life. At one point she actually told me that the reason I wasn't getting better was because I was a smoker...so after almost 30 years of smoking I quit. No change in my condition.

I again went back to my research on this new diagnosis to learn more about the condition. It was through my research that I learned of an amazing cardio-thoracic surgeon in Kelowna, B.C. who specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of it. I asked for a referral from my doctor to see him and she agreed. I was off to Kelowna in the following months to see him. He is one of the most wonderful doctors that I have ever met...truly amazing!!! He did in fact confirm my diagnosis and even started me on a treatment plan for pain control the very same day. I had given up taking all of the other medications long before that...none of them did anything anyway and the side-effects only added to the confusion of the true symptoms of my problem. I felt like I was in heaven...I finally had a name to apply to this horrendous problem and a plan for appropriate treatment as well.

I started the slow road to recovery and the slow road to regaining my strength, mobility, and self-worth. I started to take back control of my life. The treatments that the doctor in B.C. prescribed for me was a lidocaine infusion that was to be administered once every 3 weeks. I would insert a small needle just under the collarbone and let the medication infuse. I was not able to do anything else during the time of the infusion because the side-effects are basically the same as drinking too much alcohol. The infusion generally took anywhere form 8-12 hours to complete....so an entire day was used just for that. Prior to me going to B.C. I had decided to try and start running again, a passion of mine since childhood. I thought that just because my whole upper left side was no good at least I could run and get some exercise and stimulation that way. The first time I went out I made it to the end of the block and I was hurting so bad from the jarring of running that I quit.

Kathy Liddell

More research....I found a solution to that problem too...taping. I found a therapist who taped and stabilized my left shoulder in place in order for me to run, stabilizing the shoulder stabilized the whole upper left side basically. SUCCESS!!! So now I was running, and with the new found pain management, I started going to the gym. I was starting out with the lowest weights possible...I had absolutely no muscle left in my upper body, and the lower wasn't much better. I had not used my left arm/hand for much of anything for a very long time. At this time I was no longer under the direction of any therapist for my workouts, I just basically started out doing what I could. I was so tired of so many strangers since the accident telling me what to do and how to do it and having nothing work that I was just ready to be on my own. I did a great deal of reading and on-line searching again for exercises and how to do them properly to avoid injury!!! That was the last thing I wanted at this point when I was finally starting to make some progress!!! The training and running was giving me my old self back, it was taking forever to start to see improvements, but eventually I was lifting more, endurance was better, pain was not really changing, but at least it was not getting worse. I was finally starting to move forward in that respect.

I wish that I could say the same for my relationship and partner that I was with at the time. The backlash of everything since the accident happened with doctors, tests, insurance companies, lawyers, and all of the emotions that went along with the situation had taken its toll. My partner decided that in the midst of everything it would be a good time for him to try and get me to sign property over to him. I was in such a mind fog at the time from pain, medications, stress, etc that I almost did that, thank goodness I didn't though, and as soon as I started getting back into work gradually, I ended the relationship.

Even though my doctor told me that I would never return to work, I have been for several years now, but I was off work for almost 2 years. I have been very lucky...I have made constant steady gains to the point at which you see me today. It has been a very long and bumpy road for me, but I have never looked back once. My focus is on the future. I intend to keep going in the direction that I am now for as long as I can. I am very happy to say that I have not had any significant relapses or deterioration of my condition and I have not had to do any treatments on myself for almost a full year. My work outs are demanding and challenging...there are days when I have to take it easier than others due to pain, but I am thankful that I am able to do as much as I am. I will always have pain, that will never go away completely, but at least I manage it now, it does not manage me. I have learned how strong I can be and I know that I can do whatever I set my mind to.

I started hearing a lot of feedback from people at the gym who suggested that I do a competition...they felt I would do well. I decided to do my first competition, not to necessarily compete with the woman standing next to me but rather to conquer a fear of stage fright. I figured with everything else I had been through, that should be easy in comparison...and it was. I did my first competition in October 2016 and was really happy with the outcome. I placed in the top 5 in figure short, but more importantly, by facing my fear I conquered it. I look towards the future, with new goals and competitions to challenge myself.

Diet change off-season vs. pre-contest

My diet really does not change that much. The type of food that I eat stays consistent, the only thing that changes is the amount that I take in. I am not one to really go out and binge eat or anything like that or indulge in junk food. In fact it took me close to a month to start putting on any significant weight following my competition in October. I find that once I get used to keeping to a set number of macros/day I can stick to it fairly easily. I guess I am lucky that way...I didn't even really have a "cheat" meal after the competition...I just ate more than I normally would have.

I have only been on one diet in my life, and that was to prep for my competition in October 2016, so I am not much of an expert on that topic. I have a nutritionist whose name is Rozanne Pyper and she guided me through the process using the Diet Doc method. It worked well for me and I liked the results that I was able to achieve with it. I will be striving for a much leaner look though in upcoming competitions for sure, so hopefully just some minor adjustments need to be made to achieve that.

My main focus is on building muscle so I lift as heavy as I can and try to keep my reps between 6-8 for everything, no matter what body part I am working. I do still favor my left upper side of course, but I tend to take a bit longer rest breaks between sets as opposed to dropping the weight. I also do cardio of course...whether it is treadmill, bike, stair climber, etc. It creates a more well-rounded work out to have both components. As I mentioned before, my diet stays pretty consistent, I am starting to prep for a competition this coming March, so my macros have been adjusted to start dropping my weight for that. As time progresses and I start to lose weight it gets more and more difficult I will have to adjust the intensity of my workouts...I will do the best I can to keep pushing for any gains possible!!! :) Then of course peak week is an entirely different plan and based on where my weight and how I look at that time...Rozanne will adjust my macros accordingly.

On Stage

I have been through so much in the last few years, getting on stage was actually much easier than I had anticipated. I was nervous the morning of the competition, but once I got going I just seemed to settle right into the process. My worst fear was having my suit slip somewhere where it shouldn't when I was posing, but the bikini bite held fast!!! :) I thought it would bother me to have so many people looking at me onstage but that didn't even seem to be an issue, I just went out and did what I had to as best that I could. I was happy with the way things went, especially for a first competition. I think it helped that I was doing the competition for myself... not necessarily to be in competition with anyone else. I think that took a huge amount of pressure off of me.

I am thrilled with my experience. I can honestly say that every single person that had anything to do with the competition was absolutely incredible!!! Everyone from the tanning people, to the hair/makeup lady, judges, polygraph tester, the lady who made my suit...all TERRIFIC people!!! I have never met such a group who are so willing to take you under their wings and show you the way, as I did with everyone associated with this show. I was not sure what to expect since this was my first, but I have never been made to feel so welcome anywhere else before. These people were complete strangers and as soon as they found out I was new to the industry...the advice, suggestions, tips, recommendations just kept coming in....it was mind-boggling to me!!! I had a lot of interactions with people obviously before the show ever happened and was so impressed!!! Rozanne Pyper, Leo King, Fiona Groves, Mel Veroba, Ken and Lesley Donaldson, Chelsea with Caba Fashions, the list goes on and on !!! Absolutely FABULOUS experience!!! Everyone I met seemed to do their absolute best to make it the most successful experience for me and went out of their way to make me feel as much at ease as possible!!! The competitors were also all very helpful, professional, and supportive...far beyond my expectations.

I am competing in Georgia this spring in March, and possibly in Seattle in April. I have not yet decided if I will compete in Calgary in May or not. That will be all of the competitions for me this year though, I will be taking some time off after that to start building my body. I am new at this and still very small...I have a lot of work ahead of me but I think I am up for the challenge...I definitely need to grow though. I will come back to compete the following year in 2018 with an entirely different body to showcase. :)

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story!!!


Kathy Liddell

I can be contacted at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathy.liddell.7

Competition Prep e-Books