In 1980, Rachel McLish won the first Ms. Olympia contest held by the International Federation of Bodybuilders in Philadelphia.
Bodybuilders must be disciplined both mentally and physically to achieve the results desired for competition.
For Staff Sgt. Anna Solis, with Security Forces with the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing at Tucson, Ariz., her participation in the Natural Physique Committee Natural Outlaw Bodybuilding show on Mar. 24 at Hotel Congress, was a long awaited victory for herself as well as for her daughter Emily Ibarra.
Solis and Ibarra competed as the first mother-daughter team for the Lifestyles Physiques group with Ibarra placing first in the teen bikini division and Solis made the top six but missed placing by one slot.
For the past year, Solis and Ibarra trained with their coach, Ray Ballesteros in Phoenix and followed strict dietary plans and specifically formulated workout routines three hours a day, six days a week.
Tech. Sgt. Louis Duran, Security Forces Flight chief for dayshift element observed the changes he saw in Solis since she focused on bodybuilding.
“Doing her bodybuilding and performing has brought a different type of reassurance to herself,” said Duran. “She has a lot more confidence.”
The success in competition coming after a tumultuous time for the mother and daughter duo almost three years ago.
Struggling with low self-esteem, Ibarra leapt from Solis’s moving vehicle on Interstate 10 in an attempt to end her life.
“I felt like a failure,” said Solis. “Watching her jump out of my car, you see your life going out the window.”
Solis reached her own breaking point questioning her strength as she continued her own spiral downward.
“No one knew,” said Solis. “They only see what’s on the outside, the smiles, and the hugs but inside they didn’t know I was really hurting.”
Solis used the Military One source to find a psychiatrist for Ibarra and tried to let her daughter work through her issues.
Solis said she needed to find a good outlet for Ibarra and she would pray asking God for strength and guidance so her daughter could see her personal worth. Solis talked with Ibarra about her personal struggles and how she overcame them.
“I didn’t give people power over my life,” said Solis. Solis said tapping into her faith was what saved her and kept her grounded. “It took me awhile to realize I was never alone,” she said. “God has always been right there.”
While her faith helped her through tough times, Solis said it was during her last deployment that reignited her passion for fitness and pursue training for bodybuilding.
Solis was urged to meet Ballesteros through her friend Claudia; this gave her the idea to enter Ibarra into a bodybuilding competition to rebuild her confidence.
“I wanted her to know that through bodybuilding she could get through anything she faces in life,” said Solis.
Solis said she’s always wanted to do a bodybuilding, but she could never break through the mental barriers previously.
“I tried doing it on my own but always failed, said Solis. “I couldn’t break through the mental wall.”
When asking Solis what the difference was in training for this bodybuilding completion compared to previous efforts, Solis said this time around was for the purpose of finding the best version of ourselves.
Solis said she wanted to do the bodybuilding competition with Ibarra because she knew this would help them both.
“As I kept getting into this competition, I saw changes in myself,” said Ibarra. “I wish I could see that two years ago.”
Both Solis and Ibarra agree the experience of training for the competition has brought them closer.
“Before we were so distant,” said Solis. “This connected us in a way in which we’re able to bond on different levels.”
Solis says she uses social media to post results of her success and found words of encouragement as well as seeing her results motivate others to get back into fitness.
Solis already has plans to compete again and she says the next one will be for the win. She says the best advice she has for those wanting to get back into fitness is to not give up.