Karen Lawlor

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Fresh from competing at the WBFF Fitness and Fashion Show on the Gold Coast, local lass Karen Lawlor shares what she learned from the whole experience. She says she wouldn’t change a thing – despite suffering more than her fair share of costume hiccups on the day! We also found out what Karen has planned for 2019 …

Hi Karen. FOCUS last interviewed you late last year, and at that time you were prepping for your appearance at the WBFF Fitness and Fashion Show in October 2018. What were your results from this event? 

The WBFF only hold three competitions in Australia annually, and this one was at Star Casino on the Gold Coast. 

It was also the first Pro/AM to ever be held in Australia (where professional and amateur athletes compete). In the past, professional athletes would have to compete overseas.

There was a morning show consisting of two bikini rounds, where the judging takes place, and then a break mid-day followed by a night show for an evening gown and a theme wear round!

In total, there were 162 bikini competitors and 51 Bikini Divas in my “short division”. There were girls who had travelled from overseas just to compete in the show. 

With a strong line-up of ladies, I did not earn a place on the day. However, the experience leading up to the show and the day itself was priceless. I walked away extremely happy and proud!

You’ve had to overcome some health issues since last year … How are you doing now, and what’s your health prognosis moving forward?

Since last year, things have been up and down and my progress has not been without difficulty, however; that’s life, and as of today I AM GREAT! Due to family history and the last few years, I am still a high-risk patient and require regular check-ups. I cannot thank the Armidale Hospital, especially my specialist and my nurse Kate, for always being amazing and having a laugh with me, particularly in difficult times.

You’ve had some photoshoots/WBFF Snapchat Takeover/and entered the Oxygen Mag Cover Girl Competitions. Tell us more about these events and why you decided to do them …

This year my motto was “it’s the year to be brave”, so I’ve attempted, and successfully, stepped outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to put myself out there and grow and learn from all my experiences.

I decided this year (after many years of thinking about it) to enter the Oxygen Mag Cover Girl Competition. It involved sending through a RAW, UNEDITED image of yourself with specific requirements, writing a bit about yourself and circulating that image on social media.

They then opened the voting, where anyone could vote for the “people’s choice” on who they wanted to see as a finalist. I felt REALLY silly to begin with, asking people to “vote for me” (if they wanted to). I thought, “Why would any vote for me?” I am just a normal person and there are so many amazing and beautiful women out there who have overcome so much or are incredible role models. However, I still put myself out there … because “this is the year to be brave”; plus, I had already entered, so why not go all the way? 

I posted the link to the voting page on my Facebook and was OVERWHELEMD with how many people liked, commented, encouraged and voted for me.

More than 300 incredible and inspiring ladies entered, and I was lucky enough to make it through to the semi-finals – just missing out on the finals.

You can imagine I was on cloud nine when I found out I had made it as a semi-finalist. WHAT! HOW DID THAT EVEN HAPPEN? I had absolutely no expectations, and I already felt incredible from the support of my friends and the community who had voted for me. I was ecstatic to make the semi-finals and overwhelmed with pride and happiness for putting myself out there – as we all know, that can be pretty scary. 

I continued with this go-getter mentality to do a “WBFF Snapchat Takeover” on the Thursday before my competition. The WBFF gives their competitors the chance to take over the official WBFF Australia Snapchat to show people their day. It’s a chance for competitors to promote themselves and tell people their background and story. 

Sometimes incredible things happen when you put yourself out there!

What’s your next goal/ambition?

Living life to the fullest and being happy at every stage of that journey! I am pretty keen to compete with the WBFF next year in October. This will give me plenty of time to train consistently, allowing for some changes I want to make. 

I love being social, we are currently undertaking major renovations on our house, I work full-time and I plan on going overseas next year (for the first time). I plan to simply enjoy life and all my adventures WHILE still working towards my fitness goals and the WBFF in October 2019. 

I still prep my meals for work, attempting to eat the same types of food (just more of it now). But I’ve gone out for dinner, I’ve had lunch with friends, and I’ve had some birthday cake without feeling like I’m doing something wrong or failing. 

I think for competitors it can be difficult to find that balance, especially mentally post-comp; it’s something I continue to work on every day and remind myself it is OK. Like all great things, it takes time, trial and error, perseverance, not being too hard on yourself and always, always, trying your best and showing up every day. 

How do you juggle your work with Pathfinders, family and fitness commitments, and what have you taken away from the onstage performance experience you’d like to share with others?

I LOVE my job with Pathfinders! My work-family have become accustomed to me always having kitchen scales on my desk, weighing my walnuts, bringing my prepped meals and saying no to cake at morning tea, without it being a big deal. Everyone is SO supportive, encouraging and accepting.

In life, you always find a way! You get the workouts in when you can (6am before work, 6pm after work and even lunch breaks). I made time for my steps, and I prepped my meals so I was prepared! 

For me, competing is purely about growth, pushing my limits, and being better than my previous self – physically and mentally. Competing is such a journey of self-discovery; you always learn new methods, things that work better or don’t work as well FOR YOU, you understand your body better each time and, mentally, there is so much growth that occurs. You are forever growing, changing and learning on this remarkable journey.

Comp prep can be tough in general, but without the right support, it’s even tougher! Having the right people around you, friends reaching out and seeing how you are going or even feeling comfortable enough to reach out to other competitors can be the glue that holds everything together some days (thank you amazing people – you know who you are).

There is a lot of self-accountability and discipline; you can really surprise yourself with your capabilities when you really want something!  

A major, major lesson is not to compare yourself to others (I know it’s difficult) but literally every girl (and guy) who stood on that stage was completely incredible and amazing IN THEIR OWN WAY.

Everyone has a different shape, trains differently, responds different to certain methods; some people have been training consistently for years, some are first timers, some have lost over 50 kg to make it to stage, some are fighting battles no one knows about. We are all unique, we all bring something different to the stage, so comparing yourself to others is not helpful.

You are you, and there is only one of you, and that is your strength. Taking on feedback, both positive and critical, regarding changes or growth is part of the sport – realising you can never be someone else but you is pretty incredible. Bringing YOUR BEST is the main goal, not looking like or trying to be someone else. 

I am also a strong believer in mindset, and how you choose to look at situations, which brings me to the fun facts of my comp day:

  • IT WAS BLOODY AMAZING! 
  • My shoe strap broke before I went on stage. 
  • My wings broke (straps that go around your arms to hold the wings up) before I went on stage.
  • I had not even seen my stage makeup, as there were so many girls backstage I just trusted that the WBFF Beauty team had worked their magic, which they did!
  • My bikini fit perfectly five days out and then was too big on-stage day and barley stayed on my hips (it’s crazy how much your body can change).
  • Lining up back stage with the 51 “short” Bikini Divas was amazing, with so many laughs, dance-offs and cheering for each other! I wasn’t nervous at all! 
  • Most Bikini Divas walked down the runway for their final round in the Night Show, being the Evening Gown round, with bellies full of pizza and donuts that the WBFF had catered for back stage.

I would not change a thing! Everything could break again or not go to plan, and it wouldn’t matter, because the experience was just bloody incredible! I am so happy and grateful I was able to do everything I did, meet the amazing people I did and collaborate with some of the best in the industry. 

Everything is a learning curve and I now have more understanding about my body, what works, what I might do differently next time and a huge increase in the belief of my capabilities – still cannot believe I did it! 

In a roundabout non-perfect way, the day was absolutely perfect. There is no lesson in giving up; everything comes from just trying!

Where can we follow your journey – or find out more about you?

You can find me on Facebook “KaZa Lawlor” and you can also find me on Instagram “wbff_diva_kaz_theproject” – from there you will be able to find my Snapchat.

Thanks Karen.

Interview: Jo Robinson.

Photo credits: Dallas Olsen Photography

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