Auburn Woman Powers Through Bodybuilding Competition

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Auburn resident Darlene James came in fourth this month in her first fitness competition.
Auburn resident Darlene James came in fourth this month in her first fitness competition. Photo Credit: Contributed

AUBURN, Mass. – Hitting the gym two or three times a day might seem impossible to most people, but not to Auburn resident Darlene James.

“There’s no excuse for anybody,” James said. “It’s possible. You just need to push yourself and get off the couch and stop being lazy.”

James, 49, recently placed fourth in her first fitness competition Nov. 3 after months of heading to the gym constantly and eating healthy.

James, who lost 80 pounds four years ago, competed in the International Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (INBF) Monster Mash in Marlborough, surprising herself when she finished fourth in the novice master’s figure division (40 to 49 year olds).

“My goal was to not place last,” James said. “But I placed in the top five, so I was very pleased there.

“My daughter’s so proud of me,” she added. “I’ve always had a poor body image of myself, but this competition definitely helped with self-esteem.”

There were 187 competitors in several age and experience categories. James said they were judged on the model walk, four mandatory poses, symmetry, beauty and overall body composition.

“People automatically think of very manly looking women, but there’s a lot more to it,” James said. “It was just for guys before, but now women are outnumbering men. It’s definitely a growing field, and I’m hooked.”

After losing the 80 pounds, James said she needed another goal to keep the weight off, so she turned to a personal trainer at Everybodys Fitness Center on Southbridge Street to help her train for the competition.

“Maintaining weight loss after losing the weight is so much harder than losing it,” James said. “Having those goals are so important, and it was great having someone with experience help me train.”

While she was helped on the physical side at the gym, nutrition was a tricky area to deal with at home. In the final two weeks, she said that controlling her diet became a real issue.

“I wanted to eat these foods and those foods, but I had to lay off,” James said. “It really makes you understand how psychological food issues are. It’s tough, but you can do it.”

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