A typical day for SFC Megan Simpson involves juggling Guard responsibilities and parenting two young children. But the Ohio Army National Guard (OHARNG) Soldier still makes sure to hit the gym each night. Consistency is key for Simpson, who ventured into the world of competitive bodybuilding three years ago.
Simpson always knew the physical benefits of exercise. It wasn’t until a recent deployment that she realized how much exercising also helped her behavioral health. “From a young age, I learned my way around the weight room and I never really left it,” she said. “When I went on deployment [in the Middle East], I found weight lifting to be a big stress reliever at the end of the day.”
In 2014, Simpson returned home from deployment. Stepping back into the gym, she decided to take her weight training to a new level and try bodybuilding, an item on her bucket list. With seven bodybuilding competitions now under her belt, Simpson has found a new passion, and her commitment to training has paid off. Simpson won first overall at the 2017 Midwest Battle of the Champions in Indianapolis.
The first-place trophies displayed in her office showcase Simpson’s talent and dedication to the sport. She credits her involvement in the OHARNG with teaching her the discipline she needs to excel. Her strong will and mindset has helped Simpson power through even the most dreaded morning cardio sessions.
Committed to Stay Fit
Simpson, who recently turned 40, says she is in the best shape of her life. But, the most rewarding aspect of competitive bodybuilding for her is the impact it has had on her family. “It has changed the way my kids look at food, health, and nutrition,” she said. Gym sessions have turned into a family affair, with her kids coming along and her husband acting as a spotter. When Simpson strays from her clean diet of lean protein (chicken and salmon) and minimal carbs (sweet potatoes and oatmeal), her kids are the first to question her. Nothing makes her happier than seeing her kids ask for healthy snacks.
Bodybuilding has provided Simpson with not only a new outlook on health, but also a sense of purpose. “Bodybuilding was a way for me to find my new normal [after coming home from deployment],” she said. The exercise routine has also given her a healthy outlet to unwind each night. “For me, the gym is therapy,” she said.
For Soldiers who might want to get in shape or try out bodybuilding, Simpson’s advice is straightforward. “You have to suck it up and just do it,” she said. “I don’t have the time, but I make the time because in the long run it is better for me.”