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When you’re at a bodybuilding show that features women’s competitions, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the voice of Sandy Williamson. The NPC and IFBB Pro League head judge is usually the one calling for the poses of all the female divisions at the big shows, including the Olympia. While her presence at shows is almost expected at this stage of her career, it may come as a shock that she was obese as a teenager.
“I grew up really heavy,” admitted Williamson. She recalled that at one point, she weighed over 250 pounds. Even though she resolved to lose weight while she was in nursing school, the science around nutrition wasn’t as advanced as it is today. Even though Williamson lost substantial weight, she found herself on the other end of the extreme.
“When I graduated from nursing school three years later, I weighed 72 pounds,” she said. The change was so drastic that doctors even thought that Williamson may have had leukemia. Even though she struggled with anorexia, her husband at the time took her to a bodybuilding show in 1980. That was when Williamson’s focus on wellness, and the course of her life, changed.
“We went to a show in Philadelphia, not knowing it was the first Ms. Olympia,” she recalled. “I saw Rachel (McLish) and all the girls walk out. Then when they got dressed and came out to talk to everyone, and I saw Rachel, I was at the Y that Monday morning.”
Even though women couldn’t train with weights in that YMCA during that time, Williamson would eventually get to pump iron with mentor Candy Csencsits, and has been bit by the training bug since. That was when she was first granted the opportunity to judge a show as well.
“Candy asked me if I wanted to judge, and I was like ‘I’m working full time as a nurse, trying to get pregnant, I was married, I have no time to do that.” After some convincing, she agreed.
“I actually fell in love with judging,” she shared. Little did Williamson know after seeing the historic first Ms. Olympia, that she would go on to judge the contest herself, calling the poses for many great champions over the years, ranging from Murray to current Ms. Olympia Andrea Shaw.
Sandy Williamson talked more about judging and what the judges are looking for at the contests this season. Catch this and all episodes of Femme Flex Friday over at www.wingsofstrength.net. Episodes air every Friday at 6 p.m. Eastern time. Don’t forget to follow @femmeflexfriday on Instagram.