Another aspect that stood to Ryall this time around is how much she started to feel like she was part of the Arnold family. When you participate in the Arnold multiple times in a year, you can't help but get to know all the amazing people behind the scenes.
"Everybody started taking selfies and the crowd went wild. We had never done anything like that before!"
She also points to the women, specifically – everyone gets along so well, and it's been amazing for her to be able to share that experience with the same women across the world. They've built up a unique camaraderie because the Arnold has never been so global before. Several years ago, there was only one event. Then it slowly started spreading into Europe and Brazil – now it's virtually everywhere!
"The more I get to know the people, it makes the quality of the experience that much richer for me."
The moments right before she stepped on stage – to land a proud 6th place finish – were, unbeknownst to her, captured by photographer David Parel. He sent them to her via Facebook message after the show, and the pure passion contained within simply blew her away. The dramatic black-and-white images truly made her reflect on the fact that all the training, everything you do, goes into that one moment.
"I've never felt more alive. We're making history. Arnold is creating a legacy and this will all be here long after he's gone."
From a food standpoint, Ryall was able to stay on track by restocking her portable nutrition – hummus, nuts, whatever she could find that would work – every time she got the opportunity. In South Africa, she relied on a grocery store called Woolworths. To stay focused, she approached nutrition with the mentality to eat to your macros, all while trying the local food. One item she particularly enjoyed was an incredibly fresh-tasting beef jerky with very little sodium that was local to the area.
"If the images were in color, it wouldn't have been the same. If I would have seen David, it wouldn't have been the same. It was nice to sit there, look at the pictures, and actually reflect on the whole experience captured in that one moment. You get up on stage and see Arnold sitting in the front row, and you just find yourself wondering, 'How is this even real?'"
In fact, a friend that she was traveling with learned so much just from watching Ryall's approach to nutrition. Ryall stated that her friend really understood the need for 6 Pack Bags; she realized just how much you have to think about food, which also made her realize the true usefulness of a meal management bag.
"A week of not eating right when you're trying to stay focused can really derail you, so it's important. You have to make it a priority. It can be done, you just have to put it into your schedule like brushing your teeth and packing your suitcase."
And what happens once you start taking those steps? The whole world opens up for you! For Ryall, this included the opportunity to check out other parts of Africa post-Arnold; specifically the deserts of Namibia. We were lucky enough to have her share some videos of that part of her trip, as well. Check those out below!
"If you have a dream, and you really wanna go after it, you have to make sacrifices. It's not easy, but it's so rewarding. Hate your job? Get out of it! Be bold. Take that step. Think about what you want and design a life you love."