First, I want to say thank you to everyone who messaged me, emailed me and from social media who wished me good luck and support- I appreciate it more than you know. I haven’t had the time to get back to everyone individually, but your kind words didn’t go unnoticed.
This blog is from my own point of view, my own experience, my own thoughts and my own perspective. Everyone has their own overall feelings about competition day, and the weeks leading up to it. This blog isn’t sugar coated and isn’t meant to encourage or discourage anyone who is thinking about competing in any division in the future. So, with that said, here we go…
Competing is something I’ve wanted to do since 2008 when I first discovered it. It was more of a nice thought, and less of an actual goal. It was a dream, but I wasn’t in a position at the time to actually make it become a reality. As many of you know, in my late teens to mid 20’s I struggled with restrictive eating, emotional eating, binge-eating and probably everything in between, due to stress, negative feelings and bad relationships of all kinds. My bad eating habits never got to the point to where I threw up, I never took it that far, but I did take fat burners and diuretics on a regular, daily basis. (If you currently struggle with disordered eating, I’m here if you need advice or someone to talk to)
After meeting my husband in March of 2010, settling down in all aspects of my life, and especially getting pregnant soon after, I finally got my eating under control. I was happy, whole. I gave birth to our son in July 2011, it was the happiest moment in both of our lives. I became a stay at home mom, which took some adjusting, being that I was used to being independent in all areas of my life – and preferred it that way.
Anyways, in July 2012 a mutual friend convinced me to look into competing with her. I talked it over with my husband, told him how important it was to me and that it has always been a dream of mine for years. I did what I could to make him comfortable with the idea and after some time he was in with me 100%. I look into the different federations, WBFF and NPC, and initially was going to join the WBFF doing the Fitness Diva category. I ended up with an injury to my wrist, which set me behind. So, reluctantly I backed out of doing the show, which was in May of 2013.
Then in June of 2013 I decided to join the NPC, starting off in the Bikini Division. Bikini competitors are smaller in size, as far as muscle goes, but curvier, more feminine. I decided to do bikini because I felt, and still feel, that my body structure would best fit in with bikini. At 14 weeks out I met with a local coach to see where I’m at and what I’d need to do to get ready to step on stage. I was committed 100% from day one.
THE DIET AND TRAINING –
The diet I was given was really boring, but included everything I liked, including oatmeal, grits, brown rice, sweet potatoes, fruit, almonds, salad, vegetables, eggs, chicken, turkey, shrimp, tilapia and filet mignon (once a week). That was literally it from 14 weeks out to 4 weeks out! I worked out my legs, chest and shoulders twice a week, and my back, biceps and triceps once a week. No cardio during this period. This was my building time.
At 4 weeks out the fruit was cut down to only twice a week, shrimp and protein shakes got taken out, and I was to eat tilapia only for meals 3-6 twice a week. I also introduced plyometrics, which was a love/hate relationship. I cut down my workouts to three times a week, leaving little room to continue growing. During these 4 weeks I lost over 4 pounds (I went from 107 to just under 103 the day of the show), my legs and glutes drastically lost fullness and my abs started to really show due to the diet and cardio. I wish I would’ve continued to train my lower body twice a week and do less cardio – letting the diet take care of the leaning out more.
Competition diets can be pretty restrictive, especially the closer you get to show day. I may have been lean and had a 6 pack, but what I had to do to get that way was not healthy by any means. The 14 weeks of dieting was probably the unhealthiest 14 weeks of my life, in the aspect that I didn’t have much variety. Although I felt great because I looked good, I’m sure my body was a little malnourished. Mentally I felt great the whole prep because I was finally doing what I longed to do – compete. I had days where I was tired, but pushed through it. When I felt I needed to cheat, I did. I listened to my body. Side note: A lot of competitors go months without getting a period because they get their body fat percentage really low. Luckily, I got my period two weeks before the show, which made me feel good knowing I didn’t mess up my hormones too much.
Some girls that I talked to were told to eat nothing but fish for 2-3 weeks straight, take diuretics and not to drink more than 8 cups of water over two days, to dehydrate their body. Doing these things helps make your skin wrap around your muscle, making you look really tight. I could tell who did this and who didn’t, especially in the mid-section. My coach told me not to “dry out”, but I did a little bit on Friday and Saturday, only drinking water when I ate and felt thirsty.
THE DAY OF MY SHOW –
Come prepared and be ready for anything to change last minute! Come prepared with your NPC card, registration, coach, food, water, five pound weights, resistance bands and of course all of your competition items. The show I was in offered touch ups, oiling and bikini bite application to help your suit stay put.
Know when you’re going on stage. This is where all the confusion was for the bikini division. We were told as soon as we got there that we were going on last. Not even 45 minutes later we were then notified we were going on first. All I had time to do was touch up my make up and go through my routine twice with my coach. I had no time to pump up, go to the bathroom – even think really. Going on stage, not only did I have to pee, we went right into the comparisons round, which is always usually the last thing they have us do. Our individual routines/posing did not happen! We didn’t get to do our routine/poses for the judges or audience during pre-judging – what a let down that was. We went on stage 6-8 girls at a time and just stood there in a line, smiling.
This is not how pre-judging goes. With that said, MY show day experience will not be similar to yours. As soon as you get to the event you’ll hand in your registration (make sure you have it with you), show your NPC card or proof of payment that you registered for it, get your height taken, put into the appropriate class, and wait. As I mentioned above “come prepared”, you’ll be there for a few hours. After you go on you’re free to go and do what you’d like until the night show starts. I had from 12pm-6:30pm to do what I wanted, which consisted of eating, complaining, napping and driving around Fort Lauderdale. Honestly, I didn’t want to return for the night show. I was extremely exhausted, hungry, grumpy, disappointed and felt like it’d be a complete waste of my time. I was doing everything I could to convince my husband to just take us home and pick up our son. Didn’t work – and I’m glad it didn’t.
As I arrived at the night show I met up with a few of the girls I met and just hung out. My coach decided she was not going to attend the night show. The extra support and guidance would’ve been nice. With that said, make sure you communicate with your coach to see if they are going to be there with you the whole time. My venue was an hour away from where we both live, so I understand if she had things she needed to do. I sat in the audience with my husband watching the competitors before us. Our division didn’t go on until after 10pm I think. We were all tired, but ready to finally do our routine.
COACHING ADVICE –
I’m so thankful for my coach. She was there for me when I needed advice and needed help with my diet or training. Over the course of 14 weeks I only did legs with her twice (my decision because of my budget), posing three times (my choice because of my budget) and went over my diet twice (14 weeks out and 4 weeks out). If you want serious results, I suggest paying for a coach (don’t skimp on this) and be very involved with them, this way they can monitor your progress very closely. I also suggest checking in with them weekly, if possible. Because I can push myself in the gym, I choose to workout by myself. I was told at 4 weeks out to stop doing legs and shoulders twice a week and to start plyometrics three times a week. I lost weight quick! I have a fast metabolism as is, I probably didn’t need to do that much, but I trusted my coach’s advice.
Make sure (especially if this is your first show) that your coach will be available to you either through text, emails and/or meeting up in person during your prep and on show day. The support, pep talks and having a professional tell you what is going on will make all the difference in your nervousness and confidence. If not, you’ll be backstage like me, hanging out with a bunch of girls you don’t know, asking “what’s next?” a lot. The girls who placed in this show had their coach’s guiding them the whole time – from what to eat, when to eat, when to start pumping up and offering them encouragement and support. They seemed so much more relaxed. Find a coach that works with bikini competitors or has competed themselves. Do your research when it comes to finding a coach. Even coaches who are well known in the area and have a good reputation can harm your body. You know your body the best, so if there’s ever a time you feel as though you’re heading in the wrong direction or your health isn’t being considered, communicate it with your coach.
WHAT I WISH I DID DIFFERENTLY –
- I wish I would’ve continued doing legs and shoulders twice a week up until a week out. Because I introduced cardio and cut back on doing legs and shoulders from twice a week (8x month) to once a week (x4 month) at 4 weeks out I lost a lot of muscle. Even my husband said “focus on your legs more, you’re losing a lot of weight, you’re legs are looking really small”. Listen to your body and track your progress closely.
- I wish I would’ve done less cardio. Because of my metabolism, I lost weight quick – I always do. Although I only did plyometrics 3x week for about 40 minutes, 10x total the whole prep, I should’ve stopped when I was thin enough, letting the diet take care of the rest.
- I wish I would’ve worked out with my trainer more often and got in a few more posing sessions. My budget didn’t allow for this unfortunately.
A couple of these things were my coaches orders and also came down to me having a budget. I met with my coach when I felt it was time to or when I had extra money, which is not what I recommend you do. Make time to work with them more frequently. I started at 107 pounds, and on show day was under 103 pounds (she told me I was good at 106 pounds). Overall I spent over $1,300 for this show, not including food (my budget was $900-$1,000).
WHAT THE GIRLS WERE LIKE –
I had a great experience with all the girls in my class and division. We all want to win, and you might think that you’ll run into “snobby” competitors (for lack of a better word), but I didn’t. Every girl I already knew going into this, and the ones I small talked with there were so nice. Most were to themselves and just hanging out.
WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN IN BIKINI DIVISION –
*My own opinion and perspective*
The bikini division is all about confidence and stage presence. You have to go on stage chest out, back straight, chin high, with tons of confidence and a big smile. The judges can tell who nervous and who is hungry to win. It can be political, meaning it’s also about who knows who and what team you’re representing. Stand out, make eye contact and get the judges attention. Make sure your hair, make up, tan, shoes and nails are on point – this actually counts towards your placing.
I didn’t place top 5 at this show. The girls who did were outstanding and brought it! I give them much props. I was nervous going up on stage because I didn’t feel physically ready, and my confidence just wasn’t there. Plus, my coach was missing for that extra support and a familiar smiling face. I felt too skinny going in, and was, compared to the other girls.
DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT…
I set out to interview 8 women who have successfully navigated their way through the competition world and who have earned their IFBB pro cards. What they reveal was put into a short ebook that I was ultimately going to sell for $37, but decided to instead provide for free. It is something every competitor and competitor-to-be should read…