I had always been into working out and being active. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would have the mental capacity, genes, and athleticism to accomplish NPC competing, much less having a set of solid abs! Abs was always a dream of mine, one I come to made myself believe was just that- A DREAM!
After years of working out, I noticed myself just being complacent. No challenge, not serious, it was just something I liked to do in my spare time. Until one year, I hit a major emotional wall. I found myself in a secret depression. I honestly couldn’t find my way out of this self-pity, until one November morning I woke up and was just so tired of feeling sorry for myself! After months and months of pretending to be okay, I was damaging myself in the inside. I needed something to get me out of this dark hole. I already loved working out; I didn’t mind eating well, so I figured- why not! At the time that I decided to take up this challenge, I was a member at a small local gym. I text the owner, who had been nagging me for some time to compete, and told her this is it! I’m ready let’s do this. After some communicating back and forth we agreed due to my stature, figure would be a good fit for me, and we would start up in January of 2018.
January quickly rolled around, and it was time to get the ball rolling. Once you have decided to commit, chat with your coach so you both can decide what would be a reasonable show to aim for. Since I was a bit on the thick side (insert laugh), we thought July would be perfect. It would give us plenty of time to go in my very first prep slowly. I began with a weight of around 147 pounds and a body fat percentage of 27%. It was agreed that every Friday I would weigh in on the gyms In-Body device, which gives you a breakdown of your overall weight, water weight, body fat, muscle percentage, and visceral fat, amongst other things. Aside from weighing in, I would also be sending weekly progress photos. Coach would then assess my progress for the week and make any necessary adjustments, whether it be with increasing cardio, shifting my meals/carb intake, things of that nature.
Routine is KEY when under prep for competition. Without routine, you will wonder and lose sight of the goal. Being a mom of 2, 3 if you count my husband, I knew I was going to have to find the time to get my workouts in, which meant waking up at 4:20 AM so I could get my routines started. Every Monday through Friday I knew what time I had to get going, if I was even 15 minutes late, I knew my day was going to be off a bit. Being that my son is also active, and has baseball, football, or jiu-jitsu practices, I knew my evening routine was going to be just as difficult. And this is where spouse support comes in for those who are married. Without the support, it will make things VERY difficult. I am very fortunate to have a great support system at home, they knew my days would be consumed at the gym, and like every mother, I felt guilty many of times. But it’s okay to do things for YOU for a change. So find what works for your schedule, set your alarms, and get in routine.
This also applies for meal prepping. If you are not having your meals made for you, looks like Sundays are going to be your typical grocery shopping and meal prepping days. Thankfully for me, I work from home, which makes it a little easier, but I know many work out of home. Utilize your meal prepping days to properly prep, season, weigh, and package. you will be so thankful and it will make your week nearly flawless.
The months began to roll by, the weight falling off, the clothes becoming too big, my heart and eyes steady on that July goal. I couldn’t believe this was actually all falling into place. By around April, I had met with my competitor suit lady (save your coins, these things are pricey), and we had decided on a color that suited well on my skin tone. I am a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan, and had it set in my heart- should we win the Super bowl, that would be a potential color …and well WE DID!! And thankfully, green went really well with my skin tone. Which leads me to judging pointer- judges will critique you on your suit, the quality, the color. So if you cannot afford one, consider renting. You worked so hard on working on that amazing body, don’t let a poor quality competition suit be a downfall for you. And since we are on the topic of affordability, start getting your accessories together slowly. Making the small purchases every other month will help you save in the long run. I also recommend buying your competition shoes early on. You will want to practice posing in them, so that when you are on stage, you feel absolutely comfortable with walking and turning.
Bumps in the Road
YES! You will have bumps in the road. YES! You will have disagreements with your coach. YES! You will have obstacles. Along the way, I noticed my body rejecting my progress in a roundabout way. Why do I mention this? Because I want people to be aware of their bodies and what your bodies are telling you. Hair loss, extreme fatigue, unbearable bloating, those are just some of the issues you should be aware of. Please stay in communication with your coach, keep an open line of communication and be heard. I had a few experiences and certainly made it clear that something was not right. After making some food adjustments, my body began to react in the way we needed it to. So ladies- be aware and be heard. I have heard of some competitors not being comfortable with their coach’s directions, and that is completely okay. If you feel the sudden need to switch coaches, I have heard of this being done. Does it go smoothly? Absolutely not. Some will take it better than most, but any good coach wants the better for any competitor. So rewinding a bit, when you do decide to compete DO YOUR RESEARCH when selecting a coach. This coach you decide on is basically going to be in charge of your health for the next few months. And if not directed correctly, people have long term effects.
What on earth is peak week?! Instantly the thing I asked myself. Well, peak week is one of the most vital weeks! The week before your bikini/figure competition! All your grueling hard work has come down to the end. You’re now on your last leg! Last workouts, last week of waking up at the crack of dawn! You will feel gassed out, extremely exhausted, maybe you will be fueled off pure adrenaline like I was. Whatever the case, give the last week all you have got! So close to the finish line, you can almost taste it. This week is extremely important because right about now, you and your coach have discussed water depletion, food alterations, workout strategies, and may or may not have started your competition tanning exfoliation process. As the days go by your water intake is going to change, your food might be altered, and it will all depend on how your body is reacting. As this was my first show, and I’m sure many coaches may or may not have different approaches, be prepared to put that suit on what will feel like 100 times this week. I had to send frequent photos to show my progress to ensure my body was reacting well.
There are quite a bit of important things to take along with you. I advise you most certainly invest in a She-Wee (click here). This little quirky device is a life and tan saver! Make sure you also take along some comfortable pajamas, sheets that you can afford to stain (because of your tan), headphones, good yummy snacks for after show, back up battery chargers, a full length mirror, your own makeup (just in case your makeup person you booked bails), and all the pretty hygiene things you will need for day after show. I did a check list and ran through it over and over to make sure nothing was left behind or left out. Along with all my supplements and meals, competition jewelry, suit, competition shoes, sewing kit, feminine products (Mother Nature loves to pull fast ones), we were loaded up and ready to get on our way.
This is IT!!!!! The big day had finally arrived, check-ins were done the previous day, makeup and hair started early at 4:30 AM to ensure I’d be ready to go. For months my mind wandered with thoughts of what it is like “back stage”. Will people be rude? Will I feel awkward? Who will I talk to? My best advice, go back there with a clear mind, open heart, and with a pleasant personality. Take your headphones, block out the excess noise, and relax! I never imagined I would feel so comfortable and in my zone. After taking very good advice from other competitors (and my masseuse who used to compete), I laid backstage with a towel over my head, music in my ears, and just relaxed. Periodically id check around to see where in the lineup competitors were, because this would indicate time to pump before stage line up, as well as tan glazing and gluing of the suit with bikini bite.
As my luck would have it, I was the first one to go up stage in the master’s category. All I could hear in my head was my posing coach “make it tight”. With a smile on my face, shoulders back, head high, I strutted across that stage and did the best posing I could do. If I had the perfect advice for others on how to remain composed I would share it. But the only advice I can offer, is to stay clear minded. All your hard work comes down to those seconds on stage. Have a clear mind and big smile and pose the best you can! Show off all your hard work and body physique.
After my class was done, I was finally able to go relax and have a little relaxation time. Competitors will have to return hour later to get the placing results. I enjoyed a good steak, but didn’t go too overboard for the sake of not looking too bloated when we returned in the evening. I took advantage of the downtime and had a great nap, makeup touch up, hair touch up, and returned back to the arena. To my surprise, I placed in my very first show which was an exhilerating feeling. Even now looking up at my medal, I’m still a bit in shock (shook is what I think the youth call it).
Looking back at all my early mornings, every sacrifice, every sore muscle, made this journey well worth it. I never understood why people would want to suffer and put their bodies through such a grueling training, just to be judged and told well you’re still not good enough. But now I see. It is SO much more than just that. This experience gave me a sense of accomplishment, value, inspiration, and hope. It was my therapy for my secret depression; it truly mended a lot of wounds, and made me realize I am strong. I am capable, I am of value. For those who wish to compete, I wish them all the best; it truly takes a special kind to accomplish these goals.
**Story contributed by Linda – Go to her Instagram @linda_g_13 for some tips, show pics, and great humor**