After five months of dieting and training (15 of those weeks with my trainer), I finally competed in my first NPC (National Physique Committee) Bikini Competition. THANK YOU, THANK YOU for following along on this journey. Reading your comments helped me feel like I had a lot of friends rooting for me along the way. On the drive to the contest (4 hours to Dallas), I kept thinking, "I can't believe I'm doing this!" I had dreamed of prepping and competing in a bikini contest in my 20s, and finally accomplished it at age 39, as a wife and mother to a 4 year-old. Better late than never, right? Just goes to show that you can transform your body at any stage of life! In February, I weighed about 112 pounds and I competed at 100 pounds. I'm 5 feet even.
I accomplished these changes with diet and consistent, hard! exercise (cardio and weights about 4-5 days a week, a good hour and a half each time). In addition to my meals, I used BCAA (branched chain amino acids- 3 tablespoons in my water bottle while I worked out) and Glutamine (1 scoop after each weight training session), and multivitamins and fish oil. No steroids, fat burners, pre-workout drink, etc. You can go to my FITNESS page to see more posts about my meal plan and to see the process along the way.
Below are some of the unedited stage photos I received from the show photographer.
The contest was on Saturday, July 5 and we left for Dallas on Friday morning. My trainer didn't change my food that much for the last week of prep. On Wednesday before the show, I cut out egg whites. Then, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I was to eat 6 meals instead of my usual 5 and I eliminated my Molly McButter (due to sodium). I contented to drink water normally, stopping on Friday night at 10pm, and just sipping the next day.
I stopped at the grocery store on Thursday night to prep my 12 meals for Friday and Saturday. I will write a separate post on how I do my meal prep. It's super simple and barely takes any time.
I packed a cooler with ice and replaced the ice in Dallas to keep everything cold. I ate all but one of the meals cold (I was able to use the Subway microwave for one of them!). Also, I didn't finish the meals on Saturday, so a few weren't eaten.
Packing for the trip was pretty easy. Bikini, heels, jewelry, makeup, hair tools. But also, I brought a black sheet (to cover the hotel bed) and loose clothes I wasn't afraid to ruin because I knew the spray tan would get everywhere. It ended up washing out though.
I also knew I'd be ready for a good long shower after the contest and really want to try to scrub the fake tan off, so I packed my body scrub and loofah gloves.
It felt good to shower, but the tan doesn't just scrub off I found. You have to wait for it to fade from your body- other competitors told me it can take two weeks and that it comes off in patches, so you look all splotchy. Nice. Hasn't happened to me yet. Speaking of spray tan . . .
I got to the hotel just in time for my first spray tan appointment. What an experience! First, I opened the door to a small conference room where they were applying the tan and the first thing I saw was a bunch of dark, fit, naked booties. You strip all your clothes off and step into a small tent where a woman sprays the tan on you with a hand-held sprayer. Then, you stand around with the other naked women for a good 20 - 30 minutes in front of fans while it dries enough to get dressed. We had to laugh because there's nothing else you can really do! And you can't help but check each other out, two of the ladies I tanned with won medals at this event!
Here's how I looked after one coat of spray tan. They don't spray your face- only for bodybuilding men I heard. The tan does accentuate your muscles.
Below is the next morning, after two coats of spray tan.
Each competitor has to be a member of the NPC and check in at the contest venue the night before the contest. This is the first time you get to see a bunch of the competitors from every category. You can easily tell who's competing by who looks orangey/brown from the spray tan!
They measured me at this check-in at 5 feet 0. In the morning, we had to go back to get our competitor number. Lucky #169 here:)
HAIR & MAKEUP
For this show, I used the hair and makeup artists assigned to the show. They did an okay job and were super nice and friendly, but next time, I would definitely do my own. I "redid" my hair and makeup after they were done. She had my foundation so dark orange, when I finally saw it, I felt like I had aged 10 years. :( I hired the makeup artist because I was worried about matching my face to my tan, but I think I could have done okay. Below is a picture from AFTER I touched up my face. I know this is picky, but I wish I would've curled and trimmed the fake lashes- I think they are too long at the end (the sides of my face) and in the stage pictures, I feel like my eyes look tired. I'm pretty good at doing hair/makeup and I could have saved the expense too.
And then we were off to the pre-judging.
Pre-judging is where the judges see all the competitors on stage and make their decisions about who wins. Then, you get a break and come back for the finals at night and the competitors go on stage again and the winners receive their medals.
I competed in BIKINI division, in two categories - NOVICE and MASTERS. Novice is for women (any age) that haven't placed in the Top 5 of a previous contest. You can compete in this division if you have never competed before, or if you have competed, but not placed Top 5 in your class. Then, they divide the Novice Division into Classes depending on height. I measured 5 foot even and Class A went up to 5'4 I think. There was also Novice Class B, C, and D. Masters is for competitors age 35 and older.
Prejudging started at 9:30 a.m. and we finally finished at 2:30 p.m. Long morning!
The first category I competed in was Bikini Novice Class A. Backstage, while we are all lined up (maybe 35-40 of us??) you could feel the nerves and excitement. I just kept hoping my posing would look decent and fluid. But, I felt pretty confident- I had been practicing backstage. I was about the 4th woman in our group to go on. The posing happens so fast - you only have 10 seconds to hit four poses and then walk to the side of the stage and wait while the rest of the group goes. I got to see all of the other competitors pose and I knew I could have done better had I practiced my posing more during prep.
Then the judges "CALL OUT" their Top 5 competitors to come to the front of the stage. They'll have certain competitors move next to another competitor for comparison. I wasn't in the first call-outs, but I didn't necessarily expect to be. Then, the judges call out the next five. I wasn't in the second call-outs either. I started to feel bad. It sucks to be standing there, getting critiqued, feeling like you aren't measuring up, like you are being judged. And duh, it's a contest- you are literally being judged. Then, the judges called the next 5. I wasn't in that group either. I felt my cheeks getting hot. It felt like I was standing (on the sidelines) forever. I was in the 4th call outs and that felt BAD. That means I finished in the Top 20, not near the top. I wasn't prepared for how low I would feel not doing well in the judges eyes. Throughout this competition prep, I've felt so good just knowing that I'm going for it and reaching for a goal. The actual competing part didn't cross my mind too often and I never focused on winning. But, once I was standing on that stage, boy did I want to win!
After my group was called out, we exited the stage while the remainder of the women were called out. I felt so defeated. I know it sounds bad, but it's how I honestly felt. I was having a pity party, feeling like I didn't even want to compete in the next round for Masters. The Enemy had a field day with my mind for a good bit, "What were you thinking, trying to compete in a bikini contest??" I felt so foolish and hurt. My good friend Cassie and her daughter had come to watch pre-judging and I felt embarrassed that they had come out just to see me lose. I felt like I had let them down. Of course, Cassie was super encouraging and comforting. She is also funny like nobody's business, so she got me to crack some smiles.
There was a bit of down time while the rest of the classes competed before it was time for Masters. There were only 11 women competing in Masters, which told me that the majority of women competing at this contest were under 35. I'd guess mid-twenties is the average age. But, in the Masters category, those women looked fierce! Each one of them could have won in my opinion. So, when I made the first call outs in that division, I did feel very happy.
Leaving pre-judging, you don't know what place you won, but I knew I was in the Top 5 for Masters and that felt really good. But, in reality, it took me some time to "get over" feeling inadequate and foolish during the Novice round.
My best friend, Karen, drove to support me and got there after pre-judging, but before the night show. Thank God for her. I got to have the rest of my pity party in her arms and then I snapped back to reality. It's just a roller coaster of emotions that I didn't expect. I confided in Karen and admitted to myself, "I didn't realize winning/placing higher would mean so much to me."
The Finals started at 6:30pm and I got there about 7:30, with just about 30 minutes until the Masters Women Bikini division. The contestants and I got back out on stage and then they called out the Top 5, which I was thrilled to be a part of. They called out 5th place (which I thought would be me, but it wasn't). I got 4th place. I was so happy to have that medal! My husband has been such a great support to me too. He not only encouraged me to compete, he went on the same diet as me for the last month AND helped prep my meals. He's a "good egg" as Cassie always says!
Since the contest ended, I've had a little time to reflect on the whole experience, what I've learned about the contest and myself. It will take longer to truly digest all of the lessons and I'm good with that. I don't know if I'll compete again. I definitely want to continue to make changes to my physique. If I didn't want to get pregnant again soon, I probably would sign up for another show in the near future- keep the momentum going. I enjoyed having a goal to work toward and it did make me train harder and stick to my diet. Maybe after Baby #2?? If there's one thing I know now, it's never too late to change your physical fitness!
In January 2014, I was determined that, come July 2014, I would not be in the same place I was in a year ago. It feels AMAZING to have accomplished that!
I learned or confirmed during this process that:
- God is always in control.
- I'm strong.
- I'm capable.
- I'm a fighter.
- It's okay to be proud of myself.
- I can do 45 minutes of cardio and then go on to do a challenging workout immediately after- four to five days a week. I never thought I could've done that before.
- A million walking lunges will tone up your legs and rear.
- As a beginner, having an experienced coach/nutritionist is critical to achieving maximum results quickly.
- It takes a long time to change your body, but it can be done. One day at a time.
- I need lots of sleep on competition prep.
- My coffee and creamer are extremely important to me.
- I crave Cheerios. Late at night.
- I hate Burpees.
- It's no fun being judged. Unless you're winning.
- I take criticism hard.
- My self-worth is in who I am and how well I love.
- I need help and support.
- Receiving encouragement from other people feels so good. A kind word from a stranger can make my day.
- I get back what I put out into the world.
- I will always continue to work on myself. On the inside and out.