I've spent a lot of time trying to decide how I wanted to write about my NPC Bikini fitness competitions. I have a lot of mixed emotions about my experience because each prep and show were extremely different. But I figured there is not better way to get started than to just begin writing- what am I waiting for, right? So I will take you through each of my shows, one by one and explain how they have shaped me into who I am today. It sounds cheesy, but I learned so much about myself from these experiences.
At the time of my first show I was lightly immersed in the world of body building because my boyfriend at the time time was a 'body builder'. I use that term loosely because not all body builders are constantly competing, some compete once and build their body as a hobby. Anyways, while I was getting a spray tan one day I met a female figure who encouraged me to compete. I knew that it would ultimately scare me to death to stand on a stage and flaunt my progress in front of hundreds of people in a bedazzled bikini. I also didn't know how to lift weights or eat to transform my body. So even though this idea terrified me, I said yes. I knew at the time that I needed a physical and mental push and working towards my first competition was the perfect challenge.
I spend the next 3 months dieting, lifting 3 days a week, doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) and steady state cardio. I ate a high protein diet (4-6oz protein per meal) and cycled my carbs so I only ate them post workout. This prep was honestly pretty easy. I slept well, rested 1-2 days per week and didn't have to think very much about what I was doing. Excess fat fell off of me to reveal a layer of lean, toned muscle underneath. Piece of cake! (not literally, didn't have any cake until post show).
The day of my first show was a blast. Tan, hair and make-up before, I got to eat all carbs and carb powder with small sips of coffee. Up until the date of my first show I didn't really know what to expect. However, I knew I had to add more sass to my posing routine in order to impress the judges. Bikini is an odd 'sport' and is often very opinion based. Every pose you do has to have a smooth transition and appear sexy and rhythmic to flaunt your muscles and physique. This was probably my biggest weakness because I was not very confident in presenting my body in that way. Also, it is so scary doing this in a tiny bikini in front of so many people! Yikes!
I got my first few plaques and trophies as this show, for 2nd and 3rd place in the two classes I entered. It is very expensive to do these competitions (around $1,000) and each class you enter in a show is about $95. It was funny because my first show I did with a girlfriend and throughout our whole prep we thought we would be competing in the same class. Turns out she was in the height class before me because she measured in at an inch shorter.
This first show experience had me hungry for more. I wanted to push my body harder, try to lift heavy, diet more aggressively and place higher in my next show. Little did I know that this would be my hobby for the next 2 years. This first show taught me a level of confidence that I had never experienced just lifting weights and working out. It taught me to be thankful and proud of my body and the hard work it took to get show ready. I learned to smile and be happy for my accomplishments, and feel great in the new body I had sculpted. Up until this point I never thought I could create the body I wanted. I always thought you were born with a shape and body fat % and you couldn't change your curves or physique drastically. I learned that anything is possible if you push yourself mentally and physically. I found I was able to build the body I always wanted but never thought was possible, until this first show.
My second competition went very similar to my first one. I actually ended up placing lower than my first competition which was humbling to experience. I began to realize that the world of bikini competitions was becoming a lot more competitive and political within the NPC league.
Fast forwarding to my third and fourth competitions, things began to get a little more challenging. I worked with a new coach and my diet and training changed. At that point I had taken an entire year off from competition prep. This meant that my body had a surplus of calories, rest and strength training during that previous time off from a caloric deficit.
My body started to take longer to recover, and longer to show results. Nevertheless I kept pushing the limits, working out twice a day at times, if I cheated on my diet I would do extra cardio that day. I was drinking almost a gallon of water a day and surviving off of protein powder and pre-workout supplements. I ended up placing higher in both show 3 and 4 and I was a lot more confident in my physique at that point.
My fifth and final competition was November of last year. It was the most challenging one I had done. My body fought me the entire time and I had bouts of anxiety and self-doubt throughout the entire process. I had gained a lot more muscle at this point so dieting through this and burning fat became a lot harder. This was something I had not yet experienced during competition prep. The three months leading up to this competition I was fighting my body, internally and externally and suffering during most of it. I could not seem to recover fast enough before my next workout and my body did not want to let go of extra body fat in the same ways that had worked before. I tried Intermittent fasting, fat burners, sweat wraps, waist trimming corsets and the Ketogenic Diet in an attempt to shed weight faster.
I was unhappy almost daily and lacking self confidence in every workout and posing practice. This led me to a conclusion that at first I was reluctant to listen to. I knew this was the end for a little while. I could not go on being unhappy prepping for a competition and I could not let it consume me as much as it had. Around this time the NPC was changing too and the bikini competitors were being judged more so on how skinny they could get and their waist to hip ratios and less on their overall physique and stage presence (in my opinion). The day of the competition, I ended up placing first in my novice class, which means if I ever choose to compete again, I can only compete in the open which is a more challenging class. This was a huge reward for all of my hard work, yet I still felt a little empty inside.
At this point I knew I needed a break. So I took one, and am actually still taking one. I haven't competed since last November and I am not sure I will at any point soon.
I learned so much from these competitions and I do not regret any of them. I learned to love my body at at it's worst and at it's best, through sweat and tears, through successes and failures. I have become a stronger person and found so much of who I am through these experiences. I am so thankful for being able bodied, and being healthy and blessed enough to do these competitions.
Thank you so much for reading guys! I really appreciate it. Let me know if you have any questions about any of it, I am happy to answer.
Have an awesome weekend!