It was my first figure competition, my first time going out on a stage in front of people who were going to judge me based on my overall appearance, symmetry, muscle, etc. I had to attain a much lower body fat than I had ever imagined being. In fact, I’ve never given my body fat a first thought, and merely went based on the size of my clothes. Not to mention, I was never athletic, never competed in any sport unless you consider jumping over hurdles during track and field in 7th grade. Then, okay fine, I was athletic. Nope. I was just skinny-bony. Skinny to the point where people used to question whether I ate or not. And I ate a TON. I don’t know where it ever went, but it got me to never be concerned with body fat that’s for sure. People used to warn me when I was younger, that one day all of that crap eating was going to “catch up” to me. Of course, I didn’t believe them. Fast forward to 32 years old, and I had 2 kids, partied hard, attended school full time, worked at a customer call center for 11 years, and turns out, that shit does really creep up on you out of nowhere. I guess that’s when I decided that I should probably join a gym.
So there I was, full time student, unemployed, and I was just beginning to discover this newly found passion for fitness and health, when one day, I stumbled upon the idea of competing in a fitness competition! A what? Yea, that’s what I said at first too. But hey, it seemed like a challenge, and I like challenges, so what the hell!? I hired a trainer, and then the days went on pretty much the same; eat, gym, eat, gym. Yep. Minus the tanning and minus the laundry…I picked out the color, ordered my suit, tried it on and sent it back for the finishing touches here is a picture of the first suit pre-bedazzled:
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much support, felt kind of depleted and started to look like I was that scrawny girl back in middle school. Plus, I was craving serious food. I’m talking fried, sugar, greasy…It. Did. Not. Matter. Ultimately, I threw in the towel, or “the suit” shall I say, and fortunately, I was lucky enough that a girl who went to the same gym, wanted to buy the suit from me right on the spot. Phew! I dodged that bullet. I wasn’t ready, and I knew it.
Clearly, the way you feel on the inside really does reflect on the outside. Don’t I look so happy? I might have been hungry here, who knows!? (pale as a ghost too)
Afterwards, I relaxed on my strict eating approach, still eating 6 small meals, but just having a cheat meal once or twice a week. And I ate more. So it went on, and on. Fast forward a year later, and I felt that I was ready for round 2: Operation Figure Competition. I didn’t tell anyone. I worked my ass off in the gym, ate and dieted until about 4 weeks out from the show when I hired a different personal trainer than the one I had the first time. It was a 2 hour drive out to meet her, but it was well worth it. She gave me a workout plan and nutrition plan to steer me towards the next couple of weeks leading up to the show as well as the day of the show. AND LET ME TELL YOU, I was hungry, eating the same boring food, irritated, whiny, bitchy, moody, you name it. I felt weak and I dropped to such a low body fat, I didn’t get my period, and that made me feel like I was heading out on the next bus to looneytoon town. Plus, it was summer, I swear I felt like I was a pregnant lady about to pop in the heat. NOT HAPPY. I took my kids to a zoo and felt so bad because I had very little energy, and all my little boy wanted to do was play on the jungle gym. But I had no energy left in me to sit and wait because there were so many hills at this zoo. I was super hungry and I wanted to cry.
I’m pretty sure the look on this bear’s face is exactly the way I feel. Coincidence?
Needless to say, I went to Red Lobster and then went to get ice cream. In my mind I was done. But…that was the hormones and crazy talking….
I remember laying out by the pool-not even thinking about it- oh lets get a tan duh!? I sprayed Clarins progressive tanning oil all over me to prevent a sunburn, as it had successfully done for the past 2 years, but nooooo! Not this year! Not this time! So not only was I low on carbs, eating little calories, my hormones were raging, brain seemed as though it was on a very long pause, it was hotter than Hell, and 3 weeks prior to the show, I had a major sunburn. Awesome. I read on the trusty ol’ Internet that Hydrocortisone cream would help speed up the healing process of a sunburn. Nope. Didn’t happen. Instead a rash happened. Yep! My sunburn slowly turned into a rash.
With the support of my husband, I made it through to the weekend of the show, and we began our 5 hour drive to Newburyport, MA. Stressed and nervous. I had to get the spray tan, go to the hotel, check in, and then go to the HOST hotel to take a Polygraph test. FUN. We were staying at a hotel approximately 15 miles from the Host hotel, but it was not at all what we expected. 15 miles was more like a 45 minute drive with all the traffic. We decided to just go to my spray tan appointment first and then go to the hotel to check in.
I was quite surprised at how fast I was ready to just take my clothes off to get a spray tan; I’m usually quite modest. Seriously. I had to turn, and bend and turn and bend. It felt like a power washer grazing my backside and that shit was freezing. After that room, I was led to a different room to stand in front of a tiny floor fan to dry with 2 other girls…Naked. All of us naked in a room; “drying”. And the room was the size of a room in a tanning bed salon. After waiting impatiently for two hours while generating casual yet awkward conversation, I was pretty much unrecognizable having my skin turned into a color I had never seen before! I was ready to leave. I walked outside and I was freezing! Next was the polygraph test. Since it was getting late, and there was a cutoff time for the polygraph test, we had to head over to the host hotel to get that in. Holy shit! That line was soooooo long. I waited 3 hours to take the test, and by the time I got to the hotel, I was exhausted and tired of eating cold food out of plastic containers and bags. I was ready for bed. I brought brown sheets and a blanket so that I didn’t ruin the hotel sheets. I couldn’t sit on the toilet, but I also had to be careful not to let the water splash. I know, TMI, but there were some pretty strict rules to follow as regards to this spray tan. Even at the host hotel, we weren’t allowed to lean on any of the walls or sit on the toilet there either!
5 a.m. Alarm goes off, and it’s time to eat more cold food, brown rice with some salt and steak. I could only drink a certain amount of water, and only do a light warm up on the treadmill or go for a walk. It was freezing in the hotel’s fitness room, but I sucked it up and hopped on the treadmill. Once that was over, I had to do my hair, and then head over to get my makeup done and my false eyelashes applied, and then it was over to the show venue.
When we arrived at the show venue, I realized that I should have brought a long mirror and I felt that I didn’t do enough to get my hair ready, but hey, I suck at doing hair. Oh well. Once I got into the venue, I had to have an umpteenth coat of spray tan applied. Apparently, my skin is super sensitive around my neck and the spray tan wasn’t going on evenly. No nudity this time though! Hehe. I was lucky that the competition spray tan was dark enough to cover the portion of left over rash or whatever the hell it was. Not only that, the tan lines on the bottom portion lightened up enough and the bottoms of my suit along with the number I was given covered it up anyway. After the spray tanning was finished, there was a photographer there to take pictures of all of the people who were competing. I felt very awkward and nervous posing in front of other people. Plus, once I got my pictures in the mail, I couldn’t help but laugh at how I was revealing a little underboob. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.
A little underboob never hurt no one! (Suit by Saleyla)
Once all of that was out of the way, I was extremely relieved at how relaxed and comfortable I started to feel; just being around people who were there for the same reason. Not to mention, we were all hungry and probably all just ready to let our stomachs hang out from lots of sodium in the form of carbohydrates or some really yummy sugary dessert. I still was extremely nervous about getting on stage, but it felt incredible just being there. All of the girls were super nice, and the promoters and everyone involved in the show also made it a very relaxing place to be. The best part was when they got everyone together before the show and announced that they discourage any type of negativity; just have fun! Of course, that still didn’t shake my nerves about walking on a stage in front of everyone. It turned out to be an extremely long day, but nonetheless, everyone was real encouraging to one another; it was inspiring and welcoming.
While there were many different classes to enter, I only entered Figure Debut, which meant I would only have to get on stage one time! Once I found out that I could still crossover to another class, my husband tried to get me to enter into the others, but my nerves weren’t ready for all that. I know, looking back, I should have done it; after all, I did work really hard to get to that point. There were 10 girls in the debut class and I placed 8th, but I didn’t care. I was just so elated that I did it. I completed my figure walk, and it was over. I received feedback from the judges and they told me that for future shows I needed to work on posing because I appeared too stiff and robotic!