Hi Carrot Cake readers!! My name is Miriam and I am a physician assistant by day and a blogger by night over at Bellaspire. I am absolutely thrilled to be guest posting today about my experience doing a bikini competition! This time a year ago I was an avid distance runner. I had completed about a dozen half marathons and was training for my third full marathon. When I ran I was invincible, and nothing was better than the feeling I experienced after finishing a long run.
A nagging injury, multiple physical therapy sessions, and eventually a warning from my doctor would find me canceling my fall marathon plans and putting running on the back burner to allow time for my injury to heal. I was devastated!! In order to rest my puppies while still enjoying the endorphins that a workout brings, I decided to take up lifting. I certainly knew the basics, but decided to hire a personal trainer to really push myself into gaining some noticeable strength. I went to Jill Coleman, founder of Jillfit Physiques, for guidance. I was introduced to an entirely new community of athletes focused on physique development. Long cardio sessions were soon traded for heavy weight lifting and my eating habits changed from a healthy diet to a fat loss lifestyle.
In a matter of weeks I started to see physical changes that I loved. My stomach was getting flatter and I loved the definition that was starting to show. In the same way that a runner would sign up for a race, I learned that ladies who lift weights often sign up to compete in their sport. I decided to set a goal to compete in a bikini competition!!
This was by far the hardest part of it all!! After talking with Jill, we decided that I would do best on an 8 week plan. For the first 4 weeks I ate 5 meals a day- usually an egg white omelet and a carb in the morning, almonds and an apple or egg whites for a snack, a carb with a big salad and piece of meat for lunch, broccoli and turkey or tuna for an afternoon snack, and a piece of meat and two veggies for dinner. When I was 4 weeks out my lunch time carb went away and my Friday night cheat meal went away. When I was 2 weeks out my diet tightened up even further and when show week arrived I said goodbye to any artificial sweeteners. A few days out from the show I started to decrease my water intake, which was very difficult!! The night before the show was amazing. I had an Outback steak, potato, salad, and veggies for dinner to fill out my muscles for the stage!! I was ready to go!!
The training was actually not as time consuming as long distance running. I worked out 6 days a week and thoroughly enjoyed my rest day. As a bikini competitor I was working for an athletic, shapely and sexy appearance as opposed to a muscular physique of a figure competitor or body builder. I did splits (back/bis, chest/tris, shoulders, legs) along with cardio intervals. The longest I ever spent working out in a single day was an hour and a half. Don’t get me wrong, I was killing it the whole time.
The first time I met Jill for posing practice I felt so silly and entirely out of my comfort zone. Not only was I wearing 5 inch heels but I was also supposed to strut around the stage striking sexy, flirty poses, creating good angles while showcasing my physique. My trainer and fellow competitor, Emily, had the walk down and week after week we met to practice our moves. I started to get more and more comfortable on stage and eventually looked forward to our Monday night gatherings. While body builders and figure competitors are required to strike and hold certain poses, bikini girls can move around as much as they want. Taking the stage turned out to be a blast!
The Day Itself
Once the dieting and workouts were behind me, the day of the show was a piece of cake. We arrived for an early morning athlete’s meeting and then got ready before taking the stage for pre-judging. There were 3 classes in the bikini division based on height. Each class took the stage and we basically did our walk outs, turns, and posing for the panel. Since most of the judging actually takes place during pre-judging we were allowed to eat a treat once this was finished. I had been craving a Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Starbucks and coffee has never tasted so good!! We all took the stage for the night show that evening where the winners were announced and the 8 weeks of training came to an end. Although I didn’t win anything, I was very proud of myself for stepping way outside of my comfort zone and for finding the silver lining from a running injury.
After the Show
The minute after the show I completely indulged!! I had never been on a diet before and can now totally understand how people can get into a viscous cycle of yo-yo dieting. I went to Boston the week after the show and ate my fair share of "chowda" and all of my favorite festive fall treats that I had missed. I had lost about 10-15 pounds for the show and pretty much gained most of it back. I’ve heard that this happens with a lot of competitors and worked really hard not to beat myself up. In the same way that most marathoners can’t finish a race and immediately do another one, I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) stay on such a strict plan. I was ready to be normal again.
These days I am happy just living the fat loss lifestyle. I eat 80% clean and enjoy treats and indulgences the rest of the time. Knowing that I eat clean the majority of the time allows me to thoroughly enjoy life’s little pleasures without guilt or regret. Although I pretty much weigh the same as I did when I was a distance runner, my body is much tighter and more defined than it was even a year ago. I am grateful for the lessons I learned throughout the competition process. I have experienced first hand what it takes to achieve my "perfect" physique and you know what I learned? It didn’t come from running marathon after marathon, it was mentally all-consuming, and I’m much happier with those few extra pounds that I used to hate. More than anything the whole process taught me to love my body and to not be so hard on myself.
For more inspiration, recipes, and thoughts on fat loss, check out my blog at Bellaspire. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter and would love to connect! Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!!