So we are clear, I’m not “quitting bikini” because I didn’t place yesterday…

Not because the “bikini prep” caused me to lose my menstrual cycle…

I’m not quitting because I lost my sex drive or my boobs (completely)…

I’m not even completely “quitting” full on.

I simply don’t plan on competing again for a few reasons I’d like to share in hopes to let you in on the myths, the truths and the challenges behind the new trend of getting strong to get on stage as a bikini competitor.

A little background

I’ve been consistently powerlifting since 2014 and I competed in my first powerlifting meet in January 2015.

As I got stronger and stronger, staying leaner became easier– as long as I kept my nutrition in check.

With every week of heavy lifts I watched my shoulders get stronger, my glutes get bigger and my back get jacked— in a pretty way.

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By August of 2015 I set my sights on a bikini competition because it seemed that a lot of the stronger, inspiring powerlifters I looked up to, like Katie Anne Rutherford and LeAnna Carr, were all doing both Powerlifting and Bikini/Figure competitions and doing both very well.

If something I loved, (powerlifting) could help me get a body for the stage, I was all in!

I decided to coach myself and write about the process.

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And I loved the process!

Sure there were some difficult times, but anything you want to achieve takes hard work.

Like a marathon runner may not love the training days that involve 19 mile runs in the rain, saying “no” to wine at dinner 9 times out of 10 for sixteen weeks of “bikini prep” last fall wasn’t amazing, but it didn’t kill me.

Getting my hair and makeup done, practicing my poses and seeing all the hard work put in come together was empowering, exciting and almost thrilling!

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I had never been more proud of myself when I got on stage last November.

I was ecstatic to have coached myself through it without losing my period, my sex drive or having too many negative side effects– besides loosing some of the boobs I had, as anyone does when they lose fat.

To my luck, or maybe hard work cashed in, I came in second place and immediately began to plan for another competition in the spring.

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My second competition

Last December I registered for the April 16th show I competed in yesterday.
But December wasn’t spent preparing for the bikini competition and neither was January.

Those months were spent trying to get strong AF for my second powerlifting meet, January 31st.

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I never missed a training session and I worked my booty off to hit a 275 pound deadlift, a 200 pound back squat and 115 pound bench press.

As soon as January 31st came and went I had approximately 12 weeks until my bikini competition.

But I still wasn’t too motivated to change much with my diet because thanks to powerlifting, my body hadn’t really changed that much since the show.

At about the 8 weeks-out marker, when I really needed to start counting my calories and paying more attention to my nutrition, my friend from college, Lauren Fingers, decided she wanted to compete with me.

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Soon enough, Fingers became my sole motivation for competing. I wanted to do it for her because I wanted to share the experience with her.

And we had a BALL! We spoke every week, we worked on getting her STRONG AF and she built a TON of muscle.

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For Fingers, the prep was very, very short. She killed it.

In the final few weeks it ended up taking a toll on her energy levels, as it does for everyone, but it was nothing short of what a powerlifter goes through when they cut weight, a marathon runner goes through on long run Saturdays, or a football player goes through during two-a-days in August.

Sacrifices must be made when you are going after something you want.

We enjoyed the late night calls that had us giggling about how we planned to paint our nails, what friends we would make and how we couldn’t wait to eat Cheesecake afterward. #GarrettandFingersEatCheesecake

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The big day

We were nervous after the check-ins at the hotel because it’s very natural to start comparing yourself to others, especially when you are standing next to people butt naked getting sprayed dark brown for the stage.

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When we woke up Saturday morning we felt nervous, but as soon as we put our suits on we felt pretty and strong.

We spent about two hours in the crappy hotel bathroom convincing ourselves that were were totally going to win, while we tried to contour our faces.

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When we arrived at the small-town, Indiana high school the warm welcome speech given by the hosts of the NPC show made us feel excited and pleased; things seemed like they would be run smoothly.

But back stage for bikini checks we started to worry we were not even close to being competitive as we watched girls with ab veins tweak their suits to make the standards.

And that was intimidating at first.

Listening to the other girls talk about how they didn’t eat carbs for three weeks, have Quest bars, drink or even have rice, we swallowed our words, scared to share about our more relaxed prep.

No wonder people hate this process!

Knowing that we enjoyed out “prep” process we completed in a short-term, healthy, enjoyable way we knew we had already won–  even though we didn’t have ab veins.

We didn’t judge though, we tried to make as many friends as possible.

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And let me tell you, having two water bottles of vodka in a room full of nervous girls makes it really easy to make friends as soon as you offer them a sip of the forbidden juice which can serve as an excellent way to calm down before they step on stage.

Fingers and I were both party girls in college so that fact that we showed up with the vodka and brought the party made the day feel like old times back at Miami of Ohio!

We spent four hours backstage eating Swedish fish, practicing funny poses, taking silly photos and eating way too many of our snacks before we went on stage.

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I was in Open Bikini Class B, with our new friends Cheryl and Reece.

Fingers was in Class C. We also made friends with two girls in Class D.

When my class went on, I lead the way, walking out first and unfortunately was made to stand out of the spot lights as there were 20 girls in my division.

It was kind of heart breaking to not feel noticed or get first in call-outs, as I did in Boston last fall.

Fingers also walked out first and had to stand in the back, dark corner of the stage.

My mom being the harsh critic she is said that we the girls being picked top five in pre-judging were not as classy looking as we were, but even better she told me that I looked really feminine and pretty!

What? Me? Not strong and athletic, but pretty?

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From my first show, I’m third in from the left.

I’ve spent my entire life accepting compliments about being “so strong” and “built.”

Never have I been the soft, feminine girl….

For the next few hours after pre-judging Fingers and I sat in her car deciding whether or not we wanted to go back in and get on stage for the final show.

I was honestly okay with walking away. My competitive side disappeared for a few moments.

But Fingers pulled me out of it.

“If this is my first and last competition I am going to see it all the way through. We are getting back on stage, bloated or not!”

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“Real Lions Love the Process.” Eric Thomas

Watch the video of Eric Thomas, specifically the part beginning at 4:34 when he begins to talk about “beast mode” and why lions hunt.

If you didn’t know, I am a competitive girl in whatever I do.

At powerlifting meets I look at the most athletic girl like a lion looks at a gazelle…I want to be stronger. I want to defeat my opponents. I want to slay.

In high school track meets I didn’t want to be the fastest– which is why I didn’t run 🙂

But I did want to pole-vault the highest, because I was obsessed with pole-vaulting and the fun training–like the rock climbing and deep-end swimming we did to get strong for pole-vaulting.

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In the past as long as I’ve worked my ass off, I’ve typically done well in anything I tried, as long as I truly wanted something and enjoyed the process required to conquer the goal.

For bikini competitions, I’ve fallen in love with the unique process I’ve personally created for “bikini prep,” involving powerlifting, Quest Bars, spray butter and even going out to Yvonne’s on a random Wednesday night to  have a cocktail 10 days out from the competition.

My process is great.

I’m consistent with my lifts, I enjoy my strength and putting the pretty bikini on with bright pink lipstick on the competition day ties it altogether for me, since I have a girly side.

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But as I stood on the side of the stage last night and looked at the top five winners, I realized I didn’t want to look like them, even if their look was the “winning” look.

I wanted to look like me.

Zero part of me wanted to push myself any harder— to a point wherein I wouldn’t love the process anymore— to build bigger glutes, better abs etc, only to have the judges at the next show decide that they don’t like blondes.

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No part of me had any urge to hold back from oatmeal again for three days in a row– which is about as long as I can stand a low-carb diet-–  only to be told that my shoulders aren’t big enough.

For the first time this spring, I bought three, real-life bikinis online and loved all of them! That is a win!

My motivation to change anything about me for the judges sake is about .005%.

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That .005% is not me wanting to change me, but it is the small desire I have to go through with the show I am registered for in two weeks, just to bring this same body up there, smile at the judges and see if for some reason they want a girl with great calves that day 🙂

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But, on the other hand if one of my friends is having a party that weekend I feel as though I’d rather in a pretty dress holding a cocktail than on stage.

Time will tell.

At this point one other reason I’m leaning towards not competing on April  30th since my Mom can’t make it– she is my support system.

Getting onstage alone and not sharing the process with anyone doesn’t sound very fun to me.

Even if I won first place, taking a trophy home to an empty apartment wouldn’t be exciting.

No first place trophy will solidify my confidence in my body or ameliorate it in any way.

I’m cool with it now, as is!

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If you take nothing from this article, take with you the notion that you can absolutely get leaner, lose fat and love your leaner body in a fun, sustainble, healthy way.

And, getting a little leaner so your clothes fit a little better can be awesome! And hell, you can even get on stage if you want to!

Know that getting on stage does not have to mean a loss of sex drive, a loss of your menstrual cycle or your social life.

There is a balanced way to do it, however, you just might not be the most athletic or the leanest girl up there.

And, if you want to be the leanest, strongest, top bikini competitor I do not discourage you from going for it— just make sure that you are a FREAKING LION and you are obsessed with the process all the way through!

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