When I decided I wanted to start lifting and prepping for a bikini competition I had no idea where to start. There’s so much information out there about what to eat and how to train; everyone had a different opinion. I think we all can agree that different opinions are good because it shows us many perspectives, but it also reminds us that what works for one, won’t necessarily work for another.
I had been told to get a coach, so I looked into it. It was not something I could afford and it wasn’t something I was willing to stretch myself for. So I started researching.
My biggest research tools for exercises was bodybuilding.com. This helped me discover new exercises that I never would’ve thought of; it also helped me learn correct form so I wouldn’t hurt myself. I researched HIIT and Tabata and found some pre-made workouts- these were great and over time I was able to change them up with exercises I thought would be effective for my goals.
When I started looking into a diet to follow it was clear that I had to go all in, I couldn’t just do something for the summer, this was going to be a lifestyle change. Throughout my journey I had been adjusting my workouts and my food to meet new goals so another adjustment was just part of the plan. I had been clean eating before I started prepping so when I learned about IIFYM, I figured I macro counting would be a breeze and I could be more flexible with my food.
I have fallen in love with IIFYM and while my relationship with food isn’t perfect, I have a much better relationship now. I know that you need fat to burn fat. Protein will help rebuild your muscles that your smashed in the gym and carbohydrates are an important sources of fuel. The body is like a machine, without fuel the machine shuts down. With IIFYM, I learned to focus on nutrition versus calories. While weightoss is all about calories out verses calories in, all macronutrients have calories; as long as I hit my nutritional needs, I will have enough energy for the day. Eating in a deficit still provides me enough food to meet my nutritional goals and have energy.
I learned what water could actually do for me and what hydration means for the body’s development.
Even though I didn’t have a coach, I had a few people who helped me along the way that I believe played a huge role in my success. My friend Monolina, @monolina12 on IG, worked out with me a few times a week. Together we figured out workouts, corrected each others form and pushed each other to lift heavier than we ever thought we could. This gave us both something to look forward to at the end of the work day, and hitting new PRs together helped us bond. We get the funniest looks in the gym!
Laurie, @tinygymrat on IG, helped me figure out how to adjust my macros for cutting throughout the process, she also introduced me to drop sets and super-setting. Both of those things helped me discover how much physical strength I had and push myself harder than I had been.
Brittany, @brittbaine on IG, and I met when I decided to give Beachbody a try… yeah, that didn’t go so well for me, but we’ve maintained our friendship. She has definitely helped me stay on track and stay realistic in my goals and what I can accomplish. When I have doubted myself, she has been blunt and told me to stop thinking that way. She has never once told me that I can’t do something or that my dreams can’t become reality. This is what a friend is.
When I got closer to the competition, I started meeting other women I would be competing with in the New England Championships. Sam, @baconbarbellsbikinis on IG, helped me figure out how to find my flair for posing. I had mostly gotten over the idea of not being the smallest girl in a bikini, but I was fearful of eating the stage. This girl helped with that a ton, probably more than she realizes.
By not having a coach, I had to do the research, I had to ask others questions. I discovered what worked for me, what didn’t work and how hard I was willing to push myself. I found out how strong I was, both mentally and physically. I was doing this for myself, which is how it should be, but I was doing it because I wanted to meet my goals; not because someone was telling me how to meet them.
I’m not saying that coaches aren’t good, there are a lot of things I would’ve loved having a coach for like posing or peak week; but having to do the research myself made me even more invested in this part of my journey. I don’t think I would have changed anything, maybe what I brought for footwear post-show 😉
I got my official stage shots and I’m pretty excited them. I also have some shots of my journey for this first competition because there will be more. Check them out below. And know that if you work hard anything can happen.