This post may be Not Safe for Work: there are several photos of me in a bikini and in my mandatory bikini back pose.
The dust has settled, the competition photos are back and posted on NPC News Online, and I’m ready to talk about my experience. I competed at NPC/IFBB City Limits Championships on 4/14/18 and placed 1st in Novice and 4th in Open.
This was my third show. First show ever was in 2016 and I looked like this after the end of a ~16 week prep on a 1200 cal keto style diet (went from 135 to 125 lbs).
Conditioning was clearly a huge problem then, and continued to be a challenge for me. I competed in November the same year, made zero progress in conditioning even though I increased cardio and decreased cals on keto, and ended up in last callouts. In 2017, I pulled out of a prep a month before the show because it was clear I wasn’t going to be stage ready in time with a short 12 week prep. I was also running keto but at a much steeper deficit (~900 cals with two a days for cardio).
For the 2018 season, I wanted to see 1) how much muscle I had put on since starting legit bodybuilding style training and 2) how conditioned I could get. I started working with Derek Natcher: he guided my reverse diet in October and we began prep in late December.
December 27, 2017. Starting stats: 5’5″, 132 lbs, 26″ waist, 36″ hip.
April 12, 2018. Peak week stats: 5’5″ 3/8, 114 lbs, 24″ waist, 33″ hip. (How I got measured at literally a full inch taller than 2016 is completely beyond me.)
20 weeks, y’all. 20 weeks of grinding it out, spending about 3 hours a day in the gym and tracking every single bit of food that passed my lips with a portable food scale if I wasn’t at home. I have the luxury of being able to work on my school stuff whenever and wherever, so I was able to structure my entire day around eating and training. Honestly, it gave me something to do while I was waiting on my committee to get back to me with revisions, and I’ve been prepping for so long that I can still go out with friends and have some semblance of a social life.
I’m providing the details below to give some perspective, NOT as a recommendation. These details are specific to me and my slow metabolism, and I did not run into any signs of endocrine trouble. No hair loss, no amenorrhea, no weight gain. I felt physically tired and hungry, but that comes with the territory of prep. My metabolism didn’t stall and I continued to lose weight during this whole period.
I weighed in daily, post poop. Otherwise, my weight would be up 2-3 lbs because I ate a LOT of fiber the night before. I know dealing with the scale can be a challenge for most people, but it is an incredibly useful tool for honing in your Total Daily Energy Expediture and eating appropriately. For those of you actually looking at the graph, that big recent uptick is from post-show festivities and I’m working on stabilizing that. The body fat % graph is just to show a trend – I don’t really believe impedance scales are precise at all, but it’s just cool to see that downward spike. I use a Fitbit Aria because I love the automatic trend line. Not at all necessary, but it’s been incredibly helpful for me.
Cardio: Started off with 30 min of cardio a day, 5 days a week. Ramped up gradually to 20 min HIIT+55 min steady state fasted+30 min steady state before bed every day.
Training: 6 days a week of a glute protocol that my coach designed. 2 days of heavy legs, 2 days of glute plyo that an Instagram fitspo would be proud of, chest/tris, and back/bis. It was about 1.5 hours of training a day. Abs 3x a week.
Diet: Carb cycling, with changing amounts of carbs and steady amounts of protein and fats. Started off with one high day and three lows, which got lower and more frequent closer to the end of prep. I’m on some meds that slow my metabolism so it’s an absolute struggle cutting fat. I took a macro based approach and ate tons of 99% ground turkey and turkey breast fillets so I could have some wiggle room with carbs and fats, like eating a protein bar. I tend to get binge-y if I’m on a strict meal plan, so I’ll follow it about 80% then ad lib. Very rarely went above or below 5g from macro targets. I didn’t eat junk like ice cream or whatever this prep since it noticeably affects my physique. Fats were kept pretty low for this reason.
Supplements: I used a fat burner for both energy and increased metabolism, as well as CDG and DIM to balance out my female hormones. I also supplemented with salt tabs (sodium, potassium, and magnesium) because I tend to undersalt my food and my blood pressure runs low. It also prevented me from getting any cramps – it’s hard to stay nutritionally balanced and get all of your micronutrients in on a contest prep diet.
Posing: Recorded myself, reviewed it, and made tweaks. Rinse and repeat. I had been posing like this weekly since last June, so I didn’t find a coach. I’m going to look for one to tweak a few things since my routine is a bit conservative. I’m not a naturally sassy or “fun and flirty” person, so I have to actually program in gestures, like hair flips (if I had long hair…) or cute little dance-esque steps.
Peak week: Two high carb days early to fill back out (was completely depleted leading up to this point after running a week of low carb), and went to low days to control spill over. Got some carbs the night before to fill back out a bit because I was looking a bit flat. Show day was actually probably the most food I had in a while, eating a bit of protein and some carbs every 3 hours or so. We switched to circuit style training for the last few days and cut out cardio on the last day. Honestly, people stress out about peak week, but this was the easiest week of my prep, by far. Didn’t pull sodium, and we pulled a moderate amount of water. Layne Norton has a great explanation of the physiology behind water and salt manipulation – I don’t agree with his final recommendation, but the explanation is great. I ate regular food, didn’t pull out sweeteners or diet sodas, and it was a good time.
Glam: Followed my peak week skin prep to a T. Color soaked in beautifully and was so nice and even (thank you, Bella Tanning!). Used a GoGirl after getting the tan and didn’t ruin the tan by getting pee splatters down my leg. Gross, I know.
Went with Flawless Makeup and Hair, who matched my face to my tan. This was the first time I had done so, and I actually preferred it, even if it looked really extreme in real life.
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Prejudging is over and finals will be starting in a few hours. I have no clue how I did. 🤷🏻♀️ I can’t control what the judges are looking for or who shows up; all I can do is focus on doing my best at finals and the post-show treats. Shout out to my #swolemate who has saved my butt numerous times this weekend, and has handled every crisis with absolute grace. You can tell who took a nap after prejudging and who didn’t though 😜 Training: @loudperformancetraining @derock240 #teamloud #loudperformancetraining Makeup: @getflawlesshair #teamflawless #getflawless #igetflawless . #npcbikini #preplife #bikiniprep #contestprep #bikinicompetitor #xxfitness #rbodybuilding #npctexas #competitionprep #glam #npcbikinicompetitor #makeupoftheday #stagemakeup
My makeup artist does drag/stage make up, so he knew exactly how to beat my face so that my features wouldn’t get washed out on stage. Stage makeup looks horribly over the top in person. That is OKAY. It should not look like a normal smoky eye or something you’d actually wear out.
Previous makeup artists just used the same foundation they used on their white competitors, which was NC40/NW40 in MAC. This is my normal color, so my face would look super pale in contrast to my body, which can be a bit jarring.
Bikini was made to my measurements by BB Custom Suits. Working with her was an absolute dream. She got my bikini to me well ahead of show day, we made tweaks based on how it fit, and it fit like a glove afterwards. I highly highly recommend going with her – if you can’t afford a fully blinged out bikini, go with a light scatter and then ask her to add on stones afterwards when your budget allows.
I cheaped out and bought accessories and shoes from Amazon. They look great, and honestly come from the same place without the 300% mark up.
Show Day: Pretty boring, to be honest. I had a later start than most people – touch up tan at 7, make up and hair at 8. It was a combined NPC/IFBB show, so both pre-judging and finals took a long time. I don’t think I went on until ~12 PM and ~8PM. I just hung out backstage, talked to some folks, ate every few hours, and started pumping up when they called back bikini for glazing and gluing. I posed every so often to keep my joints from stiffening up. The venue didn’t provide weights, so I brought a set of my own resistance bands, which were perfect for pumping up.
Show Day Photos:
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Came for some keys at @citylimitschampionships – 1st in Novice and 4th in Open Bikini! Pretty pleased with how my comeback to the stage went, but you know I’m always trying to do more and improve. Awaiting judges’ feedback and stage photos; @derock240 @loudperformancetraining and I will head back to the drawing board to map out where to go after we have some solid data to work with. Special shoutout to @bbcustomsuits with this beautiful #bespoke #competitionbikini, which fit like an absolute dream and required zero glue to hold on stage. Absolutely flawless tan thanks to Levy @bellaprotanning and the @fit_tanning team. ❤️ . . #npcbikini #preplife #bikiniprep #contestprep #bikinicompetitor #xxfitness #rbodybuilding #npctexas #competitionprep #glam #npcbikinicompetitor #teamloud #loudperformancetraining #citylimits #citylimitschampionships #citylimitschampionships2018
I came in with good conditioning, but I was still relatively small. The backstage photo by JM Manion really shows how tiiiiny I am. I really wanted to win it, but I just haven’t paid my dues yet. It’s humbling, but that’s okay. I’m here to keep improving for a long time. I’m not going to compare myself to the other girls that placed above me, and I’m just going to focus on being the absolute best I can be. We all started from different places and are on different points of our competing journey. I don’t know their stories, and it’s not productive at all to compare.
I’m not the most gifted or impressive bikini competitor out there, but I’m really happy with the package I brought to the stage. I’ve literally never looked like this (and honestly, don’t anymore, heh) and it’s been a continuous growing process for me. I pushed my limits this prep, and I’m so glad I caught a glimpse of my potential. I don’t have the best genetics – thicker waist, flat Asian booty, slow to build muscle and slow to lose fat – but I work hard to make up for it. This experience has just lit a fire under my ass to really keep pushing myself to improve.
I contemplated grinding it out this year for a better placing, but realized that would only satisfy my short term ego and didn’t make sense with my long term goals. I need to get bigger anyway to be competitive on a national level, so that’s what I’ll be doing. I haven’t had an honest off season where the goal was to build muscle overall, so I’m excited to grow (and eat to meet that goal!).
I am incredibly grateful for my coach, Derek, who sees things the way I do and has my ultimate goals and well being in mind when he makes his recommendations. I’ve never been pushed to do a show when I felt like I wasn’t ready. He also hasn’t subjected me to any of the pseudoscience that’s so pervasive in the fitness industry. His methods make sense scientifically and they flat out work. I am also incredibly thankful for my SO, Jack, who put up with my crazy ass for the last two years of almost continuous prep.
I also really appreciate the kind comments and words of encouragement that y’all have given me during this prep and on the day of the show. I’ve vented my frustrations and worries to a number of you, and I’ve always just been met with kindness and understanding. I’ll be working on paying that forward.
Bonus: Post show treats are in this album (I didn’t eat all of it, okay). I linked it to spare those of you in prep, haha. If this bodybuilding thing doesn’t work out, I’m considering a career in competitive eating.
I slammed back 9000 cals over Saturday and Sunday just eating my feelings. This kick-started my metabolism back up, so now my heart rate is reacting to exercise again and I’m actually hungry all the time. I am holding a ton of water and I gained a bit of fat already, just from two unstructured days. I stepped on stage at around 114, and I’m now weighing in at 120. Oops. I got back on track Monday, haven’t missed any cardio or workouts, and I’ve been slowly reversing out of the diet with the intent of lean bulking. I’ll be posting on that process in the future, and if you want to be accountability buddies, add me as a friend on MyFitnessPal.
Thanks for reading.