Three years ago I decided to take a pretty hefty fitness goal by prepping for my first bikini show. I wasn’t into fitness but I loved the muscle. I didn’t have fit friends to give me even a small glimpse of what this life was going to be like and I stepped into bikini prep blindly not knowing what I was getting myself into. The first prep experience was life changing– but it all wasn’t supplements and growing glutes like Instagrammers make it seem like. If you’ve been thinking about doing your first show then here are non #instafiltered things that I wish someone would have told me.
You Will Exhaust Resources: Time & Money
Let’s talk money
You know money is involved, I mean nothing in life comes free, but do you realize how much you will be investing into this? Between coaching, posing clinics/coaches, competition suit and shoes, hair, make up, tanning, jewelry, entry fees, your organization’s athlete card, not to mention the food and supplements– your bills will rack up fast and in a 12 week period you could be looking at spending anywhere over $4000 (and I’m being modest with this figure). You can certainly find ways to cut corners, but keep in mind that your physique is just a small portion on how you are judged. Your suit, tan, posing, hair, make up…etc are what judges pay attention to. Your total package is what will make you stand out and you want to make sure your shit is on point. So if you are going to get creative to cut costs, then be sure your skills will still bring you to your best!
People like to throw around the saying, “You have the same hours in a day as Beyoncé.” but Beyonce never tried training for a bodybuilding show while still being a single mom, college kid, or employee who doesn’t get paid to train and has a handful of assistants to take care of her daily responsibilities. Just because you train for a show and your bikini prep is priority it doesn’t mean you get to put everything on hold. Prepping is exhausting; you will be hitting the gym twice a day, meal prepping once a week, and getting to bed early despite the day of the week so that you can recover and do it all over again.
Even when you aren’t in the gym or eating (which you will do a lot of although it won’t feel like it), you are thinking about your prep. When are you going fit in cardio today? What time will you eat? Which meal do you have? Are you going out with friends and if so, what’s your plan to cope with the temptation to cheat? Organizing and planning your days ahead will be your biggest savior because the gym and your meals are nonnegotiable for the next few months and everything in your life will be working around that.
Find the Right Coach, Not Just a Coach.
You must, I repeat, you MUST find the right coach! Don’t let these Instagram #fitspos fool you. Just because they have fantastic bodies and a collection of trophies it doesn’t mean they know how to train other people for a show. Haven’t you noticed that someone steps on stage once and all of a sudden they call themselves a prep coach? I understand the excitement to want to give someone the same accomplishing moment that they’ve experienced, but they would be a disservice to you if you allow them to touch your body.
Competing is not the way into healthy lifestyle. In fact, if done incorrectly under the guidance of an inexperienced coach, it can be extremely unhealthy and dangerous. Competing is a sport and your body should treated as an athlete which a specific purpose. Any intelligent, experienced competitor knows that and would not take the responsibility of the health of another person without the right education.
With that said, look for a coach who has education credentials and the stage experience to back up their knowledge. Ask for referrals and interview these coaches; just because you talk with them it doesn’t mean you have to work with them. Find out their training style, diet beliefs, ask them what their expectations are of you and tell them what you expect from them. Most importantly, discuss their post-show plan!
Have a Post-Show Plan
The biggest mistake a girl can make is to think that prepping for a show only consists of those months leading up to it. I was that girl and I wish my coach would have properly prepared and emphasized the importance of a post-show plan. After your exciting moment on stage you almost forget how to be normal again. You’ve dedicated so much time to this goal and it’s consumed and created the person you’ve become. Now the issue comes about when you step off stage and realize, “Hey, I don’t have to do so much cardio anymore. I don’t have to go to the gym so much. Holy crap, I can eat real food again!” And then you do that, you take a break from the gym longer then you should and start pounding your face will all things sugar and carbs. Suddenly, you’re 15lb heavier and it’s only been a week.
I wish I was exaggerating when I say I put on 30lbs in one month after the show, but I am not and it’s not uncommon to hear. Having a post-show plan is extremely important for your mental and metabolic health. Regardless of your coach’s dieting style, prepping will take you into a big caloric deficit and calories, carbs and fats will decrease. In order to not destroy your physical and mental health, you need the proper plan to reverse diet (slowly adding in calories) and easing off the cardio. Your stage body will never be your “everyday” body. You will fill out and put on some body fat but it doesn’t need to extreme. I highly recommend being with your coach a few months after the show to properly get you out of the bikini prep process.
Isolation Becomes the New “Normal”
In the beginning your friends and family may think you are crazy but will admire the balls you have to take on this challenge. Then a few weeks into it you’ll start getting the peer pressure of eating just one slice of pizza or a cookie because “it isn’t going to kill you.” Suddenly, your gym schedule and your “ridiculous diet plan” interfere with your friend’s social life and they will get annoyed with your lack of availability. It is completely understandable that your support system don’t really get what it takes to get to the stage, but it doesn’t irritate you any less.
As you get deep into your bikini prep and you get more serious about your training, social priorities shift and everything competition comes first. You’ll start to pass on social invites because you can’t be out too late nor will you want to because you’ll be exhausted and dealing with the temptation of food may be harder to handle on some days than others. You will try your best to make time for family and friends but it won’t be the same as you’ll spend more days without them striving to bring the best version of yourself for that exciting day. Investing all of yourself for this goal is never a bad thing and you will come out a better person at the end. Your friends, the food, the drinks and the parties will be there when you are done.
Hold please, I’m busy loading muscles…
Bikini Prep Can Fuck with Your Mind
Your mind and body will be exhausted and you’ll never understand how you can keep going. You’ll be hungry before, during and after you eat. You’ll be hungry when you wake up and hungry when you go to sleep– shit, you’ll be hungry the second you go to the bathroom! There will be days you don’t feel lean enough and days where you start to feel skinny. Your eyes will play tricks on you and one second you look your best and next you feel puffy. Oh and your body…that shit does what it wants! When your body is under stress it may hold more water than usual. Sometimes it loves the carbs and sometimes it hates it. You cannot force your body to do something it is not ready to do so let it be and stop freaking out about it. Bikini prep can be an emotional rollercoaster but you have to find a way to manage your thoughts and worries. Everything will come together in the end and you will be shocked when it does.
However, out of all the mental shit you go through bikini prep, please remember that the body you are creating is for the show. The lean physique you bring will be at an unhealthy level of body fat to maintain accompanied by dehydration. Yes, I said it- you will be spending that last week pulling water from your body so that you can show your muscles off and come in at your tightest. Is it healthy? No, but that’s my point. The body you will have on stage is not realistic to maintain so try not to get caught up in the fantasies of staying that small after competition day.
Your Transformation is Priceless
When you decide to get involved in this sport you will come across some people who will have something negative to say. You may even hear something like, “it wasn’t worth 10 seconds on stage to be judge by a bunch of strangers for a plastic trophy.” Well, when they put it like that then ok fine, it’s not worth it. But if that’s all someone got out of the process of bikini prep then they missed the whole point. Going through prep is one of the most grueling experiences that will tax your emotional, physical and mental state. With that said, fighting through the obstacles that most people refuse to attempt on a smaller scale in their life is one hell of a satisfying accomplishment. Not only do you leave with the best body you’ve ever thought imaginable but you’ll be shocked to reflect back and realize how strong you really are. There is nothing more sexy and empowering to have the ability to mold your body in the shape you love and prove to yourself that you can do it despite how many times you thought you couldn’t. Maybe to some it’s not worth the plastic trophy and 10 seconds on stage.
Personally, I believe making it to the stage is the real win and that the show is just your celebration and time to shine.
You may decide to get into prep just for the vain purpose having a sexy pair of abs like I did the first time around and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you stick with it I guarantee that you’ll get more than just abs and a tight ass. You’ll grow as a person, discover new weaknesses and find new strengths. The confidence you’ve gained from the bikini prep will spill over into other areas of your life and you may even discover a new set of friends in that second home you call your gym. Don’t let bling suits and sexy #transformationtuesdays fool you. Prepping for show requires work and will take a lot of out you. No great goal can be accomplished without experiencing the uncomfortable and call me crazy, but I think prep can be pretty fuckin awesome!
Photo credit: Shutterstock