In June of 2015, I decided that I wanted to pursue a lonnnnnnnnnng time goal of mine aka become a Bikini Competitor and hit the stage. Like many of you, I had NO idea what was involved other than it required a lot of focus, dedication, consistency and HARDWORK. I did NOT do a ton of research but I have always followed competitors as well as read reviews online; all of which pushed me to just GO FOR IT. I committed, found a Coach, joined a TEAM and went ALL in! When I mean ALL IN, I MEAN IT! My life went from crazy to C R A Z Y in a matter of 2-minutes FLAT. I really had NO idea what I was in for but I did know that I was going to follow the plan to a “T”, do the BEST that I could and SHOOT for a TOP placement at any show I entered. I mean H-E-L-L-O…. If you go through the WORK that is involved and are truly IN this to not cheat, focus and freaking DO IT, ya better believe that you want to PLACE in the TOP FIVE!!! (Anyone that says they are in this for the “fun” is full of it because there is NOTHING fully fun about what I am about to share with you. The WORK is beyond anything you will EVER imagine and YES, it’s cool to see the changes and to feel in control BUT it’s not “fun” as in going on a vacation or riding a roller coaster! This shit is REAL LIFE and many competitors go through it!)
July 2015 was my official PREP START and I was 12-weeks out from my FIRST NPC SHOW EVER—- HOLY SHIT I am really doing this! Below is my very FIRST check-in photo collage and let’s just call it as it is because I’m not about hiding anything… I was SKINNY, not a lot of muscle tone and well, I wasn’t in this for the weight loss anyways SO anyone that judges me on that can just close up this blog right now because it’s not worth you reading on. I have worked out for the last 15 years and being a Coach, Trainer and Gym Owner myself, I’ve been pretty educated on health, fitness, styles, weight loss and on and on and on. I applied my own knowledge with that of my Coach to create a plan that worked for me at the time— it was honestly flawless as I saw results week after week after week. The results were motivating. moving and SHOOK my soul to want to hit that stage!
My prep in a nutshell was as follows:
- 20-30 minutes Fasted Cardio (I started with my at-home programs such as Focus T25, Insanity MAX30 and 21 Day Fix but slowly transferred over to treadmill sprints as my energy levels got less and less)
- Lifting Schedule 4-5 Days/week in the afternoon
- 20-30 minutes POST LIFT Cardio (easy, simple treadmill incline walking)
- 5 Meals Per Day (combo of clean protein, veggies, sweet potato, shakes, etc etc with a very strict cycling pattern that changed weekly)— 1 REFEED meal per week based upon how my body was responding aka E A T good yummy food!!! Haha
So YEAH…. It required a LOT of planning on my part because I wanted to try and keep my normal kid and family routine in place. I had to make sure that morning cardio was done BEFORE kids woke up and that allllll workouts were done by the time I picked up the kids from school. PLUS had to work in regular work hours, meal prep time, house cleaning time, husband time and well…. So much more! It was MADNESS fir the first 3-4 weeks until I got the hang of it but in time, it all worked out and I moved forward. I share this detailed part because it takes a LOT and although this can be done in longer than a 12-week plan, 12 weeks is normally the longest I would recommend a depletion diet/intense regimen without a break.
Hours, days and weeks went by SLOWLY but they passed! I did the work EVERY SINGLE day and NEVER MISSED a meal or workout! Two weeks into prep, I even traveled for FOUR days to Beachbody’s Summit in TN and brought allllll my food with me. I got sick ONE time during the whole 12-weeks of prep and NEVER skipped out or got off track— talk about freaking dedication and PROOF that if YOU want something, you WILL find a way to get it and make it happen. Excuses are going to happen naturally— I have TWO young boys, a husband, house, multiple businesses and more; but I didn’t let it get in the way because I wanted it BAD! Your goals have to be GREATER than your excuses in order for them to push you to DO and BE more.
Peak Week, Nails, Hair, Tanning, Bikini, No Sleep, Tilapia (which BTW I eat NO fish and made it through…yuck!)… hit the stage on SEPTEMBER 19, 2015 at my very FIRST NPC SHOW in Boca Raton, FL! WOW WOW WOW, the incredible bodies, the stories, the posing, the EVERYTHING was just incredible! These shows are PROOF of hard work and what it takes. I was SCARED, NERVOUS and honestly, had lots of doubt that I would not even make it to call outs BUT I stayed strong, kept my composure and PRAYED that allllllllll my trainings, meals, skipped outings, STRUGGLES, sacrifices would PAY OFF on that stage…
IT DID IT DID!!!!!!!!! I placed 1st in Bikini Novice Class C and was over the moon— what an AMAZING experience! My whole team PLACED and we all walked away that night feeling like a million bucks!!! EVERYTHING was worth it for that moment of success. EVERY workout, EVERY meal, EVERY tear, EVERY moment of weakness… it was ALL WORTH IT!
Left that show with so much excitement for my next show but more importantly, to find the closest burger joint to GRUB— haha! Spent that night and allllllll day Sunday just soaking it all in and enjoying time with friends, family and FOOD; actually it was a little too much and I ended up sick Monday morning but HEY, I was warned to not go too crazy. I ate way toooooo many sweets and after 12-weeks of NOTHING, my body was like HELL to the NO you are not going to do this to me…. So yeah, I learned my lesson QUICKLY! This was also a small peak into HOW it can get ugly if you so not allow yourself cheats or a balanced lifestyle— you can go WAY OVERBOARD quick!
Weekend came and went; I kissed my trophy goodnight and started BACK on prep for my SECOND SHOW… October 17, 2015 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL! Being that this show was only 4 weeks away, I took one week to REVERSE DIET aka bring my body back to eating a higher amount of foods and then started prep again. In 3 week’s I was leaner and READY to do this again.
My second show was a little different as it was a much bigger show, more incredible athletes and the overall experience was just not as exciting for me. Maybe because I knew what to expect or maybe because I was tired or maybe because I didn’t have my full on support crew like I had the first go around?!?!! Not too sure but it was just different and this was my FIRST hit with “is this something I want to do long-term?!” I also just did not feel RIGHT… something was off and that can truly effect your placing; which it seemed to do! I truly felt like my body was taking a weird turn… like it wasn’t responding as well as it did the first go around… BUT I ignored it! (bad choice!)
I placed 5th in Bikini Open Class C and 7th in Masters—- not too shabby but I was SO pushing for a better standing and I really wanted to be NATIONALLY QUALIFIED at that show— I did get Junior Nationally Qualified; which I was HAPPY to take!
My 2015 competition season ended there! I enjoyed the night with my team, had a GREAT post birthday celebration with friends the next day and then jumped right back into eating clean and working out that Monday—– hhhhhmmmm, MISTAKE NUMBER 1—- I didn’t know ANYTHING about a true reverse diet and that I should have SLOWLY introduced foods into my diet rather than all at once AND that I should have taken a week off from the INTENSE workouts and regimen AND that I really should have questioned HOW to get back on track. I should have gotten on a proper reverse diet plan… but I was uneducated and honestly, didn’t think my body was that affected. SHOOT… I thought I was going to keep this amazing physique year-round; haha, that was a rude awakening.
Even HEALTHY foods had a negative impact on my body and I ended up gaining a crazy amount of weight in a very short period of time. SCARY is an understatement and this was another look into “do I want to do this again”. Do I want to do this yo-yo dieting that I tell all my own clients NOT TO DO? Do I want to deal with the emotional roller coaster? Is it really worth it?
I drifted into a state of minor depression and a constant battle with putting myself down for looking the way I did. I was 20 (TWENTY) pounds heavier than stage weight— which was only 118 lbs so I was SKINNY on stage BUT I was at a higher weight AFTER than I was when I first started prep; talk about depressing! It was NOT healthy at all! I should have educated myself more on WHAT to expect and I tell ALL my fellow friends that want to compete or are in their first prep to WATCH IT. The body you have on show date is NOT MAINTAINABLE— it is NOT MAINTAINABLE and to think that it is crazy talk! I BELIEVED IT WAS and was never told it wasn’t!
As I wrap up this first part of my NPC Competing Story, I want to leave you all with this…
Competing is HARD! It is NOT easy and its something that may look super duper COOL and PRETTY and AMAZING and worth it BUT each person needs to evaluate their own goals and go from there. There is a healthy way of doing things and there is an unhealthy way. Many of my fellow competitors have AMAZING results their first prep (like I did) because you are putting your bodies through a crazy SHOCK and the response is amazing… but eventually your body catches up. Our bodies are the most COMPLEX thing ever and we really need to listen to it and take the approach that is best.
Ultimately, live a HEALTHY, some-what “balanced” life that you LOVE! If you want to compete, stay tuned for more tips and stories that I will be sharing. Have FUN and do it because YOU want to and not because anyone else wants you to.
Until then… be SAFE, be HAPPY and stay HEALTHY!
Coach Sandy T