The Journey Continues: My First Competition

23 Sep

I am sitting here on my comfy couch, a day after my very first figure and bikini competition, with a bloated tummy yet content heart. After 12 weeks of grueling training, restrictive dieting, rigorous scheduling, and an insane amount of self-discipline, I accomplished my personal goal of transforming my body and competing in something I never thought I would have the mental wherewithal to do. The emotions hit me sporadically throughout my training, usually when I least expected it: first thing in the morning over a bowl of oatmeal or in the gym in the middle of a superset. At first I thought that I would be emotional upon hearing my name called on stage. But yesterday, after so much waiting and anticipation, I was just relieved to finally be up there! My emotions held off until today, when everything hit me while riding in a taxi from an enthralling post-competition Costco trip.

I DID IT!!! I didn’t place in the top five of either category as I had hoped, but I:

  • Researched and found an upcoming competition in a foreign country, contacting various people and communicating in Korean to get all of the details
  • Set a goal to be ready for the competition from 12 weeks out
  • Met with a personal trainer/bodybuilder to understand the basics of what I had to commit to in terms of dieting and exercise
  • Developed an exercise plan and chose my workouts for each week
  • Tailored a diet specific to my needs, including meal-planning and calculating and tracking all macro-nutrients
  • Reduced my body fat percentage from 17% to 10% in 10 weeks in a healthy way
  • Challenged myself mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally like I never have before

I wish that I would have been keeping a journal throughout this process; however, I simply just didn’t have the time to write. Between working out two hours per day, working eight hours per day, cooking and prepping food at least an hour per day, going grocery shopping three to four times per week, actually eating as much (and when) as I was supposed to, I could barely get to bed with enough time to get that much-needed muscle-building recovery sleep in. It was rough: there were days I thought I was going to rip peoples’ heads off due to the calorie deficit. There were a lot of things that I experienced that I don’t know if other women–or any athletes–have experienced. I am grateful to the wonderful competitors that did make the time to blog about everything. They literally saved me!

I live in South Korea, where a gym membership is outrageous, most gyms do not have the “incline” function enabled on treadmills, a personal trainer costs a minimum of $45/hour (on top of the monthly gym fee), many “trainers” have limited knowledge about how to healthily and properly build muscle, and the overall fitness philosophy is a bit behind that of the Western countries. So I decided to do this on my own. I am thrilled with the results, although last night and today I am reaping the effects of trying to eat somewhat “normal” food. It’s waaaay too early to be incorporating carbs, but those carnitas have been calling my name for 12 weeks! I made gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookies tonight–yes, it might sound weird after having oatmeal as one of my main three sources of carbs for the last three months–and they were amazing! I’ll share the recipe I found online.

Competition day was not the smoothest day; there was a lot of confusion between everything being in Korean and nothing at the show being neither well-organized nor well-orchestrated. But it was what I expected: an early morning starting at 5:40 a.m., a long day of sitting around and waiting, a lot of nerves coursing through my body and questions running through my head, then rushing around to do my three suit/look changes back-to-back. Although I didn’t place, I had a wonderful group of friends that turned up to support me. I got a huge smile on my face every time I heard them yelling “foreigner!” or my competitor number in Korean. My husband was just amazing: right in step with me, helping me pump before going on stage, applying Bikini Bite and spray tan periodically as needed, giving me a kiss before going backstage, and yelling my number in Korean while reminding me to show my “MUSCLES!” in English. Right now, I’m just trying to bask in the satisfaction that I DID IT and nurse my poor, sensitive tummy back to its happy, clean-diet state. Maybe after one more peanut-butter M&M…

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