I Was Secretly Bitter About Love

For the past few years I've been bitter.
Secretly, shamefully bitter.
About love. 

I would see couples out in public with their seemingly perfect families and I'd cringe. I'd give a quick eye roll and begin the skeptical thinking. 
"I bet he cheats on her"
"I bet he's having an affair"
"I bet he verbally abuses her"

... the list goes on.

I never said any of those things out loud, I just thought them.
That doesn't make it any better. 
What the hell did I know?? 
Here was a seemingly perfect couple, showing affection toward each other, playing with their children, and looking HAPPY, and I was bitter.
Who knows what their specific circumstance was. 
Maybe he DID cheat on her. Maybe they went to counseling and she forgave him and they made it work and are now more blissfully in love than ever. 
Maybe he DOES verbally abuse her and she puts on a show in public for everyone. 
The point is, NO ONE KNOWS BUT THEM! Yet I was bitter. Based on an outward appearance. 
Bitter because I had my own things going on in my marriage that I reflected on to everyone else (and no, I'm not saying those instances are the case for my personal situation, I will never comment on that). 
And it hurt me. 
I did not plan my life to go this way. I never wished divorce upon my children.
And I NEVER wanted to be that bitter woman who looks at love so skeptically.
But I did, unknowingly, for years.

I know marriage is tough. I tried like hell to save mine. We just couldn't make it work.
And NOW, I'm noticing those feelings of bitterness are starting to fade away.
And I'm beyond happy that I'm not permanently damaged from what I once thought love to be.

I wasn't always like that. I was hearts-and-butterflies-write-your-new-last-name-on-your-binder kinda lovey dovey in my early 20's.
Looking back, I choose to call that naive. 
I didn't know there was a whole slew of outside influences that could (and would) make a difference in my world.
I honestly just thought that you got married and you lived happily ever after.
I never saw conflict growing up. My parents were so blissfully perfect in my eyes, I never saw hard times. I didn't know they existed. 
So when they hit me, they rocked me to my core.
And I was angry and upset and hurt. 

And to lessen the pain, I began to believe that everyone was just as hurt as I was. 
It made me feel normal.

Who wants to live like that??
So skeptical and suspicious of the beautiful things in life. 
It's no way to live. 

I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and the elephant that was sitting on my chest is slowly starting to get up. 

And now, seeing couples and families out in public so blissfully happy, those thoughts don't even cross my mind anymore.
I smile a little to myself and think, "one day..."

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The Cost of Competing in a Bikini Competition

When I first decided to compete I didn't really have much insight into how much it was going to cost.
Nobody really likes to talk about that. Probably because that shit ain't cheap.
I wanted to run down costs for anyone who's thinking of competing.

1. Training
This is going to be where the majority of your cost is going to come from.
Some people don't go the route of a trainer/coach, and that will definitely save you a bunch of money.
You can generally budget about $50 per session for a trainer. If you're seeing them 3 times a week, that's $150 a week. That adds up fast. However, if you CAN afford it, I HIGHLY recommend it.

2. Gym membership.
You're going to need access to a gym, or at least some weights. I go to a big box gym in addition to my personal training studio I train at. Gym memberships range between $50-$100 a month usually.

3. Nutrition coaching. 
If you're lucky (like me), your trainer will include your nutrition coaching in your training.
My trainer writes out my meal plans and all I have to do is follow it.
Easy peasy. If you just don't know what to eat and where to start, I very much recommend a prep coach or nutrition coach. Someone who has dieted down SEVERAL people for shows. They need to know what they are doing since nutrition is a huge part of your success.

4. Suit.
This can range in upwards of a few hundred dollars.
I ordered my suit from Angel Competition Bikinis and mine was $250.

5. Tan.
That crazy tan you see on stage? Yeah, it ain't cheap being that orange. $140.
Most shows are sponsored by a tanning company who you can go through.
There are ways to keep the costs down when competing, but I DO NOT recommend tanning yourself or cutting corners here, unless you are spray tan expert yourself. You can always pick out the people who tried to tan themselves. They are never dark enough and look white under those stage lights (even though they were probably thinking they were dark enough!)

6. Shoes.
Clear heels are a requirement for the stage. My strippers shoes were ordered from Snaz75 and were about $50. PRACTICE walking in these!!!

7. Jewelry.
I got mine from All That Glitters Gems, and for earrings, a bracelet, and a ring it was about $50.

8. Entry fees.
Entry fee for my show was $85. To enter you must have an NPC card, which is $120. Shows and entry fees vary.

9. Hotel.
If you do a show that isn't local, you'll need a hotel room. My show was about an hour from my house, and I didn't want to have to rely on other places to get ready, so I booked a room and stayed there Friday and Saturday nights.

10. Makeup & Hair.
You can budget about $150 for both your hair and makeup.
My makeup artist did my hair and makeup and I LOVED it.
She uses airbrush makeup and has done my makeup for a few photoshoots I've had and have loved her. Test runs are a good idea so you don't wind up with stage makeup you hate!
Don't underestimate the power of a good makeup artist. You need HEAVY STAGE makeup for shows, so if you think you can do it on your own, remember that the stage lighting will reduce everything.

11. Posing Coach.
I HIGHLY recommend getting a posing coach. I used Tawna Eubanks, a local IFBB bikini pro and she was AWESOME. Do your research and go with a posing coach that has done several competitions and knows the ins and outs of them. A good coach will teach you the correct poses FOR YOUR PHYSIQUE. This is huge. If you are just YouTubing posing, you are mimicking what someone else is doing and that may not be best for you.
Many coaches are different, but expect to pay $50-$75 per session for a posing coach.
I recommend one a week for the last 6 weeks of your prep.
Obviously the more you practice, the better you'll be.

12. Nails.
I have acrylic nails and got a gel pedicure as well (they seriously last over a month long). You can obviously cut costs on this and do your own nails and toes. Fake nails are not a requirement, they just need to be clean and well manicured. I personally like how white and white tips pop on stage. Side note- my white toes turned yellow after all the spray tanning.

Honestly, your first show will be the most expensive. After that, you can use the same shoes, jewelry, and even the same suit if you'd like. And you'll be more aware of what goes on and what you can and can't cut costs on.

Are there any other things you can think of?? Does cost keep you from competing??

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What's Next?

My first competition is over.
I feel like I learned so much about myself and my body during this process that I kind of know what to expect next time.

I am planning on competing again in June or July. I have it narrowed down to the Adela Garcia in Austin the weekend of my 31st birthday in June, or the Independence Day Classic in Irving on 4th of July weekend.
I will go through a bulking phase where I will have to put on some weight and build some muscle mass.
Put on weight to gain more muscle. That's how it goes.
I will not allow myself to get above about 18% body fat. That way when I start cutting again, in preparation for my next show, I won't have as far to go. I'll have more muscle mass at that point, so 14% will look different than it did this time. Leaner. I could even get down lower than 14% if I needed to. 

My coach and I have discussed this next plan of action.
This will be a strength phase. I will lift heavier and build up my shoulders and booty, the areas I feel I am lacking most in. My coach also wants me to work on building my abs up. 

When prepping for my show I actually got down to a size 2.
I have NEVER IN MY LIFE been a size 2.

Not in high school. Not ever.
So I have decided that I will not let myself get above my 4's. That's where I will stay. If they start getting too snug I will need to tighten the reigns a bit with my diet.
I am comfortable in a size 4. 
Never thought I'd say that. :)
I've always been an 8 kinda gal. 
I guess 4 is my new normal. I don't hate it. 

Since my show, I've eaten some really yummy things.
That night I had my Starbursts and snacks, but no big cheat meal.
I was too tired and it was late. 
I'm pretty sure I woke up in the same position I fell asleep in, that's how exhausted I was.

But the next morning I DID have my cheat meal.
It consisted of Nutella French Toast, bacon, and a Mimosa.
I ate half of it and it was heavenly.

Here are a few other things I've indulged in:
froyo date with my big boy
ceviche tostadas from Gloria's
It's been nice to have some treats. 

My diet moving forward will still consist of lean meats, veggies, fruits, healthy fats and nuts, with the occasional treat thrown in. Just a lot more lenient. And I can't freak out about the weight.
It's just part of it.
It is not realistic or healthy to be walking around super lean all the time. And 14%, for me, was super lean. 
I will not be weighing myself and will keep things in check by how my clothes fit.
4's fit good? on track.
4's a little tight? slow your roll on the Chipotle. ;)

I'm looking forward to feeling strong again. During prep I felt ridiculously weak in the gym.
I'd get discouraged when I couldn't lift what I had done the previous month.
So I will enjoy getting under some heavy weight again and building up these glutes!

Excuse me while I go put a twenty in the Douchebag Jar. 

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My First Bikini Competition; Part 2

After I was all ready I headed down to the convention center. Prejudging started at 9am with bodybuilding.
Bikini typically goes last, so I knew I wouldn't be getting on stage until at least 11am.
You are still water depleting at this point, so your mouth is very dry. But your nerves are all over the place so drinking water is the last thing on your mind.
I watched a lot of the show and posing with my mom in the audience and went backstage around noon.
Bikini still hadn't started to go on stage yet. 

Upon going backstage, I got even more nervous.
All the bikini girls (there were over 120 bikini competitors) were backstage prepping and getting ready. And they all looked BANGIN! Again, the feelings of inadequacy started to flood in.
But really, at that point, there was nothing I could do. I'd done all the work, so I just let those feelings go and ENJOYED the moment as best I could. I was going on stage regardless of how anyone else looked. I knew that. And I was going to give it my all no matter what. 
Everyone backstage is checking makeup and hair, pumping up with resistance bands and weights, practicing their posing routines, etc.
My coach had told me to eat 4 Oreos an hour before stepping on stage, so I pulled them out and sat down to enjoy them. My first Oreo in... I don't even know how long! They were amazing.
Consuming sugar before stepping on stage is done to increase vascularity. The Oreos didn't work for me, but we later found out what DOES... I'll go into that in a bit.

Here's a backstage shot I got of what kind of goes on back there:
A bunch of standing around and WAITING.
I also met some really amazing girls!
None of these girls were in my class, so we didn't compete together, but they all looked amazing and were super sweet!
Again, everyone had a story and had worked hard to get to that very moment. I think we all recognized and knew that, and it bonded us in some weird way.
Everyone I came in contact with was super sweet. 
We talked about food, what we were going to go HAM on after getting off stage, our families, our journeys, everything. They were just good, down to earth girls who had the same ambitions as I did; to be better than they were the day before.

After lining up in my class (class E) and meeting more amazing women, we waited.
Each girl from each class went out on stage, alone, and went through their entire posing routine (typically about 10 seconds).
The closer I got to the stage, the more nervous I began to get.
All of us were talking about how damn nervous we were. How we needed to remember to pick up our feet in our routines, and not drag them, because the stage was CARPETED! We were all freaked out about that. 

I stepped up the stairs to the stage, and I could see the girls in front of me physically shaking they through their routines they were so nervous.
I took several deep breaths, went through everything in my head (eye contact with the judges, hips open, BOOTY BACK, utilize those hips, SMILE) as I took a deep breath and began walking out on stage after they announced my number. 

I was so nervous that I could feel my lips quivering as I smiled throughout my entire routine.
I lined up after my routine as the rest of the girls finished their posing. 
Repeating my number in my head, so IF it was called I wouldn't have to look down at it to see it. 
The rest of the girls finished and first callouts began.
My number was not called.
And I was okay with it. All the girls in first callouts looked AMAZING and I was happy for them.
After first callouts, they had us line up and go through our front and back poses again. 

Several people asked my why I was posing differently than everyone else (my legs are together while everyone else's are apart in the back pose).
There are no set rules for posing in bikini. You do what looks best FOR YOU. These poses are the ones my posing coach and I decided on. 
It is literally what works best for you and your body. 
And standing out is a GOOD thing. That's another reason I decided against extensions. Almost all of the girls have long hair in bikini. I wanted to stand out. I wanted to represent the NOW. 

After prejudging was over, it was time to rest. I was EXHAUSTED!

I got off stage around 2:30pm and had gone nearly 24 hours with nothing to drink.
Prejudging typically determines where you'll fall as far as placing goes.
Since I didn't make first callouts, I knew I wasn't placing that night.
That is really what determined my eating schedule at that point.
I checked in with my coach and he advised me that I could drink half a bottle of water and eat whatever I wanted, but not go crazy.
I went to my room, made a video for y'all (that I couldn't get to upload at the time), had some water, and ate some Reeses Oreo's, and some Honey Mustard and Onion pretzel bites and rested my back.
It was ON FIRE from lifting my ass up the entire time. 
I had to be back for finals at 6:30pm.
That is where they take the top 5 girls from each class and award them (first callouts).

Again, Bikini was last to go on stage.
So I waited and waited again backstage. This time with all the competitors, men and women.
That was pretty cool to see what the guys did backstage differently than the girls.
They were all chugging Hershey's syrup out of the bottle, drinking honey, and getting all sugared up (vascularity). 

At finals you are announced by name and you just walk out on stage, hit your front pose, and walk off stage.
You don't go through your entire routine (that would take too long). Then the top girls from each class are given medals.
Then they award overall winners.
Here are the top 5 winners from my class, class E.
pic via
They all looked awesome!!

The ONLY negative experience I had the entire weekend was when my Nike sweat jacket was stolen backstage at Finals.
Unfortunately, there are some shady people in this world. 
Womp womp.

I was so ready to shower and drink a gallon of water.
Somehow the epic cheat meal didn't seem very top priority anymore.
Shower and rest did.
And Starbursts.
Which are my new Reeses, by the way.
And which also make me SUPER vascular.
After my shower I was looking down at my arms and saw veins shooting out all over the place from the Starbursts I'd eaten prior to.

Everyone's got something that works for them. Next show I'll know that Starbursts work for me to increase vascularity and not Oreos.

Yeah.... I said next show.... ;)

Here are a few official stage shots:

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My First Bikini Competition; Part 1

This past weekend I competed in my first bikini competition. 
There are so many things I want to touch on, so this will have to be broken up into parts. 
Sorrynotsorry. ;P 

Friday morning I got up and took the boys for donuts like I do every Friday morning.
They smelled EXTRA good that day. I, of course, had none and sipped on my black coffee. 
As I sit here drinking my Americano with half and half and Sweet n Low, I realize how much I missed my damn creamer and fake sugar. :)
I have been drinking black coffee for the past 2 weeks and it's been terrible.

After donuts I kissed and hugs my babies and dropped them off at school and headed home to pack.
I got to my hotel around 3pm and checked in and hung out for awhile, ate my cold chicken and broccoli and finished my 3/4 gallon of water for the day. 
I ceased all water at 4pm per my coaches orders to start water depleting. This pulls excess water out of your body so your muscles pop more on stage.
If done wrong, water depleting can be very dangerous! I know my coach knows what he's doing and I just listened to what he told me to do and did it.
I then decided to take a few pictures to check in.

Then I took this one...
And I looked at it and for a split second and thought "ugh! my loose skin looks terrible".. then I looked again and thought "but my obliques look amazing!"
I still struggle with accepting my body, but I try my hardest to focus on the positives more than the negatives. 
I debated even sharing that photo, but I wanted to show y'all that just because you have these things doesn't mean you can't look and feel amazing.. or even compete!!
I saw a TON of girls with stretch marks and loose skin.. and I would think "I bet they've got an awesome story, too."
It really made me further respect all the women that compete and the fitness industry in general. It takes a fuckload of guts to get up on stage. I admire every single person that does it. 

I checked in and got my badge at 6pm at the convention center. This is where I got really nervous.
Just looking around at all the athletes was so intimidating. They all looked AMAZING. So cut and lean and fit and I began to immediately feel inadequate. 
I always go back to my perceived faults, and not my strong points. I think "I wonder if they've had babies. I wonder if they've got mom stomaches like mine., etc." 
And this is what you absolutely CAN NOT DO!
It will tear you down if you are comparing yourself to everyone else. 
That's the part I struggle with the most. I've just got to focus on me and compete with ME.
Yeah, I've got a "mom stomach", but it's got a pretty badass story that goes along with it.
And upon seeing those same girls the next day, some with ripped abs AND stretch marks, I knew they had kickass stories, too. 
Mad respect.

Back to my room to shower, wash my hair, shave, and exfoliate one last time.
This would be my last shower before the show the next day.

At 9:15pm I got my first layer of spray tan.
This was an interesting experience. 
The tanning company comes to the hotel and sets up in a conference room. There are multiple tents set up and a bunch of naked women getting sprayed. 
All humility goes out the window.
Let's face it, mine went out the window when I had to spread eagle in front of a room full of strangers 5 years ago to have my first son.
I'd definitely say competing is not for the super modest. 
The cool thing is though, is that it's perceived as "normal". It's really no big deal. The tanning ladies have seen hundreds of naked bodies and all the athletes getting sprayed are just as nervous as you are. 
It's literally just part of the process.
Sure, you're standing there, all nude and shit, thinking "omg what do I look like right now to anyone that glances over? What are they looking at?"
Again, worrying about other people's opinions of you is a recipe for disaster.
Just stand there in your nakedness and try your hardest not to look at all the other nakedness around you. Everyone else is doing the exact same.

Okay, now, the spray tan- 
The reason for the ridiculously dark spray tan you see all competitors get is purely for the stage.
The stage lighting is BRIGHT and if you are not tan, it completely washes out muscle definition. 
This is why we do everything over the top for competitions. Over the top makeup, jewelry, suits, tans,  hair, etc.
Stage lighting washes everything out. 

After my spray tan I came back to my room and laid in my bed with sheets I brought from home so I wouldn't ruin the hotel sheets (that shit gets EVERYWHERE) and TRIED to go to sleep.
This is what I looked like before bed after my first coat of tan:
You sleep in the tan, and then get ANOTHER coat in the morning. And yes, you STINK. You can't wear deodorant either because it turns your armpits green. So everyone smells like sweaty hookers. It's all good, you're in good company. ;P 
I didn't end up falling asleep until about 2am. I was just too hyped up. It felt like the night before running a race. But with more spray tan... and less clothes.
I woke up at 5am and checked in again and I was SHOCKED by what I saw.
The changes just from the night before was nuts to me!
I had my rice cakes for breakfast (still nothing to drink) and waited for my makeup artist, LaDonna Stein, to get there at 6am.
I have used LaDonna in the past for my photoshoots and she's been amazing!
If you are in the Dallas area and need a good makeup artist I HIGHLY recommend her. She does stage makeup, pageants, weddings, photoshoots, etc. She ROCKS!
Second coat of spray tan was at 7:15am and then back to my room for LaDonna to do my hair and put the finishing touches on my makeup!
I loved it! She made me feel like Super Tan Barbie!

When I put on my suit and shoes I was blown away by the entire package.

I felt AMAZING. All of a sudden I wasn't looking at my perceived flaws anymore. I was looking at the whole package and I was fucking PROUD OF IT.

From the very beginning of my prep, 16 weeks ago, I made some huge changes.
Beginning stats:
139.4 lbs.
22% body fat

Show day stats:
5'6 1/2 (I compete at 5'6, as NPC doesn't do half measurements)
123.6 lbs. (water depletion will drop your weight by a few lbs)
14% body fat

At the beginning of my prep I wasn't very confident I could get it done. I couldn't see myself any different than what I was currently. But I worked hard, day in and day out. I stuck to my diet, I got in my workouts and it paid off.
I was very happy with the final package I brought to the stage for my very first show.

I was just a few hours from stepping on stage... and to say I was nervous was a complete and utter understatement!

Part 2 coming soon. :)

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