So, you went from fat to thin and have decided to compete in a bodybuilding contest. I have a few tips for you future competitors that have shed weight, and now want to get shredded on stage.
You may be asking, “How do you know about this stuff?” Well, here's my story about being a fat competitor...
I wasnt always a “normal” weight. In fact, I have been fat my whole life.
At 40 I entered a workplace contest and saw all the “competition” I was up against; people who were a buck fifty and wanted to lose a few pounds. That was all the impetus I needed.
Money was my motivator, and I lost over 150 pounds in a year and a half. I didn’t get into bodybuilding because I loved the sport - I got into bodybuilding to fill in extra skin. Running wasn’t cutting it.
I was running 40 miles a week and eating 1300 calories. I had extra skin dripping off of my 5’8" frame, but I was terrified that if I lifted more than 5 pounds I would look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Hey, not that he’s not all amazing, and stuff, but I was so afraid I was going to “get swole.”
As a nurse, I knew that muscle was metabolically more active. But as a former fat girl, I was terrified to gain weight. I had a dilemma that I knew I would question if I didn’t get a coach to help me navigate the complexities of making muscle.
So, I signed up for a bodybuilding contest. I had 6 months to make muscle, and I needed a coach stat! Everyone thought I was nuts. Like, certifiable. Nonetheless, I got a coach who was about an hour away.
I was excited at first. She wanted me to continue to run (7-8 hrs a week) and do muscle building. Ok, I thought, I am committed, I will do what I need to do for this.
Each time I worked out at the gym, her dog would lick my face and she would walk around in a sleeveless down jacket, booty shorts and Uggs. Her fashion sense was that of a toddler putting together an outfit for a play date.
However, if this is what I had to do, then I will, I thought to myself.
The last straw was her sitting in a directors chair with a pretend whip at her side, stating “work for it” while wearing this same outlandish outfit and that damn dog licking my face while I was doing burpees. Her fashion sense combined with her licking dog made me quickly reassess my choice in coaches.
I decided to do something online. I am sure there are plenty of coaches online that will take me on, right? Added bonus - no one licking my face when I worked out... Nope.
One online coach told me I had too much extra skin and that I looked like I had wing backed scapula. What? Is that even a thing? I was even more disheartened, and actually more determined than ever to do this contest.
I mean, really?
I was trying to throw money at these places and I get no calls back and told my scapula aren’t up to par? So I started. I YouTubed every thing. I was at work one day and mentioned that I was doing a bodybuilding contest and that I really had no idea what I was doing.
A coworker told me he knew two girls that work with clients who compete, and assured me that these girls were different. I didn’t want to get more rejection from pretty, skinny people who wore booty shorts and Uggs and told me I sucked. But, I also knew I needed help.
I made that call and it was the best call I ever made! These girls (Melanie Albinio and Marla Kirby) were stellar. They helped show me how to make muscle and eat in a way that would promote growth. They helped me through my mental barriers and made me feel valued in a way no other coach had.
I have competed three times now, and I truly love the sport of bodybuilding, and cant see myself ever quitting. However, there are things that I wish I would have known as former fat girl in my process to get to the stage.
The Former Fat Girl Turned Competitor
1. Bikini Bite Isn't Extra Skin
Bikini bite doesn’t cut it for extra skin. Um... Duh. I think this one is a no-brainer.
My first competition I competed without my tummy tuck. I decided to do a natural show with a one piece bathing suit, and I still had skin issues - double sided tape was my best friend, not the bikini bite.
2. Choosing a Federation
This brings us to federations. Natural federation versus something like the NPC.
Personally, I feel like I would be setting myself up for failure if I competed in the NPC my first time out. Now they have transformation divisions (or at least they do in some of the natural bodybuilding shows) so that may be something to look into. You have to do what you feel comfortable doing.
3. This is a Real Contest
This is not a “aww, look, she lost 150 pounds, lets give her kudos for her hard work” show.
This is strictly about aesthetics. Be prepared for that.
Think of it this way, you have been judged on your weight your whole life, except that now, your flaws are objectively looked at versus someone yelling from a car that you're a fat a$$. Yes this has happened to me. As an adult. People suck.
4. Watch for Food Issues
Food issues afterward. Um, again, no brainer.
I am a professional dieter and a binge eater. I actually found that this helped me with my issues; however, it can do the opposite, too.
Be mindful that you CANNOT keep your stage body, that its only for one day. Every competitor has to be reminded of that, but I know I was especially prone to depression afterward.
What I did to combat this was to sign up for another competition that was NOT bodybuilding - I wanted to get stronger so I did a powerlifting meet. Whatever it is for you that keeps you going and not centered on weight and aesthetics, but on something else that doesn’t involve the way you look.
5. Have Fun
Competing should be fun. It should be rewarding.
Don’t think I don’t want to “Tanya Harding” my competition - I am fiercely competitive, but I also know that my self worth isn’t tied up in the way I look. At least I know that now.
If you find yourself obsessing about your looks, being hypercritical of yourself, crying over stretch marks and perceived lumps and bumps all the time, this sport may not be for you. You have to get to a semi healthy head space-one in which you LEARN how NOT to be self centered, self critical and body obsessed.
I hope these tips helped you decide if competing is right for YOU. It can be a wonderful, ego boosting experience or a crushing blow to your ego depending on your headspace at the time.
Really evaluate where your at in your journey and be honest with yourself, and for God sakes, have fun in everything you do - life is way to short not to!