If you haven’t noticed the number of females competing in bodybuilding shows in the bikini division is on the rise. To the average person we might just look like tanned, muscly barbies standing on stage in 5 inch high heels and sparkly bikinis, but there is a lot more to us than that… Although I have only been competing in the bikini division for two years, I wanted to touch on a few things that most people aren’t aware of or have never thought of when it comes to the bikini division of bodybuilding. Enjoy…
1. We are athletes.
We are athletes. Like any other athlete in any other sport, we train to prepare for a competitive season. We follow strategic training plans and nutrition plans designed to optimize our best performance. We study our opponents strengths and assess our own weaknesses so we can prepare for competition. We compete on teams and we work with coaches. We’re there on the sidelines, cheering on and supporting our teammates. We spend weekends traveling to competitions. We take off seasons so we can improve for the next competitive season. Our sport is a little different than most, but it is still a sport and we are still athletes.
2. We eat… and we eat a lot.
Although we may appear as if we live off salads doused in fat free balsamic, we eat… and we a lot. We don’t skip breakfast. We don’t “forget to eat dinner.” And even though we eat a lot, we’re usually always hungry. Life is rough huh? We think it’s perfectly normal to whip out a bag of almonds in the middle of shopping at the mall or eat dinner out of a tupperwear during a 7:00pm movie. Eating is part of our athletic training. Our choices in food might be slightly different than the American norm, but in order to build and maintain an athletic, lean, and muscular physique we have to eat… and eat a lot. We just eat a little differently.
3. We might take steroids.
Before I go any further, let me just say I myself do NOT take any type of steroid. I have nothing against those that do, it’s just not my thing. But… steroid use in the bodybuilding community is quite common… even within the bikini division…. even at a local level. If you compete in non-drug tested federations, there is no way to know who is “natural” and who has used enhancement drugs. When you see those amazing, “12 week transformations to the stage” you never know what assistance competitors used to get their results.
4. We most likely have anxiety around food.
We most likely get anxious when situations involve food. I know this is something I deal with often. We spend so much time eating specific amounts of food at specific times that this becomes the norm for us. We like our routine and our consistency and the safety of our meals. Our brains become conditioned to this. There is comfort in this stability. However, when food is presented to us that isn’t “on the plan” it might throw us off or make us feel uncertain. Maybe even a little anxious because we have trained our brains to be conditioned to our meal routines. Be patient, we’ll figure it out and we’ll do what we need to do to get through these types of situations.
5. We make this a lifestyle.
For most competitors lifting, training, and competing isn’t a fad. Competing isn’t something we “do for X number weeks” and then stop and never step into the weight room again. Sure, there are a some who compete and decide its not for them, but for the majority the gym and lifting is truly is a lifestyle year round. When we’re not prepping for our next show, we are in our off season building and growing for the next season. We’re in the gym lifting weights because that is what we genuinely love to do to. We eat healthy (okay, well pretty healthy) year round because it genuinely makes us feel better, look our best, and perform our best. It truly is a lifestyle we love.
6. We are our own biggest critics.
To the average person, we may appear to have the “perfect” body. Truth be told, we as competitors do not see ourselves as having a perfect body. Don’t get me wrong…. we know we look good… but we are always picking out things we want to improve upon. We are our own biggest critics. Just like anyone else, we have our insecurities and things about our bodies we wish we could change. When you compete in sport that judges you for your physique, you cannot help but be hard on yourself. We’re willing to accept compliments and acknowledge the strengths in our physiques, but we’re also constantly thinking about how we can make this or that bigger, tighter, fuller, leaner. We do not see our bodies as perfect or even close to perfect. We really are our own biggest critics.
7. We know our stage bodies are only temporary.
We spend months, weeks, years shaping and sculpting our bodies to take on a certain shape. We spend so much time carefully preparing our meals and completing our cardio in order burn off fat at a steady pace and maintain our muscle mass. For most, the week leading up to our show is carefully planned and calculated out as to what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat…down to the last milligram of sodium. The day of the show is also mapped out carefully hour by hour, minute by minute as to what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat in order to achieve a certain look that lasts only a few minutes on stage. The hair, the makeup, the tan, the leanness, the fullness and vascularity that you see in photos is only temporary. The majority of the time we walk around like average (okay, almost average) people. The stage look is only temporary. We know that, and we’re okay with that.
8. We love food just as much as you do.
We love food, just as much as everyone else. Don’t let us fool you. We just have goals we’re working towards that
prevent should prevent us from eating an entire Chinese buffet.
9. The gym is our second home.
After work, before work, on the weekends… the gym is our home away from home. We love being in the gym and we feel comfortable there. We feel in our element, we feel like we belong. We have gym families and gym friends that we look forward to seeing everyday. We love our little gym community. We encourage, motivate, and support each other. Its our place we can go to wind down, release stress, or clear our heads. Gym sessions can turn into therapy sessions. It truly is our second home.
10. We are mentally and physically strong.
By looking at our bodies it might be obvious that we are physically strong, but what most people don’t see is just how mentally strong we are. Going through a bikini prep challenges us mentally in so many ways. We have to say no when we want to say yes. We know what it feels like to fail and want to quit but we keep moving on. We know what it feels like to be discouraged yet preserve. We know what it feels like to feel isolated and misunderstood, yet we find strength within ourselves to keep going and ignore those who doubt us. We learn to trust ourselves as our patience is tested over and over again. Our willpower is tested. When all is said and done, we come out on the other side mentally stronger.