itsy bitsy teenie weenie mulberry pink bikini

A bikini competition you say? Yep and I trained 18 weeks for it. All that, just for one day? I know…it better be good.

don’t call me a liar!
I decided to compete in the INBF (International Natural Bodybuilding Federation) Monster Mash on November 2nd at Worcester State University. As a natural bodybuilding federation you are required to take a polygraph test {well then, this will be a new experience} to ensure you have been drug free for the last 7 years. I scheduled the polygraph test the day before the show, when I got there I was the first appointment of the day. I was greeted by an older gentleman {think cute little grandpa you just want to hug} who had me sign some papers. We chit chatted for a little bit and I learned a few things; the hardest kinds of polygraphs to administer are those dealing with child abuse and the easiest ones are the murder cases {hmmm, interesting}. He then goes over the list of questions he will be asking during the actual test and asks me if I have any questions. Obviously, I have nothing to worry about but none-the-less there was something about doing a polygraph test that made me nervous but he reassured me that nervousness has no impact on the results. He begins the test and few minutes later he says I passed with flying colors {phew!}. I think it’s only fair to say that I’m an official certified truth teller.

china, you’ve let me down
In case you didn’t know there’s definitely part of competing that is all about the glitz and glam – literally in the form of rhinestone and lots of them! The more shiny things you have the better! Just about anything that is on your body better have something shiny on it! One good advice I got from online forums was to get competition jewelry from china (it’s all cheap and fake anyways). The only caveat is that you have to order it early enough so that the little boat has enough time to cross the pacific and onto your doorstep. So I did just that, I ordered rhinestone everything; a ring, a belly button ring, and a bracelet all for $20 (including shipping) [#waytogochina #chinaftw #iloveyouchina]. If that’s not a good deal I don’t know what is. There were websites charging $30+ just for one little ring {ummm, no}. I got everything relatively fast but whoever was in charge of shipping my bracelet must’ve been sleeping on the job cause I ended up getting the bracelet the Monday after the competition. I was holding on to faith until the very end hoping my Chinese friends would come through and deliver the bracelet in time… but they let me down. I was in a mad dash for a shiny bracelet just a couple of days prior to comp day. Ironically enough I ended up leaving my last-minute purchase in the backstage bathroom. I guess one lost and one gained… I now have a 5 row rhinestone bracelet and I need an excuse to use it!

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a tall dwarf
Competition day is here and the first order of business was a competitor’s meeting where they go over all sorts of logistical information. In addition to this they go over any arbitrary “cut off” determinant to divide any classes that are deemed too large into smaller groups. For bikini, they determined 5’ 4½” to be the cut off between Bikini Short and Bikini Tall. Since I’m 5’ 4” [#noonebelievesme #dontquestionme #ihaveproof] that meant I would be in Bikini Short, just as I expected. Later in the day when they called all competitors for Bikini Short I was quickly told “it’s not your turn just yet sweetheart”. If there was ever a time I was defending my shortness this was probably it “but I’m 5’ 4”, I’m in Bikini Short!”.  The pretty lady shows me the piece of paper where my name is noted under Bikini Tall. After having just defended my short stature a few minutes back I quickly embraced being in the tall division {finally, I’m being considered “tall”!}. She mentions how it’s in my best interest to not make any changes since this division had less girls in it. Ok, I shall do as you say, tall it is.

a tanning mess
I got my tanning done the day before the show. The actual tanning process was bit awkward but my research prepared me for it. The tan was probably the most annoying thing to deal with, let’s just say I had a few mishaps. The first one was when I decided to wear yoga pants to the tanning appointment. After getting spray tanned and airing out for 30 minutes {but seemed like 3 hours} I was told I’m good to go {yes, finally!}. My excitement was short-lived as soon as I got the evil eye from my spray tanning professional and says “you’re suppose to wear something loose!” {ummm, *nervous smile*}, then she goes and I quote “it’s suppose to be loosey goosey!!”. I mention how this is the only thing I have and quickly leave as she warned me that I’ll have to pay extra if it gets really messed up. They offer “touch ups” on comp day as long as it’s not more than 1/3 of your body {ugh, great!}. The second one happened about 20 minutes before I’m suppose to go on stage for pre-judging. I grabbed my water bottle for a quick sip and placed it down hard enough for it to squirt back out at me. The water goes all over my left bicep causing my tan to streak. Now I’m panicking, I don’t know what to do so I decide to strategically place my long locks so that it covers it (not sure how well that worked). Don’t hold your breathe if you think that was the last of it; I couldn’t possibly end the day unless I had more tan trouble. Obviously, now I know how sensitive this tan is, just about anything will mess it up. This means that going to the rest room is also a challenge – you better make sure not to “sprinkle when you tinkle”! You can see where I’m going here… my last mishap was about 10 minutes before the individual T-walk during finals {someone heeeelp!}. I go to the backstage area and try to find a friendly face and explain my streaky hamstrings. She was nice enough to put some sort of tanning product she had that only partly fixed it but reassured me that it won’t be noticeable on stage. Well then, nothing I can do about it now, it’s time to hit the stage and pretend I know what I’m doing.

lights, camera, t-walk!
I wasn’t nervous on stage, I knew exactly what I needed to do but I still managed to lose myself by the end of it. My sister mentioned that I did well and that my little routine looked good {ok, I guess I’ll take her word for it}. At this point, I’ve done my duties as a competitor, pre-judging and finals are all done. Technically, I was free to go if it wasn’t for the fact that I knew I was in the top 5. How did I know this you ask? During pre-judging where you are lined up prior to getting off the stage matters; the closer to the middle, the better. In fact, if I’m not mistaken the exact order we were in is probably exactly how we ranked in the top 5. Where was I you ask? Next to the girl in the middle, this meant that I was either 2nd or 3rd. At this point, I’m super exhausted and all I wanted to do was get my grub on but now we must wait until about 100 more competitors cross the stage (there were about 170 competitors and I was number 62) for the awards ceremony to start which is only applicable if you are in the top 5. Only after the last competitor crosses the stage would the top five placing for each division become available.

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Luckily, for the sake of those that came to watch me (the bestie Kenne, the sissy Jeisa and the bf Dave) the 100+ competitors they had to watch was not entirely a waste of time. I can honestly say that I had absolutely no expectations going into this but I ended up placing 3rd in the Novice Bikini Tall class – not too shabby for a noob.

sit. and wait.
If I had to choose one not-so-good thing about the entire experience, it’s probably the amount of waiting you do. I was lucky enough to have the bestie, Kenne with me the entire day, it made waiting around a little bit more bearable. You’re basically on stage for less than 10 minutes and you sit around for 10 hours. This particular show had both pro and amateur classes; there was a total of 38 of them! I got there at around 8:30am, I hit the stage for pre-judging around 3:30pm then again around 7pm for finals and finally 9:30pm for the awards ceremony. As soon as I got my trophy, I grabbed my stuff and left. It’s time to eat!

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time to feed the animals
It’s now pretty close to 10pm and I am exhausted! My sentiments at this point is a toss-up between wanting to hit the sheets or indulging in yummy naughty foods. If there’s one thing every competitor is looking forward to the entire day (arguably the entire prep) it’s the post comp meal. Think carbs, carbs, and more carbs! If it’s not fatty and artery clogging then you’re doing it wrong. It wouldn’t be a true competition day experience without this so off to Cheesecake Factory we go! The one thing I was craving was sweet potato fries so I got that with a spicy crispy chicken sandwich and it was amazing! We all know Cheesecake Factory is known for their large portions, I was stuffed so I skipped on the cheesecake {shame on me! I know} but it’s ok cause I had a delicious peanut butter chocolate trifle waiting for me at home.

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almost show time

I thought it would be good to recap my activities leading up to tomorrow’s show; I had quite a few things going on. Work was relatively chill this week, I had a few things I had to get done but overall stress free; I took Thursday and Friday (today) off from work so I can run my errands for the show. Last Sunday, I did a photo shoot, I had a mid-term on Monday (I think it went well), I went to my BodPod appointment on Thursday, and got my tanning done today.

because the glass really is half full
After months of training, I think it’s safe to say that I’m currently in “the best shape of my life” {apologies for the cliché} soooo I decided to do a fitness inspired photo shoot to celebrate it {you know, just in case I need proof}. I really just wanted to do it to serve as a point-in-reference of this time in my life. I have a lot of positive things going on; I’m healthy, I have a great support system with my friends and family, I have an amazing boyfriend and things are smooth sailing for both work and school (getting my MBA). I have nothing to complain about – the glass really is half full.

I decided to do my shoot with Katie from kdPhotographyBoston; she was great! We first took some shoots at a yoga studio and then went to the nearby shore line for some outside shots. It was beautiful out and I wasn’t really planning on incorporating the outdoors into my shoot but I’m glad we did (Katie suggested it). Below are some sneak peaks that she posted on her Facebook page, I’m excited to see how the rest come out.

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when is enough enough?
So just a little background information on my training: I have a 3 day split for strength training and I do HIIT (high intensity interval training) 6 times a week so that pretty much means I go to the gym six times a week {I’m so good at math – Dave would be proud}. This also means I’m a gym “regular” {that sounds… weird}, needless to say, the gym staff know me. Last week as I was entering the gym one of the trainers stops me and asks me how much longer will I be doing this for {ummm, excuse me?}, he proceeds to tell me that I’ve been doing a good job at losing weight and getting toned {oh, well thank you} but, and I quote, “when is enough enough?” {huh?}. At this point all I could do was laugh, what do I say to that? I mentioned that I was training for something (although I never specified) and yes, it does require me to train 6 times a week so chances are you’ve seen me a lot. The conversation continues for a little bit longer, he even offered to give me information about becoming a trainer {no, thank you}. At this point, all I wanted to do was end the conversation so I could get my pump on. After a couple of days, I find myself still being annoyed at his comment. Even after this competition I plan to continue to train; when I decided to prioritize fitness into my life I did it for me, the decision to compete was only after I incorporated healthy eating habits and committed myself to the gym.

i’m ready
As I sit here with my icky {and very dark} tan I reflect on the journey that has brought me here. One of things that surprised me the most about embarking in this process is the level of commitment I gave it. Let me tell you that by no means was this easy. In retrospect, the hard part was not the 6x a week workouts, it was  everything else… it was hard to say no to free drinks and yummy sliders at work related networking events and skipping on beautifully seasoned steak with baked sweet potatoes at Dave’s family dinner {I demand a re-do!} – it was these tough times that truly tested my commitment. I also abstained from alcohol {this really isn’t as hard as you think} – in fact I still have a bottle of wine that I bought from my trip to Spain back in March! Getting back on a balanced healthy eating routine is what I’m most looking forward to. That excitement manifested itself in the creation of this blog – I have so many ideas and recipes I want to try that I wanted a venue in which to share. Back to the topic at hand, everything is packed: teeny weeny bikini check, stripper heels check, obnoxious rhinestone jewelry check, fatty treats [#icantwait #youshouldbejelly #getinmybelly] check, happiness and excitement… umm ok, yes… check. Ok, looks like I’m ready.

i love me some fat

… but not on me. I also love me some data {and so does Dave! #datacouple}; since January I’ve been keeping track of all my measurements in an excel spreadsheet in addition to front/side/back shots to evaluate my progress. Speaking of which, I 100% encourage anyone to do this if they are planning to undergo a transformation. We all know the scale doesn’t tell the entire story so I wanted to track my body fat as an additional point of reference. There are different ways to measure it but I will only speak to the ones I use. Another popular method that is worth mentioning is using calipers but I was told it is better when someone else is able help with the skin fold measurements – since it has a similar degree of accuracy (3-5%) as the Omron I went with that instead.

Omron
I bought the Omron HBF-306C from Amazon for about $30. This is a handheld body fat analyzer that uses a gentle, micro electrical current (you can’t feel it) to measure your body fat. Accuracy is within 3-4.5%. This is what I used to track my body fat on an ongoing basis. Despite its degree of inaccuracy, if it’s at least consistently inaccurate the delta of two measurements can still provide me with valuable data. The actual number isn’t as important as knowing whether there’s a positive or negative change; it’s about measuring progress.

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BodPod
Since I’m a huge data geek {I think we covered this already} the margin of error in using the handheld device wasn’t enough {I need accuracy!}. I learned that the BodPod is the next best thing and its suppose to be more accurate (within 1-2%). The BodPod uses air displacement technology to determine body composition (fat vs. lean mass). I got the testing done at the Weymouth Club for about $60. Yes, it is a little pricey {…but I fiend for data!}.

This is how it works. Prior to your appointment they instruct you to fast for 2-3 hours prior to the appointment, for the test, you have to wear tight fitting apparel (such as a bathing suit or compression shorts and a sports bra). Once there they give you a {very fashionable #sarcasm} swim cap for your hair and have you remove all jewelry. They calibrate the machine (using the cylinder shape device in the bottom left hand corner of the picture below), you then sit in the alien-looking egg-like dome for a few minutes and viola! they’ll spit out a nice little report with your calculated body fat.

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so what’s the verdict?
I did the test back in May and decided I wanted to do it one more time (for achieving my latest fitness goal – finishing this bikini competition prep). Here are the numbers {finally, some data!}:

5/25 10/31
body fat 22.5% 13.9%
fat 27.6 15.4
lean 95.1 95.7
weight 122.7 111.1

So what does this even mean? In general, understanding where you stand is always a good, first step in incorporating any fitness or dietary program that you can have a baseline to track progress. For me, although the pictures I’ve taken along the way has already told me that I’ve made huge improvements, as a data junky, I had to do it! I wanted metrics {omg I can create charts and graphs! – ok, I’ll refrain}. Looking at the results, I’ve lost about 12lbs of fat. If you notice my lean weight (~95lb) has stayed consistent from then until now – the girl who administered the test mentioned how impressed she was and whatever I did, it was done properly. So, I guess you can say I’m pretty happy with the results. Now I can use this to inform my next steps; ideally, I would like to keep my body fat as-is and increase my weight in the form of lean mass {muscles!}. Ok, it’s gym time.

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» I’m not exactly sure why I placed my right hand on my chest like that but since I did it back in May I tried to do a similar pose this time around to keep it consistent lol.

the beginning of the end

well well well… look at what we have here, my very first post! this is kinda fun, I get to share my life with you {and you shall listen!…err read? ok, just kidding} so yeah let’s get started!

It’s only fitting that the beginning of this blog overlaps with the final stages of my bikini comp prep, one more week to be exact! {but who’s counting?} I’m working on getting all the things I need organized including a photo shoot, bod pod testing, and of course the actual competition day (all things I intend to write about – don’t you worry). I just got some instructions to increase my cardio and begin a water depletion plan. I won’t get into specifics but I’ll just note that there’s nothing “healthy” (or better yet sustainable) about the final weeks of a prep but since it’s for a limited time frame it’s doable with no harm done. Dave (the bf) asked me if I’m excited and at the moment, I don’t really have any emotions in regards to it; I have a set of things I have to get done and I’m just kinda doing it. Ironically enough I’ve been more excited about setting up this blog.

chicken and greens
Doesn’t sound so good, does it? My food options these past couple of weeks have been extra restrictive so needless to say I’m not a very happy girl. Oh and this came just as I got a stomach ulcer {greaaat}. I think I’m all better now though, symptoms have subsided {yaaaaay}. It’s actually not so bad, for protein I get to eat chicken or tilapia and two of my meals include carbs which can be either oatmeal, brown rice, or quinoa. hmmm… now that I think about it maybe it is that bad. eh, just one more week, then I can start implementing a more balanced diet {I can’t wait!}. Oh, and I’ve also unofficially named November my restaurant month where I’ll will plan to go to different restaurants for my Saturday dinners {aka date nights with Dave – he’s a big fan of the idea}.

chicken and greens

water buffalo
Prior to starting the water depletion plan I had to water load; I need to make sure I’m consuming at least a gallon of water a day. This is a lot harder than you think, it’s almost a little painful. Having to drink water when you are not thirsty is depressing and going to the bathroom every 30 minutes is annoying. I have a gallon I keep with me that I use to refill my water bottle, this is my gallon next to a small {and cute} bottle I bought months ago [#howcute #whydidievenbuythat #atleastitsrecyclable]. Right now I’m on-point – I have finished the gallon every day for the last several days.

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cravings
I’ve seriously had the worst cravings lately. I decided to make a peanut butter chocolate brownie trifle (in addition to another baked good which will remain a secret!) for my post-comp treat. The only problem is that, that has turned into hours looking up recipes and guess what? the recipes are all the same but for some reason I keep doing it {and torturing myself!}. The other day I went to Target to literally *look* at the different ingredients I would need. I went to the baking aisle and omg they have so many options for the brownie mix, like seriously why so many options!? {you’re killing me here!}

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It was torturous and completely self-inflicted… ugh {pull yourself together Bermary!}, soon enough.