Thinking of competing??

I was recently asked what advice I would give to someone who is interested in competing in a fitness, figure, or bikini contest.  Since I’ve only been in one competition, I am no expert by any means, but I’m always happy to share my opinion! 😉

1.  Pick your coach: 

Whether you decide to use an online service or an in-person coach, it will be EXTREMELY helpful to have someone guide you through this journey!  For me, I was so glad to be part of Cathy Savage Fitness when I competed for the first time.  My coach was able to help calm my nerves, motivate me to continue, and give me some insider advice that I never would have found on my own.  Make sure your coach is familiar with helping to build the physique you are seeking for your competition, whether that’s a figure physique or a bikini physique.  They will know what to tweak with your diet and exercise to give you the look you are going after!

Here are some resources you might want to look into:

Cathy Savage Fitness
Jill Fit Physiques
Bombshell Fitness
Your local gym (just make sure the trainer is familiar with competition training)

2.  Decide on your goal:

Once you have a coach, he or she will assess your current physique and will be able to give you an idea of how long you’ll need to train to be ready for a show.  If your coach thinks you can be ready in 12 weeks, then find a show happening in 12 weeks and register for it, baby!!  Once you’ve paid your registration dues, there’s no turning back 😉

Maybe your long-term goal is to compete, but your short-term goal is to improve your leg strength, or to be able to do unassisted pull-ups, or to run a 5k.  That’s great!  Plan out those mini goals and work towards them, while keeping your long-term goal of competing in mind.  It’s OK if it takes a year to be ready for your show; you gotta start somewhere!

3.      Pick your federation:

Again, this is something your coach can help you with.  You don’t have to be “married” to one federation, but you’ll want to pick the federation that seems right for you.  I chose the Fitness New England show for my first competition (part of the Fitness Universe federation) because I felt it wasn’t overly sexy and it seemed like it would be a fun experience for a first-timer.  And I was right!  Choose a federation and show that you feel will be the right fit for your personality and experience level.

Here are a couple of federations you can look into to get you started:

Fitness Universe

4.      Buy your suit!

OK, so you’ve registered for the competition and you’ve started your training – now BUY YOUR SUIT ASAP!!!  And I’m serious, as SOON as possible!  I ordered my suit at the beginning of February and received it the week before my show at the end of April – talk about nerve wracking!!

The category you are competing in will have specifics as far as what kind of suit you should wear.  I competed in the bikini category, so my suit was a typical bikini style.  I “blinged” it out myself to save some money.  Suits can range in price from the hundreds to thousands of dollars, so you’ll want to find a quality suit that’s within your budget.

If you have some weight to lose, you can tell the suit designer how much you are planning to lose, and they should be able to design with your end physique in mind.

Also, there are resources where you can rent or buy used suits.  I know that may seem weird, but they are so darn pricey that it’s a really good idea.  And in my next life, I’m coming back as a figure suit designer so I can make some serious $$!  😉

5.      Get a support system:

Don’t go in on this alone!  Whether it’s a family member, a spouse, a friend, or a workout buddy, find someone who you can talk to about your fitness journey.  I’m telling you, it’s ALL you will want to talk about once you’re involved in your training.  I tend to be a pretty laid back person, but I was eating, sleeping, and breathing my competition prep for weeks!  Fortunately my husband is da bomb dot com and didn’t get too annoyed with hearing me endlessly drone on about my training regimen, my diet, my food prep, etc. etc.

…..OR, start a blog!!  Document your journey – it will be so fun to look back on all you accomplished along the way!  Plus you’ll connect with blog friends, who are the best kind of support ❤

6.      Check-in regularly:

I checked in with my coach Brooke every week for the 12 week s leading up to my competition.  It kept me honest and it was great to look back and see the changes week to week in my physique from my check in photos.

7.      Don’t beat yourself up:

Don’t let yourself get too wrapped up in this whole experience.  I know, easier said than done.  But there will be times when you slip up.  You might miss a workout or eat half a jar of almond butter (ha!) or not put 100% into your cardio.  It’s.OK.I.promise.  Just get back on that horse and keep progressing towards the finish line.

I remember when I first started training, I was really doubting the whole process.  I felt flabby and weak and just bleh and truthfully didn’t think I was going to be ready in time.  That’s when Melissa from Curly Girl Fit Life said, “I don’t know how the magic happens, but it does.  Somehow everything comes together at the last minute.”  And she was totally right!  And that leads me to my last tip:

8.      Smile and have fun!

OK, here’s the only reason I can possibly fathom that I ended up placing in the top 10 at my first competition…because about 2 seconds before I walked out on that stage, I had a realization:  “I’m here to have fun!!  I put the work in, I’m here, and now it’s time to enjoy the ride!”  I stepped out on the stage in those clear heels and had a fabulous time, and I guess maybe the judges saw how much fun I was having, too.

After all the hard work and sweat and tears you’ve poured into your training, smile and be proud of your transformation.  Those judges and that audience will read it on your face and will see the confidence behind your smile.  You earned that time on stage so work it, baby!!

I hope this post is a help to anyone thinking of competing.  If you are, let me know what your plans are…I’d love to cheer you on!!

Reader request: Cathy Savage Fitness review

Nici recently left such a sweet comment!  She says:

Thanks, Nici!  First off – go check out Nici’s Tumblr page – by the time this posts, I believe she will have completed her first competition!  Head over to give the girl some props!!! Goooo Nici!!!  🙂

And I’m more than happy to answer your questions:

Yes, I am an online “Savage girl.”  And there are a lot of us online, including internationally.  Cathy Savage Fitness is based out of Boston, MA – but the cool thing is that you can stay in touch with everyone so easily through Facebook, emails, etc.

Cathy sends out a group email just about every single day to the team, and I love them!  They are always very motivational in nature – sometimes it’s a link to a great song or video on YouTube, sometimes its inspirational stories about other Savage girls, and sometimes it’s just a little “kick in the ass” kind of message that always seems to come at the right time 🙂

In addition, when you sign up for the services, you are assigned a coach.  My coach is Brook Nicole – check out her website!  She’s freakin’ adorable:

I check in with Brooke every 2 weeks.  Leading up to a competition (from 12 weeks out), I would check in with my coach weekly.  Every week, I’d send Brooke photos of myself and would give her an idea of my meals, my workouts, and any challenges I might be having.  She would then respond back in a day or two with any recommendations for changes to my program.

Also, once a week, Cathy holds “live chat” calls.  They are usually about an hour long, and they are held at 9am Eastern time (so 12 hours later your time in Australia?).   A few days later, the calls are posted on the Cathy Savage Fitness site and you can access them and listen to them at any time – I usually have to do that as I run a work meeting every day at 9:00am that I can’t miss.

It’s hard for me to tell you for sure how personalized the program is, as I haven’t really compared my program with other Savage girls’.  If I were to guess though, I think the basic nutrition and workouts are the same, but certain parts of the program are tweaked according to your specific needs.  For instance, your coach will tell you how many servings of proteins, starches, veggies, fats, etc. to have in a day – and that is based on your check-ins and how you’re progressing week to week.  Or, your coach may have you do an extra workout focused on a trouble area, like your legs or abs or shoulders (for me, it was my quads because my legs were a bit skinny haha).

The nutrtition plan is very flexible!  Like I said, you are told specific portion sizes that are customized for you as far as your proteins, fats, carbs, veggies, and fruits.  You are given a big list of clean foods to choose from, so you can pick what you like from the list.  I had cheat (or treat) meals once a week up until about 4 weeks out from my show.  I never felt deprived and had a TON of energy up until the week of my competition!

My husband definitely benefited from this plan – he lost about 10 pounds in the process just by eating the same way I was!  (lucky guy)  We both cut back on alcohol, too.  He was very supportive throughout the whole process, but I’ll be honest, I felt very lonely in my journey as I was prepping.  It was tough to be so singularly focused on meals and workouts for such a long time.  We rarely had dinner together during my competition prep, only because I was getting home so late from work and the gym and didn’t want to keep him waiting on me 😦

I didn’t take a lot of supplements at all during my training.  I did incorporate BCAA’s on weight training days, and used whey protein powder here and there.  Cathy Savage is also a big supporter of the Isagenix products that I’ve mentioned before on this blog.

And finally, as far as the training is concerned, I think it depends on what you are training for.  For me, I was prepping for a bikini competition, and my training consisted of daily cardio (but not too much cardio), and then body part training.  So one day might be chest & back, one day might be legs & core, and one day is shoulders & arms.  Then I would have one day of “functional” training, which consisted of things like sprints and plyometrics.  Again, your coach would assign you a plan that would work best for you.  My plan consisted of cardio 5 days per week, weight training 4 days per week, and 1 day of functional training.

Overall, I would highly recommend Cathy Savage Fitness to anyone (guy or girl) who is looking to change their physique and do it the healthy way.  They have such a smart, balanced approach to training and nutrition.  Cathy and her team are experts at what they do – you won’t find anyone better, I promise!  And – the motto with CSF is “it’s all about sisterhood.”  It’s so amazing to connect with like-minded women who are such true talents…this has been worth so much to me!

I hope this helps answer some of your questions, Nici!  Best of luck with your competition –  I know you are going to KILL it, girl!!!!!  🙂

Whirlwind bikini weekend

Why hello, blog friends!

What a fun-filled, crazy, exhausting weekend.  I’m sorry to take so long to post a recap, but I was literally a comatose zombie yesterday when I returned home!

OK – so I’ll go ahead and start with how I did at the competition:  I placed 4th in my category!

This was totally shocking to me – I did not expect to even be in the top 10 at my first show, much less a large show like this one.  When they called my name, I thought for sure they made a mistake.  But I feel so happy that my hard work towards my goal paid off – I did it!

I could absolutely write an entire week’s worth of blog posts about this experience – there were so many highs and lows and bizarre things that happened that I can’t even begin to sum it up in just a couple of paragraphs. But here are a few highlights for you!

The highs:

  • Meeting Cathy Savage and my coach Brooke Nicole was such a highlight of the weekend!  On Friday evening, we had a check-in session with the coaches and Cathy where we showed them how we looked in our suits and our sportswear.  I was so excited to meet Cathy that I came up to her and gave her a big hug and gushed over how happy I was to meet her “in real life.”  And Cathy, being her typical no-nonsense awesome self just said, “I know who you are honey!  I feel like I’ve known you forever!”  LOVE her, seriously 🙂
  • After the check ins, we had a team meeting where each coach from the Savage team had a chance to say a thing or two about what to expect for the weekend, how to get the most out of the experience, and other words of wisdom.  It was such a treat to hear straight from the mouths of these amazing women who are at the top of their game.  They have such a grounded perspective about everything they do – they are smart, beautiful, fun, fearless women and I aspire to be more like them.
  • I connected with SO many gorgeous, talented girls!  I mean seriously – these girls are top of the top.  Gorgeous and successful and funny and brilliant – what an honor to be in the company of chicks like these!
  • I realized right before I stepped out on stage that this was my chance to HAVE FUN, so I should relax and not take it too seriously!  So – that’s what I did!  And it was a blast!
  • I ran into a little bit of a situation with my hotel room after the show, and (long story short) my exhausted, hungry self suddenly found herself without a place to stay for the night.  I was way too tired to drive 6 hours back to Philly at that point (it was about midnight!) and the rooms at the casino are around $700/night which I totally could not afford.  But amazingly, a guardian angel (who shall remain nameless) appeared and saved the day.  I ended up in the most gorgeous suite at the hotel and needless to say, I will always thank my lucky stars for this amazing person who came to my rescue Saturday night.
  • For all of my doubts that I’d be “ready” for the show, everything came together quite nicely!  I woke up on Saturday ready for the competition and feeling lean and healthy and in the best shape possible.

The lows:

  • Let’s face it – I looked like a drag queen in my stage makeup!  Hilarious, but I know I was frightening some of the patrons of the casino.
  • The diet was brutal the last day:  the minimal water intake and small portions of tilapia and asparagus eaten out of a plastic baggy was making me hangry (hungry + angry).
  • I realized the hard way that generosity and kindness are not always others’ first priorities.  And the “mean girls” you remember from middle school are, quite often, still “mean girls” when they are all grown up.
  • The show involved a lot of waiting….waiting….waiting….and more waiting.  Not fun when you’re standing around in 5″ heels and a tan that can’t touch anything for risk of ruining it!
  • I got about 4 hours of sleep the entire weekend – which left me feeling like such a total zombie!  Ick!
  • It takes a really long time to scrub off 4 layers of tanner (still working on that) 😉
  • It was hard to be at the show by myself without my husband or family and friends as a support system.

My take on the show:

I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.  I learned so many valuable lessons, met so many wonderful people, and felt so proud that the judges could see all of my hard work in my physique and happy attitude.  The support from Cathy Savage Fitness is without equal, and I feel truly blessed to be part of the sisterhood.

Everyone wants to know if I’ll do another competition.  My answer right now is…maybe??  I’m on the fence about it.  I really did have a fantastic time and it was so awesome to work towards that lofty goal – now of course I want to improve even more!  But for right now, I’m still thinking it over and processing all of the emotions of the weekend.

My next mini goal is to stay in rockin’ bikini shape until my vacation in a few weeks!  And then – I’ll set another mini goal so I continue to have something to work towards and I’ll keep my booty in shape.  So – stay tuned!  Who knows what the future may hold?

Wanna see pics from my weekend??  Click here for the gallery of photos!

New England bound…

I wish I could say that I spent my day off yesterday as relaxed as Pinot:

But alas, it wasn’t so.  Here’s a recap:

Couldn’t sleep so I woke up at the crack of dawn and made out my to do list of things to tackle for the day.  I scarfed down my first meal of unseasoned chicken and spinach and a teeny bit of oatmeal and a cup of black coffee:

 I washed and folded a load of laundry, took Pickles for a walk, and then showered and shaved my entire body head to toe, which took unexpectedly longer than I had imagined (HA!).  I hope I never have to do that again 🙂

By that point, it was time to eat my next meal – unseasoned tilapia, 1/2 of a grapefruit, and some water:

I then headed out to run a ton of errands.  I ran to Home Depot to buy carpet tape to glue my bikini to my butt (LOLOL!), went to get my car washed and fill it up with gas for my trip, went to the ATM for some cash, ran to the mall to grab a couple of last-minute things, went to get a mani/pedi, and ran over to Trader Joe’s for more pre-competition food (plus some celebratory treats for after the competition):

 What’s in the bag, you ask?

A bunch of junk that will definitely make me sick if I eat it all at once!  Cheese curls, cookies, trail mix, COOKIE BUTTER(!!), and the one thing that I’ve been craving since starting this diet:  LARABARS!

Don’t worry – I’m not planning on completely bingeing after this is over.  I just wanted to have plenty of food to share 😉

Oh, by the way, at some point I scarfed down another meal of chicken and spinach in my car, cold out of Tupperware:

After my Trader Joe’s trip, I ran to get a spray tan.  It was hilarious to stand, arms splayed, totally in the buff, in front of a woman who I met about – oh – .02 seconds earlier.  HA!  No shame in this game, baby.

I liked the framed quotes on the wall in the spray tan room:

Do I look tan?  This is only the first coat!

 After I finally got home, I still had more to do!  Including cooking up a huge batch of asparagus:

I inhaled my last 2 meals of the day (a repeat of the meals above), and I made some goodies and gift bags for the girls I’ll be rooming with at the show (I’ll show you what I made in a future post – I think they turned out really cute!).

Whew!  What a crazy day.  And now I’m leaving in just a few minutes and heading up to CT!  Wish me luck!  (and by luck I only mean:  I don’t want to fall on stage wearing a teeny bikini and 6″ clear heels, thank you very much)