Its been one week since the Spring 2016 season wrapped up and the whirlwind of excitement has finally calmed down enough for me to sit down and capture the end of the season. Where to even begin? If you’ve been following along on social media (IG: @shestrongorg), you’ve already been bombarded with my bikini/trophy spam. Why? I won my first, first place in Open Bikini! Of all of the trophies I brought home this season, this one was by far the most exhilarating for me. If you’ve never been to a bodybuilding show, here’s a quick overview:
- Each event is divided into classes by height (example, class A is Under 5’3″, Class B is 5’3″-5’5″ etc). In bikini, each CLASS usually has around 20 women in it.
- Each competition actually has 2 mini shows within it: pre-judging and then finals. The event starts with pre-judging, a complete run through of all of the events in which the judges review everyone and make their decisions. Later, everyone comes back up again, poses for photos & the judges one last time, then awards are given.
- After awards for each CLASS are given, then OVERALLs start. Meaning, Bikini Overall is the head-to-head competition of the 1st place winners in each class. The creme de la creme, if you will.
After going on stage for pre-judging in bikini, I felt really great. I knew in my head that this was by far the best presentation I’ve ever brought to the stage. I was leaner & tighter than I’ve ever been. And we changed my posing at the last minute a few days before the show to achieve a better angle for my shape (remember, angles can make the difference between placing and not placing, especially if you’re like me and do not have the natural bikini hourglass shape they are looking for). Anyway, I got first call outs and had very optimistic feedback from my coach & family. But I didn’t get ahead of myself, I’ve had first call outs before and have won 3rd and even 6th, so its not always an accurate barometer of the outcome. Finals started before I even had any time to process how exhilarated I felt – game face back on! Standing behind the curtain, waiting to step back into the hot stage lights, I felt a sense of peace. Without planning to, my inner voice grinned “you’ve done it, girl.” Meaning, I had surpassed the Danielle of 2015 – I had already won. When they announced the top 5, and my name was called, the rush consumed me. And in true dramatic fashion, the winners were called with the slow, grandiose, Miss Universe methodology (minus Steve Harvey, thankfully!). Here we go. 5th place: not my name. (Smile. breath. phew). 4th place: not my name. (Look at my coach in the second row, raise my eyebrows, smile). 3rd place (OK, this is the highest Ive placed before, if I get this, I still win): still not my name. (Holy cow, really? Look at my coach again. Her face: holy shit. Her body: leaning forward in desperate anticipation, exactly how I feel right now but I have to keep my abs tight). And 2nd place, the runner up, goes to….. (Hurry up, hurry up! Is Freebird playing? Stairway to Heaven? Its me, I bet. Wow – I got second place – this is incredible!) NOT. MY. NAME. (Mind blank. Completely blank. Did I smile?) And your winner: MY NAME!!!! OK, I know that is a super dramatic description but this was truly a moment I will remember forever. I’ve busted my ass for 2 years to get this. I am not naturally shaped to be a bikini winner, and arguably should have just stuck with Figure. But I posed my ass off, busted my ass in the gym, ate perfectly and I WON!!! I’m actually more proud BECAUSE the odds were against me, because I wasn’t an immediate natural. I had to work a little harder for it and I finally got to taste the fruits of my labor.
And then, I got to compete in my first OVERALLS (the competition between all of the class winners). And I got 2nd!!! 2nd in the whole show of over 100 women! WOW!
And now, I’m nationally qualified in BOTH bikini & figure!!! Wooohooo!!!!
Alright, here’s the season recap:
- First Place Mixed Pairs
- First Place Open Bikini
- First Place Mixed Pairs
- Second Place Open Figure
- Second Place OVERALL Bikini
- Best OVERALL Posing
At the beginning of this process in January, I promised 2 things: to take weekly progress photos & share weekly body metrics to show my progress. So, without further adieu, here are the final results!!
- Starting Weight in January: 128lbs
- Final Weight (morning of the show) in May: 120.8lbs.
- Total Weight Loss: 7.1lbs in 14 weeks. That’s only 1/2 pound a week ( I know its not linear, but you get the idea). This metric is really important. I didn’t crash diet, I didn’t starve, I didn’t do insane amounts of cardio. I followed a slow, healthy, methodical program designed for me by my coach to slowly lean out over an extended period of time. Even more important, coming IN to prep with a healthy body composition will really give you an advantage so that you don’t have to take any drastic measures. I maintained a really healthy balance for a year before I even started this process, which ultimately led to my best stage package yet!
- Body fat? I didn’t track this, but as you can see in the image below, it changed A LOT! I probably started somewhere in the 16-18% range and ended closer to 10ish? Totally guessing based on prior experience, but you get the idea.
I can’t wrap up this season without thanking the people who made this possible for me. It really takes a village to achieve excellence in this sport.
- To my coach, Brooke: You are the reason I am where I am. Not just physically with the tremendous growth in my body and strength, but more importantly, where I am mentally. You have changed the way I look at the world, at myself. I came to Chrome 2 years ago looking for a fitness professional to help me check off an item on my bucket list. What I gained is a deeper level of pride and respect for my body and its capabilities, an emotional connection with an awe-inspiring group of people that have come together because one fierce woman, you, built an environment that we thrive in every day. And most of all, a friend that I will carry with me everywhere I go.
- To my husband, the man who sacrificed months of going out to eat, who ran to the grocery store at 9pm because I ran out of rice, who held me when I came home crying in exhaustion, who supported spending ridiculous amounts of our hard earned $ on a sport that I love, who willingly sat through hours of bodybuilding just to watch my 2 minutes in the sun: I am forever grateful! I love you!!
- To my teammies: thank you for your encouragement on the hardest of days, for the honest feedback identifying ways to improve, for our safe place & judgement-free zone that is NEVER compromised, for the highs of sharing joyful moments of progress, for the 2 second smiles in passing that can completely take my day from cloudy to sunny (I’m talking to you, Paula & Laura!), for never letting me be anything less than my best, even when it hurt to the point of tears (leg day, bootycamp!)
- To my pairs partner, Chris: thank you for being the big brother I never had, for pushing the envelope even when I was too afraid to try, for putting up with my little kid personality, for recognizing when some days of practice were just too hard. And most of all, thank you for never, ever dropping me.
- To my family: for your genuine interest in my repetitive musings over “how Im feeling/what I ate/how sore I am”, for getting on airplanes to sit in the audience and cheer me on (Mom, Pam, Grif, DK, Jordan), for always accomodating my nutrition plan and training requirements, for never letting me forget how loved and supported I am!
- To my forever besties, Mel & Cait: for facetiming me when I need to cry or when I need a distraction while I’m on the stairmill, for sticking our every single Seattle show in 2 years, for never complaining about the “look at my progress!” half naked photo texts I send way too often, for being two of the women I love most in this world!
- To all of YOU! Near and far, your words of encouragement on social media this season, just as in years past, are the icing on the cake for me (did someone say cake?) What may only take you 30 seconds to type & post, leaves an imprint on my heart and TRULY pushes me to deliver the best results that I can. THANK YOU!!