My NPC Figure Competition Transformation

I finally did it. I made it to the stage as an NPC figure competitor. People have asked me, “How did you do it?”; “How do you feel?”; “You’re doing more?”; I interpret this question as, “But why??” Well, it turns out, I love it. I’m hooked, and I’m excited for more.  This is my NPC figure competition transformation journey, well, so far.

My first time on stage competing was just a couple months ago at the 2019 NPC Denver Open on March 24. Wow, did I underestimate how intimidating it would to be on stage. I made several rookie mistakes, and left the stage feeling completely out of my element. I even missed getting on stage for one of my categories! While I was proud of getting to the stage for the first time, it was a humbling experience.  I have learned to embrace these kinds of experiences because that is when I learn the most in life.

NPC Figure Competitor Backstage
Backstage getting pumped at my first NPC Figure Competition, the NPC Denver Open. (March, 2019)

I went for my second NPC Colorado figure competition a few weeks later. I made some improvements and I am proud of what I achieved. I am excited to take on my third competition June 1, the Mile High Showdown with more improvements. So how did I get here? How did I go from “I want to compete” to “I am going to compete” to “I am an NPC figure competitor”?

NPC Figure Competition Prep
Strength training with the 5 am crew. (February, 2019)

Deciding to do an NPC Figure competition didn’t happen over night. The transformation certainly didn’t either. The first glimmer of intent came in 2012 when I met my trainer, Carla Sanchez, founder and owner of Performance Ready Fitness Studio. I started going to her Red Rocks boot camp classes. This was about 9 months after I had my son. I was struggling to get back into pre-baby shape and shed my lingering maternity pounds. When I met Carla, I loved her strong and positive energy. It was contagious. Her expertise and empathy was like none other I had experienced. She gave me space and permission to be where I was physically and mentally. She would also throw down a killer workout and the inspiration I needed to stop effing around and get it together. Yes, she kicked my ass and still does.

Performance Ready Fitness Red Rocks Bootcamp 2013 2
Performance Ready Saturday morning boot camp crew (May, 2013). I’m in blue, second from the left.

I continued to workout with Carla regularly. I trained alongside fellow members who prepped and competed in bikini and figure competitions. (So inspiring!) In the spring of 2018, I decided it was my time to seriously consider competing. Carla and I discussed how taking a year to prep would be the best way to get there both physically and mentally without having to take any drastic measures.  While I was excited, I was scared with some internal dialogue to sort through: “Well, the commitment to working out a lot shouldn’t be that difficult because, newsflash, I love to workout… But, what will people think? I promote body positivity. Being an NPC competitor body doesn’t fall within being body positive…” Or does it? Guess what? For me, training for competition and transforming my inner and outer strength to become an NPC figure competitor has actually increased my love and respect for my body, and it has boosted my self-confidence on what I’m capable of achieving.

First NPC Figure Posing Practice
First time practicing figure posing (February, 2019). This was supposed to be my “relaxed” fitness pose. 😆

Then, there was my “I don’t want to get too big” concern. Regardless of what I know as a trainer,  and my belief in women lifting heavy weights, I was still concerned about how training for a figure competition would make me “too big”. At this point I had been training with Carla for 6 years. I 100% trusted her. She promised I would not get bigger. I would increase muscle and decrease body fat, which would make me get leaner. She was right. This was one of the life-changing lessons in this journey: Trust the process.

April 2018 – December 2018 I committed to strength training  five days per week with Carla at Performance Ready Fitness Studio. I focused on making every rep count and fueling my body with high quality nutrition. I met each workout with the intention of doing my first NPC figure competition in the spring of 2019. Before I knew it Jan 1, 2019 came around, and it was time to take competition prep to the next level. It was time to go all in. This is going to happen. And it did, with more powerful self-realizations.

Alcohol and Food Indulgences: A little won’t hurt, right?

I love vodka. I love wine. A little vodka and wine here and there aren’t that bad, right? No, they aren’t bad, but, realistically, my consumption was keeping me from my competition goals. For me, to break the habit, I had to cut alcohol out completely. And my piece of chocolate here, a little dessert there, and a couple bites of my son’s food  – Well, actually, I was indulging more than I thought. I had to break these habits during competition prep, which meant fully experiencing the party, the difficult moment, the movie night without them. It has been a powerful self-realization of how much more I consumed than I thought and how it affects my body and mind. Reducing alcohol has done wonders for my skin, and has greatly reduced my stress and anxiety levels.

At first I cut everything out to break the habit. I have worked back in an occasional drink and sweet treat, but I consider why I am having them and make sure they are for enjoyment and consciously aligned with my goals.  I’m not perfect, what is perfect anyway, but I am more mindful and conscious of the habits I maintain with alcohol and the goodies.

Eat to Fuel: What’s my diet like?

It is REALLY IMPORTANT to understand that nutrition varies between people. There is a lot to factor in. Please work with a qualified expert for your own nutrition plan. Do not follow someone else’s nutrition plan, regardless of how awesome their Instagram photos look or the qualifications they list in their profile. A recipe is one thing, but an entire nutrition plan of what to eat all day for an extended period of time? I personally do not agree with. I will tell you that my nutrition plan was, and, is specific to me. My nutrition plan varies based on my goals, my level of physical activity and how I’m feeling. My nutrition has been expertly calculated to fuel my body, food sensitivities and workouts. Yes, there are a ton of veggies, lean protein sources and reasonably portioned high energy carbs like oatmeal and rice. I love carbs. I believe in carbs. I vote YES on carbs! Carbs are essential. I am also 100% consistent with a few pre- and post-workout supplements, which include:  Vitargo®(carbohydrate),  Dymatize® PreW.O.™, Vega Sport® Premium Protein (because I am dairy free due to intolerance), and creatine. (None of these products are sponsors nor are these links affiliate links.)

I did not and do not feel deprived. I am an athlete focused on my goals. If I feel hungry or as though I need more food to eat, I discuss my nutrition plan and how I’m feeling with my coach (Carla) so we can  adjust my fuel intake accordingly. Is this stuff easy? No, but it is not impossible nor is it torture, and it’s totally worth it because I feel stronger than ever, vibrant and healthy.

Marathoners, Iron Man athletes, all competitive athletes follow specified nutrition plans to fuel their athletic performance. Nutrition is based on your health, your body, your goals and your activity. It’s personal. Work with a qualified expert to develop your nutrition plan. (Stepping down from the soap box.)

NPC Figure Competition Posing Practice
Posing practice before show #2.  (March, 2019)

Music. Mantras. Meditation. Visualization: How do I stay inspired when the going gets tough?

Music: I have a select playlist of songs that motivate me to get through a grueling cardio sesh and keep my confidence up. I also have a few audio books in rotation that I listen to over and over again while I’m driving.

Mantras? You betcha. I repeat mantras like, “You can do this.” “You got this.” “It is time to rest.” Let it go.”

Meditation: Every day, well most days, I do a simple meditation practice that I can maintain. I mediate first thing when I wake up, before I look at any electronic screens. I set the stove timer for five minutes. I sit in complete silence and breathe. That’s all. Sometimes the cat joins me.

Visualization: Yes. I visualize being on stage and what it’s like to achieve my goals. How it looks, feels smells and tastes. I get all the senses fired up. I believe in being clear with the universe on what you want through visualization.

NPC Colorado Competition Musclequest
Post-show pic with my coach, Carla Sanchez. NPC Northern (April, 2019)

What’s Next?

Does one ever really know? I’m signed up and preparing to compete for the third time on June 1. With each competition I learn more about myself and aim to improve my performance. How long do I plan to do this? Well like most of my adventures, my intention is to keep doing what makes me feel good. If I start to not feel good, or “it” doesn’t feel right, then I stop. Life is too short to not go after your dreams or to voluntarily do things you don’t want to do.

My Official Top 5 Advice:

For any goal(s) you may have your eye on:

  1. If you really want it, do it.
  2. Find a coach who you trust and respect. Make sure they know what they’re doing and you like spending time with them.
  3. Surround yourself with people who will support you, inspire you and challenge you.
  4. Listen to music, podcasts, books, etc that are positive and keep you feeling motivated.
  5. #justdoit #yougotthis

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