Thank you, Casey, for taking the time to recap your journey back to the stage!
Prepping after 5 years of not being on a strict diet is rough. My last experience ended with a variety of disordered eating patterns. When I frequently overate and hid the evidence. I would take a carton of cookie dough ice cream, fish out all the cookie dough and cover up the holes so no one would know. I would place Windex on my counter and spray the “bad” food to prevent myself from overindulging.
Fast forward to today: I am 28 years old, a married mom of 2 toddlers ages 1 and 3, with a healthy relationship with food thanks to flexible dieting. I am able to have items I prefer without the label of “good” or “bad” and portion it to fit into my day based on my target macronutrient amounts. This has alleviated the fear that I would never be able to eat my favorite foods again if I wanted to look a certain way. I adhere to the “80/20 rule”, though, where 80 percent of my daily calories come from whole, unprocessed, and nutritionally dense food as often as possible.
I chose to compete again to see how much my body has matured after having two babies and I wanted to progress my physique now that my relationship with food was healthy. I also had a fantastic support system with Northington Fitness to get me through it so day one of prep commenced…
Peak Weak is defined as the 7 days before a competitor steps on stage where your meals, training, water, and sodium intake are arranged in a way where you “peak” during the contest. In other words, you will present your best look at judging. It is crucial that you and your coach are 100% on the same page and in tune with your body.
For most competitors, energy is often low toward the end of prep. You will want to cut back on artificial sweeteners to avoid bloating, and that includes my favorite form of caffeine- Amino Energy. I was pleasantly surprised that my mindset allowed me to push through and I felt the most energy this week! Why? I like to look at things differently. I had worked my butt off for 16 weeks. I was 95 percent adherent through my prep. I was so proud of myself and how far I had come. Not to mention I knew my body (realistically) couldn’t stay this lean forever. That’s ok with me I wanted to enjoy this look for the short time it lasted!
Not to say this week wasn’t challenging for me. Food was less for enjoyment and more for fuel. I didn’t always feel like eating the meals I planned. Luckily, I had more flexibility than my previous prep. Five years ago I was on the old-fashioned “tilapia and asparagus” diet. I attribute much of my disordered eating from the restrictive dieting of my past preps.
As I made my way through peak week, my workouts subsided. With the show being on Friday by Thursday I was done with all of my training and cardio to let my body rest.
It’s the big day! Today I woke up at 6 am full of anxiety, excitement, emotion, fear, and stress. So much to do in what feels like so little time. First things first, of course, I ran to the mirror as quick as possible to see how my body looked. I felt on point! Whew! Then it was time for my tan! For many girls, they dread this part. This tan is thick, smelly and so dark you can hardly recognize yourself. For me, however, this is my favorite part. Post-tan is when you can see the beauty of your leanness and each line. You can see the definition from muscles you didn’t even know you had. After my first coat, I went back to the hotel room our team got for the day and started on makeup and hair. When you compete, it is all about the glitz and glamour. Stage makeup is a must along with glittery suits, jewelry, and high heels.
With makeup done it’s time to go back for a second coat of spray tan. Yes, two layers of dark tan! Under the stage lights, it tends to wash you out so the darker your tan is, the better.
It was easy to forget to hydrate as the day passed. Before I knew it, I was on my way to the athlete’s meeting. In the meeting, they go over the basics of how the night will proceed, in what order and what class you will be in (arranged by height for bikini). I was number 119 and in class D Novice and C Open. Classes change from category to category based on number of competitors. You are a novice until you place in the top 5 in an open class.
In this particular show, it was a two-day show. Prejudging on Friday and the awards are given at finals on Saturday. As I lined up with my class, it’s amazing the emotions that came over me. I felt nervous of course, but then a calm set over me. I had made it this far and for me whatever happened past that was just a bonus. But I did pray that I would not trip in my heels and fall on my face!
I did it! I went out and did my thing! Once I was on stage, I felt comfortable. I received first call-outs which was a fantastic bonus! The judges moved me right next to my teammate, Brandi, and we rocked it together side by side! Being next to Brandi also eased my nerves.
After the novice class, I had to line up for the Open C class. This class was more competitive with experienced athletes. I was the tallest in the line which was hard mentally for me. I felt as though I would stand out in a way that wouldn’t be to my advantage. When I was on stage, I felt calm and natural again and got first call outs! That was my goal, and I was very excited. The sport is subjective, so I went into the evening without expectations.
After prejudging, we went home, showered, and mentally prepared for the next day. In my mind, the most difficult part was over. The judges knew who would be top 5 in each class. Finals was going to be fun hanging out with my team, getting all dolled up ( again) and ending with a great night at the Cheesecake factory! At this point a restaurant meal sounded good, but with so much adrenaline that was not my focus.
Finals was a repeat of the day before. I got my final spray tan, followed by makeup and hair. It was time to go to the theatre. I was anxious to know my placing if any. I wanted to place but reminded myself that this was the leanest I had ever been and that was a true accomplishment. I met some amazing people and had the greatest prep I could have only dreamed of experiencing. I felt like I had preserved my great relationship with food and wasn’t starving myself!
First class was my Novice D class. As they were calling the placing I saw my teammate Brandi get called for second place. At this point, I felt like top 5 was not in my future. I had her picked first. Low and behold somehow I hear “your winner for Novice D class number 119.” I about died. I have to say I am still in shock. Every one of those girls up there looked so amazing, and we all worked so hard, we are all winners!
I placed my trophy down and got ready for my open class. As I was looking around my team was cleaning house! Just about all my girls were holding trophies!
I returned to the stage for Open Class C and was the first called for fifth place. I was very happy with that placing. This group of girls was stacked, and top 5 was initially my goal.
I walked away from this night with the biggest smile on my face. Not only did I have the best team, but my support system between my two kids, Braxton and Kayleigh, and my husband, Brandon, was beyond anything I could have asked. They pushed and motivated me through the 16-week experience.
Will I ever compete again? Yes! I am taking a few months to build muscle to change categories to Figure. For my body style, I am much happier with that decision, and I look forward to the future. I can’t thank my team and Eric and Karey Northington for all they do and all the efforts they made into making sure we all looked and felt our best both physically and mentally. I am so thankful for you!
If you are considering competing, know that the process is difficult but with the right coach and the right method can be enjoyable! I’d love to help you achieve that goal- it is a feeling I will never forget!