To First Time Competitors

Last year I competed in my first fitness/ physique show, The OCB Pine Tree. I had just moved from Minnesota to my home state Maine and I was bored and gaining weight.  At the time I was helping a girlfriend of mine with her goal to be Miss Maine. I was honored to help her with her goal, but the funny thing was, it was her that motivated me to achieve a goal I never thought I would do…. a fitness show.  I really didn’t know where to start… like most people that wanted to do a show.  So, below are some tips for first time competitors, from a competitor and a coach.

1. Find a organization/ show:

I was 11 weeks out when I signed up to compete in my first show.  I had only seen one show in the past and it was a different organization.  All organization have different guidelines, so whatever show you are doing start by reading their guidelines.  My show was part of the Natural Muscle Network, ( ) The Organization of Competition Bodies. I picked this show because it was the closest to me and was in a good time frame. I also spoke to a friend that had done the same show the year before. She had nothing but good things to say about it, so I was jumped in and signed up.

2. Make a game plan:

Bikini? Figure? Bodybuilding?  That is the question!

I have been an athlete all my life but was never a very big person… My family’s nickname for me is “The Short One”  and I was the one getting throw in the pool… a lot. 🙂  There was no way I would be able to compete with the body builders, that leaves figure and bikini.  My thoughts about figure was the women in this group had to be on a stricter diet then I was ready to commit to.  Also, they had more muscle than I would be able to get in 11 weeks.  Leaving bikini, which I thought… then… that it was the entry level into this world. The women in this division where a little softer but still had a shape I could work towards. (I no longer think bikini is the “entry level” to this world.  Each division has it’s own challenges.  It’s more about what you want your body to look like). Now that I knew what I wanted my body to look like, I had to make my plan. 

As a trainer I knew how to workout, but I had never been on a strict diet, ever.  I knew what people should do to live a healthy life style, but fitness competitors diets where on a different level.


I didn’t have the money to hire a coach, so it was time to do some research.  I reached out  to people that had done shows in the past.  I added their insight and my knowledge from Precision Nutrition together and come up with my own plan.  Whether or not you are going to hire a coach or do it yourself be safe!  YOU SHOULD NEVER BE BELOW 1000 calories a day! AND if you do hire a coach and they cut out a complete macronutrients, that’s a huge red flag.  I’ve heard competitors say they cut out all carbs for a WEEK! Two things, people forget or don’t know that vegetables and fruits are also carbs and that this is NOT GOOD!  You need carbs, fats, and proteins for energy.  Yes, there are difference levels in which you need these things.  The point is you need them all in some way to live a healthy life!  Also, if you are doing 3+ hours at the gym a day… you’re doing something wrong.  Everyone’s body is different, we learn that in kindergarten… when you are getting ready for a show you will be learning new things about your body. My advice is to talk to someone that knows what they are doing to help you with guidelines.

3. Balance of fitness, family, and friends

This is a life style yes, but 90% of us aren’t going to make a living at this.  It is important to find a good middle ground between the show prep and the “real world”. By all means, take your prep seriously. I give 110% to my training! I love seeing the changes in my body.  I also know like everything in life you need to find balance.  This sport gives you a goal and help you are learn a lot about who you are and what you can handle! 

I have seen a lot of females go through this and hate it because they didn’t keep it in check with their real lives.  Even if you win your pro card in the IFPA, IFBB, or WFBB you will need a day job! Yes, winning your pro card may open doors for modeling jobs, endorsements, or in my case clients. But be realistic and know there is more to life then just competing.  Go out to lunch with your girl friends, just plan your meal or bring it!  Go to the movies!  It’s a great place for meal 4… no one will be able to see you eating out of tupperwave.  Live your life!… You only get one. 

On the flip side, remember the people in your life aren’t competing… so they aren’t going to understand why you go crazy when they eat the food you weighted and measured for meal 5 on Tuesday.  They will look at your funny when you say good night at 8:30 pm, because you have to get up at 4:30 am to do your workout.  They may even think you are obsessive when you ask them to take 15 progress pictures every week. Or why you would want to stand on stage in 5 inch clear heels in a bikini and be judged.  IT’s OK!  This is your goal not theirs.  My Father has a very strong faith base.  At first, he was not comfortable with me being on stage in my suit and in his words, “that one back pose”.  BUT he did appreciate and admire the fact that I was doing something that was healthy and that I was determined to reach a goal, I never thought I would do.

That Back Pose Dad Hates. Sorry Dad! :)

One of the most important things I have learned:

Nothing others do is because of you. What other say and do are a projection of their own thoughts/ dreams. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of other, you wont be a victim of needless suffering”.

This is a quote from my favorite book, The Four Agreements.  How does this apply to you doing a show?  Well, when you are out with family and you pull out your tupperwave, who cares.  When you significant other is eating a pizza in from of you and you are eating chicken and asparagus, don’t freak out on them.  If you don’t want to go out drinking with your friends, it’s ok!  You have other things to spend your money on! (we’ll talk about that later).

The point is when you are preparing for a show you have to be OK with YOU!  There will be ups and downs, you will hit a wall or two, and at times be emotionally and physically drained.  But you are about to step on stage and be judged, and no matter what the outcome you have to know your are the BEST YOU you can be…. and that is where the growth will come from.  In the end, isn’t this what it’s all about? YOU being the Best YOU!?

4. Posing

I can’t tell you how many times during my first prep I spent watching YouTube videos of bikini competitions on repeat. My boyfriend (now husband) would always ask if I was “looking at butts again”… I was.  By watching these videos, you will start to understand how important the presentation, poise, and posing is to this sport.  I highly recommend getting a posing coach that knows what they are doing.  After you get your posing lessons, PRACTICE… a lot!  Do a rep, hit a pose.  Watch yourself in the mirror, or record yourself then watch it back.  You may think you look like Amanda Latona… but you may see something else when looking at the video.  I did a weird thing with my arm, that I never noticed.

5. Cost

This is not a cheap hobby! Get your debit card ready…. Here’s an idea of what you may be getting yourself into:

Show fee:$60-100

Organization Membership: $60- $100

Suit- $150+

Tan- $100+

Jewelry- $50+

Hair and Make up- $200 +

Posing- $30 -$100 an hour

Trainer- $50 -100 an hour

Online trainer- $40- $150 a month (note: Just because a trainers rate is high doesn’t mean they are better.  Do your research on them)

Polygraph (for OCB) $40- $45

Other things to think of travel, hotels, supplements, nails, warms up… so on.  You do not need all these things but this it’s an idea of what you could pay.

6. Hiring a coach

Like I said before I didn’t have a coach the first time, but I did for my second.  When I lived in Chicago I knew Nicole Moneer, IFBB Pro.  She was the first person I ever knew that did shows.  After doing research on other Instagram coaches I asked Nicole if she would take me on as a client.  I love her down to earth and EAT REAL FOOD… and not just fish and asparagus theories. It was also nice to have her to report to.  Now that I have started coaching competitors I have a new respect for what coaches do.  The role of a coach is to help motivate you, push you, give you tough love with encouragement, and the knowledge to help you bring the best package to the stage.  When you reach out to a coach ask them questions! Here’s some any good coach should be able to answer: 

– How do you build meal plans?

– What is your thoughts on cardio and weight training?

– Do you give meal, weight, and cardio plans?

– Do you do posing?

– Do you help with picking a suit?

– If online, What is the level of communication/ support  you offer during prep? 

– If in person, Will you be there the day of show? What is your role that day? 

If you do hire a coach, listen to them!  Don’t lie to them about if you did or didn’t do something that was on plan.  If you’re not honest with your coach…. or yourself they can’t help you make improvements.  The saying in the industry is “trust the process”.  You’re coach is your rock… if they are a good coach they will help you not only achieve this goal but help you be a better you after this is all done.  

7. Be a good loser and winner!

When I decided to compete I was doing it alone.  After a year for doing shows, half of my facebook friends are show people… my best friend was once called my “rival” on stage.  Besides the things you learn about yourself through this process, the people you mean during your journal can be pretty amazing.  If you aren’t on a team, try to find a posing clinic/ class to meet others competing.   That’s where I first met my best friend… even though we wont friends yet… we were actually sizing each other up. HEY! We’re both competitive, it’s only normal to want to see what you’re going up against.  BUT my word of advice is to ALWAYS be classy! Only 1 person wins the show…. and only about 5 people per class get to take home an iron barbie doll.  If you place… but you’re not happy with where you placed, remember there’s a bunch of ladies that didn’t even get that far.  If you win don’t be a jerk and rub it in people’s faces.  On the flip side, don’t cut down those that placed over you.  THIS SPORT IS SUBJECTIVE!!!!!  You can’t control what the judges are looking for… but you can control how hard you worked, and how much fun you have that day.

Heather and I from the start


In closing, if you have decided to live out of tupperwave.  Have most of your laundry be workout clothes.  And have 100 pictures of your abs in your phone! WELCOME TO THE FAMILY!  We’re all a little nuts but we’re happy to have you!  We’re excited to watch you grow into a stronger person inside and out… with a bubble butt!


If you have any questions about shows please left a comment or email me,

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