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BTS of Being A Bikini Competitor

I don’t tend to talk about my fitness competitions a lot in public because I either get stereotyped or made fun of.  You see a lot of fitness competitions online; the shredded abs, the super dark tans, high heels, and the binged out swimwear. I had great times feeling sexy like a Victoria’s Secret model and very proud to have placed top 5 and become provincially qualified. However, there is a certain idea and image that these fitness competitions have, that the competitors are either jacked up on steroids or they really are fit and live the perfect lifestyle 24/7, and that’s not really true. Today I wanted to open up about what you don’t see and what’s behind the fake tans, swimwear, and stage photos. Competing was the best time of my life but also the most mentally and physically draining thing I have ever done. 


1. It’s expensive

Depending on how dedicated you are and what show you do, it isn’t cheap. First you’re paying your gym membership, then your fitness organization membership (which is roughly $100- 150 a year), your trainer, and then your posing coach. And trust me, you want a posing coach. They know the best angles for the judges to see all of you so your coach will mentor you and train you to pose correctly.  If you’re lucky, your trainer will also be a posing coach which can sometimes make it cheaper. Then your outfit. For your suit you are looking at anything from $100, with minimum glam, to $800, which is full out. You also need special shoes. I shit you not. These cost about $80. You also need tanner, which most people normally go with the tanner the organization hires because if you get scarped they will patch you up, unlike if you go to any other tanner who won’t even help you.  That’s $150 included glaze and bikini glue. I hope you don’t want stage photos because that’s another $100. Let’s be honest, you are going to be super broke after all of that… it kinda feels a little like university.


2. Diet

People usually assume we don’t eat at all but in reality we do … we eat a lot. Like 6 meals a day. The food is bland and basic: chicken, turkey, brown rice, cucumbers, oatmeal, black coffee, quinoa and broccoli.  It doesn’t get anymore adventurous than that. You’ll eat that for 3 month. You’ll try to make it favorable by going to a supplement store and getting salt free seasoning but it’s not the same and all you want by the end of competition season is some real salt and pepper. Then you have to cut carbs. We will talk about that nightmare later. 


3. Prepare to be at the gym longer

I go to the gym everyday. I like it. So constantly going to the gym wasn’t dreadful for me, in fact it was fun. I was getting stronger and when I have cravings or mood swings, going to the gym helped calming all of that down. However I had to go twice a day. I usually do cardio in the morning and weights in the evening. Cardio varied from HIIT to spin classes and I usually do it for 30 minutes to an hour every second day. So I really didn’t get to have a social life. Other gym members became my social circle.  


4. Not everyone is going to support you

Not everyone knew or understood why I was doing what I was doing. Some made harsh judgments and thought it was tacky.  Some people didn’t like the idea of a female being muscular. I wasn’t spending time with my friends as much as I used to and they were getting upset. There was a lot of drama and issues.  And it’s very hard to not let it get to you.


5. I lost strength

I pride myself on being strong and beating my lifting goals. I love adding more weight to my bar. However in bikini competitions they don’t want you to be too muscular and by the time you cut carbs out, it takes a huge toll on your body. I was so devastated when I couldn’t even lift my warm up weights because I was getting weaker due to lack of carbs. You need to get down to a certain body fat percentage for your height and that means you’re body fat goes down, which messes with your menstrual cycle and reproduction cycle. So keep all of this in mind.


6. Peak Week means cutting carbs and intense mood swings

Cutting carbs don’t just mess you up physically but also emotionally.  I would love to say that the bitch fit wasn’t true… but it was and I was a nightmare to be around. No one wanted to cross my path. I was either really happy and positive because I could see results, or crying on the floor because of stress and negative thinking that was enough to lose my shit and bitch out anyone and everyone around me. I was a hot ass mess. How did my then boyfriend and my dad even put up with me?


7. Steroids

I never did steroids but it was obvious who did and depending on the organizations it was either  legal or illegal. They never tested for it so you could be an all natural competitor standing next to a girl who did steroids. Let me tell you it doesn’t look the same at all, and in some ways you feel like you look like you haven’t worked out at all.


8. After the glitz and glam

After you have your 5 minutes of fame and either place or don’t, it’s time to go back to reality which means reverse dieting. Bringing your bodyweight back to normal and even gaining some extra weight is probably the worst part because at this point you have your stage photos and are so used to being lean. When you gain your weight back major dysphoria happens. It feels like you gained way more than you started at and you start to feel insecure. So having a proper support team of family and friends helped me a lot.


I don’t want to end this article on a bad note. Competing really is fun and such an adrenaline rush. You can feel sexy and can show off all your hard work. And yes, you can feel like a Victoria’s Secret model. It is a one in a lifetime thing and you learn so much about your body and gain so much confidence. They are negatives, but there are positives too. Not everything is easy or glitz and glam but if you put in the work and are passionate about it, you should do it. Just be safe, have fun and take care of your needs first.


Kate Puim

U Alberta '24

Visual Communications graduate turned psychology student. I'm a master at finding affordable beauty products and stylish outfits. I dig coffee, chocolate, bold lipstick and pandas. Mental health advocate and your new best friend.
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