so you want to know about my fitness competition?

Posted: November 14, 2010 at 3:06 pm

When I opened up the forum for you to openly ask questions, I quickly received quite a few relating to my fitness competition. You asked, and I will tell. In one comprehensive post just for you!

Why did you decide to start figure-competitions/lifting? Was it to eat more without gaining weight?

In the fall of my junior year of college I went to the Auburn/UGA game. We had to take a shuttle to the game from a strip mall. While waiting for the shuttle, we stopped in a store and flipped through some magazines. Oxygen Fitness Magazine caught my eye for some reason, so I picked it up.

I got hooked on the magazine and the thought of weight training intrigued me. At that point I enjoyed doing cardio workout DVDs at home, so I opted to branch out my collection. I bought some Cathe Friedrich DVDs with weights and fell in love. Eventually, I joined a gym to challenge myself in new ways and try out some of the workouts in Oxygen. I loved the strong feeling from working out with weights and the changes I saw in my body. I began reading everything I could about weightlifting.

I also originally became interested in fitness competitions from reading Oxygen. I began wondering if it was something I could do.

I noticed the magazine had a fitness forum and joined. I got to know other women who competed through the forum and began working towards entering one myself. I decided to work with a coach and train for my first show. It did not end well, thanks to the old-school methods of training and dieting. I even passed out a few times from blood sugar issues thanks to the prescribed diet. Finally, I determined it was in my best interest to not compete in that show.

That competition always hung over me and I knew I would regret if I never trained for another and made it to stage. When I got in better shape than I expected after Makenzie, thanks to finally learning how to respect my body, I figured that was the time to just go for it. So I did, but with my own plans and workouts to take care of my body. As for being able to eat more without gaining weight? That actually never entered my mind. In fact, I knew the opposite would be true with the competition. I knew I would feel hungry all. the. time!

What do you like and don't like about them?

I will be blunt and say that I disliked a lot more than I liked about competing.

  • I hated reaching a point where workouts felt like an obligation, instead of something I enjoyed doing for myself.
  • I did not feel like myself the majority of the prep because it took so much time and energy. I couldn’t enjoy simple things, like my daughter’s first birthday, without thinking about workouts, the food, or scheduling. I was moody, cranky, and unhappy. I didn’t feel like I was living.
  • While my body looked extremely defined, I physically felt like crap. Why wouldn’t I? I was starved and exhausted.
  • I feared that old eating issues would come back. I did binge a couple times after the show, and thankfully got a grip on it very quickly. I don’t know what I would have done if I lost the healthy relationship with food and workouts I strived so hard to achieve. It was still a great mental challenge post-show having to gain weight – not only to get back to a healthy place, but also extra in order to get pregnant sooner.
  • The judging is completely subjective. I competed more for myself and did not hope to win, but it still hurt to place 4th out of 4. Especially after going through all of the above emotions and realizing exactly how political things were at that show. The women who placed ahead of me? They all trained with trainers from the gym whose owners head the federation. Yea.

I did like parts of the show as well. The actual show day was a great time! The women were all so nice and it literally felt like one big party backstage. We laughed, ate, shook our groove thang, and got to know each other well gluing one another into our suits. Yes, you glue the suits so they don’t slip and show something extra.

I also really loved the feeling of accomplishment. Training for a show is extremely hard work. I knew I did my very best and took my body to places I never thought possible. I knew I would never have to wonder “what if” again. I learned a lot. Plus, I had fun being up on stage.

Would you consider doing another fitness competition in the future?

No. The negatives of competing far outweighed the positives for me. Some people thrive in prep and really do enjoy the cycle of training for shows. More power to them! I also never discourage someone from attempting to do a show, as long as it is a goal they know they would regret not achieving. I don’t recommend it for those who think of it as a cool way to get in shape or lose weight.

  • Have you ever done something you thought you would love and now never want to do it again?


85 Comments to “so you want to know about my fitness competition?”
  1. Thanks for sharing this! I can imagine that I would experience all of the negative aspects as well (if I decided to compete, but dont worry haha I have no desire). Even though you came in 4th it’s still a HUGE accomplishment. You set a goal, reached it and learned a lot about yourself in the process. Success? I think so 🙂

  2. I’ve been very curious about this aspect of your blog! Thanks for posting! I can definitely see how something like that would TAKE OVER your life…that’s one reason why I’m hesitant to train for a full marathon, even though it’s something I’m really interested in– I just don’t know if I want to commit myself 100% to something so time-consuming and all-involved!

    • Tina says:

      If you think it is something you would always wonder “what if” or regret not doing, then I say go for it because it is only a short time in the grand scheme of things. But if you don’t feel like it’s something you really, really want to do – then the time commitment can be very hard to deal with.

  3. Great post, Tina! Thank you so much for being so honest! I can definitely relate to so many of your points right now. This time next weekend I’ll be writing my own recap of my first fitness show and I’m looking forward to a little break to allow my body some rest and recovery. This last week is going to be tough and it already is emotionally. All those feelings of inadequacy keep poppin’ up and I’m trying to keep this as “fun” as possible and not have any expectations. It’s hard, though, when you’re actually being judged on your physique and personality, not to take it personally if you do not win. I’ll just take this first show as a lesson and will be really ready to rock the Fitness scene next Spring. I think that will be wayyyy more fun because I’ll be able to perform and dance, which is something I love to do. This bikini division competition is more “look at my body” and while I’ve worked hard to take off 30lbs and consider myself a winner in my own right, I’d rather be judged more on skill and talent:)

    • Tina says:

      You are going to do GREAT!!!! And like you said, this one is more just for the experience and that’s all that matters. You have certainly achieved a lot and should be so proud. 🙂

  4. Katrina says:

    As an avid Oxygen reader (subscriber actually), I applaud you for going for something you wanted to accomplish. I have read enough of Reno’s books and blog enough to know that was something NOT for me. I would love to be in such incredible shape, but I know enough about myself to know figure competing would send me on the fast track back to ED land. Other than competing, I adore Oxygen (minus the fat blocker ads) and the clean eating message from Reno.

  5. Natalie says:

    Thank you so, so much for this post! One of my co-workers recently did a bikini competition and it went really well for her. She looked fantastic and got a few modeling gigs out of it, so other people started thinking about doing them.

    It’s easy to see her results and think “why wouldn’t I want to do this” but there is a lot more to it than just the end result, which I think people don’t really realize.

    I, for one, know that when someone tells me what to eat or how to work out I go instantly into diet mentality, so I imagine training for a competition would not go so well for me 😉

  6. Ah, I remember this time in your life. I had an idea that I never wanted to do a show, but hearing your struggles really solidified that for me.

  7. Astrid says:

    This is awesome to read, Tina. Since I get obsessive when it comes to workouts and eating, training for something like this is not something I think I could do in a healthy manner. Thankfully it has never been a dream or goal of mine. I have definitey gotten into things that I thought I would love but that really don’t work for me. Like research. I like working with people far too much to work on data and figures all day. So I tell everyone that is considering grad school to know that its something they really want to do and have a reason or goal for going, not something that they feel is the only option or what they should do.

  8. Lisa says:

    I give you so much credit for doing that! You have to be so dedicated! You looked (and still look) wonderful! =)

  9. I guess I didn’t realize that you had trained before M for a comp. I thought it was only after she was born. I just can’t imagine pushing myself to that extreme. I have a lot of respect for those who can do it. But I really don’t think it would be good for me. Though the results are unbelievable. I appreciate your honesty (as always).

    • Tina says:

      Yep. The one after M was the only one I competed in, but I did train for another before that. All the way up until around 2 weeks before. Blah!

  10. Camille says:

    Wow, that seems like quite an experience. I don’t think I would have the perseverance to do something like that. I need my workouts to be fun or I lose drive!

  11. I have been wondering about this?? I really don’t think I could ever do that. That takes a lot of dedication and control:) I am glad you are so open and honest about it for people looking into training for one.
    I thought I would love tri’s but I absolutely hated the swimming part ha! Don’t think I will be doing those anymore!

  12. Karen says:

    I really enjoyed hearing about your competition prep. I am an Oxygen subscriber and really enjoy the magazine. I admire your dedication and hard work in preparing for the competition.

    Do you still read Oxygen or did you stop after your competition?

    • Tina says:

      I actually had stopped even before competing. After reading it for so many years, it felt really repetitive and I didn’t have as much interest in it anymore. I don’t hate the magazine or anything, but just haven’t had much desire to read it for a long time.

  13. I can see how the idea of these competitions would be great, but everything is always political! That is what keeps me out of most competitions. Unfortunately, it is all who you know and that is just not worth me hurting over it. I think it is great you tried it because you would always wonder.

  14. This is interesting. I know many people who have trained for marathon’s and triathalon’s, but never for a fitness competition. Having done one pagent (Miss T.E.E.N.), I know that it really isn’t something for me.


  15. Heather says:

    you are such a beast! I greatly admirre your discipline. I LOVE to eat, that would be the hard part for me. I can workout till the cows come home but don’t take my yummy food away!

  16. I feel the exact same way. I will never compete again, because these days there are much more negatives for me. I didn’t have a bad experience dieting or training, but I just feel that there is so much more in life for me besides eating chicken and green beans. I am too much of a foodie!

  17. What an intense experience this all must have been. Thank you for sharing. It’s so interesting to hear a side that isn’t “showcased” in magazines, etc. Hope you’re having a great Sunday 🙂

  18. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I can only imagine the ups and downs of doing this.

  19. lindsay says:

    I think you look radiant now, so full of life! Those competition are a HUGE commitment and I think its amazing! BUT, like you said, its physcially draining. thanks for sharing!

  20. Amazing accomplishment. This is always something I had in the back of my mind, but never went through with it and don’t think I ever will for the reasons you’ve stated above. I’ve gone through phases where I intensely work out and clean up my diet so well that I actually believe I could compete in something because I have the willpower, but when I get to that point I start to feel like exactly how you felt: exercise becomes an obligation, and I would get moody and life was scheduled around workouts and diet. I don’t know the reason why I put myself through it, maybe just for the personal satisfaction, but it can become dangerous and unhealthy if it becomes too extreme for too long. Either way, this is an awesome accomplishment and something to learn and grow from, and now you have the amazing journey of being a momma to a beautiful girl!

  21. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tina Reale, Tina Reale. Tina Reale said: so you want to know about my fitness competition?: When I opened up the forum for you to openly ask questions, I… […]

  22. chelsey says:

    I never knew you competed AFTER you had Mackenzie – this totally blows me away!

  23. Me-Linh says:

    I’m glad you were honest about your dislikes about competing. Your pictures make it look so much fun!!

  24. You are such an incredible and strong woman!!!!!

  25. Heather says:

    i was the same way about personal training…i could have just SWORN that’s what i was to do with my life…but in hindsight i see that, although i had a blast, training was something i was doing as a result of my disordered eating and was made worse by the fact that i hated having to be sales-y. i’m really glad you posted this!

  26. Such a great recap of your fitness competition. I don’t know how women (and men) can compete in these things over and over. It can’t be mentally healthy.

    I always thought I’d love working with kids. To some extent, I do, but I doubt that its the chosen career path for me. For some reason, it’s very hard for me to accept that – especially when I thought it was something I’d always do.

  27. Tina, thanks so much for giving us the REAL story behind fitness competitions. It’s a HUGE accomplishment and something that you can feel so proud of! But I can definitely understand how competing means committing yourself to a life of extremes. Dedicating every day to clean eating and intense workouts sounds both physically and mentally exhausting. I can see how it would zap much joy out of living!

    Like Maria, I too thought I’d enjoy a career working with children. I LOVE being with kids, but after a year of TAing in a Kindergarten classroom, I knew that my true passion lied elsewhere. 🙂

    • Tina says:

      I learned that after a few years of teaching as well…its not for me. I love working with youth, but not for a full career. It’s good we have those chances to learn though.

  28. Nicola says:

    Great pictures, and it must have been a good life experience, even if you don’t want to do it again. I don’t think I could deal with competing. I think i’m looking for performance goals more than aesthetic goals, like fun runs and stuff 🙂
    I totally respect anyone who does bodybuilding though, it must take so much discipline.

  29. Wow, that sounds grueling, but I admire your willpower and determination! I think many people would have given up considering the struggles. Through the process, you’ve learned what’s more important to you. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Thank you for sharing Tina! When I lived in Phoenix I knew several girls who trained for figure competitions and while their bodies were insane, I NEVER had any desire to push my body like that. Run a marathon? Sure! Starve myself and lift heavy weights? No thanks.

  31. For what it’s worth, I thought you looked the best out of the four women in the picture. 🙂 I admire anyone who can dedicate themselves to something like this. I also admire the honesty it takes to admit you wouldn’t want to do it again. You can look back and know that you accomplished something amazing but don’t need to put yourself through such a grueling routine again.

  32. Kristy says:

    Thank you for sharing, secretly – I’ve been wondering too 😉

  33. Courtney F says:

    All of your negative points are points why I won’t do a show! A lot of women do not think about all of the time, effort, and LIFE you miss out on!
    I’m glad you did it and don’t have that one thing you regret not doing!

  34. Jess says:

    LOVE the honesty of this post – and totally think I’d feel the same as you had I put myself through a competition like that. I truly admire that you did it “your” way and not the “political” way just to get the win. To me, you won because you did it just that way, 4th place in my book is 1st place given all of that!

  35. Angela says:

    Thanks for this post Tina -like the above comments, I love your honesty. I’ve never really felt that a fitness competition is something for me – I love working out but the second I feel obligated, it’s not fun any more. I think you looked amazing in your competing photos, but you’re gorgeous anyway! 🙂

  36. Becca says:

    Love your recap and the pics. You looked like you had a blast, but I understand your reasons for not wanting to compete again. It’s a selfish sport and having a family makes it hard to focus ONLY on yuorself.

  37. PS: all the politics aside, you should have been number 1. You look amazing and all your hard work put into it totally shows!!

  38. Jenn (GH) says:

    This is a good honest recap. I think it’s funny how opposite we are when it comes to competing. I enjoy the preps but don’t like the shows at all. I think I’m a weirdo though b/c most people I know feel like you. You’re right it’s SO SUBJECTIVE. You looked amazing! You know what I might like to do someday? The women’s tri-fitness challenge. Along with a “grace and physique” round (similar to the a fig comp round), you compete in an obstacle course, fitness skills, and fitness routine. I like that there is a functional fitness aspect to the competition and it’s not just about v-tapers, glutes, ect. 😀

    • Tina says:

      You would do AWESOME at the tri-fitness challenge. And yes, it certainly is a personal thing for each person. Which is why I never discourage someone from doing it if they are TRULY interested in it for the right reasons (not as a diet or bec it’s “cool”). Some love it and it works well for them and their lives, like how it was for you. 🙂

  39. I am so impressed with what you accomplished in this figure competition! Your body reflects a lot of hard work and discipline.

    However, after reading this, I truly have no desire to try competing, as much as I enjoy taking on new challenges. It seems really stressful!

  40. Tina thank you for posting this — fitness competitions never really intrigued me, but at the same time it has crossed my mind once in a while 🙂

    I can kind of understand your pain about the girls who were placed 1, 2 and 3 — when I was younger my basketball coach had 2 girls on the team who were not very good, but they started every game and I didn’t…it just felt unfair!

  41. Mindy says:

    TinaBell! Hey girl! It’s Mindymac from 02. Long time no speak! The blog looks great! I’ll be stopping in regularly. Talk to ya soon.

  42. […] FAITH, FITNESS, FUN » Blog Archive » so you want to know about my … So I tell everyone that is considering grad school to know that its something they really want to do and have a reason or goal for going, not something that they feel is the only option or what they should do. […]

  43. Katie H. says:

    Thank you for sharing. It sounds so all-encompassing and consuming. You won’t regret doing it but I can see why you wouldn’t want to participate in another one!

  44. I grew up horse crazy. I lived in the city, so couldn’t own a horse, but as long as I can remember that was my dream – to own a horse. I collected Breyer horses, and would spend hours playing. I rode every chance I got. I saved up berry picking money for a horse (yeah…the unrealistic dreams of a 10 – 12 year old), I hung out at the racetrack just to be around the horses, and then, finally, when I was 25 I got a horse. They were fun – sort of – but life interrupted my dream. They were kind of scary sometimes, I was a mom, worked full time., we fished, camped, hunted, and the horses mostly hung out in the pasture. When we sold them I realized I missed my dream more than I missed the actual horses. Funny to think you could miss the wanting something, more than you missed the actual thing you wanted…

  45. Melissa says:

    Loved reading about your experience!! You look amazing to me. What an accomplishment:) That sucks there were all those politics at play. Thank you for your honesty and what it’s REALLY like getting ready for a show!

  46. LOVE THIS POST B/C it’s the same as mine! 🙂 ahahaha! I need to redo mine to make it better laid out like yours. I have been meaning to do that for 6 months! It’s on the list! Anyway, I feel the SAME and love your post on exercise does NOT equal life! 😉

  47. and all in high heels. this is so inspiring and makes me consider investigating the whole fitness competition practice! thanks for all the insight into what it was like

  48. I love your blog about the fitness competition and can relate to all levels from the physical to the mental. I did my 1st one in April 2010 and did 2 more in Oct 2010, and blogged about my experience also, if you want to stop by and read it. I didn’t place in April so it made me hungry for a trophy and ended up placing 2 5ths and a 4th in Oct. I think I am done too. It is such a strenuous sport and time commitment hog. Just wanted to say congrats and I know the time and energy that you put into it and any woman or man that even prepares and enters a show deserves a trophy!!

  49. Tina, I’m just reading this now after you linked to it on Teri’s blog for your guest post. So interesting. I never knew you did fitness competitions. They always intrigue me in the “I don’t know how someone could do that” way. The dieting and workouts must be super tough. I remember watching a semi traumatic “true life: i’m a body builder” or something like that on MTV. Very interesting to see the behind the scenes stuff. Feeling cranky and close to passing out regularly is definitely not the price to pay to compete. Life is too short and food is too good! 🙂

  50. […] In 2009, I competed in a fitness competition. […]

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