I was one week out from competing in my first bodybuilding competition. Looking back it doesn’t even seem real. All the cardio, the dieting, the way that I looked, the feeling of barely hanging on. Really, I can’t believe I did it.
I don’t consider myself a bodybuilder. I have never had an “in-season” or “off-season”. I train year round. I am an athlete.
The Steve Stone New York Metropolitan Bodybuilding Championships was my first successful attempt at competing. In 2012 I trained for a show but said, “Screw dieting” and quit. At that point, I didn’t really know how close I was, or what it would take to get there. This is what I looked like at the time (5 weeks out)…
The competition was definitely a memorable experience, but it’s also sort of a blur. In terms of preparation, I had everything situated. Bags were packed, my meals were ready to go; the hotel, tanning, and day of was squared away in terms of being on time for things. I kept in touch with Coach Steel in case I needed to change anything up, and I had Cristi came along to help.
Cristi drove to my house, parked her not-so-trustworthy vehicle out front and I drove us to NY in my car. About 30 minutes in to our trip, Cristi made me stop at a McDonald’s cause she had to go to the bathroom. We got back on the road and since I usually drive with the radio off, Cristi slept most of the ride.
We got to NY, and waited in the hotel lobby till our room was ready. Then we caught a cab to a different hotel where ProTan was set up to spray competitors. That was interesting. The room was supposed to remain unknown so the company wouldn’t catch any flack for the fumes and set up. The entire room was covered in brown paper–walls, floors, everything. You could smell the paint from the other end of the hallway and if that didn’t give it away, then everyone leaving sure would. As people entered a natural skin tone, everyone left the same brown color.
I was ready to get painted and there was mix up in my category registration–I was marked down as a bikini competitor. The woman in charge of spraying said, “Honey, you do not look like you compete in bikini.” I just laughed. It took no time at all…in seconds I was brown. She said I should get another coat of paint but they had no time to schedule me before the morning, so she gave me a bottle to use myself. I walked back to the lobby to find Cristi where I sat and ate. I told her that I would need another coat of paint, and she had to paint me. She said, “Okay” and we went back to our hotel.
I gave her instructions to go to CVS or find a store and get a make-up sponge and some rubber gloves. Since she didn’t know what a make-up sponge looked like, I told her to text me a picture if she couldn’t find one. Sure enough, she shows up with a soap sponge/Brillo pad, which was useless. The ProTan bottle came with a miniature sponge so we used that. I was nervous about my color getting messed up; maybe Cristi was more nervous about having to paint me. She’s admittedly lazy and it was probably the last thing she wanted to do. All I know is that standing in the bathroom being painted made me emotional and frustrated and mad at her. I was facing a mirror and could see my reflection in a full length mirror on the bathroom door. Cristi painted long lines up and down my back. As I watched the paint drip, I began to critique her inability to do it correctly (not that I had any idea). I said something like, “It’s not freaking color by number”…she kept telling me to relax. I had no other option. She continued and I stood in the bathroom to dry.
My sister Liz took the train from work and when she got to the hotel Cristi met her at the elevator. Liz wasn’t prepared to see me standing there drying off, and I think Cristi was relieved someone else was around to deal with my irritability. She sent Steel an update that I was “A ball of stress.”
That night, I stayed up and ate 2 tablespoons of honey every half hour, practiced posing, and woke Liz up every hour to take pictures. Maybe I slept for an hour or two, but I was restless. In the morning, I sent pictures to Steel and got a plan for meals and water for the day. Liz did my make-up; we packed up and went to Tribeca Theatre.
We got there early and competitors were allowed to check-in. Liz and Cristi went to get coffee. I thought everything would be run efficiently since this place is home to some of the biggest NPC and IFBB shows. Since bodybuilding is based on weight, I kept track of mine throughout the night. Other bodybuilding competitors knew they were cutting it close, and they wanted to weigh-in as soon as possible so they could eat. Too bad there was no scale! They measured all of the height classes and about an hour later someone showed up with a scale purchased at a nearby Bed-Bath-and-Beyond. Nothing like the last minute.
That was the start to an offbeat day. The backstage area was unbelievably hot. After waiting an hour to get weighed, I sat down and ate some candy. Jelly beans and Swedish fish. Everyone around me was eating rice cakes. So I waited and waited. Then I went and sat in the audience for prejudging of figure and bikini. Blah. I had been to other shows, and those categories are underwhelming. At least it was fun to see Liz and Cristi’s reaction.
About four hours later it was finally time for women’s bodybuildling. My sister took video of prejudging. I’m glad she did because it went by so fast. We were barely on stage for two minutes. Then it was time to eat. Cristi went her own way, and Liz and I found a diner. Meat and potatoes!
We had time to kill so we walked to a Barnes & Noble. My parents called to meet up with us because they came to watch the finals. I went back to Tribeca Theatre since competitors were supposed to be back at a certain time. When the finals came around, I was ready to get it over with. I hadn’t planned out any routine, just got on stage and went through the mandatory poses, then walked off. And that was it. All that preparation for about 5 total minutes on stage.
A lot of people ask if I’ll ever do another show. I’m not sure, but man, there’s something so great about being lean, muscular, and vascular and I miss that look. I know if I do compete again, I won’t diet on Tilapia for 10 weeks. Having competed, I definitely have a greater appreciation for the process and realize there is a lot that’s taken for granted. At one point I told a friend I’d never do another show and he said “Never say never.” In time, I’ll make up my mind if I want to compete again.