Monday, April 23, 2012

Figure Competitions

Boy, do I have a treat for you today! Meet Lauren. I used to work for Lauren for 4 summers during my college years at Colorado Golf Club, and she and her hubby Ben hold a special place in my heart. She has the coolest job in the world (Showroom Manager at Lululemon Athletica Colorado Springs!) and she is the sweetest person you will ever meet. After I found out about Lauren and her competition, I just knew I had to ask her some questions to learn more about her experience, and wanted to share her words with you all. Not only was it her first competition, but she placed 2nd in her novice class and 5th overall. Thats amazing! Good job Lauren :)

What is a  figure competition?
I competed in a figure competition.  There are different divisions that you can compete in: Bikini, Fitness, Figure, and Physique.  Each division requires a different amount of muscle and leanness.  Bikini requires the least, and Physique requires the most.  Figure is right in between, and fitness is similar to Figure, but in Fitness you are required to perform a routine.  The goal for Figure is to have muscle tone and definition, while still maintaining a feminine physique.  You do a series of poses for the judges and are judged on your leanness, symmetry, etc.

How did you hear about this competition/decide to compete?
I was a runner for many years, and the last race I did I realized I was not as in love with racing like I used to be.  I had always thought about doing a figure competition, and decided after that race that this would be my next challenge!  It was a bucket list kind of thing!  I had been training with my trainer for a while, and mentioned wanting to compete...and things took off from there!

How long did you train for?
I trained for almost 4 months.  My diet and workouts started the day after Christmas, and the show was on April 14th.  

What did your physical regimen look like?
My training was a split schedule where I would lift 4 days in a row, and then take one day off from lifting, and start the cycle over again.  It looked like this: Back/Chest/Core; Legs; Shoulder/Core; Biceps/Triceps.  I did cardio every day and also did two plyometric workouts a week.  At the end, my schedule changed to a three day split, and I would sometimes do two hours of cardio a day.  I also supplemented my workouts with yoga when my body felt up to it.

How did your eating have to change, and what did your diet look like?
My diet was the biggest thing that changed in the whole process, and was probably the hardest part.  I carb cycled throughout the entire prep, so I would have two high carb days and then a low carb day.  By "high carb" I mean that I was able to eat oatmeal and sweet potatoes.  Otherwise, it was chicken or fish, egg whites, green veggies, and some healthy fats (avocado, almonds).  I ate every 2.5-3 hours, and I was allowed one cheat meal a week.  My diet continued to get more and more restrictive, and the last two weeks, I was only eating tilapia and asparagus.  The last 4 days it was tilapia only, and I was also not eating any salt until the night before.  The day before and the day of, I was only allowed to eat sweet potatoes every few hours.  Up until the Friday before the competition, I was drinking between 1.5-2 gallons of water a day.  The Friday before, I had to stop drinking water until after finals.

Can you describe what the actual competition was like? (The day of, getting ready, the actual competition process, finals, etc.)
The night before the competition, we had check in, a competitor meeting, and then it was off to get spray tanned.  This process took about 1.5 hours.  The next morning, I headed back to get my final coat and touch-ups on the spray tan, and then it was hair and make-up.  Once I was all ready to go, I headed to the venue to check in and pick up my number.  Pre-judging happens in the morning, and is the first time that you step on stage.  During pre-judging, you walk out with the girls in your division, and do your individual poses.  Once everyone has done their individual turns, everyone lines up again and you do quarter turns/poses (front, back, and right/left side).  This allows the judges to do comparisons of everyone lined up next to each other.  It's possible that you could do one set of quarter turns, or 6.  It just depends on what the judges need to see.  The judges will make call outs, and you will do your turns again.  Once this is done, you file off stage.  At this point, the judges have pretty much made their decisions on how you will be placed.  I competed in two classes, so I had to do this twice. The rest of the day is a lot of sitting around while watching the other divisions during pre-judging.  I was able to rest for a bit back at the hotel before finals.  Finals is a almost the same process as pre-judging, but you don't line up to do quarter turns.  You walk out individually and then everyone lines up together before the judges make call outs and announce the top 5.  I placed 2nd in my Novice class, and 5th in my Open class.  (Classes are based on height.  Novice is for anyone who hasn't competed before or has never placed in the top 5 before, and Open is for anyone.)   Then it was time to drink water and eat!

What was the best part about the whole process?
The best part was definitely the people.  I met so many wonderful people throughout the process and at the competition.  Everyone is going through the same thing, so you have a wonderful support system.  I am on a team, so there were 6 of us who competed at the show.  We did a lot of team workouts, team dinners, and had a lot of fun along the way.  There was so much sportsmanship backstage, and everyone is so encouraging of each other.

What was the worst part?
The worst part for me was definitely the diet.  Mentally it was really hard at times.  My energy levels were so low, that it made everything require so much more effort than something normally would.  Since I was eating so often, my entire day would revolve around when I was going to have my next meal.  And eating the same thing everyday got to be very boring.  Especially for someone who loves to cook and eat as much as I do!

Do you plan on continuing to compete?
I don't think so.  I am so happy that I did it, and have never felt such a sense of accomplishment.  However, I'm happy to be back in a balanced routine.  If there is anything that would make me want to do it again it would be the people!

What is some advice you would give someone who might be interested in competing?
My biggest piece of advice is to really understand the commitment that something like this takes.  I knew it would require dedication, but I didn't realize that it would completely take over my world.  From meal planning and preparation, to workouts, to posing practices.  It requires a lot of sacrifice.  I would also say that if you are thinking about competing, to really giving it your all.  If you are going to invest the time and money and takes to do this, don't sell yourself short by only doing it halfway.  

What did you learn about yourself during your journey?
A lot!  Probably the biggest thing I learned is that I am not as regimented of a person as I thought I was.  While I like my routine, I realized that I need some spontaneity in my life!  This journey requires so much planning, and I found myself longing for some excitement and spontaneity.  I also realized just how important my family and friends are to me.  I had to sacrifice a lot of time with family and friends during this process, and I missed the people in my life more than I thought I would.

Here are some photos of her during the competition. You look fantastic Lauren, congratulations on your success, and your killer bod!

Lauren is the 2nd from the left

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