Wife, mother, businesswoman and bikini fitness competition champion; Barb reveals what it’s like to face your fears (and twenty year olds) in a Master’s swimsuit contest.
What inspired you to enter a Master’s level (women over 45 years) bikini fitness contest?
I was losing my sense of self. I devoted my time to being a wife, mother, employee and friend but I wasn’t living my life – my life was living me. I wanted to do something new to get reenergized and get myself back.
Working a full-time job, having a husband that travels globally and raising a 5 year old kindergartener, I felt I was losing sense of myself and wanted to do something about it. I wasn’t living my life – my life was living me. So this fall, I felt compelled to empower myself to get reenergized and regain my inner strength that was slipping away.
How did you begin?
I worked with a personal trainer who showed me how to transform my body for a bikini competition by lifting weights to build muscle and doing slow cardio to burn fat. Next, I researched the appropriate nutrition needed to be competition-ready in 90 days.
What were the changes you made in your eating habits?
I had the focused mindset that nutrition was fuel, not an emotional outlet. I did a lot of self-talk to keep motivated and eat the right foods that would help me reach my goal. I ate six small meals a day, consisting mostly of: protein (chicken, turkey, fish), whole grains (quinoa, cereals), vegetables (asparagus, spinach), fruit (very little do to sugar content), protein shakes and lots and lots of water. All food was lightly flavored and simply cooked. I also eliminated sugars and dairy all together. Keep in mind, this was for a 90 day period. It’s VERY doable!
You competed in an age group of women over 45 years. Many women in their 40’s are ditching their bikinis. What was it like to compete in a completion dominated by very young women?
It was intimidating to be surrounded by beautiful, young, women 20 years my junior in tiny, bikinis. My hope was that they felt I was fair competition, not their mother. I appropriately seeded myself in the Masters 45+ category, so now my new aspiration was to be the best Me I could be with the desire of those 20-somethings thinking that I was misplaced in this group. Actually, it really doesn’t matter how old you are if you want something. Age is just a number that shows your life experience, not how you should look.
How did you train for the competition?
My days started at 4:45am. I worked out for two hours a day, six days a week for three months. Without the luxury of time, I segmented my workouts into: weights and cardio. I did weights before going to work and getting my daughter off to school. The cardio I did after work and before picking up my child. With busy work and home schedules, sometimes I did my second workout at night after putting my 5 year old to bed. That was tough as I had been up since 4:45am and typically went to bed at 10:00pm.
What were the other sacrifices?
I needed to surround myself with like-minded people who were working on their fitness goals and ate healthy. This was not an easy task as I trained during the holiday season. I gave up the much anticipated Thanksgiving and Christmas foods, candy and desserts, and modified my nutrition. I still ate turkey and ham, just not the potatoes or bread. Knowing, any distraction from this rigid training schedule could sabotage my goal, I remained focused to stay on track. It’s only food, right? What’s the nutritional content of sugar, I would ask myself?! Unlike running where you can train for a marathon and not be ready, yet still do a ½ marathon, 10K or 5K, this was all or nothing. If my body wasn’t ‘show ready,’ it would be more time commitment and the next show was another 30 days away.
What do you wear in a swimsuit/fitness competition?
There are specific bikini competition suits. Most of them are very small with crystal, sequin, glitter or lace. One can purchase off-the-rack or have a bikini custom made. I found mine in an online store and the owner was very helpful in fitting me with the perfect color and size suit.
What went through your mind when you walked out on stage under bright lights and in a room full of people?
I channeled all of my previous successes into that moment. I took bits and pieces of my life where I succeeded and pulled from that confidence. I put all of my positive energy on to the stage while thinking of the sacrifices I made with family, friends, food as well as the workout commitments.
It was 30 seconds of stage presence for three months of working out. I wanted to give it my all.
What did it feel like to win first place?
Euphoric! I was very proud of my accomplishment and happy that my husband and 5 year old daughter were in the audience. I wanted to make them proud and I was excited that I was able to conquer a feat that only 1% of the 45+ year old female population would challenge. The endless workouts, protein shakes, and early mornings paid off. This journey was well worth the destination!
What advice do you have for other women considering a fitness or bikini competition?
Ask yourself “WHY?” you’re doing this competition? Is it to get into the best shape of your life? Do you want to transform yourself from average to awesome? Are you just wanting to try something new? Once you understand the “WHY?,” everything will fall into place. When attempting something new, reflect on your past achievements and let that drive you to succeed at something new. With life experiences comes confidence and know that you are VERY confident in your 40’s!