Europa Expo: First Bikini Competition Down!

Check out: Lavon Figueroa @ lavonfigueroa.com

Check out: Lavon Figueroa @ lavonfigueroa.com

"Who wants butt glue?!"

I never thought I'd hear that phrase, let alone be excited to hear it.

My hand immediately shot into the air as I rushed forward to get my bikini bottoms stuck securely to my ridiculously-dark spray-tanned butt.  One does not want to step out on stage with a wedgie.

It's a small bikini, but not a wedgie, thanks to Liquid Sun Rayz and their help! Showin' off the glutes with #confidence!

It's a small bikini, but not a wedgie, thanks to Liquid Sun Rayz and their help! Showin' off the glutes with #confidence!

This past weekend was my first time participating in a fitness show and getting excited about butt glue was just one of all kinds of new things that have happened to me.

If you've been following me throughout the last 16 weeks, you've been privy to my rollercoaster ride of bikini-contest preparation in which I played personal trainer, nutritionist, and boot camp instructor to myself.  

Yes, I did it the hard way.  

While it would have been so much easier to hire someone to do all the thinking, planning, and motivating for me, this whole burpee-popping, carb-manipulating, bikini-donning challenge was ultimately meant to be a learning experience.  Almost like a cultural-anthropological study in a way.  (Remember, I was an anthropology major!  Any new experience involving other people is an anthropological study for this nerd.) 

Ready for the first day at the Europa Expo!

Ready for the first day at the Europa Expo!

 Of course, even more than that, it was a self-study.  Its surprising that, even after a quarter-century of being me, I still have so much to discover about myself!

Like, who knew I'd ever get the idea in my head to stand in front of a panel of judges in an itsy-bitsy teeny weeny purple sparkle-studded bikini with a hundred other ladies?  Three years ago, I had such bad stage fright that during a 5-minute class presentation I forgot the title of the book I was presenting on.  And there were like 15 people in that class.  

Of course, as a group-fitness instructor, I've since gotten past my issue with people looking at me.  But what I've had to learn over the last three months was really how my body responds to an intense training and dietary overhaul.  I've also had to get over some personal preconceptions about a number of popular techniques and give them a try firsthand.

I first decided to enter a bikini competition because, though I had a lot of basic knowledge about getting and being fit, I lacked the motivation to see myself through a rigorous program that would get me in peak shape.  Certainly, it helped that I was already in fitness-instructor-for-a-bazillion-classes-a-week shape and healthy food is my kitchen-BFF.  But if you had seen me on the street you wouldn't know if I strength-trained or just lifted cupcakes to my mouth a couple times a week.  Even worse, I didn't know whether I should care.

First month of #bikiniprep way back in July! Not saying I thought I was fat - I've just come a long way personally with my strength + muscle tone!

First month of #bikiniprep way back in July! Not saying I thought I was fat - I've just come a long way personally with my strength + muscle tone!

Pre-show prep, about 2 weeks out.  LEGS! ABS!

Pre-show prep, about 2 weeks out.  LEGS! ABS!

First month of #bikiniprep way back in July! Not saying I thought I was fat - I've just come a long way personally with my strength + muscle tone!

First month of #bikiniprep way back in July! Not saying I thought I was fat - I've just come a long way personally with my strength + muscle tone!

Pre-show prep, about 2 weeks out. ARMS! BACK!

Pre-show prep, about 2 weeks out. ARMS! BACK!

Now, I'm not saying you have to look like a fitness model to consider your training/dieting program a success!  But finding the motivation for continuing self-improvement is an AMAZING thing that can totally change the way you live every single day.  Having a deadline + another reason to get in the best shape of my life was the motivation I needed to step up my game.

Over the past couple months I've promised a lot.  Training tips, diet tips, photos of my progress, and product reviews.  And over the past couple months I have spent so much time just figuring out what was and wasn't working that I haven't shared much of anything.  

How. Ever.  I made it.  I met my goal!  

Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back, I can see very clearly what is worth sharing with you.  (And yes, what will be coming throughout the next couple weeks is a series based on my 3-month transformation and insight into the body-building community - read: all kinds of physical training, not just bulky + masculine "bodybuilding.")

I stood on stage, and I looked like I belonged there, not like someone who "messed up" their diet and training by doing it themselves!  I mean... what do you think?  Can you tell by looking at me what my diet was like?  Did I eat exactly the right things?  Did I train the way the other ladies did?  Well, I'm not sure.  Maybe I could have looked even better with a stricter diet or heftier training plan, but I think the way I did it worked best for me.

Anyway, I have to say that once I got to the Europa Expo in Phoenix this weekend, I had a blast!  Worries went buh-bye with the whirlwind of events that took their place.

The #QuestNutrition booth was giving away whole bars to try at the #EuropaExpo!! YUM.  Thanks, guys! #cheatclean!

The #QuestNutrition booth was giving away whole bars to try at the #EuropaExpo!! YUM.  Thanks, guys! #cheatclean!

I saw a shirt that looked like it was thinking "FitCakes"! But rather than wanting to buy it, it just inspired me to start thinking about my own shirt design!

I saw a shirt that looked like it was thinking "FitCakes"! But rather than wanting to buy it, it just inspired me to start thinking about my own shirt design!

Got my swag bags!

Got my swag bags!

All the #swag from the #EuropaExpo this weekend! Thank you SO much to all the vendors who were there giving freakin' excellent goodies away! It was like fit-adult Halloween!!!

All the #swag from the #EuropaExpo this weekend! Thank you SO much to all the vendors who were there giving freakin' excellent goodies away! It was like fit-adult Halloween!!!

I got a spray tan for the first time.  The kind of spray tan that only competitors in this kind of show would need.  It was cold, my sense of dignity was temporarily altered, and it made me look like I was part Indian.  Like... the part of me below my neck.  And my husband laughed.

Every.  Time.  He looked at me.

I'm not even joking.

I would say, "what??"  And he would just grin and point at my tan.

I was completely surrounded by ultra-fit people for three days.  It was like the opposite of when I went to Disneyland.  (Sad, but true!)  There were hundreds of competitors just for the fitness show, from bodybuilders to bikini girls, but there were also 30 other events going on!  Kids Karate, Powerlifting and CrossFit, an obstacle course, dancers, singers, and so much else.  I was completely in awe and inspired by the whole event.

I also met some fantabulous ladies.  I only got a picture with a few of them, but I met a lot!  I am as proud to say I looked awesome in a bikini as I am proud that I have grown to be a much more social person.  If there is one thing a competitor can do besides appear ready for a competition, it's to make some new friends there!

Me in purple and three other gorgeous ladies at the bikini competition!

Me in purple and three other gorgeous ladies at the bikini competition!

But I still think that one of the best things to happen to me - yes, it far exceeds the moment when you hear you're up next for butt glue at a bikini competition - is the outpouring of support of friends and family.  I am still in disbelief at all that the people in my life did for me during this short event.  And now I need to stand on my little podium for a moment and thank everyone for making me feel like a winner this weekend, regardless of not making the top 5!

Thank you to my friend Anna for being extremely generous and letting me borrow your gorgeous purple bikini and special stage-shoes, as well as giving me all your advice from personal experience!  Your support and encouragement from the beginning, even before I really thought I could pull this off, was so very helpful! And thanks for coming to cheer me on at the competition!

Thank you to Dietrich from Stand Firm Fitness, for helping me with posing!  I would never have felt so confident and ready to get on stage without all of your advice.

Thank you to my friend Lavon (Lavon Figueroa Photography) for your absolutely breathtaking photography skills.  You made me feel like a movie star, and you are so generous to help me with your talent!

Thank you to my parents for not thinking I was too crazy for doing this event, and for being there for me throughout the whole thing!  I love that you let me stay at your house + made me chili and cornbread for after the competition!

Yummy! Post-"Pre-Judging" homemade chili and cornbread! Thanks Mom!

Yummy! Post-"Pre-Judging" homemade chili and cornbread! Thanks Mom!

Thank you to my sister, Brooke - see her blog here - for doing my hair and makeup for the event!  I have no idea how to do foundation/blush/bronzer/eyeshadow/anything since I stopped doing it in high school, and I think you made it look lovely.

Thank you to all my friends in cycling class who made a "Good Luck Courtney" video to send to me on the first day, and who took me to a post-workout omelette brunch the weekend before!

And thank you to my husband, Steve, for believing in me and my decision to do this, for putting up with all the times I got a little cranky (and continuing to do so, because that's part of life!), and for not trying to tempt me with goodies and wine all the time!

Right before the Pre-Judging at the Europa Expo in Phoenix 2014

Right before the Pre-Judging at the Europa Expo in Phoenix 2014

Post-bikini competition with Steve at Reilly's Pizza + Drinks!

Post-bikini competition with Steve at Reilly's Pizza + Drinks!

Oh yes, and thank you to Liquid Sun Rayz for that crazy (awesome) show tan + the bikini butt glue when I needed it.