Bikinis and blow-dry’s and blush… oh my! Nope, I’m not talking about an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras; I’m talking about the standard stage prep required for a Bikini Competition. We’ve all scrolled through our Instagram feeds and come face-to-face with pictures of perfectly portioned containers of chicken and broccoli (#comppreplyfe) and the most enviably sculpted posterior chains captured in a gym bathroom selfie (#gains), but selfies and sparkle aside, there’s a side to the competition that not many of us see.
We got an honest and authentic lowdown about the trials and tribulations of life after comp from Sami Rose Imbriano, a trophy winning competitor who revealed what life is really like when the razzle dazzle is over.
What was the main reason you wanted to compete?
To set myself a goal that would really challenge me! After changing my lifestyle and body (my highest weight was 75kg’s) I felt like I needed something extra to really push myself to take those last few steps towards being completely comfortable in my own body.
Comp prep has been known to be pretty all consuming, how did it affect your life?
I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by good people who share my passion for health & fitness so thankfully my social life was easily maintained by catching up with friends for a walk or heading out for a nourishing brekky I could fit in my diet (poachies on rye toast with a side of avocado). However at times I really struggled with low energy levels, particularly while I was training to become certified as a Body Attack instructor. Towards the end of my prep, making it through such a tough class (and talking at the same time!) became a huge battle, both mentally and physically! I often felt quite tired from training so much, and at times I became pretty emotional due to the pressure leading up to comp day.
What’s the one thing you wish you knew before going in?
I wish someone had told me more about what to expect post-comp! Those few weeks after my final competition were quite challenging mentally. I found myself unmotivated without a looming deadline to work towards, I was disappointed that my body no longer looked as good as it did on stage day, and I found it really hard at first to eat healthily after being on such a strict diet for so long. I basically ate everything I could for a few weeks and it took me about a month to adjust to “normal life” where I could finally find some balance in terms of eating, training, and rediscovering parts of my life that I’d been missing throughout my prep (going out for dinners and not having to overanalyse the menu, weekend sleep-ins, and the freedom to skip the gym to go do something fun!).
What are the 5 biggest lessons you learnt from the entire process?
1. You can do anything you set your mind to!
From being overweight and unfit a few years ago, to placing 4th in my division, it really showed me that nothing is impossible as long as I put in the hard work!
2. Stop comparing yourself to others.
The nature of bikini/fitness competitions means that you are judged on your outward appearance, and compared to those on stage alongside you. But comparing yourself to those girls, or people you follow on Instagram (we all do it!) is never going to benefit you. Looking at those around me on the day, I felt a little intimidated, but I had to remind myself of how far I have come and how proud I was to be in the best condition of my life, regardless of the competition. Everybody is different- all you can do is work hard to be the best version of yourself that you can be.
3. Surround yourself with good people.
Without the support of my team-mates, family and friends, there is no way I would have made it through some of the most challenging times. There were days that I wanted to give up completely, and a few tears were shed, but the encouragement of those around me made me realise how blessed I am to have some amazing people in my life who really inspire me to be a better person!
4. Good, consistent nutrition is key
Abs are made in the kitchen! I’ve learned so much about nutrition throughout this process, and I’ve made it my mission to find more of a balance between healthy eating, and occasional treats. In the past I’ve struggled with alternating between super strict fad diets and overeating/junk-food bingeing, which led to some serious weight gain, but since my competition prep I’ve learned how much better my body looks and feels when getting back to the basics of clean, healthy foods. That’s not to say I don’t still love doughnuts – I just make a conscious decision to eat well the majority of the time so that if I do feel like a treat, I can have what I like, and I don’t have to feel guilty or end up eating everything in sight. Life is too short to live an “all or nothing” diet cycle mentality!
5. Your health and happiness comes first
I had some moments where I completely lost my marbles, thought I didn’t look good enough, or really felt the pressure to stick to my diet/training plan even though I was hungry and exhausted. I made sure I listened to my body and occasionally ate a little extra within reason, or took a break from the gym to get some relaxation time, so that I didn’t burn out. It was really important to me to enjoy the process- where’s the fun in finally reaching your goal if you’ve been miserable in the weeks or months leading up to it?