Health The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions

10:30  06 april  2018
10:30  06 april  2018 Source:   Delish

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We talked to competitors to find out what goes on behind the Instagrams. "I just knew I wanted to compete ." There are three levels of competition : Bikini , Figure, and Physique. Instagram Model Tells The Truth About Bikini Shots.

© Courtesy of Darcel Muslar The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions Muslar liked the powerful shape figure girls had, so she started training to achieve it on January 1, 2017, and entered her first competition that October.

We talked to competitors to find out what goes on behind the Instagrams.

It happens to the best of us: We see an Instagram picture of someone from high school, nearly naked and looking strong as hell, and pause. Thirty minutes later, we've scrolled months back on their page, engrossed in a world of meal-prep containers, gym workouts, and show days. Bodybuilding competitions are incredibly popular right now, with some 15,000 women competing in National Physique Committee competitions alone every year. (The NPC is the country's largest organization for amateur bodybuilders; competitors have to start there before moving onto the big leagues, known as the IFBB.) Chances are, you have at least one friend of a friend who competes.

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© Courtesy of Darcel Muslar The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions Muslar liked the powerful shape figure girls had, so she started training to achieve it on January 1, 2017, and entered her first competition that October.

She wasn’t the only one suffering behind the scenes, though. According to the Instagram star (she has over 260,000 fitness fans digitally following along with her life), many women who participated in the same From start to finish, King’s experience in a bikini competition sounds incredibly unsustainable.

image/jpeg © image/jpeg image/jpeg

This is more than getting a spray tan and putting on a sparkly bikini; it's a lifestyle. You've got to be all in, ready to dedicate months at a time to a few minutes on stage.

The women we talked to have competed around the country, at events in New Jersey, California, and Florida. They hired coaches who directed their diets and exercise, taught them how to pose, and guided them through aspects of the competition foreign to non-competitors, like where to buy suits, and how to correctly register for events. Through the intensely strict preparation process, these women transformed their bodies, one grilled chicken breast at a time.

The Beginner

a person holding a sign: The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions © Alexandra Folino, Photos Courtesy of Darcel Muslar The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions Darcel Muslar is by all accounts a bada*s. She's a mother of two, member of the U.S. Army, and five-time marathoner. It seems only natural that she would find her way to bodybuilding at some point.

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We talked to competitors to find out what goes on behind the Instagrams.

She wasn’t the only one suffering behind the scenes, though. According to the Instagram star (she has over 260,000 fitness fans digitally following along with her life), many women who participated in the same From start to finish, King’s experience in a bikini competition sounds incredibly unsustainable.

After running the New York City Marathon to lose her baby weight, Muslar's body still didn't look the same as it used to. She decided to start strength training, something she'd always been interested in, but never got around to trying out. The challenge of lifting soon turned into a challenge to compete.

"I didn't know anything about the division," she says of the competition world. "I just knew I wanted to compete."

There are three levels of competition: Bikini, Figure, and Physique. With each category comes the expectation of a different shape, competitor Amber Esparza said. Bikini girls are the smallest, with an emphasis on hamstrings and glutes. Figure girls are slightly fuller, and ideally have a "cobra-looking back, rounded shoulders, and not shredded-looking glutes, but tighter." Physique competitors are just below bodybuilders, and are the biggest, muscle-wise.

a little girl posing for a picture: The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions © Courtesy of Darcel Muslar The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions Muslar liked the powerful shape figure girls had, so she started training to achieve it on January 1, 2017, and entered her first competition that October. That's a long prep time by most standards; on average, preparation last between 12 and 16 weeks. During this time, Muslar was strength-training six days a week and doing cardio four to five times a week. Her coach advised her to stop running so she wouldn't lose muscle mass, causing her to trade in long runs for walks on the treadmill and HIIT workouts.

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The dark truth behind bikini -fitness competitions . Share. Tweet.

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She followed a diet similar to most competitors we talked to: steel-cut oatmeal with egg whites mixed in for breakfast, and a lean protein, vegetable, and starch for her remaining three meals of the day. These meals usually included a mix of grilled chicken, salmon, or codfish; Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or cauliflower; and sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, or rice. In order to get the right nutrients, coaches send over meal plans to follow. As you can imagine, the concept of Sunday meal prep is real.

"You can't not prep," Muslar says. "If you don't prepare, you're asking for a nightmare for the week."

a close up of text on a white background: The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions © Alexandra Folino The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions She stuck to the routine, even when it tested her, and the effort paid off: Muslar placed third in the two divisions she competed in. The real victory, though, was the transformation it had on her life. "I went into this to change my body [and] to set an example for my kids that you can do hard things if you want to," she says. 

Post-competition, she's the "pull-up queen," and crushed her Army Physical Fitness test, running her fastest time ever despite not running while training. She's giving her body time to rest, but she's already planning to compete in 2018.

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The Champion

a person holding a sign: The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions © Alexandra Folino, Photos Courtesy of Nadya Popova The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions Nadya Popova's journey to becoming a two-time bikini champion started when she moved to America in 2012. Competing wasn't big in Ukraine, but once she relocated to Southern California, Popova started to see more competitors pop up on social media. She knew she wanted to compete but wasn't sure her body was made for it.

For years, she tried to shape her body through eating less, trying fad diets, and exercising a ton. "I thought the less I eat, the slimmer I'd get, and that was a huge mistake," she says. "My body was doing the absolute opposite."

\"My body started changing dramatically.\"

She eventually started working with a coach who taught her to count macronutrients. A common practice among competitors, "counting macros" involves determining the right amount of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates to eat for your body and goals. Popova's coach, Kim Oddo, gave her a meal plan to follow, "telling me what, exactly, to eat and when," Popova said.

"You have to eat every two to three hours and know how many grams of each macronutrient you need a day," Popova said. "I started doing that, and my body started changing dramatically." After losing 20 pounds, she decided it was finally time to enter a competition.

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Popova, mom to a now-13-year-old, had to figure out how to balance working out two times a day, six days a week with meal prep, training, and taking care of her family. While meal prep became a routine, cooking "two completely different types of foods" was a huge time-suck. As peak week neared - the intense week leading up to competition, when competitors' diet, water intake, and exercise routine gets especially strict - she needed help balancing it all.

"By prep week you're very depleted and don't have energy," she recalls. Her husband stepped in to help with cooking and other chores so she could focus on the competition. She wound up placing first in her height and age category, and second in the open category.

a screenshot of a cell phone: The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions © Alexandra Folino The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions As exciting as winning was, she says the influence her training had on her daughter was better. Popova's daughter started exercising regularly and cooking her own lunches, swapping out typical teenage foods like pizza and chips for fruit and nuts.

"A mother's influence is a very big game-changer, especially for girls," she says. "That was a big, big win for me."

In her second competition, which took place less than two months later, Popova once again placed first in her height and age category, and second in the open group. The back-to-back competitions were tough on her body, though, and by the second competition she says she was getting exhausted. Now she's taking an "off-season," which coaches recommend lasting anywhere from 6 months to a year, and is planning on competing again next fall.

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The Veteran

a person posing for a picture: The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions © Alexandra Folino, Photos Courtesy of Kara Hartstein The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions Despite the positive effects competing can have, it can also take a toll mentally. Kara Hartstein of Delray Beach, Florida, got into fitness while she was in college: going to the gym more, meal prepping, and packing her lunch. She didn't know much about bikini competitions until she messaged her bootcamp class instructor to ask about protein powders. The conversation turned to her instructor's husband, who was a coach for competitions, and Hartstein was intrigued.

She saw competing as a way to challenge herself further, and decided to go for it. Like the other competitors we spoke to, she bought a kitchen scale to start weighing her food, and worked with a coach to figure out how to count macros. She was eating five to six times a day, drinking a gallon of water per day (also common), and exercising five to six days a week. A big fan of CrossFit, she kept two days of the intense workout on her plan too. "I didn't want to give that up," she says.

\"Toward the end, you\'re mentally depleted and really stressed out, and you start noticing every flaw in your body.\"

a group of people posing for the camera with Marriott Theatre in the background: The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions © Courtesy of Kara Hartstein The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions Throughout the months of prep, everyone had an opinion about her body - her coaches thought she was losing muscle from continuing CrossFit, while others thought she was getting too skinny. "Everyone was concerned at some point about something," she explains.

Still, Hartstein says she enjoyed training - at first.

"The first half I was excited about it, I followed everything to a tee, and then toward the end, you're mentally depleted and really stressed out, and you start noticing every flaw in your body," she says. "I had many days where I was tired, emotional, crying. Toward the end, it was definitely really stressful."

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Hartstein ended up placing third in her first competition, and is proud of that accomplishment. "I pushed myself to get the body that I was dreaming of; I had the mental strength to do it," she says.

After the bikini competition, she started putting on muscle to prep for a figure competition. "I felt my body was better at building muscle than losing fat," Hartstein says. "Going from being so little to gaining weight on purpose … I couldn't do it."

a close up of a map: The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions © Alexandra Folino The Truth Behind Bikini Competitions She tried to reverse her steps and go back to bikini, but the yo-yoing took a toll on her body, and ultimately, she decided to take a break from competing. A few years later, she's open to returning to the stage, "once I'm more focused and things are settled down."

"My ultimate goal is to get back there when I'm in a better place in my life," she says.

Getting on stage and having judges analyze your body is just as tough, emotionally, as it sounds. "It's a mindf*ck," Esparza puts it. There's no magic formula to take that away. The months of training is not unlike that of an athlete; these women work out before, after, and sometimes during work. They meal prep, count every gram of food they eat, and continue living their normal lives, juggling work and family.

The tangible prize for these competitions - unless you're competing on the pro level - is a plastic trophy. For these competitors, though, the rewards come in the form of healthy habits, setting an example for their families, and a sense of empowerment knowing they accomplished something they weren't sure they could do.

"What you see on social media - the nice little workout videos and highlights on stage, you placed, you finish the show - it doesn't show the hard work and the sacrifice you actually have to put in," Muslar says. "You have to be resilient and strong."

Coming from someone whose career is about being strong, that's saying something.

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4 Myths About Nightshade Vegetables .
***ImagePlaceholder*** http://www.besthealthmag.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Nightshade-vegetables-eggplants.jpg photo credit: shutterstock Sometimes even vegetables get a bad rap Take the nightshade vegetables or Solanaceae, a plant family that includes eggplant, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. (The term ‘nightshade’ may have been coined because some of these plants prefer to grow in shady areas, and some flower at night.) An online search of ‘nightshade vegetables’ yields results linking them to a host of health ailments from arthritis to migraines. Naturo-paths sometimes recommend that people with arthritis avoid nightshades. And Patricia J. Wales, a naturopathic doctor in Calgary, says naturopaths may suggest that people with osteoarthritis eliminate nightshades. These vegetables are also excluded from certain eating plans. Dr. Joshi’s Holistic Detox -- endorsed by Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Moss -- claims nightshades are related to poison ivy and potentially poisonous. ‘But poison ivy isn’t even in the same plant family,’ explains Barry Micallef, a plant biochemistry expert at the University of Guelph. Try this delicious Herbed Eggplant Lasagna. Why the bad reputation? Some people may think nightshade vegetables are harmful because they’re confusing them with ‘deadly nightshade’ or Atrope belladonna, an inedible weed that’s also part of the Solanaceae family, explains Micallef. Historically, the deadly nightshade has been associated with witchcraft.

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