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3rd Place at the Nationals and Things I Wish I Knew

3rd Place at the Nationals and Things I Wish I Knew


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Kristin Shaffer IFBB North Americans

Just a few weeks ago I stepped on stage with the best of the best at the IFBB North American nationals and placed 3rd in my class. What an amazingly wonderful experience. I'm both humbled and inspired.

The women I step on stage with impress me to no end. Their stories. Their love. Their commitment. Their support of one another. At the Masters level (typically 35 years old and up) this sport is quite simply a BLAST.

While we await our time on stage, my sister competitors and I talk, laugh, and share with each other.

We learn about what's really important in life. The stories shared - laughter, tears, and love - and I?m not talking about the stories of stepping on stage in a bikini. I'm talking about stories of life. Marriages. Children. Grandchildren. Jobs gained and lost. Divorces. Death of family members. Post secondary educational degrees earned in our 30's, 40's, and 50's.

Yup. That's the REAL stuff. The stuff that really matters.

So what in the world does this all have to do with competing in bikini competitions?

Well, actually... everything.

Through consistency of lifestyle - the steady diet and exercise - day in and day out - we learn to love ourselves, our sisters in fitness, and love this crazy sport we participate in.

We learn it's OKAY to put ourselves first and take care of ourselves, since we're really not very good at taking care of others if we're not healthy ourselves.

We learn it's OKAY to have some completely 100% "me" days in the year. Where really it's all about being a princess for that day. The hours spent on makeup, hair, spray tan, the suit, heels and jewelry. It's all pretty foreign to most of us who live our lives in work attire, or cleaning up our childrens' faces, or mopping floors, or tending to our grandchildren. And that few "me" days a year are 100 percent, completely, and TOTALLY... FABULOUS.

We learn it's OKAY to be proud of what we've accomplished, to want to run around the airport holding up the stage photo of ourselves, squealing "oh my goodness CHECK. THIS. OUT!!!! THAT'S ME!!!".

(Now acting on that is another story, and could have you sporting a straight jacket) :)

Yeah it's a pretty wonderful feeling getting the photos after the show and thinking, "whoa that's ME???????" Especially if you've ever doubted if you could EVER look like that.

It's truly not about the trophies, the judging, or the competition. It's about becoming the absolute BEST version of ourselves and putting ourselves first by taking care of ME. And that's OKAY.

Now, I want to share with you a few tips from the Nationals that might help you if you're planning on competing. These are a few of my "secrets" that I had wished I had known when I first started competing.

---TIP #1: Bring a cheap shower curtain---

If you're staying at a hotel, buy a cheap shower curtain liner (like $5 max) and replace the one in the hotel. This could save you hundreds of dollars of potential charges from the hotel from tanner being splattered when you shower off after the show.

---TIP #2: Plan for an extra day---

For this competition I flew into Pittsburgh a day early since I didn't want to risk missing registration if my flights happen to be late. My original plans were to explore Pittsburgh and enjoy the day site seeing. My actual plans turned into spending time with new friends at the venue, napping, eating, visiting the local Gold's gym for a wonderful workout, and thoroughly relaxing. Because of that extra day I never once felt rushed. I was able to get up at 4am the day I stepped on stage and be thoroughly awake and ready. I will absolutely plan that extra day buffer for future competitions.

That also allows you wiggle room on timing if your flights are delayed or some other unfortunate circumstance.

---TIP #3: Bring your essentials in your carry on bags---

What could be worse than months and months of preparing for a big event only to have your luggage lost on the way there with EVERYTHING you need to step on stage in it? Yup - it happens. So bring your essentials in your carry on bags. Your suit, shoes, jewelry, robe, flip flops and makeup. That's really all you need. The rest is critically important, but you could get by without it if you had to.

---TIP #4: Do not wander far from the venue between prejudging and the night show---

At this show a fellow competitor shared a horrifying story of a competitor at another competition who did extremely well at morning prejudging, and was likely to take the overall title, but got delayed by a rally when wandering too far from the venue between the morning prejudging and the night show. Don't let this happen to you. Stay close.

---TIP #5: Stay warm---

Typically after your spray tan you want to stay fairly cool and definitely dry to allow your tan to "set" and avoid any streaks or smudges. And that's still true. But some time before you go out on stage you'll want to warm up to loosen your muscles to allow yourself to relax while performing your poses on stage. For this particular show I wasn't quite warm enough and found my presentation to be a bit stiff due to this. The venue was very cold (which I appreciate) and even with 15 minutes of warm up exercises I was still quite chilly. Next time I'll have warmer clothing with me (I actually have a long comfy robe I've used in the past) just in case I find myself in a similar situation.

I hope these tips help you as you prepare for your upcoming competition!

With love,


Author: Kristin Shaffer

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