Diary of a Bikini Competitor | Balanced Brunette

Hey Babes!

So sorry this post is late – I had originally intended for it to be live on Monday. Oops! This week has been a jumble of new clients, getting my February Challenge Group up and running, and taking care of my health + fitness.

As a newbie NPC Bikini Competitor, I completely understand the confusion and stress that goes into prepping for your first show. Seriously, where do you even begin?

First things first! Pick a show and make sure you leave PLENTY of time to prep. If you are already healthy and in decent shape then start your prep around 18-16 weeks. New to the health and fitness world? Allow yourself a bit more time (25-20 weeks) to prepare. As a brand new competitor, you must first compete in an NPC show, which will then qualify you to move into nationals, and then pro (if you desire.)

By posting helpful articles, tips, and tricks along the way I hope to make the experience less intimidating. At the end of my journey (or will it be the beginning?) I will put together a comprehensive list of what to do, from picking your show to stepping on stage.

I promised an open, transparent look into the life of an aspiring bikini competitor. No secrets, no extreme dieting, just using science to the best of my ability and working hard.
Diary of a Bikini Competitor: 13 Weeks Out

Practicing what I preach and living my life {my way} is important to me. While there are many lifestyle changes that need to happen when prepping for a fitness competition, subjecting yourself to extreme calorie deficits, dehydrating yourself, and cutting out everything except tilapia and asparagus doesn’t have to be part of the process.

As most of you know, I don’t count calories {or macros} in my daily personal life. Why? I don’t need {or want} to count calories. I spent a long time learning to listen to my body. I eat when I am hungry, stop when I am full, I eat lots of protein + healthy fats, and practice balance. Grilled chicken and froyo. Protein shakes and wine. Intuitive eating is how I operate.

That being said, fitness competitions are a whole different beast. The point is to lower your body fat and present yourself in a way that is, realistically, not sustainable long-term. There are healthy and not-so-healthy ways to go about this process.

My intention is to show that this process can be fun as opposed to miserable. Challenging but not permanently damaging to a body. I see so many women depleting their calories to unsafe levels, cutting out all carbs, and dehydrating their bodies only to completely rebound after their show. Metabolic damage, fast weight gain (15-30 lbs), and difficulty readjusting to “normal life” isn’t uncommon.

My method for the next 13 weeks is flexible dieting or “If It Fits My Macros.”

Flexible Dieting (commonly known as IIFYM) is simply the tracking of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) to achieve a body composition goal.

Macronutrients or Macros make up the majority of our diets. There are three main macros: Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate. One gram of each macro has a calorie value.

  • 1 Gram of Protein = 4 Calories
  • 1 Gram of Carbohydrate = 4 Calories
  • 1 Gram of Fat = 9 Calories

Rather than typical calorie counting (e.g. Eating 2000 cals a day) Flexible Dieters track macronutrients (example: 150g Protein, 80g Fat, 170g Carbohydrate = 2000 cals) which more effectively influences body composition rather than calorie counting alone.

I know you’re ready to ask, if this method is so great, why don’t I practice IIFYM full-time?

Well, simple really. While you can absolutely track your macros and achieve weight loss, it doesn’t mean you are filling those macros with quality or nutrient-dense foods.

Great Example

McGrilled Chicken Burger:

  • 25g Protein
  • 33g Carbohydrate
  • 15g Fat


Brown Rice and Tuna 

  • 25g Protein
  • 33g Carbohydrate
  • 15g Fat

Both of these meals have the same macros. Brown rice and tuna will have more nutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc…) than the McGrilled Chicken (which tends to be quite processed and nutritionally void.) Having a balanced, nutrient-dense diet is important when it comes to the health of your hair, skin, eyes, nails, hormones, heart health, etc…

During prep, I prefer to eat my normal healthy and balanced diet while making simple macro adjustments. I do not cut out carbs or treats. This would lead to a binge/restrict mentality. Instead, I will (within the means of my macros) allow myself treats alongside my increased lean proteins, veggies, and water. Not that I am a big drinker to begin with, but I will be avoiding alcohol during my 12 week prep. Alcohol slows metabolism and recovery.

By focusing on my macronutrient intake rather than eating “diet foods,” I can achieve my goals while enjoying life with everyone else. Essentially, I can have my cake and eat it too.

Over the next 12 weeks I will be slowly “cutting.” Cutting is the process of lowering your body fat to get stage ready. A bikini competitor is anywhere from 11-13% body fat. How far out you begin prepping really depends on the individual. I have been lifting for 2 years, I am healthy, understand nutrition, and I am already floating around 17% body fat (considered athletic.) 12 weeks of focused prep is a good time frame for someone in my position.

I began by figuring out what a normal day looks like for me, which included tracking what I was eating daily. After a few days of loose tracking, I had a solid idea of the amount of calories I was normally consuming. (The higher this number, the better. If you are already eating 1,850 calories per day and maintaining your weight, cutting calories will be much easier. Think about it; If you are only eating 1,200 calories per day you really have no wiggle room to cut anything out. 1,200 calories per day is the bare minimum most women need to function.)

After I found my baseline, I mapped out 12 weeks and figured out (realistically) how many calories per week I could cut without dropping below my BMR during peak week. For me, that ended up being 50 calories per week. My macro ratios (for now) are 35% carbs, 35% protein, and 30% fat. This will fluctuate as I move through the process. I will slowly reduce, but never eliminate, carbs. (Remember: This means another macro must go up! Macros need to equal 100%)

Regarding my workouts, nothing is really going to change as I already lift 5-6 days per week. I will simply make sure I am not missing any workouts and I will be focusing on areas I want to grow. (Upper body for me.) There will be zero excessive cardio. With proper nutrition, it’s unnecessary. My cardio will be intervals on the stair-stepper (20-30 mins) 3x per week.

My most current weight, measurements, and progress pictures are below. My numbers and your number will not be the same. Every BODY is different and that is OKAY. Measurements and progress pictures are a wonderful tool in your “weight loss belt.” 🙂

Measurements 1.10.15

  • Weight: 132.4 lbs
  • Height: 5’4
  • Bust – 29 inches
  • Chest – 27 1/2 inches
  • Arm (bicep) – 11 inches
  • Arm (forearm) – 8.5 inches
  • Waist (navel) – 30 inches
  • Booty – 38 inches
  • Hips – 33 inches
  • Thighs – 22 inches

Progress Pictures

Diary of a Bikini Competitor: 13 Weeks Out


My next update will be on Monday Jan 19th, 2014! I don’t expect any dramatic changes between now and then considering this was my week to establish my baseline and get into a solid gym routine.

As always, feel free to post any comments or questions below.

Amanda Signature

20 Comments on Diary of a Bikini Competitor: 13 Weeks Out

  1. thejourneyofchantelle
    January 16, 2015 at 2:10 pm (3 years ago)

    Love this!!! Im begining my fitness journey, well taking it further.
    I would love to compete in bikini fitness.
    You look great💪

    • Balanced Brunette
      January 17, 2015 at 11:09 am (3 years ago)

      You should! Novice bikini is an easy transition. Let me know if you ever want a coach or a more in-depth look into the sport. <3

      • Dee
        March 1, 2016 at 11:10 pm (2 years ago)

        I’m interested in sessions (:

  2. Melissa
    January 17, 2015 at 5:24 am (3 years ago)

    You do look awesome! Good luck with your competition, too! I have a silly question. I where exactly do you take your chest measurement? I know that sounds ridiculous, but I’ve never figured it out!

    • Balanced Brunette
      January 17, 2015 at 11:08 am (3 years ago)

      Not silly at all! Bust (boobs) is measured around the fullest part of your bust around your nipple and your chest varies. It can be directly under your boob (underboob!) or just on top of your boobs, under your armpits. Wherever you decide to measure, just keep it consistent at that particular spot. 🙂 Hope that helps.

  3. Wendy
    January 17, 2015 at 8:48 pm (3 years ago)


  4. Valeria
    March 3, 2015 at 7:10 pm (3 years ago)

    Hello im looking for tips and advice im doing my first bikini show and I’ve moticed a lot of girls cut Thier carbs and honestly i noticed that I can actually loose more weight without dropping my carbs completely i know as I get closer to my show I won’t eat as much carbs but I don’t want to deplete them completely what do you think!!?

  5. Erin
    May 25, 2015 at 6:40 pm (3 years ago)

    Hey there! I know this is an old post but the whole series you did on your prep is SO helpful! You’re amazing!!! I just wanted to ask you: I’ve seen some people who go on cuts drop 500+ calories from their maintenance/bulking calories immediately and follow a low calorie diet on those calories throughout their prep while others choose to drop a lower number (say 50-150) of calories every week so that by the end of their prep they reach a low calorie diet. I was wondering what you did for your prep and which do you think is more effective? Does going slower and dropping a few calories each week mean that my body will adapt to the lower calories and not change? Or will dropping a significant calorie amount right off the bat and then following that through prep mess up my metabolism and sacrifice muscle?
    Thanks for all the advice!

  6. Sarah Anton
    November 8, 2015 at 8:09 am (2 years ago)

    Love it!! I’m 25 weeks out and getting ready. IIFYM too. woot woot.

  7. annawittfit
    December 14, 2015 at 8:27 pm (2 years ago)

    Such a great blog.
    I will be reading each week!
    I will start training 16 weeks (starting March 1st)

  8. Fitnessfun
    December 25, 2015 at 6:26 pm (2 years ago)

    Nice article. Arms/shoulders seem to be the most prominent feature in bodybuilding competitions. Did you gain the muscle needed or are the requirements different in a bikini competition?

    • Balanced Brunette
      December 26, 2015 at 9:09 am (2 years ago)

      Bikini is more focused on waist, booty, and legs. No emphasis on arms or upper body (as least not in amateur divisions.) I am moving to figure, where upper body is judged. Growing arms, shoulders, and back will be important. 🙂

  9. Morgan {California To Carolina}
    February 25, 2016 at 4:21 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi, I just found this post and hopefully you will reply, but I wondered how you did in this comp you prepared for? I am doing my first NPC Bikini in Aug 2016 and I keep getting told it’s all about those tight glutes! I am already cutting things just because I like to be on top of it, but if I can have wine for a few more months (I’m 6 mos out) that’d be awesome! LOL. I’m pretty fit as it is, it’s just that I’ve had 3 babies and my last one did me in so to speak in some areas that have been harder to get back than before. She will be 2 in a couple of months. http://www.thegymbunnyblog.com. I just posted my “before” pics since I’m just starting so I’d love if you checked the blog out and told me what you think about where I am and how far I have to go. Thanks!

    • Balanced Brunette
      March 2, 2016 at 11:15 am (2 years ago)

      I was told I was too muscular and to move to fitness or figure.


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