T Nation

First Time Competitor


This past weekend I competed in my first figure contest at the Hercules Competition in NYCâ?¦ and won first place in figure novice!

I was excited and happy to be competing, which is interesting considering Iâ??m actually kind of shy and donâ??t really like being in the spotlight. I think my confidence came from the fact that I did everything I could possible do as far as training and dieting (which means following all of Stuâ??s contest prep instructions to a T), and the fact that (at 36 years old) this is the best shape Iâ??ve ever been in. This entire contest prep has been an educational, sometimes stressful, always challenging, and surprisingly insightful journey for me. Here are just some thoughts about my contest prep and background.

Iâ??m Cat (girlfriend of The Mighty Stu). My interest in weight training began about 2.5 years ago when I met Stu. Before that I was doing mostly cardio. Actually, Iâ??ve only been regularly going to the gym for about the last four years; once I hit my 30â??s and my metabolism slowed down. Never in a million years did I ever think Iâ??d have the guts to get on stage in a bikini & heels and compete in a figure competition.

I didnâ??t really think about entering a figure contest until I started seeing the weekly progress made by 2 of Stuâ??s clients this past spring. I saw their weekly pictures and the changes Stu made to their diets, and then the improvements the following week. This inspired me to see what I could do, especially since one of his clientâ??s was a figure competitor. I also realized that with Stuâ??s knowledge about training and nutrition I could get into the best shape of my life. I also wanted to see if I was mentally tough enough to handle a contest prep. Lastly, I broke my arm snowboarding a year and a half ago, and was determined to get the strength back in my arm; training for a contest would force me to get to the gym consistently.

So, contest prep started in March of 2011, I had 15 weeks until the Hercules. Stu created a workout and diet plan for me. At first, getting into a routine was a little difficult. Iâ??m a last minute person and I like variety. Sticking to a routine took some getting used to, but I adapted, I had to... My diet highlights included my after work out pop tart, my Metabolic Drive protein bars, and my cottage cheese with banana protein powder (yummy!). Surprisingly, there was a decent amount of variety in my diet. A number of times throughout the contest prep I seemed to have hit a plateau, then I would freak out, Stu would calm me down and adjust the plan. I have to admit, the first 9 weeks werenâ??t so bad, I think I handled those first 2 months pretty well (not sure if my family would totally agree with that though). It was the last 5 or 6 weeks of training that this contest prep seemed to become LIFE CONSUMING. There were many days I was in the gym for a total of 3 hours a day. I felt like the only thing I did when I went home was prepare dinner and meals for the following day or go food shopping. Those last few weeks were HARD. Everything else in my life took a back seat to training and eating; my family, my friends, my dogs, everyday life itself. Iâ??m still trying to figure out if I could have managed my time better during those weeks. I also had more freak outs than usual during that time, sorry Stu!

In the end, all the hard work paid off and Iâ??m proud of my accomplishment. More accurately, mine and Stuâ??s accomplishment. Stu has always said that bodybuilding is a team sport, now that Iâ??m on the other side of a contest prep, I get it. Stu was instrumental to my success at the show, heâ??s my coach, trainer, and boyfriend and I couldnâ??t have done this without him. My sister was also at the show (I got her the trainer pass) and she was completely responsible for my hair, makeup, accessories, and tan touch ups. She clamed me down at least twice the day of the show. I really couldn't have done this or made it thru the day without Stu & Araceli! In closing, my contest is now over and Iâ??m enjoying a few days of eating and off from the gym! However, I do find myself missing the routine of writing everything down and I'm overwhelemed by choices of what food to eat... I find myself going back to my "diet" food!


Would you and Stu consider adopting me?


welcome and congrats on the competition win. You looked great in the pics that Stu posted... Your guys hard work definitely payed off


Thats it, I am buying pop tarts tomorrow!

On a more serious note, congratuations on your win. Do you plan on competing again?



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Well done :slight_smile:

Actually reading through Stu's threads (I'm a lurker in there, but I do read them all lol), I think one of the things that stood out to me was the support you gave him. It's something kind of alien to me, since my wife has never really been all that keen about my bodybuilding endeavours. She has trained on and off a few times in the past, but I guess you really have to have your heart in it (or catch the "bug").

Anyway, keep it up, good motivation/inspiration!


Glad to have you with us.

I hope you'll find the time to comment on other threads too.


Congrats on your win! : )


Looking Great!


Wow! This forum really is like a supportive family! Thank you all for the compliments & welcoming me here!! I'm looking forward to learning a lot on this forum!

@ hlss09 - LOL, awww! I'll have to ask Stu if he's ready for a family :smiley: tee hee hee! Actually, I've mentioned to Stu a number of times that I would like to be adopted by Jack Johnson, so I can live on the beach in Hawaii and eat macadamia nut pancakes all year long!

@ Zeppelin0731 - Towards the end of contest prep Stu had to cut the pop tarts out of my diet... it was a sad day. I think I tried every flavor I could find - my favorite is Smores & the Oreo one. Hmm... I may compete again, I think I've been bitten by the bodybuilding bug, the process was tough but so rewarding, it's amazing to see what the body can do when your nutrition & exercise program are in place. I still can't believe I actually won something... but I would def try to manage my time better.

@ its_just_me - it's interesting, my brother competes in strongman competitions and has trained his entire life. I never got it and couldn't understand why he enjoyed it so much, I thought it was silly (I'm a relative new comer to training). When I started going out with Stu I saw first hand his dedication and commitment to bodybuilding and all the research and intelligence that goes into this, you can't help but respect that... It made me realize that my brother has the same dedication, commitment, and love for strongman competitions. I'll never again judge something I don't "get" - dating Stu gave me a sense of appreciation and respect for my brother's strongman contests, as well as other stuff I don't "get". I was never a gym goer - it wasn't until I hit my 30s and started getting a gut that I decided I NEEDED to go to the gym. It took a full 8 months of consistently going before it clicked and I actually enjoyed it - at the time, I worked myself up to jogging 5 miles and swimming a mile... those little milestones motivated me to continue.


Very true. I've reached the ripe old age of 27 (haha) and starting to realise all the different avenue's there are in the world to get into (taking more of an interest, and the more you learn, the more you respect others).

There's a woman at my "local" gym (local in the Highlands = 40 miles away), who's in her 60's. She has the body of a 25 year old...actually, that's not difficult here haha, but yeah, a figure to make most who're 1/3rd her age jealous. Really refreshing to see people go against the tide and be that dedicated. You really feel at ease talking to ones like that because you know they're not going to judge you and they understand.


Ah!!!!! I Knew I'd get her on here eventually! -lol



All I saw in the avatar was you and began to wonder if maybe multiple personality disorder had developed (today we are to know you as "Thunder Cat"!) haha


I'm sure it would probably be interesting to hear (especially if there are any women reading this) how the prep experience impacted your day to day life. I mean, with me, aside from the large water container I usually carry (filled with Mag-10), I can pretty much conceal, or at least try not to draw attention to what what I'm doing.

At work, no one really watches me eat, protein bars are fairly common these days, and I'm pretty subtle about all the pills I pop throughout the day. Also, at this point, my immediate circle of friends realize that I do 'this'. Certainly you had some reactions from people who have known you for years, not to mention people who had seen you at the gym for a long time now, and then suddenly you start looking completely different? :wink:



That's awesome to hear! Older people who are fit and work out are such an inspiration to keep this up! I def want to be like that when I get older. Even before I got into working out I thought Jack Lalanne was amazing!

It's funny - my contest was 1 week ago - and contest conditioning is fading... this is mentally difficult to deal with. A few days off from the gym and a few days of eating "celebration food" and the abs are kinda gone :frowning: 15 weeks of dedication and hard work, and you peak for 1 day... I kind of feel guilty for taking off a few days & not measuring everything I eat. I didn't think it would be difficult to adjust to "normal" life again. What I'm realizing is that my definition of "normal" had changed.

On a happy note, Stu found the BEST rainbow cook cake and we celebrated our birthdays last night (2 months late). That cake was AMAZING!! Yes, we both had 2 slices.... Yes, we wanted more! :smiley:


Welcome to T-Nation, Cat! Amazing accomplishment, and on your 1st show!

Stu has been such a serious inspiration/source of guidance/encouraging role model/contest guru on here that it feels like an honor to have you even by association.

Happy late birthday to the two of you, and congrats!


Thank you!! :slight_smile: Stu seems to inspire many: neighbors, family members, fellow gym members, to either compete or just get into better shape. We go to shows and people recognize him, I didn't realize I was dating a celebrity, LOL :wink:

Thank you for the birthday wishes, the rainbow cake was GLORIOUS... I took the leftovers home... and may have another slice right now!


Cat, great post!

Congratulations for taking the plunge into competing and for taking first place in your class! You looked fantastic!! I also competed for the first time this spring and with the help of a wonderful prep coach (the Mighty Stu)saw incredible changes in my physique. I can attest that the journey is learning experience and while difficult it is so rewarding and worth it in the end. A job well done, Cat :slight_smile:

So what's next? More competing? C'mon, I'm sure you have been bitten by the bug...lol


Oh I'm pretty damn sure she's already thinking about another show. No one does one show, hits the ball right out of the park, and then walks away without wondering how much better they could be (at least that's what happened to me with my first contest -lol).



Do you follow a pre-WO carb approach on training days ?