Alexandra Picano is one of our Diva Bikini Competitor’s who competed in her first competition in November for the WBFF and placed top 10 in a very difficult class.
Alex is a student at Salem State University where she is a pre-med, majoring in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and a concentration in biomedical. For an assignment in a Nutrition class, she decided to write about her journey as a first time competitor outlining the ups and downs of balancing diet and fitness while maintaining a “normal” life as a 19-year-old student.
“Life of a Bikini Competitor”
When people hear the term “bikini competitor” many think of women going on a stage in meniscal bikinis and showing off their bodies like it is no ones business. It is so much more than that and that is what many outsiders do not understand. The time and effort put into something like this is truly indescribable and until someone does it, they may not understand it fully. As Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage”, which is true, but being on stage for a bikini competition and the pressures of it are much more intense than the platforms of our every day lives.
Preparing for competitions and the pressures of it is not easy at all especially with the obstacles that come with it. There is much more to it than a spray tan, some squats, and a lean body. Although it is a physical sport, it is also a sport that takes a great deal of mental strength. It takes a lot of time, effort, devotion, motivation, and the ability to overcome obstacles you have never thought of even trying. There are pressures of being on stage in front of hundreds to thousands of people. The pressure of having a certain look to your body. The obstacle of challenging yourself to be better than the person that was standing in the mirror yesterday, the obstacle of having a limitless amount of will power to not eat that donut, or that piece of pizza. There are obstacles and pressures all around that people face as they live their everyday lives whether its not being able to eat a homemade dinner at home, or if it is subconscious.
Much of this sport is being in the gym and lifting heavy weights, but it is mainly about what you eat and the nutrients your body consumes. During show prep there comes a point to about 12 weeks out from the competition when there has to be an exact balance of macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Eating five to six times a day, eating in two to three hour intervals all at certain times of the day, not eating past nine o’clock, making sure that the carbohydrate and fat intake are all before a certain time in the day. This all became a habit for myself and eventually got easier.
There came a point in my prep, and even after where it got pretty hard. The notion that you had to have a certain body type and had to be at a certain level was pretty difficult for me. People my age are very judgmental, and that is an obstacle for myself I had to learn how to overcome. I used to take everyones comments to heart but I learned that I am doing this for no one but myself. I chose to change my life for the better, and although I may not be up to everyone else’s standard on what they think I should look like, I know how hard I worked day in and day out.
This lifestyle I had created for myself, especially at the young age of 19 has truly changed my mind set about my health, my life, and my overall outlook on the world itself. It is such an amazing feeling to have so much drive and passion for something, no matter what anyone says. To be able to put aside everyones nasty and demeaning remarks and comments to something they know very minimal about, has made me a stronger person. I feel so much more appreciative and more alive when I eat healthy. It is hard to follow such a strict diet, but I am thankful every day to have made healthy and “clean” eating a lifestyle because my life is so much brighter and more lively. Everyone has a passion, everyone has a goal in life, everyone has this crazy dream, and I am crazy enough to chase mine.