The Results Are In: 2013 NPC Southern States


At the end of February I decided I needed a change of pace and set my sights on competing in a Figure competition in July. I thought, at best, I’d get leaner, learn more about the bodybuilding world and training for hypertrophy instead of strength, clean up my diet a bit and have some fun being sparkly on stage. I did not expect that over the course of several months, I would fall in love with the lifestyle of a figure competitor, which to the outside observer must seem obsessive, abnormal, and ever so slightly preachy.  I did not expect it to be so much fun to plan meals and train for aesthetics. I did not expect to feel so happy and comfortable walking across a stage painted orange and wearing  next to nothing. I did not expect smiling to hurt so much. And I definitely didn’t expect to win.

But I did!

Because it was my first show, I entered both the Novice Figure and Open Figure divisions. Novice is reserved only for competitors who haven’t placed at a show previously, while Open is just that – open to any competitor with an NPC card. Each of these divisions is further divided into height classes. 2 classes for Novice (A & B) and 4 for Open (A – D). I was in Novice Figure A and Open Figure C.

I placed 1st in both divisions.

The Novice win wasn’t too shocking – I had been placed in the center position during prejudging (if you’re unfamiliar with how a bb show works, that just means the judges were eyeing me for top 3), and because I’ve been training for a long time in the weightroom, it’s not a huge surprise that my muscular development was a little better than other women who are just starting to compete.

Novice Class A Awards

Novice Class A Awards

The Open win, however, completely floored me. All lined up and waiting for prejudging, I looked at the other girls in my class and thought, “Damn, if I get top 5, I’m ballin’.” Then, when the judges moved me just left of center, I got really excited and thought my chances of maybe getting top 3 were pretty good. Either way, I was happy. They liked my look, and I was proud.

Figure C Prejudging

Figure C Prejudging

Then at the night show, as they called out 5th, 4th, and 3rd, I thought, “Yes, I got second!”. For a fleeting moment, I was right. The announcer made a mistake and I stood in front of the 2nd place trophy, content as could be that I had qualified for National level competition in just my first show. However, a moment later my name along with the word “champion” was announced and I was in the center position, holding hands with the women I was just admiring.

Open Figure Class C

Open Figure Class C

Open Figure Class C

Open Figure Class C

After that, it was basically just a loop of David After the Dentist playing in my head. “Is this real life? What just happened? Did I really just win? What the hell is going on. Oh God I have to stay here for the Overall! I’m so tired!”

There is a lot of waiting at a bodybuilding show. I tried to keep my spirits up and my fake eyelashes on.

There is a lot of waiting at a bodybuilding show. I tried to keep my spirits up and my fake eyelashes on.

When the Overall comparisons came around, I was confident that I would take the Novice Overall (which I did), but doubtful about getting the ultimate prize – Figure Overall Champion. When I spoke to the head judge, she said it was a close call between myself and the girl who ultimately won that title. I was flattered, but looking at photos, it’s clear that she deserved to win. Besides, I already made it into the winner’s circle.

I’m so glad I decided to do this show. The judges were top notch — these are the same people who judge shows like the Arnold, IFBB shows, and National level NPC competitions (where they hand out pro cards). Getting the judges feedback was, by far, the most valuable part of the entire experience. I was encouraged to tighten up a bit, especially in the lower body, and enter a national competition. When I explained that this was my first show, the head judge stepped back and remarked, “Where did you get your muscle?!?”. These kinds of positive and somewhat incredulous reactions from the judges, as well as from other people I met at the competition, inspired me to have more confidence in my potential in Figure. It seems like a good fit for me.

All of the Overall Winners

All of the Overall Winners

A little after midnight, after all the pictures were finally done and the venue was starting to kick people out, I headed back to the hotel with my trophies under my arm and a blissful feeling of optimism about my strategies to improve. After finally showering off the sticky spray tan, scrubbing off a thick layer of makeup, and throwing on some fluffy pajamas, I curled up on the hotel bed, popped open a cold beer, and chowed down on a turkey burger generously slathered in garlic mayo that my boyfriend picked up for me from a local pizza joint. Victory never tasted so good.

My Pretty Ladies

My Pretty Ladies

Again, I want to thank everyone who supported and encouraged me through this journey. I could not have done it without you, and I hope that you will continue to be there with me as I take on the challenges ahead (which will be detailed in an upcoming post). Thank you.

24 thoughts on “The Results Are In: 2013 NPC Southern States

  1. <3- that is all. Now you know my passion/obsession. It is so fun. =) You look amazing. Who took overall in open? I am assuming the girl on your left?

  2. You are incredible! Just so you know, I found out about you through reddit (I lurk the “secret club,” afraid to post lol) and ever since I saw you post a video of your deadlift PR, I became inspired to start weight training. It’s a slow and grueling process (I’m still overweight, but I’ve improved so much in every aspect)– all of my intimidation of the gym has slowly begun subsiding and I often think of you as an inspiration to get through my workout. You’re an amazing woman. Keep it up.

  3. goddamn this is impressive! And awesome that you did it yourself and did it without starving. Great work!

  4. Saw a post of yours on reddit which lead me here quite a few months ago. It’s been pretty cool watching your journey! You’ve definitely inspired how I’m trying to lose weight right now – in a way that doesn’t overly restrict calories – and given me hope that I can even get stronger during the process.

    Not trying to do a competition but as a powerlifter trying to go down some weight classes it’s certainly been a big help! Thanks for putting all of this up!

    • That is so wonderful to hear. Women AND men in weight class and aesthetic based sports are really at such a high risk of unhealthy weight control practices. It’s so unecessary! Let’s end that trend together. 😀

  5. Renee, I feel so privileged to have followed your journey from the beginning. I am extremely proud of all you have achieved and you have inspired and motivated me more than you will ever know.

    Huge congratulations ❤

  6. Congrats! I’m a close friend of Sarah Vance’s and she’s told me about you and your site for some time now and I just wanted to say that I love it! Keep up the great work. It’s nice to see fitness models/figure/bodybuilding athletes not preaching very low calorie diets with endless amounts of cardio.

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