Let’s throw this little story back to a year ago when a girl (me) thought that lifting weights and eating lots of carrots was a pretty fun thing to do. One day, she read an article about a competition that you prepare for by lifting a lot of heavy things and eating a lot of veggies and thought, “Wow, maybe one day I’ll do that!”

Fast forward to July 2015 and a girl (me, again) decides to actually prep for the fitness thing and buy the teeny bikini and stripper heels and give it everything she had, everyday, for 10 weeks. During this time, she thought, “Wow, this is difficult but it’s SO MUCH FUN!”

During this ten week process, the most important fun fact that I learned was that a person’s body composition is mostly determined by their food choices.

It’s sad, right? One can’t really out-exercise a bad diet. That’s why bikini competitors focus so heavily on their diets in preparation for a competition. If they eat like a barbarian in the kitchen, then their hard work in the gym won’t show.

So, for the curious souls out there, here’s a look at what a bikini competitor might eat a week before their show.

Meal 1: Oatmeal

rice, muesli, sweet, oatmeal, milk, cereal, porridge
Christin Urso

Seems a little bland right? Well, it is. To spice things up, cinnamon or nutmeg might be added as well as a (measured) tablespoon of pure almond/peanut butter.

Post-Workout: Protein Shake

cream, coffee, dairy product, sweet, milk
Kelli Haugh

A training session for a bodybuilder this close to their show day might last anywhere from one and a half to two hours. It involves picking up a lot of heavy things, putting them down and then repeating the process. After that, they might hop on a dread-mill and sweat until it pours into their eyeballs. A protein shake is the perfect refuel as well as a sweet-tooth killer.

Meal 2: Cake

sweet, milk, dairy product
Kelsey Coughlin

This is 100% a joke. The only cake in this meal is a rice cake. Three salt-free rice cakes topped with a perfectly portioned serving of almond butter.

Meals 3-5: Meat and Veggies

asparagus, vegetable, meat, sauce, tomato, chicken
Jackie Kuczynski

How bro does it go? Each of these meals is comprised of four ounces of lean meat such as chicken, turkey or fish, and vegetables like asparagus or zucchini.

Meal 6: Dessert

chicken, rice, paella
Kelsey Coughlin

Sorry, that’s another joke. The final meal of the day is protein-packed one. It’s five egg whites and some vegetables all whipped up into an omelette. Breakfast for dessert, right?

Although this day of eating seems boring and cringe-worthy, it’s a healthy mix of carbs, fats, and protein; all of which are needed to sustain a bodybuilder’s intense training sessions. In terms of sustaining their mental state, looking up food porn of donuts (like the ones below) and ice cream seems to do the trick.

sweet, cream, chocolate, candy, cake, pastry, goody, doughnut, sprinkles
Kelsey Coughlin

Fast forward again to September 12th, 2015. A girl (it me… again) superglues the tiny bikini to her butt cheeks, gets 6 layers of spray tan and attempts to walk normally in heels around a stage in front of a panel of judges. These judges look at everything, and I mean everything. Is her body symmetric? Does she need to build up her shoulder muscles? Is purple a bad color on her? Maybe she should’ve straightened her hair?

The girl (hi, it’s me) proudly does what she has practiced and smiles until her cheeks twitch to show off in 60 seconds what 10 weeks of hard work can do.

And, guess what?

I WON! I placed first in both Bikini Novice and Bikini First-Timer, and although I’m embarrassed to admit it, I cried a few happy tears (which instantly messed up the spray tan, but whatever).

Kelsey Coughlin

The next day, when the Dorito-tan had washed away and the stripper heels were returned to their box, she still couldn’t stop smiling. The experience was unlike any other in all the best ways possible.

Stay tuned in (maybe) 2016: She (me) is doing it again.