I recently had the pleasure of Interviewing an NPC Bikini Competitor named Michelle Hogan. She won 2nd place in the Women Masters Bikini Division! This was her very first competition, not too shabby for this working Mom and Wife, right?!
As I mentioned in my last post, I really wanted to attend this show considering it is the Spring version of my fall show. However, time/work/monetary obligations prevented me from doing so. It’s all good though because Michelle still gets to tell HER story of how she came to the stage as well as her future plans. Thank you Michelle for being so candid about your experience. It is definitely appreciated! Special shout out to her trainer at Life Time Fitness in Columbus, Brian Taylor and Ripple Swimwear for the design of her suit!
1. What made you decide to pursue a bikini competition?
I decided to try a bikini competition for a couple of reasons. My trainer asked me last year and I turned him down. I thought it was just not my personality to do something like this. However, after working out for a year after that and watching two girls who did compete and how their bodies shaped, I was envious. I had been spending my time training for races and wasn’t happy with how I looked…at all! In the last few years I did a half marathon, an 8 hour adventure sport race which consisted of CONTINUOUS running on the beach, kayaking, mountain biking and orienteering, the Tough Mudder in Indiana in NOVEMBER! And lastly a triathlon, sub kayaking for the swim. I did extremely well in all of these, and the satisfaction of completing them was awesome. I trained hard with the help of my trainer, ran A LOT, but I still didn’t see what I wanted in the mirror. I was highly motivated by the calories burned on my heart rate monitor and sort of began to think that a good work had to burn a lot, and if it didn’t, then my countless miles of running would.
When he asked me again in January I decided to think about it, talked it over with my husband, he gave me his support and I decided to go for it. I just wanted something different and I wanted a goal. In my last event I wrecked on my bike and was pretty badly injured. I crossed the finish with a blood gushing hand which I had ridden my bike for 10 miles with. I was planning to re-challenge myself to it again in May until I decided on the competition.
2. What was your fitness/exercise history prior to training for this competition? (example: running, lifting, cardio classes?)
I lifted 3 to 4 days a week and ran 2-3 days. Basically more of a 50/50 with running and weight training. When I started the training for the competition the cardio went away completely (Which I ended up LOVING) except for sprints during training and the weight training went to 6 days…also loved:)
3. What was your family/friends reaction when you told them you were going to get in a bikini on a stage?
This is funny…because I was too embarrassed to tell anyone, very few people knew! This was way outside my comfort zone and I didn’t know how to describe the show to people who might not know anything about without making it sound sleazy for lack of a better word. I was afraid of judgement too. I wish it was called something else instead of a “Bikini Competition”. As I started to tell a few people I was amazed at the support and that some people knew someone else that had done one. My office got really into it and were totally cheering me on. It was great. I work out with a group of women and men and their support and encouragement was really motivating as well. Most of them didn’t even know but as I “transformed” they started to comment on how I was looking and then it started to come out.
4. Did you get a custom made suit? If so, who did you order your suit from? Are you happy with the choice of suit?
I did get a custom suit from a fabulous girl, JoAnne Hopkins of Ripple Swimwear. JoAnne made me feel so comfortable and confident. It was really a great experience. I am very happy with my suit color and design. JoAnne picked the color for me because I was clueless and trusted her expertise and experience. We narrowed the colors down but she ultimately said what she thought was best.
5. Who was your coach/How did you find him?
I work out at Lifetime Fitness with Brian Taylor. He did my diet too. I was working out with Brian prior to choosing to do a show. He has been an amazing trainer, friend, trusted adviser. I never doubted him for one second. He told me what to do and I did it, no questions.
6. What would you say was the most challenging part of your training? (example: diet choices, getting to the gym, balancing training with family, etc?)
I like the options you list here because oddly, the diet was a piece of cake…ooh that sounds good right now:) Haha. I am a very health conscious and healthy eater so the diet wasn’t all that different. Except for one thing; I was a vegetarian. Fish was the only thing I agreed to eat and that was hard for me. That’s a whole other blog post though. The hardest part, to answer your question, was juggling the gym, working full time as a Realtor, and my husband and daughter. It was impossible to avoid letting this competition take over. I am so lucky to have a supportive husband. And my 5 year old…she cheered my on every day! We called it my “program”. I didn’t want to use the word diet but something had to explain why I wasn’t eating ice cream and junk. So i would just say, “I can’t have that right now because of my program.” She would get a little bummed sometimes but then I would say “It’s okay, because Mommy wants to WIN”! Then she would get all excited.
7. Was there a time when you weren’t sure you wanted to keep training? Did you ever feel a lack of motivation?
I never felt like I wanted to stop. I was so motivated! There was a period of a few weeks where I got really extremely busy with work and that was also right around the Spring forward time change. I was overwhelmed, but I stayed on track and got through it.
8. Did you ever experience what some would consider an “obsession with food?” In other words, did you ever feel like you would fail or immediately gain weight if you had something “off plan?”
I totally have an obsession with food. That was another reason I didn’t do it last year. I was way more under control for this than I would have been then. I thought about food a lot, but staying really focused on the plan made it easier, developing that new habit. It’s always in the back on my mind that I’ll gain weight, unfortunately. I think it will get easier as I keep going. I just asked my trainer for a pep talk Sunday, because of the picking and nibbling this week. A good lecture every now and then really works for me to keep me straight.
9. What was the show like? Did you find it to be well-organized?
The show was…interesting. I was so nervous and it was overwhelming. I had a friend that I trained with that is a figure competitor that not only helped me a TON before the show but also drove up that morning. She saved me, I was like a lost kitten:) After pre-judging she headed back and it was like, “ok, gotta be a big girl now and get through this.” I carried the day’s schedule around with me and looked at it about a hundred times! The makeup was a little weird for me. They put it on heavy! And the tan…well, just wait. No shame there, everyone is naked! Bending over, turning legs, raising arms. You just go with it. Standing in the tents staring at the naked person across from me was weird! Your arms are sticking out so that they don’t touch anything and you’re turning 1/4 turns every 30 seconds in the fan drying. I can only imagine what each girl is thinking, lol.
So there was one mishap with the show that happened. I was a cross-over for masters and at finals after getting my 2nd place trophy I headed off stage with the other women and the line guy was sending out Class A. I couldn’t get in the line up in time and they “scratched” me. I was really ticked and it was not how I wanted the show to end and was very conflicted. On one hand thrilled and the other pissed! They could have escorted me out to my place in line or something but no one seemed to know what to do. My name was called but I was standing behind the curtain, helpless. I ended up with 6th place but should have had 5th. I sent a professional email explaining what had happened to Dave Lieberman and Todd Pember and got a very nice and extremely apologetic call from Todd the next morning.
10. Would you consider doing another competition in the future?
Yes! I’m competing in the Mike Francois Classic May 11th in Westerville and I’m planning to do the Julie Palmer Show in Dayton in June 1st. Then I think I will chill for the summer, enjoy the bounty of summer produce and pick back up in the fall.
11. What advice would you give to the first-time competitor?
If you know of someone who has done a show or even better the one you are doing, ask them for support and to come along. I had a friend who was a huge support and came to my show. That was amazing and helped me so much, and my husband as well, though he was a first-timer. Also, give yourself a meal here and there that is off the diet. I took a few throughout my training on Sundays after my 2nd leg workout day. My favorite day of the week!
12. What was your favorite part of this journey?
My favorite part of this journey was seeing my body transform. It was so motivating.
13. Did you seek out any information/advice before you started training from others who also competed? (Facebook pages, websites, etc?)
I really didn’t. I just sat down and talked to a girl in my training group that has competed for some insight.
14. Any other information/experience you would like to share?
It’s almost impossible not to let this training take over everything. For me, I juggled full time work and taking care of my family and this competition was very much the center of the universe. That is something that I plan to work on now that I have this show under my belt so that my husband and daughter don’t think this is the most important thing in the world. I know my husband was frustrated at times because of the lack of “food” in the house, i.e junk, but he stuck with me and in the end was so extremely supportive and excited for me.
Also, buy quality food. Good produce, wild fish. I sought out some good spice blends for my fish that didn’t have salt that really helped flavor up my food. Look for ways to get creative. I make a fabulous protein brownie for my nighttime snack! Get good whey also. Beverly International UMP is the BEST protein powder.
15. Speaking of supplements, what did you take, if any, during your training?
About three or four weeks into my diet I was complaining to my friend about my nails breaking and splitting because I was no longer having dairy. She told me about the Super Pak daily vitamin and that its specifically designed for people who do these shows, body build, etc, who are on a restricted diet possibly eliminating certain vitamins from foods they would otherwise be having, such as dairy. That helped a ton! I noticed a difference in about a week. Sometime about 2/3 of the way to the show, she told me about 7-Keto Musclean and Lean Out, which I had read about but not ordered. So I decided to try those too! I really liked the 7-Keto because it gave me a pick me up. I don’t drink caffeinated drinks but the one thing I did not realize with the 7-Keto is that if I miss it, which I did the other day, I got a caffeine withdraw headache. Not happy about that but I do like it. I’m not sure the Lean Out really did much, but I’m still taking it
Lastly, my trainer recommended ZMA 2000 to take at night right before bed for recovery of the muscle. I totally think it works and I take it with one melatonin at night.
Thanks again Michelle, this was very motivating for me personally to “keep going.” I hope this interview inspires some of you readers too!