Saturday, June 18, 2011

Showtime: 2011 NPC Southern California Championships

My Makeup Artist
3:05 p.m. Friday, San Diego

It’s the day before the 2011 NPC Southern California Championships.  This is a bodybuilding competition for those of you who aren't sure exactly what I have been training for. I'm in the bikini competition as I'm not exactly super buff and I thought I was ready until I saw the girls checking in the lobby of the hotel. They are so much thinner and toner than I am. I may be out of my league. What have I gotten myself into?

So glad I resisted being bad the last few weeks and stayed on my plan. At least I know I gave it everything I could and didn’t cheat.

4:30 p.m. Friday, San Diego

Time for my spray tan session. I’m hoping somehow this tan will make a difference and my muscles will suddenly pop, but when I get there the woman is shocked at how pasty I am. They do two coats and it’s a little blotchy. The woman spraying me stops in the middle of the third coat to talk to her boss. 

Apparently, I'm still too white, but they are worried this next coat will make it too thick and the tan paint won't dry.  They decide to wait and do an ultra-coat on me the day of the show.

The tanning tents.
 5:30 p.m. Friday, San Diego

Bored sitting in the hotel room. I can't eat anything or drink anything - and all that's on TV is Bridezilla and a Fraiser marathon. I also can't sweat as it will ruin my fake tan. 

Hoping to check in early and feeling very orange in my new tan, I go downstairs, but no one is there. I guess when they say 6:30 is check in people really don't show up until that time. 

Walking back to the elevator, a girl calls me over to the bar area. I know she's a fellow competitor because she's orange like me. 

Her name is Kristi and this is her second show.  We instantly bond as I'm completely lost at what to expect the next day. I'm also totally envious as she is allowed to drink wine the day before to help her dehydrate.  My trainer is more organic and I have to dehydrate the old-fashioned way -- by peeing. 

6:30 p.m. Friday, San Diego

It's registration time.  I signed up weeks ago for women over the age of 35 in the over 5'8" bikini category, but there are no other tall women so they lump us all together.  So now I'm competing with the cute short girls. I'm a little worried as I think the shorter girls always look so much nicer than us taller gangly girls. I also learn that I should have applied to compete in other categories for more chances of winning. Oh well, I'm learning as I go. 

My makeup.
9:00 a.m. Saturday, Makeup

It's the day of the show and so far I feel great. I'm not hungry and not too thirsty -- considering I haven't had anything to drink since 2 p.m. the day before and it was a hot car drive to San Diego. At this point, I thank my crazy days at the news station when I don't have time to drink or go to the bathroom for my stamina.  

I show up to discover my makeup session and the instructions on where to stand on stage are at the same time. Panic sets in. Should I learn what to do on stage or should I get my makeup done? I opt for makeup. Might as well look good -- even if I end up standing in the wrong place.

10:00 a.m. Saturday, 2011 NPC Southern Cal Championships

Make up is done and I look at little like a drag queen, but so do many of the other girls.  I have fake eyelashes, lipliner that makes my lips look bigger and my tan is also fake -- and now much darker.

The only thing not fake are my breasts...and they aren't cooperating.  They don't want to stay in the tiny bikini top and I don't know how to fix them.

Jeann, one of the people running the Jana Tan area, sees my desperation and comes to my rescue (thank goodness). She tucks, pushes and nudges them into place.  

While doing this she says, "If Shannon Dey was here, she could tame these puppies in a second. I've seen her tuck girls in and make them look great."

Shannon Dey! Shannon Dey is my coach. Suddenly, I feel confident again.  If people are talking about my coach like she's some sort of NPC/IFBB miracle worker, then I know that my training must have been the best and I'll make it through the show looking great.

1:00 p.m. Saturday, Prejudging 

By this time I'm so thirsty, that all I can think about is water.  But I refuse to give in - just in case the few drops will bloat me up.  I know now that was foolish, but like I said, I'm learning as I go.

I walk out on stage and do my poses in front of the judges.  Halfway through I remember that I should be smiling and flexing. I quickly show the judges my pearly whites and try to flex my muscles -- even though I know it's too late to impress them now. Poop.

1:05 p.m. Saturday, Waiting, Waiting, Waiting and more Waiting

Now I have to wait for what seems like forever.  Final judging is at 6:30 p.m. and I've already checked out of my hotel.  I sit in the car for 30 minutes, but that only results in me getting hot. I don't have to worry about sweating as I'm sure there is no water left in my body to purge. I haven't gone to the bathroom since 5 a.m. and my tongue feels like cotton. I know I'm not alone in feeling like this because all the girls are talking about the same thing.

As I start to wonder if my makeup is going to melt, I decide I might as well check back in the hotel and pay for another night. At least there I can finish reading "The Hunger Games" in air conditioning.

BTW...the Hunger Games was perfect for this competition as I felt that my fellow competitors were like the district tribunes in the book. Like them, we all bonded as we were suffering together -- even though we knew one of us would be better than the rest. We were like some sort of futuristic bronze-colored clone army of buff men and women.

3:00 p.m. Still waiting

Now I'm bored and getting really hungry and thirsty.  I no longer have any energy and just want to sleep...and eat... and shower because now my tan is feeling really sticky and yucky.

 In fact, I don't even care about showing up for judging anymore. I just want it to be over.

4:30 p.m. New problem

I finally have to pee. However, I am afraid to because urine removes the tan and I don't want to have white dots "down there" so close to final judging.  Should I wait? No, I should let it out as getting rid of the bloating was the whole reason I was restricting my drinking.  I go...but very carefully.

4:45 p.m. Cheating

Now have major cramps. Don't know if it's because I'm hungry or because I'm thirsty. Whatever is causing it, it's not fun.

Still two hours to go before judging and I don't care anymore. I drink two gulps of water, eat a scoop of peanut butter and a bunch of carrots. It's not the most gourmet meal, but it's the only food I have in my suitcase. Well, I have asparagus and a disgusting piece of broiled chicken at the bottom of my cooler, but I'm saving those for later.

7:45 p.m. Final Judging

Feeling much better after my little "cheat meal", I'm ready to face the judges for the final time. This time the audience is full, and even though I know the judges have already made up their mind (or maybe because I know they have made up their mind), I walk out and am much more confident this time. 

I come in fourth and am on cloud nine.  Yay!!! I love this competition. I'm going to compete again and again and again. (Well, after taking a week off to celebrate).

Like a fool off on a planet far away, I stand there smiling as people clap.  The girl beside me grabs my hand and holds it up for me  for the group "thank you" pose. Duh...

The girls at these things are so wonderful.  They help you look good all the way through, even when you are clueless. They even make you feel okay when you are waiting as they too are complaining about being thirsty and craving sugary treats.  They may look all perfect, but they have the biggest hearts in the world.

But the best thing is that they "get" you.  After spending months in isolation, working out like crazy and eating plain food that your friends don't understand, you are suddenly with a 100 people who just as determined and passionate about the challenge as you are.  It's incredible.

Follow Michelle Ponto on Facebook to see more photos from the show.


  1. I will be competing in this competition 2012. Any tips, tricks and advice for a first timer? Also, is there a free pose round for bikini?

  2. I will be competing in this competition 2012. Any tips, tricks and advice for a first timer? Also, is there a free pose round for bikini

    1. Best tips:
      1) Don't cheap out. Pay for the spray tan on the site. I met a couple of newbies who did home tans and they looked pale compared to the rest of us. Plus they do touchups all day long so you don't have to worry about streaks or white blotches. They will make you flawless.

      2) Rent a room at the nearest hotel for the day (Sheridan is just a block away). What happens is that you do pre-judging and then you have to wait 6 to 8 hours for final judging. If you have a hotel room, you can drive over and relax in A/C until the final judging. So much more relaxing (and more comfortable) than waiting back stage.

      3) Relax. You will be surprised at how many new girls will be at the show, and even those who have competed before will be nervous. You'll find everyone is helpful and friendly. Just ask people.

      4) A couple days before, you may also feel like you didn't train enough and will want to chicken out. Don't worry about that. We all think that just before a show. In fact, I'm thinking that right now as my first show this year is just 10 days away, but once I'm there, it all works out somehow.

      I didn't notice a free pose round, but I was so naive that I may have missed it. They did have free posing classes the night before though.

  3. Michelle, I'm competing in the NPC So Cal this weekend--do you remember what time Bikini Awards were over? I'm trying to give my guests an idea of what time I'll be done. I know it's a big show and the All Forces, BB and Figure division awards are AFTER Bikini, so I can't imagine Bikini would be out SUPER late...

  4. Hi Bernadette,

    The schedule changes each year -- and they don't give it out until the day of the show. Last year, I was done by 8:30 p.m., but that was because they had bikini was first. I can't guarantee that they would do the same this year.

    Good luck!!