Brittany Beck - Figure Competitor

I grew up playing soccer and was always very active. I had a membership to the YMCA and went through the 'safety class' at 14 so I could go into the weight room without supervision. I always signed up for weightlifting in school instead of dance or PE. But I fell in love with the sport of bodybuilding after watching a good friend win his bodybuilding class in the summer of 2012. I followed from a distance but knew it was a community I wanted to belong to. I remember seeing pictures of Nicole Wilkins and thinking, I just want arms and shoulders like that! To me, it was sexy, powerful, and beautiful. I was in a pretty toxic relationship at the time and when I expressed interest in competing (in bikini) I was told I'd never be skinny enough. However, to be fair I was 5'3 and 154lbs full of Taco Bell, beer, and cookies.

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We ended up breaking up at the beginning of 2013 and I reached out to my first coach, Cal Hayes and that was it for me. I felt like my life had spiraled out of control at the start of that year. My long term relationship fell apart, I lost my home, a family, family members, friends, MYSELF; so getting on a regimented plan was a way to take control of something and I loved every bit of it. I had my heart set on bikini but as I progressed, Cal asked me to work with him on posing so he could see where we truly were. I tried so so so hard to be sassy, flirty, spunky, fun. And he looked at me and said, 'ever considered figure?' I remember telling him that's where I wanted to end up but I thought you had to start in bikini and work your way up. He laughed and said, 'you just aren't bikini'. I think he handled it well having to tell this semi-chubby bikini hopeful she had no chance but a new spark was ignited at the thought of doing what I truly wanted to do, which was figure. I competed in the 2013 Elite Muscle Classic in Greensboro, NC in the Jr. Figure division and took home 4th place. I was elated, I was in the best shape I'd been in since my sophomore year of college plus I accomplished something I was told I couldn't.

But growing up an athlete, it was instilled in my heart and mind at a young age that you train to win. You practice to be perfect. Perfection doesn't exist but you practice and train like you're going to be. So deep down I wasn't happy with 4th place because I had worked so hard and went home empty handed. But I was honest with myself and looked back over the last 16wks and determined what I thought I could have done better; decided I wanted to add a little more size and get this whole dieting thing down pat. I am a fast food junkie -- I love it all. And after that show, it was hard to not go back to that lifestyle but I knew if I wanted to be better, I had to do better. I decided I'd compete again in the Jr. Figure division until I took the overall, I felt like if I couldn't win the overall in the Jr. class I wasn't ready for the open. I ended up competing in the Jr. Figure division again in 2014 at the same show and took home 2nd place, still wasn't happy but I was proud. I was making progress!

So I went back to the drawing board again and picked a show for 2015 and was determined to take the overall in that show. I decided on the 2015 Victory Classic in Albemarle, NC. I ended up taking my class and the overall title that evening and it was then that I decided I could literally do anything I set my mind to. Whether it was get across the finish line (2013), improve (2014), or win (2015). I then went on to compete 9 wks later in the open class for the first time at the Muscle Heat. It was more so to get my feet wet and get feedback from the judges so I knew what to improve on for the 2016 season. I was honestly just trying to finish. It was dumb for me to do it for that reason, but I did. I got 2nd. I wasn't happy, to me it was 1st loser. That's how I knew I was on to something I was truly passionate about. I decided I was going to one day be crowned the NC State Champion so I shut it down for the year and worked towards that. I won the figure overall at the 2016 NC State Championships and then took another year off before stepping on a national stage. I competed at the 2017 NPC Universe and ended up bringing home a respectable 3rd place finish in a stacked class in my first national NPC Nationals in November. I want to get back out there one more time this year. I love the sport, I love competing, the challenge it presents and the small personal rewards along the way.

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Diet: As I mentioned previously, I'm a fast food junkie. So if I don't have a structured plan year round I am more apt to make stupid decisions. My body and mind perform best when I have 6-7 meals/day consisting of proteins, fats, and carbs. The only thing that changes from off-season to pre-contest is the quantity of food. My calories obviously increase in an off-season but it's a slow transition from pre-contest to off-season. I feel that's worked best for me to keep fat gains minimal but also stay within a reasonable weight of my stage weight so I don't have to make ridiculous dieting/training decisions to get right for a show. I started working with Shane Heugly in the summer of 2016 and his first diet plan for me included fats (a lot of them so I thought) but I was always under the impression you wanted minimal fats. My carbs weren't ridiculously high but I feel like having a healthy amount of fats in my diet contributed significantly to my success in the off-season. Working with him has really opened my eyes to healthy contest preparations.

There hasn't been a diet that I haven't "tried" that hasn't worked. But as I progress mentally and physically there are diet changes that I know will be effective quickly and others that will not be so effective. Personally, I can go low-carb for an extended amount of time and it doesn't bother me like it does some.

I remember being told that I had just dieted for 16wks and to get up there and have fun. This is what you've worked for. Not to mention, I had overcome my own set of battles and I was proud of that girl. So I couldn't wait to get out there and show off what I had done despite everything else crashing around me.

I train 6-7x/week. I don't typically take a rest day, if I don't feel like I absolutely need one, I always try and give a little bit more. I train back, shoulders, and legs 2x a week and combine chest and arms. If I end up taking a rest day I will combine my leg days. That doesn't change regardless of pre-contest or off season. My cardio during pre-contest is dependent upon my progress. I personally enjoy fasted, it gets me up and moving for the day and makes me feel good. So if I am prescribed 45 min of cardio for the day, I'll do something like 25min fasted and 20min post. I do a combination of HIIT and steady state depending on caloric intake/season. In my off season, I try to dwindle my cardio down to 2-3 sessions of HIIT/week.

I just recently competed in NPC Universe in the Figure D class. Our flight to NJ was on Wednesday morning at 10:45 and I had been telling my boyfriend how I wanted to leave super early and get to the airport to get our bags checked so if that meant we were just hanging out in the terminal I was ok with that. I just didn't want to feel rushed or stressed or rattled before such a big show. Traveling can be so stressful anyways so I didn't want to do anything that may cause more stress. Well, he thought that was ridiculous so we left like an hour after I had planned to. We got stuck in traffic on the interstate on the way to the airport and ended up missing our flight. Fortunately I was able to get us on the next flight out like an hour later but I remember thinking if this is any indication of how this week is going to go, this could be a nightmare. We got to NJ and waited almost an hour for our rental car only to get there and see that this car we just paid close to $400 for was like a clown car. Our luggage wouldn't fit in the "cargo" area. It was tiny. I just knew if we got in an accident we would land in NYC. Finally made it to the hotel and thank God it was nice, clean, and our room was ready.

I got my last training and cardio sessions done Wednesday and Thursday and check ins were Thursday afternoon. I saw the line for check ins was like a mile long so I tried to wait it out a little while to let that die down so I wasn't standing on my feet too long -- when I went to check in there was literally no one there. It was a good thing I think for me because I didn't see anyone else so I wasn't able to 'size' anyone up and psych myself out. But they couldn't find my entry form in any of the open figure folders. "Are you sure you're open figure?" "Yes, I'm positive" So they go back to looking, it ended up being stashed in the bikini section but I was found, button received, I'm good. I was also told I would be in the C class. Perfect, just as I anticipated! (Foreshadowing).

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That night I got my first coat of tan which is always my least favorite part. I mean honestly, what's exciting about a smelly spray tan, knowing you can't wear deodorant, smelly depleted humans who also don't have deodorant on, plus everyone is naked. And I don't know if you know this, but when everyone is naked, and you've got a coat of spray tan on, bikini girls look like WPD, figure girls look like bodybuilders and WPD girls look like pint size firsts of Iris Kyle. So you can really psych yourself out but needless to say the tanning process was seamless. I was in and out in no time. Fast forward to Friday morning, the day of pre-judging. I was feeling good, my hair and make up was done, I felt rested, full, relaxed, ready. So we're getting pumped up, glued in, touched up and then we hear 'Open Figure C! Line up!' So we proceed to the 'curtain' area of the side stage and the expeditors are calling out the numbers, and I don't hear mine. But ok, I could have missed it, let's listen again, he's going thru them one more time. Again, nothing.

I'm freaking out, like ok, they found my entry form yesterday, that's how I have a number now, they told me I was in the C class why is my number not being called? So I go ask an expeditor and turns out I was actually in the D class since they ended up adding 2 extra height classes. Ok, sure no problem. I turn around to find my fellow D class ladies and they're jacked. Huge. I looked at my boyfriend and I was like what am I doing? I am so out of my league. I remember standing on the steps to walk across stage for the presentation round fighting back tears and Gennifer Strobo was like, 'you ok?!' I guess I had the look of sheer panic in my eyes. I strut my stuff out there (I'd already been told I walked like a bodybuilder so I'm really trying to work it here) -- hit my front pose and froze. Everything was a blur. And then...quarter turned to the left. TO THE FREAKING LEFT!!!! I couldn't tell you what happened next because the rest was a haze of disappointment. I had worked so hard on polishing my presentation and presenting my best self and I knew I blew it. I remember hearing my number for 1st call outs and I looked down at my hip twice to make sure I was hearing them right. There were 9 girls (I believe) in the first call out and my number was the 5th or 6th called so I started out on the end and eventually after a few moves battled it out in the center for a while before being moved one last time.

I knew it was anyone's for the taking at that point so we kept it tight going into finals on Saturday night and when my number was called for 3rd place I could not have been more proud. I went in to that show with no expectations but I knew I wanted to be competitive and I think I did just that! I met so many amazing women and got to stand on stage next to national level competitors that I have admired over the past year. So that was truly an amazing experience in itself to be surrounded by so many like minded women in the sport who are honestly GOOD at what they do! I can't wait to do it again!

I work a full time job in sales so this lifestyle sometimes poses quite a few challenges. There are customers to wine and dine and when you're talking about thousands of dollars worth of product you might get funny looks taking them out for a steak dinner while you eat out of Tupperware. Fortunately, I work for an amazing company and they support my endeavors in the bodybuilding world and work with me around contest prep. They understand the strange smells at 10am and the constant bathroom breaks. Most sales people expense food and alcohol while on the road for a sales call, but they understand I've already got my food and I won't have a bar tab so they allow me to stay in a nicer hotel with a gym or kitchen in the room or they allow me to expense my gym visit(s) if I have any. This has really allowed me to find a good balance in this world that so many people dream about. I work 8-5 and eat my meals like I'm supposed to with no questions. I think this has allowed me to clear my head before the gym because I'm not stressing about being behind on meals and I'm able to have productive training and cardio sessions and I'm able to enjoy my home life. The closer to a show I am, it gets difficult as it does for anyone because you're usually just zapped of energy but I'm truly blessed to be able to work full time in an industry and position I enjoy and also live the lifestyle I love!

Tomorrow marks 7wks out from NPC Nationals in Miami. My hope is to win my IFBB pro card, if not at Nationals then sometime in the next year. At the end of the day, this is still merely a hobby that I obviously hope will turn into another career but in the mean time, I'll enjoy the process and challenge this sport presents and take it one day at a time!

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