Maleia Titus - Figure Competitor

I have been athletic from a very early age, mostly competing in swimming. As the years passed and I developed the typical swimmer's physique- broad shoulders and wide lats- I became very self-conscious of my powerful appearance as to me it felt so unfeminine. I would continually get comments about my muscularity and began to resent all of the hard work I had done those many years of competing in the pool. I always continued to be athletic, even though swimming was no longer the center of my life. I had great mental toughness and physical strength and found myself always looking for the next challenge because I loved the FEELING of being strong and competitive, though I still hated the LOOK my strength wore on my physique. When I joined the Army I highly excelled in all physical challenges in comparison to my counterparts, but one day had a drill sergeant tell me that I was "built like a brick s&*t house". It sealed my negative view of myself in a way that it never had up to that point.

One day as I was searching the web after coming home from Army Basic Training, I came across a picture I will never forget. It was a stage shot of the recent 3x Miss Olympia, Nicole Wilkins. I remember being so struck by the photo, because not only was Nicole absolutely stunning and beautiful.... but she was built JUST.LIKE.ME. She was strong and powerful, yet so very classy and feminine. It was an ah-ha moment for me that there WAS a place where I didn't need to feel ashamed of my muscular appearance... but a place where my appearance would be ADMIRED. I knew that the sport of figure was in my future and I was immediately hungry to prep for my first show!

To be honest, my diet in my off season is fairly similar day to day in comparison to when I am prepping, but the cheat meals happen much more frequently and the consistency is not as prevalent. I love healthy prep food, but I also LOVE my sweets and pizza. Certainly it's all about balance! When I am in prep mode, I am so fortunate to have from the beginning found a coach who is extremely successful in developing winning physiques. He understood exactly what I needed to build muscle and burn fat at the same time, which was a good balanced diet of clean carbs, lean protiens, and healthy essential fats... a very typical body builder diet. Knowing that right balance for my body type was key, however, and I've learned a great deal from him in that regard as I've come to know and be in tune with exactly what my body needed to progress.

Because I began my journey with the RIGHT coach for me, I have not failed at my diet plans for a show. I had continual feedback and as I came to understand what my body needed, was able to communicate suggestions for any modifications. It's all about education and trusting the process and it has paid off every time for me.

I work out 6 days a week, lifting usually one body part per day and rotating through the week. I make a point to lift HEAVY and to absolute FAILURE with a strong mind/muscle connection to keep form correct and to exhaust the exact muscle I intend to work. Interval cardio followed by steady state is also a part of the daily routine on prep.

Building the confidence to stand on stage was a big deal for me. Because I was so fortunate to have hired the right coach, I was given a great deal of instruction, feedback, and opportunity for practice on my stage presentation. I never would have realized how important that presentation- the posing and the confidence- would be to winning a show. Because I had made a point of practicing that presentation over and over for several weeks, I developed the muscle memory necessary to overcome the nerves that would come as I stepped on stage. Because my coach was confident I was ready to stand on stage, I trusted that and was PROUD of my hard work as I walked out on stage.

As a competitor, I naturally want to place well in my sport. As so much of the judging has a subjective component, though, it is imperative that I compete with a Me vs. Me mentality, because at the end of the day my placing often times depends on who else shows up. At my last show, I had hopes of winning the overall trophy in my division, but came in 2nd in my class. To many, that may have seemed a disappointment, but I knew that it was my best package yet. I stood on stage with complete confidence and though I did not win felt so much love from the audience in appreciation for my preparation efforts. It was an incredible feeling and I came away from the show completely satisfied.

I plan to continue to compete. While I'm again nationally qualified and love competing at that level for the race to the pro card, I realize that it's the daily grind and accomplishment of the prep that really satisfies me... not the trophy or card. I will most likely compete again in 2017, but for now I am focusing on my coaching business with Beachbody and helping others achieve their health goals. I am also preparing for some great Army schools that will test my physical limits like no other and I welcome the challenge!

Maleia Titus
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