Kasey Lebel - Bikini Competitor

I got the competition itch when I went to see my boyfriend compete in his first ever NPC show in June 2016. Seeing all the girls with their hair and makeup done, their tanned skin, and their HUGE smiles from ear to ear (despite being hungry LOL) I knew I had to give it a try. Before this moment, I was always the athletic type, but never the gym type. Curiosity got the best of me, and with the support and encouragement from my boyfriend, my new found passion for fitness competitions rose to the surface.

Being that I am very new to this sport and this type of training/dieting, I do have a wonderful husband/wife nutrition/coaching duo (@alexiatuttle1 @tuttlenutrition) that help me along the way with all my needs. During my prep, I play with cycling low and high carbohydrate days. This time around we found that my body takes an extreme liking to English muffins with PB&J...(that's right ladies, JELLY ON PREP) By doing these cycles of high and low days, while sometimes correlating them with my training schedule, my body is always being challenged. I find that having a set meal plan, as opposed to IIFYM works for my body, and it also puts my mind at ease knowing that my food portions and measurements are readily available for me in my meal plan.

Although I haven't tried different approaches as far as meal plans, my second prep plan was far more effective than the first time around. But then again, who knocks it out of the park and knows everything about their bodies at their first show?! Not this girl! Like any competitor, you need to learn your body. Not only that, but you need to LISTEN to your body too! There have been times during my prep where we would make a change to my plan and a few days later after executing said change, make a change back to the original. Trial and error is a big part in anyone's fitness journey whether it be for a competition or even just for their own personal goals, i.e. strength, weight loss, etc. One thing that you cannot be afraid of is failure because it comes with the territory of fitness.

After looking at some of my stage shots I think to myself, "Wow, I really brought the sass!" But it definitely wasn't always the case. Growing up I was a social butterfly, but put me in front of a crowd and I would freeeeeeze. I walked down the aisle of a wedding as a flower girl crying my eyes out because I was so scared. The stage fright was REAL. What broke me was an audition for a musical in middle school. I don't know why and I don't know how but I got up there and sang a song, by myself, in front of not only a crowd, but a crowd full of my peers who could have then ridiculed me until my last day. Instead of making me more afraid of putting myself out there, it made me embrace the fact that I am who I am and no one else can be me. There's only one, and everyone needs to see it. After this moment in my life I have had nothing but fun in front of any kind of crowd, no matter what I may be doing. The added plus with competition is that I get to glam up and show myself off knowing that I'm bringing the best I can. That alone, giving your all, is enough to give anyone the confidence boost they need to walk across that stage.

When it comes to lifting and training, I've had to explore a lot of different options. I started off with the basics, which I got help with from my wonderful SWOLEmate Anthony. He taught me proper form and showed me some exercises to hit a few different muscle groups. After my crash course, I was more inclined to venture off and explore different angles and rep ranges and weights. The options were infinite! Once I started competing, I dialed in to what my body responded best to (which was your typical weights and cardio) and made my workout plans that way. I'm a big free-weight fan, although I do use machines from time to time especially to decrease my risk of injury, etc. During my second competition prep, I ran into some trouble with my shoulder. I was having pain with every shoulder workout, and it was starting to creep into my daily life. At that time I decided to stop, take a step back, and reassess what I was doing. Bands became my BFF. Slow and controlled movements, little to no weight. I basically rehab-ed my shoulder back to "normal" and still take things easy. The key is to listen to your body, because when you do that one simple thing you can drastically increase your body's responses to your plans.

This past spring in June I competed in my second NPC competition. Not only that but I got to share the stage with my partner for life, Anthony, AND his father, who was also a bodybuilder back in the 80's. Emotions were running rampant in our household to say the least, but on the other hand, morale was very high. We all worked off of each other. Always helping each other, and trying our best to stay motivated even when we were all dragging our feet in the sand. That day was like nothing else. We walked into East Haven High School with smiles on our faces, despite the hunger pains LOL!! Check-ins were a breeze... my favorite thing to do during check ins is try to guess my weight for the day (even though it doesn't matter in bikini) and guess my height (even though I'm DONE growing). Pre-judging is always my preference over finals and I'll tell you why. It's due to the fact that at some shows, most of them, you only get to do your posing routine, in full, one time! My favorite thing about the whole competition process is when I get to strut my stuff across that stage, pose through my routine that I worked months on, and do it with the MOST sass I can throw at them. It gives me such an empowered feeling that no one will ever be able to take away no matter how hard they try. Plus, you get some amazing pictures from your routine, showcasing all your confidence and pride!

Being an athlete first and foremost gives me structure. It has showed me that I have more willpower than I thought I had, more drive than I thought I had, more passion than I thought I had. It really has brought the best part of me out onto the surface. Being an athlete has also showed my camaraderie, and team spirit. Many people say, "Bodybuilding is the most selfish sport." And yes, they are correct about that, however when you're confident that you've done your best and given it your all, you start to realize that, hey, so has everyone else at this show. We all bust our asses (literally) to get to that stage. First show or 15th show, everyone needs SOMEONE behind them, or in their corner, and I'm happy to say that I've made some amazing friendships along my journey.

My plans now are to hit my offseason hard, grow my hamstrings and glutes a little more since those were my lacking areas this season. I will be competing in 2019, hoping to re-qualify for Nationals and hopefully I'll get the amazing opportunity to showcase my physique on the national level. I know that even though I may not place high in my first national level competition, it's always good to get the experience and the exposure under your belt. I'm beyond excited to continue this journey and share it with everyone who wants to be apart of it along the way!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kclebel
Email: kclebel@gmail.com

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