Paula de la Cruz - Bikini Competitor

I was working with Coach Ariel Alberto in late 2011 after my sister, Sheila Delmendo, had first started working with him. I attended his body building competition in Nov 2011 and was inspired by all of the competitors. I thought, ĎIf they can do this, I can do it too.í I went on to compete a few monthís later at Spectrumís Governorís Cup in March 2012 where I placed 4thin Open Bikini (Novice did not exist back then).

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In off-season, I have a lot more carbs compared to pre-contest. In both off-season and pre-contest, I do eat whole foods sticking to grass-fed beef, chicken, white fish (cod or tilapia), sashimi, carbs (sweet potato, oats, white rice), greens (spinach, asparagus, broccoli, etc.) However, post-contest (about 1 week) I do enjoy eating unrestricted but intuitively.

When I first started out in 2012, I worked with a great coach who did give me guidelines on food choices for each group (carbs, fats, veggies). However, being new to the game, I didnít value this variety and asked that he tell me exactly what to eat. I ended up eating almost the same thing every day. This burned me out mentally and when it came to post-show, I ballooned way past my starting weight, and it was difficult for me to motivate myself to do another show. I did not compete again until 2014.

Self-confidence: I have my mom to thank for this. As a young kid, she enrolled me and my sisters in all sorts of extra-curricular activities such as singing lessons, ballet, and piano. Having been on stage for these recitals did help. I went on to play sports in grade school and high school so have naturally had an athletic physique before body building.

Training and diet: You canít have one without the other. Iíve always said- and everyone knows this: Nutrition > Weights > Cardio. I can proudly say that at the start of my training in Dec 2018, I was only doing 20min of steady state cardio 3x/week. Prior to this, I was doing 30-40min after every training session because my nutrition was trash. As soon as we cleaned up my nutrition, the pounds were coming off a lot easier and I did not have to resort to cardio to try to burn calories

My first show this year was the Muscle Sports Productionís Fresno Classic in April 2019. I was a nervous wreck even though I had competed in 3 shows prior; I had never worked so hard for a contest and I did not want 4thplace again like in my 3 previous shows. My coach had to tell me to calm (TF) down at Athlete Check-In. Thankfully, I had my husband and 2 sisters as my whole support team. In prejudging, I learned there were 13 girls in my open height class (B) which is the most Iíve ever competed against. We were all brought out together and our group was split to both sides. We all did our individual routines and waited patiently for the judges to deliberate on who to bring out for comparisons. When I heard my number called out first, I was in disbelief. However, I had stayed my position throughout comparisons. I didnít actually know if I had gotten first or second place because the judges had asked 6 girls to line up instead of 5. It wasnít until Finals when they called the 2nd place- and it wasnít me- that I knew I had taken first.

For the second and latest show this year also with Muscle Sport at the San Jose Championships, I was way more calm having experienced first-show jitters. I knew immediately I had taken first place when the judges called my number and requested I be in center stage.

Being an athlete: I have much higher standards for myself and I try to remember that not everyone, even my closest friends and family, may not understand my journey- and thatís okay. I am at peace with being different because I love who I am when I am at an athletic body fat and I am up for the challenge to lean and peel out for the stage. I genuinely enjoy going to the gym and no longer see it as a punishment (i.e. eating badly then trying to do cardio). In fact, I am happy to wake up early in the morning and get my gym session in before I start my work day. My mental toughness has carried into all aspects of my life and I am grateful for it. I am well in tune with my body.

Future plans Absolutely! Being in the running for overall bikini champ has only fueled my want to earn that sword! Iíd like to try for overall again in a local show and then get my pro card in Miami (Nov 2019).


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