After giving birth to her baby daughter in February 2022, a New York woman named Jennifer Parise set herself the ultimate challenge: entering her first Bikini division bodybuilding competition.
Incredibly, as a new mom and busy flight attendant, Parise placed third in her class at the NPC Steve Stone Metropolitan Championships Bikini Open on April 8, 2023.
Eager to find out more about Parise’s journey, BarBend caught up with the self-motivated competitor to get some tips on how she balanced her hectic personal and professional schedule and her prep for her first physique show.
Photo Credit: FitXimagery.com
Learn to Meal Prep
As a frequent flyer in her day job, Parise had to be flexible about which gyms to train in. When it came to travel preparation, nothing was left to chance. The fledgling competitor kept a close eye on her journey schedule and diligently planned her work trip schedule around her training needs.
“I tried to purposely pick trips based on when I would be able to train and how I could remain diligent with my diet, which involved a lot of meal prepping,” Parise says. “At first, it was a bit of a learning curve, but after about a month into it, I was able to find my rhythm.”
Fortunately, Parise knew that failing to prepare would mean preparing to fail:
“I have always been a queen of lists,” she says. “So it’s no surprise that I have perfected how to pack for the trip I was assigned to work on, bringing workout clothes and equipment plus meals to help keep me on track.”
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It sounds obvious, but meal prepping is one of the easiest ways to stick to a specific nutrition plan. While Parise’s circumstances are extreme, even someone with a typical nine-to-five office job can benefit from planning out their lunches. At the very least, it helps avoid unpreparedness which can lead to veering off their specific diet.
Stay Consistent (and Use an App)
For around four months before the competition, Parise was on a strict meal plan. It became additionally complex due to her gluten and dairy sensitivity. She cut them both from her diet, along with alcohol and added sugar.
“During the process, I was mainly eating whole foods and lean protein and having about five meals a day on average,” she says.
In the initial stages of her contest prep, Parise supplemented with protein shakes but later swapped them for whole foods when she found that she was under-eating and, therefore, failing to see the results she craved with her physique.
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Eventually, Parise met her protein requirements without supplements. To simplify things, she kept to the same foods every day so she wouldn’t have to keep tracking different meals with different macros while on busy work trips. When she had the time, she used the MyFitnessPal app to ensure her numbers were on point.
Find Your Support System
No matter what your fitness goals are, it’s important to find people in your life to lean on for support. Whether that’s a sympathetic ear to talk to or someone willing to help take obligations off your plate.
“[My daughter] just turned one in February,” says Parise. “So, having a tiny human to care for is hard as it is, but when you add a job and bodybuilding? That’s even harder.”
Since Parise’s local gym doesn’t offer childcare, her husband, mom, mother-in-law, and grandma took on that duty while she trained.
“I would not have been able to do this without them,” she says. “When they say ‘it takes a village,’ it couldn’t be truer. When I wasn’t at the gym training, I would prep my meals and ride my Peloton while [my daughter] slept.”
How Parise Trained
NPC rules state that the criteria for Bikini competition include muscularity, symmetry, balance, and “a foundation of muscle which gives shape to the female body.”
Participants are expected to have full, round glutes and a conditioned core. They also need to dazzle with their presentation, meaning posing ability is essential. Below are a few tips Parise shared on the day-in and day-out training:
Find What You Love
The daily training grind can wear on even the most committed competitor. One key for Parise was training body parts that were the most fun to work.
“I love training glutes and legs,” Parise says. “I feel that is the strongest part of my body, and it’s so fun to push myself by steadily increasing the weight. Now that I am finished with prep, I can try for new PRs.”
In terms of single exercises, Parise said she found deadlifts “addicting.”
Have a Concrete Workout Plan
Even before competing, training in the gym five days a week wasn’t out of the ordinary for Parise. Once it came time to prep for a bodybuilding show, her plan became much more regimented.
Credit: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock
“Around eight weeks out, I was training six days a week,” Parise says. “Some days, I would lift weights for about an hour and still have time for 20-45 minutes of cardio.”
Her split included legs and glutes two-to-three times per week and upper body two days a week. She alternated between back and biceps, and chest and triceps. She designated a heavy cardio day, sometimes substituting via a ride on her Peloton. Additionally, she did hot yoga during prep as a way to “lean out” as the show approached.
If You’re Competing: Get a Posing Coach
Having a stage-worthy physique is only part of the battle — anyone entering a physique competition also needs to learn to pose. As Parise said, it’s not something that always comes naturally.
“Posing was definitely something I struggled with at first. It took a lot of practice,” says Parise. “But, I had the most incredible posing coach, [IFBB Pro competitor] Elenoa McCabe. We mostly worked together via FaceTime.”
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The two worked on Parise’s posing, and, despite the distance between them, Parise received feedback in real time. She even planned a work trip to meet McCabe in person for a practice session.
Parise came away with a third-place finish in her class at the NPC Steve Stone Metropolitan Championships Bikini Open. She entered under Class D, which, according to the official rules, means she competed alongside competitors over 5’3” and up to and including 5’4.”
Though there aren’t any concrete plans to compete again in the future, Parise is happy to have achieved the goal she set out for, saying, “[seeing] all your hard work come together is a feeling like no other.”
Featured Image: FitXimagery.com
The post How a Full-Time Flight Attendant and New Mom Prepped for Her First Bikini Bodybuilding Show appeared first on BarBend.