A great retelling of Stacy Kvernmo’s first competition experience complete with a full gallery of pictures from her stage appearances in Ms Fitness USA 2006 and Ms Fitness 2010.
After college I woke up one morning and realized I needed a goal. I had always been active while in school sports and after I graduated college I knew I needed some sport in my life to keep me focused, busy and healthy. I flew down to Dallas and tried out for the Cowboys Cheerleaders only to make it through to the semi-final round and get cut. I knew it wasn’t right for me. I was a cheerleader and not as much a dancer, which is what they really are. But the experience was one I will not forget.
Upon arriving home, I got a part-time job at a gym near my house. As the front desk girl, I was able to really watch the personal trainers work with their clients. One morning I woke up and decided that I was going to compete in a fitness competition. I didn’t know anything about it except some memories of seeing a fitness competition on TV when I was in high school. I drove out to a nearby Borders and bought my first Ms Fitness magazine and started my journey.
Unfortunately, I was always such a picky eater. I learned right away that if I was going to be successful with this I would need to drastically alter my diet. I had never had broccoli, oatmeal, or even egg whites before. I filled out a profile with some nutrition/supplement company online and they sent me a typical diet with supplement suggestions. I did order some protein, multi-vitamins, and some fish liver oil capsules I believe.
I started this diet in February of 2005. I decided that I would compete at a local Ms. Fitness competition that was going to be held in July. My starting weight was 134lbs and I am 5’6” tall. I worked out with two guy friends who were really ripped so all they had me doing was lift pretty heavy. From February to May I pretty much did my own thing until I decided to hire one of the trainers at the gym who I knew was really knowledgable.
I weighed 127lbs when I started working with my new trainer. We lifted two-three days a week and pretty much did mostly a full body routine every time with a ton of pull ups and untraditional movements. I didn’t do much cardio actually. He had me doing 1-2 days a week in a fasted state first thing in the morning for about 25-35 minutes maximum. I also think I had maybe 1 session of HIIT a week for a while. He also adjusted my diet to start including a lot more variety. I was actually using my juicer to blend a ton of veggies into a glass of really gross veggie juice.
I became a diet Nazi. Nothing would make me even look at anything off of my diet. I can’t believe I was so committed. I measured and tracked EVERYTHING including the gum I had. What a process. I don’t do that anymore, but I will get into that later.
My friends and family did not really understand, but 90% of them were really supportive. I felt really bad for my co-workers who had to deal with the smells of broccoli and egg whites on a daily basis. Can’t believe they were so forgiving.
During this time I finally met the guy that I had kinda been stalking at our gym. He worked out the same time as I did but we never really spoke. I knew who he was, because that is the power I had as front desk girl. I thought he might be gay at first, because I would always do exercises like straight legged dead lifts right in front of him and I never even got a glance from him. I finally asked our gay pro-shop worker if this guy made his gay-dar go off and he said, “Not in those sweatpants.” Soon after one thing lead to another and I found myself out on our first date with him. I was delighted when he ordered an ice tea instead of a drink since I wasn’t drinking at that time. We continued to date throughout my training and he was there cheering for my first show.
Speaking of this show, training was going great leading up to the show. I have never looked better and never had abs like that. I was a cheerleader in college so I was pretty athletic, but never had the shape I did after the weight-lifting and plyometrics. My trainer was brilliant. I was ready to walk on stage two weeks before my show. I didn’t have to do any tricks, like sodium loading or water manipulation for my first show. It was really nice to not have to make those adjustments.
As far as the fitness part of the fitness competition training went, I hired a friend to create my music, I had a local lady create my costume, and I worked with a local dance choreographer to help with the dance portion of my routine as I created most of the choreography myself. I was in a little over my head that year. I did contact Cathy Savage while training for my first show and she greatly encouraged me to compete in fitness. I didn’t end up hiring Cathy until after my first year, but more on that later. I also contacted Nicole Moneer, a local fitness competitor who I looked up from the Ms. Fitness video I had ordered. I met with her once after a group exercise class she taught and had a 5 minute conversation. She encouraged me to compete and said I had a nice physique from all my gymnastics training. Little did I know at that time that I would be competing against her at my first show and later become super good friends with her.
The day of my show was exciting, until I got to the venue. We found out their auditorium was under construction and we would have to perform in the gym. The show promoters laid out about 6 lunchroom tables together as a “stage”. There was NO WAY I was going to be tumbling or doing any of my routine on those tables. What were they thinking?!?!? And the lighting in the gym was just awful. Not flattering for anyone. The speakers didn’t work well with the mic, that was constant feedback during our speech round. It was just a really bad set up. BUT, that didn’t let me down. I made some friends backstage and was really surprised at all the people who came to cheer me on at the show!
I was totally prepared, except I wore black heels for the swimsuit round and everyone else wore clear. The rules actually said to wear black at that time, but I think they were really out-dated. Oh well, that was minor in the scheme of things.
I don’t think I could have done much better that what I did. I ended up placing 3rd and found out that it qualified me for Ms Fitness USA. I had never thought about advancing to a national show my first year, but after I heard the news I thought I better continue on or I may not get another chance.
I continued to train with the same trainer for the 7 weeks in between shows. At Ms Fitness USA I ended up placing 9th place (out of about 40 competitors) and couldn’t be happier. I was hooked. My whole family, boyfriend, and two friends came to Vegas to cheer for me. It was such a wonderful experience and all of the competitors were wonderful. You never know how it will be in a room full of girls who are all competing against each other, but it was so positive.
I am so thankful that I went through this experience. I was definitely hooked. I decided to give Fitness America a try the next year. I did a regional show and placed 6th. I had a new routine that I hired Cathy Savage to choreograph. She is a creative genius so I completely trusted her. The routine was so much harder than my routine was the year before. I went on to compete in the same Ms Fitness local, again qualifying for Ms Fitness USA. I ended up placing 10th at Ms Fitness USA, which was just a little disappointing that I didn’t improve my score, but I did end up qualifying for Ms Fitness World that year, in which I placed 13!
I have been competing ever since. I placed 9th at Fitness Universe in 2008 and also 9th at Ms Fitness USA in 2009. I have won many local/regional fitness competitions but seem to be stuck at the 9th place spot for the national shows.
I did make a promise to my boyfriend after my first show that I would loosen up a bit. I was sooo overly OCD about the diet and the measuring and the tracking that I was pretty annoying to be around. I had to take a step back and find a balance that would work. I already knew all about the nutritional component of the process that I was able to eyeball all my measurements and knew how much protein/fat/carbs I needed in each serving/meal/day. It was such a relief to get to that point. I don’t think I will ever go back. Competing is a hobby. I have never wanted anything out of it except being a really enjoyable sport in which I can be active, make friends, and have goals. I never wanted to be a fitness model or get sponsorships (although I suppose that would be nice). I wanted to do this for myself and for fun. If I never place higher than 9th place at a national show I will be OK with that. I have made a few lifelong friends and many other great fitness buddies along the way.
I ended up marrying that boyfriend I had back in 2005, who stuck with me for years of training and dieting. We are now expecting our first child in a month. I did take 2010 off for that reason, but I do hope to be back on stage by August of this year (6 months after baby). We will see, one day at a time.
One last thought … I have been competing for 5 years and I have narcolepsy. It is the sleep disorder that makes you just fall asleep anytime during the day. So needless to say, I can be very very tired some days and I still always found the energy to train. After working at a desk job for 8+ hours a day (I’m a graphic & website designer) the last thing I sometimes feel like doing is going to the gym. But after I force myself to get there, then everything seems to just fall in place. I leave with more energy than I came with, even after an incredibly difficult session.
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