Becoming a Figure Competitor

Jaclyn White
April 08, 2016

I’ve always loved the world of fitness. Just knowing that choices you make can mold and sculpt your body, for better, or sometimes for worse, fascinated me. Before I started competing, I worked out regularly, but grew bored with my routine. I would always see those buff women in all of my fitness magazines while I was struggling to get through the boredom of the treadmill. I thought to myself, “I want to do that. I want to challenge myself and see what I can accomplish. What’s the worst that could happen? I get in better shape along the way, it’s a win-win!” I started training for my first figure competition in 2012, when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. After becoming a mom and being the heaviest I’d ever been, I knew that dream of competing was still a smoldering fire. I wanted to be a super mom and show everyone that hard work can pay off. I sat down with my husband and we laid out a schedule where I could work part-time at the Windward YMCA and bring my son with me to utilize their child watch. In the evenings, he took care of our son while I went to the gym. Eight months after my son’s first birthday, I was on stage in my first figure competition and took home second place!


I knew I was strong for my size, but it wasn’t until I started focusing on the diet that I started to see changes. I hate using the word “diet” because society has given it such a negative connotation, but my “diet” was simply the foods I was eating. I knew this change in diet would be temporary, so I hit it hard. Eating the basics, keeping it simple, and eliminating all the junk that can accumulate throughout the course of the day is what helped me the most. Once the weight started to come off, I could see the muscles hiding underneath. Once those muscles were visible, it motivated me even more to bring them out!  Closer to the competition, there are several changes to the diet and workouts, but the increased intensity only accelerated my motivation as the weight in my stubborn areas started to disappear. I also had plenty of energy to care for my son. Eating right and working out gave me the energy and strength I needed to be a mom.


My first competition was supposed to be the National Physique Committee (NPC) Stingrey Classic in April 2015, but I decided I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be for that show. If I’m going to compete, I want to be at the top of my game and give it my best. I competed in my very first show – the NPC Ikaika Bodybuilding Championships in June 2015 and walked away with second place in the figure division and qualified for the national championships that same year. The NPC allows the use of steroids and other drugs to increase muscle size and make the competitors look harder. You can be all-natural in an NPC show, but at the national level, it’s near impossible to compete against steroids. So, I have decided that my next show will be a natural show so I have a level playing field and to promote those of us that are dieting and exercising naturally without the help of steroids and other drugs. I competed at this year’s International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA) Hawaiian Islands State Championships on Sunday, March 20 at Kaimuki High School. I won overall, and also won the best poser award, and I received my Pro Card, so I am now an INBA Pro Figure Competitor.

Improving my well-being

I have always appreciated the human body and what it’s capable of, but now I have an even greater appreciation for what hard work and dedication can lead to. I’m a better wife, mother, and individual because of a little friendly competition! I’m in much better shape now than I was before I was pregnant! I still enjoy a weekly cheat meal, but those cheat meals help me stay on track and make me realize that eating the good food and working out is worth it! It makes me work harder so I can deserve that cheat meal.

I love that it’s friendly competition. Every day I tell myself, “There’s always going to be someone out there that wants exactly what you want and they’re working harder than you.” That just doesn’t settle well with me. I can’t have someone working harder than me knowing that we both want the same thing. I have to “trust the process” and just give it all I’ve got and know that I gave it my all every day. There’s a lot more to the sport than just being lean and muscular, you also have to have perfect posing. We train for months on end for just a few minutes on stage to showcase yourself. I’d hate to bust my butt in the gym for months, and eat protein and veggies (when I really want pizza!) and then have my posing be my downfall. Everything has to be perfect, or as perfect as it can be.

My advice

First, I would say make sure you’re in a time in your life when you can handle the added pressures. Competitions aren’t cheap. A competition suit, personal training, competition fees and memberships, grocery bills to supply your diet, and supplements add up quickly. I was only working part-time when I was training last year, but every paycheck, I set a certain amount aside and didn’t touch it. Competing takes a lot of time and discipline, so make sure you set aside plenty of time for training in the beginning, and even more time in the end as the time in the gym increases. If you’re not in the right mindset, it’s never going to work. A great motivational speaker, Dr. Eric Thomas said, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” 

Make sure you have a support network. My husband was great about taking on some extra duties so I could do what I needed to do to reach my goal and he was there for me to give me support when I was down. Lastly, do your research. There are tons of shows out there.  Find an organization that you believe in and figure out which genre to compete in (bikini, figure, physique, bodybuilding) because they all train differently and they all pose differently.

Jaclyn White is the Healthy Lifestyles Director and Personal Trainer at Windward YMCA, as well as a figure competitor.

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