Have you ever had someone close to you turn into a person you feel like you don’t even know?  Someone who looks, acts and even thinks differently from the person you know and love?  That’s how I feel about the transformation my friend of 25 years has made…in a very positive way.

I’ve know Nikki Oliva since she was Nikki Lerz at East Catholic High School – class of ’93.  Good God yes, it’s our 20 year reunion and we are getting old.  But Nikki did something this past year that no mom of two I know, has ever done.  She transformed herself from SAHM to figure competing, string bikini wearing, make-up, tan and high heel strutting goddess.


This is circa 2005 but we go waaaayyyyy further back!

This is circa 2005 but we go waaaayyyyy further back! Why do I look like I cut my own bangs? #weird


When Nikki first told me (way back in October of 2012) that she was considering training for a figure competition my first thought was that she would never survive the diet.  Nikki loves her some food…with chocolate chip cookies…and Munchos on top.  She’s was not what you would call a “healthy eater” but she managed a great figure from hours of dancing, teaching group fitness and personal training.  Now, I knew very little about bodybuilding but I did know that the food regimen is no joke.


Nikki has been known to do some *ahem* unhealthy things...which is why I love her!

Nikki has been known to do some *ahem* unhealthy things…which is why I love her!

That's my girl!  Double fistin' in Vegas baby!

That’s my girl! Double fistin’ in Vegas baby!

Nikki’s meal plan consisted of lean protein and lots of green veggies. Every third day was a carb-load with a sweet potato, banana, a cup of rice and tablespoon of peanut butter.  I’m a runner and that does not seem like enough food to constitute a “carb-load” or even lunch for me.  Yikes!

Sample food week as told by Nikki:

Monday: carb load, you have six meals and carb load right before bed.  The meal was delicious but you felt insanely full because you’re not eating carbs for any other times or meals.

Typical non-carb load day: Meal one: Six egg whites and half red grapefruit. Meal two: a protein shake. Meal three: a cup of greens with tuna (or any lean protein). Meal four: three egg whites with a tomato. Meal five: lean protein and more veggies!

“The first few days of the food plan (it’s not a diet) was an adjustment do to the restriction of carbs.  I can honestly say I became a bit more loopy as my brain wasn’t working as well.  During the months of November and December I started the transition of eliminating pasta and bread except for Christmas because, well, it was Christmas!  But, by January it was game on!”


Just for WOW factor...this is the Nikki I know and love!

Just for WOW factor…this is the Nikki I know and love!

Indeed!  I was so wrong about her sticking to her meal plan and I couldn’t be happier about it.  Now, the workouts I knew she could handle:

I was training four times a week in between classes and clients – Mondays were my workouts, Tues, Wed and Thurs were clients and classes and then Friday, Sat & Sun were mine.  For my workouts, I did an hour or more of strength training and at least 30 minutes of cardio.  Strength training consisted of either high reps and lower weight or lots of weight and lower reps.  My cardio was basically sprints on the treadmill and elliptical.  It was a lot to juggle and if I wasn’t able to get a workout in during the day, I would go back to the gym after the kids were in bed at night and get it done.

Now that is serious dedication.  I don’t know about you but, after I put my kids to bed I generally open a bottle of wine and watch Dexter.

Then a funny thing happened when I asked Nikki when she started seeing results:

“I don’t know if it’s a woman thing but I didn’t really start to see it until other people started to notice it.  People would say “Wow, what are you doing?” Apparently my arms became a gun show.  I noticed things on my body that I had never seen before.  I had a six pack!  I mean, I had kids but now I had a freakin six pack!  I would look at photos and be like, who the hell is that?  And the day of the competition, I felt like a superstar!”


Yep, you definitely have ABS!

Yep, you definitely have a six pack!

If I asked a man this question he probably would’ve said ‘I started seeing results the first day of my meal plan.”  I mean, really.  Take note ladies; when you work as hard as Nikki did at something; take the time to notice how awesome you are!

And then there’s the posing coach.  You read that right – posing coach.  You think that shit comes naturally?  Read on:

“I had no idea what poses were required for the figure competition.  I began attending posing classes every Saturday morning for an hour.  It was so different from anything I knew.  It was very different from anything I knew.  It was like inserting a concentric bicep curl into a dance routine…and then holding it…for a long, long time.  When I first started going, I would nap in the afternoon.  It was truly exhausting.  You have to start from your feet up and engage each muscle and hold it.  A lot of the strain is on your low back so that was tough.  And, by holding your mandatory poses you had to look like you weren’t breathing, which is almost impossible!  During the actual competition the stage lights were so bright they could burn your cornea!  They were like lights on crack and I’ve been a dancer and in recitals all my life!  So you’re already sweating and then you have to do this “quarter turn” pose like a million times and try to breathe, literally without moving a muscle.  When you feel like you’re going to collapse on stage is when you know you have issues, but you have to continue your “performance” no matter what…oh and you’re in 4 ½ inch high stripper heels.


At this point I’m wondering why the hell she wanted to do this in the first place but then I looked at some photos:


Check it - BAM!

Check it – BAM!

Hello!  I would need a waxer on site for this one.  Nice a**!

Hello! I would need a waxer on site for this one. Nice a**!


The hardest part?  The week before her first competition:

“The week of and getting prepared to becoming “supersuited”  was more work then the training.  I had to get my hair highlighted and nails in a french manicure.  And then there was the paint-on tanning and make-up.  The notion that I had to go to the Mac counter at Macy’s to match my neck tan was so odd – although the Mac rep did not bat an eyelash and said “oh ya we do it all the time.”

Here’s where it gets way interesting: Nikki had to have her personal trainer (and now extremely close friend) Pam to paint the tan on her completely naked body.  Yep.  It had to be perfect but she could only paint her body and not her hands, feet or face.  The MAC was for her face and then her hands and feet were covered with tan product #2, Dream Tan which made her look like Goldmember “She likes goolllldddd…”

“I had to exfoliate and moisturize three days prior to tanning and then Nair my arms and bikini area and shave my legs. Then, and only then, are you ready to get 3-4 coats of tan on your skin.  Trying to explain to my 4 year old why my skin was dark was hard.  Um mommy is in a show?!

“For the record, Pam applied the the first coat of tan on Thursday to areas that were not completely inappropriate.  But, being naked in her presence gave new meaning to “up close and personal.”  The other areas I applied myself or had my husband do it.  So, one more coat on Thursday evening, and then TWO coats on Friday.  On Saturday morning I rinsed in the shower for about 15 seconds to remove any excess tan, dressed in loose clothing and headed out to the competition.”

Dear Lord!  Did you get all that?  I’m lost in a tanning haze.  Did you see the part about showering?  Let’s talk more about that, shall we?

“Because I tanned on Thursday for the Saturday show I couldn’t shower in those three days – it would wash away all the hard tanning work of Pam and Josh. As luck would have it, it was the hottest weekend on record and I gave the term funk new meaning.  I bought a Fabreeze car fresher and attached it to my bag so I wouldn’t smell myself.  And I couldn’t use deodorant either because it would remove the tan.”

It’s all about the tan baby!

We’re not done yet…what came to be known as Nikki’s “super suit” was the ridiculously small red, bedazzled bikini.

“When I first got it, it came in a ziplock bag and was very small.  I ordered the Malibu cut which was the largest that would cover my ass – which was 7 inches across.  The smaller Rio cut was 5 inches which is just inappropriate.  I ordered it two months prior.  I equated it to a dance recital – it was like a costume.  A very tiny, red sparkly, costume.  You have to portray a persona.  You transform into a “super.”

Yes you did!



Lessons learned:

“It’s made me a better trainer.  It made me understand the commitment and dedication you need to complete a goal you set.  It’s never overnight.  There’s nothing simple or easy about it – its hard work.  If you want to see results you have to be patient and consistent.”


Would you do another one?

“First thought, no.  I have two girls and unfortunately there’s so many self-image issues with girls in our society.  The reason I decided to compete at this time was that my girls are at ages where they don’t really understand it.  However, the last thing they need is to see their mom as an awkwardly tan, super suited being consumed with how I look.  Figure competing is indeed a sport, takes training and discipline but I rather my girls see me as healthy and active mom.  And although I did not win in the eyes of the judges, certainly doesn’t mean I failed in the eyes of my family and friends.”

Certainly not.  You rocked it!


Have you ever accomplished a goal you never thought you would?  Have you tried something that scared you?  What was the result?