Jessica Tackett - Bikini Competitor

My name is Jessica Tackett although when I competed I was Jessica Benton.
I started my fitness journey about three years ago after a camp I attended. I wanted to make a point to commit time to myself and the gym was my escape, my me time. So after 2 years of that along with working out during my pregnancy with my first child I set a goal for myself to compete a year after I gave birth to my little boy. I had my little boy on May 7, 2016 and competed on June 3, 2017 and placed second in my class.

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Before competing I never really followed a "diet" per say, I just tried to eat healthy foods that were high in protein and good complex carbs. However when I started my competition prep my husband (fiance at the time) wrote my diets for me. We followed a MACRO approach and then once we got to about halfway we started cycling my carbs to help burn fat. All of this was geared specifically for me, how my body was at the time and how we wanted my body to look come show day. During off season I am a lot more lenient with my diet in order to build muscle and mass and I don't typically weigh all my foods and portion them during off season like some do.

How did I build the confidence to strut on stage and show my physique in a bikini that covers little to nothing? PRACTICE. I met with a posing coach twice during my prep and then I practiced for weeks leading up to my show. The hardest part for me was walking and looking graceful on stage in 5 inch heels without cramping. When people tell you to practice your posing more than anything else they aren't lying, it can make or break you!

My training leading up to my show was weight lifting 6 days a week and cardio 3 days a week and as we got closer it became 6 days a week and sometimes twice a day. Diet was the key but cardio and weight training did a lot for me as well, I am naturally thin/no muscle build so in order to maintain my muscle I had built I had to continue the weight lifting aspect and make sure I was eating my meals according to my plan to keep those muscles full.

How was I feeling leading up to the show and show day? Nervous. Don't get me wrong I was very excited, but also very nervous. I had never done anything like this before, no pageants or anything that required me to be on stage in front of a crowd of people so stepping on stage in a bikini in front of a crowd of people and judges was a little nerve racking to say the least. Everyone was very helpful through the process though and I met some really awesome ladies and formed some great friendships along the way.

Being an athlete has had such a positive impact on my life. Before having a child it was all about establishing self love for me and being the healthiest me I could be. By maintaining my fitness lifestyle through pregnancy I felt it made the process so much easier. I was able to bounce back and get back in the gym only a week after having my son and I truly believe that wouldn't have been possible had I not kept up my active lifestyle through my entire pregnancy. Prepping for a fitness competition while raising a child, planning a wedding, and working full time in an accountants office during tax season was a little overwhelming to say the least but it was doable. However, after my competition I decided to take a step back and focus more on my relationship and son and then we found out I was expecting baby number two so that added a little bit more into the mix of things and unfortunately my fitness has taken a back burner here recently.

My current plan is to try and stay active during this pregnancy, since we moved we now live in the country with no gym within 30-40 miles of us so I have had to get creative with at home workouts until we can get our home gym established. I will see how things go with this baby due in January and then decide whether I will compete in 2018 or wait a year, but I still plan to stay active and healthy whether I compete or not. Fitness is not just a fad for me, it has become a major part of my lifestyle and I encourage others to make it a part of their lifestyles as well. There is no better feeling than feeling good in the body you live in day in and day out.


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