After a year of hard work and intense prep, local lawyer Christina Gibson reached her ultimate goal in November 2018: She placed first in her first figure competition in Atlanta. This win had her hooked, and she went on to place competitively at a Nashville National Physique Competition (NPC) this May.

“It all started when I got involved with training with the Titans and started going every Saturday with local trainers,” Christina, 31, says. “I had the chance to go to a competition one of my trainers was in and I saw a girl on the stage whose muscles looked amazing. I wondered if I could do that.”

It wasn’t an easy road for her; intense work and school schedules initially kept Christina from a consistent training schedule, though once she began she noticed her body changing after only two weeks. “My friends and family noticed my initial weight loss. What I noticed was that my clothes fit differently. I was using muscles I’d never used before and they were screaming days after my workouts.”

When Christina teamed up with nutritional coach and trainer Daavon Grayson at Better Life Training in Cordova, her workouts reached the next level. “I struggled for motivation when my body hurt that much, then my coach explained that once I built the muscles up to where they should be it wouldn’t be like that. It kept me going. He was such a critical part of this for me, with both the physical and nutritional aspects.”

Her prep diet consisted of four to five meals per day, carefully measured according to nutritionist specifications. “It was difficult for me to start eating that much daily,” she says. “For future preps, I have to tell my trainer no more tilapia. I ended up eating enough chicken and tilapia to last a lifetime.”

After a few months, Christina reached her goal competition weight of 107, and her already-petite frame gave her the edge she needed to take first place. “I was so nervous, but it felt amazing to see the transformation,” she says. “I always felt like I wasn’t doing enough, and it took seeing my before and after photos to say, ‘Wow, I really did that.’”

After a brief break, Christina launched into yet another prep for the Battle on the Bluff bodybuilding competition, which kept her in the gym. Now her typical workout schedule is still strenuous, with only two days off and a full hour of weight training paired with 30 minutes on the StairMaster.

“I’ve been getting leaner over the past year, and would love to put on more weight. Even though I have more cheat meals now than I ever would during prep, I still maintain my cardio and meal prep every week at home,” she says. “Two preps back to back was intense, and I’m happy to be back to balance and maintenance.”

Christina is next looking forward to a Spartan competition—a series of obstacle races of varying distance and difficulty, ranging from three miles to marathon distances, including things like wall climbing, slippery walks, and barbed-wire crawls.

“This will be the most difficult thing I’ve competed in, but the obstacles challenge really appeals to me. It’s going to be tough, but looking back at what I’ve already done, I know I can do this too.”

By India Nikotich

Photo by Tindall Stephens