No matter the placing, I finished first at my second show.

The jitters and nerves did not ramp up until 10 minutes before show time.

I competed in my first bodybuilding competition in August 2015 (blog here). Experience increases comfort and confidence. I definitely carried more of both for this second show. The 2016 NPC Central USA Natural Championships was held at the Century Link Center in Omaha, Neb.

Caroline's Cues | No matter the placing, I finished first at my second show.

This go around, the show seemed to fly by. Saturday morning was prejudging.

I made a few mistakes.

That evening for finals, those errors probably added to my results.

I placed second in my class.

Caroline's Cues | NPC Central USA Natural Championships Presentation 2016
Stage photos courtesy of npcnewsonline.com

Initially, I was bummed.

I had worked my tail off. Yet, again, I got second place.

After some reflection and kind words from my coach and friends, I knew that in reality, I finished first.

There were some tough competitors in the group. I brought a better physique and stronger confidence to this show. I also practiced posing much more and it felt much more natural on stage. For only my second show ever, placing second two times is a big accomplishment! I even made some friends along the way.

Caroline's Cues | Bodybuilding Figure Friends
It’s fun meeting other competitors, especially those who live nearby!

Why I am so critical on myself and don’t take time to celebrate the little successes? It was a local show with a comforting environment.

The most comforting part was the group of people there supporting me.

My best friend Libby flew from Ohio for the show! She is not only encouraging, but also understands the routines, prep and attended my first show too. I basically should hire her as my show weekend assistant for any future shows. šŸ˜€

Caroline's Cues | Relationships [and great food] make all the difference
Me, Libby and Kayla enjoyed a night out at The Cheesecake Factory after the show.

My friend Kayla, who now lives in Omaha, joined for the weekend, as did my friend Jesse and her boyfriend who live in Grand Island and Kearney. There were also a few folks from Feel Fit gym in attendance. It was nice having a recognizable group of people cheering me on in the audience.

Caroline's Cues | Friends at NPC Central USA Naturals Championship 2016

Not only were they familiar faces, but they continue to uplift me. They say your life is built from your relationships. I couldn’t agree more. That is why I finished first this weekend.

It takes time to realize who your truest friends and supporters are in life. This is something I have discovered not only through my bodybuilding endeavors, but also from moving away from home, away from familiarity and comfort. I know I will only continue to learn more about myself, my relationships and my future through these experiences. Thank you to my family, friends, coach, and other supporters and followers through this adventure. I could not have done it without your encouragement.

My journey through fitness will continue evolving. I have a show this May that I am extremely excited for, as it is a national-level competition. The fire that burns within me keeps driving me to want to improve, place well and learn more about health and fitness. Only time will tell and the experiences are invaluable.

No matter the placing, I finished first and plan to do so again.

Caroline's Cues | Wave as Caroline walks off stage