Cesli Grimes says the rewards of her demanding sport are worth the sacrifices.
Take someone with total discipline, dedication and willpower, mix in a little obsession and you have the makings of a body builder.
Competing in her first body building show earlier this month, Cesli Grimes placed second in figure at the Optimum Classic in Shreveport.
"I was so surprised," Grimes said of her runner-up finish. "I had a blast."
Criteria for the figure division involves a small degree of muscularity with separation but no visible striations, overall muscle tone with shapely lines, overall firmness without being excessively lean, a healthy appearance, makeup and skin tone.
Grimes says she began preparing for the event about three months ago. Encouraged by the result of her first show, Grimes plans to compete again in June.
Other than a couple of years of sub-varsity basketball, Grimes did not compete in athletics while growing up in Bastrop. As a student at ULM, she began working out to stay fit and liked the results.
"I started working out and my body responded real well," said Grimes, a 2005 Prairie View graduate who went on to earn her bachelor's degree in marketing from ULM. "It just developed into an obsession — an addiction."
Body building isn't for everyone. Actually, only a select few are willing to make the sacrifices the grueling sport requires.
"You either enjoy it or you don't," said Grimes, the daughter of Ted and Terri Grimes of Bastrop. "You have to give up everything for it, but it's so rewarding. That's why only 1 percent ever make it to competition."
Being part of the 1 percent comes with a price. Besides the intense training, Grimes sticks to a rigid daily schedule.
"I'm working out by 7 o'clock every single morning and I'm in bed by 9 at night at the latest," Grimes said. "Weekdays, days off from work, it doesn't matter — the routine's the same."
Grimes begins each day with a round of cardio. Upon leaving her job at Gorilla Fitness, she trains, isolating various body parts. From there, it's on to the ULM track stadium for another cardio workout.
"I do a lot of cardio on not a lot of food," Grimes said. "Having energy to workout (in the weeks leading up to competition) was a huge struggle."
Nevertheless, it isn't the demanding training that sets body builders apart. What drives most people away from the sport is the dieting.
"The mental games you have to play with yourself are harder than the physical part," Grimes said. "Dieting is definitely the most important part. Mentally, it's more exhausting than it is physically."
Eating small meals throughout the day, Grimes maintains a high protein level. She varies her intake of carbohydrates with high and low carb days and consumes small portions of good fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats only).
"My body seems to respond better to fish and turkey," Grimes explained. "My fat intake is higher and my carb intake is low."
Maintaining the proper diet can be downright torture. Like anyone else, Grimes has her food cravings. But she has developed an innovative way to deal with those temptations.
"When my sister, Carli Jo, is eating, I'll smell her food five or six times," Grimes laughed. "I kind of eat through her. I'll say, 'Let me just smell your food,' and it satisfies me for a minute or two."
One tiny slipup can destroy a competitor's chances at competition.
After the 9 a.m. pre-judging the day of the May 11 show, Grimes splurged on four ounces of red wine and seven jelly beans. By the time of the live show at 6 p.m., she says she could see a change.
"It's really incredible how the little things you do can make such a big difference," Grimes said. "Just a little bit of sugar makes such a difference."
Body builders have to be conscious of avoiding sugar from any source — not just food.
"No gum, no sugars, period," Grimes said. " I even had to change my mouthwash."
Grimes says she would be unable to maintain her regiment without her support group, which includes personal strength coach Robert Charles Payne.
"My coach, Robert Charles Payne, is awesome," Grimes said. "I couldn't ask for a better coach. He helps me in whatever area I'm lagging in. He's so patient.
"I would also like to thank my family and sponsors for their support."
Grimes currently competes in the National Physique Committee organization, but her ultimate goal is to compete professionally.
"I'm giving myself five years to get my pro card," Grimes said. "If it doesn't work out, I'll probably just put it on the back burner and try to start a family."
For now, Grimes couldn't be any happier with the life she's living.
"Dreams do come true," Grimes said. "I'm a firm believer that if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything."