Bikini Boot Camp: Titilolami’s Initiation Into Competitive Bikini Bodybuilding


Published: January 12, 2017

This story was first published in Radiant Health Magazine Issue N0.07 (February 2015).

One woman’s foray into the world of extreme competitive fitness, the hurdles she faced, and her reasons for taking the plunge.

In April of 2015, I competed in a bikini bodybuilding competition. Since then, I have pondered about writing this article, because I don’t want to give anyone the impression that this is a good route to getting the fit body that a lot of people admire in magazines. Let me be up front and say it now: the training was brutal, it was expensive, the strain and sacrifice were too much, and the reward of that super-lean body – well, it doesn’t last.

I had always said no to these types of competitions in the past because I didn’t have the discipline to be on a strict diet for over three months, and also because I thought prancing around onstage in a bikini was mortifying, embarrassing and ridiculous. You see, I’m a natural introvert who displays extrovert traits only amongst very close friends. Me, all greased up, flexing muscles? My God!

Extreme fitness, extraordinary cause

But I agreed to do it because my colleague and friend with whom I run the charity Path to Possibilities convinced me that it would be a great way to challenge ourselves and to raise money. Now, I like a good challenge, and the charity is extremely close to my heart. Also, I already had a great trainer, Gavin Povall, whom I had complete confidence in. I trusted that he would get me to where I needed to be without compromising my physical or mental health.


For four months I ate within a strict plan. My diet was very precise. I had to eat specific carbohydrates, proteins, fats and other micronutrients. And I had to eat six times a day. I also had to measure and prepare all of my meals. I could not eat out. I could not drink alcohol. I could not eat simple sugars. I slept, ate and trained.

Most days I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and went to train. From training I’d rush to work, then at lunchtime I trained. I would get home, sort the children out, sort the husband out and train. My social life was nonexistent for those four months. I didn’t hang out with friends or colleagues. I didn’t go to people’s houses, because they’d offer all sorts of food; it was not the temptation but the nagging “Oh, but chicken wouldn’t hurt . . .” It became too much for me.

“You cannot quit!”

There is a precise science and logic to bodybuilding which still appeals to me. It truly is a sport, and one that requires mental toughness. The training wasn’t the challenge for me; it was the food. Some days I wanted to quit, but I couldn’t quit because people had started to sponsor us. Every day drew us closer to our £3,000 fundraising target. I really had to dig deep.

On more than one occasion I called my closest friend and cried, but she said, “You cannot quit – everyone is watching.” That bit of tough love motivated me to see it through. And of course I didn’t want to let down my trainer, poor Gavin, who got the brunt of the low moods, the insistent and neurotic questioning, the self-doubt, everything.

I also kept telling myself that I was doing this for our charity, which was trying to remind everyone that the Chibok girls are still missing. In the grip of self-doubt, I would think of the girls stolen from their school in Nigeria; 219 girls are still missing. Not only are they being deprived of an education; they are being deprived of control over their own bodies – what they eat, how they move, where they move, what they wear . . . This fueled me to press on.

Boko Haram translates into “Western education is forbidden.” Path to Possibilities, on the other hand, educates children. This was my mini protest – my protest against Boko Haram. And I knew Boko Haram would especially hate a bikini competion!

Never say never . . .

On show day, I felt completely elated and proud that I had made it. But to be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy the day; the whole stage thing is just not me. I can stand onstage and deliver a killer speech, but walking and posing and flexing – I just couldn’t relax or get into character. I was glad when it was over, and I celebrated in style: amala and efo!


People always ask if I’d do it again. I don’t want to say never, because there is something about it that appeals, the goal setting and goal smashing. But I’m closer to saying never than anything else, because for me the sacrifice was simply too much: the strain on family life, the strain on friendships, and let’s not forget the strain on the body and mind. And as I said in the beginning, the reward of a super-tight body does not last. This is accepted as normal – that’s why athletes have off- and on-season looks.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience and the challenge. Being a bikini competitor took me right out of my comfort zone, and it has also given me great skills and knowledge about eating for life. I am trying to pass on as much of what I’ve learned as I can to others, especially to Nigerian moms on my Instagram page.

But going forward I just want to eat well. I want to have balanced meals (and bigger meals), and I want to train for enjoyment, not just for a competition. I don’t want to constantly count macros or measure my food. I want to take my children to the cinema and eat popcorn and sweets. I am not a fitness model. I am not a personal trainer. I just love fitness and a variety of foods!

But if I were to do it again, I will bring a better package. I’ll train smarter, eat more flexibly within my plan, and this time, I will take the posing lessons much more seriously. Did I say I would never do this again? Oh, dear!

To learn more about Path to Possibilities, visit

Got an I Did It! story of your own to share? Email us at

Like what you're reading? Sign up for our free newsletter and never miss a post! Plus get a FREE digital version of our Issue No.10 with sign up.


About Titilolami Bello

Titilolami, 37, works full time in financial services. She is married and a mom to a 7-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. Ardent in her dedication to public service and giving back, Titilolami founded the charity “Path to Possibilities” ( in 2009. This charity primarily provides scholarship funds to bright but underprivileged Nigerian children. Titilolami is also a governor at Leyton Sixth Form College. She is passionate about fitness and plans to enter a fitness competition next year. She also enjoys being an amateur writer and blogs at Her talents also include cooking, and it is the only thing she refuses to be modest

Visit My Website
View All Posts
Shop Now

Leave a Comment