During the past two years, Estefania Figueiredo wasn’t feeling well, so she turned to fitness to get strong.
“I really was not in an optimal shape,” said Figueiredo, 31, a human resources consultant for a health care company who lives in Miami Lakes. “I was at a point in my life where I was just not happy.
“On the inside I wasn’t feeling good,” she said. “I had different aches and pains. I was not feeling athletic. I was not feeling strong at all.”
Figueiredo’s discomfort prompted her to change her lifestyle, and to not only get healthier, but to enter her first fitness competition.
And after eight months of hard work, she clinched a prize.
In November, Figueiredo showed off her toned and tanned self in a rose gold bikini that dripped with crystals in the
Amateur Diva Bikini Model category of the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion Entertainment competition held in Miami.
Figueiredo hid her nerves behind her smile.
“I feel like I blacked out, but I spent so much time practicing my posing routine that my body took over and I went on auto-pilot,” she said, of her performance.
“I was so nervous that I could not stop smiling,” she said. “At the end of the day, that was a plus.”
Judges awarded her third place in the event held at the Hyatt-Regency Hotel, where she also competed in a sparkly emerald-green evening gown.
Judges looked for “beauty of face, figure, physical fitness, and the confidence with which each contestant carries herself,” according to the competition website.
Figueiredo lost 32 pounds during training, and she gained the courage to show judges how hard she’d worked. That was her biggest accomplishment, she said.
Placing third was “just the cherry on top” and unexpected “extra validation,” she said.
She keeps her trophy atop her television stand. It continues to motivate her.
“It was definitely something that pushed me way out of my comfort zone,” Figueiredo said about the competition.
“But that’s kind of what I wanted,” she said. “I’m more proud of myself for having stuck to what I wanted to do and getting on the stage than I am for the actual pounds lost.”
Still, her fitness feat didn’t come easily. Progress was slow and steady, and she relied on a team of coaches in Australia who she got to know through social media. Julia Woodford, Figueiredo’s posing coach, would meet with her weekly via Zoom.
They connected on Instagram and met in person for the first time at Figueiredo’s competition.
“Her commitment and dedication was amazing,” Woodford said in an email from Australia. “I absolutely loved working with her and seeing her improvements every week, not just in her posing and physique but in her confidence.”
Everything Figueiredo consumed was calculated and logged, and she watched portion sizes.
“Prep is extremely controlled,” she said. “You’re counting [the carbs, proteins and fats in] every single bite that you put into your mouth, every lick, every sip of whatever you’re drinking —you’re counting that,” she said.
A typical breakfast was an egg white scramble, English muffin and sautéed vegetables. There was a red Thai curry over noodles or rice, for lunch or dinner. She aimed for up to a maximum 12,000 steps each day, and went to the gym up to six days a week to lift weights. On one of those days she did a cardio workout.
Sculpting her body was just part of the equation.
To improve her stage presence, Figueiredo also practiced posing each day in six-inch heels.
Her advice to those with a fitness-focused New Year’s resolution: “Take it one step at a time and be gentle with yourself.
“A lot of people go from zero to 60 and do a complete overhaul and [when] they fall off the wagon, they scrap the whole thing,” she said. “It’s just a reminder that tiny changes will build up. Motivation comes and goes. What you have to rely on is your discipline.”
Figueiredo has a new set of goals for 2022: Build more muscle and get back on stage, where she hopes to become a professional bodybuilder.
“Hopefully we place higher in the show and we get my pro card,” she said. That’s what I’m chasing.”