WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Click. Click. Click. Her five-inch heels announced every step she took across the stage as the spotlight made her entire body glisten. Months of non-stop training and steadfast dedication came down to this single moment. She felt ready to face the judges. Once she hit center stage, the 5-foot fitness competitor struck her first pose and the crowd went wild. Now, all she had to do was smile – and flex every muscle in her body.
It was U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Haley Storicks’s first figure competition, held in Sebring, Florida, on March 17, 2018. Among her dozens of competitors there, Storicks placed third overall.
“I’ve always been into fitness, but never did any competing until I was in the Air Force,” said Storicks, an administrative journeyman assigned to the 509th Contracting Squadron.
Storicks began her fitness journey when she arrived at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, in July 2017.
“I wanted to get healthier and lose the weight I put on after going through all of the stress of basic military training and technical school.
“I chose to compete because it has always been a dream of mine,” said the 24-year old. “I’ve done mud runs and CrossFit in the past, but competing on stage is completely different than any of those. It’s more of a pageant style and you get to show off all the prepping you’ve done leading up to it, which I love.”
In the spotlight
During the competition, all the competitors were separated into categories based on their height and weight. The women were judged on their tan, complexion, makeup, hair, body fat percentage and stage presence. In general, there are three types of female muscle competitions: bodybuilding, fitness and figure.
“First, I found the right coach, who started me on a meal regimen and workout plan,” she said. “I went from 24-percent body fat and 158 pounds to 19-percent body fat and 145 pounds. Although I have lost weight, I don’t focus on that. You’re building a lot of muscle during this process, so I try and focus on how I look with progress photos instead of the number on the scale.”
Storicks’s fitness coach, Arnold Budd, pushed her and kept her accountable during the process of changing her lifestyle to achieve her goals.
“My overall goals are to train hard, win a couple of competitions and live a healthy lifestyle,” Storicks explained. “I love the way being physically fit feels and the more competitions I do, the more experienced I will become.”
Getting fit, staying motivated
After Storicks found her coach, she started to do some serious training. Her workouts were different every day and her meal plans depended on whether she was trying to gain muscle, lose weight or tone her figure.
“When I was shredding (weight) for my competition I would work out every morning from 4:30 to 5:45 a.m., doing fasted cardio on the stair stepper for 20 minutes and then an hour of abdominal work,” Storicks explained. “After a full day at work, I would go back to the gym to do my trainer’s workout.”
Her meal plans were limited in both quantity and variety, and she ate every two to three hours.
“I ate egg whites, tilapia, grilled chicken, asparagus, a post-workout shake and oatmeal with peanut butter,” Storicks listed.
This new lifestyle wasn’t easy to adjust to though.
“My biggest challenge throughout this process was changing my diet,” Storicks said. “I went from eating whatever and whenever I wanted to prepping all of my food and only eating at certain times. I craved cookie-dough ice cream, pizza and even food I never used to eat.”
However, she focused on her goals and made a commitment to the new lifestyle of eating clean (avoiding processed and junk foods), working out and staying consistent. One of the key factors motivating her to push through the difficult days was thinking about her family.
“I wanted to make my family and friends proud and prove to myself that I’m capable of being 100-percent committed in order to succeed,” she said. “This lifestyle change has completely opened my eyes to what health, fitness and the competition world are all about.”
During the training process and the competition itself, Storicks made a lot of new friends and developed a new confidence in herself.
“I’m in love with the way this makes me feel and seeing the progress and results along the way,” she said. After completing her first competition, Storicks knew it wouldn’t be her last. Her coach is confident that she’ll succeed.
“I’ve been training with Storicks for eight months now and she is a true hard worker and go-getter,” Budd said. “It’s been nothing but fun to train and guide her toward her fitness goals.”
Currently, Storicks is preparing for a figure competition August 4, 2018 in Joplin, Missouri.
“This journey wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it,” Storicks said. “For anyone who’s wanting to compete, it will push you to the best you can be and show you where your strengths and weaknesses are. You’ll learn a lot about fitness, health and yourself along the way. It’ll be tough and you might want to quit, but once you achieve that goal you’ll remember why you started.”
Until then, Storicks is trading in her stilettos for athletic shoes and combat boots, hitting the gym and executing the mission.