Bikini Competitor

NAME: Deidre Johnson

AGE: 53



DIVISION: bikini


  • 2015 NPC Jay Cutler Baltimore Classic: 3rd place bikini grandmaster, 7th place bikini open C, 10th place bikini true novice
  • 2015 NPC Mid-Atlantic Max Muscle: did not place

Unfortunately when I started, I was intimidated by the weight room.  I freely confess that I had no clue of what to do.  Despite the fact that I’ve been truly active my entire life, I never opened the door of a gym.  I ran the gamut of sports: gymnastics, track, softball, and even cheered in high school and college.  But after getting married and having the first of five children, priorities shifted and I took a LONG fitness hiatus.  I basically spent pretty much the entire 90’s pregnant.  Once I retired from my career in child-bearing, I needed to get my bum moving and I picked up tennis and distance running, but it wasn’t enough.  My body was making a midlife transition.  I had to put a stop to that!

So after some internet surfing, I came across a YouTube video of David Johnston Training (now TEAM Warrior Within) with client testimonials and the first client was, lo and behold, my cousin.  Well if DJT was kosher with fam, then it was kosher with me.  I began training with David shortly after… and just as shortly after, David began to mention competing.  Clueless me took the bait and asked questions.  David, being the informative person that he is, laid out the entirety of the competitive life and I soaked it all in.  Honestly, it didn’t seem that appealing at first, in fact it sounded like a truckload of misery, but the finished physiques achieved were drool-worthy.

Anywho, I played coy like I wasn’t that interested, but I think David knew better.  So every few sessions, David would drop hints and I guess curiosity got the best of me and I gave in.  It was kinda’ of exciting to take on a new challenge—how I could take this 50-something year old body, replete with the battle marks of child-bearing, and craft it into something new.

So what’s is like training with David?  Hmm, “Better put your big girl panties on” comes to mind.

First, David is exceptionally knowledgeable about his craft and all its nuances: weightlifting, bodybuilding, weight loss, nutrition, diet, motivation, competing, client management and so on.  And he loves to share that knowledge.  Tip to future clients: if you’re gassed (tired from a lift), just ask David a question.  You can buy yourself a good five minutes of rest time.  All jokes aside, he is 100% committed to your progress.  There is no pandering, coddling or babysitting, just a high expectation that when you walk into “his” gym, you will give your full effort and when you leave his gym, you will continue to give your full effort by adhering to the cardio, diet and lifting regimen that he has crafted specifically for you.  Once you come to that understanding, working with David is a piece of cake.  You are now comfortably in the hands of an expert.

Also, he is very attuned to you because he pays attention to your cues, both spoken and unspoken.  He knows when you’re tired, therefore he knows when to push your further.  He knows when you’re up or down, so he knows when to give you extra support.  He knows when to comfort and when to chide.  What he will NOT do is hold your hand and be a crutch, but through guidance, he will empower you.  He is not just a trainer, but a partner in your progress.

For me, the hardest part of preparing for my show was that point where you have to get “real” about cutting.  You spend weeks adding bulk.  Your lifts are fully fueled because you’ve been chowing down like a hog.  You’re in carb heaven… and then… it’s time to cut.  It goes somewhat smoothly at first, a pound here, a pound there, and you begin to shed the fluff.  In fact, you’re looking pretty good in comparison to the general population.  But you’re not going for general, you’re going for fierce.  Fierce is a whole ‘nother thing.  I had learned to manage the time commitment to train and stayed on track with my diet… BUT then we started carb-cycling with longer HIIT sessions… while still training.  My ass was dragging, I was plain exhausted.  That kind of fatigue is a monster, but surprisingly you can handle it.  Proof that you are made of sterner stuff.

What did I use for motivation to get through the difficult times?  Dream about food, talk about food and/or watch other people eat food.

Honestly, the difficult times only made me dig my heels in deeper.  Each day I survived I took pride in the discipline achieved.  But when it was tougher than my pride could survive, I confided my woes to my husband… or whined to David (which I kept to a bare minimum).  Patient beings, they listened, consoled and gave me comfort.  I will never underestimate the value of a few well-placed words of support… or a bacon-cheeseburger when all else fails.

For those looking to get involved with competing, what would I tell them?

The Motivational Side: Be Appreciative.

Appreciate the process.  Getting to the stage is an involved and lengthy process.  It requires dedication, determination and discipline… consistently, over a fair amount of time.  There is no quick or easy route to competing.  Sorry.

Appreciate your individuality. As cliché-ish as this sounds, you are unique and you are perfecting YOUR OWN uniqueness.  Basically, you do you.

Appreciate the personal change.  Yes, it really does reveal your character.  Yes, you will have to raise your internal fortitude game.  Trust me, it’s worth it.  There’s are great deal of personal satisfaction to be had from juggling training, cardio, dieting and real life simultaneously.

The Practical Side: Be Prepared.

Be prepared to spend WAAAAY more time in the gym than you’re used to.  You need a consistent, concerted effort to produce results.

Be prepared to change your eating lifestyle.  Not habits, lifestyle.  It is a full-fledged commitment.  You will edit the frequency, content and amount of everything you eat.

Be prepared to spend a grip.  Competing is expensive.  Especially for the ladies: hair, make-up, tanning, bikini suit, shoes, waxing, nails, jewelry, NPC card, contest fees, hotel, travel, prep food, etc.

Be open to change.  Embrace the struggle because there’s proofing in the fire.  You are no longer relegated to being just another casually fit person.  You are doing something phenomenal, a noteworthy effort in crafting a new you!

During my prep, I learned that I can go an incredibly long time without eating cookies… that I won’t die if chocolate does not regularly cross my lips… and that I am the sole person in the universe who likes unflavored protein.

Just kidding.  Sort of.

Oh, and that I am willing to lick the plate, spoon and interior of any container for that last morsel of food.  That I’m not kidding about.  Contest prep is like that.

Obviously I want to thank David.  At first take, he’s gruff, a wee loud and a task master. (Actually, he’s like that all of the time.)  But dig a little deeper and there lies a compassionate, thoughtful soul.  He genuinely wants to see you achieve your fitness goals, whatever they are.  For me, when competition time rolled around, I was truly amazed at my transformation.  That woman in the mirror was me!  Not wishful thinking, not pressed between the pages of a fitness magazine, but me!  David brought me to my best self and I can’t thank him enough!

And of course the biggest shout-out to my husband.  I couldn’t ask for a better man to walk this journey with.  He held me when I needed comforting, cooked food for me when I was too tired and tolerated my newfound obsession with reflective surfaces.

Whether I click those plastic stripper heels across the stage again is yet to be determined. I’m pretty in-love with the lifting lifestyle, so the gym and clean eating are sufficient for now.  However, I do want to add size and grow… which will take time and even more commitment.  So if I go to all that trouble, I might could conceivably possibly contemplate competing again, preferably in figure.  We’ll see.  If I do, David is the man for me.


David Johnston - TEAM Warrior WithinThis client was trained and prepped by David Johnston. David is the founder and lead trainer of TEAM Warrior Within.  You can also listen to him weekly on the GEARD Up podcast. ( ) David works with clients ranging from the everyday person just trying to lose weight and get healthy, local and national bodybuilding and physique competitors, to IFBB professional athletes.

David lives and breathes all things related to physique transformation, and has devoted nearly half of his life to passionately studying and educating himself to be the absolute best at what he does. His intensity in the gym is matched only by the passion he gives to his clients.