Jessica Correia | NPC National Qualifying Bikini Competitor Shares the Power of Mental Discipline

Pawtucket-Native Jessica Correia shares her journey to becoming a National Qualifying Bikini Competitor, and discusses the power of goal-setting and mental discipline.

— By Jess E

Jessica Correia has learned over the years that she is really good at coming up with exciting ideas and projects.  However, maintaining that excitement and following through with those goals had been a struggle in the past.  “I was the type of person who would set a goal and go full force in the beginning,” Jessica said.  “But then, I would kind of lose interest or motivation, and then the goal would fall off.  So, this time I decided to commit to something that I would finish.”

Jessica decided in 2016 that she would compete in her first ever bikini competition, which would include a very strict 20-week prep program.  This was a lofty goal for someone who was working full-time and traveling for work at least once a month.

“I saw Alysha Freeman in her competitions and decided that this was something I wanted to do,” Jessica said. “One thing that made this goal attractive was that it had an end date.  I would start in November, and compete in April.  I realized  with this goal that could accomplish something special and get in the best shape of my life.  It really was a win-win situation, so I contacted Alysha and she agreed to help.”

“Then I called Jocelyn [one of Jessica’s most dear friends] right away.  Jocelyn is my accountability couch. I always know I can lean on her,” Jessica said.  “My biggest fear was that I would give up again, like I’ve done many times before, so I feel very lucky that Jocelyn said yes.  I really don’t know if I could have done it without her.”

Although Jessica says she may not have been able to do this without Jocelyn, it is also clear that the extremely strict lifestyle necessary to achieve her goal would not have been sustainable without impeccable dedication and an unforgiving amount of self-discipline.  This was something only Jessica could provide for herself. 

The Grueling Process

“I really had to put my social life on hold,” Jessica said.  “I had really long days and I was tight with time.”

Jessica would wake up everyday to be at the gym at 5am.  She would then head to work and go straight back to the gym for a night session.  “It takes a toll on your body,” She said.  “But what was most challenging was making sure that my family and friends understood that I just wouldn’t be around.  I’m lucky that my family did understand.”

Discipline was everything for Jessica’s fitness journey.  “I learned very quickly that the sport of bodybuilding is a mental thing more than anything,” Jessica said.  “I knew that if I was going to dedicate the time and the money [competing is not cheap], I had to give it my all and make it worth all the sacrifices.  I was on a such a strict schedule, and it was really mind over matter.”

“The first 10 weeks were easy because I was so excited. But towards the middle, I would break down a little,” Jessica said. “We had to check in with the coaches every Saturday, and I was honest with them whenever I would get off track. I knew that lying to my coaches meant that I would be cheating myself. We were allowed one treat meal a week, and there were some weeks I didn’t get a treat meal because I got off track.  Regardless, in the end I was actually on track 90 percent of the time.”

“During the months of my prep, I couldn’t help but look at other girls on Instagram,” Jessica said, “And I compared my progress to theirs, but I knew for some of these girls, they lived and breathed this stuff, and that was intimidating for me.”  Nonetheless, she pushed through until the very last days before the competition.

The Moment of Truth

“Driving up to New York for the competition made everything feel real,” Jessica said.  “I started this journey in Nov. 2016, the week before Thanksgiving, and the competition was on April 15th of 2017.  I actually think the moment that it really hit me was when I walked into the hotel lobby and saw the other competitors checking in.  I realized there was no turning back at that point.”

“What helped me was that I knew that I would be comfortable on stage,” Jessica said.  “I danced all my life.  I imagined my time on stage almost like a dance recital and gave it my all. Being on stage doesn’t scare me.  I was more worried about whether I was going to be physically ready to be on stage.”


After 20 weeks of dedication, of putting her social life on hold and maintaining a mental discipline that needed to remain on overdrive, Jessica would go on to surpass her own expectations during the day of competition.  Jessica placed among the Top 5 in both competitions in which she participated.  She placed 4th in the Novice Division, and placed 3rd in the Open Division.

I was completely shocked,” Jessica said. “You know I really wanted to do this just for the goal and the experience, but of course I wanted to do somewhat well in the competition.”

Lessons Learned

Jessica is now an NPC (National Physique Committee) National Qualifying Bikini Competitor.  More than just her stronger body, Jessica most appreciates the mental strength she gained during the process.  She realizes that engaging in this 20-week transformative journey changed both her fitness habits and her mindset.  “It’s taught me that I can literally do anything I put my mind to. I  know it sounds cliche, but I truly believe this now that I’ve gone through this experience.”

Jessica also continues to excel in her full-time position at Equity National, a national title and closing company.  Jessica started her career at Equity as a receptionist while still a college student at University of Rhode Island.  “I actually found the job on Craigslist, and I started as a receptionist,” she said.

parents, which I’m grateful for her, but because of the sacrifices my parents made, I make sure that in everything I do, I work hard so that I can be successful.”

Jessica would go on to work her way up within the organization.  Her inspiring work ethic and her determination to be the best she can be led to many opportunities for growth throughout her 9 years with the company.


Today, Jessica is an Account Manager for the organization, a position in which she travels across the country to represent the institution.  “I travel pretty often, about one week in the month,” Jessica said. “And I love what I do.”

Jessica is also a first-generation Cape Verdean American, and appreciates that her parents risked so much to make a life for her and her siblings.  “My parents came to the states to live the American dream, and that really inspires me to continue to establish myself and accomplish my goals in life,” She said. “I don’t actually get any pressure from my parents, which I’m grateful for her, but because of the sacrifices my parents made, I make sure that in everything I do, I work hard so that I can be successful.”

Goal-Setting Strategies

I asked Jessica to share what she’s learned from her journey about the ways in which individuals can set themselves up for success.  She provided some great insight that we can all carry with us as we pursue our goals. 

“I realize that sometimes looking at a big goal can be overwhelming,” Jessica said. “I’ve learned to break down the goal and take baby steps to get there.  I try to think about what I can start now to be successful in the long-term.”

Jessica suggests that we remember not to bite off more than we can chew. “Big goals can become overwhelming if we forget to focus on what we can accomplish today,” Jessica said. photo_-snicca-photographysniccaphotography-_-ig.png

This specific strategy was a key factor in helping Jessica crush her competition goals in 2017.  As for competing in future bikini competitions, Jessica said it’s definitely a possibility for her.  “I did this with the intention of it being a one-time thing,” Jessica said, “But after working so hard, I definitely caught the bug.  I would most definitely do again.”

I’m wishing Jessica the best of luck in any future endeavors, and will always appreciate her for being willing to share her inspiring story.  

For the rest of us, let’s keep dreaming, and let’s keep working toward our goals because, as Jessica says, “Anything is possible as long as you put in the work, and trust the process.”

– JE

Reach Out & Support:

  • Instagram: @jessicacorreia._
  • Email:

Jessica’s Top Books (Self-Help):

Jessica’s Top Podcasts:

From this Article:

  • A and D Fitness: Support a local business & get fit at the same time with this online fitness training program.  The owners grew up in Rhode Island.
  • MOFLIKS: Support the photographer responsible for this article’s profile photo.
  • Snicca Photography: Support one of the RI photographers responsible for Jessica’s great shots!

Related Articles: Goal-Setting & Fitness



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