Tech. Sgt. Dorothy Dingba, 67th Cyberspace Wing manpower analyst, poses with the trophies she won during the 34th annual Lackland Bodybuilding Classic, Nov. 8. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Lynsie Nichols)
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO- LACKLAND, Texas —
When Tech. Sgt. Dorothy Dingba appeared on the Bob Hope Performing Arts Center stage as a finalist for the Bikini A and Bikini Military categories at the 34th annual Lackland Bodybuilding Classic - her first bodybuilding show - Nov. 8, her body shook and her mouth went dry as she smiled for the judges.
Under the show's bright lights, the 67th Cyberspace Wing manpower analyst was a nervous wreck as she wondered whether her hard work waking up at 2:30 a.m. six days a week to work out while balancing school and work, was actually going to pay off.
Not expecting to be successful in her first show, Dingba exceeded her expectations and earned first place honors in the Bikini Military category and placed third in the Bikini A division.
"For me, it was just an accomplishment to get on the stage," Dingba said. "When I got called to the stage as a finalist, it was exciting. I could tell that the other girls were nervous as well; I could feel the energy.
"I feel so blessed. It was cool that the judges thought I brought forth a good package because I do work hard, and working out is what I like to do. The coolest part is being rewarded for something you like to do."
Dingba has been a fitness fiend since joining the Air Force 11 years ago. Her passion for it was boosted when she met her now husband, Tech. Sgt. Amadi Dingba, 343rd Training Squadron military training leader, three years ago while working in the same squadron.
"After we started working out together, he encouraged me to lift heavier than I was," she said. "When I began lifting heavier, I became more confident about my body and pushing myself. He encouraged me and told me I was stronger than I thought I was. It meant a lot.
"Sometimes you have moments where you feel down and not so confident. He told me that I could push myself in the gym because I always push myself in school and at work. It means a lot because it lets me know that he has my back, and we are able to live this life together."
Knowing friends who were also into bodybuilding, Dingba was intrigued by the sport and signed up in September to participate in the Classic since it took place at her permanent duty station. She began seriously prepping for the Classic in October by researching online meal plans, following bodybuilders on Instagram and asking them questions about the sport. She also viewed YouTube videos of various bodybuilding shows and studied how the competitors walked and posed.
"YouTube was my best friend," the Centreville, Va. native said.
In addition to her research, Dorothy Dingba performed 40 minutes of weight training six days a week followed by 40 minutes of cardio three days a week. She also practiced her show routine in her kitchen, and then sent a video of it to her friend for critiquing.
"My friend said I looked like a robot, and the goal is to not look like a robot," Dorothy Dingba explained. "It helped to have someone coach me on what I am supposed to do."
The bikini competitor also credits her husband for making sure she maintained a clean healthy eating regimen, including not indulging in a cheat meal every Saturday.
"Once I started my prep, I wanted to make sure that I went into the competition clean and worked as hard as I could to achieve my goal," Dingba said.
Amadi is proud of his wife for the time and effort she put into prepping for the Lackland Classic.
"She worked harder in the gym than some of the guys," the 343rd TRS military training leader said. "Dorothy is one of the most driven people I know, and she is very independent. When it comes to lifting weights, she wants to do it herself first."
With one bodybuilding show on her resume, Dorothy Dingba said her next goal is to eventually earn a professional bodybuilding card. However, at present time, she is focused on completing her doctorate in education online at North Central University, and hopes to teach online criminal justice classes some day.
When's she not working, working out and studying, Dorothy Dingba mentors teens at San Antonio high schools.
"I would like to continue educating teens and help build futures in San Antonio," she said.
Her work ethic comes from having her priorities straight, having a solid foundation of values and goals and improving herself on a daily basis.
"You have to ask yourself, 'is this going to get me closer to my goals or not?'"