Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Student Macie Brinkopf finds balance in her bodybuilding journey

Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Senior dietetics major Macie Brinkopf demonstrates a latteral pull-down. Brinkopf attends Healthpoint Fitness gym in Cape Girardeau.
Photo by Kate Haussman

Stage performances and competitions can be nerve-wracking and challenging on one’s mental health. To make it even harder, imagine only having a string bikini to hide behind.

Senior dietetics major Macie Brinkopf faces this for every bodybuilding competition she does. After a year-long break from competing, Brinkopf is ready to get back to it.

Brinkopf decided it was time to take her health seriously two years ago when she hired a coach to help her lose weight. Once Brinkopf saw the progress she was making, she took up her coach’s offer to do body competitions.

Brinkopf began prepping for her first competition in April 2021. “Prep” is a word used by bodybuilders to describe the preparation time before a body competition.

After five months of prep, Brinkopf entered her first competition in August with her now-fiancé. In September, Brinkopf competed in her second show and won the overall of her division.

In order to get some well-deserved rest, Brinkopf ended her season there.

“When you get done with competing, you are allowed to eat whatever you'd like,” Brinkopf said. “I kind of went off the rails with that and resumed to how I was before I even really started dieting.”

This time was a struggle for Brinkopf: Negative thoughts of herself and her body were constant throughout each day. To silence these emotions, she began prep again in January 2022.

During this round of prep, Brinkopf made the decision to switch to a new bodybuilding coach. Her new coach is Miss Bikini Olympia, Jennifer Dory.

“That in itself is hard for a coach to really grasp onto what you were doing before with your previous coach and how we need to prepare for the show that you're wanting to do,” Brinkopf said.

Unfortunately, it didn’t get much easier for Brinkopf; prep was not going the way she planned, and she officially stopped training in July 2022.

The rebound in September 2021 affected her more than she thought. It caused a change in her hormone levels,making it more difficult to lose weight.

Brinkopf used this break to heal her mind and soul. She began seeing a therapist to talk about her struggles and how to move forward. With the help of her therapist, fiancé and best friend, she was able to rekindle her relationship with food.

“I know what foods do well with me. I know what makes me feel good. And I know how much balance I can incorporate,” Brinkopf said. “I just feel like I'm less likely to have what happened to me in 2021 happen again.”

Brinkopf is performing a dumbbell curl-up. She uses this exercise to strengthen her bicep muscles in her upper arms.
Photo by Kate Haussman

After so many months away from training, Brinkopf’s best friend, senior dietetics major Maggie Boxborfer, believes Brinkopf is ready to get back into bodybuilding.

“I think mentally she's there — she's at a place where she's had enough time off,” Boxborfer said. “She's been growing, building, and she's been taking this time to really, really make sure she's following the right steps.”

Brinkopf plans to compete in more body competitions later this year, possibly this summer before she starts her master’s degree in the Science of Applied Nutrition program at SEMO. Brinkopf will also start an internship this year in September.

Although the competitions are months away, she has already begun prep for another special event.

In March of this year, Brinkopf will marry her fiancé, senior cybersecurity major Caleb Oswald. Oswald is a fellow bodybuilder and is prepared to help Brinkopf with her journey back to the top.

“Especially when it comes to diet, we need to get all the junk food out of the house,” Oswald said. “So, that includes me — I mean, I'm not gonna eat that around her if she can't have it.”

If you would like to follow Brinkopf on her journey, check out her Instagram, @fitbymacie.