Former beauty queen comes back stronger with bodybuilding

Former beauty queen comes back stronger with bodybuilding

Noemi Dingle Ligunjang recently won two golds at the National Physique Committee Worldwide Singapore Showdown 2022

KOTA KINABALU – After retiring from the world of beauty pageants, former winner Noemi Dingle Ligunjang is now beating gender stereotypes. Earlier this month, she won two Golds for Malaysia in a bodybuilding competition in Singapore.

The 35-year-old mum from Sabah said while there are social standards that dictate women’s appearances, it should not stop them from getting fit and toned.

“Social standards do exist, of course – society has a certain expectation on women’s bodies and appearances. But for me, there is no better standard than being satisfied with yourself and your body.

“Being strong or having apparent muscles gives me confidence and a sense of mental strength, and of course, I do this for my health. A lot of people who don’t understand will criticise what I do, but I do this for myself, and not to meet so-called standards set by others,” she told The Vibes.

The Kadazan flight attendant from Penampang said that the idea that a woman would lose her femininity from lifting weights is a terrible myth.


Noemi (centre) was crowned Miss Sabah Malaysia Model in 2011. – Pic courtesy of Noemi Dingle Ligunjang

“It is not going to happen. Lifting weights or doing exercises involving gym equipment will not make a woman less of a woman and become heavily masculine like a man.

“No one ever becomes a bodybuilder by accident. Muscle bulk is dependent largely upon testosterone production, which women do not have enough to make us bulk up as men do,” she said.

Winning on the international circuit

The NPC is the largest amateur bodybuilding organisation in the United States. Noemi defeated athletes from 13 countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Mongolia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, India, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

While this is Noemi’s biggest win so far, it is not the first time that she won an international-level women’s fitness competition. She also won Gold in the WWF Women Sports Model Singapore in 2016.

It is the first time that she won gold after giving birth to her son in 2018.


Noemi won two Golds for Malaysia in the National Physique Committee Worldwide Singapore Showdown 2022. – Pic courtesy of Noemi Dingle Ligunjang

She said throughout the years, she has received negative comments and criticisms from people, including her friends, who would ask her to stop weightlifting before her body became like that of a man.

“This is something that I want to change. I want to show people that women can be strong, toned, and have muscles, but can still maintain their femininity, be beautiful, confident, and healthy inside and out,” she said.

Noemi’s journey towards her goal

“For this recent competition, this is my best body condition so far,” Noemi said.

She shared that it took her 23 weeks, almost six months, to prepare and train for the competition.

She said the sacrifices were huge, physically, mentally, and even financially.


“I train six times a week. I believe, that if you want to be a champion, you have to train like one. This sport requires high self-discipline, and consistency is the key.

“Believe it or not, bodybuilding competitions are expensive. The meals, supplements, bikini suits, accessories, spray tan, and the cost to compete, it is not cheap,” Noemi said. She will be selling her T-shirt “Sabahan Phoenix” to be released soon to fund for her next competition.

For the recent competition, Noemi was coached by her husband, Wayner, and she trained and represented the Yayasan Sabah Gym.

She said her husband is her biggest supporter and has always been by her side to support, guide, and coach her since throughout her whole journey.

“Having him by my side and for him to be understanding of my passion for competing is why I am who I am today. I am beyond blessed,” she said.

Noemi said winning this competition is just the beginning of her journey in the International Federation of Body Building and Fitness (IFBB) bikini fitness.

She is now eyeing competing at NPC Bangkok Regionals this coming November, and her ultimate goal is to earn the IFBB bikini Pro Card to compete with the pro athletes.

Her dream is to compete on a bigger stage – the IFBB Olympia.


Noemi (left) joined and won several Unduk Ngadau pageant competitions when she was younger. – Pic courtesy of Noemi Dingle Ligunjang
Retiring from the beauty pageant world

“I am just an ordinary woman with big dreams,” Noemi said when asked about her leaving the world of the beauty pageants, to which she is no stranger.

Among others, she was the first runner-up in Miss and Mister Sabah Top Model International 2010, crowned winner of Miss Sabah Malaysia Model in 2011, and the first runner-up in Unduk Ngadau (Sabah’s Kaamatan beauty pageant) in Kuala Penyu and Kota Belud in 2010.

She said as she grew older, she found a new interest in fitness in 2014.

“Doing pageants was fun, but fitness comp challenge me emotionally, physically, and intellectually in a way that pageants never did,” she said.

She started getting serious about fitness because she wanted to feel better, look good, and boost her self-confidence.

And then, it became addictive.

“I love to sweat, to feel the burn, and the pleasure and satisfaction grow stronger, pushing me to go for more. I also find fitness training is the best place for me to divert all negative energy and stress.

“When I saw the progress of my body, it motivates me to train more,” she said, adding that endorphins released from exercise would put her in a fabulous mood.

Noemi said if given choice between beauty pageants and fitness competitions now, she would choose the latter.

However, her experience in beauty pageants has given her an advantage because fitness competition (bikini and physique categories) is similar to pageant competitions as contestants are required to wear a swimsuit, put on make up and perform a simple catwalk on stage.

A message to mothers

Early motherhood brings huge physical changes, especially for first-time mothers, and it is normal, Noemi said.

She said it is also unavoidable for a mother’s daily routine and sleeping patterns to change. But one could always get into a fitness journey by allowing their body to have enough time to recover.

“A healthy lifestyle is about more than just six-pack abs. Start slowly, such as with a home workout programme. Getting back to a body shape you feel comfortable with is possible, but it takes time and dedication. Just keep going and trust the process,” she said.
Noemi said that she finds that having extra strength increased her stamina. This has helped her perform her daily tasks as a mother such as carrying groceries, cleaning, carrying her son, and lifting heavy items.

She encouraged mothers who might feel uncomfortable with their new bodies to stay active as it would promote good mental and physical health.

source – The Vibes

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