How Did You Get Started In Health And Fitness?
My first show was in December of 2010 and I began training for it in August. I didn’t really know what to expect as I had never been exposed to a Bodybuilding show, but by the morning after, I knew I had to do it again. I played sports growing up and have always been an active person. However, this level of training has changed the way I view fitness. I was the stereotypical cardio queen afraid to lift a weight because I didn’t want to get “bulky”. I’m glad I got over that fear, now my weight training days are my favorite part!
What Is Your Best Accomplishment So Far? Proudest Moment?
It has been fun becoming known in the competition circuit and I would be lying if I said seeing myself on the cover of a magazine wasn’t surreal, but I can honestly say what makes me most proud and humble is seeing the effect my lifestyle choice has had on those around me. My mom has lost 20 pounds and is in the best shape of her life at 54 (and is my biggest fan… love you Mom!) and many of my coworkers have started working out, skip cake at birthday celebrations in the office and have a greater interest in getting healthy.
What Workout Routine Has Worked Best For You?
My philosophy when it comes to training is that there are 1440 minutes in a day, use 60 of them to work out. I train 5-6 days a week, and it is always intense and never boring. I like to mix it up with kettle-bells, HIIT, plyos and of course heavy lifting.
Example Of Courtney’s Weight Lifting Split:
Saturday: Full Body Plyometrics
Get the full workout here: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/prather-makes-perfect-workout-program.html
Top 3 Favourite Exercises And Why?
Kettlebell Swings– Kettlebells are very versatile and provide variety to my lifting routine. The KB swing is a great foundation move to master and it targets the entire body. The explosive movement is awesome for targeting fast twitch muscle fibers and I see great strength gains from this form of training.
Capoeira– Fitness should be fun, bottom line. And the most fun I have training is by practicing Capoeira- an Afro-Brazilian martial art. It has elements of dance, martial arts and is a great cardiovascular workout that improves balance and coordination.
Squat– One of the most basic moves (and one of the 7 primal movements), the squat is the foundation of a lot of functional movements so I love perfecting my technique and increasing strength with this move!
Favourite Form Of Cardio?
My favorite form of cardio is HIIT training, hands down. I have a busy schedule and don’t like spending endless hours on cardio machines. I find that I get the best fat-burning results, while maintaining my muscle, when I incorporate a couple HIIT sessions a week. And get creative! It doesn’t mean always doing sprints…I like to do high-intensity strength intervals, where I move in a circuit fashion with little rest through various strength moves (i.e.- squat w/ press, renegade row, walking plank with 30 sec work/30 sec rest per set, repeat 4-6 times)
What Is Your Diet?
Just like I have a plan when I step in the gym, I have to plan my nutrition. I prepare meals in advance and eat 5-6 times a day. I did the ‘competition diet’, but the big picture is changing your habits and eating balanced and clean, in a sustainable way-food is fuel for my lifestyle.
Meal 1: ½ Cup of oatmeal, 1/2 cup berries, egg whites
Meal 2: 4 – 5oz of lean protein (chicken, fish, lean ground turkey) and lots of veggies, sweet potato
Meal 3: 4 – 5 oz of lean protein, veggies, 1/2 cup of brown rice
Meal 4: Whey protein shake, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp peanut butter (blended with ice)
Meal 5: 4 oz Chicken and big salad
Meal 6: Casein protein and cottage cheese
Any Staple/Classic Healthy Meals That You Always Eat?
My go-to healthy meal is a huge stir fry with all the veggies I can fit in the pan, a protein and low sodium sauce. It’s simple, easy to make and has vegetables, protein, and you can easily add carbs (brown rice) depending on your specific goals. My favorite cheat meal is a whole other story! I enjoy frozen yogurt and a big bowl of pasta for my indulgences but I don’t like to call them cheats or plan them. I believe in healthy habits and its what you do most of the time that counts, not what you do some of the time. I tend to eat clean 90% of the time and allow the 10% to enjoy social events, cravings or life in general. It helps me keep a healthy relationship with food and not feel guilty when I eat something “forbidden.”
What Supplements Do You Use?
I prefer to get most of my nutrition from whole foods so I only supplement for pre/post workout (the occasional protein shake), multivitamin, fish oil, BCAAs, and Glutamine which all help me recover from the stresses that training intense can create.
Top 3 Tips For Losing Weight?
1. Make small, manageable changes first (i.e. Stop drinking your calories with sodas, juices etc). Master it for 2 weeks then add another small change.
2. Connect with your WHY. Why do you want to lose weight/be healthier etc? Going beyond the “I want to look better” superficial reason is key for sustaining motivation and the will to make changes. Whatever your WHY is write it down and look at that every time you feel discouraged.
3. Focus on progress, not perfection. Celebrate the small successes and positive changes you make. When you falter (eat something unhealthy, skip a workout etc) which you undoubtedly WILL…it’s important to move on and make a better choice next time. If you focus too much on achieving perfection, the slip ups have a better chance of derailing your whole goal. Stay positive, do the best you can, and results will follow.
What Is The Best Advice You Have Ever Been Given?
“Do something you love to do, it will never feel like work, and either the money will come or it won’t matter” Many people know me as a bikini competitor or fitness model but what they don’t know is I am your regular girl-next-door with a normal career. I put a suit on every day and am an executive at a hotel. The more I got into the fitness industry, the more I loved it and realized this was going to be more than a passion or hobby for me. I have since received several fitness certifications and am now planning to go into fitness full time so I can help others achieve their goals. Is it scary giving up a sure thing and a great salary? ABSOLUTELY! But if I don’t follow my passion, even if it means taking a risk and living outside my comfort zone, then I would be settling.
Did You Make Any Mistakes When You First Started Out?
Of course! But all my mistakes were really just learnings. Like most things, you will not get your diet and training exactly right the first time- it’s about trial and error. The best trainers and coaches won’t prevent you from making mistakes because every body is different and responds differently to exercise and nutrition.
What’s Your Favourite Body Part?
It’s funny because you spend most of the time during training scrutinizing your least favorite body parts and trying to improve them, so I never really think of what my favorite is! I guess it would have to be my glutes, I train them twice a week to develop a full, round booty. 🙂
Your Best Tips To Getting Into Contest Shape/Losing Those Last Few Pounds?
For the average person looking to “tone up” or “lose fat” it’s about adopting healthier habits with nutrition and a more active lifestyle. When you are talking about knocking off those last few body fat % points it becomes more of a science. You need to really learn how many calories you require throughout the day and your food choices should come from mainly lean proteins, veggies and complex carbs (sweet potato, oatmeal, brown rice) and healthy fats (nut butters, avocado and healthy oils). However, contest shape is not healthy to maintain year around so it’s important to stay realistic with your goals.
What’s Your Gym Playlist Like? Favourite Song To Play While Running?
I’m a big fan of apps like Pandora or Spotify for workout playlists as replaying the same songs get boring for me! I tend to choose house music for running as you can match BPMs with your pace pretty easy so that gets me in the zone.
Where Does Your Motivation Come From?
My internal motivation, or my “WHY”, is to live an active life full of adventure and things that make me say HELL YES. Training hard and eating healthy is for my lifestyle, not for a competition or photoshoot. Those are definite motivators but are short term, I want to look good and feel good so I can truly live every moment that comes my way. My external motivation comes from all the people who say I motivate them. It is best summed up by, “inspire to be inspired”. Being a fitness role model inspires others, inspiring others makes me want to continue to be a role model- it goes full circle.
“Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right.” – Henry Ford
How Does It Feel To Know You Inspire So Many People To Get Fit?
Like I said before, it keeps me going. I never would have dreamed that pursuing my goals and challenging myself would have a ripple effect to those around me. And with social media that reach is exemplified and I am truly grateful to be able to connect with so many people. I am always happy to answer questions and offer advice to those that need it!
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Photography Credits: LHGFX and Mike Byerly