Thank you for taking the time to sit down and do this interview with us Michele. What sparked your passion for health and fitness?
MLP: Thank you Jaret!
Well, my passion for health and fitness comes from when I was a kid! I always been very active and very athletic. My parents got me involved in a bunch of sports when I grew up; some of them were competitive like skiing, gymnastic, figure skating, moutain biking and finally track and field, where I found my drive and competitive side. At a very young age, I was forced to have a high level of discipline and hard training, and of course, the healthy eating comes with it. But while all my friends where chilling after school, I would train on the track and travel during weekend to compete all the way up to national level and almost made my way to the Olympics; however, a bad knee injury made me give up on my dream. So health and fitness “lives” inside me. It’s what I know best, what I do best, and what I wanto to live for for the rest of my life.
What gave you the impetus to enter competing?
MLP: After my knee injury, I went into a depression phase. You can’t do anything, can’t be active..you have all that energy inside you and it tingles to come out and do something, but you can’t. SO my whole world fell apart. I was also entering University to study Kinesiology. I had a rough time, and I started going out at clubs and made new friends, so competing and training hard wasnt a part of my life anymore. I had to go to the gym for rehab and that was hell for me, but I soon discovered a new passion! I was now addicted to weight training; and was doing it mostly because I started to see changes in my body composition. In track and field it was all conditioning training, resistance, explosive pliometrics, etc. So I did a few years of weight training and soon enough a girl came up to me at the gym and told me I should compete in a figure competition. I started to read Oxygen magazine and Fitness RX and..OMG.. would I have admiration for these girls, especially those in “rhinestone bikinis” and clear high heels. They looked like divas to me and I was dreaming of seeing myself in their shoes!
So here you go, next thing you know I am getting ready for my first local figure show and I won the overall….. I did it again, and again, and again and was winning almost every single one of them!
We certainly give you lots of props for finding that inner drive to bring that competition on. How did you get mentally and physically ready to compete on stage?
MLP: Of course, there is the physical training where you get hours in the gym and do double days training, but in my opinion, no matter how well you’re physically prepared, if your “head” is not fully commited, something is goning to be missing on stage. I visualize a lot. As a very serious track and field athlete, a big part of my preparation was mental. I would “see” and “feel” and “hear” every second of my run. Several times a day. And it actually worked pretty good for me! So I decided to apply the same thing when getting ready for my first USA figure show.
This was big for me. A little Canadian getting ready for the Figure America in Los Angeles was something I wanted sooooo bad! This show actually happened exactly like I visualized it. I am amazed on how powerful the mind can be and how we can plan and direct our whole life like we want it, if we fully invest ourselves in this. I actually wanted to go for a degree in psychotherapy and I got accepted in the program. I wanted to work with high level athletes and help get them mentally prepared for their competitions. But the school was so far away from home… at 17 years old you don’t want to be miles and miles away from your parents so I changed my mind and went to a closer school….and decided to treat injured athletes instead
But yes, I am a firm believer in visualization and I think it can make a huge difference when preparing for a contest.
What were the best results you’ve ever achieved and what did you do to get so lean for that show?
MLP: Well, it was the figure America. I was in the best shape of my life and I was fairly new to the competing scene so it seems like my body was responding so well to the training and diet. I was never a big supplement “taker”, but for this show I did increase my supplement intake (BCAA’s, glutamine, Dim, digestive enzymes, etc….) and it did make a difference. I was on a low carb diet, eating a lot of veggies…. I was with a very qualified coach at the time, we had a great connection and things were going exactly like we wanted. I was lifting more heavy at the time to balance my upper and lower body and create more muscle density, etc… So the mix of heavy training and diet got me pretty lean for that show.
What is the most gratifying aspect about being a fitness competitor?
MLP: The discipline we have to go through I think is very gratifying. People coming up to you and being amazed because they couldn’t do half of what your doing. I think it’s very gratifying to be a fitness athlete for the “outside” world . Inside the industry and the competing scene, everybody’s been through the same weeks of hell…But hearing it from the “outside” world is always gratifying.
Were you always blessed with an incredible body or was it something that you worked endlessly to achieve and ultimately, are you ever fully satisfied with the end result?
MLP: Thanks to my great genetics, yes I always had an athletic body. And being involved in sports at such a young age. I did though have to put a lot of work in balancing my upper and lower body. I had huge quads from running , which ended up being a strong asset for me (and sometimes a weak one…).
I also got into an anorexic phase because of my track trainer. He basically brainwashed me and told me my legs where the reason why I couldn’t run faster. It was a total lie… He was using negative energy to make me push harder and harder. But it destroyed me inside and left me with a huge complex and an eating disorder. Somebody who has been anorexic and bulimic will always end up with body dysmorphia syndrome. No matter how good you look, you will always disagree with what you hear or what people see.
So if I am ever fully satisfied with the ending results…? I won’t answer that question ! lol
Well you should be! When did you get noticed throughout the health and fitness realm to be featured on the covers of big-time fitness magazines like Muscle & Performance, Oxygen, Musclemag, and Fitness Rx?
MLP: It took about 2-3 years after I started competing. I never ever thought I had talent to pose of potential to be on the cover of a magazine. I started doing photoshoots here and there after my first show because amateur photographers were reaching out to me so I figured I give it a shot!
I submitted pictures here and there and trying to learn about this industry at the same time, when I got a call from Robert Kennedy publications and they said they wanted to test-shoot me. Well, this shoot was a huge success lol and with special thanks to Paul Buceta and Robert Kennedy, I ended up in a bunch of magazines and started to be recognized has the “newbie” in the fitness industry. I realized pretty quick that it’s all up to you tp build your own success and get your name out there by yourself. Nobody is going to do it for you except YOU. So I am not sure how the multiples magazine covers happened haha but it did! There was a time I was so caught up into this fitness world, I lost track of time haha.
Next thing you know it’s one magazine cover after the other after the other, and I am nothing but THANKFUL for this. All I wanted, is my tiny picture in Oxygen magazine 5 years ago and I got so much more then I asked for. Again, visualization is the key. There is not one night that I would go to sleep without thinking I would be a famous fitness model and role model. So, for those of you who ask me how I did it; Here is my secret. Believing in myself and making it happened. I was never with an agency, I didn’t get any “special” treatment, I didn’t ask for any favors either. I started in this business knowing “nobody” and I built my way all the way to the top. Because I truly believed that’s where I belonged. That was my goal, to be recognized has a fitness model, be a role model and an inspiration to others. I wanna specify this because people can say a lot of means things when things don’t go like they want too. And when they other people succeed, they will say or do anything to destroy success.
Your husband Anthony Presciano has graced several covers of magazines as well such as Muscle and Fitness. Where did you two meet and did having two fitness models under one roof further propel your career?
MLP: OMG Anthony was the best thing that happened to me ! We actually met on a photoshoot in Malibu, CA shooting with the same photographer but different days and somehow we ended up on the beach doing a super fun photoshoot for a french magazine. Of course, when you’re both in the same industry you have alot in common, plus, he’s got the looks lol so how can you not be attracted?!
We dated for a few months and fell in love in the mean time and got married recently ….! It’s actually so amazing to have somebody share the same strong passion has you. We also made the cover of a few magazines together, and we felt so much more powerful has a couple. It’s one thing to be a successful fitness model but when you have that power X2, you feel the sky is the limit. Anthony is actually the VP of GAT supplements (TEAMGAT.com). He gets to build and do what he loves and he is a very inspiring person.
We also started a cookie business a few months a go called MAMA DEE’S protein cookie. ( www.mamadeesprotein.com) It’s our family business and we are very proud of our line of product. We are both very healthy people , being very careful with what we eat, but yes from time to time we like sweets and we like to treat ourselves. So, we came up with the idea of a protein cookie. Check it out guys! It’s awesome and it tastes just like a real cookie!!
So yes, having 2 successful people under the same roof just gives you more power has a couple, we both united our forces, connections and knowledge and we created something amazing!
Does it make it easier to stay fit because your husband is so dedicated to staying in shape or does it put more pressure on you to look better than he does haha?
MLP: Hahaha that’s kind of cute actually. I have such a competitive side, that yes, if his abs are leaner then mine, you bet I won’t let that happen haha. When you become a role model to other people either way you have the need to stay in shape to show a good example. I am also a personal trainer so I gotta look the part and manage to stay in shape. It’s just fun to be able to go to the gym together and be an active couple. And I’m not worried about our kids having a six pack and muscular legs..haha, thats a done deal.
You grew up in a small village in Quebec, Canada. Explain the differences in lifestyle habits between there and here and what made you come out here to live?
MLP: Well I grew up in a cold country where there is 4 seasons! So you get to actually do different sports for all 4 seasons! So that keeps you pretty active. A lot of outdoor and fresh air surrounded by moutains. But that was almost 20 years ago lol Now a days, people are lazier , we don”t wanna walk anymore and the younger generation is all about internet and video games . SO the difference is just between each generations and a couple of years apart. In any city there is a way to be active. Even if it’s just for a jog outside or a walk. You don’t need fancy gyms and fancy equipment …
Of course, in cities like Miami or California where the weather doesn’t go below zero, it’s easier to stay active …. when the winter comes, people tend to hibernate haha.
Anthony is the reason for me to be here actually. It’s hard to be married and live in 2 different countries!
You have such a good sense of humor and a great outlook on life Michele. What is your best advice for a woman looking to get in shape?
MLP: DO it for YOU! Set goals for YOURSELF and go at your own pace. There is no rush to lose weight and get in shape. As long as you do it in a healthy way and feel good about it, there is no need to hurry the process. You especially wanna keep the fat off and build muscles and this takes time to change your physique and build a “new “ frame. You wanna set up New habits and incorporate a new way of living your life through clean eating and exercise. People that rush into a weight loss, go straight back to their old habits, and will struggle with their weight all their life. So take one step at a time, make time to exercise and have fun doing it ! It’s the best gift you will ever give to yourself. The gift of health.
What does your typical day look like and how do you squeeze time in for the gym?
MLP: I don’t “squeeze” time for gym, I fit in my schedule. Even if I have to wake up earlier or go to bed later. Most of the days I will do double days. Just because I am so used to it and it’s a true stress relief for me to go run at the end of the day. I like to do some sort of cardio training after my day, and my weights in the morning to start fresh and energetic. And I make sure to go at least 5-6 days a week.
I found when you compete for a show you have so much stress for getting your workout in and doing your cardio session. Everything has to be planned out and if you happen to skip a session, you will feel guilty for 4 days …. I am pretty much done competing, but I work out because I enjoy it and I don’t have to stick to a specific training program. I go and do whatever I want to and feel like doing. That’s how I manage to balance everything. To not be stressed out about missing a workout or having to do a workout though, I actually enjoy it better.
So obviously you’re still dedicated to taking training and nutrition very seriously, but what do you do in your free time and do you ever have a cheat meal?
MLP: I like to see friends and spend quality time with my husband. GO out for dinner or just going on a long bike ride on the beach. Watch movies and promoting our family buisness.
Now that I am not in competing mode, I can pretty much eat watever I want lol but of course I dont. I try to keep the same eating plan that I usually do but I will add ketchup to it or parmesan cheese or salad dressing … that’s what I enjoy. I don’t enjoy stuffing myself with fried food and chocolate cake. SO if you call that cheating, yea I cheat every day lol. Once a week I allow myself something that is “off the menue” like pasta, sushi or a trip to “kilwins”. LOL ( www.kilwins.com)
Who is your biggest role model? How has this person inspired you?
MLP: To be honest, I never really had a role model. I was always focused on being ME and being an inspiration to other people. I wanted to do MY thing, and even though I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted, I knew someday I would end up doing something good in this industry and helping others in some ways….. When I started competing I remember looking up to Jenny Lynn, because of her poise and confidence on stage; but I never really wanted to “look” like somebody or follow the steps of somebody. I do have a lot of respect for humble people like Jamie Eason, and she got “discovered “ about the same time I did. I am so happy for her now. I think you can’t duplicate somebody or what she/he is doing. Everybody is unique in their own way and that’s why you will stand out of the crowd… By doing your own thing and setting yourself apart from the others.
What are your future goals both personally and professionally?
MLP: Like I mentioned, I am done competing now. I did a show a few weeks ago and got so disrespected and told myself why…? why am I doing this to myself? I have the title of Miss Figure America and Miss Figure Universe, not to mention a few others, but I am very proud of that and nobody can ever take any of those away from me. I do not have my IFBB pro cards and I have no shame of saying it. I had a few people telling me I didn’t deserve to be here because I was not a “PRO”. I have accomplished so much more then some of the IFBB Pro figure/bikini competitors or whatever subjectve titles you want to put on it. I am a true and real athlete in my heart and soul, and have nothing to prove to anybody but myself. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and tI think that’s a mission accomplished for me:)
I also want to get MAMA DEE’S going full blast. I am putting my efforts and energy into this venture right now. The buisness is actually called Mama Dee’s Protein Kitchen…………That leaves the door open to a lot of cool and fun ideas! We have a lot of projects related to this business including recipe books, store front, working with diabetes and obese people, etc….. There is place for a lot of creativity; and it’s going to be a fun and gratifying ride!!
I also want to start a family eventually, and enjoy being a mom. Right now, I’m still working on being a perfect wife first haha!
If ever I do other magazine covers, it’s going to be to promote MAMA DEE’S. I have promoted myself for the past 5 years, so now, it’s time to promote our family business!! SO that what’s cooking for the future (besides amazing cookies hahaha)!!
Thank you for your time Michele. You are a beautiful person both inside and outside
MLP: Thank you! I had a fun time answering these thought provoking questions!
AUTHOR: MP & MICHELE LEVESQUE PRESCIANO