How Did You Get Started In Health And Fitness?
I had always been active in sports since I was very young. When I was 5 years old I started doing gymnastics and competed until I was 17. I also did sports such as track and field, cross country running, and cheerleading all through middle and high school. Once I started working full time and had adult responsibilities, I didn’t really partake in athletics any more. After an arduous two years of college, work and extracurricular activities, the lack of physical engagement began to take a toll on me. I still fit in my clothes (barely), but didn’t like how I looked in pictures and could feel my energy levels lagging. I knew I needed to do something.
A friend of mine had competed in bodybuilding shows and began encouraging me to come to the gym with her. I had gone to the gym before but didn’t really have any experience with lifting weights or even how to properly use the cardio equipment. She got me familiar with lifting weights and doing cardio on a daily basis. When I first started working out with her my body fat measured at 26%. I couldn’t believe it. After two months we measured again and it was down to 18%!
This was when I became seriously committed to competing in a bodybuilding show. I began to see the changes in my body and it was addicting! I would look at show pictures of IFBB Professional level competitors and think, “I want to look like that.” I began doing a TON of my own research and began experimenting with different workout and dieting techniques to see what worked for my body. After another two months I measured my body fat a week out from my first show and had dropped to 9%! I have always been interested in nutrition and alternative healthcare. The first degree I ever applied to college for was Dietetics because I wanted to be a Registered Dietician. This degree was not offered in Alaska (my place of residence) at the time and after deciding that I didn’t want to leave state for college, I opted for a more broad degree in Political Science which allowed me to explore the public policy side of healthcare. My original intention was to go to law school, but I have recently decided to obtain my Master’s in Public Health Care from the University of California, Los Angeles. I will be applying there for 2013 admissions. Although I wasn’t able to complete the degree I originally wanted, bodybuilding provides me the opportunity to exercise my knowledge, and consistently expand my knowledge of nutrition.
What Is Your Best Accomplishment So Far?
Well so far my best accomplishment and proudest moment was when I placed 2nd at the Jon Lindsay NPC Amateur Grand Prix in Los Angeles, California! This show just took place on April 14, 2012. I worked so hard during my preparation for this show and I could not be happier! There were 27 girls in my bikini class and they all looked great. It’s such a wonderful feeling to have all my hard work pay off. It was such a great feeling to win a trophy while representing my Team EDGE (coached by Ingrid Romero and Joe Discuillo), as well as my home-state, Alaska. This is just the beginning! I have many more exciting things happening in the next few months!
What Is It Like Competing?
EXHILIRATING! I absolutely love it. The last two days before a show are always the most stressful because I worry about it I have everything prepared and have to monitor my body very closely. At this point in the game any minor change can make or break you! I always feel a bit anxious the night before the show, as well as the morning of. I don’t really get nervous; I just hate the waiting game. Bikini division usually goes close to last and the waiting is the worst part for me. Once I’m there I just want to go on stage!
What Workout Routine Has Worked Best For You?
The workout technique I have found that works best for me is to consistently diversify my workouts. I hardly ever do the same workout twice. Some days I do sets of 25 reps with lower weight, while other days I lift heavy with sets between 8 and 12 reps. I also incorporate a lot of drop sets and different plateau breaking techniques. The trick really is just to keep your muscles guessing. Recently I have added a bunch of upper and lower body plyometrics. I tend to build muscle really fast and need to maintain a lean physique if I want to stay in bikini division. I love lifting heavy but also love doing circuits. I always go to the gym with a certain body part in mind and a general idea of what I’m going to do.
I don’t have a set schedule of what days I train certain body parts. I prefer to pay close attention to my body and gear my training schedule around how I feel. As a general guideline I train shoulders, chest, back, and arms on separate days every 3-4 days. Recently, I have been doing circuits and plyos that incorporate all of these body parts, but each day will emphasize a specific body part. I train legs every 3-6 days, depending on how long it takes for the soreness to go away. I incorporate certain glute exercises more frequently (about every 2 days) and gained almost an inch in my glutes within four weeks from utilizing this training method. I usually do some form of abs 3 times per week, and have been working calves every other day since these are my weak point.
Most of my workouts incorporate supersets or compound sets. If I’m doing something that is not a super or compound set I try to rest for about 30-45 seconds between sets. I prefer to keep my heart rate up and sometimes I will add some incline sprints between sets or in my circuits. The Quadmill is another piece of equipment I utilize often.
Like my workouts, rest days depend upon how I feel. If I feel like I need a rest day, I take one. Honestly, I hate taking rest days. I have a tendency to over train and push myself to the limit. I have come to understand how important rest is both for growth and recuperation so now I force myself to take days off. Sometimes I feel lazy if I miss the gym, but I guess I can’t go 7 days a week! I usually hit the gym 5-6 times days per week. A lot of these are two-a-days because if my workouts last too long I will come back later to do cardio.
Top 3 Favourite Exercises And Why?
I am a huge fan of compound movements! My number one exercise would have to be free-bar squats. These engage not only the entire lower body, but also the core. Another thing I like about free-bar squats is that you can switch it up and change foot positioning and width in order to target the muscles from different angles. Free-bar squats (unlike squats on a smith machine) also help build stabilizer muscles which really helped me overcome my chronic aches and pains when I first began lifting.
My second favorite exercise is also a lower body movement and has really helped me sculpt my glutes. This exercise is a walking lunge with a controlled double bounce at the bottom and a leg kick-back at the top. These can be performed with or without a barbell or dumbbells. I usually do them without any additional weight because I compound set high repetitions of these with some other lower body exercise (usually leg press, squats, or hamstring curls).
Third favorite exercise is anything shoulders! Legs and shoulders are my two favorite body parts to train! I love the burn! I’m a big fan of any sort of pressing movement or raises (lateral, front, or rear).
Favourite Form Of Cardio?
Since I tend to get bored easily, I switch up my cardio just as I do my workouts. I do many different things for cardio including cycling, incline sprints, stair master, or elliptical. I usually prefer to do high intensity circuit cardio on several different machines during a workout. Plyos are my new favorite!
What Is Your Diet Like?
My diet is very well balanced with plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. I eat primarily chicken, tilapia, tofu, and tuna as my protein source. Sometimes I’ll switch it up and eat salmon. I also only eat whole eggs. I have tried only egg whites and oddly enough, get better results with the whole egg.
For carbs I primarily use Ezekiel Bread, brown rice cakes, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes (I prefer white sweet potatoes), oatmeal, and granola. I also eat a ton of fruits and vegetables including pineapple, bananas, apples, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, butternut squash, bell peppers, green beans, broccoli, spinach, etc.
The healthy fats in my diet are primarily derived from avocados, almonds, walnuts, peanut butter, and dairy. The dairy in my diet is cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and assorted cheese such as goat, feta, or blue. I will also eat hummus on occasion.
I eat every 2-3 hours and schedule the timing of certain carbs in my meals around my workouts. Practicing the carb timing technique has helped me gain muscle while dieting and allows me to not feel deprived of certain carbs. Depending on how long I’m awake I will eat between 6 and 9 times in a day. Some days I have to be at work at 5:45am and don’t go to bed until 1am, therefore I don’t limit my meals to the typical 6 per day.
My philosophy on nutrition is that you should maintain a healthy, balanced diet and view food as fuel for your body. However, I also enjoy food and get great pleasure from eating a nice gourmet meal every once in a while. I make sure to give my body the fuel it needs in order to maintain my physique, but don’t beat myself up if I want a treat. When I’m preparing for a show I don’t cheat because I refuse to be conquered by food! Being in great shape is important to me and I maintain a low body fat even when I’m not in training for an upcoming show. I put forth a lot of effort to gain muscle and maintain a great physique so I don’t jeopardize that by messing up my diet!
Sample Daily Diet
Breakfast: 3/4 cup of oatmeal, 5 whole eggs
Snack: 1/2 cup Greek yogurt with1 cup mixed berries, 1 tsp peanut butter
Lunch: 4oz salmon, 4oz sweet potato, 1/2 cup mixed veggies, 1/2 cup of spinach
Snack: 2 unsalted rice cakes with light spread of peanut butter
Snack: 3 oz fruit, 3 egg whites, 10 almonds
Dinner: 4oz lean steak, 10 spears of asparagus, 3 oz brown rice, 1/2 cup mixed veggies
Any Staple/Classic Healthy Meals That You Always Eat?
Some of my staple healthy meals are:
1: Ezekiel bread with peanut butter and banana. I usually eat this after a workout with a
2: Mashed avocado mixed with canned tuna is so good! It’s like tuna salad, but the
mayonnaise is replaced with avocado! Add pepper and eat on slices of tomato.
3: Greek yogurt with pineapple and granola.
I have a bunch of favorite cheat meals! But my favorite dessert cheat meal is bread pudding. I am obsessed, especially if it has chocolate chips in it!
What Supplements Do You Use?
I take glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM for joint and connective tissue health. I also take omega-3 fish oil capsules to make sure I’m getting enough. Recently I have started taking magnesium with glutamine for the purpose of helping to relieve muscle hypertension.
My muscles tend to become hard as rocks when they get too tight and it causes problems in my glute/sciatic and hip flexor regions. Since taking this supplement I have definitely noticed an improvement!
What Are Your Tips For Success?
My first and foremost important tip for success is to get to know your own body! Everybody has an opinion and advice to give, which can be great when you’re first getting started but everybody is different and what works for one, may or may not work for another. Anybody serious about this sport should be able to identify how making a certain change (especially in your diet) will affect your body. Being able to tweak your diet and make changes to your physique is a science that every bodybuilder should strive to perfect. Something else important for people to realize is that bodybuilding (even fitness in general) requires a change in lifestyle. It requires a change to diet, time management, and mindset. Don’t expect immediate results. Visible changes take a while. Instead of focusing solely on visible changes, take note of other things such as how you feel and your energy levels. If you have realistic expectations you have a better chance of achieving your long term goals.
What Is The Best Advice You Have Ever Been Given?
The single most important piece of advice that I’ve ever heard is in order to be successful you have to want something for yourself more than someone else wants it. This pertains to every aspect of life, not just to success in the fitness industry. If you want something bad enough, no matter what your circumstances or situation, you can achieve it.
Did You Make Any Mistakes When You First Started Out?
One of the biggest mistakes I made as a beginner was thinking that I would make faster progress if I lifted heavier. When I first started my legs needed a lot of work. I had built up a lot of cellulite on my lower body and was in a hurry to get it off! I would load up the weight on leg days and push through the discomfort thinking that heavier was better. Boy was I wrong. I had a bunch of pre-existing issues from my gymnastics history that were only exacerbated by heavy lifting after years of inactivity. My aches and pains became debilitating and would set me back for almost two weeks every time I did legs. Very unproductive, right? So I began doing research and tried different techniques, incorporated different movements including more free-bar and less machines, and started doing different types of cardio. After about a month of using my new techniques, I was pretty much pain free and didn’t even have to use my knee braces anymore!
What’s Your Favourite Body Part?
My favorite body part to train is glutes! I do some form of glute training every other day and my leg workouts focus heavily on hamstrings and glutes. My second favorite body part is shoulders. In my opinion, a great set of glutes and shoulders increase the quality of someone’s physique tenfold.
Your Best Tips To Getting Into Contest Shape?
Cardio, cardio, cardio! During my show preparation I increase my cardio to between 75 and 120 minutes during the last two weeks. I also increase my intake of diuretic type foods such as grapefruit, tomatos, asparagus, blueberries, and cucumbers. I eat a ton of salad! I also find green tea to be useful.
What’s Your Gym Playlist Like? Favourite Song To Play While Running?
My gym playlist has a lot of techno type music. I also love anything Nicki Minaj. Other artists I currently have on my iPod are Linkin Park, 36 Crazyfists, Drake, Tech N9ne and David Guetta. When I do cardio I need something upbeat because I tend to go at the same pace as my music.
Where Does Your Motivation Come From?
I am very competitive… perhaps to a fault. When I enjoy something I tend to throw myself in head first and pour every ounce of my energy into it. I am very self driven through my motivation to succeed in everything I set out to do. Once I say I’m going to do something, I view that as an obligation to myself to follow through. Let me give you a little background story as an example. I dropped out of high school half way through my junior year and began working full-time in order to support myself. After I decided I wanted to go to college, I obtained my GED and got accepted to my state university.
Good grades were important to me, especially since I was paying out of my own pocket for all expenses. I also didn’t want to spend 4.5 years in school completing a degree I knew should not take that long. I took the maximum number of credits every semester including summers, and ended up completing my Bachelor degree in 2.5 years. In addition to finishing so quickly I graduated with various Honors such as magna cum laude (3.87 GPA), Departmental Honors, and Leadership Honors. I accomplished this while also continuing to work and partake in extracurricular activities.
My motivation comes from a constant need to achieve the goals that are important to me. I’ve realized that in the end I’m only competing against myself and I refuse to let myself down by not striving to achieve what I know I’m capable of.
Favourite Fitness Models?
Someone in the fitness industry that I have a lot of respect for and have come to look up to is my coach, Ingrid Romero. I admire people who have a certain drive and capability to make things happen for themselves. Ingrid has become a role model for me as a person, as a competitor, and as a force within the industry.
My favorite quote is one of my own: “When someone says there’s something they cannot do, it’s not that it’s not possible, they just don’t want it bad enough.”
“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” -T. E. Lawrence
“Forgive many things in others; nothing in yourself.” – Ausonius
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” – Maya Angelou