Growing up, I was always active and was involved in gymnastics for nearly 15 years. Training for an individual sport such as gymnastics teaches you so much about focus, determination and discipline- let’s face it, when you are competing as an individual instead of part of a team, ALL of the pressure is on you. In gymnastics, the results at the end of each competition are an evaluation of your performance (and of course a display of all of the training- or lack of- you had done to prepare yourself), which some people think of as a lot of pressure. I loved it - in my mind, I’m the only person that I can count on in order to showcase my efforts and achieve my goals. Personally I think my background as a competitive gymnast prepared me incredibly well for the world of fitness and competitions, as the same principles apply- the results you achieve are an illustration of your countless hours of effort…whether it be perfecting a routine or fine-tuning your physique, when it is time to step on stage it is up to you to showcase your A game.
In high school I started to branch out from competitive gymnastics and joined a local health club right when I turned 16. Wandering around the free weights and machines, I didn’t have a clue where I should start. Then I picked up magazines such as Oxygen, Muscle & Fitness, Muscle & Fitness Hers, I was immediately in awe of the strong, lean physiques that graced the pages. I emulated any and every article that featured the workouts of the female athletes, especially those of Monica Brant (she had just won the Fitness Olympia title) whom I featured on my first vision board, as it was her physique that inspired me most. Adhering to the nutrition and workouts of these fitness competitors, I quickly saw results- and so did the owner of the gym I was working out at! Impressed by the results I had achieved in such a short period of time, I was offered a job as a fitness instructor and personal trainer- and I’ve been training myself and others ever since!
Personally, I love both! I know some people have a love-hate relationship with cardio, but I have always been a huge fan (hey, when at the gym it gives me time to catch up on television shows that I don’t have time to watch on a regular basis) and enjoy various forms of cardio, especially when I have a chance to mix it up on a trail run or at the beach- beach workouts are my favorite! Sprints and lunges in the sand are killer- love it! As for weights, I have been lifting weights ever since I picked up my first issues of Oxygen and Muscle & Fitness at 16, and have never stopped since! Strength training is a vital component to achieving a “complete” physique. Women that do cardio all day every day but never set foot in the weight room for fear of “bulking up” or “getting too big” frustrate the heck out of me! It is pretty difficult to get tight, toned triceps and sculpted shoulders from sitting on the stationary bike, wouldn’t you say? Lifting weights 4-5 days is an essential part of my program. Does that make me bulky or the Incredible Hulk? Absolutely not- but it is pretty funny when guys approach me near free weights and actually ask for workout tips because some of my muscle groups may be more defined than theirs.
Always! In fact, the only time I actually use my iPod is when I am working out. My playlist on the other hand…it is all over the place with anything from Jay-Z, Madonna, Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West, Britney Spears (yes, go ahead and make fun, but the remixes of many of her songs have great beats for long cardio sessions!), AFI, 80s music and some country. You could say my playlist is a tad on the unique side. Basically anything with a good beat that makes me run another mile or throw in an extra set.
Honestly I am most proud of the fact that I finally stepped on stage to compete this year! From the moment I saw fitness models and competitors featured in magazines (back when I was 16) I was inspired to start prepping for a competition. After a decade of admiring their physiques and following their workouts (and countless times I would start training for a show and then get sidelined by school and work or other excuses) I decided enough was enough and I had better get my butt in gear! After attending a variety of shows and researching the different federations, I decided that my competition debut would be with The WBFF. Literally three months to the day that I decided what show I would compete in, I competed in my first fitness contest. Mind-boggling as it was, three months after I decided to put 110% into my training and nutrition, I also earned my Pro card with the WBFF at the first fitness competition of my life! Just goes to show that once you truly put your mind to something, stay focused, determined and throw in a whole lot of good old-fashioned hard work, amazing results can be achieved!
Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that when you’re sick, it is best to take a break and step away from the gym. Multiple bouts of Bronchitis and walking pneumonia aside, I would have to say that the only true “breaks” from training I have taken are probably when I have been on vacation. Generally I will still be active but I would be lying if I said I make it to the weight room daily when I’m on a tropical island somewhere! Aside from that, cardio and strength training consistently is my lifestyle and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Oh man, have I ever! While still in college, I was working full-time and trying to balance my school work, job, and maintain somewhat of a social life- and as a result I packed on some major pounds (at one point I tipped the scales at 50 pounds more than I am today!) and my nutrition was way off track. I was still working out, but not with the same intensity or duration as years prior when I was much leaner. Through a more balanced approach to eating and socializing, I was able to gradually shed the pounds and get myself back into shape. My “before” pictures are eye-opening in that they do not look a thing like I do today and truly illustrate how far off track I was and are quite the testament to the vital component nutrition really is to overall fitness! I lovingly refer to that time as my “journey to The WBFF stage” as my weight loss journey spanned a number of years until I decided enough was enough and I was going to compete!
Call it what you may, but for me these “obstacles” have allowed me a greater appreciation for all of the results and success I have had so far with fitness. Each challenge I have encountered has made me reach higher, train harder, and escalate my mental and physical discipline to levels beyond what I had ever imagined I was capable of.
Yes, consistency IS key! If my clients are having a hard time being consistent with their fitness programs and meal plans, I simply ask “Why?” and address the issue from there. Typically if your plan is not realistic and you have set a goal of losing 25 pounds in the first two weeks of your workout, it is going to be rather difficult to stay consistent if you’re not seeing the results you want, as you’ve set yourself up for failure on the outset. I will evaluate and restructure the client’s plan to something that is more realistic and set weekly goals for them to strive towards. Too often I see super enthusiastic clients start out wanting to follow a diet that is close to a contest prep plan, and here they have been accustomed to fast food, frozen entrees and a lot of processed food. What are the chances that they are going to consistently stick to a diet that is the exact opposite of everything they are used to? Not much- bottom line is, while you want to be disciplined in your fitness program, make sure the one you’re following is realistic and complements the lifestyle change you’re making by welcoming fitness into your life. Personally once I start to see the rewards of my efforts after consistently following my workout and meal plan, I am much more motivated to maintain such consistency as my results are cold hard proof that my consistent efforts have paid off!
Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am a self-proclaimed dessert monster! However, while prepping for my shows with The WBFF, I was able to shrug off these cravings for brownies or chocolate cake by reminding myself that those foods will ALWAYS be there- The WBFF World Championships, however, is only an annual event. All of the athletes are amazing and I knew I would only be satisfied showing up in my BEST possible condition- was a cookie the size of my head really going to help me accomplish that? I really didn’t want to be kicking myself in the booty for an entire year due to momentary lapses in judgment or straying too far from my meal plan. Also, I would ask myself “Would you skip your workout today or tomorrow?” and the answer was always “No, I would never even think about missing a day of training” so if I was determined not to miss a day of training, why would I side step the other portion of my program and get off track with my nutrition
I truly admire any and every athlete that has ever worked up the nerve to compete. Whatever the level of competition or federation that they have competed in, it takes a rare combination of sacrifice, guts, determination, confidence and desire to step on stage and showcase your efforts. I have an even greater appreciation for competitors after having trained for and competed in The WBFF events myself. This sport has so many amazing athletes, it is really tough to narrow it down! In particular, I will always be a huge fan of Monica Brant, as it was her picture and featured article in a fitness magazine over a decade ago that motivated me and inspired me to start training with weights and develop clean eating habits.
I always mix up my cardio, but the Step Mill, running, and bleachers have worked well for me. I try to keep my heart rate up the entire time I’m lifting, too, so I get a bonus cardio boost when strength training, too!
Cardio days on: Mon-Fri (Saturday during contest prep, Sat/Sun off when not training for a show)
Weights: Mon-Fri. I tend to train legs and shoulders at the beginning AND end of each week, with Friday including more plyometrics and bungee or band work with my lower body.
Legs, shoulders, Abs
Legs, shoulders, abs
Right now my workouts are in the higher rep range (15-20), with 4-5 sets on each exercise, depending upon the muscle group and exercise.
For example, today’s leg workout was insane (but so much fun!) as I was super-setting each exercise and adding in some form of cardio burst to really kill it!
Step-Ups (20 each side, 5 sets) super set with prone leg curl (20-25 reps per set, 5 sets) and one set of burpees after the leg curl, rest 30-60 seconds and repeat starting with the step-ups
Pop squats (20-25 reps, 5 sets) super set with dead-lifts (20 reps, 5 sets) and 30-second sprint intervals on the spin bike for 3 min in between pop squats and dead-lifts. Repeat for 5 sets of this.
Side squat shuffle (30-45 second intervals, 5 sets), super set with jump squats (holding on to dumbbells and squatting low enough to have dumbbells touch ground and then jump back up, landing in squat position again, 20 reps, 5 sets), reverse lunges (15-20 reps/leg, 5 sets)
Lots of protein! Generally I eat 5-6 meals throughout the day, with egg whites and oatmeal as my staple breakfast. Throughout the day the rest of my meals have protein (chicken breast, turkey breast, egg whites are the most popular) with some kind of starch and veggies. Every now and then I’ll throw in a protein shake, but that is typically when I’m rushing around and need an extra meal. When not training for a contest, I will throw in some fruits (helps me stay away from the dessert tray at restaurants!) or maybe get crazy and have some Chocolate Almond Butter as a delicious treat- careful, though, that stuff is so delicious I think it could very well be addictive!
Typically I take a daily multivitamin and will drink protein shakes for convenience and ease. Years ago I was a thermogenic junkie but since welcoming proper nutrition into my life I have not had to rely on thermogenics to blast that extra fat away. However, I will say that the extra energy and edge thermogenics or pre-workouts give are amazing when prepping for a contest and on a restricted diet.
Be consistent!!! I cannot stress enough how important consistency is to overall success. Combining strength training, cardio and nutrition will provide you with amazing results, but not if you’re only adhering to your plan half of the time! Set realistic goals and make sure you’re constantly evaluating your progress and setting new goals or else you’re bound to get complacent. Also, make sure that you enjoy the workouts that you are doing, that your meal plan is realistic and feasible for you or else everything is going to feel forced and more like a chore than an exciting journey towards building your goal physique.
Height: 5’ 2.5”