I’ve been physically fit all of my life. At three years old I started gymnastics and was a competitive gymnast well into my teens. I was even fortunate enough at a young age to be invited to tryout for the Junior National Team. While a national title was not in my future, the discipline, strength, flexibility, and muscularity that come from many years in the gym has stayed with me. In college, I taught gymnastics and competitive All Star Cheerleading. Lucky for me, I was able to workout with my athletes while I was instructing them. Keeping active at work and a good metabolism were the only things that saved my body through college as my eating habits became atrocious. My nutrition program became a series of value meals at the closest fast food drive thru as I rushed between school and work.
After graduation, I began a career at Procter & Gamble and no longer had the luxury of conditioning and stretching with my athletes. My husband, Rick and I tried to be active and even joined a gym. While I had little experience with weight lifting, Rick had built quite a bit of knowledge as a football player and showed me the ropes. We would workout seriously for about a month... just until things got complicated, at which point my workouts would taper from 4 days a week to 2 days a week until one day I realized that I had a gym membership that I had not used in two months!
This cycle continued until I became pregnant (in February 2002). I knew right away that I wanted to have natural childbirth and that I had to be in great condition to do that. With a new gym membership in hand, I began yoga classes, light conditioning and walking in conjunction with a low fat diet. I slowly gained 18 lbs. My doctor said that the slow gain was really important in letting my body adjust to the added weight.
Now don’t think I didn’t have the occasional hot fudge cake, but staying active in the gym along with yoga and walking allowed me to keep my weight gain healthy, and under control. After a very healthy pregnancy and a long but drug free delivery, our son Tre (short for Richard III) arrived. Now, Rick and I decided it was time for both of us to regain control of our bodies.
While I had not gained too much weight over the years, Rick had suffered more so from our eating habits. We made a pact that our son would not remember either of us overweight or out of shape. We cleaned up our eating habits and as soon as my doctor released me, we began lifting weights.
One day at the gym, we happened to pick up a Beverly International No Nonsense Newsletter. The stories were very inspirational and the nutritional and supplement programs were intriguing. I had played around with various protein powders in the past in an attempt to gain a little extra muscle, but never really found anything that showed results, let alone tasted good. Desperate to find something palatable, I asked the smoothie man at the gym, "What do you think is the best tasting protein powder?" Without hesitation, he replied Chocolate Muscle Provider. With that, he made me a sample. Wow! I thought I was drinking a milkshake. Knowing that my husband would love it as much as I did, I bought Muscle Provider right then. The effects were incredible. I began having a shake right before working out and I really felt stronger throughout my lifting. Slowly, I began to increase my lean muscle mass.
That week we decided to call Beverly and take them up on the free consultation we had read about in the newsletter. I spoke with Mark Ritter who answered my questions and suggested that we come in for a complete workup. It is Beverly’s personal service and expertise that really made the difference. Mark worked with my husband Rick to develop a plan that included Ultra 40, Mass Aminos, Lean Out, Super Pack, and Ultra Size that has taken him from 24% body fat to 16% in three months. For me, Mark convinced me that with some hard work I could be ready to compete at the upcoming figure competition, The Northern, just eight weeks away.
I had never even heard of a figure competition, let alone seen one. Mark suggested I go to the Arnold Classic later that month to see a real figure competition. I would also be able to meet with him at the Beverly booth for a follow up body fat analysis and to check on my progress. At the Arnold Classic Mark and Sandy were so supportive! With my body fat down to 10.5% they assured me that I was in the physical condition to compete. The local news network in Columbus must have agreed with Mark, because at the Arnold Classic they interviewed me asking if I was competing in this professional event! As I chuckled to myself, I replied that I would be competing at The Northern and let them know that my first stop at the Expo would be to the Beverly International booth. After being inspired by the professional competitors and the supportive words of Mark and Sandy I decided that I would give it my all and compete.
Now if I just knew what to do in the final weeks... Again Mark stepped up to the plate for me. "Come to the Beverly seminar on final week contest preparation. We will tell you everything you need to know." That is where I met Roger and other members of the Beverly team. They went through step by step exactly how to prepare for the contest, from tanning and posing, training and water management to what type of shoes to wear and how to stand on stage. I would have paid several hundred dollars to a personal trainer for the advice and contest prep information that Beverly has provided me FOR FREE.
The final week preparation information was right on the money. I followed their advice to the letter throughout my final week and came in at 8.5% body fat on the day of the show, in the best shape of my life. Not only that, but I did not feel depleted... I actually felt stronger. My hard work and thorough preparation paid off ten-fold. Having had our son just five months earlier, my goal for this first competition was to place in the top 5 of my height class and get the experience of a highly competitive, top-notch competition. To have won my height class and the Overall Title (out of forty competitors) is more than I could have dreamed. It was one of the best days of my life and has inspired me to continue competing.
What changes did you make at the start of your diet to lose fat?
1. Absolutely no fast food. This is a no-brainer, but becomes so tempting when you are hungry and on the go. To combat the urge to drive thru, I make sure that I eat every 2-3 hours and have my Beverly shaker with Ultra Size wherever I go.
2. Eat the majority of my meals at home. When I stopped eating out, I started losing fat. Preparing meals at home and really looking at the calories, fat, carbs and protein content was an eye opener. While it may not be as convenient as eating out, when you prepare your own food, you pay closer attention to what is in it.
3. Eat more vegetables. I allow myself as many veggies as I want because of the high nutritional value, low calorie content and the ability that vegetables have to make me full. If I get hungry between meals, I either grab a plate of raw veggies with fat free dressing or have a protein shake if I need the protein or want a special treat.
4. I cook with fat free cooking sprays or spray butter (fat free).
5. All condiments in our house are fat free or reduced calorie. There are excellent fat free/low calorie alternatives to just about everything from salad dressings to Cool Whip and the taste is amazingly similar to the full calorie versions. My new favorite is Smart Squeeze ’butter’. It has all of the taste of butter, with only 5 calories per serving. Also, the new syrup made with Splenda is excellent on sweet potatoes.
6. I try to get as few liquid calories as possible. While I try to drink mostly water, Diet Coke is my favorite. I want to make each calorie count, and to me a calorie I drink does not make me as full as a calorie I eat. So, no fruit juices, real fruit instead. The only exception is protein shakes, because extra protein is so important for the look I’m after.
What’s a typical diet day like?
8 a.m. - Protein Pancakes (1 scoop of Ultra Size Vanilla, ¼ c of oatmeal, 1/2 c egg substitute and water) topped with low calorie syrup (10 calories in a &frac; cup) and Smart Squeeze
11:00 - 2 scoops Ultra Size
1:00 - Large salad topped with 6 oz. of shrimp and mushrooms, low calorie dressing and baked french fries
3:00 - Apple with peanut butter
7:00 - Grilled chicken breast, 2 cups of steamed vegetables sprinkled with fat free cheese ** If hungry 9:00 - An Ultra Size cake - 1 scoop Ultra Size with cinnamon and water, microwave to cake consistency.
What kind of a training program did you do?
I workout with weights 5-6 days a week hitting each body part once a week except legs which I train two times a week and abs usually four times a week. I like to pyramid my sets and reps by starting with a moderate weight at a high rep range (12-15) and work toward high weight at a low rep range (4-6). I always do at least 4 sets per exercise with closer to 6 sets on ’big’ exercises like squats and bench press.
How about cardio. What kind, how long and when?
Off-season I train cardio 3-4 times a week, not including out of the gym ’fun time’ like walking or hiking with my family. At six weeks out from the Northern, I began ramping up my cardio to include spinning, step aerobics, kickboxing, stairmaster and treadmill sprinting for a total of ten cardio sessions a week. I would go to a group class (these are more fun for me than thirty minutes on the treadmill) in the morning and lift in the evening with my husband. After lifting, we would challenge each other on the treadmill to see who could sprint longer.
Final thoughts on "Keeping on track" now that the show is over?
I think it is important not to stray too far from the diet and training that got you to this point. While I do not intend to fully stay on the pre-contest diet in my off-season, the tenants of a healthy lifestyle/diet are important for me all year long. I will not go back to eating fast food and have actually come to enjoy the foods that are good for me (like veggies and chicken breasts). It’s all about lifestyle. My husband and I have not seen the inside or drive thru of a fast food restaurant in six months. Anyone with the commitment it takes to prepare for a competition, be it figure or bodybuilding, should recognize the importance of living a healthy life and eating sensibly. I certainly plan to have a few extra slices of pizza and a chocolate chip cookie... or three, but I have worked too hard to just let myself go. Anyway I have plans to continue competing, so that is extra incentive.
What are your long-term fitness goals?
My long-term goal is to become an IFBB Figure Pro. Who knows, with a lot of hard work and the continued support of Beverly International, it may happen sooner than I think. I can truly say that finding Beverly International has allowed me to exceed my goals. The support and advice they have given me in both physical preparation and mental preparation have been very beneficial to me.