How did you first get started in the bodybuilding and fitness game?
As a young child I was encouraged by my parents, especially my father, to try my hand at any sport that interested me. I honed in on running, and was a competitive track and cross country athlete throughout high school and into my freshmen semester at college. When I made the decision not to return to cross country my sophomore year of college, I began frequenting the college gym- mainly to do cardio. I was never much of a lifter- at 5’6″1/2 I was only 110 lbs and I was pretty much a “skinny fat” girl. I began lifting periodically, and found I loved it. I began reading about training and nutrition- anything I could get my hands on, and was fascinated. When I was 19 I jointed the local LA Fitness since it had a larger variety of equipment in comparison to my college gym and there I met a national level male bodybuilder who encouraged me to enter my first figure show. I was 20 years old the first time I stepped on stage, and it only took me a moment to realize that where I was, was exactly where I was destined to be.
Was there a defining moment that got you to start training at a whole different level?
I would have to say Team Universe of 2010. It was then that I realized if I was going to achieve my pro card in figure, I needed to refocus my life, my ENTIRE life and begin to attack each show with the express intention of putting the BEST body possible on stage. I used to view competing as something I did a mere 12 weeks in advance from a show- NOW I view it as my lifestyle- I have no offseason. I have no “breaks”, I have a lifestyle dedicated towards sculpting and molding a “Figure” body that the judges will find pleasing.
With the help of my trainer, Gretchen, we overhauled my training after Team Universe 2010, and I began the challenging process of downsizing my physique per the judges request. I went from 16th at Team Universe to 2nd at North Americans, a short 5 weeks later. I maintain a tight physique year round- I consistently am no more then 5 lbs over my contest weight.
What are the top 2 ways you keep motivated?
Being physically fit is about so much more then being “fit” from the outside. A strong mind will steer a strong body- so I stay motivated by staying mentally strong and spiritually fit. I’m very centered on my belief in God and His role in my fitness. I talk to Him constantly and derive much of my motivation through His strength. I also stay motivated because I am constantly hungry to be better- I think about my pro card daily- what achieving it will feel like, the sense of accomplishment I’ll have, and the feeling of empowerment I’ll be blessed with. I visualize how I want my body to look, how I want it to feel, how I want the judges to see me on stage. By thinking about my goals every day, even every hour, I am constantly reminding myself of why I’m doing what I’m doing- and that motivates me. I’m a competitor. I want to be the best I can be. Anything less, is unacceptable.
In your opinion what is the biggest hurdle you or most people have to overcome in regards to their fitness career and goals?
The biggest hurdle you will ever have to overcome, in any avenue of life- is your own self doubt. If you believe you can do it, TRULY believe you can, and you want it badly enough, you will find a way.
Why do you think some people are able to overcome this hurdle, but others are not?
This may sound blunt- but some people just don’t want it badly enough to make the necessary changes. They may “want” to lose weight in theory, but when the reality of giving up those cookies, or dedicating extra time each day to the gym sets in- they just aren’t willing to do it….in other words, they like the “idea” of losing weight or getting fit, but aren’t ready to face the reality of the hard work it takes to live in a fit physique.
If you had to ratio the importance of training, diet and rest, what would the percentages look like and why? (e.g. 20% training, 30% diet, 30% rest)
I would say a good 50-60% is nutrition. The rest is split between rest and training. In my opinion nutrition is the foundation.
How useful do you think supplements are? Do you use supplements?
Supplements are not only useful, they’re essential, especially where physique athletes are concerned. As an extreme athlete, my nutrition is so narrow and tight, that I often “miss” many vital nutrients, trace minerals, and essential vitamins, and antioxidants in my daily dietary intake. Since I eat from a very select few food sources, it makes it near to impossible for me to give my body all that it needs from food alone- which is why supplements are essential. What I do not get from my dietary intake- I can effectively supplement in.
What is your current top supplement?
It’s a challenge for me to pinpoint one- I’d have to say I ALWAYS rely on my Jay Robb Whey Isolate Protein Powder. It’s a staple in my dietary routine.
In general what does your current training routine look like?
My training routine varies depending on where I’m at as far as my body, my goals, and whether or not I’m in a contest prep. I utilize a variety of training methods to help prevent my physique from hitting a plateau, and to help me stay mentally engaged. I do a lot of HIIT work, interval training, high rep cirtcuit training, plyometrics, and P90X/Insanity athletic style training. I also love experimenting with dropsets, giant sets, supersets, and volume training.
What is your current diet routine?
Again- this changes as my body dictates- so depending on where I’m at as far as my body goes- my nutrition will change. I tend to eat a diet high in lean proteins such as organic free range chicken, cage free egg whites, wild caught orange roughy or ahi tuna, and natural whey proteins; a diet high in healthy omega 3 and omega 6 fats derived from flaxseeds, coconut oil, almonds, and EFA Oil; and a diet moderate in low glycemic carbohydrates like fibrous green veggies (asparagus is my favorite!), organic yams, and organic whole rolled oats. When I’m not dieting I incorporate organic apples and berries and nonfat plain greek yogurt as well.
How do you feel about ketogenic diets and extreme diets in general?
I believe there is more then one way to skin a cat. By this I mean there are indefinte methods which someone can use to prepare for a competition. Ketogenic diets have their place. That being said, I think a more balanced moderate approach needs to be taken in order to make a weight loss endeavor lasting and successful. NO ONE can cut out an entire macro-nutrient group (fats OR carbs) effectively for the rest of their lives. Balance and moderation are key.
How did you get those awesome arms of yours?
In all honesty I rarely, if ever train my arms. I tone them as secondary muscles through my other upper body workouts such as chest, back, or shoulders.
How did/do your family and friends feel about your training?
Whenever someone engages in drastic lifestyle changes it can cause animosity or discontent with certain friends/family members. It’s surprising to me that often times the most sabotaging people to someone’s fitness goals are those closest to them- a spouse, a family member, a best friend. In my opinion- the transformation I went through as a result of my health and fitness goals was not only physically changing- it was a spiritual, mental, and lifestyle detox as well. Positive and negative cannot be yolked in life- and as my life gravitated towards a healthy, spiritual, balanced way of living- I let go of a lot of people that had previously been close to me. You find out who your true friends are- they are the ones who will support, love, and genuinely be happy for you. I feel very blessed to have parents and a family who support me, and a phenomenal trainer who believes in my abilities as an athlete, just as much as I believe in myself.
Can you give us a brief summary of your competition history?
Most recently I did the 2011 Arnold Amateur and placed 2nd. Prior to that I placed 2nd at the 2010 IFBB North Americans.
What are your fitness plans for 2011?
Currently, my next show will be the 2011 Team Universe, followed by USAs in Vegas, and depending on how I place, IFBB North Americans.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 20 years?
God willing, I pray I’ll have my pro card and a successful career as an IFBB Figure Pro. I would also love to continue to push myself as a fitness model, and continue to grow my business and help to inspire, educate, and empower others to live a healthy, fit minded lifestyle. I also hope to eventually have my masters in Nutrition and Dietetics, something I’m about to begin working towards shortly.
Who is your favorite fitness model/bodybuilder? (other than yourself!)
I really admire Ava Cowan, Erin Stern, and Alicia Marie. I’m also a huge fan of Candie Keene’s physique.
Describe what you see when you look at yourself in the mirror every morning!
I think the mainstream public forgets that fitness athletes have “off” day just as everyone else. I still look at my body in the mirror and see room for improvement. At times I’m disheartened, at times I’m hard on myself. Other times I feel nothing less then a sense of amazement at the hard work evident in my body. A positive body image comes from the MIND and from your MENTAL ATTITUDE. Every morning I thank God for the body I have, for the health I’m blessed with, and for the strength to continue to push myself in the gym so that I can reach my goals.
What did your physique look like before you started training?
I was very skinny. I was a distance runner so I was very small, lean, and didn’t have much “shape” to my body.
Do you feel that you are treated differently because of your physique and fitness goals?
I feel, if anything, I’m met with more positive comments and interest then anything else. As a fitness model and figure athlete, my body doesn’t look average, so it stands to reason that it’s going to spark controversy, interest, or a response from the general public. Which is fine by me- it usually serves as a conversation starter for me to talk about nutrition, fitness, and a healthy lifestyle with those interested.
If you could tell a fitness noob just one sentence of advice, what would it be?
The journey begins and ends with you- you are in control, assume responsibility for your body and go after your goals with passion.
What is your all time favorite workout song?
This is a challenging question- since I’m a music NUT and I derive so much motivation from my music. I’m a huge trance fan, so I love Tiesto and Armin Van Buuren for cardio. But in terms of lifting, I jam out to a lot of P.O.D…. and ultimately I’d say “Dragula” by Rob Zombie or “Bled For Days” by Static X top my list.
What do you feel is the best type of cardio for yourself and why?
I find I respond best to HIIT style workouts or interval training on the treadmill. I do a variety of cardio though- including longer runs, the stepmill, and precor.
What is your favorite cheat meal?
Unlimited nut butter or trail mix.
If you were to upload your arms to our muscle voting site (http://vote.ratemyarms.com/) right now, what do you think you would rate?
I’m not sure- I don’t have “huge” arms, but they’re shapely and toned!
Outside of training and dieting how do you like to spend your time?
I love to read, write, travel, and cook. I LOVE to cook. I also love to spend time with my dogs, my horse Raza, and my friends and my family.
What is the dumbest thing you yourself have done or witnessed in the gym?
One of the things I detest most in the gym- is the lack of care in the trainers. With so many people clueless, or lifting with improper form- you’d THINK the trainers would seize the chance to correct, instruct, and inspire- yet I see so many people fumbling through the gym, unsure of themselves or what they’re doing. I HATE seeing that.
What is your favorite body part to train?
I love love love my circuit training and my poly-metric days because of the intensity. I also love training shoulders.
What is the one question you hate hearing the most? (e.g how much do you bench?)
That’s it- exactly. I HATE that question “how much do you bench?” OR even worse, “Why can’t you eat this- a little won’t hurt.”
The RateMyArms team would like to thank you greatly for taking the time to do this interview. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Stay fit and focused!
Sarah Lyons Picturegroove Photography