How did you first get started in the bodybuilding/fitness game?
I wasn’t very active or athletic growing up, except for a few years of dance classes. As I got older, I noticed that a poor diet and lack of activity were beginning to take their toll and I was determined to change my habits and my physique. Initially I lacked direction, education and commitment, so my diets and workouts weren’t efficient or consistent. In 2007, I met a (now) ex-boyfriend who was a bodybuilder and began to learn about proper nutrition and lifting techniques. I also started reading bodybuilding magazines and joined a few fitness forums, where I could network with and learn from others.
Was there a defining moment that got you to start training at a whole different level?
I attended my first bodybuilding show in April 2008 and was in awe of the beautifully sculpted women who graced the stage. I was inspired to work hard and at least TRY to look like them one day.
What are the top 2 ways you keep motivated?
My health and the desire to gain muscle are the two things that keep me on my toes.
Fear of gaining fat and not feeling comfortable with my reflection in the mirror or in my clothes is a big reminder of why I do what I do. Also, I admire all the women with lean muscle mass and that’s the goal I am trying to achieve, so I need to remind myself of that daily and visualize the changes to keep me pushing through each and every day.
On the health side, I am often reminded of how short life can be and how fortunate I am to be able to wake up every morning and do something that makes me feel so good physically and mentally. I work for a biotechnology company and two of the disorders our science aims to treat are muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis. I am blessed to have muscles and lungs that function (unlike those who suffer from these diseases) and allow me to lift weights and stepmill my butt off every single day. I never want to take those opportunities for granted.
In your opinion what is the biggest hurdle you or most people have to overcome in regards to their fitness career and goals?
I think finding time is a huge factor. It is one of the biggest reasons/excuses I hear from people for not making fitness a priority. Family/friends/career/etc always seem to come first, therefore leaving little time to visit the gym. I try to encourage others to make it a part of their day, just like brushing their teeth. Taking baby steps is one of the keys to success and a great way to fit workouts into a daily schedule without overwhelming oneself… even if it’s a yoga class once a week or a morning walk with the dog. It doesn’t even have to be a gym-related activity… anything that gets a person active and moving is a great first step. Once that becomes routine, improving one’s diet seems to be next. Lack of willpower and dedication to a diet tend to be a lot of people’s biggest weaknesses. Again, I encourage people to do it slowly until the changes become habits. Little things like substituting sugar and cream in your morning coffee with healthier or lower calorie alternatives (I prefer stevia for my sweetener and sugar-free non-dairy creamer, which I carefully measure to ensure I don’t exceed a serving size), is a move in the right direction. Eliminating processed/fast foods and learning about clean eating can be somewhat of a learning curve, but one that is well worth the investment.
Why do you think some people are able to overcome this hurdle, but others are not?
I think everyone has the ability to overcome it, but some people don’t realize that they have the mental strength to do so. I believe a person has to have the desire to chase their goals and dreams. As long as that exists, then it simply takes practice, willpower, determination and a strong network of encouraging and supportive people to help make it happen.
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)
65% diet, 20% training, 15% rest. This may be different for different people, but for me personally, diet is the biggest factor. Even a slight deviation from a super strict plan makes a huge difference in terms of my physique no matter how much cardio I perform or rest I receive.
How useful do you think supplements are? Do you use supplements? What is your current top supplement?
I think that supplements are an important tool in any successful health and fitness plan. Aside from vitamins (which should be part of everyone’s regimen, regardless of fitness level), my two favorites are made by ALR Industries: Humapro (protein) and Chain’d Out (BCAAs). I also take fat burners and pre-workout drinks when I need an extra energy boost.
In general what does your current training routine look like?
I lift 5-6 days a week and do cardio every day. I try to be more flexible when I’m not pre-contest so that I can balance my gym time with other priorities, so I don’t have set days of the week when I train specific body parts. I rely on how I’m feeling that day to determine if I am going to take a day off from lifting or not. My body parts are split by chest/delts, back, legs/glutes and arms (calves and abs are trained 2-3x/week on one of my lifting days). I train legs/glutes twice a week (sometimes I focus more on quads one day and hams/glutes the other; other times I go for a heavy/low-volume day and a light/high-volume day). I perform 45 minutes of cardio every morning and sometimes an additional 30-45 minutes later in the day post-workout.
What is your current diet routine?
I am in my off-season and my goal is to remain as lean as possible, while also consuming enough calories to support muscle growth and provide energy to fuel my workouts.
During cardio: 1 scoop humapro
M1: 1 egg, 5 egg whites + ½ cup oats OR 1 egg, 7 egg whites + 6oz green vegetable
M2: 6oz lean protein (tilapia, chicken, ground beef, turkey) + 6oz green vegetable
M3: 4oz lean protein (tilapia, chicken, ground beef, turkey, tuna) + 4oz green vegetable
M4: 6oz lean protein (tilapia, chicken, ground beef, turkey) + 6oz green vegetable OR 1 egg, 5 egg whites + 6oz green vegetable OR protein pancake (1 scoop whey + 3 egg whites)
M5: 1 scoop humapro (post-workout)
M6: 1 egg, 5 egg whites OR protein pancake (1 scoop whey + 3 egg whites) OR 1 scoop humapro
My green veggies of choice include collards, baby spinach, French cut green beans and kale.
Once a week I allow myself no-holds-barred cheat meal and a frozen yogurt from the local ice cream shop (I look forward to my fat free/no sugar added vanilla yogurt topped with chopped Reeses peanut butter cups)! Since I can’t be trusted with a jar of peanut butter, sometimes I’ll add that into my cheat so I can get my cravings out of the way.
How do you feel about ketogenic diets and extreme diets in general?
I have never tried a keto diet, so I don’t have a personal opinion of them. I know lots of people who have done them – some are happy with those results and some are not. I think it depends on the individual and how their body responds to carbs. Extreme diets are necessary to attain a stage-worthy physique, which is why it is important to have guidance from a knowledgeable coach to help lead that journey in a safe manner. It makes me feel comfortable having IFBB pro Tammy Patnode design my pre-contest diet so I don’t have to worry if I am consuming the right amount of protein, carbs and fats for my particular goals. When I am not pre-contest, a clean (but more flexible/balanced) diet is necessary for growth, recovery and sanity.
How did you get those awesome arms of yours?
I vary the order of my lifts each time I train arms. I like to mix it up between dumbbells, barbells and cable machines and aim for 7-9 reps per set. I also like to target the muscles from different angles and grips.
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?
Hmm… 6.5-7. Personally, I would like to add more lean mass (and with time, density), so I believe I have some work to do to improve that rating.
How did/do your family and friends feel about your training?
They are very supportive and understand that it is part of my life and something that I’m passionate about. At first, they thought it was just a phase, but I think they now realize that it’s a lifestyle and one that I proudly support and embrace with all my heart.
Can you give us a brief summary of your competition history?
2009 NPC Suburban ~ 4th place, bikini
2009 NPC Garden State ~ 1st place, bikini
2010 NPC Garden State ~ DNP
2010 NPC Jr Nationals ~ 1st place, bikini (Class A)
2010 NPC Team Universe ~ 3rd place, bikini (Class B)
2011 Jr USAs ~ 4th place, bikini (Class A)
2011 Jr Nationals ~ 10th place, bikini (Class A)
What are your fitness/bodybuilding plans for 2011?
I already competed twice this year. I was considering a third show, but after discussing strategy with Tammy, we agreed that I would use the rest of 2011 to work on improvements for my 2012 season.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 20 years?
In 5 years, I would like to have an exercise science degree and be helping others to reach their own health and fitness goals. I hope to look better in my 40′s than I do in my 20′s, so hopefully I am still healthy in 2031 and have surpassed my current goals so I can find new ones to conquer!
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?
Thanks to everyone for reading and thank you RateMyArms for giving me the opportunity to share my story. If anyone would like to keep in touch or reach out regarding sponsorships, booth work or other opportunities, please feel free to email StephanieWickedMule@gmail.com.
Photo Credits: Dan Ray, Xavier De La Vega, Michael Ver Sprill, Taryn Truese and Erik Danielson