How did you first get started in the bodybuilding/fitness game?
I have ALWAYS been an athlete – I played soccer, basketball, and softball in high school, and then continued at the collegiate level. After I graduated, I didn’t really have an outlet for my competitive side, and I got bored. I was working out and lifting consistently, but I didn’t have a goal, and I wasn’t seeing the results that I thought I should be. Consequently, I hired a local trainer who also happened to be an NPC fitness competitor to whip me into shape. 4 weeks later, after seeing amazing results, I decided that I would like to try competing. I haven’t looked back, and I love every minute of it. I have an outlet for my energy and I have fitness goals, which has allowed me to really focus my attention on my lifting and my diet.
Was there a defining moment that got you to start training at a whole different level?
Not really – I saw results pretty quickly when I first started my training, and I was aware that my body and my genetics were suitable for competing. But other than that initial physique change, nothing has really been a “defining moment,” per se.
What are the top 2 ways you keep motivated?
Other people keep me VERY motivated. I’ve made lots of great girlfriends through competing, and they help me to stay focused at times. And “other people” also include people who see me lifting at the gym, people who send me Facebook messages about getting in shape – average people who are just trying to get fit. The fact that they look to me for inspiration is so humbling, and I want to do well for THEM more so than for myself. The other thing that motivates me in the gym is my music! Linkin Park, Disturbed, POD, Drowning Pool, Marilyn Manson – I love it all. I need to be yelled at when I’m lifting. I call it my angry music, and I don’t lift without it.
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 it’s diet. The closer you get to the stage, the more crap you start to crave. You start to dream about food. Food Network becomes porn – it really is ridiculous how all-consuming it can become. BUT – because I know I have to look good on stage, I can stay away from it. I tell myself that it’s not worth it. Would 1 bite hurt me? Probably not, but 1 bite isn’t going to satisfy any craving, so why bother. For other people, the willpower to stay away from junk food is oftentimes not there. I have clients who ask me “Can you make a program for me that allows me to eat pizza but still lose weight?” Um………no. You just have to decide whether or not your physique goal outweighs your desire for cheat food. If it’s not, then you’ll never be successful.
Why do you think some people are able to overcome this hurdle, but others are not?
Those who overcome the nutrition hurdle have made the conscious decision to make a change. To them, their goals are more important than their cravings. It’s a switch that you have to turn off, and some people just aren’t ready to. And if they try to start a program before they’re REALLY ready, they won’t succeed.
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, 33% training, 2% rest. I’m sure a lot will disagree with me on the rest, but I hardly get more than 5 hrs of sleep a night and am fine. But that’s just me and my body – I can function off of that. Diet is the biggest part of the game, in my opinion. You could lift heavy and hard all you want, but if you leave the gym and go home and eat a pizza and drink beer, guess what? You’re not going to see your hard work paying off – ever.
How useful do you think supplements are? Do you use supplements? What is your current top supplement?
I don’t really use any supplements. I use protein powder, fish oil, calcium, and a multi vitamin. That’s it. And that’s all I’ve really ever taken. I’ve taken creatine before, but I noticed no changes after dropping it – neither in my physique, my training, or my recovery. I’m not a big supplement person – the body makes what it needs naturally, and I just don’t think polluting the body with man-made supplements is the answer. Sure, there may be minor, very small changes, but to me, it’s not worth the money and it’s not worth what those things could possibly do to my body.
In general what does your current training routine look like?
I lift 4 times a week:
- Monday: back/shoulders
- Tuesday: legs
- Wednesday: teach a spin class (30 minutes of spinning, 30 minutes of sculpting)
- Thursday: back/shoulders
- Friday: teach a spin class (same as Weds class)
- Saturday: bis/tris
- Sunday: teach a spin class (same as the other 2 classes)
My trainer would love it if I did no cardio, but my spin classes supplement my income, and they’re a lot of fun I love the people who take my class, and I love teaching.
What is your current diet routine?
I have 2 diets: 1 for lifting days, 1 for off days. I love, love, love my food, which is so important. I eat 6x/day, regardless of my lifting. My diet is full of lean meats, healthy fats (I could bathe myself in avocados), whole grains, and lots of fruit. It is so delicious, which helps me to be compliant. I have 1 cheat meal per week.
How do you feel about ketogenic diets and extreme diets in general?
I think keto diets, while they may work for some, generally don’t work for most. I know way, way too many competitors who’ve done the keto thing and now have permanently ruined metabolisms. I have a nutrition and science background, and ANY diet that restricts 1 entire food group, or severely limits them, is extremely unhealthy. I have issues with the Zone Diet, Atkins, etc. All of it is bogus to me. Like I said, they may work for some, but not for most. Tons of competitors have developed carb-sensitivities because their diets have been bland/restricted for so long. It’s sad to me that people walk around and can’t enjoy carbs.
How did you get those awesome arms of yours?
Lots of heavy, heavy lifting. I actually don’t work bis/tris that much. My focus right now is on my shoulders and back. I need to add some good thickness in both, and I’ve been working my ASS off this off season to throw up heavy weight and totally beast it out. I am very pleased with the gains I’ve made in the last 6 months.
How did/do your family and friends feel about your training?
My immediate family isn’t uber-supportive. My mother is a nutritionist, and my father is a doctor, so they come at it from a health perspective. All they see is the last week when I’m carb-depleted, a little dehydrated (not nearly as bad as most, though – I drink a gallon or more up through show day), and vascular. My dad saw a picture of my abs with veins running through them before my 1st show and he freaked OUT. My mother doesn’t have a problem with it from a nutrition standpoint, but she does find it “extreme.” It’s very difficult for me, because I grew up with my parents coming to ALL of my games. I don’t think they’ll ever come to a show of mine, and it’s hard for me to accept that sometimes.
My friends in North Carolina, and in particular my boyfriend, Jim, are so ridiculously supportive. Jim will actually diet down for shows with me – he cuts out cheats, gets rid of all the junk food in his house, and cuts his portions. He sacrifices so much for me, more than most people realize. I am so lucky to have him as a support system. I’m also lucky to have some IFBB pros in my area. Kayde Puckett lives about 15 minutes from me, and we’ve become pretty close. She’s amazing – she’s one of the most sincere, trust-worthy, generous people I know. She’s helped me with my posing, she texts me when I’m close to a show and tells me to persevere, and she’s a really great friend. Desiree Walker lives here, too, and she is a tremendous source of knowledge about all things gymnastics and she’s really helped me learn a lot about fitness routines and how to improve. And she’s also friggin hysterical. There are tons of competitors in NC, actually, and they’re all such great girls. Leigh Ann Yeager, (my very 1st trainer and now very good friend) Ryan Althoff, Katy Hull, Sue Upson, Steph Toomey, Kisha Wilson – they’re all here and they’re all awesome, awesome girls.
Can you give us a brief summary of your competition history?
I’ve only competed twice!! I did well at both shows, but I’m looking forward to bringing a new physique to the stage in 2011.
- NC State Championships: April 2010 – 1st place, Figure C Class
- Jr. USAs: August 2010 – 5th place, Figure E Class
What are your fitness/bodybuilding plans for 2011?
I’ll be competing at Team U in July and then maybe Nationals in November. After that I think I’m switching to fitness for 2012.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 20 years?
5 years I’ll hopefully be married. I’m in NO rush to have children, so if I don’t pop one out by then it won’t be the end of the world. 20 years – yowza, let’s see, I’ll be 48 and hopefully will have won the lottery and will be sitting on the beach somewhere, drinking something with an umbrella in it with Jim by my side. Otherwise, I’ll be a mother and I’ll be enjoying my life as a fit, happy, healthy woman.
Who is your favorite fitness model/bodybuilder? (other than yourself!)
Erin Stern. I love her athletic look, and I love her lifting style: lots of powerlifting and track workouts. Homegirl throws up some serious weight, but you can tell she loves every minute of it. It’s nice to see a girl in this industry who doesn’t seem like a martyr. I see so often Facebook statuses that say, “Ugh, 3 weeks out. Starving, tired, miserable.” No one’s holding a gun to our heads. We choose to do this. Erin is a breath of fresh air, both with her physique and with her disposition.
Describe what you see when you look at yourself in the mirror every morning!
I see a girl who has worked hard for her muscle for 18+ months. I see a girl who can do anything she puts her mind to, and I see a girl who is lucky to have great people in her life. Sometimes I see a girl who has CLEARLY been bulking, haha! But I try not to let those thoughts invade my mind.
What did your physique look like before you started training?
I was doing a lot of cardio and lifting high rep, moderate weight (3-4 sets of about 25!!). Talk about doing all the wrong things. I was a little skinny fat, although I weighed less than I do right now. But weight means nothing. I didn’t have much definition or mass, and just looked like your average 20-something gym-goer. I was a size 4, but nothing special.
Do you feel that you are treated differently because of your physique and fitness goals?
Not really. People in the gym come up and talk to me, and I sometimes get approached in the grocery store. But, otherwise, no.
If you could tell a fitness noob just one sentence of advice, what would it be?
Follow your program, 100%, no bullshit, and you’ll see results.
What is your all time favorite workout song?
God, I have way too many favorite angry songs. Either Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson, Bodies Hit the Floor by Drowning Pool, or Wretches and Kings by Linkin Park. I get goosebumps when those songs come on in my ipod, and I can always squeak out 1 more rep or go up in weight when they’re on. There’s just something about that type of music that pushes me when I’m lifting.
What is your favorite quote?
“Do or do not, there is no try” – Yoda
What do you feel is the best type of cardio for yourself and why?
Intervals – 20 minutes and I’m done. I haven’t the time or the patience for steady state cardio, and please don’t even get me started on how bad that garbage is for you. The people that do 2, 3, 4 hrs of steady state 6-7x week are out of their minds. There IS another way.
What is your favorite cheat meal?
Sweet 16 doughnuts, pizza, anything involving peanut butter, and the chocolate peppermint shake from Chik-Fil-A. Just put it all in a bowl and I’ll eat it.
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?
Hopefully a 7 or higher – I’ve worked hard for this s**t! I probably don’t have the size that most of the others do, for several reasons, but I have good symmetry.
Outside of training and dieting how do you like to spend your time?
I am a personal trainer and nutrition consultant for a gym in my town, and I end up spending most of my free time there. Otherwise, you can find me on the couch with Jim and my dog, most likely sleeping. I have a full-time job during the week – I’m a project manager at a local Pharmaceutical company. I love my job.
What is the dumbest thing you yourself have done or witnessed in the gym?
My favorite has to be the idiots who load up the leg press with about 5 plates on each side and then do 2 reps with limited ROM and walk away without unloading the plates. Drives me insane and is so stupid. I see so much poor form. Too many guys go in there and try to go as heavy as they can for 1 rep and it’s just ridiculous. I also hate the girls who sit on the elliptical for 3 hours while they talk and text. Really? You really think you’re working out?
What is your favorite body part to train? What about your least favorite?
Favorite has got to be shoulders. I love nice, big, round coconut shoulders. Least favorite is legs. I have a love/hate relationship with leg day. I have never NOT been sore for days after a leg workout. As I sit here answering these questions, I’m actually still suffering from the leg workout I did 2 days ago.
What is the one question you hate hearing the most? (e.g how much do you bench?)
Can you eat that?? Just because I eat healthy does not mean that I eat like a rabbit. My diet is not restrictive, by any means, and the only time it IS is when I’m in full-blown prep.
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?
Thank you so much for including me in this, it’s been fun!! To the readers, keep working hard. If you truly put your mind to it, the sky’s the limit. Make the decision to make a change in it will happen.