How did you first get started in the bodybuilding/fitness game?
I first got into fitness while still training competitively as a dancer. As a chubby teenager, I used it to mold and change my body, as well as increase my over all fitness, giving me the edge I needed to succeed. I loved the escape I could achieve in the gym, and ultimately I left the dance world to pursue the fitness industry!
Was there a defining moment that got you to start training at a whole different level?
Absolutely! After only a few months of lifting I realized and the people around me saw that I was a freak in the gym. I went from barely being able to do 8-10 pound weights, to doubling and tripling my numbers. I realized then that I had found my niche! I was around 16 at this point and slowly started to phase dance out, and replaced it with more hours training and educating myself about training, nutrition and competitions.
What are the top 2 ways you keep motivated?
I always strive to be my best and do my best in all facets of my life. Knowing that I am still young and have so much more to accomplish pushes me every day. Goals surround my life. I have my long term, short term, even weekly and daily goals. I put them right where I can see them every single day. I also have a kick ass idol by my side. My mom is my biggest source of motivation. She is a fighter and has overcome so much in her life. I see her struggle day in and out with the after effects of breast cancer. If I can be half the woman she is, I will know my life will be successful.
In your opinion what is the biggest hurdle you or most people have to overcome in regards to their fitness career and goals?
I see so many hurdles within my profession. From lack of self efficacy and self sabotaging, to becoming too overwhelmed to even start. We all have a beginning point, but the real hurdle I see pretty darn near daily is a lack of education or bad education. Everyone is an “expert” these days, but there are so few educated and experienced true professionals in the industry. Instead newbies in particular, are getting and believing whole-heartedly advice that is not grounded in ANYTHING but personal opinion. This really grinds my gears because inevitably they do not succeed and have a sour taste left for anything fitness related.
One of my own personal hurdles, is the ability to overcome stress. It plagues each and every one of us on a day to day basis. I don’t dig yoga or meditation (I fall asleep) so finding that escape for me only happens with training. Yet, understand when you train you put so much physical stress on your body. So needless to say, I am still learning on this one. When I find out, I will let you know.
Why do you think some people are able to overcome this hurdle, but others are not?
Some people can overcome this through re-educating themselves. But all too often I see people that have been put on hypocaloric diets, over training and over all brainwashing that leaves them fat, without energy or drive and fried adrenals. Take it from me, this takes a lot of patience to overcome, but many people aren’t willing to take the measures to fix the wrongs that previous trainers or “experts” have done. It takes a whole lot of dedication and stubbornness to re-work a body and mind.
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)
That’s a toughy! Completely depends on the person. What are their goals? Are they an average Joe looking to be able to play with his kids or a female figure athlete? Fitness and wellness is not a one size fits all, there are too many variables that makes your ratio different from mine, and mine different from the next person. Champions are made from a holistic approach, one of balance and rest, a complete diet and of course hard training. I am a huge believer in less is not more when it comes to food, and more is not less when it comes to training. A proper diet trumps hours in the gym any day.
How useful do you think supplements are? Do you use supplements? What is your current top supplement?
Supplementation is just that. It should be in supplementation to a proper diet. People rely way too much on supplements for energy, magical “fat burning” or “anabolic” properties and so on. The first thing I tell all my clients is there is no such thing as a magic pill. There are supplements that can augment a sound diet and healthy regime. The staples in my daily intake are a high quality whey isolate (I rotate powders every 6-8 weeks), Infinity Fitness’ Alpha Omegas (amazing product), a pharmaceutical grade pro-biotic, vitamin B, adrenal support, glutamine and a good BCAA product for pre/post workout. I have digestion issues as well (Celiac disease among others) so a good digestive enzyme is crucial!
In general what does your current training routine look like?
John Meadow’s of Mountain Dog Diet is my trainer, and mentor. After a lot of damage from previous misguidance, John helped to pick me up and help me start to build again. My training switches weekly. John’s methods are intense. They are beautifully crafted “sets of exercises and rep schemes designed to push your body to new levels, by not allowing it to adapt to old levels”. A typical week is a 4 day spilt of Back/Arms/Legs/Chest & Shoulders, with Calves and Abs x 2 days a week. Cardio is dependent on what my goals are the moment are. HITT is my way to go, I do short burst interval training and always vary things up, sometimes using machines, other times doing more bodyweight and plyo.
What is your current diet routine?
My diet is full of good stuff only! I have had Celiac disease along with a lot of other food allergies therefore I was exposed to eating gluten-free since a very young age. One of the best things John taught me was “You are what you have eaten has eaten.” I eat only grass fed beef, free range organic turkey and chicken, fresh salmon and fish. My eggs are free range, and my protein powders are only the best. I eat a diet that to most standards is lower in carbs and higher in fats. My fats come from sources such as virgin coconut oil, almonds, natural peanut butter, macadamia nut oil, palm oil, unpasteurized butter, and so on. I eat a ton of veggies, kale is my favourite! My other carb sources are from gluten free oatmeal, blueberries and strawberries, and yams. It really is simple. Your health should be your biggest investment. I don’t care how good someone looks on the outside, they need to be just as good, if not better on the inside. I have been plagued with digestion problems from young so I know the importance of eating a solid diet. The body will not budge if the nutrition is not there!
How do you feel about ketogenic diets and extreme diets in general?
Everything has its time and place. If you are working with a trained professional for specific goals then I understand situations in which “extreme” diets need to be used. Living a healthy lifestyle is the way to go… lifestyle vs. dieting. I can’t stress the importance of ditching habitual diets for living a life of good, solid food choices.
How did you get those awesome arms of yours?
My arms came from a whole lot of determination. It was only a few years ago that I had spaghetti noodle arms. I have found my greatest gains come from lowering the weight, focusing on contractions and 3 second decelerations.
How did/do your family and friends feel about your training?
My dad thinks I am crazy. Always has and I think always will. My family is super close, although my dad doesn’t understand why I do what I do, he accepts it and supports me. My mom and sister are the same. They understand that I bring my own food to family dinners, even Christmas and Thanksgivng, and if I have to go to the gym or workout even on holidays, so be it. Having a National level bodybuilder boyfriend by your side also makes things easier. He gets the diet, the training and the lifestyle too, because he lives it as well.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 20 years?
I am a university student first a foremost, doing research in the Socio-cultural side of fitness and physical activity (what a mouthful , eh!), so 5 years from now I will *fingers crossed* have completed my masters and beginning my PhD. By this point in time I hope to have some more experience within the fitness industry by my side, and being known for bringing a different approach to training, eating and overall lifestyle. I want to be known for my brain before my body. It’s a tough thing to accomplish in an industry that is based off looks! 20 years, I’d love to be teaching in academia. Hopefully with a couple of studies under my belt. I’d love love love to be able to have the resources to give back to teenage girls. Growing up chubby wasn’t easy, and then being so uneducated about the right way to do stuff made it even harder. I’d love to have some kind of foundations that helps give girls the tools they need to live healthy lives. If I could I would love to also make fitness more accessible for everyone. If I could I would open a gym, screen members (ie. get rid of the egos) and be able to give them free access to information to help them achieve whatever their goals might be. As for competitions, I don’t make it my center goal. I think we all want to turn pro!
Who is your favorite fitness model/bodybuilder? (other than yourself!)
Monica Brant! She is the reason I am in this crazy world of fitness. Back when I was 14 I saw her in a magazine and since then she has influenced my life in so many ways. John Meadows is also a huge favourite. I love his approach to training and nutrition. He has really made a huge positive impact on all areas of my life.
Describe what you see when you look at yourself in the mirror every morning!
Oh gosh. Before or after I put in my contacts? I see someone who wants a lot out of life. On a day to day basis I simply do not have the time put into looking perfect. Most days I am out of bed and at the gym in 15 minutes, throw a baseball hat on (I am notorious for this one), put my contacts in, sip some coffee and I’m out the door! Post workout when I am throwing make-up on and maybe even brushing my hair, I always try to find 1 positive thing about my body and appearance. I think we are all our own biggest critics when it comes to appearance. Some mornings I’ll admit it is harder than others, take for instance this morning; my hair looked great, which those that have frizzy/curly hair know that nearly never happens after sleeping on it. It is practicing simple things like this on a daily basis that can make the world of a difference in self esteem and positive self worth.
What did your physique look like before you started training?
One word. Lumpy. Like I mentioned before, a lot of time and patience has gone into this body. After shedding all my initial weight through running, I had a set of killer legs and spaghetti noodle arms. I didn’t even train back for the first year of weights. I have to work hard to maintain any type of lines, my body is stubborn and resistant to change.
Do you feel that you are treated differently because of your physique and fitness goals?
I get funny looks all the time. Take right now for instance, I am sitting in O’Hare Airport with a protein/coconut oil mixture (bit of water, cinnamon mixed into it, think pudding cross baby food), 2.5L jug of water and trying to stretch out my legs from a brutal leg workout this morning. Wouldn’t you give me funny looks too? One of my favourite all time quotes is by Dr. Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”. I have lived this way for years. All the people in my life support me and my goals, simple as that. I surround myself with like minded, positive individuals that treat me just the way I deserve!
I definitely get treated differently in the gym. I grunt, rarely wear make-up, like my baggie t-shirts and loud music. It’s nice, I rarely get chatted up, and 90% of the time get left alone. This is the way I like it. Sure I get snickers, and mouth starrers (you know the kind, jaw on the floor, eyes fixated). To be best honest, I really don’t give a rat’s ass about these people anymore. I used to let it get to me a lot, but now when I enter the gym, my blinders go on, and I forget about everyone and everything. The gym is my world, it is the one place I can harness my body, brain and emotions. Seriously, once you can achieve the blinders, your workouts will never be the same!
If you could tell a fitness noob just one sentence of advice, what would it be?
Do your homework and don’t take everything you hear for the truth. Always always always educate yourself. I don’t care who told you something, take it with a grain of salt and do your own research, and I’m not talking about wikipedia.
What is your all time favorite workout song?
Depends on if I am lifting or doing cardio. For cardio I love the upbeat stuff. While when I lift, I listen to harder rock. Rise Against “Like the Angel” can get me going like no tomorrow!
What is your favorite quote?
Well, since I already said one of them above I’ll give you another. “Give a man a fish, you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime” (author unknown). This is the whole philosophy to my method of madness. I believe in educating all of my clients. It’s great to give someone a training program or tell them what to eat, but at the end of the day when they go off on their own they usually won’t remember a thing or follow it. Through teaching them the methods, reasons behind it and giving the tools to do it on their own has so much more benefit. I’m genuinely here to help my clients achieve their personal best. But alas, these methods don’t end up making me a great business person.
What do you feel is the best type of cardio for yourself and why?
Depends. I am a fan of interval training because I like aggressive training. Long slow distance (LSD) or steady states doesn’t stimulate me high intensity training. I mix it up. Sometimes this includes sprints, or plyo workouts, while other times I follow Doctor Serrano’s method of short burst training, around 15 seconds of balls to the wall and 15 seconds of moderate (because you NEED the rest) for a total of 12 minutes after a 10 minute warm-up and followed by a 10 minute cool down.
What is your favorite cheat meal?
I’m not a cheater. Cheat is unintentional. I have scheduled days of higher calories, carbs and fats. My number 1 weakness in life is peanut butter. It’s the only thing I crave, and if given the opportunity can down a jar in a day. Paired with a super ripe banana and I am in pure bliss!
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?
Honestly, I have no clue. Some people dig chicks with muscle, some people detest it. I have quite a bit of meat on me, shoulders being a dominate body part.
Outside of training, how do you like to spend your time?
School. I am pretty darn lame. You can usually find me in one of three places, my gym I train at, the gym I work at or in classes. When I am not in school I love to spend time with my family, and most importantly my dog!
What is the dumbest thing you yourself have done or witnessed in the gym?
There are a lot of unfortunate events that I witness on a day to day basis. I work at a gym at my campus, therefore you get a lot of newbies that come in especially looking to lose that freshman 15. The gym that I personally train at has a lot of goof in it as well. A classic incident happened a few weeks back, when a friend and I were training legs. He is a big guy, and I squat more than most blokes in there . Anyways, our entire set (lowish rep training) we were being watched by two young guys, maybe 18 or so that looked like they had never lifted a weight before, but geared to the nines in new gym clothing. Anyways, after we racked up and moved onto our next exercise, they loaded up the bar to my biggest weight for the day and one of the guys attempted to squat. I felt terrible for him, because he couldn’t even get it off the rack without his friend’s help, then maybe MAYBE got down 2 inches. First off, warm-up! Second off, have your OWN plan when you enter a gym and stick to it. Third, don’t compare yourself to anyone or anything in the gym. Simple!
What is your favorite body part to train? What about your least favorite?
Legs are my favourite by far. I love leg (quads, glutes and hams) days before and after, hate them during it. But it’s the hate that I love. Did I lose you? In my opinion there is nothing like a physically demanding leg day. The mental focus required to get through it is like nothing else. My least favourite part to train is calves. As a dancer I never had to train my calves specifically. Since I have stopped dancing, of course I have to train them. It is one part I really do detest.
What is the one question you hate hearing the most? (e.g how much do you bench?)
Man, again, there are a lot of those. I get way too many questions coming into my email, facebook, website and face-to-face questions. A generic question/comment I hate getting from new female clients, is “I don’t want to lift heavy weights, I don’t want to get bulky”. Don’t get me started on that one! Personal questions I hate getting is “how much do you squat”. I love how guys will be like “oh you probably get those dumb questions, like how much do you squat. But no, really, how much do you squat?” I usually comment back with some smart ass comment, like “What exercises did I do before hand? Was I working on a 3 second descend? What was my rep range? Did I pyramid up?” Usually that gets an eye roll and a walk away. The serious guys will actually want to know more, those ones I don’t mind getting!
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 for contacting me! If you have made it this far in my interview, congrats! I think the biggest thing I always want to get across to everyone I talk to, is fitness is a lifestyle. It’s not something that you just can pick up and do for 12 weeks out of the year to look jacked for a vacation or lose weight to fit into a wedding dress. Train for passion, and eat with focus. In the end there are three words that guide my life and have helped me achieve what I have up until this point. Dream for more, Believe in yourself and Inspire others. And that folks is all I got! Thanks again RateMyArms!