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Spotlight On IFBB Figure Pro: Lauren Cascio

Spotlight On IFBB Figure Pro: Lauren Cascio
Category you compete in: IFBB FigureCard 1
Date of birth: 9/29/82
Hometown: Middletown, NJ
Career: Personal Trainer
Competition history:
2012- Team Universe - 2nd Place in Figure A *Awarded IFBB Pro card
2012- Junior USA - 4th Place in Figure A
2011- Junior Nationals - 5th Place in Figure A
2011- New York Metropolitan - 1st Place in Figure A
2010- Delaware Open - 1st Place in Figure A
Next competition:
New York Pro, May 2013
How has your life changed since you adopted this lifestyle and started competing? I have met and interacted with so many amazing and inspiring people, and I have grown both mentally and physically more than I thought possible.  It’s hard to imagine how much you can put your body and mind through, but when you get in that zone, you realize how much you are capable of.  Strength and will-power are buried deep sometimes, but this lifestyle and being a competitor has helped me bring out a lot of strength and will-power.
The members of this community are so supportive and welcoming; I love going to shows to compete or be a spectator.  For many years I felt I was a part of the fitness community because I was going to the gym and working out; but this lifestyle takes it to a whole new level and I love that it has become a part of my life. 
What have you found to be the best way to balance family, friends, career, this lifestyle, etc… Balancing family, friends and career with the lifestyle of a competitor has its challenges at first, but if you want to be successful and happy you have to adapt and learn to fit everything in.  The longer I compete and live this way year round (not just during prep time), the easier it gets for me; my family, friends and co-workers understand and accept that this is who I am.
I work in a gym so that makes balancing career and my lifestyle pretty easy; working my way around family gatherings, holidays and fitting in dates with my friends posed the bigger challenge for me when I started.  I would get stressed out having to explain to everyone why I was bringing food with me, why I couldn’t have a bowl of pasta or eat a dessert, or why I had to get up at 4am and fit in a morning session of cardio.
Once we all got passed the initial adjustment to my ccard 2ompetition lifestyle, it is much easier to find balance.  During the week I focus on my training, my home life with my husband and my amazing little pitbull (who both support me beyond words through everything!), and of course my career.  I prep the bulk of my meals on Sunday night, cooking enough protein for the week and freezing the food that’s for Thursday through Saturday.  This saves time and relieves some stress for the week ahead.  I also schedule every workout into my calendar like it’s an appointment with a client, usually at 5am or noon because those tend to be times in the work day where I am left alone.
I save the weekends for dates with family and friends.  This is when I will use a cheat meal if they are still in my diet.  Otherwise, I do what we all do and bring my meals for the day with me so that I don’t have to leave a gathering early to get to my food!  I always remind myself that I am grateful for the people I have in my life, and I won’t stress about not eating the same foods as them; I will enjoy the time we have together and the company.  
If you could change places with one competitor for the day who would it be and why? I have to say Nicole Wilkins, even though I dislike picking an obvious choice.  I respect and follow so many competitors out there from different sports, but honestly speaking, Nicole is the one I would choose.
I feel that Nicole Wilkins is a positive representation of the sport.  She is an active player in the community at shows and seminars.  She has accomplished so much and inspires so many people.  It has to be a great feeling to have so many titles under your belt, and on top of that have so many fans following you whom you motivate each day.
Name two of the most inspirational people in your life and tell why they inspire you. My uncle Alan is the most inspirational person in my life.  I did two national shows in 2012 and he was the driving force for me during my prep.  Without going into too much detail, he was and is a completely healthy man, but unfortunately had a genetic defect in his heart that led to congestive heart failure.  In March 2012 he was put on the list for both a heart and liver transplant and by April 17, 2012 he was on the OR table receiving a new heart and liver.  The strength and positive attitude he maintained throughout the experience was inspiring beyond words.  Anytime I was tired or feeling complete discomfort while prepping for a show, I would dig deep and think of my uncle.  I know he went through far worse and tougher times, but he didn’t waiver in his journey. The second most inspirational person may sound like a stretch, but it’s the community of competitors at large.  When I’m at a point where I’m either struggling or need a kick in the rear, I will turn to other posts, photos, workouts, etc, by my peers.  It’s not one person in particular, but it’s all the men and women who share their journeys online that help push me and keep me moving in the right direction with a positive attitude.
Tell one recipe or supplement you can’t live without. Right now, my go-to protein powder is Gaspari Myofusion Probiotic Series Cinnamon Roll flavor.  I add it to so many meals/snacks, but I’ll share my fall recipe that I can’t live without!
Cinnamon Pumpkin Protein Oatmeal: 35 grams of oatmeal, 150 grams of pumpkin puree, 1 scoop cinnamon roll protein powder.  In a saucepan cook oatmeal and add pumpkin puree.  Once that’s cooked, then I add in the protein powder and enjoy! (330 calories, 5 grams fat, 45 grams carbs, 30 grams protein)   
Tell about a typical training day for you.  What exercises, how many sets/reps…etc… I like to change up my program and incorporate different methods, whether it’s FST-7, drop sets, 8x8 or 10x10 training, etc.  Bucard 5t a typical workout on other days would be body part specific over 5 days –
I vary the reps and sets depending on where I am in relationship to a competition, but my general range is 8-15 reps for 3-5 sets.  I will sometimes go up to 20 reps depending on the workout (I incorporate days where I will do 4x20 of four different exercises for a specific body part as a giant set, with one minute rest in between the four sets).
In closing, Who would you like to give a shout out to? I have to give a shout out to my husband, who has been the greatest support that I could ever hope for.  I am by no means and easy person to live with when I’m training for a show.  I work long days and am exhausted when I get home.  He will help make all of my food; he lets me have my temper tantrums when needed; he loves me despite the highs and lows that come with the territory of competing.
Also, shout out to my mother and sisters for accepting my lifestyle and for being there for me whenever I need them.  And of course, my trainer and workout partners I’ve picked up along the way who help me push my limits.   

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