Date of birth: 03/05/1968
Hometown: Medford, NJ
Career: Stay at home mother of 3; Ages 5, 8, 12
If you could change into a superhero for a day who would you be and why?
Wonder Woman; the Warrior Princess of the Amazons. I admire her superhuman strength, both internal and external, and try to embrace those qualities in my training and prepping for competition. I love the symbolism behind her arsenal of weapons including the indestructible bracelets of submission and the Lasso of Truth.
What made you begin dedicating your lifestyle to this sport?
My passion for fitness sprouted when I was in high school, teaching aerobics and weight training. My interest grew into a passion motivating me to pursue a B.S. in Exercise Physiology from Penn State University.
But, it wasn't until after college following a significant life event in 1992, that I began dedicating myself to the sport of fitness. Todd Zabielski, a trainer friend invited me to attend a competition for a female client he was training. As a fitness enthusiast, I was amazed by what I witnessed and the discipline & tenacity required to step on that stage - prepared! That night, I told Todd with such conviction "I can do that; I want to do that" and 3 months later I did. I had a great showing my first time out and continued to do so for the following competitions. Soon thereafter, I earned my WNBF Pro Card and placed 6th in my first pro show the 1994 "Ms. Universe" in NYC.
Ironically, at 26 following the Ms. Universe I stopped competing altogether for 18 years. I struggled with the concept that I may never be "the best," that there would likely always be someone better than me, so "what's the point"? This all or nothing mindset left me feeling deflated and defeated.
I continued to train for general health for the next few years, but as my family grew so did my distance from the gym. At 33 following marriage and the birth of my first child, I stopped training completely and did what too many women do that I strongly urge against. In becoming a wife and mother my life revolved around everyone else's needs and I lost "me."
Strangely, It took another difficult life altering event to get me back to the gym and the roots of the sport. In early 2010 my mother's health began a decline eventually leading to her loss of life in 2012. Witnessing her decline and accepting the inevitable outcome on my best friends life was such a tremendously painful process and had an impact on many interpersonal family relationships. Simply put, I needed an outlet for my pain and angst so I turned to the sport that I knew I could count on like I did so many years ago.
In May 2011 I walked through the doors of a gym again and 1 1/2 years later I stepped on stage at the 2012 INBF World Amateur Championships and placed 2nd in both Figure and Fit Body (Physique).
What's different this time around for me? I realize that while this sport can summon so many strengths it oddly can bring a lot of our insecurities right along with it. I have the maturity and wisdom to embrace the concept that this sport is not about anyone else but me; It is my journey! And, as I enter each new day I strive to leave behind an older version of myself to unveil a new and improved one; a version that has learned from both her mistakes and triumphs of yesterday. So, it really doesn't matter if I am "The Best" as long as I am "My Best"!
What approach do you take to dieting...carb cycle..keto?
I work with my coach Vilma Caez IFBB Pro very closely to manage my nutrition. Although it can vary slightly from one prep to another depending upon starting condition, in general we really don't do anything drastic such as carb depletion, dehydration, etc. In fact, my carbs are kept relatively high and cardio sessions are kept to a minimum. Small adjustments are made to dial in and peak my physique for contest day.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about competing?
That it has to be painful and miserable; and if your not walking around weak and carb depleted on 2x/day cardio sessions, that you are not paying your dues or earning your right of passage.
What is your most embarrassing childhood memory?
Well, there are several. But, there is one in particular that I recall often probably because it reminds me of what I still do to this day as an adult. I was about 7, standing on the edge of the tub, looking in the mirror, butt naked, and moving my body around to see how it looked at different angles, playing with my facial expressions, etc when up the stairs walks my Mom watching me in silence as I admire myself...lol. These days, its my kids (but thankfully not naked) instead of my Mom catching me!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned about YOURSELF during your contest prep?
That I can do anything I seek out and choose to pursue. That I have a fire deep within me that burns so bright and is so eager to show the beauty of its flames.
Who do you look up and admire and why?
My Mother! With all my imperfections, she accepted me for me, loved me unconditionally and without judgement. Her arms were always a safe and comfortable place for me to fall.
2012: INBF Amateur World Championships; Fit Body 2nd, Figure 2nd Place
2013: OCB Battle for The Belt; Physique 2nd, Bodybuilding 3rd Place
2014: NGA Mr & Ms. Natural Philadelphia; Physique 1st Place
2014: NPC Natural Mid-Atlantic Classic; Physique 1st Place
2014: NPC Golds Classic, Physique 2nd Place
Next competition: 2015 NPC Masters Nationals (Hoping to earn IFBB Physique Pro Card)
Favorite Motivational Quote:
"Reach for the moon, and even if you miss you will be among the stars."
Who would you like to thank?
*Vilma Caez IFBB Pro Bodybuilder; my friend, nutrition, training & choreography coach. She also choreographed my 1994 WNBF Ms. Universe routine
*Spartan Nutrition & Candice Weeks Medford NJ: My official nutrition sponsor for 2014 Season.
*Spence Jung of www.mycontestpix.com my friend & amazing photographer who captured these amazing images.
*Todd Zabielski; my first coach and the one who introduced me to this sport 20+ yrs ago.
*My Husband and children for supporting me through my journey in this sport.