From Scrawny and Sickly to Bodybuilder

Here’s How I Did It

By: Laura Heyne
2009 NPC Northern KY Heavyweight Champion
Magazine 14 #2

"You’re too scrawny to be a catcher, why don’t you try centerfield?" That was my introduction to fast-pitch high school softball. The next thing I knew I was in the small, greasy, rusty high school weight room trying to build up my body. My parents even bought me one of those Weider sand-filled lifting sets so I could lift when school was out of session or if we girls weren’t allowed in the weight room. Little did I know that 20 years later I’d still be lifting and loving it.

I lifted off and on through high school and ended up starting pitcher on my state's runner-up high school team (in Indiana) in 1986. A year later, I pitched in the Junior Olympic Nationals for my summer league team. From 1988-1991, I pitched for St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana. That’s where I started lifting seriously on a daily basis. It was great having access to a real weight room.

During my early twenties I did some distance running and competed in a few biathlons (running/biking). But health issues kept holding me back. When I was 22, I awoke Easter morning with what I thought was the "flu." Very long story, but my "flu" continued for the next 16 years. I went to countless doctors/specialists and alternative health care professionals. The doctors said something was definitely wrong, but couldn’t figure it out. I looked "too healthy" to be sick. They labeled me with "chronic fatigue syndrome." My symptoms encompassed nearly the entire body, from severe fatigue, extreme headaches, brain fog, full body aches, depression... I had to discontinue my distance running, but I continued biking and weight training when my health allowed it.

Fast forward to age 35. Doing a contest had been in the back of my mind for a long time, but I was always too sick or too shy. Then one of my friends (Tadd) at the gym encouraged me to try a competition. I knew it still wasn’t the "perfect" time, but I also knew everyone has obstacles in their life at one time or another, and to be successful at anything you can’t let those obstacles stand in your way. If I continued to wait until that perfect time to do a contest, it may never come. I said I’d give it a try.

Tadd, gave me pointers on pre-contest eating and taught me to pose. Amazingly, I took first place at my first show. The experience was so exciting and rewarding... I was pretty much hooked on bodybuilding going on to do eight more shows over the next four years. I think that it had a positive effect on whatever was ailing me as some of my symptoms actually improved when I followed a bodybuilding diet but I was never cured.

Then, right after my ninth show, the 2008 NPC Kalamazoo, I suffered another setback. I experienced extreme bloating issues with my abdomen and felt worse than usual. I went to the doctor and learned that I had a large ovarian tumor. I had surgery on June 23, 2008 to remove the ovary. Fortunately, the dermoid tumor was benign but I had to take off nearly all training for a few months.

Then, in October 2008, just when I was ready to resume "normal heavy" lifting, my 16 year “flu” was diagnosed – celiac disease, an autoimmune illness which is triggered by gluten (wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats and dairy). I immediately went on a gluten-free diet and am now “cured.”

Finally, fit and healthy, my goal was to return to competition at the 2009 NPC Northern Kentucky. I started dieting in December. This time I wanted to try the technique that has been illustrated in several of the No Nonsense Magazines, as well as Beverly’s Blueprints for Success and Contest Workshop Manual. I was able to easily modify it to be gluten-free.

My Gluten-Free Nutrition Plan

Meal #1 
Soufflé:  ¾ cup of egg whites mixed with 1 scoop UMP vanilla, touch of cinnamon, stevia - microwave
for 3 ½ minutes.  YUMMY!

Meal #2 
2 scoops UMP Vanilla with 1 tsp of peanut or almond butter

Meal #3 
97-99% lean ground turkey with an assortment of fresh veggies, plenty of spices, 1 tsp tahini

Meal #4
Snack of 10-12 almonds or sometimes the same as Meal #2

Meal #5
Grilled chicken with a very large salad, gluten-free salad dressing, grapefruit, almonds or almond butter;
sometimes butternut squash or spaghetti squash.

On each 3rd day, I substituted this carb-up meal for Meal #5 above:
Steamed broccoli, yam, quinoa flakes cereal with cinnamon & stevia, grapefruit, almond butter

The only drinks I consume are water, lots of green tea and other tea varieties with stevia as a sweetener.
The first Beverly product that I tried was UMP. I had read about the "Beverly Goo" in an article on I thought it was a really cool idea and ordered my first container of UMP Vanilla. I mixed the powder with peanut butter or almond butter and put it in the freezer for 10 minutes. This was just prior to my first show and I’ve been hooked since!

Since I loved this product so much, I decided to experiment with other Beverly products for my next 9 contests. Over the next few years, I saw many benefits from all of the products I’ve used: Ultra 40, Mass Amino, Density, Lean Out, Creatine Select, Muscle Synergy and Glutamine Select.

Note, I tried to make a "protein-goo" using non-Beverly products... doesn’t work. Beverly is the best.

The above nutrition plan helped me get lean really fast. I was down to 8% at 4 weeks out so I increased my carbs some. In retrospect, another good idea would have been to increase my Density intake throughout the strict diet phase to retain even more muscle. Everyone is different – you need to learn what works for you. Bodybuilding is a continual learning process about your body and your mental toughness.


My goal for each contest is to look better than the last show. You cannot control your competition. This time was a little different for me though. I knew I had probably lost some muscle over the summer due to my surgery and I probably could have been a tad more muscular. Still, I was very pleased with myself for returning to the stage in great shape. I took first place in the heavyweight division (out of 5 competitors – 2 of which had won overalls in earlier contests). Though I did not win the overall this time, competing in the pose down was an honor.


People who know me think I live in the gym. Not true. My lifting workouts are always under an hour. I take very little time between sets. Supersetting is great because of its efficiency and intensity. I always mix up my rep range. People ask, "What’s the secret to bodybuilding?” I tell them, “It’s not about the amount of weight you use or the amount of time you put in the gym, it’s your mental and physical intensity while you’re there. And, remember, bodybuilding is at least 75% diet."

Training Schedule

Legs (Hamstrings, Quads, Glutes, calves)
Chest & Back
Shoulders & Traps
Triceps & Biceps

 Laura Heyne at a Glance
Age: 39 – turn 40 in July ‘09
Occupation: Quality Assurance Software Engineer
Current Residence: Niles, MI

Years Training: 22
Height: 5′9″
Weight: Competition: 140-144, Off-season: 150-155

Favorite Cheat Foods: Dark chocolate, gluten-free peanut butter and apple butter millet sandwich
Favorite Bodybuilding Meal: Ground turkey with vegetables and spices; UMP Vanilla with peanut butter
Laura Heyne Lat Spread


I love biking, so I bike outside as much as I can. Being a resident of Michigan, I have plenty of weeks where I cannot ride outside. I then turn to spinning classes. These are great because they pretty much follow the HIIT philosophy. Another cool routine I use when weather permits is this: Ride my bike to a football field as a warm-up. Then sprint from one goal post to the other goal post. Then, turn around and lunge all the way back to your starting point. Repeat without rest for four total trips up and back. You’re not finished; you still have to ride your bike back home. This really helps with leg separation. I also use the stair stepper for cardio. I like to put Glutamine Select plus BCAAs in my water during cardio to help with recovery and to retain muscle. Glutamine Select also has an added benefit for me – it helps heal the small intestine damaged by celiac disease.

Laura Heyne Single Bicep

2009 NPC Northern Kentucky – 1st place Heavyweights
2008 NPC Kalamazoo - 1st Place in both Open & Masters
2008 NPC Northern Kentucky – 2nd Place in Middleweight
2007 NPC Anderson, Indiana – 1st Place Masters 35+ & Overall
2006 OCB Yorton Cup Nationals – 2nd Place in Masters 35+ & 3rd Place in Open Tall
2006 OCB Indiana Natural - 1st Place in both Open & Masters
2006 NPC Natural Ohio – 2nd Place in Open +114.5lb & 4th Place in Masters
2005 OCB Midwestern States* - 1st Place in both Open & Masters
 *Overall in bench press contest on same day.
2005 NANBF YMCA Flint, Michigan - 1st Place in both Open Tall & Masters
2005 NANBF Michigan - Overall Bodybuilding Champion & 1st Place in both Novice & Masters

In closing, if you have ever dreamed of doing a bodybuilding show, go for it! I would encourage you to first go and watch a show. Also, contact someone who knows how to diet for a show – Beverly not only has terrific products, but they also provide terrific contest preparation advice in the No Nonsense Magazine, on their website,, and in their Precontest Workshop Manual and Blueprint for Success Booklet.

NNM 14 #2

»  Leslie Draper
Three 1st Place Wins in One Season!
How Did I Do It? Tunnel Vision

»  Matt Harper, D.C.
First Show, Overall Winner

»  Sandy Riedinger
Bodybuilding World Volume 14 #2

»  Joe Daniels
Never Give Up, Never Give In - 2009 NPC NKY welterweight champion




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