They say age is a state of mind and that attitude is everything, I would agree with those sentiments. At the age of forty-four, and with an attitude of gratitude and leaving everything on that stage, I competed in my very first figure competition. It was an amazing feeling to be so disciplined and transform your mind as well as your body into such a conditioned state of being, but the journey to the stage is where the real lessons were learned.
Growing up, even though I was active in sports, I never fully appreciated or understood the importance of nutrition. Long hours after school for practice and games created long periods of time without proper nutrition which led to cravings, eating processed snacks or fast food all in the interest of time. Friends might have categorized me as, “stocky” or “thick”. There was muscle in there, but the fat covered it all up.
By the time I reached college, things went from busy to chaotic. Attending classes as a full-time nursing student, holding down a part-time job, and late night study sessions made my eating habits that much worse. There was no time for sports in my very demanding schedule and while I “tried” to get to the gym when I could, my eating habits were deplorable and access to healthy food on a college campus back then was like trying to find a snowball in Hawaii. Ordering from the local pizza places, grabbing fast food, and trips to the campus store in addition to the three squares I tried to eat at the university cafeteria sent this healthcare hopeful from “thick” to 3-D. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. Wasn’t I supposed to be epitomizing health?
Food Obsessed and Feeling Guilty
This yo-yo dieting continued throughout my college career and by the time I graduated, I had become food obsessed. Binging, and then feeling guilty about it, only to crash diet again to even the score, at least in my mind. My relationship with food was an unhealthy one. I became a group fitness instructor and worked for a major club in the area, but despite teaching three times per week, plus what I was doing on my own, I was still that chubby aerobics instructor. I was of the mind-set that it was just my body type because with all the exercise I was doing, I must be very healthy right?
As I matured, married and started a family, exercise had essentially ceased. Sure I went to the health club every January along with the rest of the country, only to find excuses and stop going by March. I jogged when the nicer weather rolled around and I would toss a video or two into the VCR (yes, I’m old!) once in a while and jump around in my living room to "take the weight off once and for all", but like all quick fixes, it never lasted and I would end up feeling bad about myself.
I remember seeing Cory Everson on every fitness magazine cover and when my subscription to Oxygen arrived I would covet the amazing physiques I would see on the featured women. I wondered how they did it and then would think to myself that I would love to compete. Just as quickly, I would dismiss the thought as I looked at my reflection in the full-length mirror. It’s genetic, I would convince myself; some women are just naturally lean and can build muscle easier than others.
I remember attending a family picnic, going into the kitchen to assist with the meal service and seeing a photo of me and my husband that had been taken the previous summer. I didn’t like what I saw. Why did I not take better care of myself? That was the turning point for me. No more excuses. My children were grown and while work was always going to be there, I had to start making the time to take care of me. If for no other reason, I needed to get healthier.
I joined the gym, started doing regular cardio sessions and then hit the weights. It was fairly benign initially, but as I began to see changes, my passion to get better grew. I felt as though I wasn’t seeing the changes I wanted based on the effort I was putting in, something was missing from the equation. If effort is in direct proportion to success, I should have been Donald Trump.
Nutrition, No Nonsense and Julie
A friend and I were chatting during our workouts and we began talking nutrition. The subject of protein powders came up and soon we were debating about which ones were better, had better taste, mixed well, etc.. Soon he produced a copy of No Nonsense magazine and suggested I take a look because the articles were very good and he had learned some fresh ideas from the work-out plans that were listed. I tossed the magazine into my gym bag and didn’t give it a second thought.
A few months later, my husband and I took a week’s vacation in South Carolina. I grabbed my gym bag as an additional travel item. I stuffed the bag full of shoes, my hair styling devices and various other things that don’t fit well in your suitcase without taking up too much room. After we arrived and I began to unpack, I noticed the No Nonsense Magazine and sat down to read it. As I perused the pages, I admired the many stunning physiques and read of a woman who professed she could get me there.
Well, I couldn’t dial that phone fast enough; I wanted to learn the secret as soon as possible. I contacted Julie Lohre and began to work with her on my goal to get on stage, including attending her competition prep class in KY. It was through this process that I began to learn the significance of nutrition and hydration. There was so much more that I didn’t truly understand and appreciate. It is those intricacies that took me from good to great!
The difference that improved nutrition made was indescribable and within the year, I was seeing significant progress and began making plans to purchase my suit, shoes and work on posing and stage presence.
I stepped up my game and hired a trainer to really hone my symmetry, posing and stage skill. When I hit that stage for the first time at 44, it was one of the proudest accomplishments of my life. I have learned that anything worth doing is worth doing right. That luck is in direct proportion to hard work; the harder you work, the luckier you get and boy I was feeling lucky!
Figure and Womens Physique Competitions
I took second place in three divisions in 2011 in the INBF association, figure tall, women’s Fitbody and the novice division. I competed in another show that same year in the NPC association and took first in my class and second overall. The following year at two NPC shows, I took first in my class and won the overall at both venues securing the title of Ms. Buffalo and Rochester.
That same year I became a grandmother for the first time, I was on cloud nine!
Since my journey to the stage began, I have become a certified trainer and find sheer joy in sharing what I have learned with others. My husband who has watched me make this amazing transformation has now joined me in this sport and did his very first bodybuilding competition at the NPC NKY taking 6th in his class. I am so very proud of him!
My take home message to you is this: you can’t possibly get where you need to go without a road-map. Know what you need to do and how you need to do it to make your endeavors successful. Take time to care for yourself and even if you never compete, making a better and healthier you makes you a champion in the competition of life! I extend my best to you in your individual journey to a better you.
My Nutrition and Training Programs
Nutrition and Supplements:
This is my standard diet off season. When I am preparing for a competition, I scale back on carbs, amp the cardio and pound the water and veggies.
Breakfast: 6 egg whites, 2 whole omega eggs and ½ cup oatmeal with 1 tbsp of UMP vanilla protein powder and sugar free jelly mixed in.
OR: UMP Protein pancakes: 2 scoops UMP, ½ cup organic sprouted wheat pancake mix, 2 egg whites, 1 whole omega egg. Top with sugar free jelly or syrup. Off season I add fresh berries and Greek yogurt or turkey sausage.
(When I am in show prep, I drop the pancake mix and just use UMP and egg whites).
Meal 2: 6 oz. fish or chicken; 1 cup veggies; ¼ almonds
Meal 3: 5 oz. chicken or fish; medium piece of fruit (typically an apple or grapefruit)
Meal 5: 6 oz. chicken; 5 oz. sweet potato; small salad with balsamic vinegar
Bedtime Snack: 1 scoop UMP in a shaker bottle with tons of ice for a great shake
Cheat Meal: One per week
Super Pak daily
3 EFA Gold in the am and 3 in the pm
2 Lean Out with each of my 5 meals
2 Ultra 40 liver tablets after each meal
2 Muscularity (BCAAs) post meals
6,000 iu Vitamin D per day
Monday: Chest and Triceps
For a killer work-out try this:
Warm-Up 25 wide push-ups
4 sets of 12-15 chest press; 10 wide push-ups
4 sets of 12-15 incline press; 10 wide-push-ups
Finish with 10-12 chest flyes; 10-wide push-ups (if you can get 10 by this time)
4 sets of 10-12 dips (you should be pretty fatigued if you combine this with your chest work-out, so I don’t kill my tris after my push-up chest medley)
3 sets of 8-10 rope pushdowns immediately followed by one arm horseshoe extensions using the universal pulley for 6-8 reps
Legs: Warm Up with walking lunges
4 sets (12-15) leg extensions
4 Sets (12-15) hamstring curls
3 sets (8-10) hack squats
3 sets (8-10) leg press
Finish with leg adduction, calf raises and walking lunge circuit (3 sets)
Thursday: Back and Biceps
Warm up with 4 sets of 12-15 pulldowns
3 sets of 8-10 barbell rows
4 sets of seated rows/close grip
Finish with 3 sets of weighted pull ups
Every other week I add back weighted back extensions using a 25 pound plate
Warm up with 4 sets of 12-15 10 lb dumbbell curls
4 sets of 10-12 using the curl bar
Finish with 3 sets of dumbbell hammer curls
Friday: Shoulders and abs
Warm-Up with 4 sets of 12-15 shoulder presses using a machine or dumbbells
4 sets of 12-15 lateral raises using machine or dumbbells
4 sets of 12-15 frontal raises using machine or dumbbells
Finish with 12-15 rear delt flies
Every other week I do trap shrugs using the chest press machine or a weighted straight bar.
Warm-Up 4 sets of 15 lying pikes
4 sets of 12-15 decline bench weighted crunches
Finish with 3 sets of 10-15 leg raises
Every other week I do decline bench oblique crunches with a cross-over
Cardio: Off-season, 2-3 times (20 min) per week of HIIT, steady state or cross-fit. I prefer outdoor cardio when I can get it and then rely on the elliptical, tread or step mill when weather is not conducive to exercising outdoors. Remember, I live in Buffalo.. brrr!
Comp Prep (12 weeks out): cardio every day on an empty stomach, 12 weeks at 15 min, 10 weeks out at 20 minutes, 8 weeks out at 30 minutes and I watch my progress with leaning out and adjust as needed.
Rhonda Rotterman at a Glance
Occupation and Education: Program Director at the University at Buffalo’s Institute for Person-Centered Care http://ubipcc.com/culture.html BSN; AAS Psychology; Board Certified in Gerontology and Health Care Administration; Licensed Nursing Home Administrator; Certified Group-Fitness Instructor; Certified Personal Trainer.
Family: My wonderful supportive husband Phil and I share a large family of six children and 1 grandchild (with one on the way, due in January 2014)
Current Residence: Kenmore, NY
Years Training: Four hard-core (but active with weights and training since high school)
Height: 5′ 8″ Weight Off Season 155, Contest Weight 140
In my iPod: I am so open minded when it comes to music. I have country, rock, pop, reggae, crooner and jazz all loaded into my iPod. I guess it matches my personality.
Most Inspiring Book: Body for Life by Bill Phillips
Hobbies/Interests: Biking, camping/fishing, travel, distance running at dusk
Words to live by: “Mark not your success in life by clinging to the glitter and gadgets you have accumulated during your time on this planet. Instead, take stock of your EarthSchool experience by noticing the lives you have touched and the burdens of others you have eased.”˜ Dr. Edward J. Kesgen
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