I started lifting weights when I was 14 years old. I was a freshman in high school when I came across a magazine with Rachel McLish on the cover. I was mesmerized by her combination of beauty and muscles! I wanted to look like her! The magazine said that she had sculpted her physique by training with weights. Well then, that’s what I was going to do.
I started taking gym class more seriously. A weightlifting class was offered and I signed up. Soon, my friends in the class were calling me “Brute” because of the focus and desire I put into learning proper lifting form. The paper route that I had after school began to serve a double purpose. Instead of dreading the challenge of pulling heavy wagons weighed down with papers, I saw it as a means to an end. I could feel my legs burn as I pulled the wagon or climbed countless steps, but with the burn, I knew they were becoming more muscular and shapely. Even today, I attribute much of my hamstring sweep to meeting the challenges of that paper route. The paper route also allowed me to save some money. You see, there was a gym in town (Rob’s Gym) and I was saving up to purchase a membership. Finally, I had enough money for the membership but ran into a problem. I was 14 and you had to be 16 to join the gym. Well, I begged Rob, the owner, and he finally relented. I was in! My love of lifting grew and I slowly added muscle as the years went by.
I married my high school sweetheart, Jeff (I was “the girl next door”), and gave birth to our son, Lance, during our senior year. School was out, I was a teen parent, and most of my friends had gone away to college. Jeff also went on to college where he played football. Meanwhile I stayed back, worked, took care of our son, and guess what? Lifted. Luckily, Rob’s had a day care option so going to the gym became part of our daily routine. Although I had wanted to compete since I was 14, it was not an option. There were no funds available in those days. When Jeff returned from college he encouraged me to attend nursing school where I earned my R.N.
As time went on, I continued to lift when I could, but family and work came first. My occupation during this time was as an “on call” Operating Room nurse. So for many years I did what I could to preserve my health and muscles. You might say I looked “sturdy” during these years. I kept most of my muscle because I still loved lifting and proteins were some of my favorite foods. But sweets were another favorite, so I was far from the Rachel McLish look I desired as a teen. I stayed active playing shortstop on adult softball teams, speed walked a 3-day, 60-mile walk for Breast Cancer Awareness, completed a half marathon, sprint triathlon, and a duathlon. I won two, 6-week body transformation challenges at my current gym, 3D Fit. More recently I teach fitness boot camps and developed a Tabata class to help others who compete in our gym’s ongoing transformation contests.
I entered one more transformation contest at our gym. This one was an ultimate 8-week challenge for advanced clients at 3D. Again I won and realized, this is it, this is my time to finally enter a physique contest. Now, at 47 years of age, I was still juggling several part-time jobs and was an Oma (German grandma) caring for our son’s 5-year old daughter while her parents were at work. However, I knew this was the year. Oma was going to be sporting a suit and flexing her heart out on stage. I was going to be the very best that I could be for that one moment onstage. It wasn’t going to be easy. My life had to be organized to the minute. And it was… for 4 months straight. I awoke each morning at 3:50 and was in the gym by 4:30. Work or watching my granddaughter started at 6:30. After the day was done, I was back in the gym for late evening cardio sessions.
Eating was extremely organized. My food had to be fast and friendly. I couldn’t have a leisurely lunch when I had cases at work to do, with little or no time between. UMP shakes proved my savior on a daily basis. A sample pre workout breakfast was a scoop of UMP chocolate in hot water and a piece of toast sprayed with coconut oil cooking spray. Post workout, I mixed UMP vanilla and Creatine Select in cold water – it mixed up like a Creamsicle. I also purchased UMP protein treats daily from my gym including UMP Cheesecake and UMP cannoli’s and they became part of my daily eating schedule. I usually ate just two whole food meals. Jim Burgess, a pro bodybuilder, helped me tailor my macros for these meals throughout my road to the stage. Once introduced to UMP graham cracker flavor, I made a “By the Bay UMP Parfait”, alternating layers of UMP chocolate, vanilla, and graham cracker with fat free Cool Whip between each layer. I drank about a gallon of water each day and always saved a half scoop of UMP vanilla to mix with a sleepy-time tea as my bedtime snack. After my contest I learned that Lean Out and 7-Keto MuscLean are not just pre contest supplements but off season they help control that post-contest weight gain craziness.
It had been 33 years since I first came across that Rachel McLish cover, when I finally entered the 2017 American Natural Bodybuilding Federation 3D Fit contest. I remembered all that my coach, Donna Burick had told me as I competed onstage. When the evening show was over I had won both divisions in which I competed. I was the Master’s champion, the Open Women’s Physique champion, and was awarded my ANBF pro card!
TRAINING & CARDIO
Sunday: 75 minutes of Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) cardio
Monday: 45 minutes High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) cardio or a Tabata class
Tuesday: 30 minutes LISS
Wednesday: 15 minutes HIIT plus 30 minutes LISS
Thursday: 45 minutes HIIT cardio or a Tabata class
Friday: 30 minutes Medium Intensity Steady State (MISS) cardio
Saturday: 45 minutes LISS
Cardio equipment was a mix of stair stepper (mostly), elliptical, rower, and treadmill.
I worked Abs, 4 days per week at random times depending on my energy level. Exercises included a combination of sit ups, ball sit ups, Pilates, ring sit ups, and planks for 20 minutes total.
Day / Exercise / sets-reps
Monday:Chest and Back
Incline DB Press 4x25
Barbell Flat Bench 4x20
Decline Chest Machine 4x15
High Back Row 4x20
Lat Press 4x25
DB Row 3x15
Back Flyes 3x15
Incline DB Flyes 4x20
Tuesday:Shoulders and Arms
Military Press 4x15,12,10,8
DB Front Raise 4x10
Shoulder Flyes 3x15
DB Curls 4x10
Cable Curls 4x15,12,10,8
Overhead Rope Extension 4x10
DB Skull Crushers 4x15,12,10,8
Tricep Cable 4x10
90 minute class (Jungle Gym, Warrior Pit) or weight room lift – boot camp style