PROfile: Iron Games Winner – Taylor Matheny Benston

Taylor Matheny Benston shares what works for her when it comes to diet, nutrition, training and supplementation. The blonde cutie recently won her first pro win but she’s been eating healthy and cooking up a storm for years. Find out what workouts helped her build a pro physique and more in this interview.

taylor matheny benston bikini pro

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

Being a nutritional chef helps me maintain a clean healthy diet year-round. I love weightlifting and only do minimal cardio.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?
I stay with a balance of fruits, fresh veggies, lean proteins, and complex carbs. I never deprive myself of any flavors or taste. I use fresh herbs and spices in abundance and I have special recipes for answering those sweet tooth cravings without feeling guilty!

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?
I have always been a big fan of Dymatize ISO-100 protein powders. They are great tasting and make amazing muffins and brownies! I make sure I always have my liquid calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D supplements on hand at all times. They help keep my bones strong and they are easy on the joints after all the lifting.

Read the entire interview here.

Olympia Interview with India Paulino

India Paulino has found a winning look and already has the Bikini International crown to her credit this year. Now she has her sights on the biggest show of them all… the Olympia. David Robson from caught up with the Floridian to gain some insight into her contest prep.


Paulino tells Robson that she’s put her career as a police officer on hold and that she’s been traveling quite a bit. When it comes to food prep, India shares that she eats “a little less food” for a contest and has adapted clean eating as a lifestyle.  India goes on to say, “As far as training for a show, I would say I’m intense.” You learn about her favorite BSN supplements, what she’s been training since the Arnold and more.

Read the entire Olympia Interview with India Paulino here.

You can meet India at this year’s Olympia Expo where she’ll be working the BSN booth and of course catch her on stage as she attempts to dethrone Nathalia Melo for the Bikini Olympia title. Follow all the coverage on social media with the hashtag #olympia.

Interview with Camille Leblanc-Bazinet – One of The Fittest Women In The World

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet is one of the top ranked Crossfit Athletes in the world. She splits her time between Canada and the United States as she juggles college and being one of the rising stars of Crossfit. We caught up with Camille one month out from the 2013 Crossfit Games to learn a bit more about her. Camille shares what she eats, what duct tape can’t fix, her favorite song to sing in the shower and more. She’s definitely one hardbody athlete you’ll want to follow because she not only looks the part but also lives it.



Age: 24

Height: 5’2″

Weight: 130 lb

Born in:

Currently live in:
Montreal 80% / San Diego, CA 20%

Best part about Canada:
My family the food and Montreal is amazing

Best part about California:
Surfing, my husband coach and friends

What’s the best part of being a twin?
You are raise with your best friend

Were the two of you competitive with each other growing up?
We were not competitive together but I was competitive with everyone lol… We are way different she was playing hockey and I was doing gymnastic. We support each other a lot.

What’s the best song to sing in the shower or in the car?
“I will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. hahahahaha

Any chances we’ll hear you putting out your own album?
lol hahahahaha hell no… I love singing by myself it is so much fun but I am more than scared to sing in front of anyone.

Are you still going to school for chemical engineering?
Yes, I am still in school and I have 36 credits left can’t wait to be done.

Will you put that on hold for a career in CrossFit or what would you like to do as a chemical engineer in a “perfect world”?
In a perfect world I would love to keep doing things with CrossFit especially to help out women and girls with the way they view themselves… but I also have a big passion to try to make a difference in the world with my degree… I want to do recycling process for industry and air and water treatment to try to save our planet.

Do you feel being pushed in gymnastics at a young age helped you in CrossFit?
Yes, I would recommend anyone to put their kids in gymnastic simply to learn kin-aesthetic awareness… just to be better in general in anything they want to do.

What was the most challenging sport you’ve tried?
Crossfit hahahaha which is why I love it so much… once you think you get better at something there is something new to work on… It is just so much fun the variety of this sport.

What other sports do you participate in now?
Now I ski and surf for fun.

Do you do any other type of training besides CrossFit?
No I pretty much just cross fit for training… because it involves already pretty much everything… do weightlifting power-lifting, running, swimming, etc.

Who introduced you to CrossFit and do you remember what your first WOD was?
I was introduced while I was playing rugby some of my teammates were doing crossfit so they challenge me to come try and my first workout was 5 rounds for time of 400m run 25 burpees 🙂


What should someone look for in a CrossFit gym and trying it for the first time?

A lot of attention from coach and a warm welcome from the other clients… they’ll take care of you as if your in their family.

Do you eat before or after a WOD?
Both… if I do a long endurance workout I eat 2 hours before other ways 30 minutes before and I always eat after a shake and sweet potato.

Do you change your diet up in preparation for The Games?
Yes… I already eat clean most of the year but I just clean up more and I eat way more since I do more volume… pretty much meat veggies, almost no fruits, sweet potato and some nuts… with bsn synths-6, amino-x and I take religiously my extreme endurance.

What do you eat the day of The Games?
Anything that goes in… I struggle to eat when I am nervous so if I want to eat somethings I do so to have fuel. Mostly sweet potato pouch (baby food), protein shakes and tons of water and coconut water.

Do the type of shoes you wear in CrossFit help you an any you’d recommend to others?
Yes, I totally love Reebok weightlifting shoes when we squat so I stay back in my heels. I like the Reebok Nanos cause they are light and keep my feet near the ground for more stability.

Do you think women get the same exposure and attention in CrossFit as the men?
I think we might get a little more… It is great to see a sport where the women are put in front and where we seem to have as much attention… I think it might be because it is creating a new way for women to see themselves and it is inspiring for people.

What would you like to see more women do in the world of CrossFit?
Accept themselves and stop worrying about their weight. lol… gain muscle and be proud to be strong!

Do you feel like there’s pressure on women to look a certain way in CrossFit?
Yes, I think women still want to be small and ripped, but I think we shouldn’t care about the way we look as long as our fitness is going up.

Are the women friendly and hang out with each other at The Games or not so much?
Well for myself there is a group of athletes that I can’t wait to hang out with… I know that I always have tons of fun with the majority of those girls and the reason why is because I have a huge respect for them… everyone works so hard to qualify that it seems ridiculous to me not to be friend with them… and they are all so amazing.

One event that you hope is not on this year’s schedule at The Games?
Just rowing for a certain distance or time.

How much of competing in CrossFit is mental?
Well all year you train and once your competing the work is already done and then its 90% mental.

Do you have any rituals or things you do to stay mentally strong during an event?

Yes, my husband ask right before event if I am hungry… and that always fired me up (hungry to win).

Who are your current sponsors?

bsn, cep compression, extreme endurance, wodshop, via prive and Reebok shoes.

What advice do you have for women trying to get sponsorships?
Work your ass off and they’ll come to you.

Favorite BSN product?
Syntha-6 peanut butter cup

Any recipes you’ve created using a BSN product that’s your go to meal?

Yes in a magic bullet…
• ice
• chocolate coconut water
• synth-6 peanut butter
• one frozen banana
• a spoon of peanut butter
Way too good!

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has given you?
Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t do… you make the call.

Anything duck tape can’t fix?
hahahahaha when your sole hurt lol

Favorite line in Forrest Gump?
Life is like a box of chocolates. (obviously)

Was it more pressure to compete head to head and have it broadcast on the web or didn’t matter to ya?
It was more like an honor and a chance to prove myself… there was nothing really to win but it was a crazy experience and people gave me so much love it was one of the best experience i ever had… obviously it made me push way harder too.

Any aspirations to try out for the 2016 Olympics?

Yes, I really want to give a shot in weightlifting.

Where can people find more information on you?
They follow me on Facebook via my fan page or on instagram @camillelbaz and twitter on the same name.

Thanks Camille. All the best at The Games and thanks for your time.

Photos Courtesy of BSN.


Pro Skateboarder Cindy Whitehead Talks Style, The Smithsonian and More

I caught up with our resident style’n guru Cindy Whitehead aka The SportsStylist® to learn a bit more about her life as a professional skateboarder. Cindy has a no BS approach to life and she’s the epitome of what living hardbody is all about. She’s one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet and reminds us all to follow your passions and do what you love. Cindy doesn’t just say it, she lives it.




Cindy has a hundred and one things going on and she was kind enough to do this interview with us. She talks about what it’s like being a female athlete, her own style, life as a stylist, skateboarding down the 405 highway, her own skateboard, The Smithsonian and more.


Cindy Whitehead

Currently Reside in:
Hermosa Beach, California – the small beach town I grew up in!

You started skateboarding at a young age… Who helped you get started in skateboarding?

I asked for a board for my birthday because I saw people doing it and photos in magazines. Then once I started skating on the streets of Hermosa, the pier and the strand – local guys I hung out with encouraged/pushed me.

cindy whitehead skateboarderDid your parents approve of your skating passion?
They kind of realized that at a young age I kind of did my own thing. I had been living /traveling in a VW van with my mom and brother for over a year in Mexico & Guatemala when I was nine so “being yourself” was encouraged. And my grandparents lived nearby and they were my biggest supporters!

Do you still skateboard today?
Absolutely! I don’t drop into pools and skate vert like I did back in the day anymore but I do ride banked walls, cruise the street, as well as the strand by my house, and have fun.

How does one turn pro in the world of skateboarding?
You compete at the amateur level, practice hard, get some sponsors, win some contests and when you or your sponsors feel you are ready, you enter the pro division at a contest – which means there is prize money rather than just product when you win.

Once you turn pro in skateboarding are you always considered a pro?

Yes, you never go back to amateur status. Later when you stop competing you may still be referred to as a Pro Skater, OG Pro Skater, or a former pro skater – depending on who is talking about you.

Are there different divisions in pro skateboarding? Give the 411 on skateboarding for dummies, like me.
There are women & men’s divisions. Sometimes if there are not enough women competing the women compete with the guys in an “open pro division”. Then there are also types of skateboarding, like street, downhill, vert etc. and each discipline has its own pro division, but some people skate/excel in more than one category. Like my friend Judi Oyama, she is an old school pro skater in slalom & downhill as well as vert.

Who were your first sponsors?
My first big sponsors were Sims Skateboards, Tracker Trucks, Flyaway helmets and Puma Tennis Shoes

What advice would you give young skaters on getting sponsored?
I’d say it’s not all about getting sponsored; it’s about skating because you LOVE it. But to answer the question – sponsors look for someone who rides consistently, shows up on time to demos, contests and photo shoots and is going to show off their product well.

Do you remember your first magazine feature and what it was?

Oh yeah. It was a 2 page article and a centerfold in a skateboarding Magazine. I was grounded for a month at the time for ditching school to do a photo shoot, so when the magazine called my house to tell me that I had the centerfold my mom answered the said “that’s nice, but she won’t be able to see it until she is done being grounded in 10 more days”. Nice…

HaHaHa! That’s awesome.

cindy-whitehead7Cindy Whitehead Skateboarding magazine feature

Were there many girls skateboarding at the time you started?

There were not a ton of girls but there were enough to have pro and amateur divisions at most big contests. We were so spread out geographically that most of us rarely skated with or saw another girl skating vert at our home skatepark so coming together for contests was great! I met one of my close friends Judi Oyama at one of these events – in fact it was Winchester Skatepark and it was the contest I turned Pro at back when I was about 16 years old.

It’s stereotypical for men to look at women as lesser than in the world of sports, were there guys who were supportive of you and the other women in skateboarding?
I would say back in my day skateboarding if you gave respect and charged hard you gained respect from the guys. I never felt that the guys I skated with treated me as anything other than one of them. They never said, “let the girl drop in” or gave me preferential treatment – and I really appreciate that. It meant I was 100% accepted.

Did you sneak into pools and places you weren’t supposed to be in to skate?
Hell yes! Backyard pools, running and jumping fences and when the police arrived & if you didn’t run fast enough, or were unlucky, they sat you down on the curb with your hands under your butt and either wrote you up or called your parents or maybe on a good day, let you go with a warning. We got also got shot at with buckshot on the Indian Reservation when we snuck in to skate the legendary Arizona Pipes.

That sounds like quite the adventure!

What’s the thrill behind skateboarding or is it something you never fully understand until you do it?
I think it’s like anything you love – you crave it. For me it’s been about mastering a trick after falling hard hundreds of times trying it over and over again, the freedom of going fast, floating in the air when doing airs, hanging with good friends and pushing each other. Skateboarders are family for life. You can go anywhere in the world and say you are a skateboarder and I guarantee someone will have your back and welcome you in.cindy-whitehead1

There are photos of you rocking huge headphones while skating. What were you listening to?
Since they were “radio” headphones back then it would be anything from REO Speedwagen and the Beach Boys to Heart, Aerosmith and Led Zepplin. I wasn’t too into punk.

Are women getting more coverage in skateboarding now or are they still left in the shadows like the early days?
I think the women are getting more & more coverage for sure. They are excelling faster than ever, and banding together to make sure that 2013 is the year of the “Girl”. There are now more competitions, they are raising their visibility and are a force to be reckoned with. Amelia Brodka’s new movie UNDEREXPOSED is also something to look out for in women’s skateboarding.

Was Dogtown and Z-Boys an accurate portrayal of the 70s skating scene?
It was a fun movie made by friend and fellow skater Stacy Perlata, and it was about of one small part of the skateboarding scene during the 1970’s. It wasn’t meant to be an overall view of skateboarding – it was about the Dogtown crew. If you watch Stacy’s new movie, THE BONES BRIGADE you will see an amazing inside view of another part of skateboard history – the Powell-Peralta Bones Brigade Team. There are more movies coming out about different teams/parts of skateboard history and if we piece together important information from each of those, we can get a more complete portrayal on skateboarding history as a whole – and that itself is not a movie has been done. Yet.

Are there any girls that stand out today and ones to watch?

Absolutely! So many great girls are skating/competing today – Lizzie Armanto, Alana Smith, Julz Lynn, Nora Vasconcellos , Leticia Bufoni, Mimi Knoop, Amelia Brodka, Allysha Bergado, Amee Jay, Katherine Folsom, & Jean Rusen, are just a few names to watch for in the women’s division. The younger girls like Poppy Starr Olsen, Annika Vrklan and her sister Klara, Bryce Ava Wettstein, Jordyn Barratt are some that I am keeping a close eye on. See how long the list is and I haven’t even named them all! That makes me smile.

Wow, that’s awesome.

Does skateboarding still mean freedom to you? How is skateboarding a lifestyle?
Yes absolutely. Every time I skate or am just around people that skate I feel like I am “home”. Family. Love. Those are all things that come to mind. It’s a mindset we grow up with and an understanding and a deep appreciation of one another as skaters and people.

What was your “style” of skateboarding?
Skating pools and half-pipes I had to be a bit more aggressive and charge the wall but I also tried to have a smooth style when I skated – that was and still is, something that I thcindy-whitehead5ink is important.

What would you typically be rocking at the skatepark for a wardrobe?
Shorts (padded if I was trying a new trick) OP cord shorts if not. A fitted team tee or striped short sleeve, low socks, Pumas or Nikes (before I was sponsored by Puma), red knee and elbow pads and a bad ass flyaway helmet if I was skating in a skatepark.

So you were the stylish one at the park…?
I think we were all pretty stylish – even the guys! If you look at mainstream fashion now, they are constantly referencing and emulating those looks, so we all must have been doing something right to be trendsetters!

Do you feel like your work as a stylist was influenced by skateboarding?
Absolutely on certain shoots, like the commercial I just did for a big shoe company. It was all about the skater lifestyle and influence via the styling so you can imagine what a rad day I had working on that!

You keep a blog where you identify trends and cool shit. ( It seems like skateboarding is “Fashionably cool” lately. Do you like the integration and is it an accurate portrayal?
I think anytime a sport like ours is being looked to set trends and used as a fashion reference, it only helps us in the long run. I do find it interesting when I see something in Vogue where the model is in high heels and a beautiful dress holding a skateboard – but being in the fashion industry, I embrace it all, and I understand the fashion world’s fascination with it.

Skateboarding is often associated or thought of as a California sport. Were there any other hotbeds for skateboarding in the 70s?
There were kids skateboarding all over – Florida was a big area for awesome skateboarders – my Sims teammate, Mike Folmer came out of Florida and he was a huge pro skater, as did legendary freestyle genius, Rodney Mullen. Places like Cherry Hill, NJ and Apple Skatepark in Columbus, Ohio also had amazing skaters. These areas had a couple of the best skateparks outside of California! California had the most parks and the main magazines were based here, so yes the coverage was greater BUT skateboarding was happening all over the USA.

We used to see “no skateboarding” signs everywhere – do you still see those around?
I unfortunately still do. Even right near where I live. I am hoping in time that will change.

You skateboarded down the 405 FWY during Carmegeddon. Was that the biggest adrenaline rush for you as a skateboarder?

It was one of them for sure. And it was a hell of a lot of FUN. The planning, the trying – we tried for over 2 hours before we could safely access the 405 fwy and not get caught. Finally getting to skate it was mind blowing. I have lived in LA all my life and I spend more time than I’d like to on that fwy so it really felt like a F-You of sorts over the usual traffic I encounter daily.

405 skateboarding, cindy whitehead

Cindy skateboarding down the 405 interstate while closed. #crazyCool

It received quite a bit of press and you didn’t get arrested so that’s a score. LOL! Speaking of F-You…You have your own skateboard now “Girl is not a 4 letter word” a collaboration between you and Dusters California – what does that mean to you and how did the idea come about?
The idea came about one day over lunch at my house with Michael Brooke who is the owner/editor of Concrete Wave Magazine and is also the founder of Longboarding For Peace, and Nano Nobrega who is the creative director at Dusters California skateboards. We were all talking about the cool stuff Longboarding for Peace is doing all over the world, and Michael suggested that Dusters do a collab with me and we tie it in to LB4P and any other non-profit I wished to help out. So that’s where the idea was born and 9 months later here we are! I am very excited about this collab as I believe in everything LB4P is doing and being able to also contribute to GRO (Girl Riders Organization) is awesome too as many more girls will be able to try out and/or continue their love of skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding etc.

How involved were you in the creation of the board and what’s your favorite part of it?
I was very lucky to be involved in every aspect of the design process while working closely with Nano Nobrega in making this board. The phrase “Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word” is something I thought up and have been using for awhile now and I like the strong message it sends, the artwork & lettering was all hand done by me via pencil, paintings and ink and the message on the tail of board is a combination of phrases I like/say often. We discussed colors and board shape + size at great length – I really wanted a cruiser board that everyone could easily ride but that could also be ridden in a skatepark (old school style!) if you wanted to. Some of my favorite things are the gold trucks that are completely badass (you don’t see too many boards with gold trucks out there), the little skull and the words “Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word” in the wheels, the skull embedded in the grip tape, and the Longboarding for Peace logo as well as GRO on the tail in metallic gold. It’s these elements of design that set Dusters apart from a lot of other boards on the market. And I am stoked they went the extra mile for me in every part of the design process to produce a board that I am 100% stoked with.

A portion of the board sales will go towards GRO “Girl Riders Organization”. Why that organization and where can people find more about it?
GRO ( helps girls of all ages get into action sports so if you wanted to learn to ride a skateboard, snowboard or surf you could show up at a GRO clinic and have people help you and provide all the gear so you could try that sport out in a safe, female friendly, environment. GRO has done a lot to teach young girls about the female riders that have come before them and to help further women in action sports, and I fully support that message.

Where can people buy the board?

The board is being stocked at skateboard shops all over the USA and abroad. Boards are hitting the stores as early as June 15 in some parts of the USA! You can follow us on Facebook at Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word or via the Dusters California website to stay up to date on where boards are being sold.

It will also be part of the VANS WARPED tour, right? What’s the skinny on that?
Yes! We will be giving away 1 board at each stop on the Vans Warped Tour All you have to do is pick up a “passport” at the Concrete Wave/Longboarding for Peace booth, get 6 non profit booths at the Warped Tour to stamp it to be entered to win. I am really stoked that the board is part of the tour this year!

You’ll be speaking at INNOSKATE and be part of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, along with Tony Hawk. That’s pretty rad. How did that come about?

The amazing people at the Smithsonian Museum (Jeff, Betsy, Jane & Kate) have been so awesome to all us skaters over the past couple years and I can’t say enough nice things about them – I feel that they are now part of the skateboarding family – they know us all that well. Their team flew out here again recently for IASC & the Skateboarding Hall of Fame & the next week they called me up & asked me to speak at Innoskate (not email text, etc.) How professional and nice is that? I was so excited – what they are doing on June 22 is part of skateboarding history. There will be a 1/2 pipe set up in front of the museum; guys and girls will be doing demos on the ramp all day. Various speakers will discuss skateboarding, innovation, fashion, and the future of skateboarding and everyone is going to have an AMAZING time! For the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation to put on this huge unprecedented event is really something you don’t want to miss. You can actually read more about it here:

What items will the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s sports collection be accepting from you on June 22?
I am donating quite a few of my late 1970’s & early 1980’s skate gear and apparel as well as the prototype of the new “Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word” board and all it’s original artwork. I am really honored to have some of my personal skateboard history be accepted into this amazing museum!

Cindy's Smithsonian donation.

Cindy’s Smithsonian donation.

That’s a HUGE honor. Do you have your speech written or will you wing it?

I have a general idea of what I’m going to be talking about for Innoskate but yes, some of it I will be winging so it feels more authentic and that’s how I think I work best.

You also have your own shirts / clothing coming out, right?

The t-shirt line is new, and we are just getting started, but we have gotten great feedback so far on the prototype’s we have made. They say things like “Pretty Radical” and of course “Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word”.

When will that launch and where can people find out more about it?

The hats and t-shirts will be released in the next couple of weeks and can be found on the new website and via our facebook page.

Thanks for your time Cindy. You’re an inspiration! I really appreciate you sharing a bit of your story here on Hardbody.

Thank you so much for having me on Hardbody, it is an honor! And I’d like to give a shout out to the amazing people & companies who made all of the above possible; Longboarding 4 Peace, Dusters California, Concrete Wave Magazine, Dwindle Inc., Vans Warped Tour, the Smithsonian Museum, GRO, my awesome husband, and every girl and guy out there that loves skateboarding. xx

Try to keep up with Cindy at…

Can Dieting Make You Fat? A Look at Metabolic Burnout

There’s been numerous discussions online and we’ve heard the chatter offline about “Metabolic Burnout”. The blame game continues to be played with few players stepping up to take responsibility. We decided to consult with professionals to get their take on the matter and help shed some light on this hot topic.

What is Metabolic Burnout? Are you suffering from it? What causes it? The answers to those questions and more.


Can Dieting Make You Fat?
Metabolic Burnout is a recently popular term used by many women in the competition world.  It is known to occur due to the result of many years of abuse (stress, lack of sleep, prescription and over-the-counter medications, poor diet and exercise patterns) that cause your organ(s), most specifically the adrenal glands, pancreas or thyroid, to work less efficiently. Your internal balance is thrown off and the body struggles to bring itself back into equilibrium.  A few of the most common symptoms include: fatigue or inability to fall asleep, hunger and difficulty losing weight.

This controversial topic embodies the notion that if an individual drops below an intake of about 1400 calories/day (or perhaps 1200), the metabolism will “shut down” and he or she will “hold on to fat” and will not lose weight.  In addition, the extreme low calorie dieting then predisposes them to acquire even more body fat.  This debate underscores the large gap that exists in our understanding of basic physiological laws that govern the regulation of human body composition.  A striking example is the key role attributed to adipose (fat) cells as feedback signals between adipose tissue depletion as a consequence of dieting followed by increases in food intake.  A feedback loop between fat depletion and food intake cannot explain why individuals after dieting begin to overeat well after body fat has been restored to a normal level, and then continue to eat and cause “fat overshooting”. In order to address the credibility of dieting causing predisposition for increased fatness, this paper will examine both the physiological and psychological relationship between dieting and re-feeding.

The Metabolic Effects of Low Calorie Diets
A low calorie diet is a diet that contains between 900 and 1,300 calories a day, while a very low calorie diet has no more than 800 calories per day. Typically a very low calorie diet is for obese individuals on a short-term basis and monitored by a physician.  This type of chronic restrictive dieting may tend to decrease a person’s basal metabolic rate overtime. A study published in the 1987 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was conducted over a six-month period to determine the effects of a low calorie diet, energy expenditure and resting metabolic rate. The 15 women who participated in the study had a reduction in basal metabolic rate in the last three months as well as a decrease in energy expenditure. Another study published in the 1991 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that the participants had a significant decrease in resting metabolic rate in the last two weeks of the three-week study.

As the results of these studies indicate, a low calorie diet may lead to an initial weight loss but could also cause a lowered metabolism that may not necessarily recover to its original levels even after increasing your calories back to a normal amount. So while you may drop a ton of weight fast by minimal calories a day, over time, your body will go into “starvation mode”, decreasing the amount of calories you burn at rest so as to conserve your body’s energy stores and prevent death. It may sound dramatic, but remember, our genes haven’t changed all that much since pre-historic times when death from starvation was commonplace.

Post Low Calorie Dieting and Fat Overshooting
It’s not that dieting makes you fat, but that being fat makes you more likely to diet!  Most competitors fall into this “Post Dieting – Fat Overshooting” category.  This is basically the process of losing body fat and then increasing food intake and decreasing energy expenditure to such an extreme that the person regains far more body weight than needed resulting in body fat overshooting.

The weight rebound that comes after the period of dieting apparently includes an overshoot in both increased appetite and fat gain. People seem driven to eat more than necessary to restore their normal weight, and they gain more body fat than they had prior to the beginning of the diet.

Psychological Causes for Post Dieting – Fat Overshooting
There have been countless psychological research studies concerning the most effective ways to maintain weight loss.  This research has proven that weight loss maintenance has not only a physiological component, but a psychological one as well.  Of course you do not want to attempt to maintain your contest weight and conditioning year round.  However, there is no need to find yourself in a weight loss and gain cycle due to behaviors, which cause you to re-gain all of the weight you worked so hard to lose.

As human beings, we are naturally goal oriented.  A research article published in the 2013 edition of Psychological Review outlines a common internal conflict in those concerned with their weight. This conflict exists between the desire to lose the weight and keep it off, versus the desire to enjoy food. Sports psychology research shows us that staying committed to a task-oriented goal is much easier than staying committed to an outcome based goal.  The goal to obtain a particular physique for a competition is task oriented in nature, and this task- oriented desire to obtain a stage-ready physique can often overrule the goal of food enjoyment and lead to weight loss success.  After a competition has ended, competitors no longer have the short-term, task oriented goal of obtaining a stage-ready physique to drive them to continue with their lifestyle modifications.  The goal associated with their food intake behavior then becomes outcome oriented in that it is not based on a specific event, rather it is based upon the broad outcome of not re-gaining the weight.  The less effective outcome specific goal mixed with an immediate short-term goal of food enjoyment can lead to a behavioral shift.  This shift can cause the individual to completely abandon all lifestyle modifications that led to their weight loss.  Without a task oriented physique goal in sight, this shift in goals can lead to weight gain, which often exceeds that in which they lost.

Research demonstrates that those who regain weight after losing weight during a period of dietary restraint, displays several common behavioral factors and personality traits.  In clinical trials cited in the 1997 and 1998 Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology concerning individuals who experienced successful weight loss and then suffered subsequent gain, the following behaviors were observed; lack of attempt to restrain their eating, marked decrease in physical activity, an increase in television viewing, reports of marked hunger and eating due to depression.  Another very interesting and well-documented behavior found in those who regain weight, is that they often stop weighing themselves once they have reached their weight loss goal.  This statement is not advocating that obsession with the scale is healthy.  However, according to researchers at the University of Hertfordshire, those who were able to keep their weight loss over time found the ability to utilize the scale as a measure of behavioral restraint. These individuals found themselves able to modify their dietary behavior if they observed themselves regaining an abundance of the weight in which they had lost.  Those who were not able to maintain their weight loss were more likely to have either abandoned the scale all together or did not attempt to modify their behavior when observing an increase in bodyweight.

Researchers at Brown Medical School found that there are many baseline personality traits (personality traits observed before the dietary restraint began) to be associated with the regaining of weight after weight loss goal completion.  These factors included a higher baseline level of disinhibition in relation to desirable food, higher baseline levels of binge eating behavior, a self-reported inability to maintain unrelated lifestyle and behavior modifications and a history of yo-yo weight gain and loss.  This does not mean that individuals who possess these personality factors cannot be successful in maintaining weight loss.  Rather, it serves as an alert to these individuals that they must be conscious of their predisposed triggers, which may cause them to have difficulty in maintaining their weight once their weight loss goal has been achieved.

Following a diet that contains too few calories can have some very negative (and possibly permanent) effects on your metabolism and overall health. Not only is it impossible to meet your nutrient goals for the day, but chronic crash dieters or contest dieters are also shooting themselves in the foot in terms of weight loss by slowing their metabolism and thereby making it even more difficult to shed excess pounds in the long-term. In addition, you’ll be setting yourself up for nutritional deficiencies, which can have long-term complications (i.e. anemia, osteoporosis, etc.)

It seems as if those people who are claiming damage from dieting and competing most often “cheat” on their nutrition plans and then attempt to make up for it by increasing exercise duration and cutting back calories even further.  The even bigger issue is that many of these same people will gain 20-30 pounds (or more!) after their competitions by completely ceasing exercising and becoming a stranger to the gym for weeks or months! So when its contest time again they have even more weight to lose!

Competing in a sport based on obtaining a lean, tight, sculpted physique requires dietary restriction.  However, starving one’s self or resorting to extremely low calorie diets is not necessary to obtain a stage-ready physique.  By taking your time to lose the initial weight correctly, the final stages of your competition prep will not be as difficult.  In addition, having a strategy for success after you have left the stage is equally as important.  Honestly assess your personality traits in relation to the research demonstrated concerning those who have difficulty in maintaining weight loss success, and take the steps necessary to assist yourself in modifying your behavior.  Additionally, prepare for how you are going to maintain a majority of your weight loss after your task oriented competition goal has been completed.

This type of “yo-yo” weight loss makes losing weight more and more difficult over time.  In order to be successful and healthy throughout years of this sport, you MUST make this a lifestyle and live it 365 days a year.  Then it won’t be so difficult or dangerous when its time to prepare for a competition.  The intelligent choice is to remain within 5-7lbs (no more than 10lbs) of your contest weight year round.  This lifestyle choice makes competition training and nutrition easier and more enjoyable.  If you chose to be involved in this sport then you aspired to be fit and healthy so why would anyone allow herself to gain 20+ pounds of fat?  LIVE THE LIFESTYLE and be happy, healthy and fit forever!

Tracey C. Greenwood, PhD
Associate Professor of Exercise Science
Eastern University
IFBB Fitness Pro

Shannon Dey
M.S. Heath Education
Doctoral Candidate Sports Psychology
IFBB Fitness Pro

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WWE Features “Superstars and Divas bodybuilding past”

Our resident Hardbody contributor, Kaitlyn became the WWE Divas champ and shot to worldwide fame in the process. We’ve known her since her competition days and today took note of her past on their website. See the excerpt below for what they had to say about the HARDBODY champ.



WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn got an early start in the world of bodybuilding, beginning her training at 18.

“I did really well in several NPC shows in Texas,” the Divas Champion said. “The first show I ever did, I trained all on my own and didn’t have a nutritionist or a trainer. I just loved bodybuilding and fitness ever since I was a kid. I placed 10thout of 20, which is pretty good for doing everything on my own at 18.

One year later, she came back and won the same show.

However, Kaitlyn’s favorite moment was competing in the Arnold Classic figure division at the amateur level. “I was the youngest competitor on stage,” she said. “Even though I didn’t win the show, I placed top five. Just being in the top five in the Arnold Classic — a huge international show that I was invited to — was such cool moment for me.”

Recalling the rigors of bodybuilding competition, Kaitlyn revealed her secret to success.

“A lot of people say the diet is the hardest thing. But once you commit to doing it, the diet just becomes routine. The hardest thing is staying mentally focused. Once you accept this [diet and cardio] is what you have to do, it’s easy. The second that you get out of the right mindset, it screws everything up.”

Certainly, Kaitlyn has figured out the key to success in WWE as well.

See more WWE superstars and divas who competed in bodybuilding here. We were a bit surprised that they didn’t feature Aksana who not only competed in the Figure International but she also shook Arnold’s had as the winner in 2009.


Zivile at the Arnold Classic / Figure International

A Recharged Nicole Wilkins is Ready for New York

Nicole Wilkins has solidified herself as one of the best IFBB Pro Figure competitors of all-time. She’s steadily climbed her way to the top of the Figure ranks and  hasn’t placed lower than second since 2009. She was the first woman to achieve pro status in not only Figure but also Fitness, at the same show. Something that will never be matched since competitors are no longer allowed to compete in both at the same show. She tried her hand at Pro Fitness and with some success but it wasn’t until she focused her efforts solely on Figure that she shot to the top.

The 2012 competitive Figure season wasn’t the best of her career but now that she’s settled into a new home and taken some time off, the champ is back. Keep in mind, “not the best” for Nicole was winning the the 2012 Figure International (for the third time) and three runner-up finishes, something most competitors only dream of accomplishing. This weekend Nicole will compete on the stage where she achieved pro status, the Tribecca Performing Arts Center. The nervous excitement will likely be there again but this time she’ll be after the New York Pro Figure title.

We caught up with the popular fitness model, spokes-model and champion figure competitor on the heels of her return to the stage.


How’s it feel to be back on stage?

I am excited and a little nervous. I feel like it has been so long!

How long of a break did you take?

I haven’t stepped onstage since the beginning of Oct last year at the Sheru Classic in India.

This was the longest break you’ve taken in a few years, right?
Right. This was the longest break I have had since 2006.

What was the most helpful thing for you to take a bit of a break?

I was really tired and burnt out last year. I wasn’t feeling my best and I needed to take a step back to enjoy myself in the gym again. I had more time to get settled into my new home, spend time with family, go wine tasting in Temecula, gain some strength back, enjoy dinner dates, etc. When it was time to start the prep for this show, I was ready.

What was the most challenging part of not competing for months?

There is not as much structure. I love routine and order. It was also a little difficult to sit out of the Arnold. Other than that, I honestly enjoyed every minute of it. It went by pretty fast.

Did it feel weird not prepping for a show over the holidays?

Yes definitely. I caught myself a few times. I still ate clean and worked out like normal, I just had some dessert 🙂 My family is pretty healthy even during the holidays and always make me plain chicken, yams and veggies. I have been competing at the Arnold since 2008, so I have dieted through the holidays every year since then. I had developed a bit of a habit I guess.

This weekend is your return, did you do anything different for your NY PRO Prep?
Every prep my body is a little different – especially the older I get. For this show, I still lifted heavy and incorporated carb cycling, but we were careful not to overdo anything. I am the type of person that will run myself into the ground if that is what it takes. It can be a blessing and a curse. I also recently moved to Temecula, so I was able to pose every week with Kim Oddo. It helped that he could see me regularly.

Do you pack all your food for a show like New York?
I always pack my own food on all of my trips, whether I am competing or not. I measure everything out and put it in baggies. Oatmeal, yams, rice cakes, almonds, steak, salmon etc. I bring it all in my 6 Pack Bag ( I have to be prepared and food is the most important part! 😉

When’s your last weight training day before a show?
Wednesday I will train shoulders and it will be my last training day.

When do you stop doing cardio before a show?
Usually Wednesday. This time I may do 30min in the morning on Thurs before I fly out.

Who makes your competition suits?
Maggie Keaveny ( She is amazing and has been doing my suits since 2007!

What’s the best part of living in California now?
The weather!!! I did not miss the cold snowy winter. I love that I can hike outside up the hills, lay in the sun and go running in the morning – the weather is always the same. I also moved from a tiny tiny apartment into a house, so I am loving the space.

Most challenging part of living in Cali?

Definitely missing my family and friends back in MI. Thankfully, I have gotten to see them just about every other month since I moved. I travel a ton so I try to get back as often as I can. My parents and some of my best friends will be in NYC and the Olympia and I will go back in July for a week for my show (NPC Nicole Wilkins Classic July 13

You have a video blog on Fitness RX for Women – what topics do you get asked about the most?
Definitely diet and motivation. It seems like most people have the training part down. The challenging part about the nutrition is that no body is the same and your body is constantly changing. There isn’t a ‘one plan fits all’. With the thousands of different diets out there, its no wonder people are confused. And as far as motivation, no one can give that to you. You have to find it within yourself. It comes and goes all the time. Just be consistent, find something you are truly passionate about and don’t let anything or anyone stop you.

Are you still training others?

Yep! I do one on one training during the week and I also do online training. My current site is being renovated so it is best to just directly email me at

Do you train dudes or only women?
It is primarily women but I do have a handful of men. I don’t discriminate ;P

Where will peeps see ya after the NY PRO?

I will be home for about 3 days and then off to Finland and Sweden for 10 days, home for 3 days, then off to Chicago for Jr. Nationals, then to New Orleans, Texas, Team Universe in Jersey, USAs in Vegas, then to Massachusetts and finally Windsor all before Aug 10th. I am tired just looking at that schedule!

What’s your favorite way to communicate with fans?
Facebook at
Twitter @nicolemwilkins
Instagram @nicolemwilkins

Mantra heading into this weekend’s show…
Give it to God and have fun!

Thanks Nicole, safe travels and we’ll see ya in The Big Apple.

Thank YOU! See you in NYC!

View Nicole’s competition photos here.



Confessions Of An Insecure Competitor

Jessica Paxson has been on a number of magazine covers and has consistently been a top IFBB Pro. Many would assume a beautiful woman like Jessica is always confident and never experiences self-doubt. She opens up to share her own insecurities and shares a friendly reminder to not only competitors but all women.


Confessions Of An Insecure Competitor
By Jessica Paxson

I was recently asked by a client, “How do you keep from comparing yourself to other competitors backstage at a show/how do you keep yourself calm before going on stage?”

The first part of the question reminded me of being back stage at the 2005 Jr Nationals. I remember looking around at all of the amazing competitors with tears welling up in my eyes, I felt I didn’t measure up at all! I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. How did I think I could step on stage with these amazing competitors?! The negative self talk kept coming.

I called my coach (Mike Davies) very upset. He said to me “Jessie, nobody ever won a show sitting backstage”. Isn’t that the truth?! I got myself together, and I went on to win my class and my pro card at that show! I don’t say that to sound arrogant, but only to illustrate that we can be our own worst enemy at times, and get worked up over nothing!

I have never been the most muscular, lean/hard competitor. I have to confess… I would struggle with insecurities that people would look at me off the stage and say “how is she even a pro?”. I would look at other competitors or even women in the gym and covet their more muscular arms. I would get so down on myself! As a competitor and as women we need to stop comparing ourselves to others! God has blessed us each with qualities both physically and otherwise that make us beautiful and unique in our own ways! Know that and own that! It has taken me YEARS to come to this realization and I have such a peace about it! I just wish I could have taught my younger self this lesson!

Take the time backstage at a show to pray and thank Him for the blessing of health and being able to compete, visualize yourself calmly presenting your hard work on that stage with confidence! Take a deep breath and take your time presenting your physique that you have worked so hard on and ENJOY yourself! Your time on stage will be over in the blink of an eye! Stay present and in the moment. Take in the crowd, the judges, the feeling of being on that stage, smile (and mean it! 🙂 ).

Know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made! So, shine! Whether it be on stage or in life in general!

Stay fit and God bless!

Follow Jess on Twitter @Jessfit and like her facebook page.

One Hardbody To Watch – Nicole Witbeck

Nicole Witbeck may not be a name you’re familiar with now but you will. She’s one of the few blonde bikini competitors in the IFBB Pro League and she could stop traffic with a flip of her hair. She turned pro relatively quick, having only competed in two regional shows before stepping on stage at the 2012 NPC USAs where she achieved pro status. This weekend she’ll be competing in her third pro show and despite not making the top five at the Battle on The Beach, she’s one to watch this weekend.

Nicole shares a little tough love on eating and why she loves butter. This former track athlete shares a bit more about herself and why she’s one hardbody to watch!

Name: Nicole Witbeck

Born in: Portland Oregon

Currently Live in: San Diego California

Did you play any sports growing up? Dance (if you consider it a sport) and I ran varsity hurdles in high school.

110 hurdles or 300/400m? 100 high

Siblings? One brother

Youngest or oldest? Oldest, but some think he’s older just due to his sheer size.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a secret agent, then I grew up and realized they don’t exist in the way I thought they did.

Like the cartoon character MAD… SPY VS SPY? Never heard of it, I’ve always been a Star Wars junkie, so more sci-fi type stuff. Actually, dearth vader is currently my background on my iPhone 🙂

Other than hitting the weight room what do you with you day? I spend a lot of time outdoors, whether its the beach, hiking, and playing golf.

Have you always worked out? I’ve always been active- not necessarily In a gym. During college I was so focused on my accounting degree I rarely saw anything but the inside of a library.

Did you get an accounting degree and put it to use? I did work in accounting for about a year and I am starting to get back into it! I took some time off to really put my all into this sport.

Any accounting tips for your fellow fitness peeps? lol financial tip- go back and look at how much you used to spend on bars and eating out- then each month put that money away into a savings account. Use that savings account to help fund your competition career.

How did you get into competing? I went to one of my brother physique competitions and though hey I can do this! So I called his coach and got started that day. I did the emerald cup three weeks after that in Bellevue Washington.nicole

You did only a handful of shows before turning pro right? Yes, I did two regional shows and got my pro card in Las Vegas last year!

See Nicole’s competition photos here!

What’s the biggest difference competing in NPC to the Pros? Just the attention that you receive- people look up to you as a role model or inspiration and that’s an amazing feeling knowing you are encouraging others to obtain a healthy lifestyle.

What’s something you wish people would have warned you about and learned the hard way? That I would probably never eat butter again. My favorite food is just straight up butter – and that’s obviously not on our diets.

Wait butter? So you would take a stick and just chew on it like a candy bar? lol yes, I mean I didn’t do that often, but the saying “want some bread with your butter” that was coined after me. My parents said growing up they would find me sneaking into the fridge late at night eating out of the butter tub.

Best thing about competing? Everything! I love the lifestyle and the way I feel. Being on stage and the competitions are just a fun way to show off all that you have worked so hard to achieve.

What’s it like being married to a Navy Seal? I am grateful to all that serve in our armed forces, so I’m very proud to be married to someone who puts his life on the line for our freedom. He constantly pushes me to be better and to never give up.

Like to work out solo or train with someone? When I’m lifting I prefer to train alone just because music really fuels the intensity of my workout. However, Cardio is more fun when I have a partner to laugh with.

What’s on your music play list currently? iHeart Radio- linkin park station

Favorite sport to watch? Football- and mainly because San Diego is an awesome place for hanging out and watching games.

Yes, San Diego is a nice warm place to watch the Charges lose to the Broncos. Are you a chargers fan or Seahawks? Chargers, I was never really a Seahawks fan so I adopted the chargers when I moved to San Diego, like every other person who lives there.

Favorite sport to play? Golf when I’m playing well. I also spent every weekend skiing back when I lived in Oregon.

How’s your golf game? Well… I’m not a scratch golfer by any means. But I can get ahold of a few every once in awhile.

Do blondes have more fun? I think that I have a lot of fun being a blonde!!! Especially in this sport, there are so few of us I have the ability to bring my own look.

What’s your favorite healthy food to make? Dried fruit- I can’t get enough dried pineapple.

Any tips for making fish taste better? I use a chipotle or spicy seasoning to cover up the taste, but when I don’t use seasoning my tip would be to suck it up- I don’t see food as pleasure just fuel to get me through the day.

Rather cook or do laundry? Well my husband would say do laundry because he thinks I’m a clean freak, but I would prefer to cook or bake any day!

Biggest pet peeve? When guys lift up their shirts and stare at their abs in the mirror at the gym. Like really???

Bad Habit.. Coffee, I don’t even want to know how much I spend on Starbucks in a given month.

Social media where people can find you? Twitter: @IFBBNicoleMarie Facebook: Nicole Marie Witbeck- IFBB pro

Where else will you be competing this year? I’m looking at Pittsburg, and from there will just see where things take me!!



Hardbody Rookie PROfile – Courtney King

Courtney King is one of the youngest competitors in the IFBB Pro League but you’d never know it by the way she conducts herself on and off stage. The windy city native is on the heels of her first pro competition and has a solid chance at winning it all. Courtney takes time out from her prep to share a bit more about herself in our Hardbody PROfile.



Name: Courtney King

Born in: Chi-Town! Chicago, IL.

Currently live in: Daytona Beach, FL.

Are you the oldest or youngest in the fam? I am the Oldest! I have a younger 17 year old brother.

Contest history:
• 2011 teen nationals championships bikini- 1st
• 2012 jay cutler classic bikini- open bikini overall & bikini class B 1st
• 2012 npc jr USA’s- bikini class D 13th
• 2012 junior nationals bikini – 7th
• 2012 team universe bikini – 3rd
• 2012 npc teen collegiate and master national championship-collegiate bikini 1st and overall , teen bikini 1st and overall
• Npc USA championships – bikini earned pro card class D 2nd

Did you play any sports growing up? My parents had me in every single sport possible! Haha, growing up I’ve done everything from gymnastics to soccer, track, swimming, basketball, cheerleading, even flag football when I was younger! (I know I’m embarrassed to admit that) haha

How did you get your start in the NPC? Two words… Nicole Nagrani! I Remember when I was 17 years old looking at her win the bikini Olympia at 19 (my age now) and thinking “wow! I want to be just like her” luckily now since moving to Florida me and Nicole became really close friends and she is one of most genuine and beautiful girls inside and out I’ve ever met! I’m so grateful to have became such close friends with Nicole! She’s the one who inspired me to start competing..and still does.:)

Thing you like best about competing. I like the journey and process! It’s cool seeing what hard work & determination can do and how much your body can transform with the effort and drive you put into it! I also love meeting so many motivated and inspirational people that all have a strong passion for what they do!

Thing you could do without when it comes to competing. Getting JanTana color off your skin! And walking around at the shows with everyone shoving their faces with protein bars and having really bad gas. Like come on… Just stop eating haha

Cardio in the morning or not so much?  Unless my coaches say otherwise… Yes! Haha, I don’t really mind morning cardio though, it gets my day off to a good jump start!

What’s your favorite body part to train? I would have to go with legs on this one!

One body part you dread training? I love training! It’s something I do everyday so I don’t dread any training day. 🙂

What feedback did you get from the judges at your last show? They said that I needed to work on building my upper body if I wanted to compete with women in there 20’s and 30’s. They also said since I’m younger it takes time, but I think I’ve made improvements on my overall physique since I turned pro back in July!

When you’re not prepping for a show what do you like to do? I’m very laid back! I don’t mind just hanging out with my family or friends and relaxing!

First thing I do in the morning is… Thank God for another day 🙂 but besides that I get up usually check my phone and lay in bed for an extra 5 minutes and then brush my teeth, go pee and start getting ready for my AM cardio! lol.

Last thing I do at night is… By the time I go to bed between school and training I’m usually exhausted so right when my head hits the pillow I’m usually knocked out. Haha

One thing I HAVE to have in the morning. I love my morning oatmeal! (Always gotta have it) haha but besides that  as corny as this sounds.. .I feel like I have to have a good attitude every morning! If not then I feel like it just ruins the rest of my day.

One food prep tip I learned and wish I knew when I first started… I wish I knew to freeze all my meals and make everything in bulk ahead of time! (Not the day of) who does that?! Only I would. lol

What do you want to be when you grow up? lol HAHAHAHA! I actually LOLed at this question, thanks Isaac! 🙂 Hmmm let’s see as of now I’m really undecided with what I want to do in my future! I’m a freshman in college right now so I’m just doing my general courses as of now before i have to pick a major. It’s hard to decide!

Rather be in workout clothes or glammed up? Workout clothes! But come on now what competitor wouldn’t?!

Girly girl or tom boy? That’s a tough one…I would say it’s split in between! I can be super sporty and tomboy, and then again It’s always good to get your girly girl on and done up at times! It’s a tie, so id say I’m a “Tom/Girl” 🙂

Most ridiculous thing a guy has said to you in the gym? I’ll never forget a guy once offered me a “free massage” because he just got his masseuse certification. (I’m sure he did) Hahah, thanks but no thanks buddy ill have to pass! 🙂

My favorite cheat meal is… Gosh I don’t even know! I think this is a hard question for anyone. I always crave different things, but I really love pancakes! I also am a huge trail mix junkie. Give me those two and I’m set!

My favorite spot to chill is… Probably my room. Haha peace & Quite!


Check out Courtney’s competition photos and check back to see how she did in her pro debut, this weekend at the Battle on the Beach.


Oksana Grishina’s Hardbody Recap of the Fitness International

Oksana Grishina stops by to share share her thoughts on the 2013 Fitness International. She’s had one of the most entertaining routines of the Arnold Classic weekend and finished in the runner-up position. It’s been a long, hard fought road for Oksana to reach the top of the Fitness ranks and while many of her fans might be calling foul over her placing, she’s nothing but grateful.


Oksana Grishina After the Arnold!
View photos of Oksana’s routine here.

Hi fans and friends!!!

This was an amazing weekend for me! I promised to all of you that I would do my best, and I did just that. I did what I wanted to do. I did what I had to do. I made a promise to myself that I would nail my performance, that I would fully master this new character, which was so emotionally hard, and that I would complete all the elements of my routine strongly and cleanly. All of the months of hard work really paid off for my very important two minutes on stage. This is what makes me happy, and a second place finish at the Arnold Classic is icing on the cake!  It’s so great when you have a goal, work so hard, and everything goes as planned!

This performance was particularly hard for me. Throughout my prep, this character took a long time to figure out. On the day of the performance, I needed several hours to prepare and get into character.  Backstage, when I had finished my makeup, I knew I was close.  When I got on stage, I felt it fully.  After the performance, I was emotionally drained and crying back stage.  But, by this, I knew I had really brought the character to life.

oksana jokerOksana Grishina as The Joker

I felt like I did my best with my body, as well, but there are still things that I don’t quite like, and need to improve.  I still need to work on my posing, and I can work to bring a physique that is a bit softer to the stage.  Of course, it is important to always be changing and growing, so I welcome having improvements to make and new goals to set.  I’m working on them already.

I am so happy for Tanji Johnson! It was great to see her won ! Congratulations Champ!!! She is a leader and role model in Fitness, and no one is a more deserving Arnold Classic champion.  It was amazing to see all my sisters in Fitness doing their best. Congratulations to every one of them! We are all fighters inside, and we are heroes, too.  Just look at Fiona Harris. You may have noticed her breathing particularly hard during her routine. Well, the girl did all of that with a broken rib!  This is what I call a hero!  And, of course, we are all close friends, and support each other, too.  It is so important to have that mutual support and positive energy when you’re backstage.

I know some of my fans are disappointed with my placing, but please know that I am happy.  I always aim to do my best.  I still have my dreams.  And nothing feels better than the amazing response you give to me when I am on stage.  Your appreciation of my performance and all my hard work is really beyond anything money or trophies can buy.  Seeing fans standing and cheering in the auditorium is all that I can ever ask for J.  It was great to hear so many people saying that they had come to Columbus to see Fitness.  There may only be 10 of us competing, but I’m glad the fans see us as an interesting and entertaining part of the Arnold weekend.  With fans like that, we’re all winners!

I am fortunate to have the support of so many people.  Thanks to the fans for their constant encouragement on Facebook and Twitter, and at the shows.  Thanks to SAN Nutrition for their sponsorship.  SAN supplements give me energy in the gym, and help me with balanced nutrition throughout the phases of my diet and training.  Thanks to Lisa Miles and Laura Richards for their beautiful posing suits.  Thanks to my tailor, Jerry, for his help with my costume.  Thanks to Matt Willems of Perfect Driver Music for helping to make my performance music just perfect.  Thanks to my acting teachers at Playhouse West for helping me learn how to better express my emotions on stage.  Thanks to my family for a lifetime of support, no matter how far away they may be.  Thanks to the Arnold Classic organizers for putting on another great show!  It’s always an honor to be on the Arnold stage.  Thanks to the judges for their hard work.  Thanks to the IFBB for giving us a stage on which to compete, be creative and be stars!

Finally, I am so thankful to the people who have taken the time to put their heart, mind and soul into my prep… my acrobatics coach, Vladimir Sizov, who has taught me so much and pushes me hard in the gym every time.  He’s the only bodybuilder I know who has the skills and agility to actually compete in Fitness, lol…my manager, Tom Haynes, who is my second brain throughout the year.  At contest time, when I’m focused on my body and performance, his brain may be the only one that’s working, lol…and my coach and trainer, Boris Ivanov, who has put his knowledge and soul into helping me, with endless patience, make my dreams come true.  He’s been working with me for my whole pro career, and knows my body better than I know it myself.  I am truly blessed to have such great support.

Work hard, stay strong, never give up!

With love,

IFBB Fitness Pro

Follow Oksana on twitter at @OksanaGrishina and like her Facebook page.

Candice John’s Final Stop on The Road to the Arnold

Candice John checks in to give us a look at what it’s like to be hours away from a competition. This isn’t just any competition though, this is THE ARNOLD. She shares some tips for new competitors and what to do and not to do before a show.


The 2013 Figure International is here!

With mere days to the 2013 Figure International, I am totally psyched. I feel great as my contest prep has been on point. My trainer does not believe in doing anything drastic in the final week, so we just stick with what works… keeping things balanced and monitoring my daily progress. I do not do any crazy carb depleting or Rocky-style training to kill me in the last days to a show. The diet, workouts and posing have been grueling from the start, so I don’t really have to increase the intensity in the end. I can feel the adrenalin pumping through me. I’m in “GO” mode all day long. It’s sometimes hard to sleep because I’m always mentally updating my checklist, sometimes jumping up in the middle of the night to pack another item in my luggage.

This week is also about beauty. My skin, hair, nails and toes must be looking their best. If I’m going to present myself in a two-piece suit to thousands of people, I should be looking good from head to toe, right? I always tell myself before a competition, NEVER try someone, something or somewhere new. No new hairstylists, beauticians, hair salons, spas, etc. I try to stick to who and what I know. I’ve been competing for some time now and I know this rule better than anyone. Now it got interesting for me this week since I had to break the rule because a curve ball was thrown at me. My trusted esthetician, unbeknownst to me, decided to move to a different state, so my thinking was, ok, keep calm and just google a trusted spa. I decided my risk would be lower if I go to a fancy schmancy spa at a five star hotel. What could go wrong? They should have the best estheticians and facial products, right? Well, the facial was absolute crap and I was left wondering, how can I ask for my money back with interest. I am certain that I could have gone to CVS or Walgreens, get a good facial cleanser, toner and moisturizer, and I would have been able to do a better job. It would have cost so much less!

A very important lesson to all new competitors is, do your research. Never get caught off guard. One has to be prepared for anything at this time, so I asked questions from past Figure International competitors about their experiences, especially with regards to the weather, and I used this information to compile a list of things that I would need. I have my fluffy bath robe, snuggie, fleece socks, and portable heater for backstage. Not to mention my hot water bottle, ear muffs, and body lotion to prevent my skin from becoming too dry. I continue to look at the weather in Columbus, Ohio every day on, hoping and praying that I’m not going to see temperatures in the single digits (yes, I look at the celcius forecast).

Even though I make an exhaustive list of the things that I would need, I still have to keep in mind the weight of my luggage. So the night before I leave for a show, there is usually a battle between the number of items on that list and number of pounds on my digital luggage scale. For my trip to Columbus, I ended up with two suitcases instead of the one I initially intended. I think it is because I packed different types of clothing. The first being my, “for sure” clothes…that’s clothes I’m definitely going to wear. The second being my “anything can happen” clothes, which includes clothes and items for unplanned photo-shoots to snow-storm attire…you name it, I’ve packed it.

Though this is my first Figure International appearance, I feel ready physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’m also humbled by being selected to compete at the Arnold Sports Festival 25th Anniversary and super excited to be part of this unbelievably momentous occasion. I’m packed and on my way. I Hope to see you guys in Columbus. I’ll have that Caribbean sun shining through to me, so come by say hi and feel Trini’s warmth.

Candice “Trini” John

Ryall’s Road to The Arnold Review

IFBB Fitness Pro, Ryall Graber-Vasani shares her latest hardbody blog before stepping on stage at the 2013 Fitness International. Ryall talks about what it’s like being in just hours away from the show and reflects on her journey to get here.



Hi Hardbody fitness fans!
The time has finally arrived and The Arnold is here. I have just arrived in Columbus after a full day of travel and I SHOULD be exhausted but my adrenalin has already kicked in and I may notbe getting much sleep now! The host hotel is outstanding  – ‘health baskets’ in our rooms with all kinds of samples and goodies as well as incredible athlete menu for the entire event. The organization around this event is truly world class. I can’t wait to see my fellow fitness family and soak up every moment of being at my first Fitness International. Pinch me! OUCH! Not a dream? This is my reality and I am truly living it. Feeling so fortunate, beyond grateful and so freakin’ amped for this experience.

To wrap up my Road to The Arnold, my final two weeks of prep has had some unexpected challenges. This particular time had to become a very self-focused period and demanded every ounce of energy I had to keep going beyond the pain and the fatigue and beyond what I had thought was the edge of my ability. However overcoming these obstacles has made this particular journey the most valuable competition experience for me yet. Overcoming adversity creates great strength and I am stronger than I was yesterday. So as I see it, as difficult as many days on my road to the Arnold were, something was not only learned but also achieved over the past two weeks.  All of the hard hours I put in with the expertise of my choreographer Renzo and now I have it – my new routine is ready to rock!  I’m beyond excited to perform it for the first time at The Arnold and I hope you will all love it!

I believe that to be successful in any pro sport requires a certain level of selfishness – just for a short period of time. These are the crucial, final moments that demand your utmost focus to optimally physically and psychologically prepare you for competition. It may be a few weeks or as short as a few days but these times are a must to achieve success. I don’t feel guilty about this ‘all about me time’ as I understand, for me, this is crucial. I am very grateful that during my ‘me’ time I’ve finally found the right core of people to surround myself with that truly understand (without judging) my dedication, discipline and total passion for competing in Fitness. Thanks to my amazing team of talented, positive and empathetic coaches, the support of my parents, who has always encouraged me to chase my dreams and who will be in Columbus this weekend watching me life my dreams; Very special. The positive energy from my Sister in Alberta, my special friends and fitness family (you know who you are) has been so uplifting and motivating. I thank each of you so much for your calls and messages over the last two weeks. And last but not least, CJ with CJ’s Elite Competition Wear who has generously sponsored my routine outfit and 2-piece for this weekend – she did a beyond killer job!

I’m ready and so honored to bring my best to The Arnold. Through many difficult days I have immensely enjoyed the challenges of this journey and I now plan to enjoy every single moment of my first-ever Arnold. AND every single moment of some cheesecake when it’s all over

Thanks for the support and for following my Road to The Arnold.

Here’ s to living the dream!

One Week Out Training Video.

Check out Ryall’s website and give her facebook page a “like”. You can see her competition photos on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Photo courtesy of Ryall Vasani.

– See more at:

Erin Stern Sticks to The Plan

Erin stern is on track for the 2013 Figure International held in Columbus, Ohio. She was recently interview by’s David Robinson where she talked about this year’s competition and more. Stern offered some great advice, “I found that the best way to handle the pressure is to make a plan and stick to it. I focus on what needs to be done. I have learned to filter the feedback and understand that I won’t make everyone happy.”


A question often asked of Figure competitors is what would you like to accomplish? If an amateur they typically say, “turn pro” and if a pro they say, “win the Olympia”. When Erin was asked what she would like to accomplish by being a Figure athlete she answered much differently. Perhaps it was because she’s already won the Olympia or maybe she’s gained insight at what being a pro competitor in the spotlight can be about. Erin shared, “I want to teach and help other women incorporate balance into their lives. I want to help other women be strong, healthy, and natural.”

Read the entire interview on

Interview with Bikini International Competitor Jaime Baird

Jaime Baird has been one of the leading ladies in the IFBB Pro Bikini division since its inception. She’ll be heading to her third Bikini International next weekend where she hopes to stay in the top spots.’s David Robinson caught up with the Florida pro for an interview. Jaime hits on training, motivation and becoming the online editor-in-chief of FitnessRX for Women.


Can you describe your current training approach and the specific results it has produced? Have you made any changes to the program you used in 2012?

My training is always intense and it evolves throughout my prep so I see continued progress. So, it’s hard to say how my training is different from last year’s prep. I focus on making the most of each and every weight training session so my muscles stay full while I’m leaning out.

How important is nutrition to your competition preparation? Do you follow a similar dietary protocol year round?
Success in this sport, or anything related to your health, begins with nutrition. You can train your butt off, but if you don’t eat strategically, you won’t see results.

My diet definitely varies from off-season to pre-contest. My off-season nutrition, while still mostly clean, has a bit more variety and calories from carbs and fat. And, I definitely make room for a chocolate chip cookie or two when I’m not counting down to a show.

Read the entire interview on

For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your coverage on twitter.

Candice Keene’s Pre-show Practices

Leading contender for the Figure International crown, Candice Keene shares some of her tips to stay sane during contest prep. She shares her current book of choice, iPad app for visualization and more. Read what Candice is doing in the final days before heading to Columbus for the Arnold Sports Festival.


Hey All!

Another week down, another week to go! This point in the “last leg” of prep is very crucial, not only physical but mental as well. As we all know, the closer the show the lower the carbs go… aka brain fog and zombified Lol. Since I have a tendency to forget what I need to do at times, I have been Mind Mapping what I need to get done going into the show. Mind Mapping is awesome! It helps me organize and break down my tasks for school and prep, etc. It is a powerful visual thinking tool to keep the mind organized, free from becoming overwhelmed, and lessen that brain fog!

For those of you iPad owners, there is an app called iThoughts. This also helps with visualizing goals and planning ahead.

Speaking of visualizing, another thing I do before each show is create a vision board. Even though I have the imagery in my head, the actual practice and engagement of taking part in the vision board creation is very powerful. By looking through magazine clipping, quotes etc., your mind is allowed to be “set free” and you become creative with it. The purpose of vision boards or goal writing is to “put it out there.” I believe by putting it out there, it will come back to you.

Another important thing I do before shows is positive self-talk practice imagery, or visualization… Super Important!! So those are a few of my preshow practices I like to do to keep on track and to keep my head right! Remember, the mind is a powerful tool…be sure to use it right and to your advantage!

A week from today I will be in C-Bus!!

Until Next time!! Xo CK

Follow Candice on twitter at @candicekeene, Instagram @candicekeene and like her facebook page. Check out her competition photos on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Lead image courtesy of Candice Keene.

– See more of her Hardbody Road to The Arnold blogs at at:

Bethany Cisternino – Instinctual Training

Bethany Cisternino is one week away from the Fitness International in Columbus, Ohio. She shares how she’s mixed up her training and what she’s doing in the final days of preparation for one of the biggest shows of the year. Bethany hits on training more instinctual this year and why this prep has been her best yet.


Bethany Cisternino – 2013 Fitness International Contender

Hello Hardbody Peeps!

I can’t believe the Arnold is T-10 days! I actually fly out 1 week from TODAY! It is make it or break it time. No time for tired, pouting, or negative thoughts. If they creep in I turn up my music, put my head down, and push right on through. The next 7 days I will focus on fine tuning my physique. I will begin to back down my weights, meaning I will not train as heavy but incorporate more sets.

This is difficult for me because I get what I call gym ADD; after 3 sets of one exercise I’m ready for the next challenge! I usually do 3 sets (not including warm up) of about 5 exercises. This week I will do 4 or 5 sets of 4 exercises. This makes me focus on conditioning instead of size, roundness, or muscularity. Because it is conditioning week I have increased my cardio by 10 minutes a day. It doesn’t sound like much but as an entire week it is 70 minutes which is a lot!

Looking back at this prep I have to say I think it is my best to date. By best I mean happiest, fullest, and most energy. I didn’t follow a set meal plan or training regimen. Every day my meals changed based on how I looked and how I felt. Don’t get me wrong, I eat the same basic foods; whey protein, eggs, chicken, turkey, oats, rice, and sweet potatoes. However, the amounts of carbs and fats changed depending on my energy level and intensity of training. Over the years I have learned to trust my body and the process.

I truly believe that for women diet and training should be more instinctual than traditional. There may come a time when traditional is needed but as a science I truly believe that we can turn our bodies into metabolic machines without becoming cranky, miserable, “bleeps”.

The Arnold Classic is one of the most fun weekends of the year! I wish all the competitors the best of luck! See you next week to find out my competition essentials and what is in my “show bag!!”

Bethany Cisternino

Message me on twitter @Bfitness80 and see you soon!
For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Oksana Grishina’s Cooking Obsession

Oksana Grishina stops by one last time before the Fitness International. She’s about 10 days out from the Fitness International in Columbus, Ohio and apparently has food on the brain. Read what Oksana has been cooking up en route to her run at the Fitness crown.


Oksana Grishina – 2013 Fitness International Contender

Hi everyone!

It’s the week before the Arnold! Time is going so fast but, honestly, I can’t wait to get on the Arnold stage! I’ve already started packing my bags, lol. In this prep, I’ve learned a lot. First of all, from my best friend the “food Channel”. HA! I learned how to cook cheesecake, donuts, cakes (all different kinds), tiramisu, ice cream, homemade bread… the list goes on forever, haha. My friends tell me to please stop cooking, it’s too much and sometimes not tasty. Of course, I can’t taste my own cooking, so I can’t tell if it’s any good. I guess they’re trying to be still polite with me.

I love how my body changes with every workout! It’s so great that my body appreciates all of my hard work! I have 4 more performance workouts and it’s important now to be safe. I spend a lot of time to warm up my body well, so I have less risk of injury! Close to the contest I don’t have any day or night time. I eat and workout around the clock, using all 24 hours. I sleep whenever I need to and anywhere I want to, lol.

Again, I want to thank all my fans for their support through this prep! You know how much I appreciate it! See you on the Arnold stage, and also make sure to stop by the SAN booth on Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be there all day long. Don’t forget to bring some tasty food for me, lol.


IFBB Fitness Pro

Follow Oksana on twitter at @OksanaGrishina and like her Facebook page.

For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Read Oksana’s previous blog entries.

Trish Warren’s Hardbody Mom Workout

Hardbody momma, Trish Warren gives us an update on her busy life en route to her return to the Fitness stage. Trish juggles being a wife, mom and business owner while preparing for one of the biggest competitions of the year. She shares how she includes her adorable daughter into her workouts. Trish shares a few workout photos where baby Faith goes along for the ride and appears to be having a blast.


With less than 2 weeks to show time, I can honestly say that this has been one heck of an amazing journey! I’ve enjoyed every moment of this with my daughter Faith who just turned 1! It’s hard to believe that our normal mornings of watching news and having coffee have turned into watching cartoons and catering to a 1 yr. old!

My comeback will be very memorable to me as I realize that I’ve had to compromise on so many things. For instance I have a hard time just going to the gym to grab a normal workout! Faith gladly makes herself part of my training time! If I want to ensure a successful session, I have to keep Faith entertained and out of the way of the other gym members. This is a typical training day with Faith.

First we start with ball squats, and yes I said ‘WE”. Faith and I will do 50 reps. Next it’s on to single leg lunge with a back kick. I will do 15 a leg. Remember I have to get as creative as I can to keep Faith from being bored with the same movements.

We will then go on to single leg stiff leg deadlifts, I will do 15 a leg really concentrating on perfect form. Faith actually helps me stay balanced during this exercise. From there we will go into 25 a leg side lunges, and finish with 30 body squats going as deep as I can go. I will go through this routine 3-4 times total depending on how well Faith is holding up!

After workout, we both grab a healthy lunch and then it’s on to our hour of cardio. I love to run, and Faith loves being outside, so it’s a match made in heaven! The weather has been beautiful here in Texas which makes for a pleasant afternoon outing! Faith usually gets her 30 minute beauty nap in during our run, so by the time we make it home, she’s all rested and re-energized and I am doing my best to drag myself in and grab a cold piece of chicken before I pass out!

This is the time that Branch gets to keep his princess entertained, so I can tend to our logistics business, it’s pretty funny watching him push her around the house on her Barbie car! Oh yes she has him wrapped around her little finger! This has not been a “normal” contest prep, but it has been good for me! I am stoked about being back and can’t wait to see how the weekend unfolds. Thanks for following my journey and I will see you in Columbus.

Until Next Time,

Love Life and God Bless!
Trish Warren


Check out Trish’s contest photos and competition history. Follow her on twitter @trishwarren and on facebook. For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Photos courtesy of Trish Warren for HardbodyNews.

What it’s like to live, eat and train outside the USA

Candice John is an international IFBB figure competitor and faces challenges many of her fellow competitors don’t. Living outside of the USA can present a set of obstacles many people may not be aware of but Candice gives us a look at what it’s like to live, eat and trains outside of the USA.


Candice John – 2013 Fitgure International Contender

Having left my life in the sunny Caribbean island of Trinidad to stay in the USA for the next few months, it seems fitting that in this article I give Hardbody readers a bit of insight into my life as a very active figure competitor, who splits her time between the US and her home country.

I imagine that there are many women who live outside the USA who have the dream I once had i.e. to compete in the USA as a professional IFBB figure competitor. Many of them might think that their dream is unattainable, since there are so many obstacles in their way. Unlike the NPC, in my region i.e. Central-American and Caribbean, only one IFBB figure pro card is given out each year and the transition into the pro ranks can be challenging.

After winning my pro card, I must confess that it took me a couple of years to acclimatize to the new competitive environment. I was like a deer in headlights at my first show, but sharing the stage with the best in the industry helped me recalibrate my modus operandi when I returned home.

What’s it like as a competitor when I live in Trinidad?
Thinking of it, once they have a reliable data connection, international competitors aren’t really at a disadvantage when it comes to staying in contact with their coaches and others in the industry. Because we live in an age where we can access information and communicate with others with ease, I was able to research and find the best figure coach and team in the USA. Though I was thousands of miles away, I was able to get the proper guidance and support which were critical to my success as a competitor. My old diet and training were supplanted by ones that were structured for a professional. As a result,the changes to my body were immediate and I started to move up in my placings.

One thing that technology has not dealt with so far is the weather, lol! Being fortunate enough to come from a country that has warm weather for the most part of the year, having to deal with extreme cold weather is often a major adjustment. This was the case in New York a couple of weeks ago. It surely made staying looking pretty, with make-up intact, a difficult task. I was a complete mess. A pink nose from the constant blowing, watery eyes which made my mascara run. It looked like I had been bawling my eyes out. Lipstick filled the cracks of my chapped lips and to top off, the Caribbean girl in freezing weather look…ashy skin with frizzing hair. I was a sight to behold. I know you women who experience this totally understand what I mean. Luckily, my only concern when I was in Trinidad was that it was too hot outside.

What’s it like to eat my local foods whilst competing and dieting?
In Trinidad, I don’t always have access to the specific foods on my diet. For example, we do not have fresh asparagus, so I sometimes have to tweak my diet accordingly, by incorporating other types of vegetables. I have even found recently that due to the high use of pesticides on local cucumbers, I developed an allergic reaction. My lips swell and turn red, not a cute look at all, so this has resulted in me removing cucumbers from the already strict list of things that I can have. Organic produce is also scarce in our larger supermarkets. Though a couple health shops might carry organic goods, the selection is extremely limited and expensive.

Trinidad has limited distributors, so supermarkets often get their produce on a set day of the week i.e. Thursday. This is a big problem for me when I run out of the items on my meal plan, so to get around this I stock up every week, but I hate having so much food in the house, even if it is all healthy stuff. I run the risk of closing my eyes and slipping in an extra ounce here and there, lol! On the other hand, when I’m in the US, there is an ample supply and a wide variety of produce in the supermarkets. I honestly look like a tourist or country bumpkin because I could spend an entire day at Whole Foods, just cruising the aisles looking at the wide variety of colors of fruits and vegetables.

What’s it like training in Trinidad?
Training in Trinidad remains pretty much the same as I have a plan given to me by my coach in the US. In Trinidad, I am more flexible with my training times as I have a full home gym, so I can train anytime… NO EXCUSES EVER! Also, I do a great deal of outdoor training, using hills and stairs. If any one of you ever visit me, there is a very steep hill near to my home, which makes for a killer workout. When you get back to your treadmill in the gym, and raise the incline to 15%, it will be a walk in the park, lol. There is also an athletic facility nearby, to which I have 24 hr access. In the US, you need to get permission or you need to be affiliated with a college/university to gain entry to use their facilities (track, stairs, etc.). When I’m home, I do not have to worry about these things.

What’s it like living in the US as an international competitor?
Competing as an international IFBB figure competitor is definitely not for the faint of heart, as much of the time includes staying in different hotels, living out of suitcases and really not having that one space to simply call home. I enjoy the time I spend in Trinidad, however I really look forward to re-assimilating myself when I come to my second home i.e. USA. It’s my time to reconnect with my fitness life, my fitness world and it gives me the opportunity to live amongst my coaches and team mates. I really look forward to this, for it’s refreshing to be around women who live my lifestyle and who have the same level of discipline necessary to excel in the sport.

When it comes to traveling to the US, this is when the expense starts. Firstly, it’s very expensive to travel to the United States from Trinidad to compete, let alone compete in the number of shows that I do yearly. Before I land in the US, my credit card would have taken several hits, as I would have booked airfare, accommodation, transport, etc. I implore anyone who chooses to live this lifestyle that shopping around for the best deals and being highly cost-efficient is a must. Look at various hotel rates and never go with the first quote, budget in advance just to know approximately how much you may need, it may be more, or it may be less. Get every reward card possible… I have Marriott, Hilton Honors, you name it. Get club cards, airline memberships and anything else that can get you free upgrades or special services like waiving of baggage fees, upgrades to first class, room upgrades, access to lounges…you get the idea. Also, don’t be afraid to ask hotel managers for discounts, especially if you are staying for a long time. I always felt that I would sound cheap if I asked managers for a discount, but what I found was that if you could reach them on a human level, they are sometimes willing to take off an extra 10 to 15%. What the heck, you have nothing to lose!

One thing that frustrates me a bit when I live in the US is my lack of independence. In Trinidad, I drive on the left side, whereas in the US, motorists drive on the right, so I haven’t mastered the art of driving yet in the US. I am therefore heavily dependent on cabs, which can be time consuming when you have to wait on them to go anywhere. They are also quite expensive. My daily cab fare can reach as much as US $40. Renting a car might cost around the same, but when I add the cost of gas and the risk of spending time in jail for hitting a pedestrian with my rental car, I think taking a cab is my best choice. There is the option of public transport, but after an intense workout, the last thing I want to do is stand and wait at a bus stop. I guess, you have to weigh it out and see what is best for you.Though you might be geographically far away, a must have is an EXTREMELY supportive spouse and family.

My spouse of 12 years is very understanding and supportive. In my absence, he handles everything, from our home to our business. He also tries to travel to as many of my shows as he can. My family members, as well, are fantastic. They respect what I do and shower me with so much love and support. Facetime and Skype help make the days shorter and not so lonely.

In ending, I hope that by sharing some of my experiences as an international IFBB figure competitor in the US helps women from around the world, who have that dream of competing in the IFBB, realize that it can be accomplished.

For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Jessica Paxson – Confessions of a Hardbody

Cover model and IFBB Bikini Pro, Jessica Paxson checks in with just over one week to go until the Bikini International takes place in Columbus, Ohio. Jessica says, “I have not been training for the Bikini International.” Find out what she’s talking about in her Hardbody Road to The Arnold blog.
Jessica Paxson – 2013 Bikini International Contender
I think my ‘Road to the Arnold’ blog should be titled, “Confessions of a Hardbody”. That has definitely been my ongoing theme, so I thought I would end my final blog with the biggest confession of all.

Here it goes… for the past few months, I have not been training for the Bikini International. I am sure I have a lot of explaining to do, so I will start typing.

As 2012 came to a close, I decided sit down and write out my 2013 prayers and goals. I really do not like the whole “New Years Resolution” thing. One of my goals was to get in the best shape of my life for the Arnold Classic. As I contemplated my goals a little more,  I began to think about the fact that I would be turning 30 March 7th, a week after the Arnold. So many thoughts and emotions were running through me and I became very convicted. I scratched out “get in the best shape of my life for the Arnold Classic” and wrote “be the healthiest inside and out I have ever been (mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually) when I turn 30”.

Of course that still meant I wanted to train the hardest I ever have and step on stage at my best for the Bikini International..but this time, I truly would be doing it for me! My goal was to train for life, not a show. As I am about to compete in my third Arnold classic, I can honestly say, I have never felt better.  I am in the best place I have ever been in my walk with Christ and I am truly filled with joy and purpose like never before, which I know is key to everything else in life falling into place.

I have enjoyed my training, pushing it to levels I never have, my diet was spot on, and I changed things up with an awesome holistic approach that has my body functioning on higher levels and feeling amazing.  I didn’t go through this prep tired and drained. I had energy and a new purpose to help push me. I see so many women that are competing that kill themselves with training, diet, and cardio. Doing so many things that are incredibly harmful to their bodies…and for what?! A few minutes on stage?, a magazine cover?, a trophy?!.

Let me tell you, the stage lights will soon fade, the magazines will pick another cover model, and that trophy that means so much to you will collect dust. You only have one body and once chance to live a healthy life! Take the time to reevaluate your priorities for your training and competing, it is so very worth it!

This time when I step on stage I will truly feel that I have already won. I will walk out on that prestigious stage with my head held high and feeling so thankful and grateful to God for all of my many blessings…and hopefully I will look good doing it ;), ha!.  This experience will make celebrating this milestone birthday with my amazing fiance, family  and friends just a little more sweet :).

Thank you for letting me share my journey to the Arnold with y’all! All the best and God bless!


Follow Jessica on twitter at @JessFit.

For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

20 Questions with Nathalia Melo

If you missed our Live Twitter Chat with cover model and reigning Bikini Olympia champion Nathalia Melo don’t sweat it. We’ve compiled the top 20 questions that were asked of the Brazilian Bikini star and what her answers were. Twitter forces you to be short and to the point as there are only 140 characters available in each “tweet.


20 Questions with cover model, bikini champion and personal trainer Nathalia Melo.

Keep in mind this was on twitter and you’ll notice abbreviations and shortened words to keep within 140 characters. #ASKNAT TWITTER CHAT

1Q. What made you decide to move to the USA from Brazil?
1A. I felt like there were many things and dreams I wanted to go after! Here was the perfect place!

2Q. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you?
2A. Ha! I’ve seen lots of ppl think I don’t understand their sneaky offers because English isn’t my first language and I have an accent.

3Q. What is your first language and will you be at the first @ArnoldSports Brasil this year?
3A. First language is Portuguese, and YES will be at the @ArnoldSports Brazil! So excited! Oh… and ”HOLA” is not Portuguese! =p

4Q. How did u keep urself motivated during ur first competition & how did u keep ur nerves down?
4A. I always liked workin out, so the changes in my body kept me motivated. I wasn’t really nervous… Not shy here! LOL

5Q. Aside from the language what was the biggest change from Brazil?
5A. The opportunities! There are a lot of opportunities in the US… I am very thankful for all this country has offered me.

6Q. What’s your biggest inspiration or drive? By the way always love your first appearance on @muscle_fitness
6A. It inspires me to know that all my hardwork and dedication inspires ppl all over the world to be fitter and healthier.

7Q. Do you typically do a.m. cardio on an empty stomach?
7A. Yeah! I tried eating before, but it didnt work well… I got sick! Oooops! LOL

8Q. I know your family is important to you. How have they supported you and your fitness career? Especially early on.
8A. I moved to US solo when I was 20, and worked my butt off to support myself, but now they understand n support my choices.

9Q. Did you play sports/dance/cheer/ballet, or do gymnastics growing up?
9A. I played everything, and sucked at them all! Hahahaha… I’ve always been into sports tho!

10Q. Do u have any advice for a first time #bikini competitor 6 weeks out from my first show?
10A. Do it for YOU and enjoy the ride!

11Q. Now that you’re getting alot of exposure do you have any new goals because of it?
11A. Of course! You always wanna be better than you were yesterday! Lots of cool things in the make…stay tuned!

12Q. Do you watch the @UFC and if so who is your favorite fighter?
12A. I could say ”The Brazilian ones”, but that would be 75% of UFC…hahaha… I do like Anderson

13Q. Other than “Awesome”, How did it feel winning Olympia last year?
13A. I still cant believe it! Everytime I watch a video or see a picture I am like ”Daaaang, That’s me!!” LOL

14Q. Do you ever drink a glass of wine?
14A. AbsofreakinLutely! I am human too! LOL.. I take 2 times off a year, and enjoy myself with good food n cpl glasses of wine.

15Q. Do you have a cheat day or cheat meal during your prep and if so what do you like?
15A. Not during contest prep. I could but i rather not have. I found it to reduce my cravings. After comp. I love chocolate! <3

16Q. How did you first get published in a magazine & any advice for new #models?
16A. I shot wit @liftstudios and he submitted my pics,n the mag liked them.Look for published photographers or reach out for the mag

17Q. Do you cook all your own food at once for the week and how do you stay on track when traveling?
17A. Cook 2x week. Food tastes a bit fresher. When traveling in season I take all my cooked food with me

18Q. How often to do you lift with weights and do you ever train other women?
18A, Weights 5x/week. I am a personal trainer, n 99% of my clients are women.

19Q. Do you still run as much as you were last prep & is it only outdoors or do you use a treadmill? Any incline, if so?
19A. Lots of running again! I run mostly on the treadmill cause in FL there are no ”inclines”LOL Once or 2x/week I run on the track

20Q. Will you be doing any other competitions after the @arnoldSports & will you have more camps if so where?
20A. I’m doin @FitXEvent and the Olympia. Confirmed seminars so far in Moncton and Newfoundland both in Canada. More to come..

That wraps it up for our live twitter chat with @nathaliamelofit. #askNat See her compete at the @ArnoldSports in 2 weeks.
HUGE thanks to @hardbodynews everyone who was a part of our Live chat! I had lots of fun and can’t wait to be on stage at @ArnoldSports

Follow Nathalia on twitter at @nathaliaMeloFit. You can see her compete at the 2013 Bikini International in Columbus, Ohio. Follow us on twitter at HardbodyNews. Check back for more live twitter chats in the days ahead with other Hardbody people.


Hardbody Momma Yeshaira Robles Road To The Arnold

Yeshaira Robles stops by after being knocked down by the flu. She’s back and ready to rock on with her Arnold prep. Yeshaira fills us in on what she’s been doing and what she was awarded when she made the trip to Daytona to visit her team.


Yeshaira Robles, 2013 Bikini International Contender

Hello Hardbody Nation!!!

Wow So I’m officially 2 weeks out to the Bikini International… I’m really excited and nervous. I’m feeling good though and can’t wait.

Did any of you get sick with the flu?? I did it was horrible 1 whole week of sickness. :/

I’m back to normal now. This past weekend was a great one. I went out to Daytona Beach to teach Super Camp for Team Bombshell. It was a great weekend, all the girls are AMAZING and very Inspiring to each other and me as well. Sometimes I get lazy and I’m so glad I made it to camp because it was definitely something I needed. The girls gave me an extra boost.

I was awarded the 2012 Team Bombshell of the Year by my team. It was a honor to receive this award. Let me share a little something with you guys… in the beginning of 2011 when I joined this amazing team I remember that there was a poll for us to vote for bombshell of the year and I told myself; “I would love my name to be up there one da.” Ladies, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams, remember it’s not coming to you YOU have to go get it.

I received few emails from some lovely ladies asking me how can we loose that lower belly fat after pregnancy I answered them individually but I wanted to share for those who might be curious.

After my pregnancy, I started eating small clean portions every 2-3 hours (grilled chicken, fish, sweet potatoes, egg whites, oatmeal, greens, fruits, brown rice) and incorporating 60 minutes cardio sessions. Eventually when the weight was dropping I still noticed that belly pouch. I started wrapping myself with a neoprene belt and putting albolene (you can purchase it at duane reade) around my stomach during my cardio sessions. I started to see a big difference. I also added 4×50 crunches and 4×50 leg raises. Now they have some great products in the market that you can use like Sweet Sweat, Beauty Bum, and Fat Fader. Some really good stuff.

If you eat bad foods and no cardio etc it will store right in the belly I know cause it happens to me. LOL!

Until next time Stay Fit and Rock on 🙂

Follow Yeshaira on twitter at @yeshaira and like her Facebook page. For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Alea Suarez – 7 Tips To ‘Fitting It All In’

Alea Suarez stops by with two weeks left in her Arnold prep. She shares the challenges of traveling, sick children, managing a business and more. How does she do it all? Check out her tips on fitting it all in and why she says “forget balance”.


Fitting It All In
By Alea Suarez

Hey Hardbodies! Wow! Prepping for the Arnold has definitely had its challenges for me this past month. I traveled to San Francisco to see family for a birthday party, my youngest son got the H2N3 God awful flu and somehow the rest of the family managed to avoid it, thank God! My business is picking up, which I am grateful for, but a little hard to manage while Hubby had to travel for work for a week and in the height of our oldest son’s basketball season.

People tell me, “I don’t know how you do it all.” Honestly, some days I don’t know either but I do have some competition survival guidelines I try to stick to in order to get it done. Mind you, this HAS to be flexible which is sometimes difficult for me, but here it is:

• Make a L.O.P. (List of Priorities) I write down what HAS to get done that day in order of importance & try my best to knock them out in that order when I have any time.

• Make a POA. (Plan of Action) My schedule is different every day so I go through everyday of the week & make an hour by hour schedule “booking appointments” for my “To Do tasks” where I don’t have a client scheduled. I try to time everything out from cardio & returning e-mails to an hour of laundry & returning text messages. I often fine there are not enough hours in the day & that’s where the LOP comes into play & can shift & change as clients schedule or cancel. That drives me a little crazy because once I get set, I don’t like to have to adjust. But I’ve learned it just goes with having your own business. Whioch leads me to #3…

• Forget balance. Balance is BS, especially for business owners who work from home part-time & homeschool part-time. When you’re trying to meet deadlines with children around, it’s laughable to think that you can somehow neatly schedule your life into “work” “family” and “me” time. Instead, I TRY to embrace the idea that sometimes your life is going to be crazy and hectic, and at other times, the pace will be a little slower.

My rule? Whatever your focus is at the moment, be present. When work is crazy, work hard to keep up. (This includes final couple of months of competition prep ;-)) Those are the weeks you’ll make a weekly meal plan for the family too so you can shop ahead & know what you’re going to make for the family. When work is slow, catch up on your LOP & enjoy your family time whenever you can, even if you have to schedule “Family time” in. Take time for your partner. Don’t worry about creating “balance” every single day; instead, look for a sense of accomplishment over the long haul.

• Do it when you can. I mean this literally “Whenever Possible.” This for me, includes: When a client cancels, waiting in line, during my warm-up or cool down on the treadmill, on the stairmill, at my son’s basketball practice, at my daughter’s gymnastics class, etc.

• Be brutally honest with yourself about time-wasters. 
I’ve talked to so many people who swear they “don’t have time” for something they really want to do, but then I watch them chatting instead of working out; partying instead of prepping their meals or working on their career goals. Of course we all need downtime, but since most people have to be on the computer anyway, it’s easy to fool ourselves that we’re “working” or “networking” when really, we’re spending about five minutes of every hour working and the rest, Tweeting our Instagram self-portrait (BSP) in the bathroom mirror and then engaging in long discussions about others’ BSP. Some multi-tasking makes my day more interesting, and it’s always possible that I’ll stumble across an amazing business idea & get inspired by someone’s quote or update pic while reading my Facebook feed…but at some point it just becomes time wasted. If you constantly feel behind, ask yourself if you really don’t have enough time – or if you’re filling the time you do have with activities that aren’t moving you toward your goals.

• Let work and life blend.
I assume you’re competing (or aspire to) for a reason: you want to compete, but you also don’t know how it would be possible. Am I close? We all want to make sure our loved ones (not just kids, friends, family, partners) aren’t getting shorted because of our competition, but in my 4 years of being self-employed & competing, I’ve found that the advice to completely separate work and home is just unrealistic. Instead, I’ve learned to embrace the fact that my work and home lives do blend for much of the day. 
That might mean I’m scheduling clients while taking my kids to run errands or checking my email from the playground bench while my eight-year-old plays. It also means that I’m careful to set aside at least 2 hours every night of focused, “totally available” time to devote to home and family. I also get up before the kids get up to do my cardio and/or train clients most days. That way, I feel like my family is getting both “quantity” and “quality” time…and I feel a lot better about the time I spend in the gym and the multi-tasking I sometimes must do.

• Do it your way.
 While I have my ways, everyone & family situation is unique. Reading about how other competing parents manage their time and energy can be inspiring, encouraging, and also gives you lots of helpful ideas you might be able to modify for your own life. The key word is modify. We all have different circumstances, goals, and work styles that can affect everything from whether you’re the get-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn-before-kids-or-work, or the burn-the-midnight-oil type, to whether you do best leaving the office or house on a much needed lunch break. 
Be flexible, and realize that what works during one season of your life might not work during another. But most of all, get to know yourself: there are lots of ways to be a successful competitor, working (or whatever your juggling) parent, so create the life and career that works for you.

That’s Hardbody!

Alea Suarez

Follow Alea on twitter at @AleaTigress and like her facebook page. You can see her competition photos on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Aleisha Hart’s Vision To Success

Canadian IFBB Figure Pro Aleisha Hart will be competing in her first Figure International. She’s coming off a trip to the Olympia and has her sights set on making her presence known in Columbus. Aleisha shares her top four tips to staying focused and creating her vision to success.



Well here I am a few weeks away from my first Arnold Classic IFBB Pro Figure. WOW~ what an honour to be 1 of 15 pros selected to be a part of this event.  What a great way to kick start another pro season! After having a phenomenal 2012 season and getting to finish on that Olympia stage ~ I couldn’t ask for more!!

It has definitely been a quick turnaround time after only 8 weeks into my off season, but getting this invite has truly set the pace for my journey to the Arnold. Creating the vision and being in that right mind set has always been priority for me, especially to be able to push myself to that next level and to keep myself in the zone. To be honest, it was a struggle starting out after the holidays with such a short down time, but my passion for this sport, wanting it so badly and the pure excitement of this invite has me determined beyond belief. Once in a lifetime opportunity at hand again~ FEELING BLESSED! Here I am weeks away from another amazing experience and feeling energized as things are coming together nicely. Big thanks to coach Jack Titone for his guidance, his belief in me, and for his no sugar tolerance and cracking the whip!!! Thx moose!!! My friends, family and hubby Sean are my biggest supporters, it is truly the best feeling in the world having the ones you love the most behind you every step of the way. xo

I have realized that be a successful athlete you truly “NEED” to create that tunnel vision focus and having a strong belief when aiming for any goal. The mind becomes the most powerful tool when wanting to achieve and succeed at anything.  Being able to compete at this caliber has been an honor and is my biggest accomplishment to date~ but at the end of the day the real competition comes from within yourself. Learning to mind the mind, pushing passed your limits and making anything possible is the true test of self-determination. Feeling your best, looking your best, training your hardest, sticking to the plan 100%, not giving into those weak moments and not allowing any hiccups to get in the way… these are some key points that keep me at the top of my game and always coming in a true winner!

Here are 4 tools I like to use to help me stay focused and not lose site on my goal: Try adding them to your goal plan whether it is a smaller goal or something over the top…plan of action is a must!!!

• CREATING MY VISION BOARD – Creating a vision board helps me to visualize my end goals more clearly, which inevitably inspires me to take consistent action and keeping pushing for top success. It also serves to remind me of my goals every day and why I do what I do!!

• CREATE MILESTONES – If you just set one huge goal, sometimes it can be discouraging – especially when you don’t achieve it after a short while. Some people may give up or even procrastinate on their goals altogether. I think it is important and helpful to break one big goal into smaller goals, this allows you to be consistent with reaching and always working towards something. It truly helps me to achieve anything I put my mind to!!

• TRACK YOUR RESULTS – It’s important for me to track the results of what I do which allows me to continue aiming for something more~ achieving higher results. Tracking is my connection to my end goal, this will let me know whether I’m on track or off track, ahead of the game or behind ~ which in turn lets me know whether to tweak my actions or to step it up a notch.

•  KNOW YOUR “WHY” – Be passionate about your “WHY” when you have a goal!! If you keep giving up on your goals halfway, perhaps you were never serious about them to begin with. For me, if I’m really serious about a goal, I will never give up on it – I keep hammering away, regardless of the obstacles and struggles. Nothing comes easy, but in the end it is always worth it. Allow yourself to be in the uncomfortable zone and learn to enjoy it. Have your “why” close to heart and why your goal is important to you. Have a strong belief in everything you do!!! Be passionate about this and have it mean something big ~ this way you will never give up on yourself and the reason why you are on this journey in the first place.

Train hard ~ stay focused & dream big! Wish me luck at the Arnold.


Follow Aleisha on twitter at @aleishafitness and like her facebook page. Check out her competition photos and history on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Candice Keene’s Hardbody Road to the Arnold: Life is a Journey – Learn from It

Figure International contender, Candice Keene checks in just a couple weeks out from the big show in Columbus. The IFBB Figure Pro shares what her state of mind is like and what her mantra is for 2013. Read what’s happening in Candice’s world as she prepares for her first show of the year.


Hey Guys!

I know I’m a little late updating you all on my Road to the Arnold. (Sorry!!!)  These last two weeks have went by so fast and have been so busy that it kind of felt only a week went by! It’s craziness I tell you!  I have to look at my calendar to remind myself what day it is frequently. Three weeks to go till I hit the stage! I am sooo excited for this show too! Everything seems to be falling into place: Right frame of mind, already on point physically, my determination to be my best is on fire, and there is just something about the year 2013 that gets me full of excitement just thinking about it. Maybe because I AM READY!  I am ready to take on whatever comes my way.  I am ready to finally come into my own.  Each year I think I have finally figured myself out, but each following year I continue to prove myself wrong.  I am constantly discovering new things about myself.. Love it!

Life is a journey; a journey to enjoy, but also to learn from.  Every day is a learning experience. Every day I find something new about myself.  As of right now, my inner-self is telling me to listen to those tiny thoughts in the back of my head, and to listen and trust my gut. Also to not be afraid to look blindly ahead, to jump, and to trust that whatever lies ahead will be nothing short of amazing.  You never know what ‘could be’ unless you take that first step into whatever it is you want to do or become.

Anyhoo, I hope everyone is enjoying their week!  I have tons of studying to do the next week. Had my first exam the other day, one tomorrow, and one next week…so focused I must be!  Sometimes people ask how I manage to do school, compete, and my business… Well, don’t think about everything on your plate…you just DO IT!!

My words of wisdom for the week: “Pay attention to your heart, your mind, and your gut…they usually never lie!”

Until Next Time!! ~CK

Follow Candice on twitter at @candicekeene, Instagram @candicekeene and like her facebook page. Check out her competition photos on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Lead image courtesy of Candice Keene.

‘The Ugly Truth’ – Nicole Duncan’s Hardbody Road to the Arnold

Nicole Duncan checks en route to the Arnold stage. She’s a bit hard on herself, which we can all be at times especially when prepping for a competition. Give Nicole a shout out and let her know you don’t think she sucks (her words not ours).


The Ugly Truth

Nicole Duncan, 2013 Fitness International Contender
It’s just 23 days from the Arnold and I can hardly breathe. I have been going through the motions hit or miss and it’s really bad. I’ve let stress and emotion derail my training so much that I’m barely holding on by a thread. When these off course paths occur, I’m left wondering where the time went. It’s not like I’m binging on food or sweets. I’m just at a standstill… literally.

Where did the time go? I get home drained mentally and physically with a ton of things still left to do including laundry, grocery shopping, food prepping, work, routine choreography & practice. I am up to my ears in tasks but they are just not getting done. Skipping meals, lacking water, missing supplements, choosing work & clients over my training, not getting up on time for myself and not making time for myself, the cycle has steadily taken a nose dive. I have no one to blame but myself.

I just would like to apologize to the readers of for my lack of posts and encouragement. I suck. It’s just that simple. I know that I will rise from this at some point. God & cardio are about the only things that make me feel better (usually as a combo). Much love and respect to all competitors who hold down jobs and families and so much more. You are the true champions.

Fitfully Yours,
Nicole Duncan

Follow Nicole on twitter at @fitnicinc, like her Facebook page and visit her website Check out Nicole’s competition photos here. For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Oksana Grishina – Stay Positive & Avoid Distractions

Oksana Grishina stops by to give us an update on her Road to The Arnold. She talks about the types of food on her nutrition plan, avoiding distractions and staying positive.


Hi Hardbody Fans!

Time is passing so fast… it’s hard to believe I’ll be leaving for the Arnold Classic in just 3 weeks! I’m excited and getting ready to go. My shape gets better every day, but I get more tired every day, as well, lol. My performance and costume are ready, and I’m now working to build and maintain my stamina. Of course, at this point, it’s so important to avoid injury, so I’m focused on being smart and safe in all my workouts. I can’t afford any distractions.

No matter what class you compete in, these last few weeks of dieting are very hard. Individual competition, by its nature, is a very selfish pursuit, and this is most clear as you get close to a contest. Body, mind and emotion are all so sensitive, and that focus on self, and the specific work of prepping for a contest, is the way to stay safe and strong in these final weeks before the show. I’m trying hard to stay positive, and I will bring that positive energy with me to the Arnold stage.

People often ask me about my diet and how it changes as my prep goes along. The foods I eat stay pretty much the same. I eat mostly vegetables and protein–fish, chicken, and egg whites. I get fat from avocado and nuts. My carb intake is way down, but what carbs I do get come from potatoes, rice and oatmeal. I’ve found food that works for me. It’s boring but, this close to the contest I don’t care about taste, only about what gets results, so boring doesn’t bother me. Of course, I am so thankful to my sponsor, SAN Nutrition, for supporting me with their nutritional supplements. Without supplements, it would be very hard to maintain the energy and focus I need to stay strong and safe through hard workouts while on a strict diet.

I’m going to take a break from my acting classes until after the Arnold. I love my classes, but they take up a lot of time, which is so valuable to my contest prep right now. Acting also demands so much of me, emotionally. I love how it gives me a chance to exercise very different aspects of myself but, for now, my focus has to be on fitness. Thankfully, with my passion for fitness and acting, I will continue to have great opportunities to explore and develop my physical, mental and emotional potential…and I will always be a work in progress, lol. See you in Columbus!!

Love ya!

IFBB Fitness Pro

Follow Oksana on twitter at @OksanaGrishina and like her Facebook page.

For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Jessica Paxson Fitness Confessions – Hardbody Road to The Arnold

Jessica Paxson checks in to give us the latest on her road to the Arnold. Jessica talks about ditching excuses and instead of just looking like she’s in shape, she really is in shape. Jessica is just a few weeks out from the Bikini International in Columbus, Ohio.


Jessica Paxson – 2013 Bikini International Contender

“Don’t just look like you’re in shape, BE in shape!!!!”. Ah, I can still hear the words of my trainer Mike Davies being yelled at me as he would put a going through one of his brutal boot camp workouts. I have to confess, it’s been a long time since I have trained with that motto in mind. I started out in this industry as a fresh faced 21 year old. I came from a competitive dance, cheerleading, and gymnastics background. I was up for and ready for the challenge of training hard and busting my butt to get in shape for shows and challenging myself with new and different training styles. I think somewhere along the way I got lazy.

Of course you cannot be that lazy to get your body in shape for a show, but I stopped really challenging myself with my training, and kind of lost that excitement and passion I had when I trained in the gym. Don’t get me wrong, I pushed myself and had great workouts, but it just wasn’t the same. I would attempt a few boot camp style workouts and my joints would hurt, I would be winded and pissed off I wasn’t at the top of my game anymore. So, I never stayed consistent with it.

After getting tired of making excuses, I am happy to say… I don’t just look like I’m in shape, I AM in shape! I have added one boot camp class a week (starting with two this week) and my training has changed to more giant sets, plyos, and circuit style workouts. I pushed through the aches and pains, and I feel GREAT! I am loving the challenge and I have that fire and passion back! I love the group of women (and sometimes men) that take my fiance and I’s boot camp class. We all have a love hate relationship with the class and push and encourage each other. It’s a total rush! If you are a competitor, you know that show prep can get draining and repetitive. So, challenge yourself! Do something different with your training and enjoy the process! Nobody is making you do this and what is the point of getting stage ready if you are miserable while doing it?!

Happy training to y’all! Stay fit and God bless!


*If you live in or around the Centerville Ohio area, join Blair Mone and I for a boot camp class Thursdays at 7pm and Saturdays at 11:30 am at Club 51 Fitness (51 E. Spring Valley Pike Centerville Ohio 45458). Email me at for details!

Follow Jessica on twitter at @JessFit.

For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Ryall’s Road to the Arnold – Amping Up

IFBB Fitness Pro Ryall Vasani stops by to give us an update on her Fitness International prep. We’re under one month out from the big show in Columbus, Ohio.  Read what Ryall’s up do and her hardbody state of mind.


Ryall Vasani – 2013 Fitness International Contender
Hi Hardbody fans! Anticipation is indeed building with less than 4 weeks to go until the Arnold Classic… I’m starting to feel excited now!

I had a very productive week in the gym. I’m still focused on building a wider back, fuller delts and calves and adding more volume to my outer quads. I’m very goal motivated – I’m go back to the drawing board after each competition to re-evaluate the feedback I received from my coaches, judges and fellow competitors. I use a training journal daily to keep me focused, on track and motivated to lift heavier than the week before. I’m currently consuming around 1800 calories/day and feeling really good with the fuel I have for the amount of training I’m doing. My last competition was just December 8th and since then I’ve stayed on track with my nutrition and training. It truly has become my lifestyle as I enjoy how I look and feel when I eat healthy. This has made ‘dieting for competition’ easier as I go – the more I live it the more it becomes a greater part of me and the less extreme my diet has to be for my preps. By staying in shape and not adding more than 5Lbs of body fat to my physique in the off-season works really well for me. Not to say I don’t enjoy the odd treat because OH YES I DO… I have a guilt-free indulgence when I feel I need it (usually every couple of weeks), however I’m very focused on keeping these moments in moderation and getting right back on track. Plus the more body fat I have the harder my routine practices are. It’s like flipping around with a permanent weight vest!

The past week my primary training focus has definitely been amping up the intensity of my routine. I find the endurance component is always my greatest challenge. 2 minutes straight of go-time – flipping, pushups, strength moves and holds (and doing them all with a smile!) taxes the cardiovascular system like nothing else. So in addition to skill training and routine practices (which happens 5 days/week) I’ve been doing 4 sessions/week of interval training with a variety of work to rest ratios to hit all three energy systems. I’ve also added an endurance drill after every routine practice and I’m telling you this is really hard to do AFTER a full routine session! There have been days I can barely finish these drills and I’m crawling across the floor in a pool of sweat to get it done – which is when I remind myself that if it was easy everyone would do it. I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else. But I do believe you have to better than you ever thought you could be.

Here’s a clip from today’s crazy endurance drill.

Thanks for reading and for following my Road to The Arnold.



Check out Ryall’s website and give her facebook page a “like”. You can see her competition photos on For more information on the Arnold Sports Festival visit and use #ASF2013 in all your tweets.

Photo courtesy of Ryall Vasani.

Disclaimer: Reader discretion advised, please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or diet program.