Amy Szutowicz - OCB Bikini Pro

I had my eye on competing since about 2012. I had started my fitness journey with home workouts. Based on my before and after pictures, I was invited to Los Angeles to film the next series for a program I was doing. It was there I met fitness competitors who were going to be in the videos as well. That was really my first introduction to the world of competing.

I was never athletic--in fact, I have battled weight my entire life. I was picked on for being "fat" when I was younger and often chosen last in gym class. But, I had always wanted to run a half marathon, so I began training for that soon after I did the workout videos. I went on to do almost 20 half marathons and a full marathon! In 2013, I became vegan and knew that competing would be an amazing way for me to show people what can be accomplished on a plant based diet. And while I had completed numerous races as a vegan, I realized it would definitely generate even more attention stepping on stage. Plus, I enjoy training and living an active lifestyle.

In 2017, I knew if I did not start competing soon, I may never. It had been on my mind for so long and it was time to act on my desire to do this.


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Prep
I count macros, so in the off season (or improvement season), my macros are gradually increased for reverse dieting. As someone who has always had to watch her weight, I have to really monitor my intake anyway. People assume being vegan means you can't get fat--I am here to tell you, that is not the case... you still have to count macros as a competitor. For me, I believe a plant based (vegan) diet is optimal for all-around health and fitness. I have never felt or looked better. And yes, I get plenty of protein!
When I first started losing weight in 2011-12, I followed a high protein, low carb diet loaded with animal products. And while I lost weight, it quickly came back when I started eating "carbs" again. I also felt terrible eating so much animal protein.
After surgery and a health scare in 2013, I researched the connection between health and nutrition and that's what led me to my current vegan diet. I transitioned that year and never looked back.
I do a traditional split (with legs/glutes twice a week), usually lifting 6 days a week with one day off. My cardio depends on where I am in my prep cycle. I do interval sprints and stairmaster for my main cardio. My training changes every 4 weeks. I do not practice intermittent fasting, but I do count macros.

On stage
This was really tough for me. I never even wore a bikini until my honeymoon in 2001! I was well into my 20s. Remember, I was a "fat kid," so I never really felt comfortable in a bathing suit whatsoever. It took a lot for me to put on a bikini in front of my posing coach. I just practice a lot and try to have fun with it!

I've done two shows so far in 2018, but the show I remember most fondly was the OCB Winter Classic in Tallahassee in December 2017--that's when I won my Bikini Masters Pro Card! It was one of those shows where everything just came together. My posing was on point and I had a really good peak week. To me, the most awkward part of any show is the tan, but I am used to it now.

As a natural competitor, you have to take polygraph exams and urine tests. It can be a little uncomfortable with someone in the room as you are urinating, so that was a little strange! As for show day in general, I've learned to expect the unexpected. At one show, the make up artist never came, which was extremely stressful. So now, I do my own hair and make up. Backstage, I am constantly practicing my posing. It helps calm me down and feel more confident!


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Thank you so much @hippocratesinst for featuring my story in the latest issue of Healing Our World. I am honored and humbled to be in your publication. My goal is to educate others about the benefits of plant based diets. I very much appreciate this opportunity. . . . . . . . . #fitgirls #girlswholift #bikinicompetitor #fitness #plantpowered #fitnesslife #vegangains #veganmuscle #vegangains #personaltrainer #ootd #ocb #bopo #cardio #veganbikinicompetitor #whatveganslooklike #ocbpro #bikini #bikinipro

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Each show is a learning experience. Regardless of placing, this is a sport of self improvement, so you want to come in stronger each time you step on stage.
Competing definitely impacts your entire life. From your training to your nutrition to your sleep, everything has to come together. Throw in posing practice and you don't have time for much else. It can be very stressful on your relationships, so try to remember no one is forcing you to do this. It helps for me to remember my why--which is raising awareness to veganism. I bring my own food with my everywhere I go. I get a lot of strange looks, but I don't care! I have goals!

My future plans include more competitions! In 2019, I plan to cross over to NPC shows and hopefully become nationally qualified by the end of the year in the masters division. But until then, I continue to work hard day in and day out. Earlier this year, I did a half marathon one month before a show. And, I may attempt that again in 2019! I believe anything is possible with consistency and dedication.

My Instagram is:
https://www.instagram.com/aszutowicz
I have also written a book to help first time bikini competitors. It's available on Amazon