Brooke Varga - Figure Competitor

My name is Brooke Varga. I have a background in supplemental nutrition, personal training and Gym management for over 16 years now. I was managing a gym in 2012 with 600 to 800 members. I was involved in a tragic accident that July. We lost two people that night and I was air lifted to Phoenix Arizona with injuries including a broken back and clavicle, torn tendons in my left shoulder and fractured vertebrae's in my neck. That tragedy really affected me emotionally. It caused me to grieve my loved ones and to feel guilty for being alive. I was angry and heartbroken (not to mention unable to work out for several months). I realized once I was cleared to exercise that I needed to 'pull myself up' and 'dust off' to lead by example! You see, it would have been very easy to crawl into a 'justified' alcohol and pill filled depression.

But that's not me. I knew I had to make a choice. It was Autumn and I set a goal to compete in the Spring NPC figure competition. It seemed like such a big out of reach goal at the time. I had never even been to a show. I was steadfast. I kept my mind and body focused on my goal of stepping on that stage! My members seen me training along side of them. My three teenagers seen me as healthy and determined. That first competition prep was a very emotional road for me full of growth and learning who I was and what I am capable of! I stepped on that stage after training for 16 weeks without a coach or posing coach and walked off with a trophy! I was proud of myself and the difficult journey that brought me there. Yes, it is difficult. Yes, it is worth it! I have competed twice since then and each time I feel I get better, stronger, and more confident. Competing as a Bikini/Figure athlete is a personal journey that will force you to know and love yourself.
'My strength did not come from lifting weights, it came from picking myself up when I was knocked down' -Bob Moore

The main difference in my diet between on and off season is variety of food and carb intake. I always eat clean. I remain on a high-protein/low carb diet. When I am in competition training I am extremely disciplined with my food intake. I measure my food and keep track of my macros. During pre-comp training I eat specific foods at certain times every day to get the results I need. Off-season allows me to eat more or less the same diet without the added time of measuring and counting macros etc. I allow myself a cheat day once a week during off-season. I believe life needs balance and I love Mexican food and pancakes! During competition prep I remain dairy, gluten, and alcohol free. My third show I was able to correctly carb cycle. My results were great.

With my history in the nutrition/wellness industry I have tried several diet/lifestyle nutrition plans. I have tried the extreme at both ends of the spectrum. I have been vegan. That lasted four months and it was very difficult for me. I have also gone Paleo which lasted a couple months. I respect anyone on a vegan diet. I believe it is a healthy clean eating lifestyle. However, with my body type, blood type and training style that program was extremely difficult for me personally. I did not get the results I wanted physically. I do recall having great energy though! The Paleo diet is closer to the way I typically eat but I do allow myself oats and beans. I do not believe pork is good for anyone. I remain on a clean eating, high-protein, low-carb diet with very limited dairy (Greek yogurt is allowed) and limited gluten.

During the process of training for three separate competitions I found the most effective training program for me was a combination of weight training and HIIT. (Of course we all have to put our time into cardio especially you Bikini girls.) My focus was on heavy lifting and HIIT. I have enjoyed weight training for many years. It makes me strong. When I added the HIIT to my training sessions my body responded better than ever! At 42 years old I was in the best shape of my life. I was lean, (11% BF) strong, and full of energy!

I found the best way to balance training with my diet is to keep a food and exercise journal during competition prep. I keep track and plan the time of day for my workouts and meals. You have to be organized to be a Figure athlete!

I'll be honest, stepping on that stage was nerve-racking! I felt excited and ready until a few seconds before stepping onto the stage in my fabulous heels! That excitement and fear has never gone away I believe it is just part of the process! My advice is to practice posing over and over and over… and then practice posing again! Create the muscle memory and confidence in your poses! Anyone can hit it hard in the gym but only a select few can present the benefit of their dedication by strutting onto that stage with a smile and confidence in knowing that you deserve to be there. Hold your head high, smile and breathe.

I have definitely caught the 'competition bug'! I did, however, have mixed feelings at showtime. I felt nervous, excited, scared, proud and even alone. I have a wonderful support system through loved ones and friends. For me the athlete check in and backstage process was lonely to be honest. I live in a small town and I competed on my own without teammates. It is always nice to meet like-minded people, but backstage is not necessarily the best place to make friends as everyone is in 'show mode'! With that being said, I have had the honor to meet and be surrounded by very driven and inspirational women in my NPC Figure Athlete journey. I am proud to call these amazing ladies my peers.

I have no current plans for competing anytime soon. My last show was March 2015. It was my third figure competition. Even though I did not place as well as I wanted I was very proud of my physique. (happier than ever before) I was steadfast and I surpassed the goals I had set for myself. I left feeling accomplished and happy. Each time I train toward a show I learned more about myself and I become more disciplined in my nutrition program. You have to have your mind in the right place to be a figure/bikini athlete. When I catch the bug again I will continue to learn more about myself. I will set higher goals then demolish them!

I am currently managing an old-school weight training gym 'The Choice Gym' and building my personal training clientele. My true passion is inspiring and motivating others to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Please follow me at my Fitness Coach FB page @bleev72. You can email me at I look forward to hearing from you.

"There is no shortcuts to any place worth going." -Unknown

Be strong,

Brooke Varga

Competition Prep e-Books

Brooke Varga