Jennifer Varon - Figure Competitor
Jennifer: I started working out when I was 15, but I was training mainly for sports performance. From there I fell in love with working out and couldnít stop. After I stopped playing sports, I needed to find an outlet for my competitive drive so I started to look into bodybuilding. It seemed like the perfect lifestyle for me. I love working out, I love competition, and I love pushing myself. Once I started bodybuilding I was addicted. I loved coming into the gym and pushing myself to new heights, to see how disciplined I could be. After my first prep, I was hooked and itís been an amazing experience ever since.
Diet and Training
During my preps I follow a fairly strict diet and ďeat cleanĒ. During this time I stick to a few lean proteins, complex carbs, and fats. Iím eating for a specific purpose, not following a diet that I can maintain year round. The calories and macros are in very specific ratios that are manipulated to get me the results I need to be successful on stage. I restrict the variety of foods I eat because for me, contest prep is not about finding balance. Itís about doing whatever I can to be the best I can. However, in the offseason I find more balance and moderation in my diet. I make sure that Iím eating right to build muscle and to enjoy my life as well. I introduce a large variety of foods into my off season diet, but I always try to follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the foods I eat are nutrient dense, and 20% may be foods that are considered ďtreat foodsĒ. Some people will follow different diets in both contest prep and off season. But this is what works for me and everyone has different things that work for them.
I havenít tried a competition diet plan that hasnít worked or wasnít effective. However, I have tried tracking macros during the offseason and personally that doesnít work as well for me. I have friends who track macros and it works great for them, but for me I prefer the restriction or clean eating diet. I like having a strict plan to follow and not having to figure out what foods will fit together to hit my macro goals. This is typically why I prefer to have a set out plan to follow day to day.
My training program consists of lifting and any kind of cardio I like. I typically split up muscle groups on different days to make sure I can get in enough detail work. I love lifting heavy and building up any imbalances or weaknesses that I may have. There are always things to work on and I love being able to focus on tweaking small things to get as much balance and symmetry as I can. My cardio varies between HIIT and steady state cardio. I tend to switch it up to keep things interesting, although as it gets closer to the show I prefer doing HIIT cardio.
Iíve always been pretty shy. Growing up I hated having to talk in front of big groups or make speeches in class so going into my first show I was extremely nervous about having to be up on stage. Going out there in front of people was a scary enough thought, let alone having to be wearing heels and flawlessly going through my posing routine. During my prep I gained a lot of confidence. Seeing my body change week by week helped me to increase my confidence and get ready for the stage. Ultimately, I had to practice my posing routine that I felt completely confident with it. I nailed my routine weeks before my show so that I could walk out on stage and know that it would just flow smoothly. Weeks leading up to my prep I just thought about how much I wanted this, how much I wanted to win, and how much I loved the whole process. Because of my love for the sport, I was able to put my nerves behind me and walk out there with confidence.
During my athlete check in, I was pretty nervous and excited all at the same time. I compete with a team and sitting with my other teammates to talk about our preps, our worries, our excitements, etc, helped to calm me down. On the day of the show, I hung out backstage with my teammates, other girls in my class, and some girls from other divisions as well. I met so many people backstage and Iím so grateful for some of the friendships I made on the day of the show. I was pretty calm before prejudging when we were all just talking and bonding together. Once they called our class to get ready to step on stage, all the nerves started to come back. I remember turning to the girl behind me and telling her I was freaking out. I had just met her that day, but she was so sweet and reassured me that I would great. I donít think my nerves just before going on stage will ever go away. But once I step into the light, I have this feeling of calmness and then I rock the stage. Finals were pretty similar to prejudging. I was slightly less nervous, but nerves were definitely still there. I stood there on stage waiting to hear my name and number called. The whole process is such a rush and the joy I feel on stage is like nothing I have ever felt before.
My future plans are to prep for another show sometime in the summer and hopefully feel ready enough to go to nationals. While I am already nationally qualified, I want to make sure that I bring a competitive package to the stage. Iíll continue to keep grinding and building a solid, balanced physique. I plan to better myself as much as I can and stay competitive in the sport.
Contact info: Jen Varon
Personal trainer/online training