Kacey Stefan - Figure Competitor

Kacey: My passion for fitness and bodybuilding developed after some serious health issues which resulted in two surgeries, the loss of more than 30 pounds, my social life, and mental health. In January of 2012, at 16 years old, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Ulcerative Colitis is an autoimmune disease of the colon. This means that my body’s immune system attacked my colon, mistaking it as a foreign and threatening tissue to my body. Over the course of a year and a half I trialed many medications and steroids, none of which worked in controlling the disease. In June of 2013 I made the very tough decision of having my entire colon removed. This procedure would involve two surgeries.

The first surgery, which included removing my colon and constructing a j-pouch, which would ultimately serve as my “new colon”, was followed by 8 weeks of recovery with an ileostomy bag. After the 8 weeks, another surgery took place in order to take down the ileostomy and connect the j pouch to my rectum. After all was said and done I was down to about 85 lbs. (I’m 5’5.5), weak, mentally drained, and very self conscious about how I looked. Not too long after my surgeon cleared me to begin physical activity, I joined a gym. Unfortunately, being at such a low weight for such a long period of time, I found myself falling into an unhealthy relationship with food and the gym, fearing gaining too much weight and looking “fat”.

After quite some time of being anxious after every bite of food I ate and completely unhappy with how I looked, I decided I needed to change something: My mindset. I began researching proper nutrition, as well as workouts, which would aid in weight gain (good weight obviously). With the help of my friends and family I managed to pull myself out of the hole I was in and I fell in love with the process along the way. After seeing results, it became addicting. It became evident that hard work and consistency results in some pretty amazing accomplishments. I will always love the process and am forever grateful that what I went through brought me to such a positive and rewarding place.

Diet & Training
My genetics have given me a pretty fast metabolism, which is awesome in some aspects (getting lean) and not so awesome in other aspects (putting on muscle). Because of this, I can get away with eating quite a bit of food and being pretty lenient with my diet in the offseason while keeping a fairly tight physique. Even though this is true, I eat clean and stay on track year round. I really do not have much of an off-season. The difference in my on-season vs. off-season is the portions of food I eat as well as cheat meals or “treats” once or twice a week. People always think I’m crazy for staying on point with my diet year round, but to me it’s the only option. Staying on target with my diet makes me feel and perform GREAT. Cheats are good once in a while, don’t get me wrong, but with my goals, there is no time for an “off-season”.

I wouldn’t say I’ve ever “failed” my expectations on a diet. Like anything, diet is trial and error. Everybody’s body is different and will react differently to different strategies. It takes time and patience to find what really works best for you. I’m still working on that part of this sport and lifestyle, but I have ALWAYS been happy with the progress I have made.

Over the years, numerous people have told me that they are extremely impressed with my hard work. I pride myself in this. There are many things in this sport that you cannot control (how your body responds, what the judges think, who your competitors will be) but one thing you CAN control is how hard you work. No matter how I am feeling that day, no matter how badly id rather sit at home on the couch, I always make sure I give my workouts 100%. This way, on show day, I wont look back and regret a single day.

I am also a firm believer in moving big weights in the gym. I have always enjoyed pushing myself, and pushing the weights as well. You will not see me in the gym using lightweights, that’s just not my training style. All through prep I keep the weights and intensity high. I feel, with my body type (ectomorph), this is the best option for maximal muscle growth.

In the past, I’ve found myself stagnant in making gains because I got comfortable with my workouts. I would always do different exercises each workout, but I lacked one crucial thing. It is SO important that you are not only switching up the exercises you do but also the rep ranges, length, and intensity of your workouts. This will keep your body guessing and maximize your results. So, when I do find that I am in a plateau, I make sure I switch something up, and the gains keep coming!

On Stage
I find myself crazy at times at the willingness I have to get on stage in a bikini in front of so many people. I have never liked being the center of attention, even in front of people whom I am comfortable with. I think my confidence to be on stage has come from the amount of work I have put into this, as well as wanting to show that hard work off. I have literally invested the last 3 years of my life into this, and I not only want to show off the results of it, but also show people that ANYTHING is possible with the right mindset.

Because I’ve only been involved in fitness for about 3 years, I’ve only participated in 2 competitions. My first competition was in May of 2014; it was a very small local show. I wanted to do this show to “test the waters” and see if it was something I wanted to pursue. I ended up winning 1st place in my class at this show and fell in love with the sport. My second show was in July of 2015; I competed at teen/collegiate/masters nationals in Pittsburgh in the collegiate figure division. I won my class and the over all at this show.

As I said before, being the center of attention isn’t really my thing, so I am completely nervous the entire week leading up to the show. These nerves are, of course, always accompanied by loads of excitement! As the day goes on, I have found that my nerves seem to subside, and by the night show I am no longer nervous. Throughout the day you meet some pretty amazing people and athletes, which always has a way of calming nerves.

My near future plans are to first compete in a regional show in order to qualify for nationals followed by the 2016 Junior USAS in May. My goal this year is to receive a pro card, whether it be at Junior USAS or in a different national show this year. My more distant plans may seem a little “out there” for some, but I believe they are truly possible with my work ethic. I would ultimately like to someday be on the Arnold stage and maybe even compete in the Olympia. One step at a time.

Along the way my plans are to remain ME. Keep a positive mindset, inspire and motive others, learn everyday, and never let someone outwork me.

email: kstefan@pio.carrollu.edu

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Kacey Stefan

Kacey Stefan

Kacey Stefan

Kacey Stefan