Lina Varela - Physique Competitor

* Lina won 2nd place in Womenís Physique at the 2018 Arnold Classic in Ohio.

While still living in Colombia, I first started competing in spinning marathons (without a seat) and really enjoyed the challenge. I moved to the Dominican Republic in 2013 and enrolled myself in a gym and hired a personal trainer. She helped me see the first changes in my body and suggested that I compete. I was told that my body type was more suited to Figure-Bodyfitness instead of Bikini, so I opted for the former and started preparing for my first competition. Iíve competed nine times now.


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Diet
I have worked with seven coaches since 2013 and have learned a lot regarding how to eat from each one.
My off-season diet is very clean, yet abundant. I eat about 5-6 times per day. Iím blessed with a fast metabolism, and so I eat like a lot. Lots of lean proteins (chicken, fish and eggs), approx 30-40g per meal. In addition to this I use unflavored whey isolate, roughly 3-4 scoops per day. I eat carbs in just about every meal, also 30-40g per meal (mainly plantains, white sweet potato, rolled oats, jasmine rice and occasionally pasta). My fat intake comes from omega 3 supplements, egg yolks, assorted unsalted nuts, and coconut oil.
I rarely drink alcohol, a couple of sips of wine when itís appropriate and no more. I drink at least ten liters of water-a-day.

My competition prep diet is basically the same, with the difference being much less fat consumption and a little less protein. I never go hungry when Iím preparing for a competition, and I drink water right up to the moment I get on stage - not a lot, but I never go thirsty.

Over the years I have become better and better at dieting. Itís a learning process that takes time. None of my diets have Ďfailedí, but now I diet better! To me, diet failure is when you ignore what you learn with regards to what nutrition strategy works best. You also have to be aware of how your body and digestive system evolves and respect that. I used to tolerate lots of bread and cheese before, but not anymore, so I eat small amounts and only occasionally. Itís sad (laughing) because those are my favorite two foods!


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Self-confidence: That too is a learning process. I was very nervous my first two or three competitions, but little by little the confidence grew. I liked what I was seeing in the mirror and my family and friends created a firm foundation of support - which is a very potent Ďsupplementí. Now I find getting on stage to be very exciting. The stage is the Ďgladiatorís ringí for bodybuilders (as well as the gym!).

Training
Iím predominantly mesomorph, so I can get away with training five or six days-a-week for slightly over an hour without getting overtrained. I use the Milos Sarcev Giant-Set technique taught to me by Spanish coach Sergio Fernandez. I had previously tried other techniques - all good - but this really catapulted my development forward.

I actually like cardio. I meditate a lot and learned to do it during cardio sessions. Sometimes Iíll do intervals but mostly itís steady pace for 45-55 minutes. On off-season Iíll do five cardio sessions per week, and Iíll vary the time: first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, immediately after training, or later in the day. Timing is dictated by my agenda.
During competition prep I do a lot more cardio than that. By the way, I handle cortisol very well. Also, Giant-Set weight lifting burns a lot of calories! (hint)


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On stage
NPC-style check-in procedures are by far superior! I recently participated in the Ohio Arnold Classic, which is the biggest amateur bodybuilding event in the world, Iím told. The check-in was done NPC-style and it literally took three minutes! Another big show I attended took SIX HOURS to complete the check-in.

Prejudging is always exciting because you are standing amongst a lot of talent, good genetics, and beauty - always very inspiring and Iíve made some very good friends in those moments.

Finals are the some of the most special moments in a competitorís life and itís really important to savour the moment and really take it in. Itís quick, so you really have to be Ďswitched oní to absorb the positive energy in your surroundings... the music, the competitors, the staff and judges, and the audience - pure electricity!

In some sports you have an hour or so on a playing field, but on a bodybuilding stage itís just a few minutes, so keep your eyes and ears open and donít miss a thing!

How does being an athlete affect my whole life: Profoundly! My #1 priority is my family. We are a very close-knit, traditional Colombian family, and no one in my family goes through anything - good or bad - alone. My husband, who is former US Special Forces is an integral part of my life.
After my family the world of bodybuilding is my home! It has been more rewarding than words can describe. It dictates how I eat, train, sleep, work - everything and my family are part of it.


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Future goals
For me the future is simple: just about everything I do is a step towards my next competition, one-at-a-time. Again, besides God, family and work as a personal trainer here in the Dominican Republic, my days are made up of actions I take to prepare myself for the next stage. Each stage is a mountain I climb and I charish each step.

I would like to broaden my client-base to girls who want to transform themselves, improve their health and fitness, and be deliberate with their lifestyle decisions and habits. Iím considering conducting four-day gym workshops in the United States and abroad where I show girls how to train effectively in order to reach their goals. There would be dinners where we share food and discuss lifestyle habits, making new friends and bonds along the way.

If anyone should want to contact me, English speakers please call my husband Scott at 829-962-4982, tierraalta66@hotmail.com
If you speak Spanish or Portuguese you can contact me directly at 849-353-8266, mandrejo28@live.com
Instagram: linamariafit
Facebook: linavarelafit


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