Nasim "MuscleNas" Shamlou-Juhola - Bodybuilder

I started going to the gym when I was around 13 years old because I was practicing taekwondo at the time and I went to the gym to support that hobby. Of course I didn't really know what I was doing at the gym, but copied others :) Later, at university (from 2002 onwards), we had a good gym and I started working out there with a couple of friends. I got more serious and they weren't up for the challenge, so I basically had to push and motivate myself for reps.

In 2008 I went to the military for one year and during the free evenings, while everyone else went to have donuts, I'd go to the gym and train. We had a really good gym at the base and it was really nice training there. I gained a lot of muscle mass working out there, but I still didn't entirely know what I was doing. I had no idea I was bodybuilding so it wasn't the most optimal it could have been.

I met the man who would later become my husband at that very gym. He's a powerlifter and he knew more about bodybuilding than I did. That's how I started being much more interested in bodybuilding and actually pursuing to do things optimally.

A photo posted by Nasim Shamlou-Juhola (@musclenas) on

Diet and Training

My off season is only different in the sense that I don't weigh my portions and I eat whatever I want during the weekends. But the thing is that I've been brought up to eat clean all my life. Ever since I was a child I've had regular meal times with breakfast being the largest and most nutritious and as the day proceeds meals get lighter, but nutritious foods have always been a big part of my life. I've grown up eating a wide variety of fruits, veggies, meats and carbs, so getting used to contest diets isn't too hard and my off-season eating stays clean because I've always eaten that way.

I'd say I put minimum effort in eating since I've been doing it right all along. It would probably require a lot more effort of me if I had to change my lifestyle dramatically. Luckily I don't :)

The most effective way I've found to lose fat and gain muscle is to eat balanced portions regularly and not to go overboard with excess calories.

Your question is how to effectively lose weight and build muscle, but I find that I don't want to lose weight, I want to gain weight and gain that weight in muscle mass instead of fat mass. So I think everyone needs to understand that losing weight isn't always the thing one should be after. Even for non bodybuilders I think losing weight is partially the wrong idea to think about... but rather, understanding the body's metabolism to make optimal choices in eating and activities is what tends to lead to a more satisfying outcome.

A photo posted by Nasim Shamlou-Juhola (@musclenas) on

My very first competition diet (in 2010) was the learning curve of all learning curves. It was hard because it deprived me of the variety I was used to and some of the ingredients occurred so often in my diet that I was bloated. I got to be pretty ripped, but the diet was a little long-winded and unsuitable one. I didn't know it back then though. I thought diets were supposed to be terrible. It wasn't until I did my contest diet in the summer of 2016 that I realized that contest diets can be easy, comparatively speaking. One of the main differences between my very first diet and the summer 2016 diet was the craving for carbs. I've never really liked sweet things like chocolates and candy etc.. and during the first diet I found myself looking for calorie-free chocolate particles that you could whiff into your mouth and enjoy the taste without the calories... needless to say, that is just one sick way to diet. Never again will I go back to that kind of dieting now that I know I don't need to. The summer 2016 diet wasn't easy, but it was easy in all manners when compared to the first one. I didn't crave anything other than normal food and that was because I was getting all the nutrition I needed, the portions were just much smaller than I was used to. My body was burning fat efficiently and I didn't feel like my muscles were being completely depleted.

During my off-season I don't really do much cardio. The cardio I do comes in the form of swimming half an hour once a week and dancing 2-3 hours once a week. During my contest prep I start with a little more cardio and finish with many hours of cardio per week. Right now I have a 7 training day cycle, but I change it around according to what I need to accomplish. If I see that I need to hit some body parts more, that's what I do. I'm not confined to one routine or what the paper says. I do what my body needs for me to improve and develop. I have a regular day job with regular coffee and lunch breaks and that makes life a lot easier when it comes to time management in order to eat right. I'm pretty much a slave to routine and I like it that way for now, it helps me keep things in check much easier than if I'd have to change things around all the time to accommodate for different eating or training times.

A photo posted by Nasim Shamlou-Juhola (@musclenas) on

On Stage

Before the 2016 show I took part in I thought I'd be a nervous wreck, but it turned out I didn't have an ounce of nervousness in me. I strutted on stage as if I was a born natural and it was there and then I realized I was built for the stage. I enjoyed every single nanosecond of it. Smiling wasn't something I needed to force onto my face, it was there as if it had always been there, looking at the audience and at the judges, straight into their eyes, felt like having a normal discussion with a friend over a cup of coffee. I loved it. I know there are people out there who don't like this sport for women, I know there are a lot of people who don't like my physique, but everyone can appreciate the hard work one has to put into it to develop this far and even further... and those who don't appreciate it don't have to appreciate it. When I stepped on stage, I was displaying the work not only I put into it, but also the work my husband put into it, I was displaying all the support and advice I got from my diet coach, I was displaying the hard work my parents and grandparents put into raising me the way they did. They lay the foundation for what I brought to stage... But what I brought to stage in 2016 was the baby version of the bodybuilder I am. In the next shows I will be better and that's because I'm powered by passion and my foundations were built so long ago on a continual basis.

My experience has been nothing but positive, because the organizers did a great job. But... having said that, I'm the kind of person who thinks there's always room for improvement, so if I'd have to improve one thing about the experience, it would be better communication about the schedule of when to step on stage and how long I have to be on stage. But when you're as ready as you can possibly be you're also much better prepared to improvise when things don't work out the way you expect.. and really, when does anything ever go exactly as one expects? Very rarely :)

A photo posted by Nasim Shamlou-Juhola (@musclenas) on

My future plans are to compete on international stages and be a star among the stars of bodybuilding. I have the body, I have the determination, all I need is an audience ;) I'm ready to perform and be known. I'm ready to step on stage with the other determined, beautiful women who work hard and create their own worth.

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