Stephanie Michelle - Figure Athlete

Stephanie: When I was three years old my mother started bringing me to the gym, before, women were regular gym participants. She had the magazines with Rachel Mclish and Cory Everson in them. Also, how to lift books written by these women were around the home. I started lifting at the age of 12 with the hopes to look just like these women. Through the years, I did track and lifted at the school gyms. Many years later, after two children, I bought my first oxygen magazine. I was flipping through and found the competition section in the back. I saw Jenny Lynn, Monica Brant-Peckham and Heather Mea French. I thought; damn! I want to do that. My journey began in 2008 at the Carla Sanchez fitness fiesta. I had an online trainer and no idea what I was doing, but, I feel in love.

My diet off season is pretty clean. I eat about 2100 calories with two cheat meals scheduled for the week. I eat egg whites with a four to one egg yolk ratio, healthy fats from avocado, almond butter, coconut oil and flaxseed oil, proteins 6oz. Of flank steak for one meal the rest is chicken, whey isolate powder and white fish, veggies is spinach or any thing green that I like, carbs, white yams, jasmine rice, quinua, strawberries and apples or oatmeal. Cutting phase; my calories where as high as 1700 and as low as 1200. The type of food was the same during cutting the cheat meals gone of course and the apples where taken out as well as the protein powder had to be fat free with no carbs.

This diet has been very effective and got me my first place. I have done diets with counting macros, high fat and no carb, low fat and no carb they all work to a point. This diet varied depending on my losses it was mostly high protein about 180 grams a day, the fat and carbs changed if I lost five pounds in one week or a pound in a week. The fat ranged between 25-45 grams a day the carbs between 50-120 a day. Really there were no, no carb days it was consistently low for five days and high for two days. I had more mental clarity in this diet and my energy though very low to most people was very good for my needs. During this diet it wasn't about building muscles it was about preserving what I had, since, I'm natural. If you're natural, you can appreciate the carefulness and precision that goes into the diet to keep your hard earned work. My bulking diet, now that put on about five pounds of muscle. This is the one diet I have found that had worked well for my body I got the most results during my gains and losses.

Like I stated earlier the other diets were fine, but, the macros diet there is too much leeway and if you're new to the sport that have too much room for error I needed strick guidelines during cutting. I couldn't get as lean as I desired through the macro diet. High fat no carb diets, again it worked, but, my energy was so low and I couldn't think I felt like I was in a constant fog thus my cardio and workouts suffered. Higher carb, no fat diets, I retained too much water and lost some muscle so I couldn't get that hard, lean, peak we all look for on stage. It's important to try all that's out there to see what your body responds to, it's best to try these diets when you're not stepping on stage that way you find your best meal plan for your best body. I say this through experience of wins and frustrating losses through experimentation of diets during contest prep.

To exude confidence on stage, I practiced every day in heels that way I wouldn't worry about tripping or slipping. I had to look inside of myself into my heart to know this is my best work, my best package, I worked hard and I ate clean I did it all during bulking and cutting this is my moment to shine, this is my time so bring that to the stage leave nothing behind! I have had a hard life very hard you would think I would have nothing left to be confident about. That's why I say, I had to go into my heart maybe even my soul to find that light that's still shining inside I honed it and focused on it and I used that to bring fire and sass into that stage, my moment that no one could take from me, no one. I found it was there in me like it is in every person some have to dig deeper than others, that's how I built it, "I " built it because people even your family and friends will try to take it from you when if they don't mean to.

My training was a circuit style, there was little rest and lots of super setting. My reps where high about 15-20 with my upper body and lower body workouts. My legs were separated I had a quad day then a hamstring and glute day. I had a three day on, one day off split and cardio was intervals on the stairs two hard level 15, two moderate paced level 7 every day of the week. I had no days off from the gym. I kept food with me at all times; I had a recovery shake premade for after my fasted cardio workout and my protein and carb meal at the ready when I was done lifting. I ate like clock work every two hours with my work breaks. Once two cardio sessions started I had my amino recovery drink for after my last cardio to preserve muscle.

During check in there were about 300 competitors the line was long and never ending it seemed. People were eating in line and trying to keep focused on themselves. It was a good experience I met lots of old competitor friends and I had my mother with me to keep me calm and not looking and sizing up other contestants. Prejudging was pretty well organized we moved like clock work. I wasn't nervous for I have done about 4 before. I had my trainer to keep me focused, pumping and guiding me through my snacks of rice cakes and lots of honey to keep my muscles full. There was so much excitement for me to hit the stage and have my moment.

Once we lined up the girls were in a good, jittery mood because of the anticipation to perform in front of the judges. Once it was finals the night ran a bit slower and the high anticipation to see how I did was coursing through my veins. I didn't step on stage took about 9; I was tired and, hungry and ready to be done. We lined up the girls were not as happy as they were in the morning. They announced the five who would stay to receive a trophy; I was one of them. Oh what!? They started to do the placing 5,4,3 still not my name 2 nope! What!!? I got first after six years of not competing I got first place in one tough national qualifying class! What an on top of the world feeling!

Now, my goal is put on some great mass I have about 8 months to bulk, my trainer is having me do the mile high in 2017 if I qualify I will then move on to junior nationals! 2017 will be an amazing year if it all goes as planned.

Thank you for letting me share my story and my journey with you. Thank you for wanting to hear it as well!


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