Victoria Arsenault - Figure Competitor

In 2007, I gave birth to my eldest child. I found myself very heavy and unfit after her birth. I had gained 80 lbs and was completely miserable. I was able to lose the majority of the weight with cardio and diet within four months of her birth but things looked very different and I realized my old body wasn't coming back without some extra effort. I started doing some research and found Oxygen magazine and thought their models were FABULOUS. I became involved in their online forum community. I had never even lifted a weight before. Slowly but surely, I learned and was able to transform my body into what I wanted. Going on to have 2 more children, I still encountered obstacles and was unable to cross the stage for almost 9 years after I began my initial journey.

A post shared by Victoria (@torretornadofigureninja) on

I have a genetic condition and a lot of food intolerance issues. After 3 successful preps, I have found that the Keto diet with cyclical carbohydrate refeeds every 7-10 days, with moderate cardio works best for me on season. I keep my calories moderate until 8 weeks out and then I start alternating increasing cardio and decreasing cals. If I see progress, I repeat the protocol of the week before, if I stall, I change my protocol.

Off season, I try to relax my approach. I have a growing family, a busy household, juggle my and my husbands businesses, and work as a nurse, I need flexibility! I usually strive to get a minimum amount of protein in and then do my best to fill in with fats and carbs. Fat is far more important for women than carbs, from a health stand point. I have found that keeping my carbohydrates moderate and clustering them around lifting in the off season, supports the most growth. With that said, I enjoy ice cream with my children and a romantic dinner with my husband when I want to. I also find it helpful to have clear goals. I don't try to build muscle in a deficit (maintaining muscle and losing fat is key in a show prep), I focus my building efforts when I am not prepping. Also, time is key. Quality muscle cannot be built in a 12 week prep!

I have done just about every method of dieting. Low cals, low fat, low carbs, Keto, food plan vs macros, intermittent fasting, you name it, I've utilized it. On season, I count macros within reason, using whole food sources, as the rule. I do not eat only fish, I don't cut dairy or artificial sweeteners until about a month out. Off season I definitely enjoy the freedom of flex dieting. I don't like low fat dieting for women for prolonged periods of time, It wreaks hormonal havoc. I also don't subscribe to eating crazy high amounts of protein. I think that for short periods of time, most anything can be safe and effective but once prep is over, something needs to change. You cannot maintain a show diet and body all year round.

Rack pulls with 315* for 8. My set has a bounce. Sorry not sorry. #rackpulls #8weeksout #teamvictorre #figureninja #npcfigure

A post shared by Victoria (@torretornadofigureninja) on

I use cardio to supplement my diet. I split sessions often into AM and PM. Right now, I am 7 weeks out and I am doing 15 minutes of fasted uphill treadmill walking upon waking, 2-3 times a week. Then I perform 4 stair master sessions. 30 minutes each, 2 HIIT, 2 steady. Splitting it up makes it more bearable for me, personally.

Building self-confidence: Time and practice! My posing is self taught. I used youtube and watched shows. I watched posing while on cardio, in bed at night, I emulated the pros. I picked from their routines and of course took cues from what felt natural in motion. I started practicing in August for an April show. Practice, practice, practice. When you think you have it, practice again. Right before stage, I sip a little red wine for vascularity and to chill stage nerves. Then you just have to have fun with it! Go out there, show the judges how awesome you are and show them that they came to see you! Positive self talk is far more valuable than people realize!

Last year, I did the Pittsburgh Pro (Amateur portion). The show was HUGE. It was hectic and the schedule changed last minute. It taught me patience and flexibility. It was a learning experience, for sure!

Being a Figure athlete has made me so much more confident in all areas. It's hard to explain but you really find out what you're made of in this industry. You're putting it all out there. You're bringing yourself to the brinks of sanity, you're testing your entire being, then you get on stage for 30 seconds and it's over. You have to have a lot of self confidence and self esteem. You have to know how to take criticism in a constructive manner and turn it around in your favor. As far as my every day life, I try to keep things as normal as possible for my family. I still mom, wife, clean, run errands, work, and go about my business.

I have a show coming up in November. I will be competing with my husband, his first show and I am ECSTATIC to see him cross the stage. After that, the plan is to hit a national show in 2018 (if I re-qualify).

Victoria Arsenault
@teamvictorre, @torretornadofigureninja

Competition Prep e-Books