Jeana Biagi Stritter - Bikini Competitor

NPC Nationally Qualified Bikini Competitor, Masters 40+ Division

New Jersey, Married, 1 daughter

I think I always was involved in doing some sort of fitness practices. My earliest memories of physical fitness began in the mid 70’s when I would watch my dad working out on our back enclosed porch in his make-shift ‘gym’. Wearing his black and white Rocky shirt, he would bench press free weights, had an iron pipe hanging by ropes to do pull ups etc and performed endless sit-ups. I would watch him and later when he was through, I would copy some of what he did. Rocky and Conan movies with Arnold were big then! In my tweens I got into gymnastics and dancing, eventually sticking with toe dance as a teenager. Moving out on my own, I joined my first gym and started studying Martial Arts. I studied Isshinryu for nearly 15 years, earning my 3rd degree Black Belt. I did compete for a few years, but not much outside of State level. I wanted to teach Martial Arts and physical fitness so I became a Certified Personal Trainer. Then my first husband passed away after a long illness which led me to studying Yoga; I became a certified Instructor and opened my own little studio.

A photo posted by Jeana Marie Biagi Stritter (@hotnaturalgirl) on

What really impacted me though was the sudden passing of my mom. She was healthy and vibrant, but was always saying ‘someday I will do this’. When she learned of her incurable circumstances, she obviously was so devastated as was myself and family; but her biggest devastation was what she never got to do. It was then that I told myself I will always strive to be the best and nothing less, take chances and be spontaneous – go for it. Yoga helped escape my depressions from my losses but weight lifting literally brought my strengths back to me, in all aspects. Honestly, I dove back into weight lifting to repair my body from all the years of the abuse I put myself through with Martial Arts. It was like I flipped an internal switch. I turned my life in to eat, drink, sleep fitness and nutrition. If I wasn’t training myself, I was training clients. I became a full-time gym rat. There were several people that asked if I was getting ready for a competition and

I would laugh and say ‘nope, just doing what I enjoy’. However, the seed was now planted. I started chatting on bodybuilding forums and eventually met my Trainer, Amy Wolf. Under her guidance and expertise, she has taught me all that I know about my body. We built me up, layer by layer and then peeled me down over the course of a couple years. In 2016 I entered three NPC shows in which I placed 3rd in Masters Bikini in all three shows, and became Nationally Qualified! I never imagined that would be me. I am hooked now. I told Amy I hope she in this for the long haul, because I sure am! The only way you can continue to progress is if you have like an internal self-imposed pressure. There is no one else telling you to do it, no one telling you to lift this or push that, telling you to spend 3+ hours in a gym. The only person that’s putting pressure on you is you. That’s what I find cool about lifting. No one can lift it for you, you are your own team. I don’t look at it as I have to do this; it’s an urge, a craving, I feel compelled to do it. That’s what got me here – I just HAVE to do it!

A photo posted by Jeana Marie Biagi Stritter (@hotnaturalgirl) on

Initially my diet has gone through some drastic changes. When I first started bodybuilding, I was Vegetarian for about 7 years, eating mostly organic and ‘clean’. I was not a strict Vegetarian, in that I mean I would occasionally have fish. So, when I felt like I was stuck in a physical plateau, my Trainer suggested eating meat. Took me a while, but I started with white fish and added in chicken. My body responded like a charm. I was trying to build on more size where red meat would have really benefited me. Bringing in red meat, particularly beef into my diet was super hard for me. My mom’s illness was Creutzfelt-Jakob’s Disease (aka “Human Mad Cow”), so I had a phobia to cow. I started out with grass fed Bison. As my meal plans grew, it became not very cost effective and I finally started purchasing locally raised beef.

As far as off-season and pre-contest meal plans, I have tried several different approaches diet-wise. “Dirty Bulking” doesn’t work for me. Waltzing out of the gym after a hard work out with a donut or a cinnamon bun was enjoyable but put more fat on my butt cheeks vs muscle. Off-season this time around is not much different from my pre-contest. I still eat clean, I stay away from breads, pasta and sugar or namely desserts. I eat 5 meals a day with a snack or two. I am not a calorie watcher. I count macros with 1-1.25 gram of protein per pound of weight. Proteins consist of a lot of eggs; 6-12 egg whites per day (depending if its on or off season), chicken and 96% fat free beef. I can do some dairy during off-season such as low fat string cheese and Greek yogurt, but not during pre-show because it bloats me. If it’s a day I lift, my carbs are up and my fats lower. If it’s a ‘rest’ day, my carbs are down and my fats are up. Carbs and Fats are what changes between off-season and pre-contest.

Off-season my carbs range 230-250 grams where pre-contest it could be as low as 20-30 grams. Off-season my fats are around 55 grams, where during pre-contest it is around 90 grams. My fats are avocado, coconut oil and olive oil. I supplement 1 TB of fish oil every a.m. and p.m. as well. My off-season carbs consist of higher potassium sources such as sweet potato, white and red potato, spinach, acorn and butternut squash, as well as oatmeal, rice and beans. I must say, I am weird too because I really do not like potatoes at all; I could totally live without French fries. So, for me sometimes food literally is just an energy source! During pre-contest my carb sources are mostly vegetables like green beans, broccoli, spinach, asparagus and romaine lettuce, combined with fruits like strawberries, blue berries and kiwis.

A photo posted by Jeana Marie Biagi Stritter (@hotnaturalgirl) on

My first off-season at a height of 5’8” I started at 130lbs, over the course of 9 months gained to 168lbs and then cut back down to 135lbs for that first show. The two shows followed in 2-3 month intervals afterward, with my weight only fluctuating about 10lbs, however my physique just got better and better. This off-season I have been maintaining around 150lbs since my last show in November 2016 at 138lbs.

One thing that has become a ritual the night before every show is I have a late-night snack of homemade brownie cheesecake from a nearby Greek family run diner! On a serious note, I also must do reverse dieting after my shows to avoid blowing up like a balloon. And I’ll be even more honest, I have walked all my beloved jars of various peanut butters to my neighbor’s house, and asked him to hold on to them for me for the next 3 weeks so I don’t devour them! After all let’s be real, I am only human and self-control isn’t always there!

When I first decided to compete, I never questioned myself of my confidence to be up on stage. It just never crossed my mind. Not until a couple months out when my Trainer said to start practicing my posing. I felt like Bambi learning to walk. I found it hilarious and was so clumsy. Someone recommended a posing coach and I started to work with Sonia Ryan, whom now is one of my fondest friends. I met with her bi-weekly and I just practiced, practiced, practiced. She said to me to look at my competition as if I was hired to be an entertainer at a big festivity, and to smile and stand tall and be proud of my beauty, that all these guests were here to see me (or something like that). I also watched YouTube clips of Nicole Wilkins, where she said this is your moment you worked so hard for; both she and Sonia stated, take your time, smile and look the judges right in the eyes, but take your time, because it’s your time to shine. And that’s exactly what I did. I breathed slowly, smiled big and walked slowly, enjoying every single minute.

I lift 6-7 days a week, usually one body part a day, sometimes for 3+ hours depending on what I am working out. I split legs up to working them out twice a week (at minimum, sometimes three times especially now because I am really working on growing my quads and hammies). Sometimes I work out my biceps on the tail end of a leg day, and my triceps after chest day. I lift as heavy as I can in off-season, performing 8-10 reps. Pre-show I lift lighter, combining more body parts per workout, with reps ranging 15-20. (A couple times a month I will do 100’s day; full body, 100 reps each part). As far as cardio is concerned, once I am finished with my shows, as I enter off-season I slowly wean off my cardio to where I am only doing it once a week now. And likewise, as I approach my show-time and begin cutting, I wean into cardio; 15 minutes up to around 45-55 minutes. I like to do the elliptical or the bike at a moderate level. Six- to eight-weeks out is when I add in HIIT. All my cardio is fasted in the morning before my weight lifting.

A photo posted by Jeana Marie Biagi Stritter (@hotnaturalgirl) on

I have experienced some weakness during my last two cuts during my morning cardio, so I have found if I split my 2nd meal in half (2oz chicken and 40g broccoli) and eat it before my cardio, I don’t suffer as much. I juggle my diet and lifting with my work schedule (which believe it or not, right now is in construction renovating a house). If I am working that day, I have a rice cake with peanut butter and jelly with my supplements in the morning and head to the gym. After my work-out, I have a homemade Rice Krispy Treat (3 marshmellows with 1 cup toasted rice checks) and a protein shake driving home. Then I have my oatmeal, eggs and turkey bacon before I head out to work. If I am not working, then I have my breakfast and head to the gym around 10-11a.m. I find that timing to be my best part of the day, so I prefer between 10a.m. and 1p.m. to be at the gym.

At the first show, I had no idea what I was doing or where to go. One thing is for sure, 99% of the competitors are the most friendly and helpful people. I paid it forward and tried to be as friendly and helpful to others that were newbies. My plan was since I placed 3rd in Masters and 5th in Novice Open at my first show, to enter an even bigger show to attempt to become Nationally Qualified. When I arrived at the venue, and saw the number of cars and people already there at 8a.m. for check-in, I started to panic. It was BIG. My husband was to meet me there, and even though I knew he was on his way, I called him and started to cry that the show was bigger than I thought and to please hurry. I crack up about it now, so funny! But once I got inside I was fine, I checked in, found a spot to plant myself for the next 14 hours and just focused. I placed 3rd Masters and 4th in Open, which Nationally Qualified me.

Moving onto my next even bigger East Coast show, I maintained my National Qualification, again placing in the top 3 in age 35+ and in the top 10 for Open. I wasn’t feeling as well for this final show and I struggled physically and mentally. I always ‘trusted the process’ as they say, but here I also learned to listen to my body and it was telling me it was hanging on for this show by a thread. I was good up to pre-judging; I was confident I did well. During the break, I really crashed, I was dehydrated. Show days are super long days. I do my own make-up, hair and tanning. My morning starts at 4 a.m. and the show doesn’t end until you’re walking off stage from finals around 10p.m. I now know where some of my boundaries are and how much I should or should not push myself. It was a pretty painful lesson, but a good one!

For 2017 I am planning on entering two NPC shows back to back; the National Championship show June 30 and the Summer Classic July 8. I am also considering crossing over from Bikini to Figure, however that all depends on how my body responds to my training over the next 6 months. I am excited too because I started my modeling portfolio and plan on another photo shoot in NYC in early June. I will probably relax this summer, do a little traveling and possibly think about closing the year with a November or December show.

IG: @hotnaturalgirl

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