Jennifer Paolucci - Figure Competitor

Jennifer: I have been an athlete my whole life, studied kinesiology/ physical ed in college and began my relationship with lifting then. I also started training, with the guidance of an olympic level trainer, I coached many of the varsity sports at my college, including the football team. After college I started training at 24 hour fitness where I met many people who pushed my lifting education and passion. I randomly went to a NPC show in Las Vegas during this time and fell in love with what I saw. Those athletes on stage, with their greek god type bodies, were the epitome of a dedicated, driven, badass athlete. I was thoroughly intrigued.

Then about a year later I was approached by someone in the gym asking me if I competed, I said no, so he invited me to his next show. Again, I was so inspired. So he brought me over to this table covered with flyers of upcoming shows and suggest I pick one that was about 13 weeks out. I did, and it turned out to be the very same show that I went to the previous year. I trained myself, did my own diet, and loved every minute of it. I didn't get a call out at that show but got a lot of attention and encouragement backstage. I then found a coach and another show, which was the Excalibur in 2004 and got 1st place overall.

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When I competed 10 years ago, my off season and prep were pretty different. I was extremely dedicated for prep, but fell off coarse in the off season, diet wise. My only focus was lifting heavy and gaining size. So for each prep I had to drop a good amount of weight.
My diet has changed drastically over the years. After my last show in 2006, I became focused on achieving a balanced lifestyle. No ups and downs, no unhealthy dieting, just a balanced relationship with food and the gym. And I achieved just that. Then I got married and had 2 children over those next several years. When I decided to compete again this year, my diet prep was not that much different than how I typically eat. I did look to put on some size, so I was eating quite a bit more in general, and more carbs. The biggest proportions of my meals were from protein and fats, but I definitely had carbs every day.

I think the biggest diet plan that I do not agree with and failed me in the sense that it lead me down an unhealthy path, were "cheat days." Several of my coaches back in the day allowed me to have a cheat day. I used this day to eat anything and everything I had been dying to eat during the week. It was horrible, and glutinous, and I would feel physically sick afterward. I view foods very differently now. There are foods that are good for insulin spikes, which are paramount for muscle growth, there are foods that cause GI upset and inflammation, which are obviously damaging to global physiology, and then there is a style of eating which makes me feel good, helps me grow, and keeps me lean. There is no reason for me to eat something that doesn't support my goals, and makes me feel bad physically or mentally.

My body responds very quickly and it thrives off of heavy lifting. I've trained a bit differently before each show I've done, but for the most part I prefer heavy lifting routines with a building time frame of rest in between sets. Occasional supersets, but I rely on the cardio and diet keep me lean. My entire mindset is to preserve every square inch of muscle I've fought to build, so it is definitely a balancing act.

I've always had confidence performing in front of crowds. Like I said, I've always been an athlete so being in the spotlight is nothing new. However, being on a stage, wearing a bikini is a little different. And that is part of the thrill: the nerves, the adrenaline. But I do view this as a sport, with all the work being done prior to stepping out on stage. I am sculpting my body to look a certain way, and I have always worked extremely hard. So when I step out on stage, I am doing so to show off what I achieved with my dedication, both physically and mentally.

A photo posted by Jennifer paolucci (@thunderbird_pro) on

My most recent show was a little over a month ago, and after more than 10 years away from the stage. Not to mention in a different organization. So I was definitely nervous. However, I had a great coach who is a seasoned athlete in the organization and she helped quite a bit regarding the details of the show. And really, the major difference was that all of the girls were participating in the glam prep together in one location. Which was nice to sort of get a bit of bonding going on. Thankfully, my prior competition experience was certainly felt and used going through the motions of the morning so that I was better able to focus on being super nervous!! haha

Right now I am focused on continuing to build my body in certain areas so that the next time I step on stage I will look and perform better than my last show. It is always a competition with myself. The way I looked in the last show, and even the way I looked yesterday.

Jennifer Paolucci
Instagram: thunderbird_pro

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