Kara Dawdy - IFBB Pro Physique

Kara: I joined a gym in 1993, had no idea what I was doing, but I would spend two hours there five days a week. I only did legs once a week and I would do arms and shoulders the other four days, and I do mean I only did arms and shoulders. I thought if I did back and chest I would get "too big." I laugh at it all now and sometimes wish I could go back and talk to my then young and dumb self. In early 2000 to 2005 I had three sons and took those years off from any type of training. It wasn't until 2009 that I actually got back into a gym and started training again. This time I paid money for a personal trainer and learned proper form and realized training my back and chest were only going to help me grow and not get me huge. At the time I remember telling my trainer that I wanted to look like Jillian Michael's, I laugh when I think of this now. Not that she isn't someone to inspire to, but that my expectations of my own body image have way surpassed that original inspiration. As a year of training went by and I noticed muscle gain, I begin to have people tell me that I should consider training for a competition. So in March 2011 I hired a coach to take me to my first two competitions, The Warrior in Loveland, Colorado and six weeks later The Natural in Denver, Colorado.

Off season nutrition for me allows more fruits, a few more fats, and an extra cheat meal here or there, I also enjoy the occasional adult beverage but that is usually on holidays, I'm not a big drinker. I try to stick to my nutrition plan off season as well, and I like the foods I eat so I find it easy to maintain by plan. The hardest thing for me off season is getting in all of my protein throughout the day, it's harder to consistently eat 4 ounces of chicken or ground turkey when you are not hungry. But I have found a few soup recipes that I cook up in the crock pot that I like, my family likes, and they are easy to throw together and I still get my protein. My current nutrition plan has been the most effective for losing weight and building muscle. My coach has really figured out what foods work for my body, given me a plan that is reasonable and that I can follow. I never deplete sodium or water, I even eat a Quest bar and bread throughout my prep! Not a lot of athletes are allowed bread, but my coach has me dialed in. I don't count macros, I'm given a choice of proteins to eat four times per day, a choice of greens, and yummy carbs such as bread or rice.

Failed diet: The usual tilapia and asparagus, no sodium diet. I was so lethargic and deflated looking, not to mention starving and cranky. It was a terrible diet and I insisted that with my new coach, whom I have had since 2014, I insisted that I would not eat tilapia again. Of course he agreed, and told me that there is a better way, and he is right. I felt like this diet failed me because I was literally starving and I began to lose the muscle that I had fought so hard to put on.

Weight training for me consists of hitting the gym hard and fast, what I mean is that I superset everything, I focus on two muscle groups, I get the blood in the muscles and I keep it in there by constantly moving from set to set, taking very little to no breaks in between each set. My workout should be done within an hour, hour and a half for legs. I do four to five sets of everything and try to hit the muscle with at least four different exercises. Legs are a primary focus, I do them three times per week, they have been my weakest point but I have really focused on them and I'm starting to see some real growth. Back and shoulders are also a focused area for me, and I love to train them and watch them fill up with blood. It's amazing what the human body can do, and we are not doing our bodies any justice by not taking them to their full potential.

Cardio is hiit training for 30 minutes per day on season, my coach let's me pick my hiit, so I usually do fasting with a sprint/fast paced walk combo around the neighborhood. There is something about getting outside and running with my music and nature around me, I feel alive and it doesn't feel like exercise. When I'm in prep, the diet becomes easier. All my food is prepped for the week and I have planned out what I'm going to eat. All I have to do is plan out my training around my meals, I usually eat as soon as I'm done with fasting hiit in the morning, go to the gym and train, eat again, and a few hours later again, and again, and again. It's very simple if you plan a head. If we are going to a friends for dinner, I take my food, if we are going to a restaurant I take my food. Just be prepared and you can't fail.

Growing up a preacher's kid and being the baby of two older, very popular brothers, I got use to being in the spotlight very quickly. Everyone knew my dad, everyone knew my brothers, I was constantly on stage in the church choir and then later the "show choir" at school. I was a cheerleader, and ran for president of my class in high school, I lost but was crowned homecoming attendant. Yet with all of this I was still terrified of standing up on stage and doing my mandatory figure (I started in figure) poses in a sequenced bikini. I was afraid that I was going to trip over my own shoes and fall off the stage. It wasn't until my fourth competition that I finally stopped being so nervous that I didn't shake on stage. However, the biggest change for myself was moving from figure to Women's Physique, there is a comfort in strutting my stuff on stage and being able to flex every muscle that I worked so hard to improve on. The grace and femininity, and fluidity of it all and at the same time flexing as hard as I can, it's ironic in a way.

My most recent competition, Master's Nationals in Pittsburgh will always hold special meaning to me. It was my first national show, it was suppose to be my last show. I wanted to give 100 %, stand on the stage with no regrets and have fun. I didn't expect to win my procard and I certainly did not expect to win it in all three age categories I entered. It was a great day, and a great time. Although I had a friend competing in Pittsburgh with me, she couldn't catch the same flight so I flew alone and had to find travel to the hotel in a city I had never been to before.

At check in's I was told I was not registered so I became flustered and panicked but remembered that I had all the confirmations on my email so I just pulled it up on my phone. My husband originally had told me that he couldn't come to watch me, but on the day before the show he surprised me at the hotel by catching a red eye. On the day of the show I vowed to remain calm and positive, at one point my friend and I decided to go back to the room because it looked like we would not be on for a few more hours, I went back to the room and took a nap. My phone started going off, and it was my coach frantically calling me to tell us we needed to get downstairs, we were on next. So we ran down to backstage, my coach threw some bands at me and he proceeded to oil and glue me in while I pumped up.

Meanwhile the other ladies in my class were happy to see me because given the alphabetical order of my last name I was up first, dead first, first WP on stage, oh boy. But I remained positive and told myself to plant myself, like the tree of life. I know this sounds funny but if I plant my feet where they need to be on stage, my legs are flexed next, and then I twist my torso and root out my arms from there, flexing as I go from feet to hands and finally head, up and smiling.

After prejudging, which was so fun for me because I could hear my husband and coach yelling at me to stay strong and smile, I finally got to go backstage and meet the other ladies. I bounced around and asked where they were all from and made lighthearted jokes to ease the tension, I got to know some of them and keep in contact on facebook. It was a great show.

Future plans are to compete in Shreveport Louisiana in May to make my pro debut, depending on how I do in Shreveport the Mile High here in Denver, my home town, is the following week. I would love to be backstage at that show with my good friend and trainer, Jacklyn Abrams, as she defends her title. I just think it is going to be so amazing to be sharing the stage with these ladies, they are so inspiring and I'm truly honored. After that, who knows where my path will lead, I will always continue to grow and improve myself, give 100%, and have fun!

I can be contacted at ckdawdy@gmail.com.
Facebook: Kara Dawdy IFBB Pro
Instagram: @celtickara

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Kara Dawdy

Kara Dawdy