Meri Abbado - IFBB Bikini Pro

I moved to California (Los Angeles) 27 years ago from Croatia and I have been living there since. I have two sons, Eric (28) graphic designer/art director and Brian (26) officer of US Army and the West Point graduate. After my sons left home I tried couple of different professions which left me unfulfilled, until I discovered a passion for fitness. Since then I became ISSA certified personal trainer and work at my home studio. I also started Facebook fitness page with focus on women over 40 (Meri Abbado: Fit&Fab 40+), were I post my workouts and give advises on fitness, nutrition, health and wellbeing.

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Meri (on the right).

I started competing exactly two years ago mainly to motivate myself and to prove that even women in their late forties can look great and be in the top shape. Even though I never had an issue with my weight, I can honestly say that I've never been this fit and strong in my life. I will be turning 50 in less than a month and I look better now than when I was in my early 20s.

From time I started competing my diet have stayed pretty much the same. My off season periods are not dramatically different from my on session. Because of my age and my genetics (my body type is long and lean), I don't gain too much fat and can never get as big as some competitors in their off season. My diet is high protein diet with a lots of green vegetables and complex carbs. I need higher carb intake then most people in order to have enough energy to go through the intense workouts.

When I was prepping for my very first competition I didn't have a coach and had no idea about proper competition diet. I found some competition diet plan online and followed it, not realizing that it was made for a male athlete. During that 12 weeks prep I've lost lots of weigh bringing my body fat % to very low, but unfortunate I've lost a lot of muscle mass as well. Even though I place well for my first competition, taking the 3rd place in my class, I looked extremely skinny. Nevertheless I was "hooked" and decided to find a coach and continue to build my body and compete. Since then I trained with a couple of different coaches until I've found the best match with my couches Joe Discuillo and Ingrid Romero from the Team Edge. I have been following their training and nutrition plan since beginning of this year and I couldn't be happier with the results.

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Before I entered my first competition I knew absolutely nothing about bodybuilding competitions and I've never heard of Bikini bodybuilding. I discovered it by chance searching for something online and decided to give it a try. So until I was backstage about to step on the stage for the first time, I didn't even know that there was a special way of posing. I watched girls in front of me do their routines and just tried to replicate. I must admit that the first time on the stage I was the least nervous, probably because I had no clue what I was doing and what it really takes to compete. So in a way I was fireless. Lol! Since then my posing had improved tremendously, but I am still working on my confidence on the stage. I am relatively new at this sport, have been training and competing only for two years, so after each competition I get little better and more confidant. It is a process....

I am lucky to have my couches taking care of my training and creating nutrition program specific for my body and my needs. As we go through the prep they change and adjust my workouts and meal plans. Even though I am a personal trainer, there are so many components to getting ready for the competition that I would be lost without their guidance. My training consists of weight training, some plyometrics and lots of cardio. I don't do much of HIIT because my body burns fat fast and I have no problem leaning out. My challenge is more to build a muscle mass, not only because of my body type but because of my age as well. Nevertheless, I have built tremendous amount of muscle in the last two years and I am only going to get better.

I love can be very stressful, especially couple of days before the show, but once I have my first coat of tan applied I feel ready. It is almost like a protection shield. Lol! The competitions are not only the chance to show results of our hard work, but also opportunity to reconnect and met new girls/athletes. I have met some amazing girls so far and I am so inspired by their hard work and their stories. Also, I am very impressed by the production teams and the level of professionalism during the shows. They always make us feel special and well taking care of. The most stressful time for me is the morning of the show while I am getting ready for the show, doing my hair and make up and applying the last coat of tan. I always fear I won't be ready in time, but once all is done I am relax...until 15 minutes before stepping on the stage, when my heart stars racing again. Lol!

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I was never an athlete, I haven't even done any sports while in high school, so for me to be able to say that I've become a Pro-athlete in my late forties is so unbelievable. It is the one of the best things that have happened to me and had totally changed my life. After my hysterectomy in 2011 I started feeling little down and didn't have a clear direction of what I want my life to be, but once I discover my passion for fitness and became an athlete everything fell in the right place. Today I feel stronger than ever and know that the best time is yet to come.

I have so many plans for the future, from growing my personal training business, developing online training program to writing a book one day. But for the moment, my main goal is to continue building my body and become one of the top Master Bikini athletes in the nation.


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