Natasha Castro - Figure Competitor

Natasha: I was a gymnast, then a gymnastics coach and a pole dance instructor, so my background is very consistent with the Fitness Division. I was never a "gym" person, preferring non-traditional forms of exercise, which is why pole dancing was right up my alley. It combined acrobatics with graceful movements and on top of that it kept me "skinny." One day, I walked into my kitchen and my roommate was watching the 2011 Olympia streaming online and I saw Oksana Grishina's "Avatar" routine and fell IN LOVE with it and everything that it was about. At that point, I was all of 5'8" and 118lbs soaking wet and decided that I wanted to do that and started training the next day. I still had no clue how to train, what to eat, how much I was supposed to eat, so it was a slow process trying to gain weight, muscle, etc but I had my goal set for 9 months (2012) to compete in Fitness at a local show, which I did and default seeing as no one ever competes in Fitness in most local shows.

A photo posted by Natasha Castro (@_chaysethedream_) on

After that show, I actually had a coach (My boyfriend Danny) who showed me EVERYTHING about everything in the gym, what I should do outside of the gym, what to eat, how much to eat, etc and it's all history from there. I gained 30lbs (offseason) and competed in 3 shows in the Figure Division in 2013, the third being NPC Nationals in Ft. Lauderdale, where I placed 3rd and missed my pro card by 3 points.

Diet: I'm going to be totally honest here, I'm very strict when I'm dieting for a show, I'm focused, low to no fats, carb cycling works best for my body, so we do low, mid and high carb days and I'm usually allowed one cheat meal a week (usually on Saturdays) to shock my body and it also helps to keep me focused on the goal at hand. If I'm strict all week and looking forward to that one cheat meal, I stay focused on my goal. I'm not an alcohol drinker, so in the off-season, I don't drink..I honestly don't believe in drinking my calories ever, I'd rather eat them :). I try to get in at least 4 clean meals and if I want to treat myself then I do, no regrets. Just use the extra calories for your workouts.

My body responds to carbs the best. Carbs and carb cycling with very minimal fats so the Keto diet has probably been the diet plan that has been the least effective for me. Besides the fact that I just look better carb cycling, I feel better too. Everyone feels lethargic and detached at some point in prep, usually towards the last leg of prep, it's normal. But I don't believe anyone should feel like that the entire prep and the Keto diet just made me feel completely wrong.

I train 5 days a week, incorporating high, medium, and low repetitions to stimulate all the different muscle fibers ranging from slow twitch to fast twitch, so all my bases are covered. I use moderate to light weight mainly and I never use weight that I can't get 8 reps of our because I'm all about form, contracting the muscle, and feeling the muscle working not just moving the weight mindlessly. As far as cardio is concerned, I don't believe in traditional steady state cardio. I use my gymnastics background and incorporate sprinting, tumbling, plyos, etc and from time to time will jump on the stair master or treadmill at the gym after a workout to really get my metabolism going. Training and diet go hand in hand, you cannot get results from one without the other.

Building self-confidence required to compete: It was very easy for me unlike some people. I've been a competitive gymnast since I was 5 years old. Gymnastics is an individual sport, it's just you out there being responsible for your own success or failure...getting on stage is something that I absolutely LOVE doing. I coach posing and teach competitors how to be confident out there, to invite the judges into your one man (woman) show. It's the only way to get noticed otherwise, you will get overlooked.

My most recent show was 2015 NPC New Englands in Boston, where I won Open, Masters over 35 and the Overall title. It was freezing outside (November) and it was the first time in 7 shows that I competed in the winter, where there was actual winter weather (I've competed in Florida in the winter every time), so I wasn't prepared for walking outside in my flip flops when it was 28 degrees outside. We walked in between pre-judging and finals to grab something to eat and my poor toes were almost frostbitten, not to mention I was at like 8% body fat. It was interesting to say the least but was super comfortable, less stressed than usual and back stage taking naps and making videos with Danny. And of course ecstatic about my win.

A photo posted by Natasha Castro (@_chaysethedream_) on

I am currently 7 weeks out from NPC Universe in New Jersey. This will be my 3 National show (my first time doing this particular show) and my last show before a much needed hiatus. I'm not "retiring" but I would like to take a break from competing for at least a year or two and focus on other things, goals, ambitions in my life. Regardless of the outcome of this show, whether I earn my pro card or not, I want to focus on flourishing my posing business, studying for my NASM certification, and do some fitness modeling. I want to focus on my family and enjoy life just a bit while still balancing career, and training.

Instagram: _chaysethedream_

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