Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Week: Ilona Maj

Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Week: Ilona Maj! - Pics and info and more!
  • Name: Ilona Maj
  • E-mail: ilonajmaj@hotmail.com
  • Age: 23
  • Where: Illinois
  • Height: 5' 6"
  • Weight: 130 Lbs., Contest: 123 Lbs.
  • Years Bodybuilding :1
  • Favorite Bodypart: Back & Shoulders
  • Favorite Exercise: Legs, Glutes And Shoulders
  • Favorite Supplements: NO-Explode

How Did You Get Started?

Everyone has those special days that they celebrate, Birthdays, Wedding Anniversaries, and Valentines Day, but I have an extra one, and that is August 10, 2005, the day fitness became an important part of my life. I got tired of constant dieting and unhappiness with my weight and with myself so on that day I got my lazy butt off the couch and picked up a Muscle and Fitness magazine. I discovered that a whole section in the magazine was 100% devoted to me! This article included a whole diet and exercise plan for a beginner like me, which I followed religiously for three months. I started seeing changes in my body that I thought were not even possible, hence leaving me passionate about fitness.

I decided to step it up a bit by joining a real gym as opposed to my small clubhouse gym where I lived. All of the fit bodies in the gym no longer intimidated me and I was ready to show off my newly discovered muscles to the whole world. During this time I was reading everything there is about fitness and nutrition and I came across Oxygen Magazine which inspired me some more because I learned all about figure competitions.


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I knew that I wanted to compete but first I needed to get that baby out of my belly! That's right I have two children and that never stopped me so it shouldn't stop you either. Only ten months after giving birth to my daughter, I was on stage at the 2007 Emerald cup placing second place in Figure Class E, and man was I excited. Not only was it my first competition ever, but it was the first event in where I received a real trophy and on top of it all qualified for Nationals!

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

I was always very active growing up, usually wrestling with the boys, playing basketball and doing gymnastics but I never belonged to a team or played sports in school. I didn't have the support from my family that I needed so that is why fitness means so much to me. Although I didn't get to pursue my childhood dreams, I am more than happy to make up for them now. I have a great support system from my wonderful husband who by the way is also passionate about bodybuilding, and my children who inspire me daily to be a cool, fit, and happy mom!

Although I vary my workouts periodically, I usually stick to one body part per day.


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I do the same amount of cardio all year round and that is two to three times per week but when I prepare for a competition, I add PHA training to my routine. This type of training is perfect for fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. It is similar to circuit training but it requires switching from upper body to lower body exercises so that your blood flow is constantly directed to a different body-part, in turn enabling you to workout your entire body with more sets without fatiguing your muscles. During PHA training I can do anywhere from 45-60 sets in less than 1 hour. Try it if you dare and I promise you won't be disappointed.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

I started my quest for fitness as an omnivore eating more chicken, tuna, and eggs than my bodybuilder husband does, and what I discovered and later confirmed was that animal protein took the most energy from me during digesting. I started learning about the benefits of being a vegan, and I knew what I needed to do and that was to become one. I believe that everyone is different and needs different things to be healthy and to grow but since this is all about me, I am eager to share my diet with you.

Arrow Example Off-season Diet:

    Meal #1: 1/2 cup Oats with 1/2 oz almonds and a banana with one scoop of soy protein powder.

    Meal #2: Veggie Sandwich - 2 slices of Ezekiel bread (half, sliced tomato, onions, 1/3 sliced pickle, 1 tbsp natural Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp salsa; I make my own), and vegenaise (a vegan mayo alternative)
    *Ezekiel bread is a flourless freshly sprouted bread which contains 6 different grains that make it a complete protein!

    Meal #3: Brown rice and chili beans.

    Meal #4: Brown rice pasta with veggies such as broccoli, zucchini, and asparagus. I also add mushrooms and soy sauce or I make my own marinara sauce.

    Meal #5: 1 hour pre-workout; Repeat meal #3.

    Meal #6: Immediately post-workout: soy yogurt and any kind of fruit

    Meal #7: This meal always changes, it can be either meal 1, 2, 3 or 4 or it can be something like a veggie hotdog on an Ezekiel hotdog bun, a veggie burger on an Ezekiel hamburger bun, or a veggie wrap with beans.

Occasionally on the weekends, I have soy ice cream. My favorite is the 365 brand from Whole Foods called Soy-Cream because it is all natural with only 6 grams of natural sugars per serving. The Vanilla is so delicious that you wouldn't know the difference between it and a milk based ice cream.

During pre-contest my diet stays the same but my portions become smaller and smaller closer to competition.

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

When I am in the off-season I don't use any supplements except when my energy levels are really low so in that case I may take NO-Explode. During pre-contest training, I add glutamine and creatine to my diet because I believe it helps me maintain my muscle mass. I have learned that I don't need fat burners anymore, although I have used Hot-Rox in the past and it worked great for me.

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

Going to the gym gave me something to look forward to after a stressful day, which later helped me stay focused on other things in my life such as school, work, and my family. I became a better student and a better wife and mother because my body and mind were finally in sync. Besides all of that, I found a new passion that I now want to pursue and hopefully one day make a career of it.


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What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

I plan to have fun with competing and hopefully one day get my pro card but until then I want to build my own successful personal training business. I want to help people with their fitness goals, and most importantly help people realize how a healthy lifestyle can help them become happy individuals. I believe that no training is complete without the right nutrition and that is why I am currently a student of nutrition and dietetics hoping to one day tie that in with personal training business to make a complete package.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

First, never give up on your dreams whatever they might be because it is not impossible, although it is impossible to be happy if you don't pursue them. Secondly, drink lots of water: That's right I believe that water is a magical formula and drinking plenty of it will keep you healthy and young.

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

Every competitor I came across is my favorite because of his or her uniqueness similarities but a few just simply stand out. Monica Brant is my top favorite because she has dedicated everything to the one thing she loves, fitness. I also admire Arnold Schwarzenegger because he set goals and he achieved them while tackling many obstacles. Although women's bodybuilding has received a bad rap, Lenda Murray has proven everyone wrong. She has bigger muscles than any man I know and yet she continues to be an extremely beautiful feminine woman.

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