Lovena Maria Stamatiou-Tuley
Lawrence, Kansas (about 10 years)
Why are you still in Kansas?
Oh - laugh if you must- but there's no place like home!
Jayhawks or Wildcats?
Blasphemy! I'm a J-J-Jayhawk and proud of it.
You've been in the Fitness industry for quite awhile - no I'm not saying you're old - shut up - How have things changed since you first started your competitive career?
Wow. In the beginning there was light... but then there was darkness. When I started with the IFBB, it was new to everyone, including the judges. There was only a small group of women that were traveling around and competing and we were all pretty close. Lots of laughing - despite the placings - and no one took it too seriously because we knew there were some "kinks" to work out. Now it seems to be an industry of Kinks. Lots of women that are very talented but taking it all a bit too seriously; lots of perverts and too many girls willing to do "whatever it takes" and sell themselves and their health/well-being for an industry that doesn't give a ^&$@* about them. I don't really know if it's worse or if I just see things a little clearer from a distance. Call it Fitness Presbyopia.
I'm still having them. Regardless of placing, you know when you are at your best and are proud of your accomplishments. If you don't, this is definitely the wrong sport for you. Those without inner strength and confidence need not apply (or risk being crushed).
You are an IFBB pro but recently started competing in Women's Tri Fitness why the change in organizations?
See above question. I feel the WTF is a healthier venue for me. Physically, mentally, and even socially.
Received any slack for moving to a different organization?
Yes. They will remain unnamed. I know lots of people consider the IFBB the "pinnacle" of fitness. Be careful of what you idolize. I would agree that there are amazing physiques and routines in that organization but I also think those women pay the highest price to be there, sometimes without even knowing it. There are great competitors in every organization and ultimately, you really are competing against yourself anyway.
What's the biggest mistake you see competitors make when getting into this industry?
Thinking this is some "big break". That there will be money, fame, love, or finally some inner demon silenced. This will only make your demon hungrier, louder, and harder to control. You can't fix the outside and think it will osmotically fix the inside. A child does not become an adult just because he dressed up in daddy's clothing. OH - and you will not be happier with your body, overall, because your standards change. You may even become more critical of yourself.
Who's your role model in the industry?
Mentally, I have always admired Linda Murray because she's such a class act. She seems to always keep a healthy distance from the industry and yet never alienates fans. Very gracious woman. An awesome and balanced female bodybuilder.
Physically, I could make a list. I love Lena Johannsen's physique. I love Mary Yockey's package and know that she is a kind, gentle soul. Theresa Hessler is just plain gorgeous inside and out and one of my closest friends. Milimar Flores exudes feline sensuality like no other. Monica Brant is the sport's poster child in many ways. Honestly, I can find something to envy about almost every girl I've ever competed with but I don't know if I would say I have a "role model". I have many role models that I try to emulate in my life that are outside the sport.
You've helped a number of women with their preparation for competitions. What expertise do you offer to people who come to you wanting to compete?
One more "expert" opinion! No, I really love to coach and find it very rewarding on many levels. I think that what I have learned from 10 years of competing in almost every organization there is gives me a unique platform on which to assist others. I can teach gymnastics to any level competitor, I choreograph routines, I know my nutrition, I can help with suit selection and posing, I have extended expertise in training/weight lifting and injury prevention, and I have been around long enough to know where to send people when I can't help them. Knowing what you DON'T know is what makes a good trainer and coach.
A year or two ago you had a devastating fire that ruined your gym. How did you manage to cope with this and move on with such a positive attitude?
That which does not kill you makes you stronger?! Besides, I do believe that ultimately, everything happens "for a reason". Sometimes tragedy is disguised opportunity (or at least a valuable learning lesson).
How did you and your husband meet?
This is so cliche.... In a gym. BUT - I set him up with my girlfriend because I thought he was the "big and dumb" type. Long story. We didn't date 'til a couple years later.
What advice do you have for other couples to staying happy, where one or both of the people in the relationship compete?
I'm not sure I do. I think any relationship is a lot of work and compromise. Personally, I feel that each person needs to be whole without the other. This means letting your partner do things that bring him/her joy even if it doesn't include you and you may not even like it and/or it may "inconvenience" you. Selflessness is very hard to practice.
What do you do when you're not training or helping others with their contest prep, besides walking the wheatfields of Kansas?
I am a physical therapist at our local hospital (both in-patient and outpatient). I am a partner in a personal training studio and keep a regular clientele. I also teach healthy eating/lifestyle classes to the community. I mean, when we're not all out walking the wheatfields, of course.
What's the weirdest thing a fan has asked you?
One fan was so disappointed with my costume at one show, he asked if I would let him buy my next costume. I politely refused but he was pretty adamant. It was very sweet offer but made me realize how obviously bad my costume was (I've frequently made my own).
What's in your CD player right now?
I just bought the new Mary J. Blige CD
What motivates you in the gym?
A good workout partner. Great music. Specific goals.
Favorite Cheat food?
Iced sugar cookies - the homemade kind
Biggest Pet Peeve?
Insincerity, phonies, and liars
My Big Fat Greek Wedding, of course
One thing people may no know about you?
I was an acrobat/dancer in a Vegas show for 9 months. Don't let your mind wander! I was fully clothed and then some.
What makes someone attractive?
Humility, Humor, and Health!
Worst pickup line some one has used on you?
I really don't remember all the bad pick up lines. I try not to embarrass the guy unless he's just being a jerk. I had a guy in the grocery store this week tell me, as I was standing in front of the eggs and getting my 10th dozen, "You are so beautiful. It must be all those eggs." How do you respond intelligently to that?? I just smiled and said thank you.
Person you'd like to meet?
Abraham Lincoln, my deceased grandfather, and a strong Diva-esque woman like Oprah (there are many Divas on my list).
You once laid the smack down on my ass when I was whining about doing my first show. What advice do you have for others looking to get into this industry?
Do it for you. Do it because it's a labor of love for yourself. When the joy is gone - stop doing it. Never do anything that makes you uncomfortable or compromises your values. See my "smack down" definition below for details.
Smack down Â
"Stop focusing on what other people are doing and not doing. Bodybuilding is about a private, personal quest to make yourself, challenge yourself, and change yourself in whatever ways fit with your life philosophy. You are never really competing against others; you are competing with yourself. No one can defeat you but you! You can NEVER control the decisions others will make regarding their health and life.
I have had to struggle with these kind of issues for many years. I would bitch and bitch about the unfairness but really, I made my choice. I am not sorry and I will be the last one laughing! No $10 trophy was ever worth my health or ethics. Honestly, nothing in this sport/arena is worth what they will ask you to pay. Make your decisions and live graciously with them. Offer no excuses and always do your best. If you are improving yourself, mentally and physically, every year- than you have success. Stop being a wimpy, grudge-holding, natural bodybuilder. Do it lovingly or don't do it!!"
You're honestly one of the funniest people I have ever met. Where did you pick up your witty sense of humor?
My parents are great but very "off" compared to other people's parents. They were often embarrassing and I think humor was my only defense. You laugh so you don't cry!
Any regrets in your competition history?
I don't like to call them regrets. There were instances where I knew I let myself down. I learned from them, also, and they became learning experiences. I am very careful to make sure I do not have any true regrets. So far, so good.
Molecular Nutrition. THEY ROCK! No, really. You must try their new protein - "WheyFruity". If you don't think it is THE best thing in proteins, you can send me your hate mail. It just came out and I received a "sneak preview" a couple of weeks ago. It is nothing short of miraculously good tasting. I bet my reputation on it. It's like Kool-Aid but better! Bodybuilding.com should have it in the next couple of weeks, click here to get the daily store updates by e-mail!
I have finally acquiesced that I will need join the rest of society on the web. It is in progress as we speak. The address will be lovenasdivas.com. In the meantime, you can access me through http://www.kimseeley.com/divas/index.html
Anything else you'd like to share with the peeps here on Bodybuilding.com?
In its original, conceptual form, there is nothing more honorable and beautiful. Don't be deterred from you path or your conscience. Winning is about being the creator and sculptor of your body and health. The investment is truley minimal when you see and feel the rewards it accrues. Just make sure you do not neglect your inner self in the process. It, too, can atrophy.
It is refreshing to meet someone like Lovena. If you ever get the chance to meet this woman, please take the time to do so. She will have you nearly peeing your pants with her humor.
I wish you all the best in the years to come Lovena. Thank you for your time and honesty. Those of you interested in contacting Lovena can do so through Kim Seeley's web site - http://www.kimseeley.com/divas/index.html
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