Real People, Real Results: Susanne Kimball

All people face challenges on their way to fitness. How they handle it determines their success.

A new environment can force people to change. Adjustment is normal and healthy. A move from Oklahoma to Texas made a world of difference for Susanne Kimball.

The new environment gave her new fitness goals fresh soil in which to blossom. She hired an awesome personal trainer and set her sights on the stage. She took the challenge in stride and found a way to enjoy the rigors of exercise.

Learn how this cancer survivor remained positive and motivated through all her challenges!

How did your fitness journey begin?

I started getting serious about my fitness journey in the fall of 2012. I realized that all of my clothes were tight and I was uncomfortable. I decided to make a plan. I started using Bodybuilding.com to educate myself on exercises and put together workouts for myself. I became more conscious about what I was eating. I cut out my frivolous snacks and cleaned up my diet.

I was always active in dance, soccer, and cheerleading growing up. In high school I worked out at a local gym and lifted weights, so being active and training weights wasn't new to me. I even worked out in college, sometimes more than others. After college I didn't have a consistent workout schedule. I was adjusting to adult life and not in a good gym rhythm. Finally, in 2012 I got back into the swing of things.

The big catalyst for fitness came in the spring of 2013, when my husband and I moved from Oklahoma City to Houston. Being in a new city where we didn't know many people prompted us both to become more serious about fitness. I became more goal-oriented with my weightlifting. I made weekly plans for myself and took in more protein. In early 2014, I decided I wanted to compete in a fitness show. When I decide on something and put my mind to it, I do it!

My coach is Lauren Stogner, and working with her was awesome! My competition prep was great. Not because my life wasn't busy, but because I wanted it to work enough to invest the time, thought, and planning it requires to prepare for success. I learned about what and how much to eat for my goals. I traveled a lot during my contest prep and still made it work and made consistent progress. I competed in the Fort Worth Fitness Universe competition in October 2014 where I placed second in bikini short and third in model.

I competed in the Fort Worth Fitness Universe competition in October 2014 where I placed second in bikini short and third in model.

When I started working with Lauren and prepping for my competition I was at 24.8 percent body fat (March 2014). Now I'm at 12.6 percent body fat (January 2015) and this is my offseason. I maintain a healthy diet and difficult workouts all of the time, because I love training, so I don't do what many consider offseason. This is just my life.

What fitness regimen delivered the best results?

I love to change things up to keep my workouts interesting and challenging. I added dropsets and supersets into the mix. This is my current plan. It is geared toward developing my upper body, shoulders, and back. I enjoy running outdoors, short races, and half marathons. I also walk outside with my husband and dog.

Day 1: Legs and Cardio
1

Squat

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

Superset
2

Leg press

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Leg Press Leg Press

Seated leg curl

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

Superset
3

Knee extension

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Knee extension

Glute-ham raise

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Glute-ham raise Glute-ham raise

Superset
4

Smith machine squat

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Smith Machine Squat Smith Machine Squat

Stiff-legged deadlift

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Stiff-legged deadlift Stiff-legged deadlift

5

Glute-ham raise

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Glute-ham raise Glute-ham raise

6

Seated calf raise

1 set of 20 reps
Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise

7

Standing calf raise

1 set of 20 reps
Standing Calf Raises Standing Calf Raises

8

HIIT cardio

20 minutes intervals; 2 minutes high intensity, 1 minute rest
HIIT cardio HIIT cardio

9

Steady-state cardio

25 minutes (Running, walking on incline, or bike)
Steady-state cardio Steady-state cardio

Day 2: Shoulders, Triceps, Chest, Abs, and Cardio
1

Free-motion shoulder press

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Free-motion shoulder press Free-motion shoulder press

2

Lateral shoulder raise

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Lateral shoulder raise Lateral shoulder raise

3
Free-motion overhead triceps extension Free-motion overhead triceps extension

4

Seated dumbbell shoulder press

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Seated Dumbbell Press Seated Dumbbell Press

5

Dual-incline chest fly

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Dual-incline chest fly Dual-incline chest fly

6

Triceps push-down

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Triceps push-down Triceps push-down

7

Lateral shoulder raise

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Lateral shoulder raise Lateral shoulder raise

8

Bench press

3 sets of 12 reps or to failure
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

9

Ab crunch machine

3 sets of 10 reps
Ab Crunch Machine Ab Crunch Machine

10
Decline bench sit-up Decline bench sit-up

11

HIIT cardio

20 minutes intervals; 2 minutes high intensity, 1 minute rest
HIIT cardio HIIT cardio

12

Steady-state cardio

25 minutes (Running, walking on incline, or bike)
Steady-state cardio Steady-state cardio

Day 3: Back, Shoulders, Biceps
Superset
1

Lat pull-down (underhand)

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Lat pull-down (underhand) Lat pull-down (underhand)

Free-motion row

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Free-motion row Free-motion row

2

Low cable bent row

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Low cable bent row Low cable bent row

Superset
3
Standing dumbbell bicep curl with twist Standing dumbbell bicep curl with twist
Prone incline dumbbell reverse fly Prone incline dumbbell reverse fly

4

Preacher curl machine

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Preacher curl machine Preacher curl machine

5

Reverse-fly machine

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Reverse-fly machine Reverse-fly machine

6

Ab crunch machine

3 sets of 10 reps
Ab Crunch Machine Ab Crunch Machine

7
Decline bench sit-up Decline bench sit-up

8

HIIT cardio

20 minutes intervals; 2 minutes high intensity, 1 minute rest
HIIT cardio HIIT cardio

9

Steady-state cardio

25 minutes (Running, walking on incline, or bike)
Steady-state cardio Steady-state cardio

Day 4: Legs
Superset
1

Lying leg curl

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls

Leg press (alternate legs)

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Leg press (alternate legs) Leg press (alternate legs)

2

Deadlift

5 warm-up sets of 8-10 reps; 2 sets of 6 reps
Deadlift Deadlift

Triset
3

Step-up (alternate legs)

3 sets of 8-10 reps
Step-up (alternate legs) Step-up (alternate legs)

Reverse lunge

3 sets of 8-10 reps
Reverse lunge Reverse lunge

Walking lunge

3 sets of 8-10 reps
Bodyweight Walking Lunge Bodyweight Walking Lunge

4

Good morning

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Good Morning Good Morning

5

Ball leg curl

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Ball Leg Curl Ball Leg Curl

6

Ab crunch machine

3 sets of 10 reps
Ab Crunch Machine Ab Crunch Machine

7
Decline bench sit-up Decline bench sit-up

8

HIIT cardio

20 minutes intervals; 2 minutes high intensity, 1 minute rest
HIIT cardio HIIT cardio

9

Steady-state cardio

25 minutes (Running, walking on incline, or bike)
Steady-state cardio Steady-state cardio

Day 5: Shoulders, Back, Biceps
1

Free-motion shoulder press

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Free-motion shoulder press Free-motion shoulder press

2

Lateral shoulder raise

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Lateral shoulder raise Lateral shoulder raise

3
Free-motion overhead triceps extension Free-motion overhead triceps extension

4

Free-motion row

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Free-motion row Free-motion row

5

Low cable bent row

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Low cable bent row Low cable bent row

6

T-bar row

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Lying T-Bar Row Lying T-Bar Row

Superset
7

Preacher curl machine

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Preacher curl machine Preacher curl machine

Reverse-fly machine

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Reverse-fly machine Reverse-fly machine

8

Wide-grip lat pull-down

5 sets of 8-10 reps
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

9

Ab crunch machine

3 sets of 10 reps
Ab Crunch Machine Ab Crunch Machine

10
Decline bench sit-up Decline bench sit-up

11

HIIT cardio

20 minutes intervals; 2 minutes high intensity, 1 minute rest
HIIT cardio HIIT cardio

12

Steady-state cardio

25 minutes (Running, walking on incline, or bike)
Steady-state cardio Steady-state cardio

Day 6 and Day 7: Rest

If the weather is nice I like to go for a run or walk my dog, Lily. Some weekends I do yoga to stretch out my muscles.


What nutrition plan fueled your body?

I'm trying to put on as much muscle as possible. I eat a lot of carbs—as much as I can without adding much body fat. I like to make my food interesting. I think presentation is key and keeps me from getting bored. You can make just about any fat treat a fit treat!

For example, one day on the way home from the gym I saw a sign at Sonic for a French toast breakfast sandwich and it looked really good. So I came home and make that with my portions of carbs and protein.

I make so many good meals from my daily portion of protein, carbs and fats. Here's a sample of my weekly menu:

Pre-workout meal

Egg Whites: 1 cup


Banana: 1



Post-workout shake

Protein powder: 1 scoop


Carb powder or juice: 44 g


Creatine: 5 g


Glutamine: 5 g


Post-workout meal

Egg Whites: 1 cup


Oatmeal: 3/4 cup


Kashi blueberry waffles: 3


Coffee


Meal 1

99% lean ground turkey: 4 oz.


Udi's gluten-free hamburger bun: 1


Hamburger toppings


Veggies


Meal 2

Shredded chicken: 3 oz.


Orowheat Nutty Grain bread: 2 pieces


Light mayo 1/2 tbsp


Veggies


Meal 3

Shredded chicken: 3 oz.


Barbecue sauce: 1 tbsp


Sweet potato (made into tots or fries): 4 oz.


Green beans


Peanut butter: 1/2 tbsp


Meal 4

Broiled salmon (with lemon and spices): 3 oz.


Mixed veggies


Peanut butter: 1/2 tbsp



What supplements gave you an edge?

Pre-workout
Post-workout shake

Post-workout shake: see above meal plan for recipe


With post-workout meal

How did your passion for fitness emerge?

Fitness is my outlet. Being active and training hard makes me strong of body and mind. Studies have shown that exercise is a great way to treat minor depression and I feel like this is true for me personally. It amazes me how well my body responds to weights and I love the way lifting makes me feel. My morning workouts are my favorite parts of my day.

Competing gives me a goal to work toward. Anytime I complete something I always look for what's next; I enjoy having a goal on the horizon. Being on stage in peak form is a symbol of triumph, a reflection of the hard work and dedication it took to get there. It's more than just presenting my best physique; it's my personal journey through life and work to become the best version of myself.

What or who motivates you to live healthy?

My motivation mostly comes from within. I'm a driven, goal-oriented person. This lifestyle shaped my life for the better and gave me strength to apply to all areas of my life. I'm also motivated by my family and friends looking to me for support and when people tell me I'm an inspiration for them to change their lifestyle.

This lifestyle shaped my life for the better and gave me strength to apply to all areas of my life.

I'm a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin's lymphoma on my 20th birthday. I'm now 11 years cancer-free! This experience taught me a lot and forced me to grow up early. While cancer really sucks, I'm thankful for what I gained from the experience.

Where did you go for inspiration?

I'll look at BodySpace, Instagram, a fitness magazine, or website for visuals. Music always helps me get into the groove. I usually listen to EDM, hip hop, metal, or mash-ups of all of them when I'm at the gym.

What are your future fitness plans?

I plan to compete in May at the Musclemania Lone Star and at Fitness Universe in Miami in June. I would love to become a figure pro, do some fitness modeling, and make a name for myself in the industry.

Training is part of my life. I will always train because it's more than just looking good. It's about overall health and wellbeing. I may do a 10K or half-marathon this year. I am working on my NASM CPT and expect to complete that in April. I'll begin working with friends and family and some online clients at that time. I'm so excited to be able to help others develop a healthy and fit lifestyle!

What is the most important fitness tip?

Stay consistent—this is the key. Be consistent with your nutrition and your workouts. Change won't happen overnight, so be patient. If you are consistent, persistent, and patient you will see results. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and make progress toward your goal. And add a new gym outfit every once in a while is good for motivation, too.

Change won't happen overnight, so be patient. If you are consistent, persistent, and patient you will see results.

Who is your favorite fitness competitor?

Figure pro Jessie Hilgenberg is one of my favorites. She has a great physique—strong, muscular, and feminine. I admire what she's done in the industry and the brand she's built for herself. I also admire Bodybuilding.com athlete Samantha Ann Leete, because she's had a great transformation. I can relate to her body type, before and after, and I think she's a great example for people.

How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?

It really all started here. I used this website for information on workouts and meal plans. I started with the Jamie Eason LiveFit trainer and then kept going, putting together my own workouts. I ordered a variety of supplements from the website, followed the athletes on social media, and read articles. Thank you for being such a great resource!

Susanne's Favorite Gym Tracks


Metallica
"Master of Puppets"
DeadMau5
"Ghosts and Stuff"
Avicii feat. Skrillex
"Levels"
Daft Punk
"Steam Machine"
Metallica
"Master of Puppets"
DeadMau5
"Ghosts and Stuff"
Avicii feat. Skrillex
"Levels"
Daft Punk
"Steam Machine"


Competition history

  • 2014 Fitness Universe/Musclemania; Fort Worth, TX
  • 2nd place bikini short
  • 3rd place model