Transformation Hero: Elsa Longpre

Setbacks will happen, but they won't stop Elsa from accomplishing her goals and setting new ones.

Fight Fire With Fire

By the end of my first college program, my friends urged me to try out to be a forest firefighter. The thought was extremely amusing: Me, fighting fires in the forest? I'd never even picked up a bat as a kid, let alone a fire hose!

I took on this challenge, chalking it up as an experience. I passed the course and physical test, and went on to apply. Well, I got the job, and it turned out that I loved it.

After that summer of firefighting, I realized that if I wanted to keep this job I would have to become stronger. As you can probably imagine, firefighting is a physically demanding and dangerous job. This gave me an excuse to finally also address body-confidence issues that have stuck with me. I wanted to stop being so self-conscious, to strengthen my mind along with my body. This, along with my desire to keep firefighting, only added more fuel to my motivational fire.

Before 130 lbs.
After 125 lbs.
Age: 21
Height: 5'3"
Weight: 130 lbs.
Body Fat: 25%
Age: 23
Height: 5'3"
Weight: 125 lbs.
Body Fat: 10%

Self-Made Lifter, Hear Me Roar

I decided to get a personal trainer, who impressed upon me the basics of weightlifting and conditioning: squats, deadlifts, bench press, military press, and sprints—you name it, we did it. Unfortunately, our relationship didn't last very long, as my trainer had to leave, but as a thoughtful parting gift, she gave me a chin-up bar.

From there, I trained on my own for a year, researching everything I could about training and nutrition. I placed a deadline on myself by deciding to do a photo shoot, and hired a coach to help me reach my goals. This coach gave me a diet and cardio program that made me overtrain while undereating. While I did lose weight on this nonsensical program, I also developed an eating disorder.

Initially, heavy weight training gave me time to work on myself (not only physically but mentally and emotionally) and use my energy to become stronger. Later on, the eating disorder took a toll on me physically and emotionally. At first, I couldn't figure out a way to tell my friends I wanted to eat this way, why I stopped drinking, or why I wanted to go to bed early. But now most of my friends understand, and I meet people with a similar mindset. I now have professional help with my eating disorder, and I make progress every day. For inspiration, I turn to female bodybuilders, athletes, or anyone who represents a healthy lifestyle.

To make sure I never fall prey to another ill-conceived program, I signed up for a basic personal training and sports nutrition course to learn how to train myself properly. Eventually, I'd kept getting the question of whether I was competing; I wasn't at the time, but this piqued my curiosity and I looked into it. It didn't seem like I'd be into it, I thought.

At this point, I'd been fighting forest fires across Canada for three years. I bit the bullet and registered for my first competition in the figure category. I went on to hire a coach seven weeks prior to the competition and followed the diet, supplement regimen, posing practices, and training.

Shockingly, I won second place.

Looking Forward

I have been training for three years now, and for me, it is only getting better. I love and enjoy this lifestyle and hope more people get the chance to discover it.

I continue training to be physically fit for my job as a forest firefighter with the secondary goal of maintaining my health, but now I want to become stronger, get better at yoga, compete in the physique category one day, and thoroughly enjoy the process throughout.

Bodybuilding.com has been a great tool. At first, I used it for all the information about training and nutrition, then for the recipes to add variety to my diet. And the transformations on the site always keep me motivated!

For inspiration, I turn to female bodybuilders, athletes, or anyone who represents a healthy lifestyle.

Throughout this whole process, I've had many bad days, especially due to the struggle with my eating disorder. Alas, that's life. The ups and downs of life are part of the beauty of this journey. It's when you step back and take it in as a whole that you appreciate the true majesty of your accomplishments—big or small.

The Best Advice For You

If you're a beginner, reading this article and finding the inspiration to spur yourself into action, I want you to realize that you need to take one step and one day at a time. Setbacks will happen no matter how much you try to avoid them, but they should never stop you.

If you really set your mind to achieving greatness, health, and respect, only good things can be the result.

Supplements that helped me through the journey

Diet plan that guided my transformation

I use a flexible dieting plan most of the year. Flexible dieting means I don't have any restrictions on the types of food I eat, as long as they are consumed in moderation and still help me reach my goals. It gives me a lot more variety.

The sample plan below, however, is what I ate leading up to my competition.

Upon waking, I drink 16 ounces of water with lemon and take my morning supplements.

Meal 1

Egg Whites: 200 g


Sweet potatoes: 3 oz.


Macadamia nut oil: 1 tbsp


Dash of cinnamon

Note: I blend this together to make a delicious crepe!

Meal 2

Flank steak: 3 oz.


Chicken: 2 oz.


Sugar snap peas: 100 g


Sweet potatoes: 3 oz.


Meal 3

Chicken: 4 oz.


Cooked brown rice: 1/2 cup


Cucumber: 100 g


Meal 4

Berries: 1 cup


Meal 5

Tuna: 4 oz.


Olive oil: 1 tbsp


Cooked brown rice: 1/2 cup


Asparagus: 100 g


Meal 6

Flank steak: 3 oz.


Chicken: 2 oz.


Sweet potatoes: 3 oz.


Chopped broccoli, zucchini, or asparagus: 1 cup


Meal 7

Tuna: 4 oz.


Mixed green salad


Lemon


Olive oil: 1 tbsp


Balsamic: 1 tbsp


Training regimen that kept me on track

I train heavier with lower reps most of the time. Every six weeks, I change my training program.

Note: I usually rest 60 seconds between each set.

Day 1: Back/triceps
1

Cable face pull

4 sets of 15 reps
Cable face pull Cable face pull

2

Chin-up

4 sets of 15 reps
Chin-up Chin-up

3
Wide-grip barbell bent-over row Wide-grip barbell bent-over row

4

Barbell T-bar row

4 sets of 15 reps
Barbell T-bar row Barbell T-bar row

5

Double-arm dumbbell row

4 sets of 15 reps
Double-arm dumbbell row Double-arm dumbbell row

6

Decline skullcrusher

4 sets of 15 reps
Decline skullcrusher Decline skullcrusher

7
Single-arm standing cable overhead extension Single-arm standing cable overhead extension

Day 2: Cardio/circuit training
1

HIIT

20 minutes
HIIT HIIT

Day 3: Chest/biceps/abs/calves
1
Alternating Hammer strength chest Alternating Hammer strength chest

2

Incline cable fly

3 sets of rest-pause
Incline cable fly Incline cable fly

3

Standing leg curl

2 sets of 15 reps
Standing Leg Curl Standing Leg Curl

4

Seated leg curl

2 sets of 15 reps
Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

5

Romanian deadlift

2 sets of 15 reps
Romanian Deadlift Romanian Deadlift

6
Double-arm incline dumbbell curl Double-arm incline dumbbell curl

7

Single-arm dumbbell preacher curl

3 sets of 12, 8, 6 reps
Single-arm dumbbell preacher curl Single-arm dumbbell preacher curl

8

Hanging leg raise

3 sets of 12 reps
Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

9
Reverse crunch on stability ball Reverse crunch on stability ball

10

Incline Russian twist

3 sets of 20 reps
Incline Russian twist Incline Russian twist

11

Cable crunch

3 sets of 15 reps
Cable Crunch Cable Crunch

12

Smith machine calf raise

3 sets of 15 reps
Smith machine calf raise Smith machine calf raise

13

Machine calf press

3 sets of 15 reps
Machine calf press Machine calf press

Day 4: Cardio/circuit training
1

HIIT

20 minutes
HIIT HIIT

Day 5: Delts/biceps/triceps
1

Standing military press

3 sets of 12, 8, 6 reps
Standing Military Press Standing Military Press

2
Single-arm standing dumbbell press Single-arm standing dumbbell press

3

Seated front laterals

3 sets of 15 reps
Seated front laterals Seated front laterals

4

Upright row

3 sets of 15 reps
Upright Barbell Row Upright Barbell Row

5

Single-arm cable curl

3 sets of rest-pause
Single-arm cable curl Single-arm cable curl

6

Cable press-down

3 sets of rest-pause
Cable press-down Cable press-down

Day 6: Chest/back/glutes/abs/calves
1

Incline dumbbell bench press

3 sets of 15, 8, 6 reps
Incline dumbbell bench press Incline dumbbell bench press

2

Dip

3 sets of 12 reps
Dip Dip

3

Cable fly

3 sets of 12 reps
Cable fly Cable fly

4

Double-arm lat pull-down

3 sets of rest-pause
Double-arm lat pull-down Double-arm lat pull-down

5

Seated cable row

3 sets of rest-pause
Seated Cable Rows Seated Cable Rows

6

Glute kickback

3 sets of 15 reps
Glute kickback Glute kickback

7

Hip thruster

3 sets of 15 reps
Hip thruster Hip thruster

8

Jump squat

3 sets of 15 reps
Freehand Jump Squat Freehand Jump Squat

9

Hanging leg raise

3 sets of 12 reps
Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

10

Reverse crunch

3 sets of 12 reps
Reverse crunch Reverse crunch

11

Incline Russian twist

3 sets of 20 reps
Incline Russian twist Incline Russian twist

12

Cable crunch

3 sets of 15 reps
Cable Crunch Cable Crunch

13

Smith machine calf raise

3 sets of 15 reps
Smith machine calf raise Smith machine calf raise

14

Machine calf press

3 sets of 15 reps
Machine calf press Machine calf press

Day 7: Legs/delts/abs/calves
1

Single-leg press

3 sets of 12 reps
Single-leg press Single-leg press

2

Dumbbell walking lunge

3 sets of 15 reps per leg
Dumbbell walking lunge Dumbbell walking lunge

3

Seated leg curl

3 sets of 15 reps
Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

4

Dumbbell front squat

3 sets of 15 reps
Dumbbell front squat Dumbbell front squat

5

Reverse split squat

3 sets of 15 reps
Reverse split squat Reverse split squat

6

Box jump

3 sets of 15 reps
Box Jump (Multiple Response) Box Jump (Multiple Response)

7

Seated dumbbell side lateral

3 sets of 15 reps
Seated dumbbell side lateral Seated dumbbell side lateral

8

Reverse pec deck

3 sets of 15 reps
Reverse pec deck Reverse pec deck

9

Single-arm cable side raises

4 sets of 10, last set is a dropset
Single-arm cable side raises Single-arm cable side raises

10

Hanging leg raise

4 sets of 12 reps
Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

11
Reverse crunch on stability ball Reverse crunch on stability ball

12

Incline Russian twist

4 sets of 20 reps
Incline Russian twist Incline Russian twist

13

Cable crunch

4 sets of 15 reps
Cable Crunch Cable Crunch

Elsa's Top Gym Tracks

Jason Aldean
"Burnin' It Down"
Big Sean
"Guap"
Butch Clancy
"Liarz"
Hoodie Allen
"Hey Now"
Jason Aldean
"Burnin' It Down"
Big Sean
"Guap"
Butch Clancy
"Liarz"
Hoodie Allen
"Hey Now"