I never thought that, at 35, I would somehow end up completely naked in front of a bunch of strangers. But there I was on September 18th, 2014, without a stitch of clothing on, sweating bullets. All I could think was, "Oh dear baby Jesus, help me!"
When MusclePharm and Bodybuilding.com approached me to participate in the Bodies of Work photo shoot, I was scared. I wasn't scared that I was out of shape—I stay in decent shape year-round—I was terrified because I had to be naked! I typically train in long pants and tank tops. I'm just not used to exposing myself so completely.
I'd been asked to participate in the shoot in previous years, but I always said no. This year, though, I saw the photographs from the last two installments; they were beautiful and classy. So I said to myself, "Well, it's now or never!" I wanted to be able to look back at the photos when I'm older and say, "Dang I looked great!" So, I swallowed my fear and signed on.
Getting photo-shoot-ready in just one month required planning and hard work, but I managed it with a good nutrition program, the right supplements, and proper training.
My Nutrition Program
I only had 33 days to prepare my physique for the shoot, so I started immediately. I contacted my long-time friends and nutritional consultants Victor and Rosa Catanzaro. They put together my eating program and actually prepared all my meals for me. I have worked with them in the past for competitions, so they know exactly what it takes to get me ready.
Dieting is actually the hardest part of contest and photo-shoot preparation for me because I have a genetic kidney problem called medullary sponge disease. My body doesn't filter things properly and I lose a lot of blood through my urine, so I can't cut calories or water, or carb-deplete like a lot of athletes do. I have to eat very balanced meals. But the Catanzaros know exactly how to make my food so I stay healthy and still get great results.
I learned from competing that consistency is essential for success, so I stayed constant throughout the length of my preparation period. I ate only what I knew would fuel my body for workouts and help me lean down.
Breakfast was usually four egg whites, one whole egg, a cup of cooked oatmeal, and a cup of berries. The remaining four meals of the day were 3 ounces of veggies like green beans and asparagus, 3 ounces of complex carbs such as quinoa or yams, and 4 ounces of lean protein such as chicken, fish, or beef.
My Supplement Program
Because I lose so much blood through my urine, I need to maintain my iron levels with food (beef) and proper supplementation. With each meal I had a MusclePharm CLA capsule or a fish oil pill for my fat intake. Sometimes I had a little almond butter in my oatmeal, but I tried not to do it very often because I'm always tempted to eat the whole jar! I knew I only had a small window to get ready and didn't want to screw it up, so I stuck to the supplements instead.
I also took FitMiss Burn, Tone, and Balance every morning with breakfast. Burn boosts energy and metabolism, Tone is a stimulant-free fat burner, and Balance is a multivitamin with probiotics and antioxidants.
Sample Supplement Plan
Before my workouts, I took FitMiss Ignite, which is an incredible fat-burning energy drink. My favorite flavor is Strawberry Margarita. As I got closer to the shoot, I took Fitmiss Tyte, which helps eliminate excess water. I can use this product because it contains cranberry, milk thistle, and vitamins, which may support the health of your kidneys and urinary tract.
My Training Plan
Just like with my diet and supplementation, I had to be consistent with my training. Before I started prepping, I had been going to the gym 4-5 days per week. But in order to get exactly where I wanted to be for the shoot, I had to buckle down and get to the gym 6 days each week without fail.
Because of my athletic past—13 years of martial arts and nearly 10 years of lifting—I had good muscle memory. Once I dedicated myself to the process, it wasn't long before I could see and feel myself bouncing back.
I wanted fast workouts that would help me burn fat and maintain muscle mass, so I used supersets for my shoot-prep training. For example, on arm day, I would do a barbell curl followed immediately by a dip, then 30 seconds of rest. I also used dropsets. Using this technique on the last set of each exercise boosted my intensity.
Legs are by far my favorite part to train. I started training them twice per week about a year ago, and have really noticed some great progress. They're more defined and striated than ever, so I kept that twice-weekly plan for my preparation.
I didn't want to lose a lot of muscle doing hours of cardio, so I implemented HIIT training into my program three days per week. I did incline sprints for 30 seconds with 30 seconds of rest for about 10 minutes. It's a super intense cardio workout, so I made sure to keep my HIIT training on days I didn't lift legs. On the days I didn't do HIIT, I worked for 20 minutes on the Step Mill, skipping every other step to help tighten up my glute and hamstring area.
My Shoot-Prep Training Split
- Monday: Legs, Step Mill
- Tuesday: Back, Chest, HIIT
- Wednesday: Biceps, Triceps, Core, Step Mill
- Thursday: Shoulders, Core, HIIT
- Friday: Legs, Step Mill
- Saturday: Total Body, HIIT
- Sunday: Off
Here are a couple of leg routines that I utilized during my preparation for Bodies of Work. The first one is a full-leg workout, and the second focuses mostly on the glutes.
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A Successful Shoot
Just 33 days after that initial phone call, I had done it. I was consistent, I trained hard, I ate clean, and I finally had the guts to show up and bare it all.
At first, I was curled in a ball covering myself, but the crew was very respectful and kept their distance. They encouraged me to be myself and to try moving around. I would love to have done the pretty, serene yoga poses that some of the other girls were doing. But since my background is martial arts, I was brave and did a lot of very exposing high side kicks. And, because I am a stickler for form, I repeated them to get the form exactly right.
An hour later—and seemingly a pound of sweat lighter—I was done. The results were incredible, and I am so grateful to have done this shoot for myself and for my fans. I will always have these photographs to look back on with pride!