Monday, May 11, 2015

The World Of Figure Competition - One Mom's Journey Part I

I met Lei 14 years ago, when I had just moved into the area. She was a friendly, out-going gal and had definite ideas about what she wanted, in all situations! She and I did a few things together, like hiking up to a waterfall, going on a bike ride, doing a Hawaiian dance class together, and going out to lunch. She was born in Hawaii and is very proud of her ancestry. Every Sunday she brought the most beautiful bouquets of flowers to set on the podium at church. It was a really special touch. 

I knew her to be very active-- into physical fitness, running and weight training specifically. We were members of the same gym at one time. We worked out at different times but each of us pretty regularly.  Those were the days when I was fairly hard-core (for me!), doing yoga, dance, weights and cycling. Time has passed, and now I am doing great when I walk my dog a couple of miles and do some of my exercise CD's!

Lei, on the other hand, took physical fitness to a whole different level after I moved out of her neighborhood a few years back. Before I left, I remember her stating that she wanted to do something cool before she turned 50. She is now right around 50 and yeah boy, she is showing what 50 looks like!

Lei just competed in her first body-building show and
walked away with a 5th place trophy in True Novice Figure A. She also placed 8th in both Masters A and Figure A! That is crazy good for the first time!
Here is her story and proof that it's possible to do anything you want and age doesn't have to be a factor!

In 1987 Lei became interested in body-building. She felt especially weak one day, as she tried to move the bed in her dorm room, making a hole in the dry wall in the process. She wanted to get stronger, and thus weight lifting was what she was drawn to. Back in the 80's Cory Everson was very popular.
"I looked up to her, even though I never aspired to become a bodybuilder at that time.  I just wanted to become stronger and toned.  I continued to lift weights and run from that time forward.  Back in the `80's it was thought that a woman should not lift while pregnant because the blood would be diverted to the muscles instead of the baby.  We know better now. So I would take time off  of lifting when I was pregnant with my first two.  Later, I lifted and ran when I was pregnant with the last two."
Lei with two of her 4 children

Lei continued lifting weights, but never went heavy. She always felt that running was the gold standard for getting fit and toned. She continued with that routine for years--lifting light and running for miles daily. She was a member of a local gym and her girlfriend was her trainer. She noticed miner changes to her body, but nothing major. But, she says, "Deep in my soul I did want to become more muscular, but never quite knew how to pursue it. I love muscles on individuals, especially on women. I wanted defined muscles and to look like a bodybuilder."

Then in 2012 she saw an ad for a 90-day challenge.  Both she and her husband signed up as a couple.  Unfortunately the trainer did not know how to train individuals that already had a pretty good knowledge of weight training.  She did well with clients that were new to weight training.  Lei knew she needed to get to the next level  Her girlfriend referred her to a trainer that was an MMA fighter.  She started training with him and noticed a huge difference right away.  He was very knowledgeable and made her work hard.  She progressed under his tutelage, dropping body fat and weight. Her goal was to lose body fat, but she did not want to just become skinny or thin.
 "I didn't want to be a skinny fat.  I wanted muscles.  My trainer knew what I wanted and did things to help me achieve my goals.  When I grew enough that I could train on my own, I found that I plateaued. I stayed at this weight and body fat for about a year. It was a good weight, but I wanted more. I started subscribing to Hers Muscle & Fitness magazine.  I would follow their workouts and nutritional guidance.  I found some success."
But mainly her success was through having a personal trainer and nutritional coach. This was news to me because I really thought one could go the distance on their own, if they had the discipline and knowledge. Obviously, you need an expert to help you if you want to pursue the course of building lots of lean muscle. And that is what Lei found out. She says that even trainers have trainers because it's all about accountability and support.


 She chose someone she knew at a local gym, who had actually competed before in the Masters Division and placed. She felt like she would be a great fit with her objectives and personality. They met weekly and she gave her an individualized nutritional plan, tweaking it every week to help her meet her goals.  She was the one who said Lei should compete.  "When someone believes in you, it is hard to resist", she said. Truthfully, she DID want to compete.  That is why she chose her in the first place. So to have her say she should compete was motivating and what she wanted to hear.  
Her initial twelve weeks went from 26.3% body fat and 130.3 lbs. to 19.1% bf and 119.0 lbs. Of course she was dedicated to the nutritional plan and never deviated.  "I continued following my nutritional program even though I stopped meeting with Maria.  I knew the NPC (National Physique Committee) was having a show in March 2015; I had attended the show in Oct 2014 per Maria, just to see what goes on at competition.  I really liked the show.  I also knew that I needed 12 weeks to prep for a show, so I contacted Maria in December and told her I wanted to compete. "








 









Lei started her transformation Dec 18th.  "I was happy that I maintained my body fat and weight at 119 lb. and 19% Body Fat. This made it easier to train, because I was already pretty lean, muscular, and conditioned. I got down to 111.1 lbs and 12.1% bf.  This is important to record because in the future, we will know where I need to get to to be competition ready.  My biggest inspiration is IFBB Pro, Erin Stern.  I love her philosophy and she is so down-to-earth.  Besides, she works hard and I love her physique." 

Not all Lei's family was supportive at first.  Her oldest son was from the start.  Then her youngest son quickly became supportive. Her daughter struggled a little, then got on board.  Her husband had issues through the training, all the way to the competition.  "I don't believe he really was fully invested until the night of competition.  But when I started getting praise and congratulations from people, he changed his mind!"  

Since this was her first time competing, Lei and her trainer didn't know what body fat % she could get down to and be lean, but not too lean.  So Maria, her trainer, wanted to see how close to 8 or 10% she could get.  During peak week, the last week she got down to 12.1%  So that is now her base line.  They felt that if she got any leaner, she would look skeletal.  Everyone is so different, and someone can get to 8% and be good.  "My body was good at 12%  So in the future that is my goal."  The BMI is really just a calculation based on a persons height and weight.  It is not a measurement.  One focuses on body fat.  The weight will come off and is not as important as the % of fat.  "I gained 2.69 lbs of lean mass (muscle) and lost a total of 18.1 lbs.  I lost a total of 14.2% bf and 17.5 inches off my body.  I am so pleased with my results!!! I could not believe the numbers.  Every week I would drop.  Sometimes I gained, but it was oz. not lbs. and less than 1%! Then the next week, I would drop what I gained and more.  I would often forget what the numbers really were.  I was so stoked. "

Some people would be amazed at just seeing themselves transform into a lean, athletic speciman. But that wasn't enough for Lei. She had come this far and now it was time to compete! 

Check back for Part II of Lei's personal journey into the world of Figure Modeling Competition! 
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