Karen Sessions – Figure Coach – Congratulations on your First Figure Competition and winning 4, 1st Place trophies and a 2nd Place trophy, too. So, what competition did you recently compete in and how did you place?
I competed in the Mr. and Ms Natural Minnesota competition in May. I won 4-1st place trophies (beginner tall, beginner overall, novice tall, novice overall) and I won 1-2nd place trophy in open tall.
OUTSTANDING! You were RIPPED! What got you involved in figure competitions?
I have always been athletic and competitive but as I got older and was finished having children, my competitive nature was still there but my sports outlets were no longer satisfying. Lifting weights and being strong were always part of my upbringing being that my older brothers introduced me to the weight room. I mentioned my bodybuilding interest (with little to no knowledge supporting my enquiry) to a trainer at my personal gym and it just happened to be that he was competing that week and the introduction began.
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There you go. All you need is a starting point. How long have you been in fitness?
I am not a trainer or a nutritionist. I am just a teacher (Autism Specialist) who was tired of looking at the super fit women at the gym and wishing I could look like them. I started my figure training just 7 months before my first competition.
That’s awesome. You saw what you wanted and you went after it! What is your competition weight? Off-season weight?
My competition weight is 150-155. My off-season weight is 160-170.
Great stats between off-season and prep. What motivates you to keep in shape?
I have 3 young children (ages 3,6 & 8) so my household is extremely busy. Going to the gym is my personal time where I get to be selfish and concentrated on me…so, I really don’t need much other motivation to stay in shape. Gym time is my daily treat. If I am having a bad “snack-attack” I use social media to keep motivated. I opened a Twitter account that is purely fitness related and I have several Facebook interests that keep me focused. During competition prep, I also post upcoming competition flyers on my fridge. To this day, I can’t believe I accomplished what those girls on my fridge did too…and more!
Good work on finding support groups. They really help. What is your goal setting process?
I’m a strong believer on visualizing the goals you want to reach. There is a lot of power behind positive thinking.
I use visualizing a lot for my contests, too. So, how do you stick to your goals?
It always helps me to let others know about my goals because then it binds me to my word. It’s a display of personal integrity.
I’m sure that helps to keep you accountable too. What is your nutrition like off-season?
I love to cook. I continue to prepare weighed and measured meals for everyday eating but for dinner I will cook a variation of a clean meal with different spices and/or different cooking methods but I still follow my macronutrient allowances.
I’m not much of a cook, but using all my Cajun spices helps a lot. What’s your contest preparation diet protocol?
Before a competition, I eat extremely clean without any substitutions or variations. I will have a cheat meal once a month for the 3 months before the competition. I let my diet do its job leaning me out and don’t rely too much on cardio.
GREAT tactic. That’s real dedication. Good work. So what’s a basic cheat meal for you?
I love buffalo wings and blue cheese dressing.
Yep, you’re a figure competitor. lol Are there any sacrifices? If so, how do you overcome them?
I would say that the biggest sacrifice I have had to give in to is accepting that my gym time makes it difficult…or impossible…to have a clean and organized household. But at the end of the day, I know that the lessons that I have taught my children about discipline, follow-through, dedication and health are more important that having a nicely vacuumed living room!
Dedication seems to run in the family. What do you find to be the hardest part about getting into contest shape? How do you overcome it?
Honestly, the hardest part for me about contest prep is learning how to come down from the high AFTER the competition. It is hard to work so much on your physique to then put weight on in order to make new gains.
Oh yeah, the post-comp high. It’s great. So do you track your personal best lifts? If so, what are they?
I do not track my personal best lifts. I am a firm believer that the quality of the lift is much more important that the quantity of the weight lifted. Learning to listen to your body is the key to success. During contest prep, your diet can make your lifts different. Just because you can’t lift as much one day doesn’t mean you are not having a beneficial workout.
That’s a good point to keep in ind. What is your competition history?
In April, I competed in my first show as a trial run…and thank God for that because it was such a shock and my posing was not as good because of the nerves. I am more of an athlete than a pageant girl so the stage was overwhelming. Five weeks later I competed in MR/MS NATURAL MINNESOTA .
Yeah, posing can make the difference between first and second place sometimes. Do you have any future competition plans?
As much as I would love to compete in just a few months, I am taking the year off of competitions so I can concentrate on building. It is harder to stay focused when the competition is so far away. I love going to the gym, but sticking to the strict diet can get old. To combat this, I change up my diet every 2 months and ALWAYS prep my meals to keep me on point.
Good for taking some time off to continue building a nice solid foundation. Do you use supplements? And if so, what are your favorites?
Yes, I take a multivitamin for generael health, CLA for fat loss, fiber, calcium, ALA, green tea extract, probiotic, BCAA, glutamine, and a thermogenic from time-to-time. My Beverly International UMP protein is by far my favorite…so delicious!!!!
Great supplement line-up. Does your family support your fitness endeavors?
We are a very athletic family so we are always running around to some sport all day long. When I introduced figure competitions to my kids they were a little confused by the beauty pageant-like portion of it. Now they understand just how much training everyday goes into this sport and they always support me. It also helps that their little friends are in awe when they see my “muscle women” trophies. I call my kids my little “Cheater Police” because they seem to know every food that I’m not supposed to eat. My husband is amazing and incredibly supportive. I’m not sure any of this could have happened without his complete support.
My family was a little confused at first too, until they went to the show and actually saw what it was all about. What hobbies do you have outside of fitness?
Volleyball, cooking, & gardening
All active stuff as I suspected. What advice would you give to someone trying to get into shape?
You CAN be that person in the gym that you idolize. Create a support system to lean on during hard times and work every day towards your success and you will accomplish your goals.
Great advice. How has fitness and competing changed your life?
I am much more in-tune with myself, both physically and mentally. I am so happy for what I have accomplished and avidly look towards more future success.
Congrats Again! That’s just amazing for your first figure competition, 5 trophies (4 First Places and 1 Second Place).
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