Stage presentation photo courtesy of NJ Garden State ChampionshipsClick Photo to see Lisa’s First Competition in 2005.
Experience the Journey of a Figure Competitor…
Congrats on your recent accomplish and BEST shape EVER! What got you into fitness and how old were you when you started?
I started off pretty active. I took dance classes up until about the age of 8 years old and I ran track in school until about 10th grade. I always tried to exercise when I could, my workouts were a mix of running outside or home workout DVDs. Kick boxing, Tae Bo, Pilates, Abs of steel (yeah remember that!), you name it I had it. All this was part of my quest to be fit, but I didn’t actually join a gym until I graduated college….that is when I finally had the time! I started off with cardio and taking group classes until my husband eventually convinced me to join him in the weight room. It was a bit frustrating at first and I felt out of my element but once things started to click…as my husband often says…he created a monster!
You’ve really made fitness a part of your life and kept it in balance. What made you decide to compete for the first time?
Once I started getting serious about training and eating clean I was amazed at the transformation my body was going through. I decided that I wanted to push myself to the limits, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I am a competitive person by nature and I love the feeling of accomplishing things that people think I can’t do. Stepping on stage for the first time was a huge personal accomplishment for me.
Nothing like the rush of being on stage and dong what you love. What was your first competition experience like and what was your primary goal?
My primary goal was to put my 110% effort into preparation. I had my highs and lows and my breakdowns while getting ready for my first competition, but through every emotion I was feeling I knew that I was giving nothing but my best. I knew that as a first timer I wasn’t going to look the same as the other seasoned competitors, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t stand up there on stage with them. Your body is not what makes you a competitor, it’s your heart, your dedication and your inner strength. I placed Top 5 at my 1st competition and I was ecstatic. I competed again at another show two weeks later and didn’t place as well, but it was great 1st season.
You always come in ready, and you get better with every show. What was your second competition journey like and what your main goal for that show?
O-boy…at this point my competitive monster was unleashed! I spent the entire fall and winter trying to build up more muscle. My main goal was to work on my weak areas. I now knew what “the stage” was all about so it was about focusing on how to bring it all together. Things actually were a bit more stressful this time around. I was putting more pressure on myself during preparation, my responsibilities at work were increasing, and my family life needed added attention. This second season was when I really felt the “sacrifice” that competitors go through. Again, I placed Top 5 but the feeling was different this time. Of course I was thrilled and proud…but I wasn’t satisfied. Kind of a catch-22 huh?
I can tell your family is very important to you and you do an amazing job of balancing it all. Have your family and friends been supportive of your fitness endeavors and your competitions?
Thankfully my family has been very supportive. My parents have come to all of my competitions and my husband and my daughter are my biggest fans. Knowing that they support and understand my goals helps to give me peace when things get crazy. Plus they are both athletes so they understand the dedication. My husband plays baseball and works out consistently; we try to get to the gym together when we can. My daughter runs on the Cross Country Team and Track Team in school.
Sounds like a very active family. What challenges do you face juggling a family and workouts?
My biggest challenge is time. I work full time during the day so that only leaves me with two windows to get my workouts in; morning or evening. I’d rather spend the time after work with my family so I hit the gym in the morning. It’s tough because I have to get both my training and cardio in before work. So I wake up between 4:15am-4:30am, in the gym by 5:00am and I’m back home before 7:00am. I eat, shower, get to see my daughter before she leaves to school, I see my son when he wakes up, and my husband and I get to squeeze in a few minutes to chat before we start our day. The juggling really is a team effort.
I don’t know how you do it! You’re quite the inspiration to the other moms out there who want to compete. What challenges do you face juggling your family and contest prep?
Contest prep made my already tight schedule even tighter. Whatever “free time” I had was taken for extra food preparation, last minute grocery store runs, and posing practice. The weekends were probably the toughest. I leave no room for excuses when I’m prepping so I do everything around my meal times. Our “family treat nights” also has to be eliminated as contest date gets closer so that kind of sucked. I do always try to plan my last meal around dinner time, this way we all get to sit down at the table together a few nights a week.
Yes, contest prep keeps you VERY busy. How does your off-season diet vary from your pre-contest diet?
I pretty much eat the same foods year round, off season I just increase my calories more and take in more carbs. Weighing and measuring my food is a constant no matter what time of year it is. There’s no way to determine what you need to change in your diet if you don’t know what you are eating. I do give myself a little more wiggle room to enjoy things I typically wouldn’t eat during prep or during my own personal “lean season”, but I always have plan and my daily meal plan is always tacked to my refrigerator.
You’re dedicated to everything you do. How does your off-season training vary from your contest prep training?
Off-season training is by far my favorite! Hard and heavy is my training style from about October through March. Lower reps and heavier weight. I also remove training variations and stick with straight sets. During contest prep I try to lift as heavy as I can for as long as I can but, about mid-way in my reps increase and the weights lighten. I also add in different principals; drop sets, super sets, etc… My focus basically switches from building to conditioning the muscle I built during off season. Typically I follow a 4 or 5 day training split depending on my specific goal.
Great example of quality off-season training. How does your off-season cardio vary from your pre-competition cardio?
My cardio decrease from 30-45 minutes 5 to 6 days a week for pre-competition to about 20 minutes 3 days a week for off-season. This amount also changes from year-to-year depending on how much progress I’ve made. This is something my prep-coach (Karen) and I have learned over the years we’ve been working together. My body’s response continues to change based on my development.
Typically the more lean muscle I’m able to build during off season allows me to do less cardio during prep or when I’m just leaning up for the summer. The more in control I am over my diet during off season, also allows to me keep my cardio low.
Awesome cardio schedule variation for the two seasons. How do you stay focused on your goals with so many everyday life challenges?
Having goals is actually what allows me to get through my challenges. My life revolves around trying to make the best choices for my family and maintaining my career. So having a goal whether it be training for competition or training for my own personal physique aspirations helps to keep me grounded. Setting personal goals prevents me from losing myself while dealing with all the hurdles life throws in the way.
Having a clear go will get you where you want to go and keep you on track when things get tough. What was your third competition experience like and what was your objective for that show?
My third and most recent competition was pretty interesting. This was my return to the stage after not competing for the past 4 years, so my main goal was to bring the best package possible to the show. We now had an infant who we added to our family dynamics so my schedule allowed no room for flexibility whatsoever. I had a number of factors to consider before making the choice to step on stage again. Honestly I was a little unsure if I could pull it off, but surprisingly enough this ended up being my easiest prep and physically I felt great straight through to the end. During my “off time” I really got in tune with my body. My training matured and my muscles responded well to my razor line focus. Every second of time mattered and could not be wasted so I used it all to my advantage. I was a little disappointment with the placing at this show but I am very proud of what I accomplished. I looked and felt better than I ever had!
Nothing like “Hometown Cooking”. You pose like a pro. How did you learn to pose so well?
Research, research, practice, practice!! I probably watched about 100 videos on posing and presentation. What I found was that every competitor and coach had their own technique in hitting the mandatory poses. Slight twist, arms to the side, toes slightly apart, feet staggered… there are so many tiny posing adjustments that can make a huge difference on how you look on stage. I took a little from everything and found what worked best for me and my physique.
Excellent. I learned my bodybuilding posing via videos and studying pics pics of the Pros. Are there any figure competitors that inspire you?
The first two women that come to mind are Monica Brant and Gina Aliotti. They were the first two competitors who I saw and then said “wow…I want to look like that!”
Monica is great. I spoke to her on the phone; a very down-to-Earth person. Are there any tips you can share with other women who want to compete in figure?
Go for it! Don’t sit there and tell yourself you’re not ready or that there’s no way you can compete with “those girls”. You most certainly can! We all have to start somewhere. Give yourself the goal, work hard, and go for it. Even if you just compete one time, you will forever have the satisfaction of knowing you are strong enough to make the commitment to step on stage.
I hear ya… Just go do it. Do you plan on entering any more competitions in the near future?
Next year is definitely going to be an off year for me. My son will be starting Pre-K in the fall and my daughter will be graduating high school next summer then will be off to college. So, my full focus and dedication will be on family matters. I of course will still be training hard and working on areas I want to improve, I’ll just be doing it on my own terms without the added pressure of competition.
Family duty calls. What’s in your next chapter? Competitions, training others, earning pro status, modeling?
Right now I am in the process of studying for my Personal Training certification. I plan on launching my website by the end of the summer to provide fitness consulting. I am also working on scheduling some photo shoots, hopefully I can do some fitness modeling. The choice to compete again has not been determined. If I do I am interested in exploring other organizations.
You’ll do GREAT! No doubt whatsoever! Do you feel competing has changed you in any way?
Competing has given me new confidence. I have also learned that dedicating yourself to something does not necessarily mean you have to sacrifice everything else. In fitness and in life you just need to find a way to adjust how you do things. It’s not always easy but it can be done.
Agreed… Do you have a facebook page you’d like to share?
No facebook but you can follow me on Instagram @ LisaRD23.
I can also be reached via e-mail at Lrdelarosa23 [@] gmail.com
Lisa’s Website: MyFitVida.com
Check out Lisa’s Instagram!