First off, thank you for taking some time out of your day to do this interview! Could you tell everyone a bit about yourself, how you got into fitness, etc.
Happy to do it! I played sports at a young age, so I was always active and into exercising. However, I wouldn’t say that I got really “serious” until about 3 years ago. I began working out about 6 years ago, but I never paid close attention to my nutrition. I was the typical “let-me-workout-and-eat-salad-all-day-because-ill-probably-eat-a-ton-of-oreos-later” type girl. I trained to eat, not the other way around. I loved food but always wanted to look good, so attempting to compensate for my sporadic over-indulgences with working out and eating low cal during the day was how I went about my nutrition. When I found flexible dieting, a light bulb went off. I can eat whatever I want without getting fat? Isn’t that everyone’s dream? Of course, a true flexible dieter knows that it is not that simple and we do certainly need to pay attention to the nutritional value of MOST of what we consume. Anyway, after I learned how to control my intake, I learned that I could control my body. I got addicted, fell in love with weight training, and the rest is history.
A glance at your Instagram account makes it readily apparent that you practice and advocate flexible dieting. What was your dieting like before this, and what was the catalyst for you to switch to a more flexible approach?
I explained things a bit in the above question, but my diet beforehand was really similar to “flexible” dieting without the proper tracking. I knew that protein and vegetables were important, but I also really liked cookies and ice cream. Most days, I’d probably over consume treats, but would do my best to eat low Calorie options at other times of the day. When I lived in the dorms in college my freshman/sophomore year, I’d basically eat an egg white omelet or a salad from the dining hall everyday, but also have my treats as much as humanly possible. I also did plenty of partying and drinking.
My first competition prep was the summer of my sophomore year – I actually did not have a coach, took advice from a friend who had also just done her first bikini competition, and fell into a 5 week clean eating prep. 5 weeks – you heard me right. I was a miserable b*tch to say the least! I remember eating tilapia and plain salad as my last meal everyday and basically almost throwing it up every time. Clean eaters may call that lack of discipline, but I just call it plain stupid. I was not about to give up all of the foods I loved for the rest of my life, so when I started tracking my macros later that year, it just made sense. I did everything I could to learn about flexible dieting because I knew that it was going to be sustainable for me.
What are the main struggles you’ve run into during contest prep, and what have you done to get past them?
I think the main struggles of contest prep are all mental. You hope to get leaner and leaner each day and each week, and you are constantly scrutinizing yourself to make sure you’re going along the right track. Being mentally stable is very important for when you don’t see that happening at every point in your prep. Sometimes your weight will increase, your fat loss will stall, and you will begin to stress out because you technically have a deadline to reach. This past prep when I was 4 weeks out, I was in the middle of graduating college and moving across the country. The stress and the travel made me retain about 5 lbs of water weight – which KILLED ME at the 4 week out mark. Absolutely destroyed me. My stress was at it’s height, and my body responded accordingly (hint to competitors – relax and don’t stress as much as you can, hormones that get released when you are stressed are not your friend). I had to be very mentally strong to trust that I would be ready on time for my first competition in 4 weeks, regardless of looking like I had backtracked about 6 weeks. How did I get through it? I told myself to relax. I forced myself to, really. I did everything I could to change my mindset and thoughts from negative to positive (positive self-talk, venting to my friends, and relaxation techniques did the trick) and about a week later I looked the best I had ever looked. It was the most difficult mental battle I’ve ever dealt with – but because of that, I am now stronger and learned a lesson for next time around.
There are many females in the fitness industry who are looking to make a name for themselves through social media. Being that you’ve had great success with growing your following, what kind of tips do you have for these ladies?
My following grew very organically. I never made it a point to do shout-outs, I never bought any followers, and I never really stressed about the actual number of followers or likes I received (except hitting 10k / 25k / 50k was pretty cool, they’re like birthdays! Lol!) All I did was stay real. I genuinely enjoy connecting and conversing with people, so I make it a point to respond back to almost all comments and questions. I find it silly when some Instagram accounts don’t offer up any useful information or converse with those who support them. With every post, I try to make it as useful, helpful, educational, or transparent as I possibly can. I never treated my knowledge or experiences as top secret and only something that could be shared if you purchased a plan from me – I give out plenty of free information because that’s how I LEARNED myself. I have shared my triumphs and my struggles with those who follow me (notice how I say followers, not fans), and I think that being transparent really helps people connect with you. My biggest piece of advice for those looking to make a name for themselves – be yourself, be helpful, and be transparent. My life motto is to do good work and share it with people, and the success will follow.
Many people want to learn more about the kind of approach you take to training and dieting, but struggle to find good resources. What are some of the resources you use for diet/training?
Back when I first began learning, I could not afford a coach to teach me. I had to take the reins myself and use Instagram, YouTube, and the Internet for resources. Bodybuilding.com is something I used to look up different workouts – did you know they have an entire database of exercises for each body part with photos, descriptions and videos? You can simply choose a muscle group, style of training, equipment you have at your disposal, and it will filter into every workout available. I also spent a lot of time listening to Dr. Layne Norton (better known as @biolayne) on YouTube. I would sit in my kitchen listening to his YouTube videos about flexible dieting, and trying to soak up all of the information I could. Another resource I have used is Nick Cheadle (Nick Cheadle Fitness, @nickcheadlefitness) – he posts so much free information on his Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and even sends out emails daily to those subscribed to his email list.
All in all, I have spent a lot of time picking and finding who has the most credible and resourceful information. From that, I actually ended up creating my own compilation of everything I have learned into my own E-book: “The Everything Guide To Macro Tracking.” It’s a 65 page E-book that covers everything from what a macronutrient actually is, to what to expect when cutting and bulking, to how to stay on track when you’re out to eat, and more. I know that there is a lot of poor information out there, so I wanted those who asked me this same question to have a place to go to learn for a reasonable price. My E-book can be purchased through my web
You did your last competition about four months ago, do you have any plans for competing in the near future?
I do! I really enjoy the sport of competing and being on stage at my very best. Many people fall into the cycle of doing show after show, but not taking the necessary time of in order to bring an improved physique to the stage each season. I know that in order to place better at the national level, I need to spend some time building muscle and increasing my metabolic capacity to make for a more efficient next prep. My plan is to compete in the late summer of 2016 – making my off-season about 7-8 months long. I’m currently implementing a mini-cut cycle of about 8 weeks, and then headed back into a bulk to continue to increase my calories and strength from a leaner starting point. That should ensure my starting point for next season is higher calorie, and lower body fat percentage than it has been in the past.
However, the next time I will be competing on stage is sooner than we think! I have actually made it to the Top 5 for the Bodybuilding.com Spokesmodel Search!!!! You will see me on stage at the LA Fit Expo competing for the number one spot in late January! This mini cut will get me to a lean, yet healthy fitness model look. I am incredibly excited to be stepping on stage again VERY soon!
During this off-season, what are the main things you’re looking to improve, and what actions are you taking to make those improvements?
The main critique I got from the judges was to come in leaner. During my last off-season one year ago, I got a little sloppy (gained more excess fat than was necessary to build muscle) and it took me a longer time and more aggressive cuts in order to get stage lean. This year, my focus is to build muscle in all of the right areas (my shoulders and back, and obviously continue to work on my glutes, duh) whilst staying within 5-6 lbs of my stage weight. That way, I will be building the necessary muscle, but will not need to be as aggressive in order to come in more lean for the stage. My training program given to me through Coach Ian of Progressive Fitness is very focused on my goals. He designed a program for me that has allowed me to focus primarily on my lower body with squats, deadlifts, and hip thrusts, and train my upper body three times a week in order to hit those important muscle groups consistently. As a natural female athlete, muscle building takes time, and you must track your training to ensure you are continuously gaining strength in your lifts. I have been enjoying the organized approach to my off-season this year and look forward to revealing the gains!
The transition from prep to off-season can be a tough pill to swallow for some. Have you had any struggles with this? And is there anything you’ve done to make this transition smoother?
Ah, speaking of off-season…the transition into gaining more muscle, and in conjunction, more NECESSARY body fat, can be an extremely difficult one. I feel like almost every competitor goes through the mental challenge of watching himself or herself get progressively less lean. Think about it - going from watching yourself get leaner and leaner by the week during prep and switching gears to seeing yourself get fluffier and fluffier each week can seem like you’re doing something wrong. Unfortunately, not many people can take this process with a grain of salt and be completely okay with being a little fluffier for the sake of gains. With time, going through this process has gotten easier to accept, but it’s always something that I am aware of. The one thing that keeps me sane during the off-season (aside from more food…mmmm carbs) is watching my lifts progress. Getting stronger every week and eating more food is almost just as motivating as getting leaner in prep. The same type of excitement comes, just in a different form. I think it’s important to be able to have goals for both prep and off-season, and recognize that both of them have different purposes. Seeing my training performance increase with more energy and excitement to lift in the off-season really helps me to stay focused and grounded. And of course, more ice cream helps.
What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of fitness?
I really like to spend time bettering myself. Call me boring, but in my free time I like to read and continue to educate myself to get better at my craft. I recently have been reading two books – “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell and “The One Thing” by Gary Keller. “Outliers” has taught me a really great concept that has made me shape the way I go about living my life. Gladwell explains that it takes someone 10,000 hours to be an expert at his or her craft. Those who are deemed incredible at what they do aren’t necessarily naturally more talented, they just have spent more time practicing. The more you do something, spend time learning about it, and put it to action, the more skilled you become. That’s how passionate I am about fitness. I want to do everything, learn everything, and be the best I can be at it in all aspects. I am far from 10,000 hours, but making sure my free time is filled with becoming better is important to me. Of course, I love spending some of that time relaxing with friends, cooking, and eating. Food is a hobby, right?
Once again, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Best of luck with all of your future endeavors! We’re proud to be affiliated with you!
Learn more about Amanda here: