This week’s interview is with Bikini AND Figure competitor, Valerie Wiest. Val teaches Pilates currently but she since gracing the stage, she has gotten the competition bug and plans to compete in her first pro-qualifier in a few short weeks. She is always so positive and upbeat in her blog posts and even manages to put some humor, some fashion and some real-life experiences in there as well so be sure to check it out here Fitval.wordpress.com.
Enjoy this inspiring woman and one hot mama, Valerie Wiest!
Competitions: March 2010 – OCB McJilton Classic 3rd place Open Figure, 4th Place Novice Figure; June 17, 2013 NPC East Coast Classic 2nd Place Bikini C; August 22nd Shawn Ray Classic 3rd Place Bikini C
Occupation: Pilates Instructor
Hometown: College Park, Maryland
FFTF: Tell us a little bit about your fitness backstory:
I was always considered “the fit one” in my family, but in my family that doesn’t mean much, ha! Although I wouldn’t say that I really excelled at any sports in particular, I did softball, soccer, gymnastics, dance, martial arts and ice skating as a kid. I started doing Pilates when I was 14, after I saw the infomercials on TV for Windsor Pilates. I immediately fell in love with how graceful, precise and dance-like it was. When I was in college, I got a job working at the front desk of a Pilates studio, hoping to one day become an instructor. As soon as the opportunity arose, I became certified to teach. Shortly thereafter I got my personal trainer certification so that I could become a better instructor. I didn’t really get into lifting weights until I was studying for my certification and it was love at first lift.
FFTF: After you got married, you entered a figure competition; tell us about that experience.
I had just gotten married and I felt like I was losing my identity to my husband. I signed up for the competition on a whim to try to refocus myself on MY goals and passions. I always worked out at the gym with no measurable goal and this seemed like something I could train and work toward. I did my own training and got all the information on how to compete online. I did everything with a bare bones budget and unfortunately, it showed. Since I didn’t really know what to expect, I came in without alot of muscle mass and had to spray tan at the last minute which ended up looking messy. I also only spent about an hour on posing practice and did a really bad job on stage. Although I did place, it was only because there were so few girls participating in the contest. On the positive side, the girls were all really nice and supportive and let me borrow stuff that I did not have, they were also very inspirational. It was a long day, but I left the competition feeling fantastic. I was proud of myself for doing something outside my comfort zone and for actually setting a goal and working towards it.
As a mom and fitness instructor, I spend so much of my days in sweaty exercise gear or covered in baby food and boogers, that any chance I get to have my hair, nails & make-up done feels like a luxury.
FFTF: How has hiring a coach for your second competition changed your physique?
Hiring a coach has completely changed my shape! My coach helped me see that some of the things I had been doing were paradigms that were wasting my time (lots of low resistance cardio). She also showed me a different way to train to focus on sculpting my body and building muscles in the right place. Just the fact that she holds me accountable also makes me work harder. I have gained about 4 lbs of muscle and have really built up my glutes and my shoulders. I now have more of a muscular hourglass shape than the ruler shape I had before.
I am truly blessed to have such awesome people in my life.
FFTF: What was your family/friends reaction when you told them you were going to enter a bodybuilding competition (the first time)?
My friends and family were overwhelmingly supportive. I kept getting compliments from people on how fantastic I looked and how cool it was that I was competing. I am truly blessed to have such awesome people in my life.
FFTF: What, if any, was your most surprising moment of your journey to the stage?
Placing 2nd in my first bikini competition. When I contacted my coach for my first bikini competition I was 5 weeks out and did not think I had enough muscle mass. I seriously doubted that I would be competitive at all and my only goal was to look like I belonged on stage. I worked hard and was dedicated to my workouts and diet and ended up getting second place. I was beyond thrilled.
FFTF: What do you like most about living the life of a competitor?
There is so much that I like about being a competitor. I like the discipline and the structure. I like the motivation that comes from working toward a goal. I like that it is such an individually focused sport. I also love the excitement of getting on stage and the glamor of getting beautified for the event. As a mom and fitness instructor, I spend so much of my days in sweaty exercise gear or covered in baby food and boogers, that any chance I get to have my hair, nails & make-up done feels like a luxury.
I worked hard and was dedicated to my workouts and diet and ended up getting second place. I was beyond thrilled.
FFTF: What interests do you have outside the gym?
Hmmm… what else is there time for? Lol! I really enjoy spending time with my family, especially while enjoying nature and going on hikes. I also consider myself a creative person and I love to paint, draw and write when I have time.
FFTF: What advice would you give would-be female competitors who also have kids and are married and think “I would love to do that, but there’s no way I have the time.”
I would tell them to choose their priorities and make time for what is important. Competing is a very expensive and somewhat selfish sport and it is not for everyone, so make sure you take that into account before you get started. That said, if competing is really a goal of yours, make it a priority. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, be honest with yourself about when you are wasting time that you could use to work toward your goal. I have 2 jobs and take care of a busy toddler and if I can make it work, so can you! Some things, like preparing meals in advance actually end up saving me time. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first. And I definitely recommend working with a coach that is willing to work with your lifestyle. Spending 3 hours in the gym each day is not necessary but you do have to put in some hard work.
FFTF: What are you training for currently?
Yes! I am so excited to compete in my first pro-qualifier, The National Championships in Fort Lauderdale!
FFTF: Would you recommend competing to just anyone who wants to do it or do you think it takes a certain type of person to have the discipline to go through the competition diet and prep?
I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, I think that if you have the desire to achieve something, you can find the discipline to accomplish it. I believe that we all have that potential within us and that we just need to unlock it. On the other hand, competitions require a lot. Not only are they financially demanding, but they also require extreme discipline and can be mentally and emotionally draining. Something people usually don’t talk about is what happens after the competition. After the competition, many competitors are so depleted that they end up going on a prolonged binge. They get depressed because the goal they worked so hard for has passed and their body cannot remain in contest shape. To get through this requires a kind of mental strength and stability that is different than discipline. Because of that, I really think that competitors need to be in the right state of mind and the right stage of life.
I believe that we all have that potential within us and that we just need to unlock it.
FFTF: Any words of advice to ANYONE seeking to improve their fitness level/health and has never been to a gym before and has no clue where to start?
Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. If you have the budget, hire a (competent) trainer. They will be able to help you establish a workout routine, and teach you the ropes of the gym. If you have a limited budget, head over to bodybuilding.com for free programs and advice. Jamie Eason’s Live Fit trainer is a good and popular program to start with I love bodybuilding.com because they have programs for every type of goal and they have instructional videos on exercises. Other than that, just GET STARTED! It can be intimidating to go into the gym not knowing anything or anyone, but as long as you get started you are doing better than most of the population. Know that the other people at the gym are not there to laugh at your inexperience. Stick with it!
FFTF: Where can we find you for more information/inspiration?
Thank you so much Val for sharing your awesome and inspiring story with FFTF. Congratulations once again on going from Fit To Figure and best of luck at your next competition!