How did you first get interested in bodybuilding?
I started working out at the local YMCA. I enjoyed it. I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I just read the instructions on the side of the equipment and eventually got better at it. I entered my first contest in 1998, the Windsor Bodybuilding Championship. It’s a level one show so any one can enter. I placed 2nd in the lightweight class, I was 108lbs. I didn’t have a trainer, I just asked alot of people for advice.
Is Windsor a big bodybuilding town?
I think so. The Windsor show always attracts alot of competitors as well as spectators.
What other sports were you involved in?
In grade school I was into soccer, and track — 100m dash, and 400m relay. I didn’t do much in highschool. I had a paper route that kept me busy.
Do you still participate in organized sports?
No. I’m much better in a gym environment. I don’t like to be on a scheduele for practises and games etc.
Do you compete naturally?
I do compete naturally, which means I do not take any sport enhancing drugs. There are two competiton streams, one that tests for drugs and one that doesn’t. I do both.
Are the tests done just before the competitions or are they random during the year as they are for some Olympic sports?
The top three winners in each class are tested. If one tests positive than the award goes to the next one in line. We also have to agree to be drug free during the year in case of random testing.
Do you think there would be more cheating if bodybuilding had the profile of, say Olympic weightlifting?
There’s always going to be dishonest people. It really doesn’t have anything to do with me. If some one decides to do it, it’s none of my business.
Have you ever been tempted to take steroids, to make that shortcut?
In my early years before I ever competed I thought about it, only because I thought that was what everyone had to do to get muscle. But I didn’t think about it for too long, the side effects are really scary. I never intended on doing this professionally so it was never an issue. I noticed I was making good enough gains from training the way I was so I really didn’t need it. I don’t want to be huge, I just want to see how my body can develop through what I can do on my own. That’s the fun of bodybuilding.
How often do you compete?
I’ve done 6 competitons so far, and one coming up this year. Maybe two, but the Canadians (not drug tested) are in Saskatchewan and it is a lot of money to travel.
How is the participation in bodybuilding for women these days, is it losing ground to the fitness competitions we see all over the television now?
Fitness is a tough sport because not only are you working out hard, and dieting hard, but you are also practising routines and flips. I think it’s tougher than bodybuilding. There is a new category called Figure which incorporates the look of fitness without the fitness routine. If anything, I think the competitions will grow for that category.
Do you compete in the fitness competitions?
No. I don’t have much experience in gymnastics. I would have to learn from scratch and train for hours a day. And it really doesn’t appeal to me. If anything I would compete in a figure competition. But I may be too muscular for the criteria.
What do you think about those competitions?
I think they’re great. The energy and the work that goes into each routine is really awesome.
It seems to me that the dieting bodybuilders do is a bit extreme, do you find it hard on your body?
It is so hard! Every time I diet I say it’s the last time. It is hard when everyone wants to go out for dinner and drinks, and I can’t. Or that I have to go to bed early to get up to do my cardio first thing in the morning. And to always be hungry but you know you’re done eating for the next 2 hours. But after the diet it’s all worth it. It’s really only 3 months that you sacrifice, and in all honesty, it’s worth it.
Like when you stop hitting yourself on the thumb with a hammer perhaps? I’m just kidding, I don’t think I’d have the willpower to diet that much. I wonder if its the same sort of feeling as people get who go on fasts. Have you thought about the diet in relation to the attraction of competitive bodybuilding? Would the physical effects of the dieting be one of the attractions to the sport or is it more the sense of accomplishment, of mastering your desires?
After you have dieted down to practically no body fat, it is a good feeling. Not everyone can do it, and it is empowering to know that you have the will power to see it through. I have known quite a few people who intended to compete but just can’t stick to the diet regime. Of course I have fellen off the wagon a few times myself while dieting but you have to believe in yourself, that one mistake will not ruin everything. Just train a little harder and learn from your mistakes.
I have a friend whose cholesterol was quite high who went into a competition and the diet dropped his cholesterol levels. I’ve also read studies that show that reduced calorie diets can increase lifespan. Do you think there are positive health benefits to the dieting along with the increased fitness from the weightlifting and cardio exercise?
I’m sure there are positives and negatives. I have also heard that the reduced calories can increase your life span, but, have you ever seen any one after they’re done competing? Believe me. we make up for it after. We eat ice cream, cheese cake, pizza, french fries…..all on the same night! That is a problem for a lot of competitors. Because you are deprived of food for so long, you binge for at least a few days after, if not weeks. I knew one guy that had to go to the hospital because he swelled up so much from all the sodium after being depleted for so long. He gained 20 pounds in the week following the competition.
How are you careful to make sure your diet remains healthy while working toward a competition?
I make sure to eat every 2-3 hours. Drink alot of water, eat alot of grilled chicken, tuna, green vegetables, egg whites.
No fat, no carbohydrates, is that the idea?
Let me say first, I am no expert on this stuff. I do not have a specific competition diet, and I have made a lot of mistakes in the past. Mistakes that I feel made the difference between first place and third place. I haven’t dieted the same twice. I try to learn from each competition, and see what works for me. I do have some carbs, although now I have learned my body reacts very quickly to carbs and I bloat faster than most people would. I also know that having no fat is very hard on the joints and tissues and make it hard for the body to release toxins. I try to incorporate unsaturated fats like flax seed oil, olive oil, and natural peanut butter. I haven’t devised the perfect diet for me yet. I don’t want this to end up being like a job, I just see how my body looks from day to day. I realize this is a different approach than most others, but it’s what I do.
Do you have any major sponsorship or do you work at a job to make a living?
I am sponsored by Sportlab. They help out a lot. They supply me with supplements — protein powder, creatine, glutamine. I am in school full time so I only work part time at a gym.
Do you find it hard to juggle work and training?
It’s not hard for me since I’ve been doing it for so long it’s second nature. I just go to the gym, there’s no second thought to it.
You’ve just gone back to school to train for massage therapy, how do you think your bodybuilding background will help in that field?
Actually I think the massage therapy program will help me in the bodybuilding. I’m learning about all the muscles and tissues and increasing circulation to get rid of all the toxins from working out, and making recovery time faster. It is very interesting to me.
It seems almost paradoxical, the contrast between working for hard muscles and massage, which is intended to relax them. Is it important while bodybuilding to make sure the muscles relax?
I am now learning that it is. I never went for massages before but I am learning massage makes recovery faster, drains lymph nodes, increases circulation that helps nutrients to the muscles faster, loosens tight muscles which increases range of motion. It’s all related.
In looking at your amazing number of hits across the net we noticed you had a gallery of photos with Diana the Valkyrie, one of our early EJMAS buddies. Do you like fitness modeling?
I haven’t done a lot of fitness modeling, but I do enjoy it. I have a website where I post new pictures every few weeks of myself and my friends. It’s just something fun. www.emmanuela.net
Are you available as a model professionally?
Where do you see your career going in the next couple of years?
My career in bodybuilding? We’ll see how I do in my next competiton. I placed first in the same competition 2 years ago, and third last year because I moved up to a heavier class. (middle weight; I was 118 lbs) I will always work out the way I do. I don’t have a trainer because I do this for my hobby. I wouldn’t want some one telling me what to do, that would take all the fun out of it.
You’re almost 28 now, in a lot of sports you’d be over the hill by now, what would you say was the age range for competing in bodybuilding?
There are a lot of older women in this sport. A lot of the pros are into their 40’s.
Is there a minimum age you’d recommend girls be before they get into bodybuilding if they’re interested?
I started at 17. I know at my gym you have to be at least 16 years old to work out there.
What are your long term goals?
To be a massage therapist and open my own pratice incorporating my background in bodybuilding to help other athletes that need guidance.