Around town, Lauren Laplante-Rottman is known as a community activist in her various roles as a member of the Boxford Sustainability Committee and as an elected official on the Board of Library Trustees. But most people in town are probably not aware of her prowess in the world of bodybuilding.
The West Boxford resident took home six trophies after competing July 16 in the National Physique Committee (NPC) Masters National Championship women’s bodybuilding competition. At 5-ft. 4-in. tall, she entered four different classes as heavyweight (over 140 pounds) in the Over 35, Over 40, Over 45 and Over 50 events.
Laplante-Rottman captured two first place trophies (in the 40 and over and the 50 and over events) and then went on to win overall first place honors in both of those events. She also earned second place trophies in the over 35 and over 45 competitions.
In her 10th year of competition and vying for professional bodybuilding status, Laplante-Rottman explained that she usually brings home one trophy, if all goes well.
While preparing for a bodybuilding competition is challenging in its own right, Lauren faced particularly tough challenges this year when her husband, and greatest fan, Jerry passed away suddenly in November due to kidney failure.
“Then in January, I was laid off from my job of 9.5 years with IBM. It seemed my world had turned upside down, but I had the bodybuilding lifestyle and the goal of the competition on July 16th to keep me focused and grounded. It wasn’t easy, but I rose to the extra challenges,” she recalled.
Describing her sport of bodybuilding as “an extreme sport,” Laplante-Rottman has observed that not that many people do it because it takes such a great effort.
“It gives me something to focus on for myself. It creates a discipline for me that I transfer over to other parts of life. It brings a better balance to my life,” she reflected.
Former couch potato
In 2001 when she was 38-years-old, Laplante-Rottman started on a journey to change her lifestyle. “I was a couch potato, pear-shaped and I didn’t like where my body was going.”
At around age 41-42, she began entering the body building competitions.
“In the beginning my goal was to get in shape and educate myself on how to eat right and exercise,” she recalled. “I really pay attention to my body. There is a fine line between pushing yourself and risking injury and I’m able to balance that.”
How she prepares
Revving up for a bodybuilding competition means working backwards, in other words, figuring out how many weeks away the show is and planning accordingly, explained Lauren.
“I started training on Sept. 2014 for the July 2015 event. The first 12 weeks involve training, bulking up and building muscle. Training and a focus on diet is also involved. Then, around late January, I changed my diet to lose body fat. I had to give up carbohydrates such as rice,” she said.
As she continued to train, Lauren explained she made muscle gains. “This year I focused on getting more detail in my shoulder and back areas, as well as shaping my gluts and hamstrings.”
To do this, she uses mostly free weights and takes spin classes that “really work for the glut area,” she added.
Four weeks before the show, Lauren explained that her daily routine involved an hour of cardio in the morning, an hour of weight training and 45 minutes of cardio midday and then another 45 minutes of cardio in the evening. “I wore earplugs at the gym to avoid hearing the side conversations, the chitchat,” she added.
When she is not in training for an event, she does a half hour of cardio and a half hour training session every day along with one spin class a week.
“I have some equipment at home and am now alternating between the home and gym at Cedardale,” she said.
Body and mind connection
She stressed that bodybuilding evolves by “getting to know your own body and the mind muscle connection.”
“I’ve always worked with a coach. The people who have helped me have never been present. They’re always on line or virtual. I’m pretty much on my own,” said Lauren. “At the level I train, it’s different to find local people.”
Describing her routine, Lauren said, ”Every year you’re constantly learning about yourself…this year I got the mind body connection with my gluts. It’s hard to train a part you can’t see.
“I close my eyes and visualize the muscle – it’s a kind of isometric exercise, like doing abdominal crunches. Your mind focuses in on your muscle.”
Her major expense is the food. “Eating clean and good ingredients/food is expensive. It’s a shame. It’s so much easier to eat junk food,” she said.
The diet of a bodybuilder is all about “discovering what works well for you. Oatmeal and potatoes don’t do anything for me at all. Oatmeal makes me hold water,” said Lauren.
Bodybuilding has also taught the Boxford bodybuilder about herself as a person such as how to better manage her emotions. “In an extreme sport, you have to focus on what you’re trying to do and other things are happening in your life and you have to be able to manage those things while getting in a good workout.”
Lauren said that she balances her diet in ounces and weight. “I eat from 5-7 meals a day, and all are prepared ahead of time. There’s never any question what I’m going to eat next. That’s where the discipline comes in. I never find myself hungry. I always carry food with me in a cooler,” she said.
She shared two overall mantras for other people who are interested in getting a healthier lifestyle. What you eat and when you eat has the most impact of anything. Whether you exercise or take prescribed medications, your food intake and nutrition has the most overall impact throughout the day,” she believes.
Will vs. willpower
If someone wants to get started it’s about will, not willpower: Will is about how big your desire is to make changes. But willpower is finite, it has a set time but it’s not long lasting, it’s not sustainable, but will is… People say I wish I had your willpower, but it’s really my will.”
Locally, Lauren was elected to the Board of Library Trustees last May and she has been on the sustainability committee for three years as well as a member of the West Boxford Improvement Society. “I just find this to be a wonderful community and feel that I want to give back.”
At this point, she is considering launching a coaching business that will leverage the skills, experience and discipline that she has developed while training.
Courtesy of: Wicked Local Boxford