Friday, March 30, 2012

Time Flies When Your {GAINING MUSCLE} // Change Your Body in a YEAR!

It was only a year ago that I started training for my very first Bodybuilding/Fitness Competition. I started telling friends that I was considering doing one last February and attended Aaron Callister's Competition seminar. I'll admit I was completely intimidated by how many women there already looked the part. I had only recently lost an additional 10 lbs off my frame from going Gluten Free so I felt leaner, but did not have any significant size on my frame yet.

Picture on Left: 1st Competition in May 2011
Picture on Right: 2nd Competition in November 2011

My main goal to compete was to be able to do FITNESS so I could perform and dance for a crowd again. My friend and trainer, Al Norby suggested that I network with fitness professionals to learn more about what this would entail. At the seminar I met Lenore Theobald, a local figure competitor, who was immediately warm and friendly. She reassured me that the "stereo-type" of figure women might be true for some competitors, but ones like her were down-to-earth, sweet and extremely approachable. This made me at ease that if I could pull this off I would want to remain level-headed like Lenore and do this sport purely for fun and for MYSELF!!

Photo taken in February 2011 - about 15% body fat (118 lbs)
After that I had a consultation with pro-bodybuilder Aaron Callister and my trainer. He gave me the run down on how the training diet works and that it had to start right away since we were about 13 weeks from his show at that point. By looking at me he could tell that I was at 15% body fat and he firmly stated that I would have to get under 10% and close to 9%, maybe 8% body fat to even compete at his show.* I'll admit, walking into the meeting I felt confident with my weight and newly trimmed self, but all of the sudden I was asking myself "CAN I DO THIS?" Quickly I remembered that it was only a year before that that my body fat was double (24%) and I had already accomplished most of the hard work. With my new Gluten Free lifestyle, eating clean and carb-cycling was just more for me to learn and I WAS READY.

* CLARIFICATION: 8-9% body fat is not a healthy percent to maintain. It's a lot of hard work to get down to that # and would be impossible to stay at all of the time. The 9% is just for competition day and is mostly from water depletion. It's just how our physiques are judged ;)

My Body at 18-20% body fat.
This was a shot from FALL 2010 - The old "curvy" me!

I decided to train for not only Fitness, but Figure as well. The best part about this journey is that I had no idea what to expect the entire time. I've always had curves, thicker arms and dancer legs (strong quads and yes, my calves are the one defined muscle I've had since I was a teenager). Aaron Callister set me up on a carb-cycling diet and I was supposed to check in with him once at week at the end of the lowest drop and email him my weight. The goal was for me to drop at least one pound each week.

March 2011 - 12% body fat (115 lbs)
At about 8 weeks out from the show I was feeling pretty good about my progress. I was excited to order my very first figure suit from a designer in Las Vegas. When it came in the mail I quickly wiggled the thing right on and took a look in the mirror. Here's where my mind came in to play. I thought "HOLY CRAP, I have some more work to do!" This was a good motivator. I could've let it freak me out, but instead I knew that I could keep going and make the neccessary changes in the next 8 weeks. Well, I didn't exactly know I could do it, I just decided I HAD TO!

I stuck to the program and didn't give up! Certain weeks were harder than others and sometimes I didn't drop a pound like I wanted. But then there was one week were things really shifted and my metabolism must have been shocked because I dropped about 3 lbs. That was just the push I needed and I knew that this was going to happen. The best part was having the close friends around me be so supportive and encourage me as I got closer to the show date.

Picture on the left shows I had built muscle,
by the right picture shows a leaner version!

I tried my hardest to maintain the goal of losing 1 pound a week on the carb-cycling diet. There was also quite a bit of water depletion the couple of days before the show so part of the show weight is simply dehydration. I went into my show feeling as good as I could feel my first time and had a blast. The fun suprise of the night was to find out that the judges thought I looked great too. Against about 17 other first time beginner competitors the judges scored me the highest for my overall look giving me the 1st place Beginner Figure Title. On top of being able to perform my first fitness routine, look and feel the best I had ever in my life, I also won!!!

SHOW TIME - Being judged against the other winners!
SHOW DAY: 108.9 lbs, 9% body fat, 5'1"

After that night I was on such a high for life and wanted to do more! I was blessed to meet my Competition coach Tara and we made plans for the fall. The best part about deciding to compete in the fall was that I kept going with my workouts and clean eating. So in a sense my training never stopped! On Saturdays a bunch of us fitness ladies get together to workout and practice posing and later in the summer I remember a specific day when a friend couldn't help but notice how different my upper body looked from a month earlier. I was just as shocked around the changes. In May I already thought I looked strong and didn't know that I could keep growing. And GROW...I DID!

MUSCLE GAINS started to show by July/August.
After new muscle gains with the Perfectly Prepared ladies!

Progress photo in October 2011

November 2011 - Photo Shoot before Fitness America

After I saw this image from a photo shoot, I was stunned by how different my upper body looked from May. I had no idea that with continuing my training all summer that I would gain so much lean muscle mass. Choosing to compete in the fall was the best decision I've made! Since this fall I've been able to really work on gaining size in specific areas like my lats and glutes. It has been fun to feel like a sculptor and literally change how my physique looks with targeting certain muscles for a better look.

For example, by the time I had depleted for my show in Vegas I was surprised that I had lost so much cushion in my glutes. I was hit with the reality that my glutes did not have enough muscle, just fat. In the photo below you can see what I did post-Vegas with gaining a bit weight back and hitting glutes hard. My mission is to create a super strong backside that is built of all muscle!!

Glutes progress photo - February 2012

I talk about CARB-CYLING as my diet routine. You can find out more about how I carb cycle in this post:
Recently a friend asked me about a book I would recommend so they could start a no carb/low carb diet. Here's what I shared with them You want to CARB CYCLE not just do a LOW CARB DIET. Good Carbs will make you skinny and strong ;) (P.S. I love my carbs and would'nt have transformed without them, people who go super low carb and never allow some high days will eventually crash and binge) If you guys have any more questions let me know, I'd love to help and encourage!!!!

This is the book I'd recommend:
by Roman Malkov
Optimize your health, lose weight, feel great—without giving up the foods you love!

Build muscle and lose fat with the real-life answer to no-carb/low-carb diets.
Low-carb diets like Atkins and South Beach are notoriously difficult to maintain over time and have been deserted by millions of people. Health-conscious people all over America are ready for something better. Discover the secret that athletes and trainers have been using for years with a healthy carb cycling diet.

By allowing you to eat full, nutritionally balanced meals on any day,
The Carb Cycling Diet breaks away from the "deprivation model" of most diets onthe market today. Alternating between limited-carb and normal-carb days, you have your cake and eat it, too, without having to rely on supplements or sugar substitutes.

The Carb Cycling Diet includes easy recipes and meal plans for normal- and low-carb days. Monitoring what you eat is simple with the Carbohydrate Content and Glycemic Index tables included. Plus, The Carb Cycling Diet provides tips on exercise, sports supplements, and how to keep motivation high.

Here is an example of my workout routine that switched up throughout 2011, it was all about consistency! There was never a week that I didn't get into the gym somehow ;)

Sunday: 90 minute Hot Vinyasa
Monday: Cardio Hip Hop/ 30 minutes of Shoulders and Triceps
Tuesday: Warrior Scuplt Yoga (low resistance weights)
Wednesday: 45 minutes of Glutes and Legs
Thursday: Cardio 50/50 (low resistance weights)
Friday: 30 minutes of Back and Biceps
Saturday: REST

Thanks for taking the time to enjoy my MUSCLE GAINING transformation!! I look forward to show new photos of my 2012 Competitions so you can see how things have changed even more.

Hope to see you cheering for TEAM PEANUT next weekend
at Fitness America - Great North (MOA)
or Mr. and Mrs. Natural MN in May
(Bloomington High School)

Luv, BethanyJN

Feedback: Hello Bethany! I just found your blog through Tara's Perfectly Perfect on Facebook and you are amazing! I am gearing up for a photo shoot in August - I am making my longtime goal of becoming a fitness model a reality! You are such an inspiration. Thank so much for your article! I can't wait to read more. Good luck!
Tiffany -

(Please feel free to leave a comment or feedback below!)


  1. Hello Bethany! I just found your blog through Tara's Perfectly Perfect on Facebook and you are amazing! I am gearing up for a photo shoot in August - I am making my longtime goal of becoming a fitness model a reality! You are such an inspiration. Thank so much for your article! I can't wait to read more. Good luck!
    Tiffany -

  2. Commercial Fitness equipment including treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and custom strength equipment. You can find our nearest provider for Fitness equipment orlando.

  3. Keep inspiring others as you already have done. Awesome


BethanyJN's Fitness Routine at Fitness America 2012

BethanyJN's Fitness Routine at Fitness America 2011

Interview Round (TOP 10 FINALIST) - FITNESS AMERICA 2011