A Magical Weekend in Teaneck New Jersey

The first weekend in July of 2013 was one of the most meaningful and thrilling weekends I have ever experienced, and strangely, I had a gut feeling that the events of that weekend would turn out that way. I was returning to an NPC (National Physique Committee) Pro-Qualifying event at which I had competed for three consecutive prior years, and I was bound and determined to bring my best physique ever to that show for my fourth run. It was no easy task, since I was spending 4 to 5 hours daily at the gym, enduring double training sessions, double cardio, and struggling to fit in TEN mini-meals throughout each day to fuel my body. To top it off, I had been dumped by my boyfriend three months prior, and he was still living in my house with me, which added more strain on my contest prep.

Nevertheless, when I arrived at the host hotel in Teaneck, NJ, I just felt different, as if I had already won an IFBB Pro Card, and I was oddly relaxed. Even my friends noticed that I seemed different, and they became excited at the prospect of me most likely going Pro at the NPC Team Universe event that weekend. I also made a last minute change with my posing suit, simply because the tangerine hue of a new suit which had been custom made for me resonated more than the pale blue suit I had originally planned to wear. As soon as I tried on the orange suit, I could see that it fit me better, and somehow imparted a glow which popped against my competition spray tan.

Normally I would feel a bit jittery right before stepping onstage at any show, but on Friday, July 5th, 2013, I felt completely calm as I glided onto the stage. It was as if I was dancing onstage, rather than hitting mandatory poses for the judges. When I got first callout, was placed in the center of the lineup and remained there, I just knew that I would indeed earn my Pro Card at this event. The first time I stepped on that stage, I was in the 40+ age group, height class B, and I nailed that class. Then I returned to the stage moments later for the 35+ age group, height class B, and once again got first callout and remained in the center of that lineup. By the time I walked onstage for Open Bikini height class D, I was already floating with joy, but I got yet another treat by making first callout.

Once prejudging was over, I knew I had to remain on task with my food intake and also get lots of rest, because although I believed I had locked in a first place finish, I wouldn’t know until the next day, when we would all return onstage for finals. I spent part of the late afternoon and evening hanging out with my good friends, and made sure to avoid contact with anyone (particularly my ex-boyfriend) who might distract or upset me. My performance onstage that day was the culmination of five years in the competitive bodybuilding world, defined by extreme sacrifices and hard work. I wasn’t about to mess this up!

The next day, July 6th, the 40+ bikini competitors hit their individual routines, and when height class B was up, I heard the MC announce the 5th place winner (not me), then the 4th place winner (not me), the 3rd place winner (not me), and then quickly announce the 2nd place winner, followed by my name as the 1st place finisher. I had FINALLY WON MY PRO CARD!

The battle for the Mater’s Bikini 40+ Overall Title at NPC Team Universe, July 6th, 2013

All I needed was one first place finish in any of the three classes in which I was competing in order to become an IFBB Pro, so when I won first place in 40+ B, my heart burst with gratitude, because I had officially attained IFBB Pro status. When I was called back out for the Overall title for 40+, I didn’t know whether I would win that title as well, so when I did in fact win the Overall title, it was icing on the cake. I also ended up winning First Place in 35+ class B, and because I was already awarded Pro Status when I swept the 40+ Bikini Class, IFBB Pro Status was awarded to the 2nd place finisher in our lineup. Finally, I won 4th place in Open Bikini height class D, which was an incredible feat for me at 3 days shy of my 47th birthday.

That weekend remains one of my proudest snippets of time.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Fighting Muscle Loss As You Age

Original post can be found at:


The sad truth about getting older is that it becomes more and more difficult to hold onto the plentiful lean muscle mass and low body fat we tend to take for granted during our younger years. An inevitable consequence of growing older is the increasing struggle to maintain lean muscle mass as the years pass. Even if you have been blessed with a genetic propensity for the optimal balance of lean tissue and body fat, be prepared to work harder over time to keep what you have. This also means that master’s competitors usually have to train harder to build muscle mass, and are also more sensitive to dietary fluctuations and digressions than their younger counterparts.

The good news is that there are steps which can be taken to combat the unfavorable shift in body composition which makes its appearance after one’s mid-thirties. Perhaps the MOST important intervention which the vast majority of you are already practicing is weight training. You can continue to challenge yourself and lift heavy, but you might want to consider adding glucosamine and turmeric to your supplement regimen to protect the joints and minimize inflammation. Another adaptation in the weight room which older athletes respond especially well to is unilateral training. Unilateral movements improve balance and coordination and make it impossible to correct strength imbalances.

Another way to naturally boost the body’s ability to combat aging which you are most likely already practicing is to consume adequate protein. When protein is consumed, a steady stream of glucose is released via glucagon without spiking insulin levels in the body. Conversely, a diet low in protein but high in carbohydrates results in high levels of insulin, which over the course of time can result in widespread inflammation, diabetes, and obesity. Surprisingly, the protein needs of people from middle age on (40’s and over) increase as a result of diminished protein synthesis in the aging body. Protein intake must be increased in order to offset the deficiency. If you are already weight lifting regularly and taking in sufficient protein, you may want to consider boosting your intake of glutamine and branched chain amino acids, particularly leucine. These building blocks help to optimize the body’s ability to utilize dietary protein to build new muscle and repair damaged muscle fibers.

Though animal sources of protein are excellent options for people of any age, whey protein in particular is a remarkable protein source in older people. It is highly absorbable, contains all 18 amino acids, immunoglobulins and lactoferrin, and all the building blocks for a powerful antioxidant called glutathione. Glutathione deficiency is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, asthma and cancer, and because of this, it is considered a key substance in combating the process of aging. Natural glutathione production in the body declines with age, but with whey protein on board, the amino acids necessary for glutathione production are supplied to the body and optimal levels can be attained as a result.

Though athletes and competitors are aware of the health and muscle building benefits of whey protein, I am astonished by how it is not utilized nearly enough by the average person. All too often I see patients who regularly skip meals and eat fast foods and other processed foods, and who assume that whey protein is only for athletes. If you are an average person who wants to change poor eating habits and optimize cellular function, then you need to boost protein intake and add whey as one of your protein sources. You are doing yourself a disservice if you insist on eating junk carbs like simple sugars and processed foods, skipping meals, and consuming insufficient protein, especially if you are over the age of 35 and trying to fend off disease and aging.

If you are proactive and consistent about taking the necessary steps to battle age-related muscle loss, you will reap the benefits of better health and vitality and will rival those half your age with a muscular physique to be envied.

You’re HOW Old? – Masters Competitors

While the bodybuilding world has allowed competitors over the age of 35 to compete, there has always been an undercurrent of ageism. It is true that older competitors do not have the skin tautness of younger competitors, and that they must train harder than their younger counterparts to stay in the race. However, masters competitors have stood up to the challenge and give new meaning to the idea of acing gracefully. I love the look of shock that washes over a person’s face when I tell them how old I am (47), or how old Lizzy Fitchner (53), Janet West (52), or Mary Dent (53) are. I am amazed by these ladies and so proud of them!

I am rooting for this incredible woman and dear friend to get that Pro Card!  She took a 3rd Place finish in Masters 45+ Bikini Class B at Masters Nationals in July.  I adore Lizzy!

I am rooting for this incredible woman and dear friend to get that Pro Card! She took a 3rd Place finish in Masters 45+ Bikini B Class at Masters Nationals in July. I adore Lizzy!

Janet West IFBB Pro always looks amazing!

Janet West IFBB Pro always looks amazing! Here she is at Tampa Pro from last weekend.

Mary Dent earned her IFBB Pro Card at Masters Nationals in July by taking a 1st place finish in Masters 45+ Bikini B Class.  Awesome!

Mary Dent earned her IFBB Pro Card at Masters Nationals in July by taking a 1st place finish in Masters 45+ Bikini B Class. Awesome!