Q. Lets start here, what is your name? A. Laura Jeanne Q. How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine? A. I'm not a morning person at all, so I usually hit snooze a few times before I finally get up, eat, shower and go to work. I've recently been incorporating about 15-20 minutes of fasted cardio right when I get up a couple days during the week as well, but that's only because I'm preparing for photo shoots at the Arnold next month. Q. How long have you been training? A. I joined a gym and started going regularly in summer 2007, after graduating and moving home from college, but I didn't start seriously training and really cleaning up my diet until July 2010. Q. What made you get into Fitness and Competition? A. I started modeling my senior year of college and loved doing photo shoots, so I continued pursuing modeling as a hobby once I graduated and started working. I've always had an athletic build, so a fair amount of my shoots were fitness related. Once I joined the gym and started seeing serious results, I decided to focus more on fitness modeling than anything else. I shot with Walt Ostarly in 2009 and after seeing the photos, was motivated to get in even better shape for another shoot in 2010. We ended up having to cancel the shoot at the last minute, so my boyfriend at the time suggested I step on stage and try competing in the bikini division. I thought it would be fun and I was up for the challenge, so I went for it. Q. How many people have you encouraged into the sport since you started? A. I encourage EVERYONE to start weight training! ;) As far as competing though, I've talked closely with several girls who have contacted me for advice on competing and I'm proud to say they all have either competed in their first show(s), or are planning to this year! I love hearing from them about the progress they've made, confidence they've gained and how happy they are with the improvements they've made to their bodies. It's a great feeling to know other women can come to me for advice, listen to what I say and be encouraged and confident enough in themselves to step on stage. :) Q. What was your body like before you started training? A. I've always had a pretty athletic build from playing sports since I was a kid, but it was definitely nowhere near as muscular and lean as it is now. People would mention my muscles in high school, but I didn't have any solid definition, with the exception of maybe my legs. I wasn't "skinny fat" by any means, just softer overall and my upper body was much smaller. Q. How do you keep yourself motivated and on-track through the grueling dieting in the last few weeks? A. Ahh, the diet. Dealing with food is the absolute hardest part of competition prep for me. I have a sweet tooth. I have a salty tooth. And I LOVE food. Eating the same bland meals every day for weeks certainly gets tedious and does take its toll mentally, I'd be a liar if I said it didn't. However, there's no denying that what you put into your body has an irrefutable effect on your physical appearance. And honestly, no one is forcing me to make the choices I do. I look at it this way - I don't work my butt off and make sacrifices for months and months only to bitch and moan and feel bad for myself when it gets tough, when it was MY choice to live this lifestyle in the first place. I stay completely focused on my training and shut the rest of the world out when I need to stay on track, for the most part. Q. How do you handle the stress of it all? A. I try to stay focused and positive, but I'm sure I've had my share of breakdowns and nasty moments haha. I keep focused and relatively unstressed by prepping my food in advance and planning everything I possibly can in advance, to prevent myself from getting overwhelmed. I handle one thing at a time to keep from spazzing out. Q. Do you get more attention from people now that you are in such good shape? A. Definitely! Of course, it's not necessarily positive attention all the time. Some people think I'm too muscular now, or too big, or just not attractive because of my muscle gains. My mother is constantly asking me to "please not become an Amazon woman," and I've had guys tell me I need to stop training so much because my muscles are bigger than theirs, which cracks me up. However, all the positive attention and comments - the random ladies at the gym who compliment me, the messages from people who are inspired and motivated by me and want to know how I train, what I eat to look like this - far outweigh any negativity. Q. What do you feel is the most important thing an athlete can have in order to be successful in this sport? A. Passion. If you're just competing for fun, have the money to burn and don't give a hoot how you place or how you look then whatever, that's on you. But if you ARE serious about changing your body and improving for the better, and/or placing well and turning pro, you need to be passionate about what you're doing. You need to be willing to train your butt off, make sacrifices and devote yourself fully to improving your body. If you're just going through the motions and don't care either way, you aren't going to see true results or success. Your physique can only change so much in one week, it's the minor improvements over months of training that add up to a very noticeable difference. It's something you have to work on every day for the rest of your life, so if you aren't passionate about it, you're pretty much wasting your time. Q. How many days a week do you work out? A. I'm in the gym almost every day of the week. I train heavy 4-5 days and use the other 2 for rest and light cardio, either in the gym or outside. Q. How many exercises per body part do you typically do in a workout? A. It depends on how my training is structured to fit my goal(s) at the time. Right now I do 2-4 exercises per muscle group. Q. What is your philosophy on diet? A. It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle. What you put into your body is a huge part of how your physique develops. You can train as hard as you want or as much as you want, but if you eat crap, you will never lose the fat over your muscles or see the definition you desire. So make it a priority to eat healthier as part of your lifestyle and you'll reap the benefits. Q. Any holiday eating tips? A. Handle everything in moderation. If you eat clean year round there's no reason you can't indulge in some yummy holiday foods. Just don't overdo it. And DON'T feel guilty about it. People who indulge and then whine about it drive me crazy. No one is forcing you to eat what YOU put on your plate. It's your choice, so either shut up and enjoy it, or don't eat it! Q. Looking back on what you have accomplished so far, what is one thing you would change if you could, knowing what you do now? A. If anything, I guess I would start seriously training and working to grow earlier. I'm very pleased with the progress I've made so far and the changes I continue to see in my physique, but it would be fun to see what I would look like now had I started heavy weight training say, a year or two earlier than I did. Q. What is one of the biggest sacrifices you've made, and was it worth it? A. I've passed up a lot of social opportunities and my social life (or lack thereof) has changed significantly since I got serious about training and competing, but I don't look at that as a sacrifice. I was blessed with pretty good genetics, I'm passionate about fitness and I'm trying to make the most of what I've been given. So it's not a sacrifice. I love what I do. And if certain friendships have fallen by the wayside because people don't "approve" of how I choose to live and train; well, that's life. People don't have to understand or support what I do, but they should respect the hard work and dedication it takes to get to this point. Q. Does your social life include others that are not into fitness or competition? A. Of course. I don't really go out that much anymore, but when I do, it's with friends who aren't as into fitness as myself. In fact, none of them compete. I don't need to drink my face off or pig out to have a good time, so I have no problem being around others who aren't as into the fitness lifestyle. Q. How much has this kind of active life style, being (bikini/fitness/figure) athlete changed your life? A. Really focusing on improving my body, living a healthier lifestyle and stepping on stage as a competitor has significantly impacted my life. It's made me a much more confident person. I'm more confident in myself and I've accomplished things I probably never would have even attempted a few years ago, because I wouldn't have even though they'd be possible. Q. Who is your favorite bodybuilder, fitness model, and/or athlete? A. I was initially inspired to start training because of fitness model Jamie Eason. I saw her pictures and decided I wanted to create a body like that for myself. Right now though, I have to say my favorite woman in this industry, hands down, is my girl Dana Linn Bailey. In addition to being the first ever Women's Physique IFBB Pro, she is an amazing, awesome, down to earth person who trains her ass off and keeps it real. I've trained with her before and seeing the level of intensity she brings to her training and gains she makes in her physique never fails to get ME motivated to get to the gym immediately! Q. What is your favorite exercise? A. Honestly I can't pick just one. I love training every body part. Squats and deadlifts are definitely at the top of the list. Then again, so are weighted dips, cable curls, lateral raises...Anything that will make me stronger is my favorite, how's that? :) Q. What is that one body part that you just canât seem to bring up or make it look like you want? A. I tend to struggle the most to bring out my abdominals. Even when my diet is super clean and I'm at my leanest, they just don't pop like other people's. I've learned over time that I need to train them hard ALL the time to get them to show. It can get frustrating, especially when I'm around other people who have that shredded look and don't have to do much of anything to get it, but I'm starting to see progress - no fat burners, drugs or crazy fad diets required! Q. What is the best asset of your physique/body? A. I'd have to say my quads. I've had thicker legs for as long as I can remember, and getting more serious with my training has only helped improve their shape, size and definition. Even though it's pretty much impossible to find pants that fit over my quads but aren't huge in the waist, I love my legs! :) Q. What are your methods for breaking through a plateau? A. Switch things up and push like hell to get past the problem. For example, my bench was increasing steadily for awhile, then I just couldn't seem to hit a certain weight for a few weeks. So I took a stopped trying to max so often, did some research and started training chest differently. Then when I went back a few months later to my problem weight, I was able to blow right past it, no problem. Q. What are your future plans? A. I'll be attending the Arnold Expo in March to network and do some photo shoots, which I'm very excited for. Then hopefully I'll be able to sit down with an NPC schedule and pick out shows for this year. It's really just a matter of determining what division I want to step on stage in since I'm done with bikini, then start to prep accordingly. I also plan to further my modeling career this year, get published again and see what else is in the works for me! Q. What do you want our readers to know about you that they couldn't find out from seeing you on stage or in print? A. I'm a complete spaz. Anyone who knows me or worked with me can attest to that one! There's really nothing remotely cool about me at all haha.
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