This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting, amazing, challenging things. This is the story of Peggy and her body building.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I am currently from Spokane, WA. I transplanted from Iowa 11 years ago, after graduating college. I’m 36 years old and work in the wireless industry as a sales rep. Workdays can be 8-12 hours long. In my spare time I spend time with my spouse and friends. I have recently gotten into road biking, so summers are spent on the bike. I don’t really have a lot of spare time when I’m in contest mode, so the bit of time I do have is spent resting.
How did you get interested in bodybuilding?
My interest in bodybuilding came originally from a friend presenting a challenge, “You do it, I do it.” That was in fall 2003, my first show was April 2004. I have been doing it every spring since then except 2006. I have really enjoyed seeing the changes in my body ever since.
What are your workouts like?
My workouts start anywhere from 4:45am to 7:00 am, depending on my work schedule and when the gym opens. I have a four-day rotation on body parts so that allows me to workout pretty much seven days a week if I wanted. I do take Friday mornings as cardio-only so my body kind of gets the rest day it needs. Weight workouts take about an hour, a bit longer by the time I am done with calves and abs every day.
How are bodybuilders judged?
Competitions are judged on symmetry, definition, muscularity, and overall appearance. There are certain criterion judges look for and follow, but there is still subjectivity within. It’s similar to dancing. What one judge thinks is good another may not. Some years the bigger but not as lean girl wins, others it is the one with less muscularity but leaner. Unfortunately, you never know and it’s too late to make any changes when you’re on stage.
How do you prepare for a competition?
Preparing for a contest is a year-long progression for me. I step off stage and am on my diet the very next meal. I do it year round, increasing calories in the off-season to gain size and work on weak areas, but then cut down as the date approaches. I start doing cardio about 2-3 months out, depending on how much body fat I put on. The week of my show, I cut sodium out for about the last four days, cut out carbs Monday through Thursday and bring them back in on Friday. I dehydrate no later than Friday through the night show Saturday.
Being female, it’s sometimes hard to gauge the water. Tapering the water from my usual three gallons, two gallons, one gallon, half gallon and then none starting Monday or Tuesday. By Wednesday, I’ve stopped working so I can prepare food, get my skin dye applied and keep my feet up. On Friday, I travel if necessary, weigh in that evening, relax and visualize my poses as well as practice them.
Contest day is about the same. Backstage, I play some of my music to calm down and fire up. Usually, I don’t interact with competitors too much. Going onstage I’m going to show the judges all the hard work I’ve put in and hit everything as hard and solid as I know I can. I’ve practiced these poses for two months, so now I have to show them my work.
How did the people in your life react when you started bodybuilding?
At first, people were unsure. I was packing my meals around, eating things they didn’t really eat and performing in front of a lot of people. Being the quiet, shy person they knew me to be, this was NOT what they ever expected of me to do.
But, they have always been supportive and attended events. They know I work hard and like to see the results as well. They joke that I never smile on stage so when I do, they love it more, as do I. My spouse has been more than supportive and is the one that puts up with the mood swings, the tiredness, hunger and all the things that go with this. It took a lot for me to be comfortable with someone else making my chicken and prepping my daily meals, but there is an understanding of importance so I know it will be done with care and accuracy. My parents always wish me well and by first thing post show morning, I have a text congratulating me. Everyone is great!
What are the biggest misconceptions about women’s body building?
People think I’m into enhancements/supplements because of how much bigger and fuller my muscles are. I have had to change my mindset and take this as a compliment since I don’t use anything. I just have stuck with the hard work to finally get to this kind of a body. I don’t veer from healthy choices and I work my butt off.
What advice would you give to other people who are interested in bodybuilding?
Work with someone if possible to give you some guidance for nutrition, workouts, and actual posing. There is a certain amount of commitment you have to give to this, but you don’t have to go in thinking you need to be all muscles and big the first time on stage. If you want to compete, but want to start somewhere, then commit and start. If you like it, then stick to it and make your next commitment. It’s the off-season that can make or break you. If you don’t like it, then walk away a better person knowing you did something pretty phenomenal.
Any questions for Peggy? Do any of your lift seriously?