Name: Amy Allen
Location: Southern CA
Weight: 117-119 Lbs Contest
Educational Director in higher learning
I have learned that it is very important to avoid measuring your life and its worth based on achievements. It is equally important to embrace all of them both personally and professionally. They can be as simple as making it through a week true to training and dieting. It can be as large as a marriage, childbirth, professional degree, fitness award, or career advancement.
I have been blessed with all of these; it has not been because it has ever been easy or handed to me. Honestly, every single one has had an adventure and a lot of work leading to the achievement. I must say, when I got to the end of that adventure…the achievement was worth every bit of it!
When did you get started with fitness?
I spent many years involved in sports and then training in a local gym to stay fit. I started in the gym on a mission to sculpt my physique in every workout. I was there 5-7 days a week, working my entire body in every session. A few years in and minimal lean muscle development; I started training with a friend a majority of the week. Professionally we both work in the medical field and she had a lot more experience in weight training. At that point, I learned the importance of training and targeting muscles and rest for recovery.
In December 2010, I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast prior to my move, the last few years professionally and personally had been overwhelming. Like many, I felt I lost the fit athlete I always was and began my downward spiral. I had gained over 30 pounds, although I have a tall frame to hide it, I was not happy! I randomly google searched for that smart coach that had more nutritional and training knowledge than your local gym athletic trainer. After 14 years in a gym, I wanted someone to be accountable to and still have the potential of continuing to learn.
Living in Southern California, I was blessed with that search coming up with Kim Oddo with Body By O. I scheduled an appointment to meet with Kim. I felt really good about our energy and the discussion we had. Twelve weeks later, all of my additional weight was gone and my training was on fire again. At this point we made a decision to step on stage as an NPC Bikini competitor. I did my first show in Culver City, LA at the Jon Lindsey Muscle contest Titans Grand Prix in 2011. The experience was amazing; I won my height class and came in 2nd overall to another organization pro returning to the NPC in bikini.
“You either love it or hate it”, I was told by one of my amazing IFBB Pro Bikini Oddo Angel sisters Narmin Assria. At this show we became increasingly tight and supported each other’s journey ever since. She was right, I loved it.
What drives you to be so fit?
I am an “adrenalin junky”! I love pushing myself and setting the bar higher each time to chase and ensure I get there. Occasionally, I do stress myself out by pushing the time to get it there… thankfully with an amazing guide (Kim Oddo) it always happens.
Ultimately, I love how I feel, if you feel great physically, you will feel amazing mentally. Your fitness endurance gives life longevity, you are the best investment of everything you have. Life and health is a single round, you only get one you to take care of. A health and happy you… is the best reward to everyone you love.
What has been the hardest obstacle for you to overcome?
Currently the hardest obstacle is balancing what cheats I have after a show and off-season. I have gotten past the potential “binging issues” that many fight. However, I love fine food, cooking, and baking… none of which I do anymore. So I find balancing how much and what for indulgence a challenge. I know what can be done however, you must l”ive a little” to stay consistent a majority of the year.
What is your favorite body part to train?
My favorite body part to train was always lower body (legs). I love a challenge, leg day was always the biggest challenge and hardest day. Once I decided to train for bikini the challenge changed. It became a challenge to not carry so much lean muscle and tear down. I have had to work really hard at getting “smaller” and less sculpted.
My entire mentality of training had to change; thankfully having a coach to guide that process has been very helpful. Now I really enjoy my shoulder and back days. I weight train using exercises to maintain a sexy and sculpted shoulder. Focusing on exercises that hit your entire deltoid can do this. My back training focuses on exercises that are going to assist in a sexy waste line and shaped taper. After all we are bikini competitors, not body builders.
Do you incorporate much cardio into your training?
Cardio is a huge part of my training; I do an hour a day. To ensure a lean and tight physique your diet and cardio as a combination is key. To maintain an equal level of endurance I personally break my cardio up each day, so I do two 30-minute clips. When off “season” or as I get closer to show time I will some times do less if I am extremely lean and tight. The key is to gage the time based in where my physique is. This can also mean I might need more.
Could you tell us about your current training program?
I work out 7 days a week; I enjoy and use my gym time for sanity. I love starting my day in the gym! Often affected by my professional schedule, I have to decide whether I train with weights or just do cardio in the morning before work. I often start my morning with my 30-minute cardio and then weight train the days that I have time. I can then just sneak in after work for my other half of my cardio.
My weight training can vary based on what areas need manipulation. There are times areas do not get trained at all; there are other times areas are trained more than once a week. Sculpting a physique is a science project with every detail being manipulated when competing and trying to be the best.
A common week at the gym for me:
Cardio every day 40 minutes to 1 hour.
Then one of the following I will do as my weight training, the combination can change as well.
Chest-Biceps weight train
Back- Rear Delt weight train
Shoulders-Triceps weight train
What does your diet look like?
My nutrition is constantly being evaluated and changed. I discuss my nutrition biweekly with my coach Kim Oddo. As we get closer to a competition, this becomes weekly… occasionally even more. The way I see it, there are only so many clean options in protein, carbs, and fats. What varies from one individual to another is going to be the amount and how your body responds.
An example of my nutrition:
My dietary needs are broken into 6 meals, although there are many opinions on whether this is necessary or not… I prefer eating this way throughout the day.
Meal 1: Oats and egg whites
Meal 2: Protein and veggies or carb
Meal 3: Protein, veggies, and carb
Meal 4: Protein and clean fat
Meal 5: Protein, clean fat, and salad or veggie
Meal 6: Protein and veggie or clean fat
For my protein intake, I enjoy: fish, chicken, egg whites, lean turkey burger or MRM Whey protein in chocolate or berry (or Optimum Nutrition Whey protein in Banana). My favorite carbs are: oats, tortilla, brown rice, and especially sweet potato (yam). Yams baked with cinnamon are like a desert! My preference of a clean fat is a crunchy almond butter. There are points in my dieting or prep that I take the butter out and go with non-salted raw nuts… because I am too tempted to over indulge in the amount of almond butter allowed.
Tips I find helpful in fulfilling my daily nutritional goals:
- I measure and weigh all of my portions. It is alarming how much an extra taste, lick, and bite can be.
- To assist in keeping on track with my water intake, I carry a galloon of water around to visually measure. This assists in insuring that I finish at least the galloon. Yes, I am that girl!
- I stay prepared, if there is a doubt or question that I will need a specific meal, I be sure to pack it and bring it for the day. It is better to have more meals than you need away from home, then be caught and have to improvise.
- I have become a creative food prep! I am very educated on cooking on the fly, I love my microwave and George Forman grill. I love cooking each piece of chicken fresh, on the travel Foreman Grill you can enjoy it in about 4-5 minutes. I have the smallest one they sell and carry it everywhere!
- A great cooler bag is a necessity! I love my 6 Pack bag, however, you can get one very inexpensive at any store. My first cost me $5.00.
Do you Take Any Supplements?
I do take supplements; they are great for the body and painful on the wallet! A factor that Coach Oddo taught me early is that you are a representation of three things: diet, training, and supplementation. So supplementation is another factor that he guides in my nutrition.
I am personally a huge fan of the MRM products. The MRM products I find are clean and contain well-balanced regulated amounts to meet my nutritional needs. I find that they are very reasonably priced and conveniently delivered through Bodybuilding.com. I like that I am supporting a local company as well, they are based out of southern California.
An example of my supplementation daily:
To assist digestion and absorption while dieting, I take things like: digestive enzymes, smart blend, multivitamin, and essential oils. As a woman and in Radiology as a profession, I am extremely sensitive to the need for calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium. I am very protective of my bones! These I take in addition to my multivitamin. I also take probiotics.
Supplementation before and after training gets tricky. I stay away from soy containing products (in addition sugars and monitor sodium). Surprisingly a lot of these products actually contain soy. Read your labels. I use a Body by O pre and post work out powder I purchase through Coach Oddo at the Body by O site. The pre-workout complex contains: Creatine, D-Ribose, Cordyceps, Sinensis, Guarana, DMG, Herbal Amino Complex and Natural Maple Flavor Base. The post-workout complex contains: L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine, L-Glutamine and Natural Maple Flavor Base. I take in addition glutamine before heading to bed every night.
If you could start back from the first day you started training would you do anything different?
I have truly enjoyed the journey that has brought me to where I am. I am a firm believer that you never wish for change, or have regrets. You must embrace where you have come from, learning all the rewarding lessons along the way. Without the experiences and exposures, that you have had… you would not be who you are today.
What is your biggest “Fitness” accomplishment?
Fitness accomplishments can come in so many forms. As a teen I made all varsity sports as a freshmen, I thought that was beyond amazing at the time! I worked really hard to be the best that I could be in everything I did. That year, I qualified for all of the invitational meets within that year and placed third (in one of my individual track sports) in our entire division. Life decisions changed the potential of college sports, so I never had that opportunity. A factor that I would regret if I allowed that thought process.
Now as an adult, I am beyond proud and honored to be doing as well as I am in competitive bikini with the NPC. To start the 2012 season with a class win and overall, a bikini highlight for April on NPC News Online and Flex Magazine, and a third place in my first Nationals appearance. I would say, this girl is feeling very accomplished!
I would be lying to say that I do not go into every competition training and wanting the win. I do set goals and have them for the long term. However, it is not just about the win. All of the athletes and friends that see me day in and out training know how dedicated I am and how hard I work. As ridiculously busy and unrealistic as my responsibilities can get… I always give more than 100%, never allowing excuses. Yes, the Facebook check in times for round two are real! I find what I have accomplished in the last year very rewarding, especially when I reflect on all of the variables that I fight. I am no longer in my twenties, I have had children, and I juggle all the responsibilities of a professional and student.
I am thankful for the three men I share my life and this journey with; they always support and believe in me, which is more than you can ask. My other half, who simply assists in making it all possible. My son, who as an athlete at 11 years old, just loves and supports my journey. The third, Coach Oddo, although there are moments I drive him crazy… he is an amazing coach and friend! I feel blessed to have met and found this journey I travel with him.
Is there anyone in the fitness industry that you look up to?
Being a professional in a leadership role made preparing myself in competitive fitness simple. I started out by ensuring that I was working with an amazing coach, that I felt I had great energy with and that had greater nutritional and training knowledge than me. Once I decided to compete, the next step was taking the time to observe at the Professional level. I have never been one to not set my standards at the top. It might be a lot of work and take time… I give everything to what I do and go in it to excel. While observing all of the IFBB pro bikini competitors, I found a few like me in style, character traits, and mannerisms in how they care themselves. I do feel that it is extremely important to stay true to who “you are”. The world was blessed with diversity; we should use it to our advantage. No one wants to see ten identical bikini competitors step on stage.
At this point, a little less than a year later… I embrace who I am, and both my strengths and weaknesses I have been blessed with. I do not “look up to anyone specifically”, however, I respect all of the athletes that have the dedication, motivation and drive to do what it takes to compete at all levels. We put a lot of heart and soul both mentally and physically to step on that stage. You do not have to technically be a professional athlete to be working very hard!
Final Advice For Readers?
- If you feel great physically, you will feel great mentally. It carries into every part of your life. Wanting to feel and look good is healthy! Commit to a plan that includes diet, training, and supplementation. It needs to be part of your life for long-term health and results.
- To help during the week, prepare your food ahead of time, measure and store your portions for fast assess. If it is prepped, you will always have something ready when you are hungry. You will be less likely to stray!
- Stay hydrated; a majority of your body is H2o!
- Always remember that the things you will work the hardest for, will be the most rewarding in life. Do not be afraid to do what seems like the impossible. Dream big, believe, and have faith! You do not have to step on stage, win, or have a title to be the best you!
- Respect and love who you are, there is only one of you on this earth. Regrets and wanting to be someone or something else is not productive. Use your energy wisely.
- If you do things because you love it, you will always be thankful for every experience.
- Amy Allen