Sunday, July 11, 2010
Nichole Ohrablo Interview
Nichole Ohrablo has become a friend. Someone I really admire. Her hard work and dedication is admirable, and she is always quick to lend a word of encouragement. Small in height, she is huge in heart. Nichole has not been competing for very long, but when she is on stage, she shines. Her goal is the same as many people's, the IFBB Pro card. No reason to believe she wont achieve it. She has an incredible physique with some sick abs, and it will continue to imporve because of the hard work and dedication she has. Here is one of my favorite interview so far, Nichole Ohrablo.
Q: First, Nichole, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you, Jason. I am grateful for the opportunity.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: My family is originally from NY, parents both born in Brooklyn, my sister and I in Long Island. We lived there until I was 10 when my parents decided that there would be better opportunity for our family to thrive outside of NY. We wound up in Raleigh, NC where I attended both middle and high school before moving back up to NY, this time to the to the city, at the age of 19. I went to the Fashion Institution of Technology where I studied fine art before dropping out to pursue a career in the music industry.
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or
A: Yes, I was a very hyper child, lol. I needed constant action (that has never wavered about me). I started dancing when I was just 3, was a cheerleader, gymnast, swam on summer swim teams, tried my hand (or legs) at track & field (valiant effort, but wasn't exactly a sport I was built for :-p ) I was always climbing on, or jumping off of something...attempting to flip over things. A lot of bruises and broken bones in my childhood, lol. I actually did have some dumb bells at a young age, "Get in Shape Girl"...Let's see how many 1980s girls remember those sets. My grandmother had some dumb bells at her house too in an empty bedroom upstairs that I would always play with, doing curls and presses when I was a kid. I was a very lean kid, always the tiny one...with a very large appetite and I LOVED arm wrestling all the boys.
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: Well, I guess you can say I was in and out for much of my life. However, even though I was naturally very lean and athletic my body began to change in about 10th grade or so. I had aways eaten very healthy...purely out of instinct and because it was what I liked, but once I got to HS and started going out to parties that all began to change. I started going out on the weekends, drinking...eating crap foods with my friends. Food and my weight had never really been something I needed to think much about until then as the late nights, beers and Doritos started to catch up with me. I, along with most the kids my age were uneducated about nutrition, the effects of alcohol or how to properly care for our bodies in general. Couple that with the usual HS/teen age emotions, drama and need to fit in I slowly went down a very common path of poor self esteem, body image and disordered eating. We were just clueless. Fast forward several years (and countless diets and yo-yos up and down the scale later)I was living in NY, bouncing back and forth between Manhattan and Brooklyn. I had landed a job at a record label, was doing some work in night clubs on the side (anything from DJing to the door/guest lists, to cock tail waitressing. I even bar tended a few times, but I totally sucked, I just made sure the drink was the right color and over-poured like crazy. I spent the majority of my free time at after hours clubs dancing and partying until all hours. It really began to ware on me. Then 9-11 happened. I was living in a loft on 29th between 7th and 8th aves at the time. I shared a commercial space with 3 other girls. (We slept in bunk beds). I was a baby at the time, but my early 20s were beginning to feel more like 40s. I was tired, run down...drinking, smoking and partying all the time. I was pretty thin just from the lifestyle and walking/riding my skateboard all over the city, but I definitely was far from healthy. There was a girl that worked at the coat check of one of the clubs that I frequented that was just RIPPED. I would stare at her every time I saw her...god only knows what she thought of me, lol. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever that she was pretty petite, but just so lean and muscular...yet still very feminine. I wanted to look just like her. I was too shy to ask what she did to look that way, but a friend said, "Yeah, she competes in figure.". I had seen fitness competitions on TV before, but had never heard of figure. So I picked up copies of OXYGEN and MUSCLE & FITNESS HERS, started reading everything I could get my hands on and asked questions of anyone I could. I remember walking into "Steel Gym"...I think it was on 19th street-ish, with one of my magazine in tow. I marched in, opened it to the back where the contest coverage pics were and said to the HUGGGGGE guy at the front desk, "I wanna do that...how do I do it?" lol (I know, I was too shy to ask the girl at the coat check, but here I was was at 4'11 pointing to a picture of some IFBB Pro and basically declaring that's what I wanted to be when I grew up. :-p ) I was lucky the guy didn't laugh in my face and say "scram kid". He was very nice...he gave me a tour of the gym which seemed like a pretty hard core place to train. There were two very enormous men in what I know now is contest shape, posing. One of the guys' legs were literally larger in circumference than my entire body at the time and I just remember being like, "WOW." That's so cool that the human body can do that. So the guy at the desk who gave me the tour told me about Bev Frances' Gold's gym in Syossett and wrote down some things and people to look up on a little post it and stuck it to the page had pointed to. That began quite a journey. It wasn't until several years even after that when I met m now husband and we really pushed each other. He had competed once before and my desire to do fitness pushed him to compete, but I didn't compete for the first time until the following year in 06'. I competed in figure in a smaller natural organization in upstate NY.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started
to see results?
A: I did start seeing results right away. I had really begun to learn how important nutrition was and what a large role it played in getting the body to change. I loved it. I have pictures of me flexing my little bitty guns in my old apartment, lifting up my shirts and showing the beginning of my 6 pack. I also began running down the west side highway, eating lots of egg whites and protein shakes and used the small dumb bells my roommates and I happened to have in the apartment. I started to get lean and see muscles. I was tiny as all hell and definitely lacked a lot of muscle as well as any kind of symmetry or notion of it, but I was hooked...and amazed. I wanted to learn MORE, get my body to become even better...stronger, sculpt one of those beautiful fit bodies "like the women in the back of the magazines". I lacked knowledge, money and guidance. Yet I had begun an incredible journey that I didn't know I was on at the time. One that would not only lead to happiness and self discovery, but to a career that would give me the kind of fulfillment and purpose I had never imagined possible from "work".
Q: You just recently did your first competition. What made you decide to compete
and how did you do?
A: I had always wanted to compete in fitness. I would daydream about it all the time. It was that one thing I couldn't stop thinking of. I had a hard time after the first figure competition I did. I hadn't completely changed my lifestyle before "dieting" for that show (so I was tortured) and didn't get to do what I really wanted to do (fitness) so I continued to train and stay on my "diet" for about 2 years...I kept making dates to do an NPC fitness show and pulling out. It eventually led to an enormous rebound. I was back to square one and had to re-evaluate a lot. All of that is a whole other story in itself. I decided competing was not for me and that I couldn't start this yo-yo process again at that point in my life. (I continued to train though because I loved it) Plus I felt restricted in a way...I wanted to be free, get tattoos and have my piercings...be expressive. I didn't have the confidence in myself to know that I could both pursue my dream of becoming a fitness professional yet still be who I was. I had a lot of lessons to learn. Little by little I found my way...and then one day while I was busy just living it had just snuck up me. I was finally healthy. Really healthy. Both mentally and physically...and I was free, to be me. I was happy and OK with myself no matter what. I had also maintained a steady weight without pain or restriction, enjoying occasional treats without binges or freak outs and was able to laugh after seeing the scale jump up a lb or 2 after a little extra indulgence finally knowing logically it'd be back to normal by mid week just as a result of my normal well-balanced approach. Bottom line, I was treating myself and my body with kindness and respect. Back in 06' when I did figure with the USBF I met my friend Tiana who was a great influence on me as well. She had compete in natural bodybuilding as well as NPC figure. It had been years since she had competed, but in June of last year she went and cleaned out at the Bev Frances Atlantic States. That inspired me in man ways and being in such a different place mentally (and literally we had moved in May to Raleigh, NC) I knew I was finally ready. At the time I had been on about month #5 of living off a very pure and firm vegan diet. I was training a client whom I was helping train for her first half iron man....and she was pretty newly vegan. So in order to better help her I followed suit so that I could experiment and test things out myself. I was in great shape, but as you can imagine had lost some size. So I altered my diet and training again. Added chicken, fish, eggs and whey back in...started lifting a little heavier to pack on a little more muscle, but kept a lot of plyometrics in to help keep explosive power. Lucky for me, I build muscle fairly easily and was just having a blast with the switch in training. I went on to take 2nd in the fitness division at the NPC NC State Championships, but more importantly I enjoyed the journey and had done so while maintaining a healthy relationship with myself for once. It was a huge personal victory and I cried in between the pre-judging and night show when I got my pictures from the photographer that were taken backstage. I was so happy...I had no clue how I had placed yet, but I was just so happy that physically I had done it. I was elated with the results of my hard work and happy to finally enjoy it and be in a good mind. That alone was a victory. Taking 2nd at States was the icing on the cake.
Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time?
A: For the first show yes, but then seeing everything that I went through emotionally they were not so crazy about the idea at first, but as I began this road they saw that something in me had really changed. I was using the road this time around for an entirely different purpose. My family has been amazing. My husband, Joe, is my coach. He gave me my #s and guidance...I chose my own foods and got very creative. I had fun with it! And my parents are awesome..they would grill chicken breasts or fish and never give me heat for measuring things out...even my sister (who didn't quite understand it at first) made me a hard-boiled egg and brought me a serving of fruit one night when I had to train a client, but had forgotten an extra meal. She got up at 4am to do my hair and my parents stayed all day and night at that show. My Dad's reaction is what blew me away though...he gave me the biggest hug afterwards and even looked a little teary-eyed. My Dad is NOT a sports guy, lol. My friends and clients were so awesome too. I honestly felt so blessed. Everyday I would have messages of support on my facebook and blog and I tried to keep things as normal as possible, meeting for coffee and such until I was just too tired at the end.
Q: Was competing what you expected? Did anything surprise you about it?
A: It was a lot less scary than I expected. I had built up so much fear in my mind! Not too many surprises...those last 2 weeks of the pre-contest prep snuck up on me though. I was feelin' pretty decent until then...then BAM! I was like creeping death, lol. It went fast though and now I can laugh at it.
Q: Did you feel right away it was something you were going to continue doing?
A: Absolutely, god willing...I want to take it all the way, continue to learn and grow...improve. I am following my dream of earning an IFBB fitness pro card. One never knows what the future holds, but it has been a dream for a long time.
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: Abs and back.
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love to train. Period. It's just a part of me, but I do really love to train shoulders. They were a body part that I had to work really hard for. I really enjoy legs now (used to hate em, lol) ...I just love to see them change and improve now.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it
for contest prep?
A: I eat clean year-round now. Just out of the love of it. So I had a really easy time getting lean for this show which meant more food and keeping most of my lifting pretty moderate to low in reps and heavy.
We jump-started things with a little bit of lower carbs (not LOW, low-er) with a high carb day. That's when I had more high reps and drop sets just to get that fire burning.The maximum cardio I was doing around 20 weeks out was 45 minutes a few times a week. Once the metabolic flame was lit I started losing pretty rapidly so each week we got to change things in small increments and I was lifting heavier with pretty low reps on some body parts to maintain size towards the end which was pretty cool. There were weeks where other than practicing my routine I was barely doing cardio to prevent me from dropping too fast...a problem I definitely didn't have for the first show. I was just so excited to have my metabolism in a healthy place again. My split changed often, but a sample week leading up to the show looked like this:
Mon- Legs & pose
Tues- Arms, shoulders, abs + 10-20 min cardio
Wed- Routine & stretch
Thr- Back, 15-20 min cardio & pose
Fri- Chest, abs + sprints, intervals or hill runs
Sat- Routine, stretch
My diet includes a lot of different foods which include such staples as:
Oats, amaranth, quinoa, teff and millet Yuca root
Flax seed peanut butter, raw cacao nibs, coconut water, chia seed, local raw honey, raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, raw coconut oil, raw coconut butter, Kuzu root, sea vegetables (nori, dulce, etc) Avocados. Walnut, sunflower, olive and flax oils. Hemp seeds, hemp protein & hemp seed butter. Raw agave, spirulina, carob, lecithin, sesame seeds...
I also use all different types of beans, raw nuts, fish, eggs and egg whites, chicken, oysters and scallops...I even was eating sardine for a while for their calcium and D content. I drink pure yerba mate almost every day along with aloe vera juice, apple cider vinegar, Braggs liquid aminos & b-12 fortified nutritional yeast flakes. I cook with a lot of raw garlic and am huge on different herbs for both cooking and in teas. I've got the usual whey & occasional casein protein powders in there too. I regularly eat different types of squash, fruits and all different types of vegetables. As you can see, I love food. I love discovering different foods and ingredients and researching what effects different natural foods can have on the body. Creativity is my strength and I even teach cooking classes to help my clients and other people have fun with these foods.
Q: When someone sees your physique or hears you compete for the first time,
what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: Definitely more positive. It's funny too because I'm very cold natured, so I'm usually always pretty bundled up so when I strip down to a tank top it has taken people off guard and gets some laughs. After seeing some pictures one of my clients said, "You pulled a Clark Kent on us!" I thought that was that was awesome.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you
are most sick of hearing?
A: I don't mind when people ask questions. I think its an important opportunity to share what I've learned. I got a lot of questions about my abs and my diet backstage at the show and really enjoyed talking to other competitors, especially some of the younger ones just starting out. I got a lot of, "What do you take? What fat burner do you use?" When I said, "nothing, and none" their mouths would drop, but then I would explain.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the
one thing you wish people understood?
A: I think there are many, one being that we live these miserable rigid lives. Its rigid leading up to a show, but any time you are striving to achieve something in life you're going to be a bit more restricted and focused in some way whether it's doing a competition, going to school or trying to buy a house. I have a lot of freedom, I do it out of choice and love the opportunity to teach other people that it has given me.
Q: What is the best and worst part of competing?
A: Best part: learning something new each time and being able to apply that not only to bodybuilding, but to other goals in life and sharing the knowledge and experience to help other people.
Worst part: Waking up at 3:30/4:30 am every day because you're body's in "hunter mode" lol...that got old real quick. (Although I did get tons of work done before my first client everyday, lol)
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: Jen Hendershott, hands down. Her routines are explosive and she's a ridiculous athlete.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Lilly's Pizza in Raleigh, NC (They know me and my ridiculous order well there): Gluten free crust, spinach, eggplant, portabello mushrooms and green peppers with baked tofu and light vegan-rella & a soy or skinny vanilla latte (although I plan to start a campaign to get almond milk as an option in coffee shops)
Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one ,
piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: To first fully commit to change her lifestyle so that it's not a "diet", but the Way she lives.
Q: You are also a trainer. What got you interested in training others and what
do you enjoy about it?
A: I just got to a point in my life where I couldn't imagine doing anything else. It felt so natural that at times I felt like, "no way could this be a real career...its too perfect for me." I really love helping people feel better and enjoy their lives more, meeting so many different new people and especially love working with kids and teens.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I am a very simple person at this point in my life. I spend a majority of my free time hanging out with my family, enjoy walks outside with my husband, hang out with friends.I'm always reading and researching and am constantly concocting some new recipe or searching for new funky organic ingredients and I'm a HUGE UFC and freestyle Moto X fan. :-p
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Nichole Ohrablo.
A: Up at 4:30 am, strip down and check weight, eat breakfast (usually 1/2 cup oats, 1 scoop vanilla whey, 1/2 Tbs raw honey, Tbs flax P/B with cinnamon) and a cup of black coffee or yerba mate tea. Answer emails and update client plans, train morning clients then go work out, train evening clients and if I'm lucky a long hot epsom salt bath and chill time with my husband while we both cook and prep food.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: For years I wanted to be an international house mucic DJ :-p ...and I totally pursued it. I couldn't make this stuff up. I was also so poor during that time that I slept on the floor, jumped subway turn-styles and lived off microwave popcorn. It was an adventure.
Q: Desrbie Nichole Ohrablo in five words.
A: Driven, Determined, Adventurous, Inspired, Dreamer
Q: ANy set plavns for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: Yes, I am competing in figure with the NPA alongside my husband who is making his return to the natural bodybuilding stage after a massive injury. Then I plan spend the coming year working on my weaknesses as a fitness competitor so that I can come back better and stronger as I make my way to the NPC national stage in pursuit of becoming a pro.
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: Keep an eye out for my upcoming web site www.nicholeohrablofitness.com
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you adn what are they
getting in Nichole Ohrablo the athlete and competitor?
A: It would be a dream to be sponsored by a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or Earth Fare...my ultimate goal is to have a team of athletes that go into the schools and talk to kids and teens about nutrition, exercise and following their dreams. Contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Nichole, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. ANy last words
before you go?
A: You're so welcome taking the time to interview me. I hope I didn't talk you ear off too much :-p