Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Maria Steward Interview
Very excited about this interview with the beautiful Maria Steward. Maria took first place in her first competition, which is obviously quite an accomplishment. Most recently she also won her class at the Lackland Classic. Maria simply gets it. Reading about her you see her passion and dedication and love for what she does, and she does it for the right reasons. Maria Steward is someone who is gonna be around for awhile and is going to make quite a name for herself in this industry.
Q: First, Maria, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: My pleasure! It’s such an honor that you want to interview lil ol me!
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I’m 23, born and raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I married at the age of 17, and my husband got stationed in San Antonio. So we’ve been residing here ever since. I work as a psychometrist and outside of working out, my hobbies include going to the shooting range and dancing (miming in particular-seriously!)
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I played basketball and volleyball in middle school-I was totally a girly girl and not into sports really at all, lol. And as far as working out, I would go once in a blue moon-I relied heavily on my genetics for the most part and really shyed away from the gym, lol.
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: In March 2010, my husband and I booked a vacation to Costa Rica for July. Right then and there, I knew I wanted to be in tip top shape, with a goal of strolling the beach in thong bikinis lol.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: I couldn’t really afford a personal trainer so I started off researching online, googling away and searching for a workout and nutrition plan to follow. After much research, I discovered bodybuilding.com and got hooked! I searched through the transformation section and found someone that had a similar body type as me with the results I wanted to achieve and followed her diet and training to the T! So my training and diet was fairly easy to follow as I had it all laid out for me.
As far as results, the first month was rough! The scale only dropped 4 pounds; I felt like my hard work wasn’t paying off. But when I looked at bodyfat, I had lost 3%. This was encouraging, and from then on I decided to stop worrying about the scale and pay attention to bodyfat instead. By the second month, I got more strict with my diet and bodyfat began to decrease and I lost an incredible 15 additional pounds.
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: After coming across bodybuilding.com, I was introduced to the world of figure and bikini competitions. I had never even heard of it! With Costa Rica in mind, I decided to reach high and enter myself in a figure competition for extra motivation. Exactly 4 months from the day I began my training and dieting, I took stage and won 1st place in my very first figure competition.
Q: Was competing something your family and friends supported at the time?
A: At first, some of my friends and family did not understand why I was pumping iron, telling me “you already look good, don’t go overboard you’re gonna look like a man!” It was discouraging to hear such ignorance, and the lack of support. I just bottled it up as extra motivation to pursue my goals and to change their ignorant assumptions. My husband however was very supportive—he really sacrificed a lot-the home cooked meals, house-keeping, cookie session (lol). He was just as amazed as I was, with the changes my body was experiencing and expressed how proud he was of me—just more motivation!
Q: Was competing what you expected? Did anything surprise you about it?
A: At 6 weeks out from the competition, I hired a trainer and figure coach-Skie Trevino. She is a former pro bodybuilder, current figure competitor, and judge-the BEST! She equipped me with all the necessary tools I needed to compete. After 6 weeks of training with her, my body had improved greatly, and I was really confident with my posing and felt ready to compete. On competition day, I was super nervous and had all these preconceived ideas that girls would be sabotaging each other backstage, lol. I was pleasantly surprised how nice everyone was; we all even helped each other out. It was such a great experience.
Q: Can you share your contest history
A: July 17, I competed in the INBF Southwest Championships and placed 1st in figure novice tall, and on August 25 I competed in the INBF Alamo Showdown and placed 2nd in figure tall, and 1st place in bikini. November 15th 1st place in Figure B at Lackland Classic
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: I’m not sure if it’s a bodypart- but I feel my best feature is my symmetry/lat spread.
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train?
A: My favorite parts to train are shoulders and back. I’m really trying to accentuate that V-Taper.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like, and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: Currently I’m in contest prep for figure and 5 weeks out, so it’s pretty strict. I weight lift pre-breakfast 6 days a week, do uphill sprints and lunges 3 times a week, and a cardio session after my last meal of the day. I’m trying to get 2 hours of cardio in a day. I’m carb cycling now eating chicken, cucumbers and grapefruit on low carb days, and salmon and sweet potato on carb load days. I’ve been doing this for a little over a week now, and my body has made incredible gains. It’s amazing to me how fast my body is responding-it’s new to me and I’m loving it!! This is actually the first time where I’ve been really consistent with my diet with no cheats and it’s paying off.
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: It’s still surprising to me that the majority of people don’t know what figure/bikini competitions really are. I can’t really knock em though, because I was that person not too long ago. When I tell them (mainly guys) that I’m a figure competitor I get a lot of “Is that like nude modeling or something?” haha…Its quite amusing. I also get a flood of question after I tell them I compete too—what’s your diet like, how often do you train, what do you win?? Questions like that. I try to answer as much as I can, being that I was once in their shoes, and there’s so much information out there to know exactly who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s always encouraging to actually see someone whose diet/training seems to be working for them.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: After my family and friends came to see me compete, I got a lot of, “ keep your femininity, you don’t wanna look like a man.”…lol
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: Women, lifting weights will NOT make you look like a man. We don’t produce as much testosterone as men, thus it is impossible for us to produce huge amounts of muscle mass by merely just touching weights. The only way to achieve that look is with steroids and other drugs. It’s sad, that the group of women who choose to uses drugs for these gains, jade the views of the woman who weight lifts.
Q: What is the best and worst part of competing?
A: Competing is just icing on the cake (mmmm, cake sounds so good right now, lol). Each day that I eat clean and train hard, is a day that I think-how in the world did I do that!? I am proving something to myself that I CAN do anything I set my mind to. I’m learning that I DO have control over how my body looks. While I work on myself physically, it overflows to other areas of my life. My relationships have improved-specifically with my husband and God. And everyday, I am coming to a deeper understanding and a deeper connection with this man that loves me so much-my Jesus! After all the hard work that I’ve put in preparing for a competition and finally getting to the stage, I have such a joyful feeling of accomplishment—that is the best part of competing!
As far as the worst part of competing, I have to say it’s the diet! I love to eat, and everyday it’s a struggle for me to stick to it. It has not gotten easier as I hoped it would! Also, having to give up late night hanging out with friends and family, and having to go home after working a full time job AND training to still perform my “wifely” duties, has been rough! lol. What motivates me is seeing other women with even BUSIER lives still managing to pull it off-if they can do it-so can I!
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: Firstly, I have to say Alicia Marie. She is both a woman of color and a tall competitor (as am I), and one of the leading fitness models in the industry. I respect her hustle and hope to attain her level and even SURPASS it one day. I then have to say Brazilian bombshell Larissa Reis. Her body is beautifully sculpted and she is gorgeous to say the least! I carry a picture of her around for motivation, lol.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Bread-anything with bread!! Pizza, pizza rolls, subway! I love bread, but it don’t love me!lol
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: If you can afford it, get a trainer. Also, this is probably best-research research research! Get online, talk to people whose bodies are walking billboards, read fitness magazines. Write out a workout and nutrition program after you research and stick to it. Tweak it according to how your body is responding, and don’t give up. Get a workout partner for extra support. By doing my own research, I found it to be empowering and it gave me a reason to train even harder when I started out without a trainer.
Q: DO you think it s becoming more common to see women in the gym training and lifting as hard as men?
A: I’m sure it is; however I don’t really encounter when I’m at the gym. I still see all the women flooded at the cardio machines, with a handful (and I mean, probably a child’s hand) of women sweating it out in the prison yard hitting heavy or REALLY working hard.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I love to dance!! I’m actually thinking about starting some youtube dance aerobic stuff, haha. Another big thing is traveling. My husband and I try to to travel internationally 2-3 times a year. Currently we are more interested in seeing the REAL culture and not the resort/touristy stuff when traveling. We visited Costa Rica a couple monthes ago, and fell in love. Can’t wait for the next visit!
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Maria Steward.
A: Wake up at 5:30, weight lift 6:00-6:45, go to work and administer neuropsychological tests 7:30-4:30, 45 minute cardio during lunch break, 5:00-7:00 go home cook, clean, and do all that domestic stuff lol, take a night bike ride with the hubby 7:00-8:00, 8-8:30 prepare my food and gym bag for next day, 8:30-10 leisure time-watch tv, talk on phone, skype, get on facebook and bodyspace…and that is a typical day of a day in the life of Maria Antonia Steward!
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I mime and praise dance and am pretty darn good at it too! Haha
Q: Describe Maria Steward in five words.
A: I am nothing without Jesus!
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I’m competing November 13 at the NPC Lackland in figure. Afterwards, taking an off season to build more mass and work on these legs. Will compete again in summer 2011. Also working with Ms Skie Trevino, and building up Skies the Limit Dream Team Diva’s. Oh..Also, I’ll be obtaining my personal training certification very soon! (NOTE: Maria took 1st at the Lackland Classic and looked incredible)
Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: I am the spokesmodel and member of Skies the Limit Dream Team Diva’s (see skiesfitness.com). We just had our first meeting this past weekend and have assembled an awesome group of female competitors (bodybuilder, figure and bikini competitors). More than just a team of traveling competitors, we will be working within the community specifically reaching out to single mothers.
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Maria Steward the athlete and competitor?
A: Yes sir! I began this journey lifting weights pretty much for the first time in March 2010. I went from 24% bodyfat and 151lb to 9% and 119lb in 4 months- a total loss of 15% bodyfat and 32lb. I am still a work in progress and it’s my hope that I can inspire and motivate other women young and old to compete as well-specifically more ethnic women (I myself am Dominican and Black). We are a small minority in the field, and I’d like to see more of us step up on stage! Also, being only 23 and to only have 7 months of training under my belt, I have made awesome gains. Excited to see what the future holds for me and would appreciate any type of sponsorship for both me and my fellow Dream Team Divas!
Best way to reach me is via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, I also have a facebook, and bodyspace (bodyspace.com/msteward87)
Q: Maria , again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: “the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more” –Dr Jonas Salk.