Thursday, March 24, 2011

Julie Lake Interview

Julie Lake is an inspiring story. This is an example of the stage just being the reward for a lot of hard work. At one point weighing 265 pounds Julie stepped on stage for the first time in 2010. Determination and hard work are things that are required to get on stage, and these are things Julie has displayed an amazing amount of.

Q: First, Julie, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thanks for taking the time to do the interview with me.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I’m 42 years old. I live in Bay City, MI with my partner of 11 years and my 17 year old daughter. I have 3 grown boys who are out on their own. I also have a grand daughter who will turn one year old this month and another grandbaby on the way. I started bodybuilding only one year ago. I was over 30% body fat and weighed 235lbs when I began my journey in February 2010. I made my goal of 19% body fat and lost over 70lbs by September 2010 when I competed in my first show.

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: Not really. I was never really good at team sports, and since I wasn’t good at them, I thought that I wasn’t good at any sport. Deep down inside, however, there was an athlete waiting to be born.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: I began my journey to a healthier lifestyle over 4 years ago. I weighed 265lbs, and wanted to be healthier and to eventually be under 200lbs. I didn’t set a deadline for that goal, I just thought that it would happen in time.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Training was not something I knew how to do on my own. Like I said, when I started my journey, I weighed 265lbs. I lost 30 lbs on my own and felt pretty good about that. But I couldn’t’ get past that point. I thought I had made all the changes there were to make, that is until I hired a personal trainer. She helped me tweak my diet, started training me 2-3 days per week and, later, she set me up with a training program that I could do on my own. Since I had already been working out in a gym for almost 3 years, I picked up on training pretty well. I wasn’t used to lifting weights everyday, however, and my training plan had me in the gym lifting 5 days per week. The cardio was a little easier for me to deal with in the beginning because I was used to doing a lot of cardio.
I started seeing results within a few weeks. My weight started dropping and I noticed that things were becoming easier for me. For example, I could do longer cardio sessions before tiring, and I was able to increase the weight I was lifting.

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: My trainer!!! She told me a couple of times that I was strong enough and would be good competing in a bodybuilding competition. However, at that time, I weighed 230lbs and thought, “Yeah, right!!! I’m fat!” I just pushed her idea to the back of my mind until one day, I just blurted out to her, “If I wanted to compete in a bodybuilding competition, what would I have to do now to get ready?” She got so excited, and said she would tweak my diet even more and get me on a training schedule that I could do on my own everyday without her. She gave me the tools, and I used them to do the work to become stage ready.

A: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: In the beginning, only my partner and daughter supported me. When I would tell other people, I could tell my the look on their faces that they were thinking, “Yea, right!!! We will just see.” People watched me throughout my transformation. They realized by the time that I was 12 weeks out that I was serious and that I was going to do this. It was at that point that I received support from the rest of my family. It started with my mom who saw my dedication and started bragging about me. She also committed to my last 12 weeks that she would eat healthier and stick with proper nutrition. That lead to a chain reaction with my sisters making a commitment for 12 weeks of being healthier too.

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: I guess what surprised me most about it was the expense. Those itty bitty teeny weeny posing suits can be pricey. Then there’s tanning, tanning products, entry fees, make-up, and other miscellaneous expenses that come up. Other than that, the stage is kind of nerve wracking too. You are up there, in what you know is the best shape of your life, up against other people who are also in the best shape of their lives, and you have to try to stick out from all of them.

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: I competed in my first show in September 2010. I took second place in the Female Bodybuilding Masters Division (Masters Division is 35 years old and over). I also took third place in the Heavyweight Division (145lbs and over).

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: My back!! Even though I don’t get to see it often, I have an awesome back.

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I like back and leg days. I really enjoy the burn I feel when I work my back, and I know that since my back is my best part, working it is only going to make it that much better. And for me, it’s hard to get that same burn on leg day, so something that’s becoming a favorite thing is doing my lifting one leg at a time. This makes each leg work individually and helps me to get that good muscle burn going on.

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: Since this is my first full competition season, I don’t really have a “normal” training routine. But, after my first show, I kept up basically the same routine as I did when I was training for the show. I get up early and do about 45 minutes of cardio. This consists of 30 minutes of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and then a mile run. Then later in the afternoon, I hit the gym again to do my weight training. I work a different muscle group each day. Now that I’m getting ready for a show, I’ve added a ¼ mile sprint to my mile run. My weight training is staying the same, but I try to step it up by going with heavier weights, timed sets, or doing all sets of a particular exercise to fail. I’m constantly changing it up right now in order to get maximum muscle development right up until show time.
As for my diet…before my first competition, I started seriously training and eating the proper nutrition in February. It was a pretty strict diet consisting mostly of broccoli, asparagus, chicken, fish, egg whites, brown rice, greens, and cream of wheat and one cheat MEAL, not day, per week. When I was 12 weeks out, it got stricter. I no longer got brown rice, or cream of wheat. The rest remained the same. After competition, I could eat whatever I wanted, so I added back into my diet whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat breads, restaurant cooking, and desserts. (Everyone who knows me knows I LOVE cake!!) For my first show this season, I started dieting at 14 weeks out. I had to cut out the pasta, breads, desserts and trips to restaurants. I went back on to eating oatmeal, chicken, egg whites, fish, greens, broccoli, asparagus, and brown rice. Right now, I’m eating about 275 grams of protein, 100 g of carbs or less, and about 20 grams of fat or less per day.

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: When they heard I was going to compete for the first time, it was more negative because I had so much weight to lose and so far to go. When people see me now, they are more encouraging. They ask me about the competitions and what my goals are. It seems though that everyone asks about my weight goals. I tell them that I don’t have a weight goal but a body fat percentage goal.

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: "You are so skinny!" I hear that a lot, and I know that people mean well and want it to be complementary, but to me, the word "skinny" has a very negative connotation. I know people mean well, and I do take it as a compliment when they say it. It just seems so negative.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: I would say that the biggest misconception about female bodybuilders is that all of us are taking stacks of supplements and enhancers. Many do not take them. But the media has done a good job of sending out information about those who do and have totally neglected those of us who don't. This has put a negative light on female bodybuilding and has caused many women to shy away from getting involved in the sport.
I also think that many people think that we were all born this way. I can tell you and none of us were born a bodybuilder. We have all had to work and train hard to be worthy of getting on the stage for competition.

Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The best part is, I love training. I enjoy lifting weights, and I enjoy getting a good sweat on doing some hard cardio. I like the atmosphere at the gym where I train, and I enjoy the other members.
The worst part is I’m not an early morning person so getting up early for a cardio workout in the morning is hard. Another hard part is going to the gym 2-3 times per day. It makes it hard to get things done when most of your day is spent at the gym. Training for a bodybuilder competitor isn’t just a once a day workout for an hour or so. It’s everyday, 6 days a week, 2-3 times per day of hitting the gym hard. I often tease the gym owner that he needs to just make a room for me there because it seems I live there!

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I admire those who have worked hard, and have come a long way to be stage ready. The first competition that I attended (before I decided to compete) there was a male bodybuilder who was in the Grand Masters Division who had a double hip replacement surgery. He went through all of that and still worked hard to get on stage. At the competition I was in, in September 2010, there was another male bodybuilder who had lost over 100lbs, worked hard, and looked really good on that stage. He didn’t place or get a trophy, but in my book, he is someone I admire for his hard work and commitment to get on that stage and show it all off. Those are my favorite competitors and those are the ones I admire.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: PIZZA and cake!! I love a good pizza, and everyone who knows me knows how much a like cake!! I also enjoy Hooters hot wings and fries! And you can bet that I’ll be eating each of these after my first show this season.

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: Work hard and train like a champ. Follow the nutrition plan. If you do these things, you will make it to the stage. And, just when you think you can’t run another step, lift another weight, or turn another crank on the bike, pull from deep down inside of yourself and grab hold of you inner strength and keep going. Always give more than 100%, because 100% isn’t enough. Push through the tough spots, because it’s all worth it in the end.

Q: Do you think it is becoming more common to see women working in the gym with the weights and not just doing cardio and things?
A: At the gym where I train, yes. But it wasn’t always that way. There’s a trainer at my gym who is female. She’s very much into women getting involved in weight training and she encourages all of her new clients to use weight equipment. So, slowly, there are more and more women working more with weights.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Who has time for anything outside of the gym?? I’m just kidding. I enjoy photography, and have had some shoots that I have gotten paid for. I really love the shoots I do with pets. They are a lot of fun to work with and they aren’t picky about how they look in a picture. I also love to watch a good movie, or read a good book. I very much enjoy my family, and my grandbaby.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Julie Lake.
A: My alarm clock goes off at 5:30 or 6. I’m out the door within half an hour to hit the gym and do my HIIT cardio and a mile run with the ¼ mile sprint. Then it’s home for breakfast, which consists of ½ C oatmeal and 6 egg whites. I use the time after breakfast to catch up on email, Facebook, chores around the house, or meal preparation for things I can cook up ahead of time. One day a week, I take my grandbaby to the library for baby story time. Then usually it’s back to the gym in the early afternoon for and hour or so of weight training. When I’m getting ready for a show, I do posing practice for 30 minutes to an hour so that I’m comfortable with the poses on competition day. Sometimes I come back home to get another meal, and taking my daughter to her afternoon job, before I head back to the gym for an evening cardio class or some other training session. Usually I am back home around 8:30 in the evening to finish up anything that didn’t get done during the day…laundry, or other chores….eat again, and get in the bed by 10:30 or 11 pm.

Q: Describe Julie Lake in five words.
A: Strong-willed, determined, dependable, hard-working, trustworthy

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I drink one Absolute Zero Monster EVERYDAY! It wakes up my head and gets me going…just like coffee for some people.
Also, I think that one day I may run a marathon, but that’s only a possibility in the distant future.

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I plan on competing in at least 3 shows this year, with a possible 4th one.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Julie Lake the athlete and competitor?
A: Sure, a sponsor would be great. I can be reached at Anyone who sponsored me would get a woman who is able, determined, and doesn’t take no for an answer. They will be getting someone who has overcome huge obstacles to get to this point, and will continue to work hard and strive for only the best that health and fitness can give her.

Q: Julie, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Thanks for the interview. I hope others are inspired by my story. Don’t lose hope, it can be done, even when the road seems too long or the task too big. Push through and reach for the prize.

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