Sunday, March 20, 2011

Stephaney Theobald Interview

Withing minutes of meeting and talking to Stephaney Theobald I was impressed. Set aside the obvious beauty factor. Her physique is so impressive, but let's set that aside for a moment to. She is a sweet woman and is very supportive and encouraging. She, as you will see in this interview, is such a great spokesperson for women in the fitness industry. Let's not forget the competing. In her first show, she didn't place to well. Just a short time later she was placing top ten in her first National show, competing with women who beat her in those early shows. With Jr. USA's and Jr. Nationals on her schedule this year, I think we will see a lot more of Stephaney and those placings getting higher and higher.

Q: First, Stephaney, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Of course, thank YOU for asking!

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: Well I am 30 years old, married, no children of my own but I do have a 6 year old step-son whom I love like my own! I grew up in Northern KY with my loving parents and 3 sisters and now reside in the Cincinnati area. I graduated college with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and then worked for GE and Johnson & Johnson for about 8 years before I finally decided to quit Corporate America and start my own company in order to do something MEANINGFUL with my life. I always wanted to actually help other people and change lives, so I started a nutrition company with my husband called Natty Nutrition in order to help people get fit and healthy the RIGHT way (no "skinny fat" clients with ruined metabolisms here! lol)

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I've always been fairly athletic and into sports - that's what happens when you have a sports-fanatic father with ALL GIRLS - he turned us into tomboys :-). I danced for 10+ years, played some softball and basketball earlier in life then fell in love with running in high school. I ran track and cross country (and even threw discus) and continued running local races and half marathons well into adulthood. I've also played in many recreational leagues for soccer and flag football and actually still participate in those from time to time.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: Well as I stated before I've always been fairly athletic, competitive, and into health and fitness in general. But regardless of all of the activity and "healthy eating" I was never happy with my body. I was super insecure and terrified to wear a two piece bathing suit. In 2004 I started dating Jason (who is now my husband) and I learned he was a bodybuilder. At the time all I knew about bodybuilding was the stereotypical stuff and I often poked fun at him for it and my stubborn side refused to take advice from him. Luckily he never pushed anything on me and somewhere along the way I started noticing how he was eating a ton, not working out as many hours as I was but still looked a million times better than I did. The nutrition side of things was what I picked up first, slowly learning how to FEED my body to burn fat - I shed a good amount of fat but still was too stubborn to or embarrassed to lift weights with "the boys". Then late 2007 I was told I needed surgery on my foot and wouldn't be able to run for 6-12 months - this was like the end of the world for me considering ALL I did was run run run. So terrified of putting the fat on that I'd worked so hard to lose I asked Jason to show me how to lift weights. He gladly did and in just a few short months I dropped so much body fat without doing a bit of running - I was HOOKED!

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: I'd say I picked it up fairly easily just because I'd always been athletically inclined and was a good learner with attention to detail - plus I had lifted some in high school for track and cross country.. BUT I would say that what did take me more time was learning how to really target the muscle I was trying to work - in fact this is something I still work on, really isolating the parts I want to work without engaging other muscles more than necessary. As for seeing results I'd say I saw results very quickly, definitely within the first few weeks, and that's exactly why I got hooked :-)

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: Funny that you ask - that decision was the biggest "eat crow" moment of my life! I mentioned before that I used to poke fun at Jason for being a bodybuilder - well he took me to a show once and I HATED it. I'm ashamed to say I sat there and judged the entire time thinking "how vain" those girls probably were - I even said out loud "I can't believe those girls would put themselves up there to be judged like that - I will NEVER do something like that!". I should probably take a step back and give you a quick background on my upbringing - I grew up in a very strict Catholic family that rewarded MODESTY - one that frowned upon anything that was even remotely vain or wearing any clothing that was even slightly revealing. So even though I thought I had come a long way from my strict upbringing and had opened my eyes, at this bodybuilding show all I saw were the "stereotypes" and I was just so uncomfortable. Looking back I now realize I was just SUPER insecure and never in a million years thought I could look as amazing as these beautiful women on stage. So my defense mechanism was to look down on them (funny because now I get SO MAD at people like that who put down others to make themselves feel better - and I used to be one of them!)
Then after I started going to the gym and seeing such huge changes in my body confidence began to grow a little and my opinions started changing - slowly but surely. I began realizing that vanity had nothing to do with it - it was all about pushing myself to places I never believed I could get - it was about treating my body with respect - it was about building self confidence and self love that I never new I could have. I was still adamant in the fact that I would NEVER compete - but I decided I wanted to push myself and see what I could do. I told Jason I wanted to just "see if I could" follow a competition diet - but I was NOT going to compete - I just wanted to do a photo shoot (again, defense mechanism... in the back of my head I really WANTED to compete but just assumed never would I look even remotely good enough to compete). So Jason put together a diet and training plan for me and I started following it. After about a month of strict, clean eating - no sugar, no alcohol - I was amazed at what was happening to my body. The confidence grew and I finally committed to trying a show - my first show was the Monster Mash in Ohio in October 2008.

Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: No not at all - as I stated my family is ultra conservative and were not at all happy with my decision to compete. They've come around a little bit now that they see it's my new lifestyle and they see the joy and happiness I get - however to this day not a single member of my family has ever been to a show. My husband of course is super supportive - and his parents and grandparents have always supported me and come to my shows. As for my friends - I wouldn't say they're unsupportive - but most of them just don't really get it and have never attended a show. But on the flipside I have made so many GREAT friends BECAUSE of competing - the majority of my close friends now are competitors themselves. There are so many amazing women in this sport (and men too!) and it's so much easier to hang out with girls who just "get" me.

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: So much different than I expected - I always envisioned it being a bunch of vain, catty, snotty girls backstage fighting for the spotlight. That obviously was NOT the case. Most girls I've met are actually so humble and sweet and willing to help anyone who needs it. It's like this unspoken sisterhood that seems to exist among female competitors. But I think the biggest thing that surprised me about competing is that the competition itself was NOT the highlight. Sure it was tons of fun to get onstage and show off all of the hard work I'd put in, but the highlight of competing was the JOURNEY to the stage - it was getting through those tough moments where I wanted to give up - it was looking back at the 16 weeks I had gone through with ZERO sugar and ZERO alcohol - it was realizing that I DID have willpower and did NOT have to give into social pressures of eating and drinking. There is certainly a high you get by getting on stage, but the feeling I get going through the 16+ weeks of prep is what keeps me coming back.

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: My first show was the Ohio Monster Mash in Oct. 2008 where I didn't place (I ended up 6th in both pure novice figure and open figure). I then did the 2008 KY Muscle and did horribly (I think I was 10 out of 14 or something like that). My next show was the Kentucky State and Central in Aug. 2009 where I placed 2nd in the open and 3rd in novice. Then in 2010 I did the Indiana GNC Classic in June and placed 2nd in my open class, placing just behind a girl who ended up winning the overall. I went on to do Jr. Nationals in Chicago and tied for 8th, though ended up 10th. I was ecstatic to get top ten out of 24 girls in my first showing - but the best part for me is that one of the girls I tied with was the girl who beat me in the GNC 2 weeks earlier - this was the very same girl who placed top 3 at the KY Muscle back in 2008 where I placed 10th. It was amazing to me because 1.5 years earlier I couldn't even hold a candle to this girl and there I was tying with her - it was a great feeling! Now I am currently prepping for the 2011 Jr. USAs and Jr. Nationals.

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: I guess I'd say my back since that's what most people seem to comment on. I naturally have a wide waist so I've learned to widen my back as much as possible to make my waist appear small. I've focused on my lats for so long that they've changed the most and seem to stand out.

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love training legs! I think it's because those are my strongest body part - having been a runner most of my life a developed strong glutes and legs, so it's fun to show off sometimes and outlift the boys in the gym :-) Remind me to tell you a funny story about a guy and the leg press machine, LOL.

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep
A: Generally I weight train 4 days a week, though this past offseason I did 5 days in order to focus more on shoulders. My weight training doesn't really change during contest prep - I believe in continuing to push HEAVY even as I lower my calories so that I can maintain my lean mass. As for cardio, in the offseason I do 30 min LISS cardio every morning - but no real cardio other than that. In contest prep mode I end up doing about 1.5-2 hrs LISS 4 days a week and then 1 hr LISS plus 15 min HIIT 3 days per week.
My diet is a cycled approach where I have high, medium and low days. Low days have very little carbs and I follow this on non-training days, medium days have a little more carbs and I follow it on 3 of my training days, then high days have the highest carbs (a little over 200 carbs) and I follow it once a week on a training day. In the offseason I do something similar except I do a cheat meal in place of the high day and I do a clean refeed midweek in place of a medium 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: Well it depends on the environment, but outside of the gym/fitness world most people are either really interested in what the heck it means or they just give a blank stare and say something like "oh that's neat".

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: I hate it when people ask if I'm going to "get all manly". Umm no - I'm going to look the way I do now but with less fat, thanks. I also hate when people ask if that means I'm going to have to eat "all that weird food". Umm, if you consider eggs, lean meat, potatoes, rice, and oats "weird" then I'm curious what you consider that processed crap you're eating from the drive thru!

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: Oh man, there are SOOO many, where do I begin?! Something that drives me nuts is that people see the stage pictures and assume we look like that year round. It's so difficult to explain to people that it's NOT healthy to try to maintain stage weight or extremely low bodyfat all the time. For me, personally, I use my menstrual cycle as a gauge - to get lean enough for competition I lose my period for a couple months so the first thing I do in the offseason is slowly increase my calories until I get my period back. Sorry for being gross, but I think it's something that people should know. It's NOT realistic to try to achieve a figure or bodybuilder look and maintain it all year long. I have a lot of clients who have tried to maintain unhealthy bodyfat levels and they end up facing terrible metabolic problems that take such a long time to overcome.
The other thing I wish people knew is that competing is NOT all about vanity - and it's actually much more of a "team sport" than most people realize. It often takes a team of people to help someone get to the stage (trainers, nutritionists, tanners, makeup artists, etc.) plus the friendships and support from other competitors are often KEY to one's success.
That's all I'll list for now but I could probably write a BOOK on this subject!

Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The best part about training for me is that it's the one time when I can really focus on ME and my goals. Most of my life is spent focusing on family, clients, friends, etc. that I rarely get to "soulsearch" anymore. So my training is the time for me to self reflect, set goals, etc. The worst part of training for me is HIIT cardio when it's cold outside - I absolutely loathe interval training in the cold or on a machine. I don't even know why because I've always been a cardio junkie in general, but if I can't do my sprints on a track in NICE weather then I am miserable. But it's a love/hate relationship because I do LOVE how it melts the fat off :-)

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I don't know if there's anyone in particular that stands above everyone else for me - but of late I've really admired Shala Singer. She's somewhat local and has done so well and achieved so much in a short amount of time. I've been following along her journey since she competed in the KY Muscle and have been very impressed at how she handles herself with class and humility. I do also really admire Toni West, who I got to meet in person at the Arnold - she had some great advice and was super sweet!

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: This one's easy - pizza and Dairy Queen blizzards!

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: Do NOT be scared to lift heavy! Though make sure you focus on good form and engaging the muscle you intend to work.

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: It does seem to be more common, although it could just be that I'm paying more attention to it now that I'm NOT one of those girls just doing cardio. But I do think in general weight training is becoming more popular with females - especially with more of the mainstream attention bodybuilding competitions have been getting (whether it's because of the introduction of figure and bikini or social media advances or something else entirely, I'm not sure!).

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: Oh I am such a nerd at heart - I LOVE doing puzzles of any kind... crossword puzzles, sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, etc. I love playing board games and cards and I love going to casinos for some black jack and poker :-). I also love dancing with friends and watching movies with the hubby.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Stephaney Theobald.
A: Ready for my boring life? lol I generally wake up, do cardio, get breakfast while I catch up on client emails and tweak diets, then pack and ship orders from our online supplement store and meet with a couple clients. Next I get together my pre-workout meal then head to the post office and bank before I go workout (or once a week I visit Grandma instead of working out). After my workout I come home and eat while I catch up on more client work or website updates. Then I meet with clients for a few hours, get in meals, and make client plan changes on the computer. Next I make updates on our business Facebook or Website and then settle into bed with my husband and laptop :-). We have tv on in the background while we chat and work and then lights out around midnight. Sounds super fun, huh? Every once in a while there's a family party or event thrown in, and every other weekend we have Jason's son and spend time with him. But in general my daily life is currently spend on our business.

Q: Describe Stephaney Theobald in five words.
A: Intelligence, Love, Service, Determination, Family

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I graduated with a 3.8 GPA from the College of Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. I got my BS in Mechanical Engineering and then graduated from GE's Information Management Leadership Program and worked in Information Technology for 8 years before quitting to start my Natty Nutrition business.

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: You bet! I'll be competing at Jr. USAs and Jr. Nationals this year. I may do other national level shows depending on how those go.

Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: Well sure, if you'll let me :-) If anyone is looking for help with general fat loss or getting onstage they can check out my website ( My husband and I excel at getting people into the shape of their lives while maintaining a superior level of customer service and true care for our clients. We also sell supplements online and created our own supplement called Slin-trol which allows people to eat carbs without storing fat, and it allows competitors to eat more carbs during their contest prep and still get shredded!

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Stephaney Theobald the athlete and competitor?
A: I would be thrilled and honored to get a sponsorship - however I won't just take a sponsorship for the sake of being sponsored. I would love to be sponsored by a company and/or product that I truly believe in and would be proud to promote! As for what they would get in me - they would be getting a hardworking athlete who is determined to succeed while doing it with the utmost class and grace.

Q: Stephaney, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Thank you so much for asking me to do this, and thank you for giving all of us women a POSITIVE platform to speak and be promoted. It's refreshing to have a site that doesn't exploit women but rather respects us and gives us an opportunity to connect and learn more about the industry and other athletes. We need more people out there like you!!

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