Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cristi Cuellar Interview

After getting in the gym after an injury, Cristi Cuellar has taken it to the next level, and competes. While she always looks great, it seems she gets just as much satisfaction about being able to help others. A role model for healthy living, Cristi is coming up on Team Universe. Definitely a competitor to keep an eye on.

Q: First, Cristi, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: You are welcome! I am happy to contribute to your site on celebrating female athletes. This is such a great thing.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I am the oldest of three. We grew up in a small city in Texas called Pharr. Although I was always sick from allergies and asthma, I loved school and athletics. For some reason, watching TV and watching movies is very boring, so I was always active outside the home. I participated in track and field, gymnastics, student council, and cheerleading. My sophomore year in high school I tore the ACL (ligament) in my knee. That led me to focus on academics and later gave me the drive to become a physical therapist. I graduated from Baylor University in 2001 and became a physical therapist after graduating from Texas State University- San Marcos in 2004.

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A; My dad was a football coach so he encouraged us all to participate in school sports. I was taught that the discipline and dedication to excel in a sport makes us stronger people. Being in track is a very individual sport, so if I didn’t perform, it was my fault! I loved the feeling of winning though, so I guess that’s why I like competing.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: After tearing my ACL, the gym became part of my life. I learned that if the knee doesn’t have strong muscles to support it, I’d be back in the doctor’s office.

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Although I loved the gym I was a cardio junky. I thought I'd get big by lifting weights, but I saw results in just 2 weeks. I was used to eating junk food, so when my diet changed and I made drastic changes in 8 weeks.

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: When I was younger, I’d see female fitness competitions on ESPN and really admired their physiques and performances. I was eating and drinking way too much while living in Las Vegas and noticed my health was just out of whack. When I met a figure competitor and coach at the clinic I worked at in 2007, I was ready to make a drastic change in my physique, and do the extreme- walk in a bikini on stage.

Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: NO! I kept it a secret until the week before my first show. When I called them to tell them I won my first show, they were happy, but just didn’t understand why I wanted to do that. Four years later, my family and friends are very supportive. They know how happy I am when I am training and the reason for staying in the fitness community are solely to help others.

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: After I saw the pictures from competitions, I was like “Wow, that’s me?!” I thought it was so interesting on how exercise and diet can transform the body so quickly. The other thing that I have learned is working on your physique is one aspect, but presentation is almost as important!

Q: Can you share your contest history.
*2007 Bikini America- Hermosa Beach Overall Winner
*2007 Bikini America World- 6th Place
*2008 Bikini Universe 13th place
*2008 Bikini America 2nd runner up
*2009 Bikini Mexico International Overall Winner
*2010 NPC Europa Bikini Overall Winner
*2010 NPC Nationals- Atlanta 10th place

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: My arms. They’re the only part that stay lean all year.

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train?
A: I LOVE training legs. I love for my legs to be sore!

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
Monday Wednesday and Fridays: Legs
Tuesday and Thursdays: Upper body
Saturdays: Cardio and Core
Sundays: Rest
Although I am supposed to be timing my meals appropriately, I also have a life!! 12 weeks out I eat only white meat, egg whites, vegetables and watch my carb intake. Six weeks out I eat mostly fish, egg whites, whole grains, veggies and sweet potatoes.

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: More positive- people always compliment my discipline, healthy lifestyle and yes sometimes physique. The only negative thing that happens is people mistake my rigid schedule for neglecting time with them. Some men I have dated compliment my lifestyle but then get mad that I do not eat and drink like them, and think that I don’t like them since I’d rather go to the gym than be lazy and watch movies all day. Relationships (in my experience) are hard to maintain when you’re competing.

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: They usually ask me to help them lose 20 pounds.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: I wish people knew how it takes a lot of time and sacrifice to get to that goal. We don’t train 4 weeks and then eat like crap after that, we eat healthy and love to work out year-round.

Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: There is something about training for a competition- all my workouts “in-season” are just more intense and feel so good when I'm done. I love building muscle and making healthy meals. The worst part is the super strict diet 2 weeks out… and that spray tan- eeww!

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I like to put pictures of beautiful models from magazines onto my Vision Board. They include: Maggie Diubaldo, Jelena Abbou, and Amanda Latona. Awesome motivation!

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Wine and Cheese! And of course anything that has chocolate in it.

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: She needs to be sure she makes it clear to all her family and friends that she wants to do it. It requires a lot of support!

Q: Do you think its becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A: Yes. Women think that doing weights and resistance exercise will make them bulky or manly, but it actually does the opposite if they keep their diet in check. I give a high five to all women I see lifting weights! Women are at risk for osteoporosis so weight training stimulates bone cell growth and regeneration.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I enjoy sewing, baking, and painting. I’ve had a dog, Chiqui, for almost 2 yrs. I enjoy walking her and taking her to the dog park.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Cristi Cuellar.
A: Wake up, read the Bible, make breakfast, walk Chiqui, work out, work a full day at the clinic, and then meet up w friends for dinner. When I am training, I am eating food out of Ziploc containers and my day ends with packing my bag for the next day!

Q: Describe Cristi Cuellar in five words.
A: Dedicated, loyal, compassionate, humble and silly.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I have had only one boyfriend.

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A; I am very, very nervous about Team Universe July 8! I have been blogging and working as a fitness model with TEAM SAN, so I am looking forward to working with them at Europa Dallas and the Olympia 2011. My ultimate goal is to become an IFBB Pro and make a positive impact in the fitness industry.

Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A; I am so proud of being a part of TEAM SAN. Read my blogs here:
My coach is Jeff Dwelle with Bikini Rockstars.
My last employer was Xcell Orthopedics- if you need physical therapy, this is the place to go in south Texas.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you.
A: SAN has sponsored me and I love working with them but I am open to new ideas!

Q: Cristi, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Girls- anything is possible- if you want it bad enough! Jason thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions!

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