Time Flies When Your {GAINING MUSCLE} // Change Your Body in a YEAR!

It was only a year ago that I started training for my very first Bodybuilding/Fitness Competition. I started telling friends that I was considering doing one last February and attended Aaron Callister’s Competition seminar. I’ll admit I was completely intimidated by how many women there already looked the part. I had only recently lost an additional 10 lbs off my frame from going Gluten Free so I felt leaner, but did not have any significant size on my frame yet.

Picture on Left: 1st Competition in May 2011
Picture on Right: 2nd Competition in November 2011

My main goal to compete was to be able to do FITNESS so I could perform and dance for a crowd again. My friend and trainer, Al Norby suggested that I network with fitness professionals to learn more about what this would entail. At the seminar I met Lenore Theobald, a local figure competitor, who was immediately warm and friendly. She reassured me that the “stereo-type” of figure women might be true for some competitors, but ones like her were down-to-earth, sweet and extremely approachable. This made me at ease that if I could pull this off I would want to remain level-headed like Lenore and do this sport purely for fun and for MYSELF!!

Photo taken in February 2011 – about 15% body fat (118 lbs)

After that I had a consultation with pro-bodybuilder Aaron Callister and my trainer. He gave me the run down on how the training diet works and that it had to start right away since we were about 13 weeks from his show at that point. By looking at me he could tell that I was at 15% body fat and he firmly stated that I would have to get under 10% and close to 9%, maybe 8% body fat to even compete at his show.* I’ll admit, walking into the meeting I felt confident with my weight and newly trimmed self, but all of the sudden I was asking myself “CAN I DO THIS?” Quickly I remembered that it was only a year before that that my body fat was double (24%) and I had already accomplished most of the hard work. With my new Gluten Free lifestyle, eating clean and carb-cycling was just more for me to learn and I WAS READY.

* CLARIFICATION: 8-9% body fat is not a healthy percent to maintain. It’s a lot of hard work to get down to that # and would be impossible to stay at all of the time. The 9% is just for competition day and is mostly from water depletion. It’s just how our physiques are judged 😉

My Body at 18-20% body fat.
This was a shot from FALL 2010 – The old “curvy” me!

I decided to train for not only Fitness, but Figure as well. The best part about this journey is that I had no idea what to expect the entire time. I’ve always had curves, thicker arms and dancer legs (strong quads and yes, my calves are the one defined muscle I’ve had since I was a teenager). Aaron Callister set me up on a carb-cycling diet and I was supposed to check in with him once at week at the end of the lowest drop and email him my weight. The goal was for me to drop at least one pound each week.

March 2011 – 12% body fat (115 lbs)

At about 8 weeks out from the show I was feeling pretty good about my progress. I was excited to order my very first figure suit from a designer in Las Vegas. When it came in the mail I quickly wiggled the thing right on and took a look in the mirror. Here’s where my mind came in to play. I thought “HOLY CRAP, I have some more work to do!” This was a good motivator. I could’ve let it freak me out, but instead I knew that I could keep going and make the neccessary changes in the next 8 weeks. Well, I didn’t exactly know I could do it, I just decided I HAD TO!

I stuck to the program and didn’t give up! Certain weeks were harder than others and sometimes I didn’t drop a pound like I wanted. But then there was one week were things really shifted and my metabolism must have been shocked because I dropped about 3 lbs. That was just the push I needed and I knew that this was going to happen. The best part was having the close friends around me be so supportive and encourage me as I got closer to the show date.

Picture on the left shows I had built muscle,
by the right picture shows a leaner version!

I tried my hardest to maintain the goal of losing 1 pound a week on the carb-cycling diet. There was also quite a bit of water depletion the couple of days before the show so part of the show weight is simply dehydration. I went into my show feeling as good as I could feel my first time and had a blast. The fun suprise of the night was to find out that the judges thought I looked great too. Against about 17 other first time beginner competitors the judges scored me the highest for my overall look giving me the 1st place Beginner Figure Title. On top of being able to perform my first fitness routine, look and feel the best I had ever in my life, I also won!!!

SHOW TIME – Being judged against the other winners!
SHOW DAY: 108.9 lbs, 9% body fat, 5’1″

After that night I was on such a high for life and wanted to do more! I was blessed to meet my Competition coach Tara and we made plans for the fall. The best part about deciding to compete in the fall was that I kept going with my workouts and clean eating. So in a sense my training never stopped! On Saturdays a bunch of us fitness ladies get together to workout and practice posing and later in the summer I remember a specific day when a friend couldn’t help but notice how different my upper body looked from a month earlier. I was just as shocked around the changes. In May I already thought I looked strong and didn’t know that I could keep growing. And GROW…I DID!

MUSCLE GAINS started to show by July/August.
After new muscle gains with the Perfectly Prepared ladies!

Progress photo in October 2011

November 2011 – Photo Shoot before Fitness America

After I saw this image from a photo shoot, I was stunned by how different my upper body looked from May. I had no idea that with continuing my training all summer that I would gain so much lean muscle mass. Choosing to compete in the fall was the best decision I’ve made! Since this fall I’ve been able to really work on gaining size in specific areas like my lats and glutes. It has been fun to feel like a sculptor and literally change how my physique looks with targeting certain muscles for a better look.

For example, by the time I had depleted for my show in Vegas I was surprised that I had lost so much cushion in my glutes. I was hit with the reality that my glutes did not have enough muscle, just fat. In the photo below you can see what I did post-Vegas with gaining a bit weight back and hitting glutes hard. My mission is to create a super strong backside that is built of all muscle!!

Glutes progress photo – February 2012

I talk about CARB-CYLING as my diet routine. You can find out more about how I carb cycle in this post: http://anyonecangiveup.blogspot.com/2012/03/you-know-what-happens-when-you-assume.html
Recently a friend asked me about a book I would recommend so they could start a no carb/low carb diet. Here’s what I shared with them You want to CARB CYCLE not just do a LOW CARB DIET. Good Carbs will make you skinny and strong 😉 (P.S. I love my carbs and would’nt have transformed without them, people who go super low carb and never allow some high days will eventually crash and binge) If you guys have any more questions let me know, I’d love to help and encourage!!!!

This is the book I’d recommend:
by Roman Malkov
Optimize your health, lose weight, feel great—without giving up the foods you love!

Build muscle and lose fat with the real-life answer to no-carb/low-carb diets. Low-carb diets like Atkins and South Beach are notoriously difficult to maintain over time and have been deserted by millions of people. Health-conscious people all over America are ready for something better. Discover the secret that athletes and trainers have been using for years with a healthy carb cycling diet.

By allowing you to eat full, nutritionally balanced meals on any day, The Carb Cycling Diet breaks away from the “deprivation model” of most diets onthe market today. Alternating between limited-carb and normal-carb days, you have your cake and eat it, too, without having to rely on supplements or sugar substitutes.

The Carb Cycling Diet includes easy recipes and meal plans for normal- and low-carb days. Monitoring what you eat is simple with the Carbohydrate Content and Glycemic Index tables included. Plus, The Carb Cycling Diet provides tips on exercise, sports supplements, and how to keep motivation high.

Here is an example of my workout routine that switched up throughout 2011, it was all about consistency! There was never a week that I didn’t get into the gym somehow 😉
Sunday: 90 minute Hot Vinyasa
Monday: Cardio Hip Hop/ 30 minutes of Shoulders and Triceps
Tuesday: Warrior Scuplt Yoga (low resistance weights)
Wednesday: 45 minutes of Glutes and Legs
Thursday: Cardio 50/50 (low resistance weights)
Friday: 30 minutes of Back and Biceps
Saturday: REST
Thanks for taking the time to enjoy my MUSCLE GAINING transformation!! I look forward to show new photos of my 2012 Competitions so you can see how things have changed even more.

Hope to see you cheering for TEAM PEANUT next weekend

at Fitness America – Great North (MOA)
or Mr. and Mrs. Natural MN in May
(Bloomington High School)
Luv, BethanyJN
Feedback: Hello Bethany! I just found your blog through Tara’s Perfectly Perfect on Facebook and you are amazing! I am gearing up for a photo shoot in August – I am making my longtime goal of becoming a fitness model a reality! You are such an inspiration. Thank so much for your article! I can’t wait to read more. Good luck!
Tiffany –
(Please feel free to leave a comment or feedback below!)

You Know What Happens When You {ASSume}… Just ASK the PEANUT!! // Fitness {Q&A} //

Over the last few months I’ve had a great time responding to messages from friends and people I’ve never even met regarding my love for FITNESS. Facebook has been a great avenue for people to follow my story and be comfortable enough to ask for help and advice. It has been a privilige to be able to share with people who are wanting to know what  type of program I use to stay in this kind of shape. Most of my answers have to do with my diet program of carb-cycling since that has been what’s worked for me in getting lean and building muscle. I also love to tell people about living a Gluten Free lifestyle due to having celiacs disease.

Read about how I discovered my gluten
allergy in this blog post: My Transformation Story


Q: Is there anything I can do to feel less squishy by the end of the week? I know this is not a solution for long-term results, but just any tips to help me feel a little fitter in a few days? Thanks for any advice!

A: No problem…I’m doing that all the time right now for photo shoots I have on the weekend and trust me I’ve been enjoying my peanut butter and sweets so the weight totally comes back.

My “SQUISHY” before photos from over the years!
I’m on the far right (High school 2000)
(Winter 2009)

(Summer 2010)

 The best thing to do is to not “cut out” carbs completely like a crazy person, but deplete them along the week and also during the day. If you know you want to eat “heavy” carbed on the weekend or we also call it “carb-load” then have your carbs around 150-175 each day for say Friday and Saturday. The drop the # down each day until the next Friday. Like 100 carbs on Monday, 75 Tuesday, 50 on Wed, and 25 on Thursday.

Within a couple weeks of carb-cycling I dropped bodyfat!

You will want to divide the carb amount by the 4-5 meals you are having and leave the last meal for just protein and veggies/fruit if you can.Seriously experiment with this and try your own #s but just have them drop down, weigh in first thing day after lowest day and see what happens.

Then you just repeat and I promise the body fat starts to shed,  I know it did for me 😉

Q. Hey girl!! I am curious, do you do the ETS workouts or do you follow your own program? I love your physique and am working hard on gains…curious which workouts you do!!

A. I haven’t done an ETS workout yet. I kind of do my own mixture of group fitness classes for cardio and low-resistance training with only a couple of days of short heavy weight sessions. I think my diet and actually lack of constant cardio has been the reason I’ve gained so much muscle. I cycle my carbs with 2 pretty high carb days (175 each) and then the other 5 days with 25 carbs each. I stay around 100-120 grams of protein for every day.

That’s a short summary of my program and I train myself now since a trainer can be expensive. I love classes at lifetime that feel like personal training sessions, makes the membership totally worth every penny! Thank you for the kind words and let me know if you have any other questions.

p.s. I hardly ever do protein shakes or bars, just food!

Q. I’m new into the world of fitness. I find your physique inspirational – since I’m a short girl as well…and its nice to see women of our stature raise up in the world of fitness competition!! As I said, I’m just getting my foot in the door and would eventually like to compete as well. Any tips you could offer me..as far as supplements you’d recommend…diet info…??

I’m a fairy active person and I do watch what I eat..but I feel like there needs to be an additonal ingredient in order for me to shape and reform my body. Was it hard getting started? Did you have to completely realter your lifestyle? Do I need to look for a coach…etc…

If there’s any suggestions you could offer, that would be awesome!
Thanks lady!!

My Coach T – Perfectly Prepared

A. So glad you sent a message and you are looking to get into the fun world of fitness 😉 Thank you for all of your sweet words!

I think being petite and short is pretty fun especially since it gave me the nickname Peanut 😉 I started getting ready for my very first show exactly a year ago and my body was about 15% body fat, the only defined muscle that I had ever had before the was my calves.

So it’s been amazing to see what a competition diet and regular weight trainging for a year has done to my physique. The changes continue to blow my mind. The diet was a bit hard to begin with just because it was so new. I met with Aaron Callister who is a PRO bodybuilder (he works with many female competitors), he gave me a carb-cycling diet program. His main suggestion for me was to only rely on lean food protein and to stay away from any supplement shakes/bars. Things would have been even harder if I didn’t already have a severe gluten allergy. My allergy forces me to not even think about the bad carbs, but there’s still ways for me to put it back on if I’m not careful.

Perfectly Prepared Ladies

If you are looking for a great coach you should hit up Tara Heartzen who leads the group of women called Perfectly Prepared. She does everything from diet programs to show prep and knows her stuff. Feeling confident with support before you go on stage is priceless in the experience.

You should come to one of Tara’s workout/prep sessions with me, there is one this Saturday in St. Louis Park 😉

Good luck and I’ll always be here for questions and support! – Bethany

Q. Hey girl!! Curious….what do you do for your cardio intervals? And do you ever have any long cardio days???

A. Nope, I heavily rely on my “carb cycling and clean” diet so I don’t have to spend hours doing cardio. I get my high impact cardio training done in group fitness glasses like ones that are “boot camp” style about 3 times a week and then add in short heavy lifting sessions (30 min) abotu 3 x’s a week and that’s it!! Then when I can I dance to get more cardio in 🙂

Fitness America 2011

Q. I hope this message isn’t too …. well nosy. ;0) I am considering doing my first figure or bikini competition and I am really concerned because I’m short and all those lovely long legged tall women – I just feel like I’m going to look umm shall we say “stout”? ;0)

May I ask how tall you are? Do you have a certain weight/size you goal for before a competition? How do you know when you’re ready? Do you recommend a trainer or just giving it a go on my own? Is there a trainer you would recommend? What about food? I’m pretty much eating chicken or fish and veggies at every meal….is that what really really fit people eat???

I want to be strong and fit but not overly muscle-y if you know what I mean….Anyway, thanks for any wisdom you can share. Your pics are very inspiring!

Bikini Competitor Tarah Andrews 

A. Thanks for the nice message! I can say that I am rather short as well which is how I acquired the nickname “Peanut”. I am right under 5’1″ and started my training only a year ago. I have never been in this type of shape before so all of it is new to me.

I have a carb cycling diet with about 100-120 grams of protein a day. I don’t do that much cardio and weight train when I can. You will want to make sure that your are having good carbs as well to be able to lean out properly and build any type of muscle. If you’re worried about looking stout then only do low resistance training. I like to do both low and havy weights, but I like to have alot of muscle especially since I compete in figure.

If you are looking for a good person to consult with you should meet with Tara who owns Perfectly Prepared. She is my coach and manager who meets with a lot of competitors. If you want someone to give you a diet plan you can also meet with Aaron Callister who set me up on mine.

I hope that helps answer some of your questions. I’m not sure if I can be a huge help since I am a competitor and fitness model who DOES want to be as muscley as possible. If you’re worried about getting huge like a body builder, you won’t unless you try.

Also if you are scared of a lot of muscle then try BIKINI for sure 😉

Q. Hey girl! I’m wanting to try carb cycling, but I’m not sure how the schedule works, like 2 high, 2 low-1 high, 3 low-high, med, low…sheesh…confusing!!! Help please!!! 🙂

A. Here’s how you can get started! Day 1: 175 carbs, Day 2: 150 carbs, Day 3: 100 carbs, Day 4: 75 carbs, Day 5: 75 carbs, Day 6: 50 carbs, Day 7: 50 carbs – Weigh in the day after your last low day and you should drop a bit. Once you start to plateau you’d play with the numbers a bit to make things harder and you’ll drop again. This will lean anyone out and drop bodyfat. Divide the total carbs up for a day between your first 4 meals leaving the last 5th meal for just yummy veggies with your protein. Let me know what you think!!!

This is a great “CHARTICLE” a friend sent
me that follows the same Carb-Cycling concepts!

Look at this CHARTICLE closer at the link below:

It’s already March of a brand new year and I couldn’t be more excited about what’s in the works! My success story has been picked up by a well-known fitness magazine so watch for that news to be released soon. I have been working hard to stay in shape for photo shoots and my upcoming competitions. Save the date: Saturday, APRIL 21ST to cheer on your “PEANUT” while I hit the stage with a brand new Fitness routine and compete in the Open Figure Class. The regional show is Fitness America – Great North held in the Grand Room at the Mall of America. Stay tuned for more details and buy your tickets soon…only 6 weeks away!

My Next 3 Competitions!!!
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at my next performance!!!

Bethany JN – Peanut

"TOP 10 FINALIST" at my very first "Fitness America Competition" // LAS VEGAS – Nov 2011

“THAT WAS THE BEST THING I’VE EVER DONE!!!” I get choked up just thinking about the final rounds of Fitness Division at Fitness America in Vegas. I came out from backstage to greet my friends and said those very words with tears in my eyes. The love and support that I had from my friends who were there and watching me back home made it all the more AMAZING!
Myself and 9 others had just been called out for TOP 10! 

The whole “Vegas Experience”… …started a couple of days before the competition. I flew out with my coach Tara and some of the other Perfectly Prepared competitors. We all got settled in at the Golden Nugget in Downtown “Old” Vegas (I highly recommend this hotel if you don’t plan on staying on the Strip). The next morning we had an early wake-up call of 5:00 am for tanning, hair and makeup to get ready for our photo shoot with Eva Simon. Before heading out to our shoot location we made it through the line of over 300 competitors to register for the Fitness America Competition.

(click on any photo to view larger)

getting settled in at the Golden Nugget hotel
beauty PREP and van TRAVELING for our EVA shoot
The photo shoot…
..was held at a fun, old-fashioned styled tourist location in Nelson, NV about 40 minutes from Vegas. We were styled in a sexy western look to collaborate with the breathtaking backdrop of the dessert and sandy surroundings. We were even warned about the rattle snakes and dangerous cacti!!! Eva and her assistant got to work right away and began short 15 minute shoot segments with each girl. The weather was perfect at a warm 70 degrees and it felt even warmer in the sun!
All of us felt very comfortable with the photographer Eva and had the support of our coach Tara as well. The shoot was so much fun and all of us ladies were taking each moment in. We were so thankful for the opportunity and knew how big of a deal this shoot could be for each of us!
with the amazing Eva Simon!
on the road in VEGAS!

feelin’ FRISKY!

gorgeous day for a photoSHOOT!
the one and only Miss TARA ANDREWS
We wrapped things up at the location to continue shooting back at the Golden Nugget in Eva’s hotel room. We had one more look to create with a white-screen backdrop! You could do either “swimwear” or a “fitness” look. As I got started, Eva adjusted the fan so it could blow in my hair and I was immediately hit with chills. Not literal chills, but emotional chills. The moment was something I will never forget. I thought to myself, “how did I get here?” My girlfriends were standing in the background, all cheering me on and saying wonderful things.

But the best moment… of all was seeing my proud Coach T’s Tara Annemarie Haertzen (Tara Annemarie Thatcher) face with tears in her eyes as she watched me pose away! As she peaked at Eva’s camera and then looked up at me, I could just see her excitement which gave me the perfect amount of confidence and ease as I hit each pose. I give all of the credit to Tara for pushing me to get where I am today and for always seeking great new opportunities for me. I would not have gone to Vegas, had a life-changing photo shoot and competed in Fitness America if it were not for her. I am proud to call Tara my Coach and Fitness Manager. She is one of the best in the business and always has MY best interest at heart. She’s honest, trustworthy, dedicated, giving and has become one of my closest friends. I believe that Tara has been put in my life for such a specific reason and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Now onto the competition! Being in Vegas for such a big show was exciting and overwhelming. Keep in mind that this was only my SECOND time competing in both Figure and Fitness. On Friday I felt lean and mean with butterflies in my stomach.Walking and Posing for the Open Figure Short prelims got my nerves out of the way and I felt more comfortable with the larger scaled stage. Now onto FITNESS! Friday evening we started in our performance costumes and the Open Fitness class had 35 women. After the Men’s class and Classic Women’s class finished, we got ready to hit the stage one-by-one. As I hit my beginning pose and danced through the first 2 eight counts of my routine I felt the crowd’s energy and knew the GAME WAS ON!
First time on a Fitness America stage!!!
Perfectly Prepared crew having a nice meal!
Performing my own choreography and feeling stronger than ever on the stage for Fitness America was THE COOLEST thing I have ever done and fulfilled a dream that I never even knew that I had! Before I knew it, I was up on stage with all of the Open Fitness Competitors after dancing the opening number (see YouTube video below this post). We all lined up in anticipation as the announce the TOP 10 ladies who were able to move on to the FINALS round. I’ll admit that I had this sudden “good luck” feeling before they called my name since I somehow ended up smack in the middle of the line. I tried to keep myself composed after hearing my number and name called out. That was it, the dream had just happened. I made TOP 10!
{OPEN FITNESS DIVISION – 35 competitors}
(click on photo to view larger)
{Beyonce Girls Run The World” FA Routine}
To view a better taping of my Fitness Performance check out this
VIDEO CLIP recorded from the Fitness America live webcast.

Finals Comparison Round
The next couple of hours was a BLUR! The Top 10 girls had to perform their routine again in front of a whole new batch of judges. After our routines were finished we had a quick wardrobe change in to our swimwear. Each competitor had a highlight walk and posing to impress the judges with their physique and personality.We were also split into two groups of 5 for comparison rounds in our costumes and swimwear.

Finals Swimwear Round
Check out the YouTube video below this post to see my Finals Question Round. After it was all said and done, we were brought out one last time to have the winners announced. Seeing the TOP 5 winners step forward and the Fitness America champion be awarded right in front of me with the best seat in the house was a wonderful experience. To be that close to a goal of mine that I’m working towards was the best teaser a competitor could get. That moment only made me more excited to keep working harder and perfect my skills. Someday I would like to see myself standing there with the TOP 5 and then mastering the fitness scene with an overall 1st place title. My destiny is only what I make of it!

Dear Tara (my Coach T), Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to travel with your team of women to have one of the best experiences of my life! The trip would not have been the same if I would not have had your knowledge to rely on. I would not have gone to Fitness America without having met you. Your coaching, prep advice, and resources are absolutely PRICELESS! I love recommending your services to female competitors or women thinking of getting into the fitness scene. I am proud to be Perfectly Prepared!
Dear Al (my Trainer) and Tracy Norby, Thank you for your never-ending support and guidance. Whether it was personal training sessions, life coaching, gluten-free meals, or just fun nights out, you both were great friends to have around. Even with the weeks of encouragement leading up to my show, you gave me the best gift ever by traveling all of the way out to Vegas to see me compete and cheer me on. “You were meant to be on the stage!” – Al Norby   
Dear Tarah (my “competitor-in-crime”), Thank you for always loving me for who I am and where I’m at in my life. You’ve been incredibly giving to me from the beginning of our friendship with advice, resources and opportunities. You and I want very similar things for ourselves and I had no idea that I would become so close with another model/competitor with no desire to be jealousor spiteful. I am glad that my muscles and moves won you over from the moment we met. Love you, wifey

{World Physique’s} 

You might be wondering what I would gain for winning a contest like this. I would get the chance to work with a well-known Chicago photographer, a free-subscription to World Physique’s Magazine, and the title “Ms. World Physique” for the month of January. It would also help me gain some great exposure, networking and credibility in the fitness industry.

“My goal is too bring a sense of charm, character and class to any opportunity that I might have in the Fitness industry!” – Bethany JN

The voting starts JANUARY 3RD 
and closes at the end of the month.
Please show your love and support for a
fun Fitness Personality like me!!!

Click here to VOTE!

BethanyJN (Peanut)