We just can’t say it enough. If you are a woman, you don’t have to be afraid of the weight room. You won’t hulk out! And our special guest blogger today can attest to that. Keely Gaston Nations is a working Colorado mom who takes her training to the next level – she’s a competitive bodybuilder! OK - now throw out all your pre-conceived ideas of what that means and looks like. She looks AMAZING!!! And hers is truly a life of balance. Keely has competed in several contests for the International Federation of Body Building and Fitness (IFBB). But she hasn’t always felt ready to take the stage in her bikini. This is a fitness journey that will inspire you to reach for the best you that you can be!
Stacia: A lot of folks have heard about bodybuilding competitions. But they may not realize there are bikini competitors and “figure” competitors. What’s the difference?
Keely: I am a "bikini" competitor and the difference between the two looks is the amount of muscularity for the build. Figure competitors have more muscle mass than that of a bikini competitor. The bikini look is much like that of a fitness model. If you look at the cover of Oxygen or SELF magazine, that is the look of a bikini competitor. Lean, toned and balance is the best way to describe the bikini look in my opinion.
Stacia: How did you get into this kind of training?
Keely: After I had my daughter I had an impossible time losing the baby weight. I had tried everything I knew how to do on my own. ((Here is Keely's "before" pic.))
Keely (cont'd): When nothing was working I hired Ashley Schoultz at 24 Hour Fitness. She told me about the "bikini" division being new to the NPC and as a bikini competitor herself she encouraged me to lose my weight and compete. I set a 3 month goal to compete in Colorado's biggest NPC show called the "Rocky". Once my goal was set I didn't stop until I obtained it! I lost 45 pounds and I am still competing today and in fact, just returned from a national competition in Vegas! Although I didn't win it was an incredible experience and the self growth that comes from working hard to be the best you can be is so empowering!
Stacia: These are some amazing before/after pics!! So we have to know - what’s an average day of training like for you?
Keely: This changes from time to time and that is one of the keys to maintenance is changing it up. When I had the 45 lbs. to lose I was doing 2, 1 hour cardio sessions everyday on top of 3-4, 1 hour lifts per week. Every night I would also do my ab and "butt blaster" workouts! It makes me tired just thinking about it :)
Stacia: What about now?
Keely: Now, I am at my goal weight. I am targeting muscle growth in specific areas so my lifts change weekly to achieve the growth I desire. I am currently building my hamstrings and glutes to achieve a more balanced look for competition. I Lift 4 times a week and have 2 legs days. I am doing 5 hours of cardio and the ab and butt blaster workouts every night.
Stacia: Now I’M tired just thinking about it! haha
Keely: I ab-solutely LOVE my workouts and I don't look at them as torture but instead a blessing and I look forward to them as well as cardio because otherwise I would never have time to flip through a fashion mag!
Stacia: Girl, sometimes I feel like I can barely fit in trips to the gym. You have so much going on! How do YOU make time?
Keely: To me, being a bikini competitor means being balanced as a person. I am a mom, wife and business owner so you can imagine things are very busy just like most of us! Making the time to keep myself in the best shape possible is all part of the balance of being the best Keely I can be! As a pageant coach and a stylist, I have to best the best me I can be if that is what I am working on others to help them become.
Stacia: How important is your eating plan in your training?
Keely: Most people don't know this but abs are made in the kitchen! My nutrition is the most important piece to the whole puzzle! My body needs fuel to perform at the level it does and I am solely responsible for making sure it has everything it needs.
Stacia: You mentioned your competition in Vegas. You just got back. What was that like?
Keely: AMAZING!!!!! I showed up backstage and I remember thinking WOW! There are a lot of incredibly beautiful and FIT woman back here! It hit me, I was ONE of them too! I felt incredibly blessed to be a part of the competition with such exceptional woman who many of were also moms like myself! They all had started out with one little goal that had lead them there too! I loved being on stage and there is nothing better than performing and it was so awesome to have my husband who is my biggest fan in the audience smiling right back at me! I am so blessed to have his full support and unconditional love he gives me!
Stacia: So, what’s your favorite part of this whole process? There is a lot to it!
Keely: There is nothing like setting a goal and knowing that the only thing that stands between you and the goal is YOU! That is a monumental realization! I learned to do it on the days that I felt like it and to do it on the days that I didn't. It was up to me and although the goal seemed so big, I focused on all of the little decisions I made daily and celebrated that they aligned with my one big goal. By doing this I was able to change to a healthier lifestyle and become the best wife, mom, stylist and friend that I can be!
Stacia: How would you recommend someone get started if they’re interested in becoming a fitness competitor?
Keely: Get in touch with the resources you need and make an action plan! I am such a believer in coaches and guidance. Olympians don't train without coaches so why should you? Find a trainer and or coach that you can trust to help you set personal and physical goals to achieve the best results possible!
Or follow her on twitter: @keelystyle