Hello and Happy hump day! Today I share with you my first Q&A, and I am excited to share with you what I learned from Anna Richardson, WBFF Bikini Model. She is a fellow Sweat Pink Ambassador and when I first read her story on her blog, I saw a lot of similarities in our stories. She followed her dreams and became a WBFF Bikini Model and is working on her goals daily. I started chatting with her on Facebook and she is so positive and motivating I asked if she would be interested in doing a Q&A, so here we are. This all has led me to my decision to train for and compete in an NPC Bikini Competition this fall, stay tuned for a future post on that! This is a scary and nerve wrecking decision, but it is time for me to challenge and push myself out of my comfort zone. However, with my support system in my family and friends and some of the awesome women I have met through Sweat Pink I know that I can do it! Well, enough about me! On to the Q&A with Anna! She is awesome, be sure to check out her blog, Glam Legacy Fit and follow her on social media as well (see links at the end of the post).
Tell us a little about yourself:
Well first, my name is Anna Lavonne Richardson and I am a health and wellness enthusiast… it is more like an obsession. I have a fiancé that I have dated for about 8 years and we just got engaged this past August. I compete with the WBFF, write a blog, and actively share my love for fitness through social media. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. I started my journey as a 20-something year old insecure and depressed woman. I battled severe depression, insecurities, and never pursued my dreams and desires because of fear. Within the last year and a half I have had to teach myself new skills like self confidence, ambition, and self love all on my own. I struggled growing up to feel confident, I never fit in with the in crowd, and I never had a lot of friends. I never felt comfortable in my own skin and I made the decision about a year and a half ago that I would change that. I have been determined ever since to be the woman I always dreamed of being friends with! Happy, secure, successful, an entrepreneur, confident wife, strong, healthy, educated, well rounded… I could go on and on, but I wanted to be THAT GIRL!
Q1- What first got you into fitness?
Growing up I didn’t play sports and I actually failed two semesters of Physical Education class in high school. In 2008 I got a gym membership and personal trainer through the local commercialized gym. I thumbed through the pages of Oxygen Magazine and Fitness Rx and that was my goal. After 4 years of paying high dollar for a personal trainers, NEVER accomplishing my goals, and feeling terribly insecure, I knew I needed a big change. I wanted to look like the women in the magazines badly and the desire never went away, but I wasn’t getting there.! Realizing I wasn’t getting myself anywhere and seeing posts about competing in social media, I had a light bulb moment that competing would be the challenge and set goal I needed to accomplish my goals. I hired a coach to help me with meal plans and routines for in the gym. It was what I needed to light the fire under me!!
Q2- Have you always lived a healthy lifestyle? If not what made you switch your lifestyle?
I have always been cautious of what I put in to my body and THOUGHT I knew what healthy was growing up. I had terrible acne in high school and my early 20’s, so I had played around with nearly every “beautiful skin” diet there was. My fiancé and I had goals of being fit in early 2009 to 2012 when I got my first coach. It wasn’t until last March when I realized what I thought was healthy was actually destroying me.
What I thought was healthy was eating “diet foods” throughout the week. I didn’t have balance in my diet. I ate a lot of fruits, vegetables, and processed diet foods. I would spend countless hours doing cardio during the week and was eating what I thought was healthy. Then *ENTER PROBLEM* I was giving myself a cheat meal once a week. My cheat MEAL turned to a cheat day, then a cheat weekend where I literally binged on splurge meals. Cookies, appetizers out, chips and salsa, candy, bread, and whatever else I could find that wasn’t on my healthy eating plan. Monday I would feel awful about myself, try to over compensate in the gym, and then Friday night the cycle started over.
My turning point was hiring a new coach in March of 2013. She didn’t give me cheat meals and she had me read a book called The End of Over Eating by Kessler. IT CHANGED MY LIFE!! Not having a cheat meal put me in to some withdrawals for about 10-14 days, but I was reading this book so I knew what was happening to me and WHY! I then began to realize I had developed a binge and purge way of living. I started diving in to fitness books, articles, nutrition books, finding blogs, social media. Slowly my passion for making myself feel better through food made me more knowledgeable and in control of my results and how I felt.
Q3- What made you decide you wanted to compete in bikini/figure/fitness competitions?
I will first start and say I compete in the Diva Bikini Model Tall division as an amateur with the WBFF. My first competition was exactly 1 year after I decided I wanted to compete. In the last 8 months I have competed 3 times with the WBFF.
First and foremost I was looking for change in myself when I decided to compete. I wanted to be a fitness model or at least look like one! Second, I was following competitors on social media who competed with the WBFF. The WBFF has a bikini round AND an evening gown or theme wear (think Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Costume) round. I was hooked by the glitz and glam of the WBFF. I researched more and found that competitors were called DIVAS and MODELS, they allowed TONS of rhinestones, and the stages looked so professional. I’ll link you back now to my desire above…I wanted to look and feel like a fitness model and I knew I found my match.
Q4- You are only a few days out from your third show, what do you know this time around that you wish you would have known on your first show?
Oh boy!! There are a few things. First, I would say practice your walk and your posing at least 3 months leading up to a show. As soon as you decide to compete, start researching on YouTube and start practicing your walk and posing. Second, pay for hair and make up to be done. I know competing comes with a tight budget, but having your hair and makeup done to match your tan is so important. You will feel beautiful and you will shine on stage!
Q5- What is the biggest challenge/struggle you face when preparing for a show and how do you over come it?
I have had to learn how to train my mind really, really well. In my mind I am the underdog and that thought process gets the best of me. I tend to psych myself out and start thinking I can’t do something. This last prep I had to work at how I thought and spoke to myself. It really did help me this time around on stage. I started thinking “why not me?!”… Why not me placing top 10 or 1st place? Why not be looking fierce on stage? You start to realize you can actually accomplish your goals. I started journaling and writing down everything from my goals, to quotes, to just daily feelings. It helped me really focus on keeping my thoughts positive.
Q6- We all have heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen”, what does a typical day look like while prepping for a show?
Prepping for a show for me isn’t a whole lot different than everyday life. I don’t believe in an off season and I always plan to keep myself lean and athletic looking. I eat about 5-6 meals a day. My meals always have a lean protein source (chicken breast, eggs, fish) and generally a green vegetable in all meals but the first meal. Closer to a show I take my fruits from 2 a day to about 1 per day. I always choose fruits with a lower amount of natural sugar. About 2x-3x per day I will have a starchy carb like quinoa or oats. Finally, I always consume a good amount of healthy fats from oils. I don’t usually eat almond butters or avocados for healthy fats. I tend to consume coconut oil, udos oil, flaxseed oil.
Q7- One of your sayings and what really drew me into your blog was “Results are beyond genetics, work hard and the results will come”. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
I have always been the smaller, “skinny” girl growing up. I didn’t play sports either, so growing up I was very straight up and down. My quote, “Results are beyond genetics, work hard and the results will come” is truly based on experience. I don’t come from a family of big, perky bums or defined arms. I wanted shape and curves as a woman, so I have had to work very hard at sculpting the body I was given in to the body I dreamed of. I have lifted weights and eaten balanced meals to get the build I have now. I desired to be healthy and comfortable in my own skin. I wanted shapely arms and a bum like J-Lo, so I literally started building it in the gym with weights.
Q8- When prepping for a show do you do all your own nutrition and workouts or do you work with a coach?
I work with a PHENOMENAL coach online who is based out of Canada. Nathan Harewood owns Define Fitness (www.define-fitness.com) and has a team of girls (and guys) who he coaches. His clients are considered #Domin8 athletes and I truly believe I have one of the BEST coaches in the industry. Search on Facebook Define Fitness or Instagram (@n8fitness or #Domin8theStage) and you will be able to see the progress of his clients leading up to stage. He writes my meal plans for me and all of my workouts, including cardio. I keep Nathan in and out of competition prep. When I am not prepping for a show, we are improving my physique. When I am prepping for a show, we are working together to bring the best me to stage.
Having a GOOD coach is so important when it comes to competing. I encourage anyone to research, research, research before you hire a coach. Look at their client’s progress and email their clients to ask questions. Another HUGE tip, look at their turn over rate of clients. Do they have clients for 2 or more years or are they constantly starting and stopping with clients? Some coaches are excellent at SELLING service, but what you get in return isn’t compassion and care. Research using social media and searching hash tags relating to that coach.
Q9- I am truly fascinated with the process of getting ready for a show and it is a goal of mine to someday do one, what is the best advice you have for someone who dreams of doing a bikini competition?
First, you have to truly want something other than 1st place or a win. I know I sound like a downer, right? I know it is a competition, but there can only be one 1st place…there can only be five top 5 girls. As a competitor you never know who is going to show up. The BEST athlete could fly in from Germany to compete on the same stage you are competing on! You just never know. For me, it is about the journey and the stage photos I get from competing. Stage photos help build my brand. Competing helps me tell a story and inspire people to seek health and wellness. Competing to me means seeing what I am capable of and then going back to improve it. Maybe you dream of being a fitness coach, your creditability can come from sticking to a strict plan for 12 weeks. Maybe you are a mom and you want to prove women who had babies can be fit and sexy, too! Maybe you just want to see what you body will look like lean and in a bikini.
Take plenty of progress photos and make sure you have stage photos taken at your competition. This is why I like my hair and make up done, too! Competing gives me a story line to prove I have determination and I follow through.
Second, DON’T BINGE EAT AFTER A SHOW! Meaning, don’t eat a ton of candy, processed foods, pizza, soda, gummy bears, cake, and cookies the night or day following your show. This is one of the things I am extremely passionate about in my competitive life. This is terrible for your metabolism and mental health. You have just spent months sacrificing for your best physique. Don’t throw it away in a few hours because you want pizza, pop tarts, candy, and cake. After your show, slowly reverse yourself out of the strict diet you were on. Leading up to your show make a 4 week plan and know what treats you will enjoy the month following your show. TRUST ME!! The post-show binge never leaves anyone feeling proud and looking phenomenal. I don’t see the point in wasting my hard earned results on binging after a show. Food will ALWAYS be there. I promise you, you can enjoy pizza and ice cream two, three, four weeks after a show. It will still be there!
Q10- You have accomplished so much in your fitness journey, what is next for you?
Oh boy!! Next is building my brand and my company as a coach and mentor to other women. My goals include becoming a published fitness model and writer, becoming a coach and mentor, and writing a book to help other women accomplish their goals. I would like to speak publically at seminars and one day hold my own camps geared toward empowering women.
I love helping other women find the beauty in themselves and helping women feel confident with who they are. I was so insecure and dreamed for years of having the right person guide me to who I wanted to become. I will be expanding my social media platform to what I call The Fit Life, Fit Wife. I plan to teach other women how to balance it all in health and wellness. I work with Lindsay Messina right now and she has becoming a life and business coach to me. She helps me with planning and mapping out my goals so I can make them reality.
Finally, I dream of being a WBFF Diva Bikini Model Pro one day and I know I have to build more shape before that can happen. I am willing to put in the work to make my dream come to life.