Breawn Oliver Makes A Remarkable Transformation And Holds Her Own In Her First Figure Competition – Natural Pro!
Karen Sessions – Figure Coach: A BIG congrats on your recent competition, Breawn. What competition did you compete in and how did you place?
I competed in the ABA/INBA World Cup Natural Pro/Am Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships. I placed 7th out of 7 in the Open Division and 4th out of 8 in the Novice Division.
That’s pretty gutsy, competing in the Natural World Cup your first show! *bows down in honor* What was your competition experience like?
You train so hard for so long that when competition day comes, you are overwhelmed with excitement and pride. Seeing this was my first show, I was holding onto a lot of stress about the T-walk we were required to do. I learned what I had to do 30 seconds before I walked out on stage and knew it was all of nothing. Once the prejudging was over, all of my stress was gone. I was eager to strut my stuff during the night show once the auditorium was full and my family and friends were there to watch. It was a great experience. Something I will cherish forever.
All that stress, and it all turned out well. 🙂 Competing is an experience you’ll keep forever. So, what got you involved in figure competitions?
When I was at my junior college I played basketball. I was older than all the girls by 5 years so I knew if I wanted to hang with them on the court, I had to be in the best shape of my life. I trained harder than I knew possible and transformed into a true hardcore athlete. From that point I really admired the shape fitness and figure competitors were in. I could see similarities in my body compared to theirs. I thought to myself, “I could do that.” That was about 8 years ago. So for 8 years I always wanted to take the next step and become a figure or fitness competitor but had no idea where to start. Then my best friend of 22 years, Amanda Blackledge, mentioned that she had signed up for a show and was going to compete. We always told each other we were going to go on a strict diet or train for this and that but it would only last for a couple weeks and we’d go back to our old ways. What had finally convinced me to compete was when I went to meet Amanda for lunch after not seeing her for a couple months. She walked across the parking lot with pride and confidence. She was a different person. I could tell she felt so good about herself and she looked amazing. She had become one of those women from the magazines. I went to support her at her show and was able to get a little taste of what it was all about. She said she would do a show with me if it was something I wanted to try. From that point on I was committed.
Wow, what a great friend, to support you like that. What was your competition weight and how tall are you?
I”m 5’6 1/2″ and competed at 129 lbs.
Pretty lean and tight! How long did it take you to prep for your show?
I prepped for 22 weeks.
Just over 4 months; gives you a little breathing room in your dieting process. How long have you been into fitness and working out?
Since freshman year in high school. So 14 years.
An early start in good because it sets stability Have you always been athletic? Did you play sports growing up?
My mother first tried placing me in ballet and tap. It wasn’t my thing. My mother was convinced I belonged on the sport field with my brother. I started playing sports when I was about 6 years old. Since my older brother played sports as well we were always competing against each other. I played soccer, basketball and softball through high school. Then continued to play basketball through junior college. Once I transferred to a 4 years, I started coaching high school basketball. If I wasn’t playing sports I was in the gym.
Sounds like you like to be really physical. What motivates you to keep in shape?
The way my body looks when I am in shape keeps me motivated to stay in shape. I’m also convinced that the “best shape of your life” is not the “best” shape forever. What if you push your body to the next level? Then what will you look like? I am constantly competing with myself and I am a very competitive person. I also love feeling fit and healthy. Feeling fit and healthy makes you feel confident. It changes the way you talk about yourself, the way you view yourself and the way others view you. Plus, living in Southern California I always want to be a couple weeks away from a bikini body.
I can related. I competed so much to compete with myself to some degree. How do you stick to your goals?
Make realistic goals. Once your goals are set, make a plan to reach those goals. That’s just the start of it. A better question may be, how do you stick to your plan? You have to plan out your plan. I would plan time to plan my food preparation. I would plan time to plan my workouts. If you stick to your plans, you’ll reach your goals.
Ah… Interesting. I love it, “how to you stick to your plan”. Ok, so what is your figure competition diet like?
Six meals a day, 2-3 hours apart. I used Figure Competition Secrets eBook as a guide balancing my meals. I made sure I balanced my Proteins, Carbs and Fats according to my current fitness level and body fat. As my body changed, my meals changed. My go to protein was Tilapia, Hake and Swai fish. When I was tired of fish I had chicken for a week and switched back to fish. My go to carbs were sweet potatoes, plain oatmeal with a dash of sea salt and a teaspoon of my chocolate protein powder (the things you come up with when training for a competition). My go-to fats were almonds, salmon and natural peanut butter.
Excellent choice of macronutrients. Yes, you do tend to get somewhat creative with meals when prepping for shows. What is a basic cheat meal for you?
A basic cheat meal for me was a jamba juice, trail mix, protein shake with a double scoop of peanut butter or a 9 oz Victoria steak fillet from Outback.
Oh, you’re a straight forward cheat person; keep it somewhat clean. Excellent work. What is your figure prep training like?
I followed the training plan laid out in Figure Competition Secrets. I would do each phase for 3-6 weeks depending on how my body was responding. I did not do a whole lot of cardio. I would try to get in 20-30 min 4 days a week. Sometimes I would take a spin class at my gym to mix it up a bit.
Awesome at paying attention to your body responses. *high five* What’s your best body part?
My best body part would have to be my heart….just kidding. Although I do have a good heart, I would have to say my best visible body part is my abs. Second place would go to my chest, shoulders, biceps, back, glutes, hams or quads. Last place would go to my quads or calves.
Awww.. & heart. LOL I would definitely say your abs, and your eyes help to complete the package. What body part do you like to train the most?
Biceps and chest.
What are your favorite forms of cardio?
Stair stepper, elliptical and running outside.
How did you balance your prep with your life and living in the real world?
Oh man. Before I started my prep I was working 50-60 hours a week. I knew I had to limit my work to 40 hours a week if I wanted to have time and energy to have a good workout and get home at a decent time to prep my food for the next day and get to sleep at a decent time. I started feeling more stressed because sometimes I needed to stay longer at work. I adjusted and started splitting my workouts. I would wake up at 3:45am and get to the gym by 4:15am. This cut 1 hour from my evening workouts which helped me feel less stress if I needed to stay later at work. I also started prepping my food on Sunday nights which would last me until Wednesday night. Wednesday night I would repeat the process. You really have to prioritize and let your loved ones know ahead of time that you need their support.
No doubt, you did what it took. Are there any sacrifices? If so, how do you overcome them?
There are many sacrifices. Some sacrifices turn out to just be a habit breaker such as eating out. I wouldn’t consider that a sacrifice because we all know eating out is expensive usually unhealthy. One huge sacrifice I encountered was the time away from family. I faced the choice of working out or spending time with family on a daily basis. On the weekends I had much more time on my hands but during the week it was tough to balance work, food prep, workouts, mental focus and family. The only way I was able to overcome this sacrifice was knowing that I had their full support. They would encourage me to continue through my training and to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t get me wrong, not every day was a struggle. It was only when work stressed me out which caused me to stress about getting my workouts in which then made me think about how late it was going to be once my head hit the pillow and how tired I’d be the next day. Vicious cycle.
I’ve totally been there. lol What do you find to be the hardest part about getting into contest shape and how do you overcome it?
The hardest part about getting into contest shape would be the 24/7 mental focus. It may be different for others but I was constantly thinking about the next time I have to eat, what body parts I need to work out that day, drinking enough water, food prep, cardio, progress pictures, progress stats and everything else that goes along with figure prep. The way I overcame this was making sure I had a plan. If I know I need to prep my food Sunday night then I should go to the store Saturday when I had a lot of free time. I started writing the meal number and time on my food containers with a piece of scotch tape and a sharpie. I bought a gallon water bottle and filled it up in the morning and made sure that was gone by the end of the day. I basically took the thinking out of the things I could so I could put more focus on the things that require mental focus.
I understand about the mental focus. I mean, you sound like you were driven and you followed your game plan. Kudos to you! Well, do you have any future competition plans?
This first competition was a journey with 3 other friends. It was an awesome experience and I proved to myself that I have what it takes to compete. Like I said previously, I am constantly competing with myself and I am anxious to see how much further I can go. So the second time around I will be able to focus more on competing and winning.
Prepping with others make it a little easier. You don’t feel so isolated. Do you use supplements? If so, what are your favorite supplements?
I feel supplements are a must. It’s tough to get all the nutrition your body needs when you’re dieting. Yes, you eat healthy and clean but you don’t eat enough of it to give you the vitamins and minerals that you need. In addition, you’re putting your body through intense training and need to help replenish your muscles and immune system quick in order have enough energy to keep up with your training schedule. My favorite supplement would have to be Glutamine. It really helps with sore muscles and you can take more than the recommended serving size on the days where you start getting sore before you even leave the gym (leg day).
I totally agree with supplements and figure prep. They do have their place, and glutamine is one of the BEST. Does your family support your fitness endeavors?
My family support me the entire way through. They were also happy when it was over and a little bummed when I mentioned doing another show. I know once I commit to doing another show, I will have their support again. This goes back to what I was saying about sacrifices. A lot of time with family is sacrificed.
It’s good to have that support and understanding. Not all figure competitors get that. What hobbies do you have outside of fitness?
Other hobbies outside of fitness would include art, music, shopping (can shopping be a hobby?). Everything else is a fitness hobby like basketball, soccer, volleyball, hiking, running, you name it, I like it.
I guess anything you like doing can be a hobby. 🙂 What advice would you give someone who wanted to get in such outstanding shape as you are in?
I would tell them to stick to one plan. Find a workout routine and stick to that one source and ride it all the way out. For so many years I would take bits and pieces of workouts out of different magazines thinking I was creating a master workout plan. Then I would read about new supplements or workout techniques and I would try to change or add to my “master workout plan”. It would end up being a mumbo jumbo mess and I would never get the results I was looking for because I wouldn’t stick to one plan long enough. Another piece of advice would be to identify your weaknesses. For instance, I know that if I don’t have food pre-made and easily accessible and I happen to get hungry, I will go to what is quick and easy which always ends up being junk.
You think and talk like a seasoned competitor. You obviously have a knack for it. Overall, how has competing in figure changed your life?
Competing in figure has changed my life in a couple ways. By reading Figure Competition Secrets I learned so much about balancing your meals that I never took the time to learn about before. It has changed the way I view food. I’ve also looked into becoming a certified personal trainer because the feeling you have once you’ve accomplished your fitness goals is a feeling that everyone should experience. I would love to help people have that experience.
I’m so thrilled that FCS has been a learning tool as well as a prep guide. Do you have any long-term goals in the fitness industry?
I would like to become a CPT on the side and help people reach their fitness goals. There are so many different directions you can take your certification, all being rewarding.
Yes, the market has grown so much in the last 10 years. I’ve seen comps go from 60 competitors to well over 200! Ok, tough question. If you could give one piece of advice to a first time figure competitor, what would it be?
Once you’ve signed up for a competition, try to go to one of the shows prior to your show. This will help you get an idea of what is going to be required when you’re on stage. It’s almost like cheating on a test except you’re not cheating. The reason I suggest doing this is because I was very stressed out about the T-walk. I couldn’t find very much information on-line about what the T-walk involved. Being stressed about this really made my last week up to the show sort of miserable.
Great advice! I totally agree. Is there anything else you would like to share?
I would like to thank you, Karen Sessions, for helping me through my last 3 weeks of training. I had followed your Figure Competition Secrets book to a T but felt like I was losing my focus towards the end. I decided to try out your on-line personal training and it was so worth it. You laid out a plan for me and I followed it. You knew exactly what I needed to do. You were right there for me through peak week and even readily available on competition day.
Thank you, and you’re welcome. We didn’t have much time for the lock-n-load process, but since you were 98.7% there, I felt confident in pulling you through those final 3 week. Congrats again, and look forward to seeing you in more show!
One Final Thing You Need to Know
You can be the next success story. Women from beginners to veterans are using my Competition Secrets Programs to compete in Bikini, Figure, Women’s Physique, and Female Bodybuilding. Want to see the program they used…?
Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT