by Kris Pitcher
It's my distinct pleasure to introduce you to Karly Gomez. She is a competitive figure athlete and is currently training for the Emerald Cup, one of the largest NPC shows in the country. Karly is blogging her journey to the E-Cup, where all her hard work will come together on April 15, 2011. She is also a Team Pitcher sponsored athlete this year and it's our pleasure to work with her and her husband Manuel who is her training partner and number one supporter. I invite you to join me as we get to know Karly.
Kris: You've always been active but how did you get interested in figure competitions?
Karly: I was injured pretty seriously about 2 years back and as a result changed my life forever. After 9 months of physical therapy and endless challenges, I made up my mind to find something else I could channel my energy into. I have always had an interest in weight training thanks to my husband, but I had never taken it very seriously. On my 30th birthday, I decided I was going to start training with a goal to compete in my first figure competition. I am naturally competitive and like setting and reaching goals so this just seemed like the right thing for me to do.
Kris: How long have you been lifting and is it something you and Manuel do together?
Karly: I have been lifting seriously for just over a year now. Yes, this is something I do with my husband. We meet at the lunch hour during the week and we go and lift together. He is a great teacher, he pushes me and is very patient with me.
Kris: You do an amazing job of using nutrition to manage your lupus, what would you tell readers about the power of food as a tool for our health?
Karly: You are what you eat and don't eat. If you don't eat clean and you don't give your body the necessary tools (natural food, water, vitamins and minerals) to function the way it was meant to, you will end up tired and sick. Give your body what it needs and you will become a lean, mean, sick (good sick!) fighting machine! It's not expensive either, if you plan correctly and really educate yourself on how and what to eat. People would be amazed if they stopped going out to restaurants to eat, just how much money they could be saving and buying real food they prepare at home. Really, it comes down to what is important to you. For me personally, being healthy and strong for myself, my husband and my kids is what I value.
Kris: You eat well all year, as a competitor this gives you an advantage in utilizing your off season to make gains. What changes are you seeing this off season in your physique as a result?
Karly: Well, the nice thing about maintaining the same diet is it isn't so torturous during the training season up to a competition. This is my lifestyle. As far as gains, I am able to stay pretty lean yet put on quality muscle at the same time. With eating well and training with my husband I have seen some major improvements in my legs and back these past few months. Next in line are my shoulders.
Kris: Where do you work out, and what works for your busy life about this facility?
Karly: Well, I used to train at Anytime Fitness because I could work out any time of the day and my husband and I could alternate and not have to worry about who was watching the boys. Recently however, we made the switch over to the WSU Student Rec Center. This allows my husband and I to train together while our kids are busy at school. The benefits are endless. I have someone to push me and spot me in the gym and my husband has me to make sure we never miss a day in the gym. This facility is also excellent because we can bring our kids in during family hours on the weekends and be active with them as well.
Kris: What's your favorite body part to train, and what are you working to bring up for the upcoming season?
Karly: My favorite body part to train is my back followed by my legs. This season I am really trying to get more shape in my legs (a challenge with an injury) but I am making a ton of gains already. I am also working on bringing up my shoulders as well. Time will be my biggest factor in my gains. My first year was all of my "new muscle growth" and now I am working on maturing and shaping my muscles. I also tend to get leaner on my upper half vs. my lower half so I will be working on leaning out my lower half a little bit more to have a better overall match from top to bottom.
Kris: I know you're a strong woman of faith, how do you feel this keeps you connected with your goals when you are juggling work, family and being a competitive athlete?
Karly: I firmly believe I was given a choice to take one of two paths a few years back. When I lost my ability to be active and run and do other activities, I could have either given up hope that I could ever be happy and active with my family again, or I could push forward and grow in a different way.
Today, as I look back, I took a challenge that was presented to me by another challenge and made myself a stronger woman, wife and mother than I could have ever hoped for. Everything I do, is based around my family and being strong and showing my family that when you hold onto your faith and look at the bright side of even the most negative things in life, that you can be happy and you can be you again in a different and better way. Everything that God created is good, I just have to remember to see it that way and not focus on all the bad stuff around me. When you focus on the positive, good things will come your way.
That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Kris: You are a self-defined girly girl in a house hold of boys. I imagine Felix and Fabian being in awe over you as the most beautiful and strongest woman they've ever laid eyes on. Kids speak from a place of truth and honesty, what do your boys say about you?
Karly: So, I asked both of them separately this morning and here is what I got. Fabian: Age 3, "My momma has strong muscles. You can push cars into bushes, right momma?"
Felix: Age 7, Felix told me that he likes that I exercise with him and teach him how to cook. He likes it when we do art projects together and when we go to the gym to swim and play in the basketball courts. He also likes my competitions because I get to wear pretty suits with lots of sparkles and big sparkly earrings and wear make-up and do my nails. I asked him why he likes those things in particular to my competitions and he said, "because it makes you happy momma." He also told me he knows that I love him no matter what.
Kris: You are driven and ambitious, you also have a beautiful structure. What helped you make your decision to take your competition to the next level this year by going to the USA's in July?
Karly: Thanks Kris! Well, once I make one goal and meet it, I just seem to keep going up for the next goal. I would love to get my IFBB Pro Card so this is naturally the way to go. I think it is also a great resume builder and since I am studying for my ACE Certification right now, it is a good way to show people you can be healthy and compete at the same time even if you struggle with illness or injuries. I am living proof of that.
Kris: How important has it been for you to work with a prep coach and what things have you found most valuable in that experience?
Karly: Well, it is so important, HUGE! I had never done this sort of thing before so even being on stage was new to me. I had done some modeling pictures before so I was fairly comfortable with posing, but keeping your muscles tight, smiling, walking in 5" heels and being on stage half naked is a whole different story! With posing practice this helped me learn the appropriate way to pose and walk while presenting on stage which is so crucial when it comes to judging time. All your hard work can go right down the toilet if you don't know how to present yourself correctly on stage.
I also felt it was important to have someone checking what my husband and I had done for diet and training to make sure I was truly going about this preparation in the healthiest and safest way possible. The last thing I wanted to do was make myself sicker in the end because of bad dieting choices up to the competition. Having someone who can look at you objectively and give you positive criticism is also important. You see yourself every day so it can be hard to see where you have improved and what you need to work on.
Another huge benefit was to have Jacques and you back-stage with me. You had prepared me for what would happen before hand and then re-integrated that while we were there. I was prepared and relaxed and knew what to expect thanks to you guys.
Karly: Honestly, I would tell them it isn't easy, but in the end it is one of the most rewarding things you can ever do for yourself. You learn so much about yourself in the process. You learn your strengths and your weaknesses. If you want to compete, I say go for it. I highly recommend being organized and prepared. Enlisting in a trainer/competition coach who specializes in this area is so valuable and will make your first experience 100% better than if you go at it alone. Do your research too if you decide to have a trainer help you. There are a lot of different methods to preparing for a competition both in training and diet so it is important to find the best fit for you.
Kris: I love your philosophy that fitness is something everyone can do. What do you say to people who see what you do and say they could never do that?
Karly: If you tell yourself that you can't do something, you certainly will never do it. You are the only person that can truly tell yourself "no" and stand in your way. Tell yourself "maybe I could do that", starts to open up the idea of possibilities. Tell yourself "I can do that", opens up the doors to great things that you will achieve. It is all about attitude. Believe in yourself and you will be.
I also tell them that they don't have to compete to find something they love and that keeps them healthy and fit. What I do may not be the right fit for them and that is just fine by me. What my biggest hope is for people to remember that they are capable of great things and that to do something active can be so many things, whether it is water aerobics, golfing, running a marathon, doing a triathlon, or walking 3 miles a day. The key is to find something active that you love and that makes you feel good.
Kris: I'm excited to be featuring your journey on Team Pitcher as you get ready for the Emerald Cup, is there anything you'd like to share with readers about what they might expect as they take the journey with you?
Karly: First, let me thank you for giving me this opportunity to be part of Team Pitcher through this journey. It truly is an honor.
What can people expect? A little bit of everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. They can expect to read funny stories and goofy things that happen to me along the way. They can expect to read about a person who is truly real, deep in faith, compassionate at the heart, and funny and loving in the soul. I hope to inspire people, remind them that nothing great comes easy, but in that great fight to accomplish a goal, something amazing happens. You learn and you grow and you become smarter and stronger than before.