Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Rachael Novello Interview
Q: First, Rachael, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I am 27 years old and from a small town north of Boston. I currently work for Citizens Bank in the mortgage division and have been with the company for just under 7 years. My husband and I were married in 2008 and in 2010 we adopted a beautiful miniature Australian Shepherd named Berklee. We purchased our first home about a year ago and have been updating and renovating ever since. I graduated college this past May (after 9 long years) and received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Human Resource Management. My husband is a manager for Enterprise on the northshore of MA. I have two sisters, one of whom is in her sophomore year of college and the other is a second grade teacher. My mother is a kindergarten teacher and my father is a computer software engineer. (anything else you want to know?)
Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I wouldn't consider myself an incredibly athletic person. I swam in high school and my first year of college and have completed two triathlons but do not participate in any team sports now.
Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: I have been a gym goer since I was about 16 years old when my father got a family membership to Gold's Gym. When I moved away for college I would attend the campus gym on a very inconsistent basis. It wasn't until I moved back home and met my now-husband that I wanted to get in shape. I began working out with my trainer in 2007 and never looked back.
Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Initially my training was to maintain my weight and tone up. It was something that I found I greatly enjoyed. Within the first two or three months of regular training I noticed that my body was getting tighter and I felt better about myself overall.
Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: In June of 2010 after taking some time off from regular training sessions I started to feel unhealthy again. I contacted my trainer and we put a plan together to get me back on track. At the time she was training to compete in the INBF Monster Mash in Massachusetts. She introduced me to another one of her clients who she was training to compete and I got the bug. I watched as the two of them drastically changed their figures and both did amazingly well at the show (my girlfriend took 5th in Novice Figure and my trainer took 1st in Heavyweight BB). In the month before the show my trainer asked if I would consider competing the following June. I told her that if she could get my body to that level that I would definitely take the stage.
Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: Initially I found it hard to get support at home and from friends. My family didn't really understand why I wanted to compete and the more they "learned" about the sport, diet & exercise regimen, the more they thought it was unhealthy for me. It took a lot of one on one conversations with them before they began to see that this was something I really wanted to accomplish and that made me happy. On top of which they started to see that the diet wasn't restricting in terms of how much I ate, just the types of food I was eating. My husband is now hugely supportive of my decision to compete and has many times kept me on track when I felt that I was floundering. It's definitely a learning curve for family and friends, but you just always have to be honest and keep the lines of communication open. I think that is the key to gaining understanding and support from others.
Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: Nothing about competing was what I expected. It was emotionally and physically exhausting at times to the point where I questioned if this was something I truly wanted to do. I thought the other competitors would be judgemental of me, a first time competitor, but I found that every single person I have met has been warm, friendly and willing to help and support each other. I have never met such a large group of people all with the same goal (winning) that are truly proud of each other's accomplishments. It's an amazing group to be a part of!
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: To date I have only competed in two shows - the 2011 INBF Northeast Classic and the 2011 OCB Yankee Classic. I place 3rd at the INBF show in Novice Figure. I placed 1st in Novice Figure & 2nd in Open Figure at the OCB show!
Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: My abs are probably my favorite body part. They came in very early on in my training and never went away. It's definitely one part that my trainer has taught me to emphasize on stage.
Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: As much as my abs are my favorite body part, my favorite part to train are my shoulders. There is something to me about the shape of my shoulders and the exercises that I do to train them that make me look forward to shoulder day at the gym. My favorite exercises are shoulder presses and lateral raises.
Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: My normal routine is a clean, healthy diet and 3 - 4 full body work out sessions per week, with 30 minutes of cardio on those days. However, when it comes to contest prep my diet changes according to what my coach feels my body needs and we increase my cardio to 6 - 7 days and up my weight lifting routine.
My diet is typically a 3 day protein/carb/fat rotation.
Day 1: 150-100-30
Day 2: 150-75-30
Day 3: 175-50-35
We limit my carbs to sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice and oatmeal. Fats are usually naturally occurring in the foods I'm eating, but if I have room I'll add in some natural peanut butter or olive oil. Proteins typically consist of chicken, white fish and the occasional steak on my higher fat days.
We change my lifting routine to one body part per day with 3 - 4 exercises per part and two days a week of ab work.
Day 1: SHOULDERS & ABS - upright rows, lateral raises, overhead presses, reverse flyes, cable front raises (3 sets of 12), reverse crunch, incline crunch, hanging crunch, oblique crunch (3 sets of 15-20)
Day 2: BICEPS - concentration curls, incline bench curls, barbell curls, dual cable curls, hammer curls (3 sets of 12)
Day 3: TRICEPS & ABS - press downs, over head cable press, weighted dips, close hand push ups, kickbacks (3 sets of 12), hanging crunch, bosu oblique, double crunch, straight arm/straight leg weighted crunch (3 sets of 15-20)
Day 4: HAMSTRINGS/CALVES - single leg standing curl, seating curl, physioball curl, deadlifts, seated calf raise, standing calf raise (3 sets of 15)
Day 5: QUADS - hack squat, power squat, lunges, split squats, plie/sumo squats (3 sets of 20-30)
Day 6: BACK/CHEST - pull ups, cable row, olympic row, lat pull down, smith machine incline/flat chest press, flyes, cable cross, push ups (3 sets of 12)
Q: When someone sees your physique or hears you compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: For the most part I get a lot of positive reactions. I find that because I compete in figure up until the last week before show day my physique isn't anything "shocking" per say. I am lean and muscular but not in a way that garners negative attentions. I find that once people know that I'm competing they tend to ask a lot of questions about how long it took to get where I am, what my diet is like etc but the reactions I get are primarily positive.
Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: "How can you stand the diet? You must miss "real" food" - initially it's hard to know how to react to something like this because it's not meant to be an insult, but what we eat is real food. It's just not the same food we used to eat or that others are eating. We are much more careful in choosing the types of food we put in our bodies because we have an ultimate goal. Over time I've come to realize that you just have to say "The diet is tough, but I've been eating clean for so long that my body is used to it. I am getting the fuel that I need to reach my goal and when I get on stage it's all worth it"
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: I think the biggest misconception is steroid usage. I have had many people make comments to me about "eventually you'll have to use steroids". I have found myself explaining many times the difference between a "natural" competitor and those folks that use enhancement drugs. The other big misconception people tend to have is they assume that if you compete that you are/will be a bodybuilder. The idea of a "figure" competitor isn't something that I have found to be commonly known so I've had to explain the difference there quite a few times!
Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: The best part of training for me is when I exceed a personal best. When I can put another plate on the leg press or throw another 5 pounds up on a shoulder press. Knowing that my body is getting stronger with each session is so empowering to me! The worst part is when I can't train to my fullest. Whether it's because I'm tired, or sick or just off my game - I get very frustrated on those days and feel like I'm not reaching my potential.
Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: Jamie Eason was the first high profile competitor I read about. Her story gave me that initial boost to want to learn more. Since then I have met so many incredible women that I couldn't possibly pick just a few. I admire each and every competitor in this industry for what they've accomplished and all that I can learn from their journeys.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Grilled pizzas! My husband makes a mean sausage, mozzarella and balsamic pizza!
Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: Go to a show! If the thought of competing has ever crossed her mind I would tell her to find a local show and check it out. That way she can get a real life view of what the actual competition day is all about and the types of people that compete. I personally never did this and found that I was more nervous that first show than I may have been if I checked one out before. I also think it gives her the opportunity to meet some past and present competitors and ask them questions about how they got started too.
Q: Do you think its becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A: I think it becoming more common place. I find that many women are coming around to the idea of lifting weights on a regular basis to maintain their physiques.
Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I love to read! I got a Kindle for Christmas last year and I do not go anywhere without it. I also love to cook - which has helped me get through tough dieting days. I love to make food and watch other people enjoy it - I'm always experimenting with new flavors, ingredients and textures.
Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Rachael Novello.
A:A typically day consists of a training session in the morning (usually around 530am), followed by work until 4pm or 5pm, then cooking dinner with my husband, taking the dog for a walk and relaxing on the couch. It's a very simple life and I enjoy every minute!
Q: Describe Rachael Novello in five words.
A: Driven, Caring, Strong, Loyal, Funny
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I am a two time triathlete.
Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: My next competition is going to be the OCB Cape Cod Natural show on October 8, 2011!
Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Rachael Novello the athlete and competitor?
A: I am definitely looking for sponsorship opportunities in the future. I would love to be able to represent this sport in anyway I can! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am currently working on my website rachaelnovello.com and hope to have that up and running soon!
Q: Rachael, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this.