Posts Tagged ‘mma’

Today We’re Chatting With an NPAA Elite Pro

If you follow Mindy Lou Ambrose on twitter you know that she’s nothing short of a fire cracker. She plays hard and works harder, so we’re thankful that she took the time to answer a few questions for us.

Mindy Lou Ambrose

Can you tell us a little about your formative years?

I spent much of my childhood exploring acting, dance and visual arts while my sister seemed to be more of a sports junkie. However, because she was only one year older, I kept trying to keep up with her. This meant participating in sports like Volleyball and Basketball, as well as competing in track and field events. My parents were supportive of all of our interests. My Dad used to ride my Mom’s bike around the block stopwatch in hand, beside us as we ran. We had him time us every night so that we could try to beat our times. This is a fond memory of mine because other kids in the neighborhood started to join in, and it was quite funny to see my Dad on my Mom’s bike with a pack of kids running beside him.  In high-school a few friends had gym memberships. I couldn’t afford one so I used a youth exercise program at a Rec Centre. I was heavy into aerobics, plyometrics, running, and resistance training from the age of 17 (through the youth program) but wanted to get into weight-lifting too. I loved the gym setting from the minute I set foot in one for the first time on a friend’s guest pass. I can’t say there was ever a light-bulb effect moment where I became a fitness junkie. It has just always been in me – I genuinely enjoy challenging my body. I started to realize I could be serious with weight-training when I joined a gym at the age of 20 that was managed by my good friend. He was a bodybuilder, and a personal trainer and gave me priceless advice about heavy-lifting, building and fat-burning.

How has fitness changed your life?

Developing muscles and cardio conditioning at such a young age has helped me feel physically strong and capable which has always added to my self-confidence. The biggest impact fitness has had overall, is in goal-setting. I am a self-declared expert at goal-setting. For over a decade I have seen myself set and exceed goals on a regular basis and I can’t tell you how valuable of a habit that is. Now that I am in my 30’s I feel like there’s nothing I can’t accomplish in life. No goal is too intimidating for me. I feel compelled to enlighten others on the habit of setting what I call “Juicy Goals.”  I see my body as a survival tool, and plan my nutrition and training around maintaining it the best I can. Results keep my momentum up more than anything. Seeing my strength and conditioning improve weekly gives me a high. At the moment, I have had success in natural bodybuilding and identify with being a completely hormone/drug-free, fat burner-free athlete. I hold myself accountable for living the lifestyle that I promote. I also surround myself with amazing people who are like-minded and are not afraid to set big fitness goals.

Who supports your efforts?

My parents are worriers – they fear for my safety when I practice boxing, and they remember all the ailments and injuries I have had from weight-training (which have all been very minor.) It is quite amusing actually. They are also conservative and have had to get used to the idea of me painting my body brown and wearing heels and a bikini before a panel of judges. When I had my first win, my Dad said “I’m proud of you but keep your clothes on.” They have always given me unconditional support, so all they care about is that I am happy. My sister and I are polar opposites but she tells me that she brags about my accomplishments to her friends. She is very proud of the level of confidence I have built through my sport. She comes to all of my shows. My main squeeze, Jason, fully gets what I do and welcomes my lifestyle. It makes a huge difference having a partner who shares the same values in health and fitness, and who genuinely believes I can achieve all of my goals. He has been known to push me on the odd day that I lacked motivation or energy, leading up to a competition. Even on our first dates he taught me about using nutrition to keep the muscles that I work hard to build. I also have the best coach in the business, and she has wonderful clients who are becoming great friends of mine. They all have zero doubts about my fitness goals, and that feels amazing.

What are the difficulties that you’ve faced?

I am in the habit of removing obstacles in my path to achieving goals. I can’t say I have had many obstacles except financial barriers surrounding a divorce, and retiring a business as a result of the divorce. I sold furniture and personal belongings to get started in this sport – to pay for my first coach, show fees, and costuming. Now that everything is sorted out, and I am thriving in a new career, my success has been building ever since, (on all levels.)

What are some of your accomplishments?

Winning my first show of this season, after having to drop out of the Fall season from the flu and pneumonia,) was an emotional milestone for me. I felt like I couldn’t get on that stage fast enough, after having a taste of competing 12 months before. I had already won, in my eyes, because of all of the personal goals I had exceeded in prep for the show, but bringing home my first trophy was redeeming that this was MY sport. I received first place in the IDFA Novice Fitness Model division, and a few months later won first overall in Fitness Model class at INBF in Vancouver. Having 2 unanimous wins gives me great confidence for future competing. I have now been awarded Elite Pro status in the NPAA, and will be competing for an IFPA pro card on September 30th, 2012. This year I found my place in natural fitness model physique competitions, which is perfect because of my values regarding banned substance use. I practice natural, healthy competing, and prefer to represent associations that reward this.

What’s your current training and meal plan?

I use Fitnessprint.com which is an online coaching program created by WBFF Pro Fitness Model Fatima Leite Kusch. She adjusts my training about every few weeks, and it has changed for each of the 4 competitions this year (that’s right, FOUR competitions this Summer.) One trend seems to be 2 days on, rest day, 3 days on, rest day… for the past couple of months it has resembled a building program. I have had to build a lot of muscle since being sick all last Fall/Winter. For supplements I take protein shakes, (but rely on food first,) BCAAs and Glutamine. My body has held onto my muscles more effectively since using BCAAs. Muscle recovery is my main motivation for using these supplements. Mostly I rely on 8 hours of sleep every night, for muscle repair. I can’t tell you how much this works. It also prevents food cravings like nothing else. Every week, Fatima changes my ratio of fats, carbs, proteins, etc. I am fed more fats and carbs than people expect – even on the day of my show – back stage – I am eating loads of EVERY food group all day long, while other competitors starve and eat nothing but rice cakes. My favorite carbs are slow-release options like yam muffins, yams, oatmeal, oat brownies, and oat cookies. My favorite protein options are lean cuts of steak, chicken curry meatloaf, baked multigrain chicken strips and turkey burgers. For fats I eat olives, cheese, nuts, coconut, avocado and nut butters. I am consistent year-round, and avoid gaining excess fat in the winter, which allows me freedom to enjoy all kinds of foods. I don’t feel like I am dieting until I am1 week out from a competition. The emphasis is on feeding my muscles, rather than depletion. While I do eat a lot of foods, I don’t eat restaurant food very often, as there is little control over how it is prepared. You don’t achieve a pro fitness body by eating out all the time, or by simply making wise meal choices – it takes much more than that.

What are your immediate and long-term goals?

I have recently earned Elite Pro status with NPAA, which means I am recognized as a Canadian pro athlete. In order to win an international pro card with the IFPA (an affiliate with the NPAA,) I have to win my height class in my next competition, and then win overall among all height class winners. I feel that competing at the International pro level is just the gravy on top of all the opportunities coming my way. My goal is to continue competing annually, perhaps twice per year, and to use that new level of celebrity to become a judge, a posing coach, and a motivational speaker. I have a lot to say about living confidently, savoring life, and creating enormous goals. I also plan to master the art of Capoeira and compete in amateur boxing.

Any advice for our readers?

If you’re serious about transforming your physique health, and conditioning, my best piece of advice is to COMPLETELY model an athlete who has the regimen, body, and lifestyle you would enjoy having. I noticed major changes in my body when I started boxing. I admired the physique of a boxer, as well as enjoyed the various physical exercises involved with boxing, and wanted a total body workout and intense cardio conditioning. I wanted to be able to say I was an athletic machine, not just a bunch of pretty muscles. Having this connection to my overall goal kept me consistent and excited – none of it felt like a chore. The same applies to bodybuilding for me. I enjoy all aspects of this sport and my category, and I do not feel like it is a chore. I thrive in this sport because I genuinely enjoy it. Explore fitness and when you discover the activities you can’t get enough of, perform them with 100% intensity every time. If you hate running – don’t run. If you hate cycling – don’t cycle. Find the balance of the desired physique you want to maintain, and the level and nature of activity you are prepared to commit to… stop talking about it… start doing it.

Set a very specific big goal, and use small, bi-weekly attainable goals to get there. Enjoy the process of getting to the big goal, and celebrate your small successes. Give credit to all of your efforts. Also, do not let a single barrier get in your way of what you want to do. You can keep your momentum up by doing something every single day (no matter how small,) that contributes to your desired results. Whether it’s trying a new clean-eating recipe, buying yourself some new fitness gear, planning a fitness outing with friends, trying a new exercise class or new jogging route, going to the supplement store to be enlightened on new products… you can do something EVERY day that will help set you up for success in fitness. Everyone should also know that it may be scary throwing yourself out there for criticism (maybe you are out of shape and joining a gym… maybe you are competing as a fitness model and don’t feel like a conventional model,) but I guarantee you will hear more positive feedback than negative once you get started. Whatever you feel most vulnerable about will not be noticed by the masses. They will respect you as an athlete. Most of my fans started following me when I had only competed once, and received 5th place – no trophy. They support me because they see me eating, sleeping, and breathing my ideal lifestyle. They are fans because of my passion, not because of my wins. Throwing myself into the public eye was daunting last year, but for every ONE negative downer in my life, there are 1,000 supporters in my corner cheering me on.

I dare everyone to stop talking about that big juicy fantastical goal they have been talking about for years, and start implementing it TODAY. If I can design a dream life, so can you.

1-2-3 GO!

You can reach Mindy directly at her new Blog and Website:

http://www.mindyambrose.com twitter @mindyambrose Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/mindy.fanpage

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I Love A Good Bruise

Fun, outgoing, and bruised (literally). Those are three words that best describe muay thai lover Jody Bottone. A graphic designer by trade, Jody connected with us via twitter and began to show us how much she loved MMA and muay thai. Today she shares her kickboxing life with us all.

I have celiac disease which means I can’t eat gluten, not only can’t I eat it, it can’t even touch my food or I’ll get sick. It causes vitamin deficiencies in me which led to osteopenia. I lost bone mass and shrunk an inch because of it. I read an article about a woman who reversed her bone loss so I wanted to do the same, and I did. I no longer have osteopenia, although I did not grow an inch back!  I’m also allergic to a bunch of foods so I eat a pretty clean diet on a daily basis. I always exercised before muay thai but would get bored easily. I haven’t gotten bored yet and it’s something I can see myself doing for a long time. It keeps me in good shape and I feel not only the physical benefit, but the mental benefit as well. It definitely helps relieve a lot of stress. I’m just amazed at what my body can do.  I remember times when I would think to myself “There’s no way I can do that” and then I would do it. It’s such an amazing feeling. You keep doing that and eventually those “I cant’s” don’t creep into your mind.

I was actually looking to take some form of kickboxing, and I had never heard of muay thai before. I didn’t even know what MMA was. I just looked up kickboxing in my area and that’s when I found out what muay thai was. The funny thing is that when I started I wanted nothing to do with sparring but after a few classes I really took to it, and after a couple months I couldn’t wait to spar. Now I’m hooked. I normally don’t bring it up when I meet people. I get all kinds of reactions. Most people don’t even know what muay thai is! If I tell people I kickbox they think I do tae bo or cardio kickboxing. I usually just tell people I take a martial arts class. I think it’s intimidating to some people, or they think you’re a violent person.

I think it’s a little tougher as a woman because you have to work harder and you have to earn respect. Sometimes the expectations of women are that they can’t do what the men can do but it is simply not true. I’ve seen it. It also can be hard to find good sparring partners. Not all men feel comfortable hitting a woman in the face, so it can be hard to progress in sparring if you are around people like that. Most men that I’ve sparred with are usually bigger than me so I usually have a reach and height disadvantage (oh yeah and they weigh a lot more than I do) but that actually ends up being good as far as the learning process. It’s nice to spar with people your own size and its super awesome when you have a reach advantage, which happens very infrequently to me.  I’ve sparred with quite a few guys who punch me in the arm or don’t punch at all. They just defend and that definitely doesn’t help me learn. I wish more women would become interested in martial arts in general. It would be nice to see more women taking classes and in the ring. There really aren’t that many woman who fight muay thai or MMA in my area. There are plenty of girls who can’t compete because there’s nobody out there in their weight class. 

Are woman looked at differently? Yes and no, depends on the people. I’ve been around both types of people. It’s no fun when you’re not taken seriously just because you’re female but it does happen. The first gym I went to there were no girls who wanted to spar but I was very lucky to start sparring with guys who didn’t look at me different, they didn’t go easy on me at all and I’m so grateful for that. I want to be treated just like everybody else. On the flip side, here’s a cute story, the scenario is I’m the only girl at the gym and it’s time to spar. One of the guys says ‘I’ll go with the girl, I’ll take one for the team’… really he said that out loud standing right next to me. After we sparred, he told me I had better technique than any of those other guys. So I have to say it sucks when you work really hard at something and somebody’s first impression of you is based solely on the fact that you are a woman and they think you can’t do something. Don’t judge a book by its cover!

I really love to push myself. I’m sure most people who train in martial arts do, so injuries are very common. Something always hurts, usually my shins, legs and/or feet. You end up just pushing through a lot of stuff, you get used to it, and it’s just part of it. Somebody always has something taped up at the gym. You find other exercises that you can do when those minor annoyance injuries occur or you just double up on the other side. Right now I have tendonitis in my elbow so I actually rested for a little over a week. I’m not a fan of taking a rest, I always feel guilty but I’ve learned over the years to listen to my body. I also love a good bruise, but those of you that follow me on Twitter already know that, it makes me feel like I’m working hard.

As far as training goes, I don’t think there is a “worst part”. When it’s over is the worst part! I love muay thai class. I can’t think of anything that I don’t enjoy. I’m sure my instructors could think of a few things to make me cringe, it’s usually not the exercise but the amount of it we do. It can be brutal at times, but I love the challenge. You feel so good when you’re all done and you say to yourself “I did that!”

I’d like to have my first ammy muay thai fight this year. I wanted to compete last year but my life got really crazy, I moved, and switched gyms, so I’d like to get in there this year. I don’t have any long term goals but would love to be involved somehow maybe judging or clapping the sticks at the 10 second mark!

When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible.