Training and Nutrition with STEPHANIE SZPILA

Training Your Mind and Body


2016 was undoubtedly one of the hardest years of my life, but the struggles I faced during this time lead me to discover the greatest thing of all…myself. In May 2016, on my way to work, I was in a t-bone collision with another driver that totaled my car and started me on a path that I didn’t even know God had in store for me. After x-rays and MRIs, doctors came to the conclusion that I had three cervical spine herniations that were the cause of debilitating migraines. I spent two to three days per week in therapy, miserable and depressed because doctors were telling me that I should no longer weight train. This was something that I have always had a passion for, and taking that away only made my mental state worse. I decided to continue training with Justin Draper and modifying exercises the best way we could to avoid pain and continue on my rehabilitation process.

Throughout the months following my accident, I realized more and more the immense pressure I put on myself in order to be the best that I can be. Trying so hard to be perfect is not only unattainable, but it lead me to always being counterproductive and creating an intense feeling of dissatisfaction towards myself. I found myself exhausted and depressed from trying so hard to stick to rules I created for myself for dieting and being strict with my nutrition. When I failed, I would find myself feeling so guilty, but then with a spoon, eating an entire half gallon of ice cream in one sitting. I would vow to myself that I would start again on Monday, and then spend my weekends parading through every drive thru in Buffalo. The more weight I had gained, the more I felt myself spiraling into depression and I found myself at my highest weight of 154lbs.

Two months after the accident, I realized how out of control I truly was. I decided to try tracking macronutrients with Justin as my coach. This flexible dieting approach lead me towards my greatest success to date; stepping on stage after a six year break from competing in figure competitions. When I signed up with Justin, I whole-heartedly believe that he had more in store for me than I ever could have imagined. After four months of tracking, I was down twenty pounds and felt so much more like myself. With a little bit of coaxing from Justin, I decided that I would follow his lead and start the next phase of dieting, contest preparation.

What I loved most about my competition prep with Justin was the fact that it really didn’t feel like a prep at all. By dropping my macro totals slightly as we got closer to the show date, we were able to still give my body the fuel it needed to train, work, and occasionally socialize. In my previous prep diet, I was consuming the same meals daily and had so many rules to follow that I was constantly hungry, miserable, and deprived. This restriction only lead to worse outcomes after the show was over in 2011, where a period of binge eating was in full swing as well. I loved that I was able to participate in things that I loved during my prep, like Tough Mudders and vacationing. I was even able to get married to the man of my dreams and still track my macros on the day of the ceremony without feeling restricted. For once in my life, my thoughts and days were not just focused around food, even though dieting is essential in order to prepare for a competition.

In late April, after tracking macros for ten months and following a contest preparation plan, I stepped on stage feeling the most beautiful and happy I have ever been. I was down 35 pounds and at 31 years old, had the feeling of peace that finally comes with knowing who and what you stand for. I had overcome my food addiction and was ready to take on the next challenge that life would offer. I remember standing on stage and facing the curtain during my back pose, thinking to myself “this is the celebration of all that you have accomplished, so have some fun”. The experience of competing in that show meant more to me than any trophy and I will cherish that moment for the rest of my life. It was such an amazing day for me and I couldn’t have done it without the support from Justin and the rest of the Jada Blitz crew.

Now that the show is over, I am ready to reverse diet and begin to slowly increase calories in order to fuel my metabolism without adding on excess fat. Post contest, it is important to have a structure and stay with a coach who knows how your body responds. Adding on a few pounds to a lean physique can also feel uncomfortable for some, but it is important to do in order to maintain health and give the body a break. I am so glad I have been able to fully explain my emotions, struggles, and success with Justin openly throughout my journey. Having a coach who can empathize with you and assure you that you are going on the right path is a great way to stay motivated after a show, when life was consumed for months by one huge goal. I had such a great experience with prep and with the show in general, that I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me. I would love to step on stage again next year and fine-tune my physique.

“The will to win must come from within” as we say at Jada Blitz. Nothing is better than giving your best, but even your best can make you better…

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