So I would have never called myself a writer and I kind of still don’t. However, I started a blog in January to help hold me accountable for my competition goals. This blog has turned into something I never expected. Honestly, I never really thought anyone would care to read it. Anyway, I was approached by an online magazine, The Indie Chicks, about possibly writing a guest article for the mag about my experience with training. Uh, yes please!
Name: Amy and Lauren Tillotson (Tillotson Twins)
Age: Identical Twins -24 years old; 1 minute apart 😉
Feel free to contact us with any questions or simply to say hello
Amy: Afitlifestyle1@gmail.com (IG: @amy_till)
Lauren: firstname.lastname@example.org (IG: @law_till)
What’s your story? Were you athletic? Had weight issues? How was your life growing up and how did it relate to your body/health/fitness? Where to begin?! We have been playing sports since we were 4 years old. We can remember kicking the soccer ball around before we could even say our ABC’s. Playing on sports teams has been a huge part of our life ever since we were young. We played soccer, basketball, ran track, swam competitively and even danced on competition teams. We can both say that we would not be where we are today without sports. They truly have made us who we are. We were never those kids with that one gift or unspoken talent, but we were those kids that knew how to work hard and we grew to learn that hard work WOULD pay off one day. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that all the hard work you put into something will actually pay off, especially when you’re young. There are many times you doubt yourself, you doubt the time, the work, the journey, it can become a very frustrating process and there is certainly no doubting that. However, very quickly you learn and realize that nothing worth having in life is handed to you. Well maybe if you win the lottery but luck is something out of your control right;). We knew if we wanted something we would have to work for it, we would have to take control of our future. We could give you many life examples, but we will just tell you about one for now.
We were about 13 years old and soccer was our love, our passion, and we knew we wanted to play in college someday (which we did). For those of you not familiar with the soccer world, there is something called the ODP team or the Olympic Development Program. In short, every state has an ODP team where you have to go through a number of try-outs over the course of several months to be selected to make the elite soccer team of 20. There were hundreds of girls trying out and amongst the crowd there were many of our teammates and opponents. After making it through the first few rounds of try-outs, we were at the last try-out with maybe 50 girls left for the 20 final spots. After that final try-out you wait for a final decision letter in the mail. You knew that if the letter was large, you made it, if not; it was a sheet of rejection. I would love to tell you that we made the team, but we did not. I remember coming home from school in the afternoon to that paper thin envelope on the kitchen table. After the 4 long months of trying out, we received the letter in the mail that confirmed we did not make the team. It’s a hard thing to swallow when you’re young and a lot of your friends and teammates make the team that you worked so hard to be a part of. It would have been so easy to pack it in right then and there, believe me we considered it, but we knew that wasn’t us. We were determined to make the team the following year, whatever it took; we didn’t want to face rejection once again. That year we spent countless hours down at our middle school kicking the soccer ball against the brick wall, our dad got us into speed and strength training, and we took every opportunity to make ourselves that much better. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into training and sacrifices had to be made. The next year we made that ODP New York State Team and it was the best feeling in the world. Yes, receiving that huge envelope was extremely exciting but the reward came from all the hard work to make sure we achieved our goal. If someone tells you, you can’t do something—–let that be the fire to PROVE THEM WRONG!
Needless to say we had many obstacles throughout our lives but one of the most important lessons we learned at a young age was that it’s not how many times you get knocked down but it’s how many times you get back up and keep pushing forward. Even though we are identical twins and played on all the same sports teams growing up, we did have some different experiences (we can maybe save some of these stories for future posts). We were lucky enough to have that little extra push most of the time; yes, we are best friends but we are also each other’s fiercest competition. With all of that being said…fitness has played a huge role in our lives and we know it is only going to have a bigger impact in not only our lives in the years to come but the people around us as well.
When is your competition? Is this your first? Our competition is on August 10th in New Jersey with Kristine J. This is the first competition for all three of us. It has definitely been quite the journey so far but a rewarding one. Preparing for a competition is no easy task and luckily having the support of friends going through the same experience helps you push through even on the toughest days.
What made you decide to compete? Out of all IFBB Pros why did you chose Jessica Arevalo to coach you? Lauren and I have been competing all our life whether it was for college preseason, track meets, a national soccer championship, a college soccer game or even getting into shape for spring break! We have always had a goal in mind and worked hard to achieve that goal. Now, being away from the college scene for over 2 years, we have realized that having a goal in mind helps drive you to be your best. We finally decided after following several competitors on IG, that we should compete. I witnessed a small glimpse of it while personal training and getting into the fitness industry last year; however, once I started my full-time job in accounting I pushed the idea of competing to the back-burner. Not until about 2 months ago did Lauren and I decide that there is never a perfect time for anything in life, so in March we reached out to Jessica Arevalo to be our coach. We knew it was time to make our dreams of competing in an NPC bikini competition a reality. We knew that Jessica was the right person to help guide us to reach that dream. Jessica is a huge inspiration to not only us but to so many people around the world. Her positive spirit, incredible physique and knowledge of the sport are just a few of the things that make Jessica the perfect fit to be our coach.
How long have you been prepping and how are you feeling? We have been prepping for a little over a month now, the first week or two were definitely the hardest. The first few days we had to force the 6 meals down our throat since we weren’t used to eating so frequently. Not to mention we both work in an office setting so our colleagues definitely had to get used to the constant smell of food. Plus it took about a week or two to explain to everyone who walked by my desk why I was eating “lunch” at 10 a.m. Amy and I found our bodies weak at times and craving everything salty and sweet. Also, it must have been a freaky coincidence that everyone in my office had a birthday in those first two weeks, so the birthday goodies lingering in the office only made things that much harder.
When Amy and I would come home from our 10 hour plus days of work, the last thing we wanted to do was clean our Tupperware and pack up our meals for the next day. Needless to say our sisterly fights were at an all-time high. We definitely weren’t used to the time consuming meal prep and costly trips to the grocery store and Costco (granted we were buying for two!) We have finally got ourselves into a regular routine where we dedicate about 3 hours every Sunday to cooking all of our meals for the week. Sometimes we need to do a smaller round of meal prep mid-week since we run out of food; you would think we were feeding a family of 10!
Now on about our 5th week we are feeling great and more motivated than ever. I wouldn’t say that every week that goes by it gets easier, but I will say it gets more enjoyable and rewarding. The small changes you see in yourself not only physically but mentally are so motivating and keep you pushing to that next step, that next day, just one step at a time you climb that ladder to the top.
What is the hardest part about prepping for a competition so far? What keeps you motivated? I would have to say the hardest part has been the diet. Lauren and I have always been into training especially playing sports all of our lives and going to college to play soccer at the D1 level. The diet has been a struggle and as Lauren mentioned above eating so frequent was something we weren’t used to. It has been getting easier but it’s definitely a learning process in terms of meal prep and how to get it all done as efficiently and painless as possible. We have always eaten relatively clean but on the weekends Lauren and I would indulge in our favourite-sweet potatoes fries, ice cream or we would bake a nice, warm batch of chocolate chip cookies (my mouth is starting to water already). Even though our soccer glory days ended about 2 years ago, we kept very similar eating habits thinking we still needed the energy to go to a 3-hour soccer practice. Luckily, we have learned that food=fuel and should provide the body with clean nutrients so we can function at our best.
The motivation is the progress you see, yet minimal to none at times, it’s the small changes that add up to big ones. Your support system is also a huge motivating factor as positive vibes from the people around you can only keep you pushing and working towards that goal.
Has training changed you? If so, in what way? Even though Lauren and I have trained for certain events or games ever since we were very young whether it was a soccer championship, a track meet, swim competition, college game or you know that “ideal” spring-break bikini-bod; this training is different. The workouts isolate and focus on specific body parts rather than for instance, a total-body 45min workout. It really challenges you physically and mentally. After a typical 10-hour workday, it’s so easy to come up with why you don’t want to go to the gym. Oh we have been there, the million excuses, we know a lot of you can relate. The list goes on….I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m stressed, it’s too late to work out, I don’t want to get back in my car, it’s only one day, there is always next week. We have all been there, probably more times than not, but we have learned that those who want to see a change, those who want to live a better and healthier life aren’t listening to their excuses, they are ignoring them and just doing it. That’s the Nike slogan right, JUST DO IT
What are your fitness goals and what are you hoping to accomplish with this prep/competition? Our fitness goals are a life long journey. Our short-term goal is to compete in our first NPC competition but we hope to inspire those around us to live a fit and healthy lifestyle. Throughout the competition prep and show we hope to learn about ourselves and grow as a person, athlete and competitor.
Last words, for now… DON’T EVER GIVE UP! It’s NEVER too late to make your dreams come true! Also, thanks Kris for giving us this opportunity xo
As I have said many times before prepping for an NPC Bikini Competition has been life changing. One of the exciting parts of prepping is meeting other aspiring bikini competitors. When you decide to take on such a challenging solo sport, like bodybuilding, it can get a little lonely when your social circle doesn’t understand or relate to your new goals. And thanks to social media I have started to develop relationships with other girls who are being coach by the same inspiring IFBB Pro, Jessica Arevalo.
I thought it would be fun to get some new perspective to the blog and hear what other girls have to say about their experience of training. So for the next few months I’ve created a weekly feature called “Beauties in the Buff” where we will get to follow some of my lovely teammates as they prepare to take the stage!
With that said I would like you to meet the first Beauty, Jonna!
Name: Jonna Gately
Age: 25 years old
What’s your story? Were you athletic? Had weight issues? How was your life growing up and how did it relate to your body/health/fitness?
I was a figure skater from 3 years old to about 10 years old. In elementary school I played field hockey and ran indoor track. Once I started high school I traded in my figure skates for hockey skates and played all the way up until freshman year of college. I would never consider myself a strong athlete, but I didn’t suck either. My entire family played hockey so I felt like I had a lot of big shoes (or skates) to fill. Feeling mediocre, I decided to try roller derby. My professor in college played for a local team (I’m from Boston and there’s only one team there). With my hockey background it wasn’t a hard transition. I played roller derby for Boston for a season, moved to NY a few months after graduation from college and skated there for a little. I occasionally went to the gym with teammates, but I partied a lot too. 6 months or so into living in NY, I joined the Navy nurse corps and got stationed here in San Diego. I’m stationed here for 3 years, serving active duty and I met my wonderful boyfriend here. As a nurse, I am surrounded by bad eating especially working in pediatrics. Those damn parents need to stop baking cookies! My boyfriend competes in men’s physique and will be competing for his pro card in July! Seeing his dedication and transformation was inspiring.. So that’s when this all came about for me!
As far as weight issues: I’m a pretty blunt person. Being 5 feet tall and having a major sweet tooth and carb addiction doesn’t really set one up for success. My weight fluctuated a ton throughout my teen years. At one point, I found myself studying abroad in the UK and coming back to the states weighing my heaviest: 150lbs! Holy Moly! After that I joined numerous weight loss programs, Jenny Craig, weight watchers but was never satisfied even though I had dropped 25lbs. I followed all the trendy diets: master cleanse, cookie diet, grapefruit diet.. You name it, I tried it. My family is Italian which means lots of carbs at dinner and my parents have a “snack drawer” in the kitchen which is loaded, and I mean loaded, with pure garbage. And at the time when I lived there I loved that drawer! Hahaha! Looking back on it now I’m surprised I didn’t weigh more. My parents have since joined weight watchers and my dad has lost like 30lbs! I now eat clean, thanks to my boyfriend and some unsightly photos I found of myself when in was in the UK.. And I love it.
When is your competition? Is this your first?
Currently, I’m waiting to hear from my coach when she thinks Ill be ready to compete. This competition will be picked by her based on my progress photos. Hopefully I’ll find out soon! It’ll give me more incentive to stay strict and work towards something. This will be my first competition and I don’t even know when it is, but I’m already nervous!
What made you decide to compete?
A combination of things.. I was working out but wanted to work out for something. Beach season? Nope, hate the beach. A reunion of some sort? Nope, not this year. Seeing my boyfriend prep and reading his muscle mags sort of got the ball rolling for me. Plus, I love doing things outside my comfort zone and working toward a goal. First it was studying abroad, then roller derby, then moving to NY even though I knew no one there, then joining the military and serving as an active duty officer. I figure I want to experience as much as possible so that my grand kids can be like “holy shit nana” and think I’m the coolest thing since versa gripps!
Out of all IFBB Pros why did you chose Jessica Arevalo to coach you?
I first saw Jessica on IG and was immediately in awe of her overall figure. She is short (like me), a brunette (like me) and has muscle but is still gorgeous and girly! I want to be like that. Her dedication and motivating quotes and pictures definitely made me reach out and contact her. Seeing the other girls she has prepped (even taking first in their class for their first show) was impressive! She’s been awesome and truly a great coach / role model to have so far!
How long have you been prepping and how are you feeling?
As of today, I have officially been prepping for 2 weeks so far. I feel pretty good. At first I didn’t think anything was changing until I looked at my progress pics. I definitely noticed my stomach thinning, butt lifting and arms becoming more defined. There are days when I am super tired (I work 12 hour shifts 3-4x/week and work out 2x a day). But I never expected this experience to be easy, just to be worth it.
What is the hardest part about prepping for a competition so far? What keeps you motivated?
Hardest part is probably the diet aspect. Jessica, Kristine, my boyfriend, and fitness IG accounts definitely keep me grounded and motivated. I also look at pics of myself at 150, and pics now.. Thank god for PicStitch!
Has training changed you? If so, in what way?
Physically I’m changing every week, mentally I’m changing every day. I found out that I can lift some pretty heavy shit if I put my mind to it. I realized that yeah, I can avoid alcohol and be okay with it. I don’t need the extra carbs! Hahah
What are your fitness goals and what are you hoping to accomplish with this prep/competition?
My fitness goals are to become a confident bikini competitor. Be that “after” pic everyone says “wow” to. I no longer look at my weight on a scale, so I don’t hope accomplish weight loss, but I do hope to gain muscle and just to meet some great people who desire the same!
Any last words you’d like to add: I just want to say thank god for IG, and Stevia. I look forward to sharing my journey with you guys!!! Thank you Kris. XO