Models crunch stigmas

Taya Day and Robyn Baldwin say fitness competitions keep them motivated

When it comes to being healthy, modeling competitions provided by Serious About Fitness, World Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation, Canadian Bodybuilding Federation as well as International Drug Free Athletics, raise the bar on pristine physiques.

In the gym six days a week, sometimes twice a day, might be too much for some, but for competitors like Taya Day and Robyn Baldwin it’s that extreme regiment that helps them stay motivated.

Baldwin, a former CFL cheerleader turned advertising professional, and Day, a gymnast-come-personal-trainer, divide their time between work, fitness modeling and competitions.

“I think for anyone, especially me, a personal trainer, it’s a great way to push yourself to the next level,” Day says. “I can help myself succeed, and then I can help my clients with their goals.

“I keep the weights very light for my upper body but I go very heavy for my lower body,” she adds. “I find, because I’m a gymnast, my upper body gets muscular faster.”

Both Day and Baldwin double their efforts in the gym six to eight weeks before a competition.A week before competitions, Day will water-load, drinking four to six litres of water. Then the day before, she will take diaretics to shed the fluid in order to augment her physique. Along with the bronzer models don, the muscle tone is fully visible for judges.

“Fitness models don’t cut their water too drastically,” she says. “It’s more of an issue or harder to handle for a bodybuilder who is looking to get really dry and dehydrated looking.”

It’s not as bad as it sounds, Baldwin admits.

“It isn’t healthy, but because I’m so healthy throughout the year, it’s okay to let myself slide for the one day and then the next day I’m getting all the electrolytes I need back into my body so I don’t shock myself.”

Why Baldwin, who recently placed third in a Quebec regional WBFF competition, and ninth at the worlds, would put herself through such an arduous workout can be traced to three years ago.

“I just saw myself in the elevator mirror one day, I was going down for a swim, and I was so confused as I didn’t know what had happened to my body,” she said. “That Christmas my mom gave me an Oxygen magazine in my stocking and the girl on the cover I knew.”

Baldwin had been a member of the Hamilton Tigercats cheerleaders and seeing her friend in such peak condition got her to pounce on her need to stay fit.

“I saw the cover and said to myself, ‘If she can look like that, than I can look like that’,” she said. “It was a bit of motivation, a little bit of competitive spirit, so I did a lot of research in terms of my nutrition and then fitness and basically decided to train for a competition.”

After enlisting in fitness model Lyzabeth Lopez’s hourglass workshop, she started researching proper nutrition and teaching herself clean eating.Applying what she learned to her own metabolism, Baldwin entered WBFF competitions.

“I don’t eat like most female competitors because I am a hard gainer, so I have a really hard time gaining muscle,” she says. “It’s real easy for me to lose fat, so I barely do any cardio compared to some girls.”

Day takes the same strict path.

“For the six to eight weeks, I stop drinking any alcohol, I don’t eat out at any restaurants, I prepare all my own food,” she says. “Basically it’s no sugar, no salt, no simple carbs — the only carbs I eat are brown rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes.”

Proteins include chicken and fish with plenty of veggies and good fats like extra virgin olive oil, natural peanut butter and raw almonds.

But sometimes, the hard and fast rules of their diets can alienate them from friends and family.

“The diet is really hard because, I don’t know, socially just being able to go out to dinner or for lunch with your friends or not drinking any alcohol it’s kind of hard for other people not to understand,” Day says.

That discipline has led to success at SAF, IBFA and CBBF meets. She has won twice in the SAF in the elite category, including the 2010 Fall Spectacular in Ottawa and another in Gatineau, Quebec.

Baldwin shares the same rep, when it comes to restraint, adding friends aren’t as understanding.

“A lot of people don’t understand why you give up drinking or cheap foods,” she said. “I don’t think it’s really giving up, it’s more managing it better.

“I feel great all the time, but as soon as I have a cheap meal or drink, I feel like crap.”

Baldwin describes herself as an “alpha female”, emphasizing she’s a full-time career woman balancing work with fitness modeling. When asked if met with opposition about her modeling aspect, she admits no one has put up a fuss, but she does have words of advice for those flexing their opinions.

“My response to them is, ‘The reason why I’m doing this is a picture on a cover of a magazine caused me to have a healthier life’,” she says. “So if I can inspire one other woman to choose to eat, exercise and feel better about themselves because of a picture that they’ve seen of me, then I am okay with that.”

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