Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Area mom turns bodybuilding hobby into worldly competition

Sunday, September 9, 2007 11:27 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON — Like many first-time mothers, the thought of becoming a stay-at-home mom is something that is embraced.

But the sudden change after delivering a child for Cathy Vail of Bloomington was a little too difficult.

“That was pretty hard for me,” Vail said. “I kind of lost my identity.”

In that, a new challenge was born.

After deciding to become a stay-at-home mom following the birth of her daughter, Madison, Vail said she felt lost with her teaching career suddenly gone, and she looked for something new to stay satisfied.

Continuing to visit her favorite recreational place — the weight room — following child birth, Vail, 36, became enthralled watching bodybuilding competitions. Seven years later and after the past five months of intense training, Vail reached the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation Universe Competition in Overland Park, Kan., this past weekend.

“I think it’s been successful,” Vail said. “It’s neat to watch the changes your body can do.”

But these changes are totally natural, she said.

In order to compete in the WNBF, all participants must remain substance-free for at least seven years prior to the competition. This means no steroids, human-growth hormones or ephedrine. Also, prior to the show, each competitor must take a polygraph test and submit a urine sample.

“For me, it’s not difficult because I’ve had no interest in taking anything like that,” Vail said. “I’ve always felt a sense of pride to know it’s my hard work. It helps me to get where I am.”

Vail began preparing for the competition 20 weeks ago. Aside from constant visits to the gym for weight and cardio training, she had a strict diet that limited her to about 1,300 calories per day — 700 fewer than the recommended allotment.

“That’s the toughest part,” said Vail, who also is a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in Bloomington. “The diet is really hard. It takes a lot of discipline.”

To build muscle mass and keep the caloric intake down, Vail sliced her diet three ways. She put 50 percent of her diet into proteins, 30 percent into “healthy fats” and the other 20 percent into carbohydrates. Vail used supplements as a way of changing her hum-drum diet.

“Supplements you definitely don’t even need,” Vail said. “That’s why they call them supplements. I learned that it got pretty boring eating chicken breasts four or five times a day.”

Still, no matter how much time she puts in or sacrifices she makes, people will still question the “natural” part of this competition.

“It doesn’t really bother me,” Vail said. “Most people who know me well enough know I’m natural anyway. That’s what matters to me.”

So does getting back a regular life.

“I’m looking forward returning to normal,” Vail said.

Copyright © 2007, Pantagraph Publishing Co. All rights reserved.

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