By Ryan Finley
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 06.28.2008
Patricia Gonzales runs hills outside her Gates Pass home, takes kickboxing classes and stresses over muscle tone, spray tans and carbs.
What does your grandma do, knit?
Gonzales is one of Tucson's new faces in the world of competitive bodybuilding. That she is 44 and a grandmother of a 4-year-old hardly seems possible.
"No one ever believes it. It's always, 'You're 30, 35,' " Gonzales said. "I have good genes — you should see my mom, she looks great — but there's more to it than that. I tell everybody, 'If you're lifting weights and watching what you're eating, it can take 10, 15 years off your age.' "
Gonzales, a personal trainer, will put her body to the test at this weekend's Max Muscle Arizona Open Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure Championships in Chandler. The Clifton High School and University of Arizona graduate will compete in this morning's figure model competition; if judges like her, she'll stay on for the night show.
This is her story:
Love at first sight: "I went to Mr. Olympia last year in Las Vegas, and was just really impressed with the women's physiques. It's beautiful if you do it right. A lot of people kept telling me, 'You should compete. You'll place.' I had always been into cardio, but had never lifted weights. Now, I have about 8 percent body fat. For women, that's pretty good. Men can go even lower than that because they don't have estrogen."
Diet: "I'm on a diet that's about 12 weeks long. I eat six smaller meals a day, and it's always chicken, fish, rice yams, a lot of greens, a lot of salads and only water to drink. Do I cheat? Every once in a while, I'll have an energy drink but that's about it."
Tasty! "The biggest misconception about the diet is that the food tastes awful. I have the best-tasting recipes. I cook with cilantro and herbs, and I grill. It's really good."
Training: "I work out every day, and — let me tell you — my workouts are brutal. I live up at Gates Pass, and so I sprint hills. I go to LA Fitness, where I'll do the stairmaster, the treadmill, the elliptical (machine). I'll go to Boxing Inc. Max/Undisputed, where I take a kickboxing class. It just kills you abs — you finish, and you're just raw."
The look: "You have to have almost like a beach body, except you have to have muscles. Figure modeling is very glamorous — when you compete, you're wearing a two-piece bikini with rhinestones on it, then you have to walk the stage with 5-inch heels on and be graceful. And when you pose, you have to smile and look relaxed. That can be tough. Judges look for symmetry."
The tan: "You have to get about five shades darker than you're used to so the muscles show up better. If you come to the competition, you'll see everyone there is really, really dark. There's a spray-tan place that I go to here: They'll spray it on me, wait for it to dry, and then do it again four or five more times. I can't shower after that. I have to be really careful with my tan."
The big picture: "I really want to die healthy, if you know what I mean. I don't want illnesses. I don't want to be hooked up to machines. Maybe all of this is for vanity — a little — but I really want to grow old gracefully.