This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by Stacy McCloud.
Let’s start off with a general introduction. How would you describe yourself, what are you all about and how did you get involved in health and fitness?
I’m never good at describing myself. But I would hope most people would tell you that I am dedicated, genuine, loyal and maybe a little too unfiltered at times, lol. I’m a “30 something year old” IFBB Bikini Pro. After 7 National shows, I finally earned my pro status (times two actually.. in both open and masters) at Team Universe in July 2016.
My competition fitness journey began in 2014. After I did my first National qualifier and won overall.. I was hooked! I was a cheerleader and gymnast growing up and have always been in and out of the gym, but it wasn’t until competing that fitness and living a healthy lifestyle became a passion. It is now an addiction for sure! Not so much the competing…but taking care of my body!
The gym is now something I look forward to most days. It’s my therapy. It’s my life. I couldn’t imagine going back to my old “hit and miss” ways! Since I started competing I am so honored to have been picked up by some amazing companies. I’m sponsored by 1st Phorm and CJ’s Elite Suits/Glam Competition Jewelry and also an ambassador for Rad Roller (Team Rad) and The Glute Builder! More to come in 2017!!!!
I am southern born and raised! The south will always have my heart, but I just recently moved to Las Vegas with my husband and two fur kids. We LOVE it here! It certainly isn’t all bright lights and big city. It’s a very fit town and everyone is so kind.
In college I majored in Broadcasting Communications and Psychology. For well over a decade I was a TV news anchor and reporter for various networks in the south. I then made the shift from news to entertainment, working for Fox Nashville and then the Headline Country on Great American Country (GAC). Most recently you can see me on the Nations number one “automotive how to” show “PowerBlock TV”.
I continue to work in TV as a host, picking up freelance gigs as they come along. You may have seen me the past two years conducting the backstage interviews for the live stream for Mr. Olympia! That is hands down my favorite gig of the year. Anytime I can combine my passion of fitness and my career in TV.. I am the happiest!
Where does your motivation come from?
I know it’s cliche to say .. but myself. I don’t do this for anyone except me. I want to be strong and healthy and live a long and healthy life. I want to take care of the body that God gave me. That said, we all lack motivation and sometimes doing it only for ourselves just isn’t enough.
That is why I started a little project called Prep With Purpose. It’s a section of my blog where people submit people with urgent or ongoing need for prayer/good vibes (whatever it is you believe in.) Then I write up a little blog on them and we use them as our motivation.. because WE ARE ABLE and should be grateful! With every workout, we lift up and for the person in the blog. It is a way to dedicate our workouts to someone else in need but also give ourselves a little “push” if we need it.
As you decided to make a career out of your passion – what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?
I kind of was left with no choice but to make fitness my number one path. The TV show I was on (Headline Country) expired and I found myself without a full time job for the first time in my adult life. I started working full time the Monday after I graduated college. This was really hard for me. In an attempt to shift my focus from losing my job, I put everything into my training and attempt to earn my pro status.
I also put more effort into my blog and social media, in hopes of encouraging and helping people along their own health/fitness journey. I’ve said it plenty of times.. but competing saved me. I could have fallen into a deep depression, but instead I had SOMETHING. I had a goal, I had a passion, I had something to focus on. It’s not quite my “career” just yet… but I’m making small steps in that direction.
The hardest part is that it’s a very over saturated market. Trying to do something different or make yourself stand out can be tough. Especially if you are a female like me.. who REFUSES to lower my standards for a few “likes” (if you know what I’m saying.)
What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?
It’s very true that we can’t truthfully love or take care of anyone else if we don’t love and take care of ourselves first! I don’t believe self-care is a number on a scale, how much weight you can lift, how many burpees you can do, or how long you can run. Self-care is doing what you can to better yourself… mentally, physically and spiritually.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?
That lifting weights is gonna make you big, muscular, bulky, thick. It takes a lot of training (usually years and years of PROPER lifting and eating) to gain lots of quality muscle. Unless you just have great genetics, you aren’t going to become big and bulky. Heck, even if you have genetics that make you prone to developing muscle faster, you still aren’t going to look that way unless you want to and put in some SERIOUS work. Lifting weights isn’t going to make you look like a man, but it will give you an amazing shape to your body.
I also think that there is a perception that every female that competes or is serious about the gym is a bit vain. I’m not denying that vanity is everywhere in this industry, but for most of us aesthetics are only part of it. In fact, I would bet there are more insecure “fit girls” out there than overly confident ones! While the selfies, gym videos, etc., may appear vain. Many people are sincerely putting themselves out there to motivate others or simply document their own journey. There is nothing “vain” about wanting to feel good when you put on your swimsuit or tight leggings… and out of them too 🙂
Notice I said feel good, because each person’s definition of what “looks good” is and should be totally up to them! Love curves? ROCK THEM! Love lots of muscle .. FLEX away baby! Love to be a little more lean (but still healthy).. go for it!!
Many young women who want to lose weight believe that not eating is the way to do it, without realising the consequences of that kind of behavior.
Why do you think this is and what’s your perspective on educating society on healthy nutrition habits?
I think this is a double edged sword. Society is to blame, but also to credit. It all depends on who young women “follow” or look up to. Way too many fitness celebrities push endless cardio and eating only fish and asparagus as “the only way” to look like they do or to be healthy and skinny/lean. I think it’s important for parents to be aware of who their children look up to in the fitness world (or even just celebrities in general.)
Chances are they will try to or want to mimic what they see them doing. Make sure they are following and admiring those that live a HEALTHY lifestyle with balance. It is important that they see, look up to individuals/influencers that preach being healthy, happy and balanced. No extremes!
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?
I would have to say embracing “flexible dieting”. I remember when I started in bodybuilding and would see people talk about macros and #IIFYM I would criticize those methods. That is because I didn’t know any better. I didn’t educate myself on what flexible dieting really is. I saw the ice cream, pop tarts, chips, etc., and thought there was no way that could be a healthy approach or one that would yield the best results. I could not have been more wrong.
If you practice PROPER flexible dieting I believe it is hands down the most effective and healthy way to live a healthy and a balanced lifestyle.. no matter if you are a competitor or everyday person looking to have a body for life! That said, I think everyone is different and should do what works for them! If they don’t want to calculate/track everything they eat, a (non restrictive) paper plan may be better. Or maybe they should learn intuitive eating. Tracking macros isn’t for everyone. But the balance it brings has really been a game changer for me!
What do you do to maintain balance in your life?
This goes back to the question about unexpected lessons. Flexible Dieting has given me so much balance when it comes to “food”. I’ve learned how to appreciate the foods I love and pass on the ones that are just “okay” and not “worth” the macros. I’ve learned I don’t have to have an entire serving of something if I’m craving it or “clean my plate” when I go out to eat.
I’ve learned how to enjoy foods without binging or “cheating” and then feeling guilty. I’m still trying to find even more balance in this “flexible dieting” lifestyle. I’m a perfectionist so I’m the person that attempts to track perfectly every single day. I am learning that (especially in my off season) that I need to let go of perfection and focus more on consistency.
As far as socially, I am a complete homebody! Watching TV, blogging, being lazy on the couch in my PJ’s, cooking my own food, or getting food to-go and eating it at home sounds much more appealing than putting on makeup/cute clothes and going out. Not being a social butterfly anymore makes it easier because I don’t feel like I need to be somewhere all the time. I do what I want and have no problem saying “no”.
I also don’t have many friends (especially since moving to a new town) and the ones I do have understand my lifestyle because they also live it. It makes it easier because they understand I may have to train first, or schedule our activities around eating, places that I can easily track macros, etc. It also helps that my husband loves the gym and also lives this lifestyle. He doesn’t compete but working out and eating healthy are both important to him. Having that support system is HUGE!
How do you stay productive?
To do lists!!!! My to do lists.. have to-do lists! They are in my iCloud notes so I can pull them up wherever I go! I also have backup plans. I have a plan A that has to happen but if not I always have a Plan B (and usually a Plan C and D.) I also don’t overcommit. Like I said earlier I’ve learned that NO is a very important word and more people should use it!
Can you give a breakdown of your current diet, training and supplementation regimen and the thinking behind it?
Right now I’m in my improvement/off season. But honestly things are really not that much different than when I’m on official prep. My supplement regime never changes. I take a variety of daily vitamins and herbs and use the same 1st Phorm supplements daily. Things such as their m-factor multivitamin, full mega fish oil, protein powders, pre-workout with creatine, joint support, bcaa’s and glutamine. I may throw in the “bliss go pack” for 12 weeks of my prep, but that would be the only supplement change I make.
As far as “diet”.. my macros are obviously higher right now and I’m in the process of a slow and steady “reverse diet.” When it comes to training, I lift with the same intensity year round. I am doing a 6 day training split and on the “rest day” I do my cardio. However my plan is structured that I can combine lifts and take a day off if I choose to. I just love the gym .. so I typically am there 6 days a week! Right now I lift to maintain.
My goal is to remain a healthy lean and not gain any muscle, except the booty. Booty gains are always okay! But for me personally I am already borderline when it comes to muscle in the bikini division, so no need to grow! When prep comes about, my training may change as far as style and my cardio may increase as far as number of HIIT sessions I do…but that is about it!
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
What you are worrying about right now, what you are stressing out about right now, what you think is a HUGE deal right now.. isn’t. Trust me.. none of it will matter 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now. LIVE in the now, focus on what you can do (not what you can’t) and don’t stress too much about the future. Enjoy the moment and make sure you are sharing it with people that bring out the best in you!
I know you said one, lol, but I’d also tell myself to lift heavy weights and buy a food scale, lol.
What are your biggest life goals?
Oh how I wish I could answer this, lol. I’m sort of in this “unknown” phase of my life. I’ve had to accept the fact that life changes, circumstances change and that it is OKAY to not know where you are going or what you want out of life. I often say I don’t know how it’s possible.. but most days I feel as if I’m falling apart and coming together at the same time 🙂
That said… I am in the process of figuring out ways to grow Prep With Purpose (my little blog I mentioned earlier) and making it bigger and better so that I can help more people! I am also planning my “vision” for my 2017 competition year. That includes picking the best shows for me and my physique.
The ultimate goal would of course be earning a spot on the Mr. Olympia stage, but I’m not sure that is MY ultimate goal. I just want to be happy, healthy and make MY mark in the industry. That mark doesn’t have to be entering the stage at The O 🙂
Where can people go to learn more about you online?
Stay tuned for the next interview of Real Talk Real Women!