Ingrid Ever- When you travel, don't forget to pack your gym bag.

Packing the gym

Nothing is more wrong than making excuses when you travel a lot. Have you ever overpacked your suitcase? 23 kg is a good start!

Ingrid Ever Passion writer - Country Music Vibe

Ingrid Ever

"Passions - Exercise and writing".

First of all, let me tell you where my passion comes from and where I'm going. My father worked out until he turned 70, often in the worst conditions and, very often, using only an elastic band. Trust me, he's never heard anything about gyms for over 40 years. When I told my dad that I wanted to bulk up a bit and that I didn't exactly want to be skinny or lean, his reaction was "you know you have to eat, right?".  That's true, you have to eat. When talking about natural body-building, we have to close all our books about diets and do-it-yourself nutrition, all the web pages about perfect women who have invested many years to build the body they bring on the stage. Let's talk about what we see in natural body-building and I'm talking about ordinary women with an ordinary life without all that money to invest nor enough time to hit the gym three days a week!

There you go, this is how my passion started. I must admit, though, that my body responds very well thanks to its genetics, otherwise I think I would've invested the little free time I have in something else.  How important is your genetics? Very. Can we succeed if we are less lucky? Sure, if you put your head into it, you can do everything. What I'm trying to say is that, first of all, we have to understand what we want for ourselves without minding about what others do and without trying to reach their goals because by doing that we risk ending up very disappointed. There are too many coaches now and everyone can set an example. However, few realise that selling words may lead to frustration if you're not as lucky. You may become depressed because of the money you "spent" or "invested", because you failed or because you feel sorry for yourself: "I haven't been disciplined enough", "I'm such a mess" and much worse. I'm speaking from experience because I've seen many girls follow other girls on the social networking sites craving that perfect body and stopping loving themselves. For me, that's no longer natural. Because the pictures of other people affect the way we look at each other.

So, my passion starts among ordinary people in the weight room of "LePalestre". Women who want to be fit, women who lift weights to add some curves to their bodies and women who want to drop a few pounds. Above all, women who go to the gym because they have fun. I do what they do and in I'm often weaker that them when it comes to cardio activities. I watch, train and have fun sweating like crazy. Talking to them, I said to myself "I've been thin, now I want to have some feminine lines". Yup, you heard well, I'm not talking about muscles but about my lines. This was the first step to turn my 7 kg of fat into lean body mass, to look at the changes in my body in that same room and understand how much fun it had been to eat more calories than I'd planned. When my dietician told me to eat after my training, which meant eating more calories than any app could work out,  I must admit that I was upset. I thought: "He wants to make things really difficult for me!". But no, he gave me the recipe for strength and all the energy I needed to train that much and still be on my feet. As a result, I managed to reach my body goal in less than 4 months. We made it.

Exercise and diet

"They are necessary choices, that can only be made by you".

Remember that muscles burn calories. Therefore, when you train in the weight room, you're building a natural fat-burning machine. Don't be scared of muscles, you won't get "big" if you distribute your training. And so, I had reached my goal and it was clear to everyone. I was asked if I had some pictures of me before I started training. Unfortunately, I hadn't taken any picture because I hadn't planned to start this journey and I didn't like to be seen so I don't have any pictures for a pre and post comparison. Those who saw me at the beginning of my journey can say it. Everyday, they used to tell me: "Your body is changing completely". I got there as an ordinary woman followed by two people who believed in my vision. My trainer Massimo Tassinari and my dietician Denis Kokonovic. It's been an interesting journey and none of us would have ever thought that I would come up with my new diet. With the little free time I have, I want to get on that stage, have a picture taken and keep it as a memory of the many things I've done in my life. My dietician suggested me to find the best category for my new crazy adventure. Starting new stricter training and doing it well because, from that moment on, things would become more serious. 

Someone asked me "Why not winning?". Well, because you achieve your goals step after step and, when I get on stage, I will decide if winning is more important than my own personal success: getting there. Because this victory is for myself. I have a long life ahead, this sport is not my main personal or professional goal, so the first medal should go to those who want to turn it into a job. It's right that way. For me, this is a life experience that is teaching me a new discipline to stay young both inside and outside. Loving my body without dedicating all my time to the gym but loving Natural Body Building.

Denis brought me to the contests because I had to see for myself what that entails, so that I could decide if I really wanted to do it. I feel great admiration for what I've seen and for what I see and that day proved it. I can see myself there. It was moving to see those girls on stage, contracting their muscles. They worked so hard to get there and they all deserve a prize for their willingness and strength.  I'd like to see healthier people taking care of themselves. This is what I call "Natural Beautiful Being". Healthy mind in a healthy body.

I don't know the technicalities of this sport and I don't want to get into those. I only know what I need to know - my goal and the journey that will take me there. I have so many things to remember so I don't overload my head with things other people can remind me of. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm lazy. I speak five languages, I write stories that I have to remember and I want to leave room to my priorities. My mind is the real "expert" and is in charge of remembering things. I'm the body. The end result is not just me but the three of us. My dietician taught me a technique, my trainer taught me another one. For a long-lasting result, wherever I might be. This experience will become an integral part of my life that I will treasure forever. At the end of the day, my trainers have invested their knowledge in me so I want to share that same knowledge with others.

Competing in Natural Body Building in the category Figure is both a luxury and a huge commitment. I like having goals otherwise I feel like I don't know where I'm going with my life and that's why I always set new goals to achieve. In everything I do. I have the map and the small flags to mark the final target. The road I'll follow, whether the highway or not, depends on my goals.  

Right now, I'd like to ask a question to Denis Kokonovic who, one year ago, when I met him for the first time, was only a good dietician. I remember this sentence he said: "When you work with a good athlete, you've got to be careful not to mess up". These words have an important meaning:

Denis, I've already asked you: "Where do you see yourself in a few years?". Now, after the official news about your new career as Body Building coach, I'm asking you the same question: "Can you tell us where you're going and how this initiative I'm very happy about has started?"

Well, first of all, thank you for the space you're giving me. Well, my passion for natural body building, which started five years ago, led me to turn it into a career. I started studying nutrition because body building athletes have different needs and this is something that no university can teach you. Then, when you step foot into the world and you love what you do, one thing leads to the other. Suddenly, I felt that helping my clients with their diet wasn't enough for me. So, I decided to become a trainer in order to help body building lovers at 360°: very often in the gyms people can only rely on sloppy training programs but if you want to get good results you need to have a good balance between training and diet. This is exactly what I do with the trainers who work at "LePalestre", which is a rather peculiar gym in terms of individual training programs unlike many other gyms.

Natural body building is evolving fast. That's why you can't rely exclusively on the knowledge you've acquired but you have to constantly be updated. That's why I was asked to join Riccardo Grandi's Sustainable Bodybuilding, a school for trainers. Riccardo Grandi is one of the most important trainers in the field of national and international Natural Body Building.

What I'd like to do is introducing my personal touch in the world of body buiding and I'm not talking about diets or training programs but rather "simplicity". BB is a very demanding discipline which requires dedication and organisation and I often see offers and requests that are too rigid and complex. Truth is that a lot can be done, an awful lot, and more easily. I've tried it myself and with the people I'm following and maybe you see it too. Of course, when you want to go on stage, training programs and diets must be stricter but it can be done sustainably, just like we're doing.

I totally agree and I think that Denis managed to explain it way better than me.

The question I frequently hear is "Why are you doing all this?" "What do you mean all this? I do sport like many others". "No, I mean, why do you want to compete?". I answer after a brief silence. "Because when I talk abut things, I speak form my personal experience and I have a lot. This is something I've never done and that's why I want to try it. I want to get to the end of my days and, thinking about what I've done, I want to be able to say that I've done many different things and that I can talk about pretty much everything". To be honest, there's not a specific reason why I do the things I do. There is my personal, and maybe even spiritual, curiosity that pushes me to do things and to challenge myself. But let's go back to sport.



"With diet and exercise, relaxation is key".

The next question is the typical question "Do you eat a lot of proteins?". Not really, not just proteins but a whole series of nutrients. I don't even know if I'm good at dieting because once a week I have a cheat meal, ice-cream, a piece of cake, so that I don't stress my mind, which is already stressed enough. I drink a lot of water every day, at least 2 litres and I never drink alcohol. So, actually, my diet is my gym. Sport starts when we eat and there is no miracle.

When I can, I hit the gym six days a week, training in the weight room, doing pilates or functional circuit. These are all things that I like and that I always do because I love doing what I like the most. This is why sometimes I train for up to 2.5 hours. Again, if you want to do sport, it must be a pleasure. And I love the smell of cast iron, the post-workout feeling and working in a team. So, I organise my trainings in order to let my muscles rest. I think my trainer would kick me out of the gym if he realised I'm training too much. Actually, he's already reduced my training program a lot to prevent me from over training. Everything's under control!

And when you can't go to the gym? It's very easy to train when you have everything you need, the right food, the gym, the time, but what if you don't have all those things? This is when I hear people ask me: "And now? Will you have to give up your dream?". Not at all! I always achieve my goals and, therefore, I had to come up with a way to train. Training is a luxury for me so let this luxury be a pleasure too. For example, when I'm travelling, I dedicate half an hour to going up and down the stairs of the hotel or of the house I'm staying in, faster and faster or on one leg, so I try to sweat as much as possible!

Let's go back to rule number one: food is the most important thing. I pay attention to what I eat even when I'm in countries where I can't find the food I'd like to eat. Luckily, I don't like complex foods, so finding simple, not-processed foods is not that difficult. Water is in all supermarkets. At the end of the day, if you're not fond of cooking like me, food is simply fuel that keeps you going and you don't mind if it doesn't taste that good or if it's very simple.

And what about training? Very often, I find gyms with individual entrances almost everywhere. I always find an hour to train and, when I can, I don't take means of transport and I walk a lot. Sometimes, I walk 25 km in a day. But I eat a lot of carbohydrates when I'm doing cardio. In hotel, as I've said, I go up and down the stairs a lot. Our body weight is enough to train even when we don't have weights to lift. I usually follow a program my coach did for me and I do that. Trust me, my muscles ache as if I were training at the gym. I fill my bag pack as much as I can to challenge myself. If you're not as creative, you can find all types of workouts on youtube. One of my favourite is Tabata work-out: I hate starting it but I love the feeling when it's over.

Another thing I do is hiking on the dunes. Walking up and down on the sand is not easy at all. It's like doing squats for an hour. Walking on the sand surrounded by nature and breathing clean air is amazing. This is something I've learnt from those people who don't have time to go the gym but don't want t give up training.

At the end of the day, I'll never be one of those disciplined people who live in the gym because there are so many other interesting things in life that I want to do and love. I'll never have only one goal because I love variety and being with people who have different mindsets. Sport and discipline are lifestyles, not a single goal. Going on stage making sacrifices for a whole year, dreaming about a piece of cake, kills me because I want to be free and I don't want to be a slave of discipline. There are too many rules in life that we must follow. I've found my simple model. My body is now used to new routines and food choices, I've modified my chemistry and I'm now used to restrictions. I don't drink, I don't have any bad habits, I don't need them. I'm healthy and I'm ok. I have two kids, just like many other women. I had gained lots of weight during my two pregnancies, just like many other women. I'm just like them and everyone can be whomever they decide to be. Everyone can be in shape and love themselves for who they are. The first weapon we have is loving ourselves.

Dieting, the scales become a problem when we don't love who we are. Instead, dedicate an hour to yourself, look at yourself in the mirror. You are beautiful. Get on the scales, you're perfect, you're exactly where you wanted to be and, if you want to be different, then you can improve yourself, but remember that you start from perfection. Nobody can tell you that you're wrong the way you are. Nobody can tell you what perfection is. I don't like perfection because that would mean losing sight of my goals and when I achieve one of my goals I realise that I still haven't achieved perfection. Thus, I can go on and on and I can be whomever I decide to be. Personally, I want to pass on this message to women.

A naturally beautiful body is the body you like to have and, if you want a different one, build yourself a new one. No result can ever be achieved if you stress yourself to get there: you would only get short-term results. So, come up with the right formula for you and do it only if you feel good with yourself. Because you're perfect the way you are...

To conclude don't do do-it-yourself diets, always seek professional help to identify your weakness or strengths and your metabolic blocks and offer you the best advise. 

- Ingrid Ever

Special Guest of Country Music Vibe

Italiano Vesion