All posts by Terry Stokes

Keep On Keeping On!

by Contributing Author, NGA/IFPA figure pro and Figure/Bikini Coach Tiffany Benson

Tiffany BensonSometimes it is difficult to keep on; keeping on. A figure athlete should strive to find that perfect place of constantly wanting to improve her athleticism and drive. Our journey does not stop once we step off stage….I, personally have been known to come off stage and gain 10 lbs. While gaining some healthy weight is healthy after competition….my “off stage weight” was not all healthy!

There’s an importance In “balance” and in “reverse dieting!” Figure competing is not for everyone. A lot of people will go on to compete and earn a pro card, to never compete the pro level. They perhaps made their “contest prep” way too difficult, un-enjoyable and unattainable. I like to treat myself as an “on season” athlete all year long. That’s not how I always viewed it though. I have been competing for over 10 years , but this balance I have today took a very long time to achieve. This is why I love helping women learn how to look like an athlete and feel like an athlete whether they compete or not….its very important to aim for “lifestyle” changing training and eating. Continual improvement and enjoying the process is key! Keep it healthy and happy everyone!



Overcoming challenges and obstacles!

by Contributing Author, NGA/IFPA figure pro and Figure/Bikini Coach Tiffany Benson

Tiffany BensonIn this life we all will face many obstacles and challenges. Many of us will become so soaked up in our obstacles that we will quit. I would like to encourage as many people as possible to not quit…rather to OVERCOME! That, right there…overcoming challenges, makes you a winner! If you take the journey to get to the stage, and actually get up on stage..that right there also makes you a winner. If you take the journey to aim to compete and break your leg a week before stage day…you still WON! You need to become a winner from within…it’s all about starting from the inside and working it outward to the outside of you…it all starts within.

Everything starts with a dream, a vision, and we execute that into a plan. Take your dream today, execute it into a plan, any kind of plan, and go after all you dream for. The hardest part really is starting out! What I love most about helping girls to get ready for a figure or bikini show is that most of the girls I work with think they will never be able to compete, for one reason or another…well, after baby #3 and a broken back and neck, I really thought I would never even work out again…but I overcame, and each of us has it in us to overcome all our challenges and obstacles. I encourage you today…to start living your dreams and bringing them to life! With much love and encouragement, Tiffany Benson 😉

Working around injury, in the sport of figure and bikini

by Contributing Author, NGA/IFPA figure pro and Figure/Bikini Coach Tiffany Benson

Tiffany BensonAS a veteran of the U.S. Army and having been involved in a near death vehicle accident 10 years ago, leaving me with a broken neck and back in multiple areas…I KNOW injury! So I have learned many things through my years of competing and training. Always always always listen to your body! Even if you have a log, or a plan that you are following on your way into the gym, listen to your body. Connect with your body. If your body says “ouch” then STOP immediately! If you need to skip certain moves or machines it is perfectly ok. I had to take many years off of certain things like the traditional squat and the traditional deadlift.

It’s ok…I worked my way slowly with baby stepping….back into these movements. The reason I am able to do them today, is because of my much needed time off, to recover from injury… Even when you are able to incorporate the exercises back into your routine, do not fear having a bad day and needing to skip when your body is telling you to please not do it. Injuries can be fixed through good stretching, rest, recovery, sound nutrition, physical therapy (which I am a huge believer in!) and just simply being smart enough to listen to yourself. Your body will speak to you. Listen to it!

Happy and healthy training ya’ll!

Much love, Tiffany

Getting started with Figure, Bodybuilding and/or Bikini Competitions

by Contributing Author and Figure/Bikini Coach Tiffany Benson

Tiffany Benson

Personally, I know plenty of women who “think” of how wonderful it would be to try a figure or bikini competition. After some more mature muscle is added to your frame, you may even decide to crossover and compete female bodybuilding. It is all very exciting…I, personally did compete in 2 bodybuilding competitions back when I was in the Army, when I was still on the smaller side. I, really enjoy the look of figure and prefer to carry the “off-season” weight that I carry, rather than the weight I would carry with even more muscle as a bodybuilder. First-thing’s-first is to find where you feel you would fit in best, and what seems more interesting to you. Female bodybuilders need to carry quite a bit of muscle, so would need to start lifting and work up to lifting heavy, and using the correct macronutrients and macro timing to add on muscle mass. Figure, needs quite a bit of muscle but is more about symmetry when you are on stage in front of the panel of judges. The “leaning out” phase is a bit different with figure vs’ bodybuilding, and during the “peaking week” which is the week leading up to your competition, a bodybuilder will do a little bit more drastic changes to come in with a bit more of a “drier” look than a figure girl. Now bikini, is not as muscular as figure, bikini is softer, and while diet is strict still, it is a bit more relaxed than figure or bodybuilding. The training is different too, as the looks are different. All 3 divisions take a lot of hard work, dedication and commitment to become a competitor.

     As a competition prep coach and a lifestyle coach, I get asked pretty often, “do you think I can do it?” And my answer for everyone is “yes!” AS a mother of 3, and one whom did NOT stay in great shape throughout any of my pregnancies, I know firsthand that anyone can work hard and produce incredible results. Yes, becoming a competitor is not easy, but it definitely is worth it and gives one a whole new found respect for the body and dedication it takes to transform, and rearrange your physique. The thing I like to tell most women is to train and diet and prep like you are going to compete. Either way, in the end you have won a competition. You have proven many things to yourself. Never doubt or short change yourself. Become an athlete within yourself first! And best of luck to you, as you will overcome many fears and obstacles. The saying “nothing tastes as good, as looking good feels,” is so true and right on. Impress your own self! You can do it…and I believe in you!

Much love, peace, happiness and health. Tiffany Benson~NGA and IFPA professional figure athlete, and mother of 3!

Worried about Metabolic Damage in Figure Competition? You need to read this.

Do figure competition diets destroy metabolism?

by Figure Diet Coach, Terry Stokes.

Metabolic Damage:

Sorry to disappoint anyone but…
I don’t believe in the ‘metabolic damage‘ that everyone is talking about.
These are my observations after years of training hundreds of figure competitors.

My observations are:

A) Competition training often involves many hours of training and calorie restriction in order to  lose enough body fat to compete.
B) The metabolism will slow down when calories are restricted during contest prep and will increase again as a person increases their body fat after a show.
1) Competitors who continue to exercises moderately and increase calories moderately after a competition are able to maintain their body fat levels within normal and acceptable range.
2) Competitors who stop exercising, stop cardio, eat excessive amounts of carbohydrates will UNDOUBTEDLY gain body fat. The initial weight gain is water (7-10 lbs in the first 2 days) from overeating carbohydrates (each carbohydrate molecule attracts 3-4 molecules of water!). Competitors who continue to eat excessively (especially carbohydrates will fill up their fat cells fast.
   – You combine that (excessive carb intake) , with no training, no cardio + a slow metabolism from dieting… you will gain body fat fast
You must give your metabolism a change to speed up again and you must take the focus of your diet off eating carbohydrates …and include more fats and protein in place of those carbs.

Therefore you must begin introducing calories slowly back into your diet. Go ahead and eat like a crazy person for a few days after the show… it is good for you. BUT, then you have to reign it in. Eating boxes of Captain Crunch, jars of peanut butter or a gallon of ice cream (I’ve heard many many true confessions about what happens in the weeks after a show) etc.. is not a metabolic problem.
I’ve had many competitors who once complained about metabolic damage… who later competed again and then realized that they were able to maintain an acceptable weight after competition by just using common sense.
I’ve spent years perfecting my Figure Prep Diets. If you are worried that your diet might lead you to metabolic damage then I urge you to consider reading about my Figure Prep Diets by Clicking Here.