What is your athletic background, and how did you get involved with fitness and bikini?
I actually got started in bikini kind of by accident. I was about 19 and had been modeling since I was 17, but I was really insecure about my body and needed a lot of Photoshop. I knew if I ever wanted my pictures to leave MySpace I needed to put myself above the competition. Following the advice of photographer Rob Sims, who saw my potential, I decided to get in the best shape I could. I researched Oxygen magazine, my favorite magazine, and emailed the editor.
Robert Kennedy himself told me in order to grace the cover I’d have to win a competition. Easy enough, right? I noticed, through obsessive study, that the majority of girls who were on the cover had won Fitness America competitions. I signed up for one, booked a trainer, and began my relentless pursuit of my best body, a journey I am still on today.
My favorite thing about competing is being on stage. It’s the closest thing to performing that you get to do as an adult. Back when I was young..er, I was always in choir and drama, all the plays and shows. I loved the attention. Competing in bikini is like strutting down a catwalk, something my little 5’4 butt will probably never get to do either. So I just soak it up. The thing I like the least, not surprisingly, is the diet. Just like anyone else, I’d rather be feeding my face, but I really can’t stand myself over a certain bodyfat percentage. So…sacrifices for excellence I suppose.
What were the major milestones that gave you that “extra” motivation boost?
The milestone that really motivated me was seeing the pictures after my second bikini competition compared to my first. Wow! For once in my life I didn’t see love handles. I didn’t see cellulite. There weren’t a thousand little sections I wanted to pinch off. I looked confident and just good. That motivated me to stay fit forever and never relapse into chubby oblivion again.
Michelle ParishWhat keeps you motivated?
Surprisingly, the thing that most motivates me has nothing to do with me. I actually get a lot of messages, comments, emails, different forms of people reaching out to ask me questions or tell me that I inspire them. I was always inspired by people like Jamie Eason (who
isn’t) some some of the major fitness models everyone knows..I never thought I could be that person. This experience has taught me that the biggest gift I have is not my looks, its my ability to reach and help others.
I think I might have fans…it’s weird to say that without sounding like my head is too big, but these people look up to me. They come to me for help. I effect their lives. That’s what helps me make the best decisions because I need them to get the reassurance they seek when they look at me. How can I encourage them that they can do something I can’t? I have to be the change I tell them they can make.
Who were your heroes growing up and how did they help inspire you to get involved with competing?
My heroes growing up were like the Spice Girls and Britney Spears. I wanted to be a famous singer or actress. Never ever did I consider modeling. Ever. I swore I never would because I refused to allow my identity to become solely based on how I looked. Now I see it’s more than that.
I remember Britney inspired me because she pointed out that celebrities have headaches and menstrual cycles and breakups too. Sometimes they want to stay home but the show must go on. Ever since I heard her say that (this was in the early 2000s) every day I am conscious of how I carry myself and make sure I never let people see me sweat. Just in case someone is watching, they always get the best me possible.
What are your future goals, dreams and plans?
My future goals are to be published in a magazine, go pro in bikini, get sponsored by a major supplement company, and become a household name in the fitness industry. I want my career to be based on helping others reach their goals as well. I also want to finish school and get my PhD in nutrition so I can do that to the best of my ability. When I’m gone I want people to remember me for my positive contribution to them and the world, not necessarily by who I was or what I did.
What does your current training and split look like, and what do you like most about it?
My training split is 3 days on 1 day off, and I do back with arms, chest with shoulders, and legs by themselves. It’s a pretty simple approach, probably not as detailed as most people. Since I do this all the time and don’t plan on ever stopping I just keep it consistent. I go to the gym with the focus on intensity and time, not necessarily weight. However, I rarely just lift light.
Right now I’m focusing on burning fat so I do 45 minutes of cardio in the morning, then later I go back and lift weights for about 45 minutes as well, followed by 30 minutes of interval training. I know there’s specific cardio and weight lifting techniques for certain goals. I try to incorporate them all. I do 4-5 exercises per muscle group, 4 sets 15-20 reps per exercise.
I do abs like 5 times a week as well and I just switch up my exercises as long as I stay within 100-150 reps total. My philosophy is just go in every time with that intense “set this place on fire” attitude and push yourself to the limit until it’s time to go. Consistency in anything will yield results, be it positive or negative.
Michelle ParishHow often do you change your training routine, and do you periodize your training?
I change my routine up regularly if I think certain parts need work or just want to be better at something. More likely, I will just change it when I get bored. The general format that I referred to above stays the same though. Sometimes if I feel I need to put on muscle or just want to be strong, I’ll decrease the reps and increase the weight. My “plan” may sound sloppy compared to most fitness enthusiasts, but it works for me. I do this for myself so I do it my way.
Which do you prefer, and why…stead state cardio or HIIT?
I love the elliptical. I could stay on it all day. Cardio to me is just a necessary evil. I don’t really enjoy it but the elliptical would be my favorite. Ironically, I also like the stairmaster. If I have to choose between steady pace and interval training I will surely pick interval training. I’m just a hardcore person and HIT is exciting! Plus you can feel it working your whole body. Listen to what you want about it, but look at a sprinter and tell me they don’t look good.
Which workout has worked best for you?
The workout that has worked best for me is the giant set with minimal rest. It keeps you active and interested and my muscles have responded very well to them. I do giant sets for my shoulders and my back, two of my best bodyparts. I also like exercises using overhead weights because they have helped me a lot with my core.
What are your best tips for getting ripped and shredded abs?
I know you guys are expecting me to make this super specific list of exercises and foods to eat, but being “ripped” goes deeper than that or everyone would have abs. My biggest tip for getting ripped abs is to use that as your motivation to make a plan and then forget it. I’m not one of those people that is motivated by a huge awesome goal. It pressures me and makes me want to quit. It’s hard to picture yourself with ripped abs so don’t.
Just make the plan and focus on that. So many times we are so distracted by the destination that we lose our focus on the most important part: the journey. If you have to take 5000 steps the only one that matters is the step you’re taking right now. So use your goal to make your plan and then forget about it. Refer to it when you need to, but dwelling on it will only make it seem further away. Just trust your plan and go with that.
What are your favorite cheat meals and foods?
Oh I don’t cheat, ever.
Just kidding. Please. I love chocolate but my biggest weakness is pastries, cakes, and COOKIES. It’s almost impossible for me to turn down a cookie. I don’t know what it is I just love them. It’s really given me a newfound resentment for Girl Scouts. And golden Oreos…those are devil cookies. If you haven’t tasted one, never do it! You’ll never want to eat anything else again! But if I cheat, it’s going to be a sandwich. I don’t know why I love sandwiches so much but I have like a passion for them. I literally considered opening my own sandwich shop one day. I know, I’m weird.
What are some of your best diet, nutrition and supplementation tips for someone who just wants to look good and get ripped?
My best nutrition and diet tips for someone who just wants to look good and not compete is just to be consistent and not too extreme. Keep a good balance. Plan everything out of course but you don’t have to stop eating carbs. Honestly, if you’re not competing eat them! Balance out your carbs and protein, keep them clean, and that’s really all you need to do.
Then, just stay consistent with your workouts. Make sure you’re doing cardio at least 5 days a week and working out the same amount. Don’t work yourself so hard that you get burned out. You’re doing this for you not anyone else. Keep it enjoyable. You can even eat your favorite foods in moderation.
Michelle ParishDo you focus on specific macro (PCF) levels/percentages while cutting and bulking?
I lost a good amount of fat just monitoring calories, but I really started to see results when I added in the proper ratios. I just keep it 45/45 on carbs and protein. I give myself a lot of freedom from there. I think it’s important to make sure that you’re eating what your body needs not just what you want. If you want to look good, there’s a difference between eating to lose and eating to “not get fat.” if you want to lose, you’ll have to pay attention to detail.
What does your current supplementation plan look like?
My current supplement plan is pretty basic. I’m trying not to spend so much money on them because I’m just a super frugal person. I come from a frugal family. Okay, I might be a little cheap. Sue me. But right now I just drink no carb MRP shakes, have the occasional protein bar, and whey protein after my workouts. That’s about it besides multi-vitamins and biotin for my hair.
Supplements are amazing if you don’t mind spending money on them, but by no means are they absolutely necessary. Though, now that I work at a supplement shop, my discount will most likely make this whole paragraph irrelevant soon. I’m like a kid in a candy store!
Which athletes do you admire any why?
My two biggest role models are Jamie Eason and Jaime Baird. Two Jamies, go figure! But Jamie Eason is the reason I started. I was friends with her on MySpace. I remember commenting on her pics in my “I’ve know you for years” way (probably scares some people but most let me get away with it) and she actually responded! She gave me advice and encouragement and told me I was beautiful! Me?! Wow! I even met her at a show. She’s so sweet and humble.
That just showed me that good people can do well you don’t have to cheat or lie and use others. She’s amazing. Also, Jaime Baird. That girl is just so positive. At the Olympia she told her story and used the words “relentless optimism” and I have just been in awe of her since. When she speaks, she speaks hope. People like that are just invaluable to this world. To be that beautiful AND humble, that’s inspiring.
Workout music – Don’t care, or MP3 player?
Music has changed my workouts so much. I just zone out and turn into this hardcore badass, excuse my language. If I don’t have my music I really don’t even think I could get through my workouts with the noise. It really helps me with cardio. I normally pretend I’m doing a music video in my head and it gets me all pumped. I also have been known to lip sync passionately the entire time..in public. I have no shame. Whatever.
People probably get a great laugh from it but I have fun with my cardio. It’s hard man you gotta do what you gotta do! As for what I listen to, a lot of rock like Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin, and Evanescence. Also, Nsync, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, a lot of 90′s pop. I actually have Barbie Girl on my iPod. Oh and LOTS of Jay-Z. Anything that keeps me pumped up and excited.
Funniest thing you’ve seen at the gym recently?
The funniest thing I’ve seen at the gym recently is my former English professor doing these crazy lat pull downs with horrendous form. I just kept walking. It was bad.
Which college or professional sports teams do you root for?
First of all, football is better than basketball. AND most importantly, Colts. My family…loves…the Colts. My aunt went to school in Mississippi and she knew Archie so I’ve just been bread to be a Manning groupie. I love football. And I was raised to bleed blue!
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