2. You’ve enjoyed some well deserved success in your career so far, but after your 2003 Jan Tana contest, you had a little bit of a mental set back. A lot of people were telling you that you should prioritize other areas of your life, that a life revolving around fitness wasn’t worthwhile. I’d imagine this was pretty tough to take. No one likes having their dreams bashed by those around them. What do you attribute to the fact that you were able to overcome this negativity and again pursue your dream without any regrets?
I overcame the negativity because I still longed to pursue my vision in fitness. I decided there was a reason why I was being called to it again, and that I should go ahead and continue what I started. There will always be naysayers and people who think they’re looking out for your “best interest” but in the end, your heart will guide you.
More specifically, certain responsibilities were removed from my list of obligations... I found myself with a little more free time and the desire to continue competing and training.
3. Going into nationals, did you expect to come out as a pro, or was this a bit of a shock?
On one hand, I would like to say I just went in to do the best I could do, and I would come out a winner for even competing, considering I had surgery on my foot following the Team Universe in July. There was 16 weeks between Team Universe and Nationals, and I was given an estimated 12 week recovery period due to the extent of damage (four fractures, one of which was a compound) and the measures taken to correct it (surgery and the hardware installed, plates and screws). I was on crutches at 10 weeks out, and limped badly until I was 3 weeks out. So a nice thing to say, and I suppose an honest thing as well, would be to say “I just wanted to show up, it was an honor to compete.” And it was. The competition in my class was fierce. All of the ladies who showed up were fabulous, and it was indeed an honor to be in the company of such a fine group of athletes.
However, that said, I will say that I did hold a certain level of hesitant expectation with that contest. I expected to do my best. I also expected my best to be worthy of a pro card. I wouldn’t have trained through that injury if I thought otherwise.
I sat down on New Year’s Eve in 2005 and wrote down ten goals for 2006. One of them was “Turn pro in ‘06.” I had two opportunities to achieve that goal: Team Universe in July and Nationals in November. Obviously Team Universe didn’t work out, so I had to go for it at Nationals.
4. Tell us about earning your Pro card. I would imagine that all the years of eating bland chicken and crack of dawn cardio, that all of the sudden it seemed more worth while then ever before.
It always seems worthwhile! “Trust the process and enjoy the journey” is something I say often. That was a heck of a journey, and I didn’t rest until I reached my final destination.
The weekend of the contest was fabulous, and I enjoyed every moment I spent onstage to the fullest degree. I had an absolute blast. Backstage was wonderful too, there were so many fun people and talented ladies back there.
I specifically want to thank Rob Klein for always knowing how to handle me backstage, and going above and beyond in his ability to motivate me. He and his wife Kim are lovely people. Kim is an exceptional onstage expediter. She is incredibly responsible and always has something positive to say.
5. Now that you’ve reached pro status, looking back, was the journey difficult for you, or has this been something that has always come fairly easy?
It was both difficult and easy. Easy in that it was never a question that I would finish what I started. However, things will always come up and you will always experience obstacles with any endeavor in life. It’s just a matter of priorities and how you handle different situations.
6. So what’s the number one goal now for Amanda Polk IFBB fitness pro? I would imagine now being a professional, that some of your goals have reached a much higher level then in the past.
I can’t tell you because then I’d have to kill you ;)
I don’t like to talk about things before they happen.
7. Do you find yourself in a better position these days in regards to dealing with negative people, such as those who put your dream down in the past? I would think it’s safe to say that at this point, you’ve had the last laugh.
I suppose you could say that, but I’m not the kind of person who laughs at others’ misjudgment. Sometimes people think they know what is best for you or they are trying to help you do the right thing. If I am confident in my decisions and choices, then I have no reason to let what anyone else has to say about it even affect me.
And yes you were correct, it did take some time and experience to help me come to that conclusion.
8. I’m sure like all of us in the world of bodybuilding/fitness/figure, you had those who you looked up to and were inspired by. Who makes the top of your list and are any of these people now your counterparts so to speak?
Arnold will always be number 1!!!
And sure, I have had people I considered role models. Sometimes even the best can let you down. No one’s perfect.
I have learned to admire people for their personality traits over their achievements. I think Angela Semsch is a terrific example of doing the best with what you’ve got. She has created her own unique style around her skillset and personality. There’s no one like her! Tanji Johnson has such a positive attitude and tremendous faith, not to mention outstanding routine energy. Stacy Simons is the epitome of perseverance and competing for love of the sport. She has been in the game (fitness specifically) longer than anyone I can think of, and continues to reinvent herself and trains to compete at her best.
I could go on and on and on. You can learn from anybody.
9. Obviously now that you’ve reached a new level in your fitness career, now you’re the one that many aspiring competitors look up to. Does this put a lot of pressure on you as a competitor or do you see a little celeb status in our world as just one of the little niceties of life?
I have celeb status? No one told me!
No, no pressure. I decide what pressures me.
10. Other then your competitive side, what else is in the works for Mandy Polk? Any other aspirations or goals in or outside the fitness realm?
My life goal is to use the talents I’ve been blessed with (believe me, there are many I am lacking!) to help others achieve their goals. Some things I cannot be of any help with, and others I am able to play a very instrumental role. In addition to training clients, I currently write for two publications regarding exercise and nutrition as well as programming yourself to be in the right mindset to make changes in your life. It is incredibly fulfilling.
11. Let’s talk about your training. Has anything changed now that you’re at a much larger level of competition? I’m sure like everyone you’ve learned what works best for you, but this is kind of an ongoing process that can change from time to time.
I cannot train to the best of my ability or plan any prep of any kind at this point due to health issues, so I really do not have an answer at this time.
I will say that I used to get caught up in the minutiae of prep details, like what is the optimal carb source and what exercise for what bodypart, etc. I have learned that people are all variables and the answer is always “it depends.” So it’s best to manage the prep as a whole and see the bigger picture first. Where you are, where you need to go, then you plan how to get there.
12. What about contest prep? Who are you working with on your diet or do you go at this alone? I know you’ve worked with Jen Hendershott in the past, is she still helping you out?
I go this alone. I had some advice at five weeks out of my last contest from Justin Harris a.k.a. Troponin. He is very knowledgeable and gave me some objective direction with my prep process in regards to fat loss.
I am currently not associated with Jen.
13. A lot of people out there like to say that female athletes in this world don’t train nearly as hard as the men do, this is especially said in regards to fitness and figure competitors. There is no question that this is an outright lie, but what are your thoughts on this? Why is it so many people feel this way?
People like to say a lot of things.
I don’t know why people feel this way, who are those people? I don’t know any.
14. What about prepping for a show itself, is it something that comes fairly easy for you or is it a struggle? You know, the dreaded cravings for junk food. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that it’s a little easier for you then some. After all, I think how fast you’ve moved up in the ranks probably says something about that.
Junk food or cravings for it have absolutely nothing to do with prep whatsoever... People who angst over that are wasting their brain space.
I will say that I used to experience this, but it’s something I grew out of.
In my opinion, the hardest part about prep isn’t what you are required to do, but that you have to balance it with other priorities. Some people tend to lose focus, others are consumed. Striking a balance while still preparing to come in at your best is a struggle.
15. You know a lot of promising fitness competitors have a hard time with longevity because of the toll the “routines” can take on their bodies. How do you deal with this, and what are you doing to ensure that you never fall into this category?
I deal with this by attempting to avoid a lot of needless wear and tear in my training. I prioritize my training around performance and do my best to spread out the impact. Recovery is key here. A good joint supplement and fish oil helps too.
16. Now this might be hard to do, but if you could pin point one thing that has been the ultimate key to your success, what would that be?
Persistence and an open mind. Always continue learning.
17. As you’re most likely aware, the IFBB has instated a new rule allowing for female competitors to compete in both figure and fitness competitions, as to give these woman more opportunities in the sport. Adela Garcia has been the first female to take this offer up and will compete in both venues this year. Do you see this as a positive move by the IFBB? As a young and up and coming athlete do you feel that this could be beneficial to your own career in the sport?
I do not know how it affects my career at this point, if at all.
I will say I think this is a great idea, to give the athletes as many opportunities and venues in which to compete as possible. Some women have strong physiques and may grow weary of training for the routine round, and scared to try their hand at figure and see themselves drop in placing. This way, they aren’t tied to the decision.
Anything that helps the athletes is going to get good ratings from me!