• Name: Holly Stanbrough (aka ~Flex ~ Shredded Wheat)
• Age: 43
• Weight (Contest): 117 - 120 lbs.
• Weight (Off-Season): 125 -130 lbs.
• Body Fat: Contest season: ~ 4-5 % / Off-season: 6-7%
• Hometown: Jamestown, Indiana
• Gym: LA Fitness
• Profession: I worked at Wishard Health Services; where I have been employed for the past 19 years. I am the Behavioral Health Risk Manager and Regulatory Coordinator. I earned my BSN in nursing in 1991 and obtained my certificate in Forensic in 2005. I also own a small horse farm where my daughter and I raise and show APHA/PtHA horses
2. What got you started in bodybuilding/fitness?
My Story ~ My Mission
I have a true passion for health and fitness… I am inspired by LIFE!!
My journey began when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2002, now currently fighting this battle with fierce will left me questioning my future. I felt I was losing control of my life, the goals, the dreams I had were quickly fading. I began to concentrate on my diet and exercise program searching for answers. My journey opened a new way of life for me, a new way to look at the future. I began a fierce determination to beat this disease, to live my dreams and be impactful in the future. This journey allowed me to look holistically at my health, encompassing my exercise program, diet and taking control of my life.
Prior to my diagnosis with MS, I was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease, from a near fatal car accident at the age of 17, leaving me with chronic lower back pain and years of struggles to be physical. I sought out many treatments; physical therapy, injections, medications etc, with little to no relief. I began riding horses, utilizing and stretching my lower back seem to be the most impactful. However not truly until the diagnosis of MS did it really hit me, the health, my ability that I knew, I didn’t’ truly respect it as a gift, it wasn’t something just owed to me. Therefore this newer diagnosis, this new challenge made me really look deep at what more I could be doing “holistically” to improve the quality of my life, to focus on the symptoms I suffered daily and try to effect change.
Taking a more holistic approach by changing my diet (along with core muscle and fitness training, reducing my fat intake, increasing my protein and lean meats, carefully reviewing my vitamins and increasing my fluid intake), allowed me to holistically impact my physical and mental health.
I suffered chronic fatigue, joint and muscle pain, difficulty with concentration, cognitive issues making spelling and sentence construction often difficult. A loss of taste and vision filed interpretation due to a 6th nerve palsy as a result of optic never damage from my original onset of MS. I didn’t approach my physical and mental health holistically, as something that would impact my symptoms, putting all the pieces together like a puzzle creating the best plan for me and my illness.
3. What keeps you motivated to train?
I simply choose to be happy.
The decision to be happy…
Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time… it’s how I arrange my mind or my mental game!!! I already have decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have or get out of bed and be thankful for the things I do have. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes are open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away. Just for this time in my life. Life is like our bank account. You withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories! I’m thankful for those that have helped fill my account full of wonderful memories!!
Sure at times I get discouraged and feel like giving up, I then take a look at the path I’ve taken to get here, the people’s lives I’ve touched and the possibilities of touching one more life! The faith I have in God. I truly feel this illness is a blessing, I was chosen to have Multiple Sclerosis, to help others utilize this as a platform to reach people who struggle. I truly hope to be impactful to anyone who has struggles in their journey with health issues and anyone who has suffered abuse, trauma, ridicule, bulling, weight gain by my fight. I hope to give them an avenue of hope a way at looking at choosing to be happy!!
4. What workout plan has worked best for you?
I’m a person who likes to set a workout plan “something kind of formal and concrete for a period of time - usually at 6-week intervals.” This keeps me honest and focused. I prefer to train by myself to keep things focused and rest periods no longer than 60-90 seconds. I prefer to train alone, as a workout partner distracts me from my goal and I begin to socialize. Therefore, I will take the time to chat prior to the workout and after. As I feel the relationships and rapport is as essential to the workout as well.
My typical training program ~ (10 reps / 5 sets):
• Monday: Legs / Abs
• Tuesday: Back/Chest/Arms - Cardio
• Wednesday: Off day
• Thursday: Legs/Abs
• Friday: Back/Chest/Arms - Cardio
• Saturday: Circuit Training
5. What is your philosophy about cardio?
I’m a true believer in you can’t have one without the other. There has to be a good balance between “training – cutting and cardio” as they all play a key role for optimal health and results. Each is individualized to the person. It is essential in understanding how your body reacts to the aspects of on and off season training. For me personally - I believe in a good balance for building good health muscle tissue without wasting muscle. Hence burning “fat” cells and tissue stores is almost magic. I just love the science of nutrition and training. However; I must say, I truly believe in keeping our hearts, mind and body equally health—not jeopardizing one for the other for the simple result, ribbon or trophy.
6. What is your philosophy about weight training?
I love weight training. To me, it has been essential in my health and illness. The reason being because it forced me to EAT right – to supply my body with the nutrients it needed to build lean muscle – hence having the biggest impact on my symptoms of MS. It forced me to eat better and given me a new respect for the weights. YES- I believe the balance is most import as stated in my views on cardio. However, weight training helped me learn and see some very important aspects to my health.
7. Do you prefer HIIT or steady state cardio?
I truly have learned to enjoy both. If I have the time, I will do low intensity Stair Master (or a 3-4 mile brisk walk). If I’m in a rush, I will do HIIT for 30 minutes. In my opinion, they are both essential for fat burning combined with diet.
8. What are your top 5 favorite exercises?
3) Smith machine
5) Running Stairs
9. What is your philosophy about nutrition?
I believe nutrition is essential to a healthy EVERYTHING! A true holistic approach is key element. Nutrition has been essential in impacted my health. I feel it is as important to know your way around the grocery store and reading nutrition labels as it is to know your way around the gym. Nutrition is the most important part in life, not only for the bodybuilder but for everyone. I believe in clean eating year-round. I will enjoy cheat meals every now and then, but not every day.
10. What nutrition plan has worked best for you?
I eat a very clean diet – rich in natural foods as well as good complex carbs and very low simple carbs as well as low sugar and sodium with the essential needed amount of protein (with timing and types of food eaten at the most optimum time).
• Meal 1: ½ cup oatmeal ~ with one scoop of ISO 100 whey protein and 1 tsp peanut butter
• Meal 2: ISO protein shake
• Meal 3: 2 to 4 oz of chicken breast with 8 stacks of asparagus and ½ bell peeper ( or hot pepper – hotter the better)
• Meal 4 (Pre-workout): ¼ cup of oat meal )
• Meal 5 (Post workout ): One scoop of Karbolyn and one scoop of ISO in water
• Meal 6: 2 to 4 oz of chicken breast with 8 stacks of asparagus and ½ bell peeper ( or hot pepper – hotter the better)
• Meal 7: ISO protein shake
11. What is your favorite cheat food?
Well I truly have a sweet tooth and fond love for peanut butter. I always crave waffles with peanut butter over the top, Gummy worms and ice cream.
12. What is your favorite health food?
I really enjoy my diet but my favorite “healthy food” is my oatmeal probably because I get to put a tiny bit of peanut butter on it.
13. What supplements have given you the greatest gains?
I only use two supplements: Whey ISO 100 and Karbolyn. The protein probably has had the biggest impact due to the essential need for protein in my diet. Especially with having MS, the illness causes a low or deficiency with the essential Vitamin B’s. Therefore, having the ISO as part of my daily intake has had a huge impact on my overall symptoms like “muscle and joint pain.”
14. What does your pre and post workout nutrition consist of?
Pre – ¼ cup of oatmeal – sometimes I will add a 1 tsp of natural peanut butter depending on if it is a leg day or where I am on my body fat and cutting.
Post- One scoop of ISO 100 whey protein and one scoop of Karbolyn 30 min post workout.
15. Which tools have helped you most with your nutrition and training?
I have found, I can never have enough knowledge, therefore reading has been so beneficial. Even though I am a RN, there is still so much for me to learn about nutrition and the mechanics of the body. l find myself surrounded by such incredible people both inside and outside the gym sharing knowledge that I’m always learning something new.
16. Have online resources (social networks) helped you in your training?
Gosh, where do I begin; the internet is a vast highway of information. I utilize it daily for resources and knowledge. I look to your site ~ Status Fitness ~ Facebook ~ Bodybuilding.com…just such a array of different search engines.
17. Where is the first place you turn to when looking for training / fitness / nutrition advice?
If I ever have a question about training and or nutrition, I always seek out my dear friend and trainer Dave Crawley. His knowledge base is unbelievable.
18. Who are your favorite fitness/bodybuilder competitors or role models?
My favorite fitness and bodybuilder competitors are my “family.” My dear friend Dave Crawley and his beautiful daughter Jennifer gates. Both whom have shared so much knowledge, support and friendship.
19. What obstacles have you had to overcome?
I was diagnosed with Multiple Scleroses in 2002 as well as a chronic back injury. As noted above, the initial diagnosis of Multiple Scleroses was the pinnacle point of me really seeing the true gift of life.
20. What was the biggest mistake you made when you first started training?
The biggest mistake was thinking “protein” was not essential to training. I now have a new respect for diet and nutrition where before I seen it as just another meal. Now I see it as part of my lifestyle.
21. What tips would you give to a beginner?
Never think that regardless of your education background and experience that you have all the knowledge you need to be successful. Surround yourself with good positive people that are as invested in you as you are them. Be educated about what you want and where you are going. Be in charge of your future and become a real leader to others with class and integrity.
~ Educate yourself about nutrition and training ~ READ ~ LISTEN ~ WATCH!
~ READ again!!
22. What are your future fitness goals?
To become a leader and role model to those who suffer with chronic illness. To inspire youth to never give up their dreams and to always fight regardless of the diagnoses, the history the story or the struggle. I want to inspire others and travel the world helping through motivational speaking and touching as many lives as I possibility can. I truly believe WE are strong but together WE are stronger.
23. Where can we find you on MuscleDog.com?
Check out my profile hstanbrough for more info, photos and more!
Facebook Fanpage (this is my page set up by a fan):
Personal website: www.paintbydesignstore.com
Thank you, MuscleDog for this opportunity. Have an amazing day!