Thompson's Lindsay Stadnek will be shooting for pro status this weekend at the Canadian Body Building Federation Canadian Figure, Fitness and Master Figure Championships in Edmonton, Alberta after finishing first in the Class B women's figure category at the Manitoba Amateur Body Building Association (MABBA) provincials in Winnipeg May 31.
"At the Canadians you're eligible for a pro card and that's kind of what I'm going for," says Stadnek, who has competed at a national-level competition - the world qualifiers - before, but not at the Canadian nationals. "That means that you can compete in professional events. Like I could go to different pro shows so basically it's just like the top level that you can get to. Once you're there, you're there."
Deciding to compete in Edmonton meant Stadnek didn't get much of a chance to unwind after provincials, but she says she likes it that way anyways.
"After provincials I kind of took a week off but not really," says Stadnek, who has competed at the MABBA novice or provincial championships for eight years. "I kind of took a little bit, took it a little easy and ate a few different things off my diet and stuff like that. I did a little less cardio and then I decided I was going to do nationals and then started the following Monday. I get so bored because I'm so used to training that I end up kind of going and doing something anyway."
Stadnek's training regimen starts early and finishes late, with about three hours of cardio and weight training per day.
"Right now I get up at about 5:30 a.m. and do 45 minutes to an hour of cardio and then later on in the evening, kind of after supper, I do my workout and then before bed I'll do another 45 to an hour of cardio," she says. "This kind of thing is a 24-hour gig. I think anybody can do it if you put your, if it's something that you really want to do you just have to decide you're going to do it and do it. It's a commitment. It's a lifestyle adjustment and I've been doing it for like eight years now so it just kind of becomes the way of life. My off-season doesn't change from my in-season. Maybe a little bit more peanut butter Reese Cups here and there then I would have and a little less cardio but generally I stay with the same sort of pattern. It's kind of not something I think you can just do eight weeks sort of thing. You really have to work at it for all year round if it's something that you're wanting to do. That's my opinion."
As part of that commitment, sleeping in on weekends is not on the schedule.
"Generally I'm within half an hour of my regular cardio time, I don't sleep in," says Stadnek. "I can't really sleep in on the weekends or else it messes up my diet. I get too hungry so I can't do fast at cardio. Let's say if I'm usually doing cardio by six o'clock if I wake up now at 7 o'clock on a weekend or 7:30, now my body's getting pretty hungry so if I try to pull out an hour of cardio by then I'm just too hungry so I have to make sure that I keep it really consistent. Keeping on schedule is what I find works best. I have to be on schedule or else I'll go crazy."
Over her years of competition, Stadnek has learned some tips and tricks to help her in her preparations, one of which is knowing when to lay off a little.
"I have never been really good at listening to my body," she admits. "I'll push myself and push myself and push myself until I'm just really burnt out and then it will take, you know, it could take three or four days before I'm kind of feeling back to normal so if I feel burnout coming on I'll kind of pay a little bit more attention to that. Maybe I'll try to get some more sleep or change things so that I'm not screwed for three to four days, so my workouts aren't screwed, my cardio isn't screwed. I'll have maybe a little bit more carbs that day in my diet just to see if that will kind of spunk me up a bit. Some days I'm obviously tired but you have to listen to your body for when you feel like you're kind of getting to that line where it might not be so good."
This year's training has gone smoothly for the most part, however.
"I was at my best, my ultimate best at provincials," Stadnek says. "My whole prep for that was great. I didn't have any really difficulties with the prep, there's always ups and downs, right? I felt it was pretty stable and the best preparation I've had yet and now even for nationals I'm finding that it's just, everything's just running so smoothly. It's kind of just going really well compared to other years where it's been a little more difficult. My energy is really sustained and my motivation. Everything's just staying pretty consistent so it's making life a lot easier, that's for sure."
She also has the advantage of experience.
"There's always something different I think with each show that you can learn and it could be the stupidest thing like what I said about scheduling," she says. "For my morning cardio I really have to stay consistent with that because as soon as I sleep in then it just really screws up my day. It seems like a really minor thing but that's what works for me. Even little things like making sure you're getting your water intake could be something that people might overlook but really it's actually quite important. The little things that you don't think of I think are what you learn as you go."
As she prepared for the competition in Edmonton, Stadnek said she'd set her goals high.
"My goal, the ultimate goal would obviously be to get my pro status," says Stadnek, "but I would be happy with top four or top five. Especially at this level, you're now competing against the best in Canada, all the winners, all the number ones in Canada so it's, competition is pretty steep and you don't know what the judges are looking for that day. One person compared to me may be the winner that day and maybe I would be the winner the next. You don't really know, it really all depends on what's catching their eye that day. Being on stage with all the best to me it's pretty cool. "
Stadnek says the key is to realize that she's truly competing against herself.
"I'm always happy as long as I'll be at my best and the way my training has been going now I'll probably come in at about four pounds lighter than I was at provincials so I'll be looking better than I did at provincials and that's always my goal," she says. "If I beat my best then in my mind I've done what I set out to accomplish because that's all you can really do is just keep improving."
It's also important to stress process over results.
"Like they say, these sort of things aren't a destination, Stadnek says. "It's the journey that takes you there. You're only on stage for, you know, a couple times a day and maybe for a half-hour, 45 minutes depending on how long your run is and yet you've put in hours and hours and hours. It's kind of all about the journey, for sure."
Completing that journey wouldn't be possible without a lot of help along the way. says Stadnek, from family and friends and co-workers or even people she knows through social media.
"My dad comes to pretty much every competition I have," she says. "I love seeing him smile. He's always smiling. He really likes them. My oldest son, he came and watched provincials so he got to see me win and hearing him in the crowd I could single out his voice and that was the next best coolest thing."
There's also another family that motivates Stadnek - her gym family at Better Body Fitness.
"I call them my gym family because I'm there a lot and I see a lot of the same people and they're very encouraging and it's my second home there," she says. "I don't know what I'd do without it. People are fantastic and without them too I wouldn't be where I am today for sure."
One of Stadnek's biggest supporters is Better Body Fitness owner Terry Stoker.
"I don't know what I'd do without him either. It takes a lot of people to be able to hold you up, to kind of push you along on tough days and they're the people that do that for me."
Virtual supporters are also important to Stadnek.
"I have so many people on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter that are very encouraging," she says. "I don't think they realize how much the smallest compliment can just even change your day around if you're having a kind of an off day and somebody says something like, 'Wow, like you've worked so hard,' it's very motivating and then that changes my frame of mind into something more positive."