Stephanie Caits

June 21, 2011 by  

Combine super-trainer Meral Ertunc with Parrillo products (and methods) and end up engineering yet another dramatic transformation!

Stephanie Caits was a self-described “fat girl with the pretty face.” She laughs about the jokes that used to be made at her expense. “Back in high school the boys would say, ‘Stephanie is the opposite of the ugly girl with the great body.’” It wasn’t so funny back then. After high school and college she became highly motivated to change her physique. “I felt that if I could lose weight I could be quite competitive in the beauty pageant world.”

Unfortunately Stephanie resorted to crash dieting combined with tons of aerobics. This approach always seems to be in vogue with those not in the know. “I ate next to nothing and began doing lots and lots of various aerobic activities. I started taking those over the counter “diet pills” loaded with caffeine and who knows what else; I lost bodyweight yet I was still fat. I morphed into a skinny fat girl.” The poisons were taking a toll on her health. “I was always run down, tired and worn out.” Looking back, Stephanie now understands the lunacy of combining starvation eating with loads of cardio, but at the time she was following conventional orthodox thinking still recommended and practiced nationwide by a disturbing number of fitness professionals. “It is nothing short of amazing how many smart and intelligent women to this day practice the ‘starve and over-train’ approach; most women shun real weight training, mistakenly feeling that they will develop massive muscles – as if it were that easy – and if they do practice any progressive resistance training, it is usually some form of Pilates or some ‘pump-and-sculpt’ style pretend lifting done in a group setting.”


Stephanie entered a few beauty pageants in her native Florida. To prepare for the world of beauty pageants, Stephanie began downing diet pills and fat-burners by the fistful and can full. “I made myself sick, physically and mentally, with this insane combination. I experienced medical issues and had horrible side effects. Even-tually I burnt myself out and had to quit. I had no clue about what it took to transform my body until I met Meral Ertunc and began training under her supervision in March of 2009.” By this time Stephanie was working fulltime and had detoxified herself. “My boyfriend introduced me to Meral at a commercial gym we both be-longed to. I had been introduced to ‘real’ weight training by my boyfriend and we had joined a gym and I had started weight training for real. I would say that I was pretty casual about the whole thing until I began seeing Meral training at the same facility. She became an instant inspiration.” Meral Ertunc, as longtime readers of the Parrillo Performance Press know, is a legendary fitness professional. She resides in Orlando, Florida and is without doubt one of the finest and most effective professional trainers anywhere. A former IFBB professional bodybuilder, Ms. Ertunc made her bones in the 1980s when she skyrocketed to the tiptop ranks of female professional bodybuilding. These days Meral makes her living training athletes and transforming regular folks from fat into fit. Now approaching age 50, she looks as if she has been frozen in time at around age 26. Meral doesn’t just look good for her age – Meral looks good. Stephanie recounts the impact Meral made on her be-fore they met.

“Meral trained at the same time of day that we did. This gave me an opportunity to observe her without her knowing it. She quickly became a role model for me. She is small yet perfectly built and positively beautiful; Meral would roll into the gym and without saying a word to anyone would start tearing through whatever weight workout was on her schedule. She would wear her iPod and wordlessly move from one exercise to an-other, virtually nonstop, blasting away using perfect technique and pushing herself in the most brutal, profes-sional and appropriate fashion. I knew looking at Meral train, ‘Oh, this is exactly the way it is supposed to be done.’” Stephanie was quite nervous when her boyfriend introduced her to Meral. “I was extremely intimi-dated; to the point where the only thing I could think to say when introduced was, ‘I watch you train and I have been trying to copy everything that you do.’ She was so nice and so welcoming and so friendly that I actually began having conversations with her. It was only later that I learned that she owned and operated Bodylines by Meral, a private training facility. I was thrilled when she agreed to oversee my quest to transform my physique.” Stephanie was less than thrilled when Meral administered a Parrillo nine-point, skin-fold caliper test using the Parrillo BodyStat kit. “When she read me my body fat percentile I almost fainted: I registered a 34% body fat percentile! Words cannot describe the awful things that ran through my mind. I felt tremendous self-loathing – but Meral would have none of it. She said something along the lines of, ‘the worse you start off, the faster you progress.’” It was small consolation for the under confident Ms. Caits. “They say the longest journey begins with a single step. Meral got me moving in the right direction: she was a good combination of sensitive yet tough.”

Stephanie understood all too well the root of her problem: she loved foods that were bad for her. “I could eat an entire large pizza at one sitting; I could consume an entire box of Velveeta Macaroni and Shells. I love pas-tries and sweets. Meral taught me to how to ‘eat clean’ and train hard. She told me right away that there was no such thing as a magic diet or magic fat-burning pills. She insisted that I had to embrace eating right and training hard. She drilled this into my head over and over again.” After an initial burst of progress, Stephanie fell into a period of backsliding. “I hit this patch where I would be ‘good’ during the week, sticking to the diet, and then on weekends I would binge. I would eat pancakes, waffles and scones on the weekends, figuring Meral would never know or find out.” What Stephanie failed to take into account was Meral had been a topflight pro trainer and competitor longer than Stephanie had been alive; when Ms. Ertunc kept getting stagnant BodyStat body fat readings, she knew that Stephanie was binging on something. Meral, being a tough, no nonsense lady, made Ms. Stephanie an offer she couldn’t refuse: get on the program fully and com-pletely or get on down the road. “I was ‘scared straight’ when Meral confronted me. Meral said in plain Eng-lish ‘Don’t waste my time and your money. If you are not going to commit then let’s part company.’ I never expected to hear that from her. I had to make a decision and I had to stick to it.” Meral’s ultimatum was an unexpected (figurative) slap in the face and proved to be Stephanie’s turning point. “I quit my weekend bing-ing immediately and immediately my body fat began to plummet.”

Stephanie started gaining momentum. She entered a 13 mile “half marathon” (along with Meral) and finished in two hours and fifteen minutes. This taste of competition caused Stephanie to get the competitive bug. She unexpectedly asked Meral to prepare her for a NPC Bikini show that was coming up in eight weeks. “I am not a competitive person by nature; I am not driven to compete against others. Meral immediately questioned my ability to commit to the degree necessary and it took some convincing on my part to get her to agree.” Meral’s reservations were not unfounded. She had quipped that Stephanie had one of the most “stubborn bodies” that she had ever encountered – and that was when Stephanie was doing everything right. “The whole preparation process was a huge challenge for me and for her. I had to diet down and train with an intensity I had never imagined. All of my hard work paid off: I won first place in my class and best of all, I won the overall title! It was shocking, it was thrilling, it was an incredible experience; winning everything there was to be won in my first ever bikini competition.” Stephanie had made her competitive debut and it had had a perfect ending. Needless to say this auspicious debut spurred her on; she wanted more: in hindsight she would have been well served to compete locally for a year, getting seasoned and honing her physique. She had bigger ideas and decided that she wanted to compete nationally. It turned out to be a bit too much a bit too soon.

Stephanie decided to enter an NPC national qualifying show. If she placed high she would be eligible to com-pete at the NPC bikini national championships. Meral was a bit dubious and felt this might be overly ambi-tious. Stephanie was determined and Meral was won over by her enthusiasm. “I had to train and diet down hard. The only reason I survived during the prep phase was my Parrillo cupcakes, cookies and pancakes. I said frequently, ‘Without Parrillo engineered foods there is no way I could continue to do this.’ I was able to eat my Parrillo cupcakes right up until the week prior to the show. These products preserved my sanity and kept me from binging a single time.” Stephanie, with Meral in tow, travelled to New York City for the huge NPC qualifier show. “This show was also life changing – but whereas my first show was all sunshine and light and victory and jubilation – this show crushed me. I placed 15th out of twenty. I felt embarrassed, ashamed and I felt that I had let down myself, I felt I had let down Meral and that I had let down my family and my boyfriend. I had mercilessly and needlessly tormented those around me while dieting down. In hindsight I was overreacting. Once I had a chance to look at my pictures taken at the show I was like, ‘Wow! I have never looked better in my entire life!” Meral, being the pro that she is, said, blow it off and be thankful: the progress Stephanie had made was nothing short of stunning. Besides, did she really expect to win an NPC national qual-ifier in her second show? “My sorrows healed quickly. In retrospect when I looked at my pictures I couldn’t believe the transformation. I felt a real sense of accomplishment and pride. Getting crushed was a tough learning experience to be sure.”

Stephanie had tremendous words of praise for her mentor. “Not only was I lucky enough to find Meral as a trainer, I also gained her as a friend. She is someone that believes in me. This is something priceless, some-thing that I treasure. I’m grateful every day for Meral entering my life. She taught me to never give up on my-self. She taught me to dream big and to pursue big dreams with full force and full conviction; to never let an-yone or anything get in the way.” Stephanie is also grateful for Parrillo Products. “Meral has been around and has so much knowledge about training and nutrition. Meral introduced me to Parrillo Performance products in her matter-of-fact way, basically saying, ‘These supplements are the absolute best so quit searching for any-thing better.’ Since being introduced to Parrillo Products, I have used them every single day. The Parrillo foods are fantastic: the Sport nutrition bars™, the cakes and cupcakes, the frosting, the Ice Kreem™, the Contest Cookies™, these products are a God-send for people like me; people that have a severe sweet tooth. When I eat a Parrillo cupcake with icing, whatever urge I had to binge is gone. Parrillo satiates my desire for sweets. I cannot say enough good things about Parrillo Products.” It is cliché to say someone has barely scratched the surface but with Meral Ertunc guiding her, Stephanie Caits has, well, barely scratched the surface of her po-tential and her career.

Training Split


  • Morning: cardio circuit training
  • Evening: back and biceps


  • Morning: cardio kickboxing


  • Morning: machine cardio
  • Evening: legs and shoulders


  • Morning: cardio kickboxing
  • Evening: chest and triceps


  • Morning: cardio circuit training


  • Morning: off


  • Morning: off
  • Evening: legs and glutes

Daily Meal Schedule

  • 6 am: Parrillo Hi-Protein™ shake
  • 9 am: Egg whites with mushrooms, oatmeal
  • 11 am: Optimized Whey™ shake
  • 1 pm: Turkey or chicken, brown rice or potatoes, mushrooms and peppers
  • 3 pm: Parrillo Chew Bar™, 50/50 Plus™ shake
  • 7 pm: Chicken or fish (mahi or tilapia,) green beans, mushrooms, onions and peppers

If I am still hungry after dinner I might have a serving of Parrillo vanilla cake or a serving of Parrillo cof-fee-flavored Ice Kreem™. I take an assortment of Parrillo pills with each meal including Enhanced GH Formu-la™, Muscle Amino™ and Ultimate Amino Formula™, Advanced Lipotropic Formula™ and the various Parrillo vitamins and minerals.


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