By Marty Gallagher
Kristi Bruening was 33 years old and completely out of shape. Her bodyweight was a few pounds shy of 200-pounds and her energy was nonexistent. “I did not feel well and was anxious all the time.” What really began concerning her was her heart was racing. It seemed that her weight gain was stressing her heart. Despite her lack of activity, her heart “seemed to be racing all the time. My resting heart rate hovered between 80 and 90, my heart was running terribly fast without reason. I was working a desk job and living a sedentary lifestyle.” She had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism the year before, and this no doubt contributed to her deteriorating physical condition. “I am sure that anxiety and stress were also major factors.” Things went from bad to worse when her husband Dave, a career military man was transferred from Utah to the state of Virginia. “In Virginia I had no friends. I had no job and nothing to do. I sat at home and moped about for two years.” This inertia was out of character for Kristi, a woman that had grown up athletic, she was someone that was always in great shape and always athletic. “I was a track athlete in high school. I ran sprints and long jumped.” After high school, she left her home in California. “I joined the military, the Navy, out of high school. I was in shape and always excelled at PT.” After four years in the military, Kristi left the service to concentrate on raising her daughter Destiny. Somehow fitness and training fell to the wayside.
“Once in a while I would try and go to the gym, but it was a 25-minute drive, so I made the excuse that it took too much time to get there, so that never happened.” Things began to turn around when her bodyweight and her racing heart caused her to seek medical advice: she got some stern advice from a doctor. “He gave me a thorough going over, he put me at ease regarding my accelerated heart rate. My heart was racing because I had gained 70-pounds of fat and was stressed and depressed.” The doctor offered me some commonsense advice, “He told me to get out of the house and get active.” His advice was timely, “I was in a depression state compounded by inactivity.” She took his advice to heart. “I got a job that required a lot of movement and activity. I went from walking 100-steps a day to walking 10,000 steps a day. That was the first ‘step’ and really helped get me back into basic shape.” Kristi job also required she interact with customers. “This was coming off a two-year period of isolation and inactivity, so the forced interaction was ideal for me.” Kristi went from sedentary, sluggish and isolated to active, interactive and reenergized. Still, she sought more. “My daughter was a senior in high school and extremely active; she was always out and about with her friends and involved in a lot of activities. My husband Dave was working two jobs; I found myself alone at home quite a bit. I had a lot of time on my hands.”
While Kristi had broken out of her inertia and isolation, she still weighed nearly 200-pounds. She had a long way to go. “I did not like the way I looked and decided to do something about it. I had been trim and athletic for the first 20-years of my life and at age 33 I decided I wanted to look that way again.” Kristi went to the phone book and found the nearest fitness facility. “I decided I would fill my free time by getting into back into shape.” As luck would have it, the facility she picked out of the phone book was an excellent choice. “Body by D Gym & Fitness Center was a perfect choice for me: they changed my life. Shortly after joining, I entered an 8-week weight loss challenge sponsored by the gym.” It was the right challenge at the right time for the right woman. “I lost 30-pounds and won the challenge. I was finding myself.” Nothing reenergizes a person’s training and diet discipline like dramatic progress. “I found it easy to redouble my efforts after winning the small gym contest.” With her newfound success and lots of free time, Kristi threw herself into bodybuilding completely. “I started training six days a week. I was fired up and enthused and found that I loved training. I got real satisfaction from training hard. I was training so much that D’Shawn, the gym owner took me aside and told me I needed to rest the body more; my enthusiasm became counterproductive.”
After winning the weight loss competition, Kristi lost another 22-pounds. She now began to consider competing in a real bodybuilding show. “I decided that I would put myself on the spot and compete in a Bikini competition.” Kristi was introduced to Parrillo Performance supplements at this time. “D the gym owner is a really smart man. I was totally ignorant about commercially available nutritional supplements: with so many choices, how is someone able to make the right choice?” Bodybuilders need nutritional potency. They also expect good taste. The dilemma has always been, how do you create taste without resorting to sugar or high-fructose corn syrup? “I love the Parrillo High-fiber Soft Chew bar™. The nutritional statistics are incredible: 22 grams of protein, 14 grams of fiber, no sugar and only 120 calories. My favorite flavor is Pecan Praline. The taste and texture of this bar is incredible.” Kristi has become a student of nutrition and as she notes, “The Parrillo Soft Chew bar™ fits my predetermined macro-nutrient goals. It tastes too good to be a sport nutrition bar.” When in the off-season Kristi switches to the Parrillo Protein bar™, “The fudge brownie flavor is incredible. I will always have one of these in conjunction with my weekly, off-season cheat meal.” Kristi made regular food the bedrock foundation of her nutritional approach. “When I am in preparation for a show, I stick with basic bodybuilding nutritional principles: I have a portion of lean protein, a portion of fiber and a rice or potato starch. I pay strict attention to portion size and how many grams of protein, fiber, starch, fat or sugar I am consuming. I make adjustments based on the scale and how I look.”
Kristi set about creating a “solid muscle-base” through the hardcore weight training sessions she subjected herself to. “I knew that if I wanted to do a show and do it successfully, I needed a good solid base of muscle. Yes, I needed to lose a lot of fat, but I sought to build a lot of muscle before I could begin a prep phase.” After six weeks of intense pre-prep muscling-up, Kristi began a preparation phase that lasted nearly six months. “I picked a competition way in the future and began a 20-week prep phase. I was ready to do what it took to get onstage and not embarrass myself.” To make a long story short, she had a storybook debut. “In my first ever competition, the OCB Colonial Open, I won the Novice Bikini and the Bikini Open class.” She was the most surprised person in the auditorium: imagine being in you very first show and not just doing well, but winning. She was over the moon. “I had the time of my life onstage that night.” Naturally she was left wanting more. She effortlessly redoubled her already redoubled efforts. “When the OCB Colonial show was over, I immediately began preparation for my second show: the OCB Atlantic Super Show.” This show would be on a quicker trigger.
“For the OCB Super Show, I used a 14-week preparation process. I worked out six times a week and took myself and my physique to the next level.” This would be a much bigger show and Kristi would be competing in the Open division, no more novice division. “I placed 2nd in Open Bikini Class at the OCB Atlantic Super Show. I felt great about my improvement and my placing.” She was deservedly ecstatic. According to the scale, Kristi had lost sixty pounds in less than one year. However, the news is actually better than that. In that same time period Kristi added ten pounds of muscle. In reality she had lost 70-pounds of body fat while ‘adding back’ ten pounds of muscle creating a net-60-pound scale difference. Kristi now walks around at a svelte 135-pounds and the fittest she has ever been in her entire life: the daily cardio makes her fit and lean, the six weekly weight training sessions keep her strong and resilient. The Parrillo-style bodybuilding nutrition and supplementation program keeps her continually stressed muscles fed and growing while creating conditions that force the body to burn its own body fat. In less than one year, she had managed an incredible transformation, one that left friends and family shaking their heads in amazement. Kristi is just getting warmed up. “I am in preparation yet again. I have been dead-on the diet and training and feel that I am ready to take on a completely new challenge: I intend to enter the Figure division in my next show.” With an entirely different set of judging standards, Figure demands a different physique and look. To compete in Figure requires a realignment of training and nutrition: differing ends require different means. She had this advice for those late to the party, like she was.
“When I began this journey, I made it a point not to compare myself to others. I knew that I could better my current self. I would set up benchmarks in training and then set about improving on them. If I could beat my old self, the self I was last workout or last month, that was motivation enough.” Obviously, Kristi’s methods have worked. Classic bodybuilding is a skillful combination and balancing of intense training, nutrition and rest. “I knew I could beat the person in the photo on the wall. I knew that I was just at the beginning of this journey and I wanted more. I know I am not done by a long shot. I still feel young in the fitness journey. I am only two years into this fantastic journey and feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface.”
Monday legs, abs
Tuesday shoulders, biceps
Wednesday back, traps,
Thursday chest, triceps
Friday legs, abs
Saturday back, biceps
“Sets are generally kept at four sets of 12 reps. I gradually increase my poundage on each successive set. I am a big believer in perfect technique and getting the most out of each rep. I will use paused reps and squeeze the target muscle to generate a maximum contraction.”
Meal 1 6am Oatmeal, eggs & egg whites
Meal 2 10am Chicken, potatoes, broccoli
Meal 3 2pm Tilapia, rice, asparagus
Meal 4 6pm Chicken, potatoes, broccoli Meal 5 1pm Tilapia, rice, asparagus