Sean Harley and Allison Ethier, Winners of the 2009 IRON MAN & Bodybuilding.com BodySpace Model Search
After winning the IFBB Arnold Amateur Fitness event in 2008, she revamped her training and diet strategy to go heavier and add more muscle, with plans of earning her pro card this year. In the interim she learned that she’d qualified for the finals of the Bodybuilding.com Bodyspace Model Search, presented by IRON MAN, that was to be held at the IRON MAN Pro only 10 days away—the pressure was on. Listen up and learn how she did it!
DY: Congratulations on your win. Nicely done!
AE: I’m honored and humbled to have won. I threw my name in the hat in order to gain more exposure in the industry—a few more clicks on either my Bodyspace profile or my Web site, www.AllisonEthier.com. I never considered that I’d actually win. I did set out to do well—perhaps make it as a top-15 finalist, but I was stunned to have made it to the finals. It was a real treat.
DY: I know it took a lot of discipline and hard work to accomplish your goal. Is this the best condition you’ve achieved to date?
AE: As a model I felt I had a good look, but since I also compete in fitness, it would have been nice to have been leaner. I don’t diet like everyone else. I diet only for around six to seven weeks before a show. I cannot handle dieting for a long period of time. I don’t know how girls who diet for 12 to 16 weeks can do that. I would be an emotional wreck.
I started dieting around January 1, just cleaning things up a bit, as I was in prep for this year’s Arnold Amateur. I found out that I was selected as a top-five finalists only 10 days before the show. This show motivated me earlier in the competitive season to get into stage shape.
DY: So with only 10 days to get ready, I guess the main competition was with your mind-set rather than with the other competitors?
AE: The whole weekend we were in L.A., I’m sure none of the competitors lost sight that it was a competition. One girl ended up getting sick, and so my odds got better. There were various parts to the weekend: a photo shoot with Michael Neveux, interviews, booth work with Bodybuilding.com, public interaction and the night show at the IRON MAN Pro with posing and an impromptu interview by Bob Cicherillo. I tried to come in the best shape I could given the time I had to prepare. I always try to do my best and then let the judges decide. I’ve been doing this for so long that you learn not to let the results of a show define who you are. I knew that it was a great opportunity for me to network and get my name out there, as I have many goals this year. Either way, win or lose, to be among the top five meant that I’d already won in my mind.
DY: I agree. You have to win in your own mind before you can win anywhere else.
AE: I’ve been a fitness competitor for 10 years. I’ve done many shows. Being onstage and not having to do a routine—that was easy for me. I understood what was expected of me for the weekend, as I’d done interviews and booth work in the past. All that experience helped me.
DY: What’s next for your fitness career?
AE: The Arnold Amateur is coming up. I won the fitness show in 2008. I’ll also be working the Bodybuilidng.com booth at the Arnold and Olympia. After the Arnold I have the Natural Physique in Laval, Quebec (formerly known as the World Qualifier), and then the Canadian Fitness and Figure Championships in August. I want to win my IFBB pro card in fitness this year and try to make it to the Olympia stage. Why wait? There’s excellent talent in Canada, and the competition is fierce. I know I can represent Canada well in the pros. I just would like a chance to do that.
DY: It sounds like a well-thought-out plan. How did you go about designing the nutrition program that you followed for the competition?
AE: When I started competing, there was no one around who did what I wanted to do—that is, compete. So I used the Internet and various magazines to learn about nutrition. Since then I’ve done everything myself. Last year I connected with Erik Ledin of Lean Bodies Consulting for training and nutritional advice. It’s nice to have someone do your thinking for you and trust it is the right decision.
DY: Does Erik have you reduce calories or carbs in your preparations?
AE: Both. I generally start with a certain meal plan, and then if I’m not losing, I make changes. I cannot go as low carb as some people do. Fewer than 1,400 calories or fewer than 100 grams of carbs is too low for me. I do a fitness routine and/or workout, stand on my feet all day moving and teaching mathematics, and I still have to come home and look after my son, all while keeping my emotions in check. I feel my diet is balanced for what I need it to do and do not have rebounds postcompetition.
DY: Can you describe a sample day of eating, meal by meal?
Preworkout: SlimQuick Extreme drink sachet
Breakfast: 1 cup liquid egg whites, 1/2 cup oatmeal, fat-free yogurt
Snack: protein shake
Lunch: 4-5 ounces chicken, sweet potato, broccoli, dill pickles, soda water
Snack: protein shake, banana and water with SlimQuick Extreme drink sachet
Supper: omelet with 5-6 egg whites and 1 yolk, lots of veggies, cottage cheese, soda water
Snack: protein shake or yogurt and banana
DY: Which nutritional products do you find useful?
AE: SlimQuick Extreme drink sachets, and they have these new Energy Shots that I love.
DY: You get them all at Bodybuilding.com, right?
AE: Of course, where else? My favorite is the SlimQuick Extreme—it works, and no crash.
DY: Does Erik also train you, and is having a trainer an important part of the preparation process?
AE: Erik is my trainer. About a year ago I felt a lull in the gym and was not motivated by my workouts. They weren’t challenging enough. I didn’t lift heavy enough, and I needed to gain some size. I prefer to work out alone at 4:30 a.m. I have the run of the machines and weights and cardio equipment without any wait times.
DY: My girlfriend tried to murder me with a 5:30 a.m. workout. How would you describe your training style? Has it changed much over the past few years?
AE: I was doing the same workout for five or six years before I met Erik. I am NSCA-CPT certified; however, since working with Erik, I do upper-body and lower-body workouts four days per week.
DY: Which bodyparts respond easily for you, and which have been more challenging?
AE: Legs are easy, as I was a gymnast and cheerleader for many years. Upper body took some more time to develop. I balance my look for the modeling jobs, as I really enjoy that side of the industry. I’ve made significant changes in the last year with my size. Everyone is like, “What have you been doing?” I just tell them I lift heavier. I’m smaller in the off-season and get leaner for a show.
DY: What are your favorite exercises?
AE: Triceps dips. I can do as many as you need. Or work my ass off to get the number you say—if you want 50, I will try 50. Pullups make me feel very strong. I like the challenge. I’ve always loved working shoulders too.
DY: Cool. How do you break out your training week?
AE: Four days of weights and cardio and two days of routine practice. If it’s off-season, five days of training and two rest days. I put the rest days where I need them. Or if I’m not feeling motivated or if I’m tired, I just don’t go to the gym that day.
DY: What’s your height, and what was your weight for this competition?
AE: 5’4” and 127 pounds. For competition I can get down to 116 on the day of the show, but I think I look best at 125.
DY: What improvements did you make during your preparation?
AE: I worked more on bringing up my upper body and tightening up my lower body, to really make my muscles pop. I had to practice my posing more. I used to do the model walk, but in the NPC/CBBF you have to do the quarter-turn posing. It’s very different. It is a nice change, as it makes me more body aware.
DY: Who inspired you in your fitness career?
AE: I love watching all the girls’ fitness routines, their bodies, the quarter turns. I think everyone brings something unique to the industry. I love getting to know the girls and seeing what makes them tick. It just shows me how similar we all really are and go through the same things during any kind of preparation. I might be a competitor, but I am a huge fan of the girls as well.
DY: Who of the past and present exemplify your ideal physique type?
AE: I liked the look of the figure girls when they were hard and lean. This new softer look I am not sure I like. Not sure who is my favorite, as I think they all have something unique to bring to the table. I prefer to remain PC and let the judges to make that call.
Editor’s note: To contact Allison visit: www.AllisonEthier.com. IM