DDT: Could you give us a little background info on who Andrea Valdez is?
AV: I am currently best-known for my status as a figure competitor who documents a diary of my 2013 contest season via YouTube. My channel just broke the 10,000 subscriber mark last month, which I’m super excited about! Beyond the videos, I am also a personal fitness consultant and freelance writer.
DDT: What got you started or inspired to get into the health and fitness Lifestyle?
AV: I grew up as a competitive gymnast from the age of 6, so movement has always been a joy of mine. This led to a career as a cheerleader throughout all of high school and college while I continued to coach young gymnasts on the side.
Honestly, I just know that my sports were fun for me and taught me invaluable lessons that I continue to carry with me every day. This, combined with my love for coaching and teaching then carried into an undergraduate degree in Sports Management and graduate studies in Exercise Physiology.
DDT: What made you want to become a figure competitor?
AV: While getting my Master’s at The University of Oklahoma in 2011, I went from a better-than-average “boot camp” kind of girl to lifting heavy weights and following an actual training split with some of my fellow male teaching assistants.
Although I always had that ex-gymnast physique, I was seeing favorable changes in my body for the first time in years which made me want lift even more.
At this same time, one of the PhD students in our Health & Exercise Department was prepping for his first pro bodybuilding show under the coaching of Dr. Layne Norton. Watching his journey made me want to learn more about it.
And in my head, the quickest way I knew how to acquire that knowledge was to just go out and do it. So I entered my first figure contest 10 weeks later.
It was a quick, painful road, but I learned tons from it. Most-importantly, I found out how much my body could take under those absurdly uncomfortable conditions. It was unhealthy to say the least.
This began my obsession with figuring out more about how I could use diet and training to manipulate my body in a healthier manner. I have fallen in love with this lifestyle and cannot stop sharing that I learn with my audience of viewers and readers. It seems to be helping a lot of people, so I just go with it!
DDT: What’s your favorite body part to work out? And what’s your current Team 3DMJ training split look like 😉
AV: I like the full body movements. Although they are the most physically taxing (especially in prep), I love lower body compound exercises.
At the moment, deadlifts are probably my fave because I’ve recently been “re-learning” to perform them conventionally (as opposed to my previous “sumo” stance).
I am currently on a 5-day training split that looks as such:
DAY 1: Chest & Back
DAY 2: Lower Body
DAY 3: OFF
DAY 4: Shoulders & Arms
DAY 5: Off
Every week, I also perform 1000 calories of steady state cardio and 3 HIIT sessions of 12-20 intervals, depending on the intensity. I am currently 6 months into this contest prep and will probably continue for another 8 weeks before transitioning into an off-season.
DDT: We can see how goal oriented you are, not everyone has that ability, it’s almost like a gift. What would you say is your biggest flaw? If you do have one.
AV: If I have one? Ha! Oh man there are so many!
I think one of my biggest roadblocks is sweating the small stuff. When your brain is going a mile a minute and always worrying about insignificant things, it can be quite a hindrance on productivity, self-awareness, and emotional happiness.
I’ve gotten a whole lot better at this over the past year or so, but it’s something I’m constantly working to improve. I study a lot if personal development and time management theories to further my ability to let go of things I cannot change and focus on the most valuable tasks at hand.
DDT: With you being Latin-American, do you feel you have an upper hand in the health and fitness industry?
AV: Well, yes and no.
Purely on the “physical” side of things as a competitor, my genetic predisposition is a negative. Us Latinos tend to store our fat in the mid-section of our bodies, which is something I am constantly battling with as a figure competitor. The “textbook” frame for this sport usually involves a smaller waistline, so I am really looking to widening my back this offseason to further create that illusion.
On the industry side of things, I haven’t really noticed my heritage helping or hindering my goals. I think if I was a fluent Spanish-speaker it could definitely be advantageous. But other than that, I feel as though I have been treated equally in all of my business endeavors thus far.
DDT: At times life throws challenges at you to test your mental toughness and heart as a person. What has been your biggest challenge in life and how did you overcome it?
AV: My greatest obstacle was coming out of the post-show depression in 2011. It took me about a year to be able to relax again and enjoy life as the normal, social person that I was before.
There are quite a few people who contributed to my ability to make this happen. My long-time friend and roommate helped me identify it. My nutrition professor helped give me the tools and resources to come out of it. My close friends and coworkers drug me out of the house and made me realize that I wasn’t going to die or break if I had a little fun again.
For me, getting into contest shape was a lot harder than getting out. I’m still learning all the time, but I am in a much healthier and happier place knowing that all things are reversible.
DDT: What kind of advice can you give to an aspiring figure competitor who’s barely beginning their journey in training and nutrition?
AV: There are so many little tidbits and tricks that I’d like to share, but if I had to generalize any type of advice it would be to find good sources, apply techniques, and assess results.
So many people read an article, try that tip or idea for a day or two, then find a new article, and it becomes a vicious cycle of indecisiveness and failures.
I would advise making small, manageable tweaks and turning them into habits. Add on one at a time. This whole fitness thing does not have an end, so if anything is too difficult to keep up with in the beginning you’ll never really start your own journey in the first place.
DDT: We gotta shake things up here and have some fun. What does Andrea like to do for fun and don’t be shy now?
AV: Because I am such a robotic, habitual person in my day-to-day life, I’m pretty easy to please. Almost anything new or different makes me excited.
I LOVE recreational activities of all kinds. Bowling, mini-golf, pool, river, beach, rock-climbing, video games, amusement parks, you name it! I hear there’s a trampoline park nearby that I’m excited to experience soon.
Another huge deal for me is live music. I’m always down to watch a good show, no matter the genre, venue, or atmosphere. I also love traveling and site seeing. This just tends to be a little more difficult while in competition season.
If I really get down to it though, I just like ring around people that make me happy and help me grow. Whether that’s grabbing a few beers with my friends back home, attending big social events, or just riding in the car, I’m happy.
Life is all about relationships and how you can collect and share experiences on the way to where you want to be.
DDT: Favorite protein shake recipe or healthy recipe that you fit into your macros?
AV: I am obsessed with my morning oat bowl and I have been for years. Its components can change slightly, but the constants are oat bran, cinnamon, cocoa powder, French Vanilla flavored Splenda, and baking powder. I also like to add a splash of Sugar Free Hazelnut Torani Syrup in with the water before microwaving it. I then top it off with Walden Farm’s calorie free syrups and dips.
If my macros call for it, other things I’ve been known to add are various protein powders (usually vanilla flavored), Fat-Free/Sugar-Free Jell-O Pudding Mixes, vanilla or butter-flavored extracts, or peanut/almond butter.
And speaking of “macros”, I recently released my first eBook about a month ago titled “EAT LEAN, NOT CLEAN: How to get shredded without hating your life”.
It’s basically a quick, easy-to-read guide on flexible dieting as a lifestyle with methods, examples, and resources sprinkled throughout.
A big struggle that many “decently-healthy” people have is implementing those macronutrient-counting principles in a healthy manner while keeping their sanity and metabolism intact. This eBook aims to lay it out in a step-by-step process and has helped a lot of my clients with their journeys.
DDT: Thanks for taking the time to do this Andrea, we really appreciate it. Where can our readers go if they want to start following you?
AV: My home base for now is ANDREAVALDEZ.NET. There, you can get linked up to my YouTube channeL, blog, products, and social media outlets.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to be a part of the Dynamic Duo Training Blog! I’ve been following you guys for a while and am loving what you do for the fitness community.
Keep it up boys! You help us all out more than you know 🙂