Name: Trisha Smick
Years competing: 2
Sponsors: Spartan Nutrition. Dr. Susan Hughes
2014: NPC Golds Classic, Physique 2nd Place
2014: NPC Natural Mid-Atlantic Classic; Physique 1st Place
2014: NGA Mr & Ms. Natural Philadelphia; Physique 1st Place
2013: OCB Battle for The Belt; Physique 2nd, Bodybuilding 3rd Place
2012: INBF Amateur World Championships; Fit Body (Physique) 2nd, Figure 2nd Place
1994: WNBF Pro Ms. Universe, Women’s Bodybuilding 6th Place
ABFITT: Thank you for taking the time to talk with ABFITT. Can you give us some background information?
Trisha Smick: I’m am a 46 year old Women’s Amateur Physique Competitor, Married 13+ years and a proud Mother of 3 beautiful children; Trevor 12, Sierra 8 and my baby Haley 5. I live in NJ approximately 25 miles outside of Philadelphia. I’m the youngest of 6 siblings and the only one to graduate college. I attended Penn State University graduating within the top 10% of my class in 1991 with a B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science.
ABFITT: What sparked your initial interest in weight training and a health and fitness lifestyle? Can you share with us how this lead to competing?
Trisha Smick: My initial interest in fitness sprouted in early high school when I struggled with my weight and body image. I joined a local fitness club within walking distance where I enjoyed circuit training and aerobics. I would rush home from school, run full speed from the bus stop to change and make it just in time for class. By the time I was a senior in HS, I was teaching aerobics and “personal training.” Although initially motivated by a need to lose weight, these early experiences sparked my overall passion for health & fitness and ultimately laid the foundation for my pursuit of a degree in Exercise and Sport Science.
However, it wasn't until post-college 1992, following a difficult life event, that I began dedicating myself to the sport of physique competitions. As a distraction, a friend and personal trainer Todd Zabielski, invited me to attend a physique competition for a female client. As a fitness enthusiast I understood the discipline & tenacity required to step on that stage prepared! That night, I told Todd with such conviction “I can do that and I want to do that” and 3 months later I did. I had a great showing my first time out and continued to do well during my next few outings. Soon thereafter, I earned my WNBF Pro Card and went on to place 6th at my first pro show, WNBF “1994 Ms. Universe” in NYC.
Following the Ms. Universe at age 26, I stopped competing altogether for 18 years. I found myself quietly struggling with accepting the concept that I will likely never be “THE BEST,” and there would likely always be someone better than me, so “what’s the point”? This destructive all or nothing mindset left me feeling deflated and defeated. Although I continued to “train” for the next few years, as my family grew so did my distance from the gym. At 33 following marriage and the birth of my first child, I stopped altogether and did what way too many women do that I strongly urge against; i.e., In becoming a wife and mother my life revolved around everyone else’s needs but mine and in the process I lost “ME.”
Ironically, It took another difficult life event to get me back to the gym and the roots of the sport. In early 2010 my mother’s health declined eventually leading to her loss of life in 2012. Witnessing her painful decline and accepting the inevitable outcome on my best friends life was a tremendously painful process and had a detrimental impact on some interpersonal family relationships. I needed, and continue to need to this day, a productive outlet for my pain and angst. As a result, I turned to the sport I knew I could count on like I did so many years ago. In May 2011 I walked through the doors of a gym again and stepped on stage 1 1/2 years later at the 2012 INBF World Amateur Championships, placing 2nd in both Figure and Fit Body (Physique).
So what’s different this time around? I now realize that while this sport can summon so many of our core strengths, oddly many of our insecurities surface as well. But, I have the maturity and wisdom now to embrace the concept that this sport is not about anyone else but me; It is my journey! As I enter each new day I strive to leave behind an older version of myself to unveil an improved one; a version that has learned from both her mistakes and triumphs of yesterday. So, it really doesn't matter if I am “The Best” as long as I am “My Best”!
ABFITT: What is your take on training? What has worked best for you? With so much information available to people looking to start, what the best advice you can offer?
Trisha Smick: As a natural athlete, the “more is better” approach does not work for me. Rather, I am a proponent of training smart and hard with brief, focused sessions and plenty of rest to ensure adequate muscle recovery. I prefer training heavy using big basic compound movements complemented with ancillary isolation movements. I also incorporate supersets and/or drop sets to create variety when needed. I hit each body part hard weekly on a 4 day split designed around addressing my weak areas first and foremost. I incorporate supplements such a Creatine, Glutamine, and BCAA’s, to name a few, that assist with strength, endurance, protein synthesis and muscle recovery.
In my opinion, execution of a training protocol is only 50% of the success equation. The other component is mentality and establishing what I call the “mindset of a champion.” I have a mental rolodex of positive affirmations paired with positive visual imagery that I call upon to create an intense focus prior to and during my training. As Muhammad Ali states, “It is the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, great things begin to happen!”
My advice to beginners embarking on their fitness journey - educate yourself and become a student of the sport. Or, find a trainer or a mentor that can teach you and get you started with an effective strategy designed around your fitness goals. Once goals are identified and strategy established, DO NOT be inconsistent, make excuses, or be a weekend warrior. Execute your plan with steadfast commitment, be patient, trust the process and results will follow! As Bruce Lee states, “Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.”
ABFITT: Talk to us about the importance of nutrition and how you dial it in when preparing to step on stage.
Trisha Smick: Nutrition; what, when and how much is absolutely 1000% critical when preparing for stage. I work closely with my Coach, IFBB Pro Vilma Caez, to manage my nutrition all year. Monitoring and modifying caloric intake/expenditure and macro nutrient intake (carbs, proteins, fats) while observing the physique changes that ensue, is critical in determining off-season and contest strategy to dial my physique into stage ready condition. Since calories/carbs are kept relatively high, cardio sessions kept to a minimum and we typically avoid the need to carb deplete or cut water, prep is very manageable as strength and energy are sustained and I’m often asked, “How are you so Happy?”
Aside from pre-contest, eating a clean gluten free diet is a lifestyle that I enjoy all year. Not just because I feel and look better, but eating clean and gluten free enables me to manage my Celiac’s Disease as well as Lymphocytic Colitis. Overall, I avoid almost all processed foods and lean toward simple foods with minimal ingredients.
ABFITT: Discuss your competition history. Tell us about it and what if any one show stands out the most, for better or worse?
Trisha Smick: Coming off an 18 year hiatus I wasn't sure which division would best serve my physique. Upon experimenting with figure, physique and bodybuilding, it became clear that WPD is where I would thrive. Although figure was a viable option, I lacked some of the strong classic v-taper characteristics and I wasn't able to highlight or be rewarded for my muscularity. In bodybuilding, I simply lacked the muscle mass to be competitive. Physique is the perfect blend of both worlds where I can be rewarded for my moderate muscularity, sharp conditioning as well as my stage presence and presentation with a choreographed routine.
Up until October 2014, I competed in only natural bodybuilding sanctions (OCB, NGA, INBF, WNBF) where polygraph/urine testing for performance enhancing drugs were routine. In October 2014, I competed in my first NPC competition and although initially intimidated, my coach reassured me that I had all the makings to do well in the NPC. I feel good about the NPC and I’m excited to continue my loyalty with them as I pursue my IFBB Pro Card.
Many would be surprised to learn that I have stage fright, sometimes to the point of “performance paralysis.” I tend to experience anxiety when on stage alone as the center of attention. I’m more at ease when surrounded by other competitors; i.e., during pre-judging. Sometimes I experience cold sweats, racing heart, loss of concentration and difficulty breathing in varying degrees. I work super hard on preventing this from happening and affecting my performance by calming my state of mind through positive self talk and visual imagery.
So, regarding a show that stands out; I would say there are two and both experiences were related to stage anxiety; the 94’ Ms Universe and the 14’ Golds Classic. Being fully aware of my stage anxiety, I over-prepare for anything and everything stage related; from walking out, mandatory posing, individual posing routine, to a class pose down, etc. so everything becomes very intuitive. At the Universe and Gold’s I completely blanked either just prior to or during my performance. However, due to the hours upon hours of practice, self talk and visual imagery, I was able to calm myself enough to regain my composure and execute flawlessly.
ABFITT: How as a mother of three do you find the time to plan, focus on contest prep and compete?
Trisha Smick: Well, Its not easy or perfect but it’s manageable as long as you make it a priority and don’t allow yourself, or anyone else, make you feel guilty! First and foremost, I embrace the concept that I count too and to be a “better mom” I need to be a “better me!” Being healthy, looking good, fulfilling a passion and serving as a role model for my children makes me a “better me.” I schedule my training just as I would any of my kids activities and strive to stick to the plan. Sure, as a Mom you need to flex based on family demands, but overall if you establish a realistic plan sprinkled with a little bit of flexibility, it should work most of the time and that’s good enough for me!
Regarding contest prep, because I usually stay within 5-7% of stage weight my prep is short and therefore fairly pleasant. Typically my children don't even realize I'm prepping until the final two weeks, at which point I sit with them and share what to expect and how Mom may need their support. Speaking of support, never underestimate the value of a strong support network and the impact it can have on your prep. I’m not afraid to ask for help, I just don’t do it very often but when I do I pick my shots and make it count.
ABFITT: How do your friends, family feel about your contests and getting in such great shape to compete?
Trisha Smick: I would say that out of all of my family and friends the ones who are most enamored by me
ABFITT: I see so many wonderful photographs of you from a friend of abfitt and top fitness photographer Spencer Jung. Can you tell us how you met Spencer and how your friendship developed?
Trisha Smick: Spence is an NPC Photographer providing stage photography covering many regional NPC competitions. In May 2014, I competed in my first NPC Competition. I decided to order some pics following and contacted Spence for the first time. He said, “Oh, I remember you, you stood out, your posing was great, were you ever a ballerina”? What’s not to love already about Spence!!! So, that was the beginning of our friendship. I can always count on Spence to capture me at my best whether on stage or during a photo shoot. He has been a great supporter and has contributed to my pursuit of climbing the competitive physique ranks. Thank You Spence! xo
ABFITT: Any thought to tying for an IFBB pro card?
Trisha Smick: Absolutely YES! I will be attempting to secure my IFBB Pro Card early this summer at Masters Nationals and possibly Team Universe. IFBB Pro Card or not, I am hoping that 2015 is my year; a year of progress, growth and development
ABFITT: So what’s next?
Trisha Smick: To focus on being my personal best; as a mother, wife, competitor. Making those I love proud.
To continue to better balance my competitive passion with my family/personal life.
To inspire women who doubt they can achieve their fitness goals whether due to age, family demands and/or commitments.
To stay mentally grounded and keep it in perspective; focus on the journey, not the destination.
To continually learn from the cues my body provides to spawn new development and growth
ABFITT: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, I wish you the best to come in the new year and be certain Abfitt will keeping an eye out for you this season. Visit us https://www.facebook.com/pages/Abfitt-Building-Better-Bodies/153109374748831
Special thanks to Spence. http://www.mycontestpix.com/Default.aspx