Name: Vanessa Serros
Competition weight: 102 lbs
Current weight: 107 lbs
Current city: San Diego, CA
Occupation: University Student
Have you always lived a fit lifestyle? How did you get started?
I’ve been active throughout my life and couldn’t imagine it any other way! From the time I was a little kid I was always moving, from playing with other kids for hours on end to dance and competitive gymnastics. I loved PE classes, challenging my body, and trying new things.
“I stopped gymnastics to focus on school but continued with tumbling and then joined a health club when I was 16.
I felt intimidated and lost as most “newbies” do, but my boyfriend (now husband) introduced me to Bodybuilding.com and womens’ fitness magazines and I instantly fell in love, and decided that I would compete one day.
“The journey has been somewhat rocky at times with confusion, excuses, etc. but I have been consistent and totally focused for the last two years, finally yielding exciting results!”
What’s the key to staying motivated and to keep going?
It’s not always easy to maintain enthusiasm, but I’ve found my passion in fitness and it consumes me! It’s something I think, plan, and dream about everyday and my own results are my biggest source of motivation.
“It takes an incredible amount of hard work, dedication, and patience but I promise it will be worth it when you see the results you worked so hard for!”
I believe the key to staying positive and motivated is to set small attainable goals on a timeline so you don’t get overwhelmed.
“Even the smallest changes will show you just how much power you have to take charge of your own health, happiness, and life.”
Informative websites, social media, and progress pictures are great places to look when you need a boost of motivation. Having a supportive partner or friend can also make your fitness journey much smoother and more enjoyable.
Tell us a bit about your recent experience at your pro debut at the wbff worlds?
It was quite an experience to meet and perform alongside hundreds of incredible people from around the world! I met new friends and reunited with women from my LA show earlier this year, sharing our stories and progress and encouraging each other backstage.
Preparing for this show was a race to the finish but the results were well worth it.
“I biked to school and the gym daily, trained in the weight room 5 days per week, performed HIIT cardio 3 days per week, and did some brutal track sessions twice a week.”
Throughout this prep I embellished my own competition suits and built the wings for my theme wear round outfit. I also took a full load of summer classes but somehow got it all done! Don’t let school, a job, or personal matters get in the way of accomplishing your goals. Make the commitment and just do it!
What is the hardest thing and the most enjoyable thing about competing to you?
Hmm.. The hardest thing is probably to keep pushing yourself in those last few exhausting weeks before a show. It becomes a mental game; your body and mind have been taxed, you are excited but anxious, wondering if you’re going to be ready in time, and start questioning why the heck you put yourself through this!
“That leads to the most enjoyable part; seeing all of that hard work come together on stage where you can celebrate your success and inspire others.”
What are your future plans?
I’m not sure exactly when my next show will be, but I will continue improving and building my dream physique. I’m trying to learn as much as possible about training and nutrition and plan to become a certified personal trainer within the year so I can help others reach their fitness goals too. I’ve also had so much fun making my themewear and bikinis for these shows that I also hope to start my own business creating custom pieces for others. There are so many possibilities for the future, I can’t wait to see what’s in store!
Take us through an average day of yours:
|7:30||Wake up, shower, get ready for the day.|
|08:00||Fuel up with breakfast, coffee, and a big glass of water.|
|8:30 – 10:30||I make sure I have meals prepped for the day and then usually have chores and studying to do before my classes.|
|10:30||Bike to school.|
|11:00 – 15:00||Attend classes.|
|15:30 – 17:00||Hit the gym and bike home.|
|22:30 – 23:00||Casein shake and bed.|
- The rest of the evening (before bed) is usually spent cooking, studying, and relaxing with my husband, I love to have fun sometimes but I’m definitely a homebody =).
Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your diet, pre contest and during the off season:
I have achieved fantastic results with a relatively flexible diet because I stay consistent and practice moderation. I do my best to fit my diet into my social and family life, after all, it has to become a manageable lifestyle if you want results and benefits for the long run.
My day-to-day diet is filled with nutritious whole foods, protein shakes, occasional treats to keep me sane, and I still enjoy fruit everyday.
“My diet is roughly 40% lean proteins, 40% vegetables, fruits, and complex carbs, and 20% fats. I haven’t been competing for long but my off season is a bit more flexible, with treats and cheat meals a couple times a week.”
Pre-contest becomes a bit stricter with more vegetables, fewer starchy carbs, and lots of water. Thankfully I don’t have to make drastic pre-contest changes since I am naturally pretty lean and stay consistent with diet and cardio year round.
- 5-6oz low-fat cottage cheese with diced green apple and a tbsp of crunchy natural peanut butter.
- 4-5oz seasoned lean ground turkey with a tbsp avocado and hot sauce, 3-4oz baked sweet potato fries, French green beans or zucchini.
What are your top Nutrition tips to lose weight for the ladies?
NEVER go to extremes and don’t be afraid to eat, A LOT!
You certainly don’t want to starve your body and deprive it of nutrients that keep it running smoothly but also be careful to avoid binging or becoming obsessive about eating healthy. Figure out a healthy macronutrient balance that works for you, fill up throughout the day, and don’t be afraid to enjoy your favorite treats on occasion.
Do you weigh all your food and track the numbers when it comes to calories of everything you eat? Do you think it is necessary?
Most of the time I just estimate but I did weigh and measure in the beginning and definitely in the weeks leading up to a show. It really helps to measure when you’re first learning and experimenting with different nutrition programs because you can compare and learn what works for you, be able to make specific changes and note how they affect your progress, and eventually you will be able to make smart choices wherever you may be.
What supplements do you use?
- Complete womens’ multivitamin
- Protein powders
- Energizing preworkouts like Cellucor’s C4 really helps me get moving when I need a boost.
- I also use their fat-loss supplements CLK and Super HD pre-contest to get stage ready.
- In the offseason I use creatine monohydrate to help maximize my strength and size gains.
Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your training and on average how long do you workout for?
I love weight training and believe it should be something you look forward to but also be challenging and intense enough to promote change. Choose a program with effective exercises that are fun for you, and you’re much more likely to stick to a program if you’re seeing results and enjoy doing it.
I usually train five days a week for 45 mins to an hour. I love training on weekend mornings, my weekly split generally looks like this:
- Chest and Biceps
- Glutes and Hamstrings
- Back and Triceps
- Shoulders and Abs
Tell us a bit about your gymnastics training before you started in the gym?
I still have a few skills left but my gymnastics days were quite a while ago. I only competed through middle school, then just practiced tumbling for a couple years, and later taught kids’ gymnastics classes. I do miss it so I’ve taken a few gymnastics classes in college to keep up my skills and flexibility.
“I wish I had continued at the competitive level but anyone who has done so knows it is a major commitment.”
Are you still quite flexible? If so, how do you maintain your flexibility? What’s your take on stretching and being flexible for muscle growth and well-being?
Yes and no. I’m nowhere near what I used to be! When I commit to it and really stretch daily I can get my splits and everything back but these days my muscles are pretty tight from constant heavy weight training. To be honest, I don’t stretch as much as I should but I do make sure to warm up and stretch lightly for about ten minutes before each workout. I also try to stretch and use a foam roller after leg workouts to prevent knots and aid in recovery.
Of course you don’t need to be able to bend yourself into a pretzel but a bit of flexibility can really improve your training.
“When your muscles are more elastic you can move faster, try more advanced exercises, and increase your range of motion, helping to prevent injury and recruit more muscle fibers for greater growth! I always feel great after some serious stretching and it makes everyday movements easier.”
Do you do much cardio with your training?
I normally do very little cardio and can get away with it because I am consistent with my balanced diet and train intensely by using supersets and heart-pumping circuits on a regular basis. Most of the year I just do a couple of short sessions (20 mins) of HIIT on a treadmill or stepmill and it increases to four sessions at 45 mins each leading up to a show. I prefer to do my cardio training outside by riding my bike, hiking, or being active at the beach.
What are your 3 favourite exercises?
There are so many variations that all work like magic for developing the posterior chain muscles. They take everything out of you so I don’t particularly enjoy doing them but I want that lower body development so squats it is!
2. Tricep dips
I always feel powerful doing these and love to add a weight belt or dumbbell for extra resistance.
3. Cable flyes
These are awesome for developing your chest (change the height of the pulley to target different areas) and the pump feels great.
What advice would you give the ladies to developing rock hard abs and a solid mid section?
Gymnastics is the secret behind my abs! Everything else on me was skinny and small but by about seventh grade my abs were already well-developed by all that training. Now I keep them up with light training a few times per week.
For most ladies this isn’t the case, but what I can tell you is that abs need to be worked just like any other muscle group.
“Use a combination of bodyweight and resistance exercises 2-3 times a week and be sure to always engage your core during compound exercises. Abs are built in the gym but will only be visibly defined if you are lean enough so keep your diet in check and add in extra cardio if needed.”
What are some of the misconceptions that you think many women have about training and dieting/losing fat?
Many women still believe that you have to eat very little and torture yourself with endless cardio to have the body you want. Many are also still convinced that lifting weights will make them bulky and manly. Sure, it’s the opinion of some people that what I’ve achieved is “too much” for a woman, but let me tell you, it is very hard for women to build muscle!
“It takes months and even years for women to significant muscle growth. Don’t worry. By weight training you’ll lose fat faster, achieve a slim, shapely physique and will definitely not “accidentally” bulk up.”
Do you use any special training techniques when it comes to your leg training?
I am guilty of neglecting my lower body in the past, but have finally seen significant growth this year. I train legs at least twice a week, one day focusing on glutes and hamstring development and the other on quads. I always go as heavy as possible for my given rep range and I throw in calf exercises 3-4 days a week.
Favourite (Male) Fitness models or bodybuilders?
Do I have to choose???
Favorite female fitness icon(s):
There are so many beautiful and inspiring athletes that keep me motivated, to name a few: Jen Jewell, Jessie Hilgenberg, Amanda Latona, and Ashley Horner among others.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
What is the most common question you get asked?
I usually get asked how I build defined abs and large biceps. I discussed my abs in the previous questions,
“but for biceps I do a lot of isolation exercises such as barbell and hammer curls as heavy as I can handle.”
I used to devote an entire workout session to arms and them hit them again on chest day and back day. My arms grow pretty quickly relative to other muscle groups so I had to back off a bit to balance my physique for these shows.
What competitions have you competed in and your placings?
I rarely talk about it, but back in 2012 I was going through some personal issues and made a lot of spontaneous changes. I was pretty frustrated and couldn’t find any direction in my life. I moved to LA, cut off my long hair, and registered for a bikini competition with just a few weeks to prep. I still hardly knew what real training was and did not follow a diet plan but I had wanted to compete for years so I decided to dive in and see what they were like. It was a scary experience but I’m glad I had the courage to do it. I think I placed 12th.
- WBFF Los Angeles (April) | Diva Fitness Model short class | 1st
- WBFF Worlds (Aug) | Diva Fitness Model Pro Debut | Exact placing unknown