Name: Cindy Garcia-Lister
Height: 5 ft 3
Competition weight: 48 Kg
Current weight: 53 Kg
Current city: Midlands, England
Occupation: Personal Trainer
Have you always lived a fit lifestyle? How did you get started?
Well I’ll try to make it short lol.
I have always loved sports and fitness and from the age of three I wanted to be a model. However life took me down a different path.
I had a difficult childhood and life was certainly not easy where I lived, it was a struggle and opportunities were hard to find.
After working in a desk job when I was 18 years old I decided to try fashion modelling. I found an agent and was given several jobs but was restricted due to my 5ft 3 height so I continued to work behind my desk.
I left Costa Rica (I was born there) and moved to France when I was 22 and after learning French I began my degree in Business Management, this then brought me to England where I learnt English and completed my degree. For most of this period I kept active, riding bikes and hiking, I then went through a difficult time, having lost somebody close to me and I began to find my comfort in food and without noticing I began to exercise less and less.
I was stressed, emotionally drained and feeling pretty low, I ate to feel better but as my weight increased my self confidence and self esteem got lower and lower and I found myself in a vicious circle.
As my weight increased I began to have pain in my legs, I found it difficult to walk in heels, I even had pains in my chest and all as a result of my diet and weight. I didn’t weigh myself as I just didn’t want to know.
When I first decided that I needed a change I tried various types of diets but none worked as I wanted. Some even made me worse, either not eating enough or too much of the wrong thing.
Finally I realised that I didn’t need a temporary solution, I needed a lifestyle change, so I set myself a goal, joined my local gym and permanently changed my diet, eating real food! Clean food! Healthy food!
Quickly I started to see the results, I felt a new lease of life and my passion for fitness returned, it wasn’t easy all the time, but I knew I had a goal to reach.
What drives you to be motivated and consistent throughout your training and eating right?
Honestly I don’t have motivation all the time, and sometimes I just feel like eating junk food too. Everyone has those moments but that is part of life. I don’t see training or a healthy diet as punishment, to me it is part of my lifestyle, and it’s the lifestyle that I decided to live.
I make sure I listen to my body; my training and diet changes according to my energy levels.
I keep my training interesting; I like to have a plan but if I feel like it is a bit monotonous I’ll do something different.
Same goes for diet, I love food and I love flavours, I use spices and herbs, I like to be creative but I also like the real taste of vegetables.
I always make sure to remember the feeling after a workout or a lovely healthy meal.
How did you get started with competing? How was your first competition experience?
After having lost a big amount of weight, I realized that I could combine both of my passions for fitness and modelling and that my height did not have to restrict me. So I decided to take to the stage!
I set myself a new goal, this was to overcome my insecurities and compete on stage in a tiny bikini. This was a scary and big challenge for me. I booked myself into my first fitness competition in May of 2012, I was so excited, but I didn’t have a clue of what to do and I had never been to watch a show, ha ha ha how crazy.
But I also didn’t have a coach, I decided to do it on my own and learn along the way.
Since the day I started until today I keep a journal with me, I write everything I eat, training, how I feel and how my body is reacting. This came very useful during this time and still very useful 🙂
I came 4th, which was great, I enjoyed it and wanted to take it further. I entered my second competition in September 2012 in the Musclemania European & Commonwealth Championships, this time I was a bit more prepared but my aim was to enjoy it, I knew the competition was high, and some of the competitors had much more experience than me but to my delight I won the Bikini, Model and Overall Bikini Categories. It was kind of a dream.
Then after that I entered in the WBFF in London. Then I competed with the UKBFF (representative for IFBB in UK) and I managed to place at two of their shows and qualified for the finals.
It has been a long and emotional journey and in many ways it continues to be but I would not change it, I have learnt so much about myself.
What are your future plans?
My future plans are quite ambitious, keep working as Personal Trainer and expand my knowledge, I like to help people on their fitness journey to and share my experience.
With competing at the moment I’m not 100% sure what to do, I do enjoy it but I think I need time to focus on career and new project, I may do one or even two this year, but where and when, I can’t be sure.
Take us through an average day of yours:
My average day goes something like this:
- I wake up, first thing in the morning I drink some warm lemon juice and water, then I’ll have some EAAs or an all in one shake and a coffee and I go to the gym.
- After I come back I take a shower and I have my post-workout meal, a large one.
- The rest of the day I work and I have a couple of meals (a bit smaller than my first one).
- If I have to do some cardio most probably I’ll do it in the evening before my last meal.
- Then I eat, usually this meal is bigger than the previous two.
- Relax and then bed time.
As you can see most of the time I don’t have more than 5 meals (including my shake a.m.). I found this works better for me.
Have you encountered any major setbacks in life? How did you overcome them?
Setbacks are part of life, you can’t give up every time you have a setback, you just have to learn from them and keep going.
What advice would you give to woman who struggle with ‘emotional eating’? and how to get out of it and avoid it?
This is not easy to answer but I feel it is very important to pay attention to when and what moments make you feel like eating more than you should, is it because you feel low? or because you are bored? If you are bored, do something to distract yourself. It you feel low do something to distract yourself (other than eating!) :p
If you are feeling low more often than usual, consult with your doctor, it could be a hormonal imbalance (which is very common). Or could be due to the changing of hormonal levels (especially in women).
Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your diet:
I truly believe your diet should’nt be drastically different from off season to pre contest, if not you are doing it wrong lol.
Of course there are changes, like training frequency/intensity and just small manipulations of calories in and out, nothing drastic (specially for bikini category).
My actual diet looks something like this:
- Meal 1: EAAs or an All in One shake and a coffee
- Post workout meal: Oat bran, linseed, 1.5 scoops of protein, 1 banana
- Meal 2: Green vegetables, fish oil, flax oil, fish/chicken, green apple
- Meal 3: asparagus, eggs, mackerel or smoked salmon.
- Meal 4: Green vegetables (lots), casserole vegetables, lean meat (of my choice), olive oil.
So as you can see, my diet is generally good, not too much change from pre contest, the only big difference is I don’t allow “cheat meals” during prep (I dislike that term).
What are your top Nutrition tips?
Easy and simple:
- Eat according to your goals and body type.
- Don’t starve yourself.
- The less processed food containing chemicals the better.
- I don’t believe in cataloguing food into GOOD or BAD list, everything has its place and time.
Would you recommend using supplements? If so what are your top tips to using supplements?
Nutrition comes first but I do use these:
- Fish oil (Omega 3), Linseed/Flax oil
- Vit C
- Calcium and Magnesium
- A good quality Protein Powder
What do you think are some of the biggest mistakes or myths that many girls fall prey to when entering their first competition?
So many girls think you have to starve yourself and do lot’s and lot’s of cardio in order to compete. You could actually end up looking worse after the show, so think twice, do what suits you and what you prefer.
Thinking there is only one way of doing it (only one single method)
There are hundreds of methods, it’s just finding the one that suits you.
Note: Please, I’m not saying pre contest diet and training is easy, but you should try to make it as healthy as possible.
Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your training and on average how long do you workout for?
I train to improve myself and my health, I like to feel strong but I also like to train for aesthetics. I do my training within 1 hour, but if I have to add cardio I prefer to do it on a separate session, I don’t like to train more than 2 hours in total, I have also a life out of the gym :p
My philosophy is: train hard; give 99 % the other 1% will help to stay injury free.
Listen to your body, as a natural athlete we need time to recover and giving 100% is not always possible. So be realistic, know your limitations but don’t be afraid to overcome them.
I do like to follow a split training plan, something more like this:
Day 1: Chest, Biceps
- Incline chest press: 3 sets x 12 – 10 – going to failure (around 8)
- Cable flies: 2 sets x 10
- Decline chest press: 3 sets x 10
- DB flies: 3 sets x 10
- DB Bicep curl: 3 sets x 10 – failure
- Concentrated bicep curl: 3 sets x 8-10
- Hammer curl: 3 sets x 8-10
Day 2: Legs
- Leg press: 3 sets x 12 – 10 – failure (around 8) reps
- Sumo squat with barbell: 4 sets x 10 reps
- Sumo deadlift with barbell: 4 sets x 10 reps
- Stiff leg deadlift with DB: 4 sets x 10 reps
- Seated leg curl: 4 sets x failure
- Leg extension: 4 sets x failure
- Walking lunges with DB: 4 x 20
- Duck butt: 3 sets x failure
Day 3: Shoulders, Abs
- Shoulder press machine: 3 sets x 12- 10 – failure
- Shoulder press DB: 3 sets x 10
- Lateral raises: 3 sets x 10 – failure
- Rear deltoids machine: 3 sets x 8
- Barbell up right row: 3 set x 8
- Incline reverse abs crunch: 3 set- failure
- Decline abs crunch: 3 sets –failure
- Decline abs twist: 3 sets – failure
Usually I have a rest day here.
Day 4: Back, Triceps
- Chin ups and dips: to failure
- Close grip lat pull down: 3 sets – 12 10- 8 failure
- DB bent over row: 1 set each arm x 12-10-8 repeat 3 times
- Triceps pull down: 3 sets x 10 – 10- failure superset with
- DB kick back: 3 sets X 8
- Overhead triceps extension: 3 sets x 10
Day 5: Legs again
Do you do much cardio with your training?
I focus on resistance training but I also know as an endomorph (my body type) I need to do cardio at least 3 times per week.
I prefer to mix it up, one day steady state, the next day tabata, power walking, anything really, one of my favourites is skipping rope, it reminds me when I was a child, it’s fun.
What are your 3 favourite exercises?
Because it helps in overall body composition.
2. Hip thrust
One of the best exercise for glutes and if you want to increase strength you have to make sure you train your glutes properly.
3. Man makers with burpees
(With dumbbells of course 😉 ) It is such a great full body workout.
They all make me feel stronger 🙂
What are your top weight training tips for the ladies?
- Don’t be afraid of weights, I know you hear that all the time but it’s true, you do not need to be afraid.
- Don’t train to be skinny, train to be stronger.
- Don’t stop learning about form, Time Under Tension and tempo, I know it could sound confusing but remember “knowledge is power”.
- Weight training shapes and sculpts the body and cardio helps you burn fat to reveal the body you have sculpted.
Fitness models or bodybuilders?
Mmm let me think ….. mmm…..still thinking…..mmmm.
Favorite female fitness icon(s):
I have to say Alicia Coates and Pauline Nordin, even if my goals are different I like their commitment, determination and passion, oh and their integrity as athletes.
“Doesn’t matter what you went through, you still can do a lot with what you got.”
Unknown or at least I don’t remember who said it lol I just remember I wrote it down on a piece of paper and put it in front of my computer 😉
Well done unknown!
Best piece of advice you ever received?
Advice for someone wanting to change their lifestyle and achieve their ideal physique?
Definitely first “set a goal” a very specific goal, (it could be a long and ambitious one) but ideally short term ones, it’s like building a house, you have the picture (plan) of how you want it to be, then you have to put, brick by brick (short term goals) in order to build it. Sometimes you notice the house has more potential or you want a bigger kitchen, so you change the plan.
Be realistic with your goal, in just 6 months you can’t expect to look like someone that has been training for the last 10 years, notice it’s consistency, it’s a lifestyle.
Don’t try to rush, step by step. Rushing will only generate stress.
Learn to enjoy the journey because the goal is a lifestyle, there is nothing else after that. Do you think you are going to reach your ideal physique and then sit back and rest the rest of you life? NO, because you’ll fall back to the same place you started and then you’ll have to do it again.
Do it because you love yourself, not because you hate yourself. Do it because you want to improve yourself. Do it because you deserve a healthy life.
What are some of the weirdest/annoying things you have seen people do in the gym?
One of the weirdest things for me is to see people training only the same body part and neglecting another ones. Like legs (for men) and chest (for women) ha ha I said it.
I find that so weird, why would you want to spend that much time training but actually creating a muscular imbalance that could become a health issue? Why?
What competitions have you competed in and your placings (and divisions)?
I have only competed in bikini and model categories:
- UKBFF | 3rd
- UKBFF | 2nd
- UKBFF | Finalist
- WBFF London | 8th
- Miss Galaxy Universe | 4th
- Musclemania European & Commonwealth Championships | 1st
Where can people get hold of you?
I’m very active on my social media:
And on my website with my blogs: