How did you get started in fitness?
From a young age, I was always active between playing sports and enjoying outdoor activities. Back in middle and high school, I started running track and that involved a lot of offseason time. So I started spending a lot of time in the weight room and really challenging myself to lift more all the time. Once I got on the track and field team at Florida State University, my training went to a whole new level. Easily one of the best experiences of my life, being involved with an elite athletic program like FSU gave me some great resources to use for improving my fitness. After college, I’ve kept up with my lifting, training, and competing though now I work out my competitive streak in triathlons and road races. It has become very important to me to share the knowledge I acquired during my time as a collegiate athlete with others who are striving to reach their fitness goals.
How do you stay motivated?
I’m very self motivated and competitive, so I train in order to do well and set new PR’s for myself. I use goals that I want to accomplish to push me further every day. For every main goal that I have for myself, I break down sub-goals in order to create milestones for myself. This is very important because having one big goal can make it seem unattainable or out of reach. A lot of my followers have a huge goals of weight loss and/or creating an entirely new lifestyle for themselves. I can only imagine how intimidating those goals can be, but if you break them down to something achievable, in this example, perhaps 10 pounds each month, then that main goal becomes just a product of time instead of a question of possibility. Additionally, every time you reach a small goal you create more motivation for yourself. I aso like to see how far I can push myself, so just that competition I have with myself can really keep me going. If I’m in the middle of a race or workout and just want to stop, I just picture myself and how I’m going to feel after I succeed versus how I would feel if I quit. That’s a huge motivator right there.
What does your diet consist of?
I don’t subscribe to any special diet. My mantra is “balanced and natural”. I don’t cut carbs, I don’t eat on the hour, and I don’t eat a specified number of calories each meal. I won’t fuel my body with junk food, but otherwise I am pretty relaxed about my diet. I mainly focus on choosing the healthiest option possible in every given situation. Overall, some characterizations of my diet include eating often (usually about every 2 hours), reducing intake of simple carbs, reducing excess sugars, avoiding processed foods, and maximizing the nutrition-to-calorie ratio.
An example of my diet can be found on my blog:
What’s your favorite music to workout to?
It really just depends on my mood, it can be anything from 80’s classic rock to rap to Top 40. Some favorites are AC/DC and Eminem, but even Ke$ha has made it on the playlist before!
What body part are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my legs and shoulders because they are what allow me to do the things that I love. My favorite lifts are cleans, squats, and push press, all of which rely on shoulders and legs. Add in running, swimming, and biking which are all powered by those areas as well. Therefore, not only are legs and shoulders valuable to my training, but much of the results of my training show up there. It’s a bit of circular logic, but it works!
What’s the best part about being a fitness competitor?
I’m not a fitness competitor, but the best part about being an athlete is that people really look up to you and use you as an example. That still amazes me! Sometimes complete strangers will walk up to me and ask me what I do and how I got into the shape I’m in. It’s really rewarding for me to be able to share some fitness knowledge with them and hopefully help them to live a healthier lifestyle.
What is the biggest fitness myth you encounter in the fitness industry every day?
I really can’t stand the little “quick fixes” that people subscribe to, whether that’s cutting carbs, adhering to a fad diet, reliance on supplements, or that “miracle 15 minute workout”. Nothing worth having comes easily, and if you could just take a pill then everyone would look like an athlete. But that’s not true, and maintaining a high level of fitness requires a significant chunk of your time, a clean diet, and 100% dedication to your health.
What’s your favorite cheat meal?
I don’t really have cheat meals. Like I said before, I focus on general concepts for my diet and choose the healthiest alternative possible. If you are training hard and eating right regularly, it’s not that big of a deal to have a drink with dinner, or have a pizza night, or to order dessert on special occasions. The key is that you do all of that in moderation.
What are your 3 favorite exercises?
Stadiums, push press, and power clean. Stadiums are a great combination of strength and cardio, and you can always throw in a few abs at the bottom between sets. Push press has always been really fun to me and it’s a great shoulder exercise. The explosiveness of power clean makes it such a profitable lift. You really have to use strength and power to accelerate the bar, and those two things are what athleticism is all about.
Which female fitness model’s physique do you admire the most?
I do have two role models in fitness: Dara Torres and Madonna Buder. Both show a great example of what “no excuses” looks like. Dara has been competing her whole life and has been able to maintain a very high level of training even after marriage and a family. This is often an excuse people use for not working out anymore, but she flies in the face of that. Also, Madonna Buder, who is nicknamed “The Iron Nun”, is the oldest woman to have competed a full Ironman triathlon within the time limit. In fact, she has finished 325 triathlons, with over 40 of them being full Ironman distance, and she didn’t even start training until the age of 48! So between these two women, I find a lot of inspiration in the fact that they have both been able to dedicate themselves to their sport regardless of challenges that age, family life, or career paths may have presented.
What supplements would you use or recommend if any?
The only supplements I currently use is a post workout protein recovery shake (I use either Collegiate Muscle Milk or Gatorade Recover) as well as a natural protein powder that I mix into my smoothies in the mornings (either Garden of Life Raw Protein or Evolution protein). As far as other types of supplements go, I won’t take them nor do I recommend them. Since they don’t go through any sort of testing, other than basic manufacturing standards, companies can really put anything in a bottle and market it as a supplement. I don’t feel like being a company’s guinea pig to test which ones work and which ones have harmful and sometimes fatal side effects.
Top 10 tips for people who want to get in shape?
#1: Find healthy substitutes. For practically every junk food, there is a better option, i.e., instead of fries from McDonald’s, make your own sweet potato fries. Or choose veggie chips over Doritos, or frozen yogurt over ice cream.
#2: Eat small, eat often. Don’t gorge yourself on your meals and snack healthfully. Personally, I almost always have food with me and I usually have 2 snacks between each meal. I’ve seen comments that people have left on my pictures saying I need to eat and I just laugh. If only they saw how much I ate each day!
#3: Eat smart. Go for foods that are as natural as possible, cutting out artificial colors and sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup (which often even hides in whole grain breads!), and large doses of preservatives. Think of your body as a machine. The more pure fuel you give it, the better it’s going to run. You wouldn’t want to run your car on gasoline with a lot of other junk mixed in, would you? Of course not, it would not only hurt your gas mileage but your engine as well! Your body is the same, but more important than your car. A car can be replaced, but you only get one body. Treat it right!
#4: Expect to work hard. As much as advertisements would like to make you believe that they have that “magic diet/workout/pill”, they don’t. You can’t expect anything worth having to come easily.
#5: Expect road blocks. Again, things don’t come easy. There will be days you want to give up, or times when the progress seems to be slow or even halted. Just let the past be the past and come back swinging.
#6: Expect the “haters”. If you accomplish something above average, those who are below average will always want to bring you down to their level.
#7: Do it for yourself. You can’t please everybody and you shouldn’t want to. You can’t base your own body on other people’s opinions. You have to do it for yourself.
#8: Motivate yourself. No one can want it for you, no one can do the work for you, and no one can take the results from you once you reach your goals.
#9: Be smart with injuries. Don’t be discouraged by injuries but don’t push back too fast either. Be smart and let your body heal, but keep your mind in the game. When in doubt, always get your advice from a medical professional.
#10: Define success for yourself. Ultimately, life is about working hard for what you want and success is being happy with yourself and the people you choose to surround yourself with. Set goals to help you reach that point!
What’s next for you?
I am currently working on my doctorate at Texas A&M as well as volunteer assistant coaching for the track team here. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work with the student athletes who are going through the same experiences that I did. I’m not sure where I’ll go once I’m done here, but a lot can happen in four years.
More About Erin Simmons:
Weight: 135 lbs
Born In: Austin, Texas
Resides In: College Station, Texas
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5 Fave Songs To Workout To:
1. AC/DC – All Night Long
2. Fort Minor – Remember the Name
3. Eminem – Lose Yourself
4. Saliva – Survival of the Sickest
5. Def Leopard – Sugar on Me