EAT LIKE A CAVEMAN FOR A BODY LIKE A SUPER WOMAN
By Vanessa Lynn Campos ● Michael Brooks Photography ● Release Photography
People are often confused when I say that I am a supplement-free, all-natural athlete. It doesn’t seem to make sense because I am lean and muscular AND I compete…how can I not take ANYTHING? I have been called a liar. I have been in arguments with people that say it is IMPOSSIBLE to get enough nutrients (micro or macro) from food to build muscle. I am here to prove the naysayers wrong.
My history with supplementation
I have only ever taken vitamins for known deficiencies, not with any regularity, and not since 2013. I have never taken a protein shake or a pre-workout or a fat burner, ever. Why? Before I get into that, let me give you a little background as to what I used to take.
I used to be iron deficient and B deficient. I used to have restless leg syndrome, for which I took magnesium. I took calcium because I hate milk, and was told I should take it because osteoporosis runs in my family. I took a multi-vitamin for women, again, because I was told I should. Why did I stop?
“I just happen to hate taking medicine, which I must have subconsciously categorized them as.”
I never took these supplements with any regularity. I just happen to hate taking medicine, which I must have subconsciously categorized them as. Aside from not wanting to ingest all of those pills on a daily basis, I was finally able to balance my diet and, in doing so, balanced my vitamin levels so I no longer have those deficiencies.
It’s a lifestyle, not a diet
What changed all that? I began to follow the Paleo diet. Paleo is a way of eating (not a “DIET”) that encourages the avoidance of processed foods, artificial sugars, grains dairy and legumes from your diet. The idea is that by removing these foods, that are known to cause allergies, intolerances and autoimmune disorders, one detoxes the body back to its healthiest state.
By focusing my eating on lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, I was able to balance my blood counts and my vitamin deficiencies to the point of not needing to supplement.
I happen to love to eat. I prefer to macerate my food, which leaves me feeling sated. Drinking a shake as a meal replacement doesn’t satisfy me. Although I may get all of the nutrients I need from the shake, I still have the desire and need to eat, increasing my caloric intake significantly.
I began doing this prior to even considering stepping on the competition stage. In fact, Paleo became my way of life as I began training for Spartan Races. One of the incredible side effects of switching to Paleo was the increase in energy I had. I could train more efficiently, and I made not only muscle gains, but strength and endurance gains as well. With the increase in energy, strength, muscle and endurance, I also happened to lose the stubborn 15lbs of baby weight I had been hanging on to for three years after the birth of my second child.
It took taking a closer look at what I had been feeding my machine. Consuming processed ingredients, artificial sugars, over-eating grains and dairy all contributed to my fatigue, migraines, restless leg, cystic acne, joint inflammation, and inability to lose fat. I wasn’t over-eating; I was just eating foods that were not good for my body. I had always been active and “fit,” so I lived by the mantra “I will work it off.”
“Now that I know real, whole foods fuel my machine in a way that makes me energetic and efficient, I will never go back.”
Now that I know real, whole foods fuel my machine in a way that makes me energetic and efficient, I will never go back. I have been able to lose weight, gain muscle and get lean without the aid of supplementation. I am proof that they are not a necessary component to being a competitive athlete, on an obstacle course or on stage. I have made it my mission as a fitness professional, and mentor to share my experience for those that have been led to believe otherwise.
Paleo, macros and gainz
In 2015 I decided to enter the Figure Competition world. As a stubborn and determined woman, I wanted to go at it my way. I knew that I would remain Paleo and I would not turn to pills or powders, no matter what was suggested to me. This was a challenge because I started counting my macros and the amount of protein I had to consume was insane (up to 170g per day). But I did it with food only.
I learned how to weigh and measure my food and the art of meal prep. I carried a cooler with me every day, often eating 5 or 6 meals, plus snacks! I drank over a gallon of water, and only drank 2-3 cups of my beloved black coffee per day. I made significant muscle gains and fat loss during my prep, during which I did my own training.
I took the stage only 3lbs below my normal weight, just leaner and healthier than I had ever been. I walked away with 2nd place in my very first Figure Competition (the WNBF Hercules) and took home two first place trophies in my 2nd show, qualifying as a Pro in both Figure and Athletic (at the IPL NaturalMag Classic).
I have no qualms with those competitors, athletes and everyday people that choose to use supplementation in their prep or to help in weight loss and muscle gain. It is a personal choice, as is diet. Paleo isn’t a sustainable lifestyle choice for everyone. It happens to work for me and I feel my best when I follow it closely. But I do believe in balance, so I do stray from time to time (wine and chocolate cake, anyone?)
“I may eat like a caveman, but it has helped me to build my Super Woman physique.”
My goal was to show that supplements are NOT NECESSARY, as many in the industry would have you believe. I am proof that it can be done, that you can spend your money on food, and a little extra time in meal planning and prepping, and build a stage-worthy and winning physique. I may eat like a caveman, but it has helped me to build my Super Woman physique. NMI
VANESSA CAMPOS | CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Vanessa Lynn Campos holds a B.A. in Dance from Connecticut College and an M.F.A. in Dance from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She performed as a professional modern dancer from 2002-2010, and became a personal fitness trainer in 2002. Holding certifications from AFTA, PhysicalMind Institute, and in the TRX Suspension System, she founded VCNfitness as a freelance training and online fitness company. In 2015, Vanessa completed the Spartan Race trifecta and will race in the Elite heats in 2016. She also qualified as a Pro in the International Physique League in both Figure and Athletic, and will compete in the first IPL Pro/Am in 2016 as a The Figure Workshopsponsored athlete. Vanessa is also the National Fitness Pro for the non-profit organization No Excuse Mom. However, Vanessa’s favorite titles are wife and mom of 2 her 2 boys, Kai and Rocky.