A Peanut Among Peanuts
Competing in the Women's Physique 5'2" and Under Class
By: Eva Serber
At a Glance: Eva Serber
Occupation or Education: Ph.D.; Licensed Clinical Health Psychologist and Associate Professor at an Academic Medical Center
Current Residence: Charleston, SC
Years training: I’ve focused on bodybuilding since 2012.
Weight: Off Season: 109, Contest: 98-100
Favorite Bodybuilding Meal: Salmon and roasted Brussels sprouts
What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before? UMP is a great protein powder. Versatile, high mixability, and delicious flavor. I started with Glutamine Select and Quadracarn for recovery and rehabilitation after an ACL tear and reconstructive surgery (patellar tendon graft). I highly recommend these two foundation supplements for anyone trying to build strength, muscle, and promote recovery (from every day workouts or injury).
Music: Top 40 pop and rock, and I am most definitely an 80’s girl. In the gym often listening to Pandora’s station “Hard Rock Strength Training” and cardio “Dance Cardio”.
Hobby or interests outside bodybuilding: I love physical activity of any kind and being outside on the beach, Greenway trail or bridge walking, baking cupcakes for others’ special days, going to the movies or theater productions with friends.
Words to live by: “Self-care is not selfish”, “in all that you do, do it in the service of your values”. “Say what you mean and do what you say.”
I have always been passionate about health and fitness, starting as a young girl with dance and gymnastics. I loved gymnastics and for a long time one of “my big regrets” was quitting “too early” when my classes stopped being fun. I played softball, had a short stint of cheerleading, joined a gym and just worked the machines with no specific goal other than enjoying it and “trying to manage my weight.” Kickboxing and Muay Thai (1st torn ACL; left knee) in graduate school was what turned the corner for me into training for athletic performance and competitive athletics. At that time, people would ask what I did for weight lifting, and I didn’t, it was just hours training in boxing and kickboxing. I started running, too, as I needed interval and endurance training for multiple rounds of kickboxing. While training kickboxing at Gainesville Dojo my sensei said that with my muscle structure I could do bodybuilding. I laughed, thinking you needed to be huge for bodybuilding, not knowing anything about the sport.
In 2005 I suffered a minor whiplash that landed me in months of physical therapy. I’ll never forget the physical therapist telling me, “Despite all that you do, you have a weak back.” She gave me a home exercise program to continue strengthening my back and that was the start of my serious weight training.
I was now on clinical internship (for a PhD in health psychology), in a weight management center and I started learning about nutrition and meal timing. I continued to lift and bodybuilders started telling me I could probably enter a bodybuilding show if I just leaned out a bit (2008). That year, with the generosity of others’ time and expertise for training and prep, I entered my first bodybuilding show, just to do it. I entered the INBF Monster Mash in bodybuilding, figure, and Ms Fit Body; placed top 5 in all categories. Afterwards, I resumed running and ran several half-marathons, lifting weights only to maintain my muscle and strength while I focused on distance running.
Fast forward to 2012. I wanted to compete again. Recently returning to Charleston, SC where I spent a year for internship, I started learning more about the different divisions of NPC competiiton. Combining my newfound love of weightlifting and strength, and my “regret” of stopping gymnastics (with dance and yoga moves in my repertoire); I sought out my coach and started training for the Fitness Division. I competed in the Women’s Physique and Fitness divisions, placing top 5 for both. Later that year I tore my other ACL while unpacking from a recent residential move. One of the medical team members recommended that I try Beverly International to aid in my recovery. I started with Glutamine Select for the purpose of healing from the trauma of injury and surgery. I then added Quadracarn for muscle maintenance and circulation benefits while in grueling rehab for 10 months.
Day one of physical therapy after my ACL reconstruction surgery (July 25, 2013), I was asked what was my goal. Without hesitation, I answered,
“Tri-fitness Challenge in Tampa, FL; May 2014 and return to the NPC Fitness Division that season as well.” Ten months of hard work in PT, Beverly International supplements, and following an anti-inflammatory diet; I achieved my goals with flying colors. I competed in Fitness in 2014 qualifying for nationals, and competed in the NPC Jr USA National Championships 2015. I retired fitness that year (at 40 years of age) to fully focus on the Women’s Physique Division (WPD). My body and work schedule needed a break from the extra hours of training required for fitness (dance, choreography, and gymnastics in addition to lifting time).
Since 2016 I have competed in WPD at the regional and national level. I’m a natural athlete and have continued to use Beverly International supplements as my constant mainstay since 2012. In terms of rankings, one could say my peaking moment was receiving 3rd place in 2017 at the NPC North American Championship; and it was indeed a very proud and excited moment. My prep was the best ever. I felt strong, happy, and maintained a reasonable work-life balance. My physique ended up better than I had ever thought it could. I had been dreaming, believing, and hoping to win a national show. I was initially disappointed with the standings, but then quickly focused on how proud I was of me. I am, and will always be the little peanut, even amongst the peanuts of 5’2” and under; and that is okay.
From July 26 to September I slowly added calories to my day while reducing cardio time to build up my metabolism again. Now it is time to recheck myself and do a “mini cut” as I slowly crept above the body fat range I wanted to maintain. This would be a good diet for any female who wishes to lean out without too much suffering.
Meal 1: 5 egg whites, 1/2 cup brown rice or quinoa, or rice cakes
Meal 2: 4oz chicken, 4oz sweet potato (or any kind of baked potato), green vegetables (these are unlimited throughout the day)
Meal 3: 4oz salmon, green veggies (my favorite is roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash)
Meal 4: 4oz chicken, green veggies
Meal 5: 4oz orange roughy, green veggies (my favorite at this meal is a cole slaw recipe made with Greek yogurt and apple cider vinegar)
If super hungry before bed, I have a scoop of protein (UMP) and add just enough water/milk to make a “pudding.”
On the weekend, I have a “treat” meal (e.g., burger, steak, tacos).
FitTabs, EFA Gold, & Joint Care: These three supplements are the foundation for overall health and wellness. I take them every morning.
Glutamine Select & Quadracarn: I take these twice/day to help with muscle recovery and growth. I started taking these when I tore my ACL and recovering from reconstruction surgery. Research shows that flooding the body with glutamine helps the body recovery from physical trauma.
Lean Out, 7-Keto MuscLean, & Ultra 40: Help me stay lean while building muscle during “mini cuts” throughout the year, and when cutting for competition.
I used to do a set workout for each day of the week. Now I have a game plan for body parts, but I mix up my workouts like this:
Day 1: Back (width) & Side Delts
Day 2: Chest
Day 3: Quads
Day 4: Back (depth) and Rear Delts
Day 5: Biceps and Triceps
Day 6: Hamstrings and Glutes
Day 7: Shoulders
Day 8: Back and Biceps
Day 9: Chest and Triceps
Day 10: Legs
Day 11: Shoulders
During my building season I usually do 4-5 sets of 6-10 reps on each exercise. However, if I feel that I need more definition, I increase the reps to 12-15 during my “mini-cut”.
One constant in my workout sequence is to do a standard leg workout on days 3 & 10 in the accompanying schedule, and then on the weekend I alternate my favorite workout - one mile (yes, one mile) of lunges on the beach at sunrise one week, with a stadium workout of lunges and bleacher runs the next.
Stadium Workout: Lunges for one straight away, then run up the bleacher one step at a time, recover on the way down, then run up the bleachers again taking every other step.
I love training, I love seeing what the body and the mind can do, the transformations and changes just from changing nutrients; and above all being consistent and persistent. I take it year by year, taking stock of how I am doing mentally, physically, socially, and occupationally. There is a time and a place for everything; and no one can do it all, all of the time.
In addition to my academic credentials and clinical experience, I am also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
If you would like help in pursuing your fitness goals in health and wellness or athletic performance, please contact me a optimalfitnessandperformanceconsulting.com.