Focus on YOU and Do YOUR Best
No Nonsense Magazine Vol 23, #2
By: Tina Parsons, top 3 finisher Spartan World Championships
At a Glance: Tina Parsons
Occupation: Lowe's Companies Corporate headquarters in Wilkesboro, NC
Family: Husband, Kevin and mother of two beautiful girls, Baylee and Hayley
Current Residence: Traphill, North Carolina
Years Strength training (total): 4
Weight: Off Season-117, Race Day-115
Favorite Fitness Meal: Oatmeal with Cookies & Crème UMP and blueberries or strawberries and cinnamon
What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before? People often ask me about protein supplements. Before I get a chance to answer they say, “Everything I’ve tried tastes terrible.” I always recommend Beverly’s UMP. Every flavor I’ve tried is delicious and it’s so simple to blend. I recommend buying a little personal blender and add a scoop of UMP, add a little ice and water. Mix with blender, and bam! Heavenly treat. It’s honestly like a milkshake, you gotta try it!
Music: My workout playlist is all over the place – some country, but mostly hip-hop, rap and hard rock. I don’t listen to the words, (which is probably a good thing). It is the beat that matters to me. Very rarely does a song get the privilege to be downloaded to my workout playlist, but when it does, you better believe it’s a good one!
Most Inspiring Book: Dave Ramsey- The Total Money Makeover. I just love Dave, he puts life in real world terms with no candy coating.
Hobby or interests outside of racing/training: I especially enjoy training my Doberman who is also my trail running companion. Seems the older I get, the wiser I become, therefore I feel most safe running with a large dog. It’s a little comical when we come running through, people completely clear off the trail. Other hobbies include mountain biking, scuba diving, horseback riding, photography and muscle cars. Last and most important to me is exploring new adventures with my two girls.
Words to live by: Live and have no regrets. Take every opportunity when it knocks, because you may not get another one. Always take time and look at the views, because you never know when you will cross this path again.
I’m not the typical fitness bodybuilder you usually read about in this magazine. But, I am a competitor who trains and focuses on my diet (including using Beverly International supplements) every day. My competitive focus is obstacle course racing (OCR). Several years of hard work, blood, tears, and a lot of sweat culminated in a great 2018 racing year. My biggest highlight was placing 3rd in my age group at the Spartan World Championship race in North Lake Tahoe, CA. I also took 2nd in the Spartan North American Championship, as well as placing 1st in six other local and regional races.
A bit of history
I’m an average busy working mom. I work a full-time office job with a 45-minute commute each way. Like most moms, I am pulled in many directions – there’s always something going on at school or the office. I try not to let my passion for fitness take anything away from my family, but I still feel a little bit of guilt for taking time to achieve my fitness goals. To compensate, I do almost all of my training during my one-hour lunch break at the office. Since my time is limited I make every lift and every mile count. My lunch workouts are absolutely priceless to me. They have made me who I am today in the fitness world. (So, if you are reading this mom, and have an hour lunch break, you can do it too.)
Lessons from the Treadmill
I started out as an absolute beginner. So, I will share some tips that I have learned along the way through trial and error. My fitness journey started in my early 20s. I’m just 5’ tall and I was worried that keeping weight off would be a struggle as I got older. So, not having a clue as to what else to do, I joined the YMCA and started running on the treadmill during my lunch break. I worked up to 3 miles nearly every day. I must say, when you run that long on the treadmill… you have lots of time to think. I began to focus on getting just a little faster with each run. I took things very slow. Each run already felt hard and I wanted to be careful not to burn out. I focused on breathing - keeping my head up and chest open to maximize my lung capacity. Little did I know I was perfecting my running form at the same time. After all these years, I give much of the credit for my running success to these early treadmill workouts. They taught me to be consistent and keep pushing when things get really tough. I still use the treadmill nearly every day.
My Introduction to Weights
Within a blink of a few years, my girls were born and my fitness journey was put on the back burner. I wanted to spend every second I could at home with my babies. Then, after a few years, I resumed running on my treadmill at home. As my running base came back, something inside me had a fire for something more. The day I stepped into a new cross-training gym I discovered what I really wanted. A trainer (also a mom) at this new gym was incredibly fit and had the most amazing abs. This inspired me and I made a goal, that if she can do this, so can I.
My journey in weight lifting had begun. I remember being completely overwhelmed – not only learning the exercises, but trying to remember each one’s name. So, this is what I did and it worked. I made myself a book. I wrote the name of each exercise, searched the internet for a photo, then I cut and pasted it into my book. I took my book with me each time I went to the gym. If you are a beginner, try this. You won’t waste time walking around the weight room trying to remember stuff to do. I learned another important tip from the gym owner. He recommended I write everything down, including weights, reps and how I felt. I quickly fell in love with the changes my body was making.
A few years ago, I joined a CrossFit/training class. I was amazed at how quickly I fell in love with the lifts and the hardcore workouts. I remember not being able to do a single pull up and only using the empty bar for most of my lifts. I was often the last one to complete the WOD (workout of the day), but I didn’t care. My focus was to learn the exercises and do them correctly. What was important for me was to just do my best, focus on me, and not worry about what others were doing. Tip, FOCUS ON YOU and do YOUR BEST, don’t even look around at what everyone else is doing.
I remember being cheered on by others who had finished way before me. I learned how special the social part is and the amazing friends you make along the way. The unspoken part of the CrossFit WOD and the part that is somewhat addictive is the competition. It keeps my fire burning. Now, everyone knows the CrossFit WOD is not a race, but when the clock starts, it’s definitely a fight to be done first. The competition is tough, the WOD is intense with no breaks, but afterwards the feeling of accomplishment is totally amazing.
Enter the OCR
So, all of this led into why I race OCR. It seemed to be a perfect place to test out my fitness. My first Spartan race was in April 2015. I learned very quickly that Spartan races are no joke. I thought I was in pretty good shape, but was unable to complete many of the obstacles. For every failed obstacle, I’d have to do a 30-burpee penalty. I continued to race with friends that year, and with each race I made a goal to complete more obstacles and do fewer burpees. The next year, I started racing alone and began thinking about racing competitively. I set a goal each race to overcome at least one more obstacle. Sometimes it took several races to achieve this goal, but I never gave up. I knew that I was at a disadvantage scaling the 6’, 7’, or 8’ walls because of my diminutive height. The 16’ rope climb was another big challenge. I could barely get started up before my strength gave out, and on top of that I had a fear of heights. I finally was able to conquer this one by finding a rope at the gym and practicing on it every chance I got. Many rope burns later and some fears conquered, I am now confident I can ring that bell on the rope climb every time.
Diet – Abs are made in the kitchen
As my workouts in the gym intensified and after a few more Spartan races, my obsession of “having abs” resurfaced. Was this even possible for me after two C-sections? I was getting discouraged and when I brought it up to my doctor, he kind of gave me a crazy look. But, I didn’t give up. I had heard the saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen,” so I began to research nutrition.
This is about the time I was first introduced to Beverly products. I knew I needed to get a good amount of protein in, but how? I bought boxes of protein bars which I soon found were loaded with sugar. So, I reached out to a friend for advice and she told me about Beverly UMP. I ordered it online that day and my life has never been the same!
I continued to improve my diet by cutting out sugar, fast food, and most processed foods. I learned that the harder and more often I trained, the more good food I needed to eat. In the past, my body actually stored fat because I was not eating enough! I used a free app, “myfitnesspal”, to track my diet and recorded everything I ate for over a year. I think this is a great tool for everyone who wants to improve their nutrition and stay on track.
Daily Nutrition Plan
Overall, my diet does not change much during the year. I eat about the same foods every day. The only exception is I reduce my carb intake a little on rest days. Here’s an example of my everyday eating schedule.
7:30: Usually a sweet potato muffin which I eat during my morning commute
9:30: 3-4 egg whites with shredded cheese (in the microwave at work)
11:00: (About an hour prior to my workout) instant oatmeal with UMP Cookies & Crème, blueberries and cinnamon
1:30: (Post workout) UMP Graham Cracker shake
2:30: Grilled chicken, turkey, or salmon, and sweet potato mash (mash together a small sweet potato, 1oz cream cheese, honey, molasses, and cinnamon)
4:00: Spoonful of peanut butter or almond butter with dried apple slices
7:00: Usually something light like a spinach salad with pecans, chicken, and cheese
10:00: UMP Graham Cracker shake
I often treat myself before and after a race to foods I love as a reward for the hard work I put in. This keeps me happy and becomes another motivation to keep racing! I love pizza, so the night before the Spartan World Championship race in North Lake Tahoe, I ate nearly an entire Hawaiian pizza with no regret! Running a grueling 10-13+ mile race climbing up steep mountains, yeah… I think I worked hard for that pizza. So, if you work hard but have a strict diet, take time to occasionally reward yourself with foods you enjoy.
As noted earlier, I do almost all of my training during my lunch break. I start each session with a one-mile run on the treadmill for a warm-up. After that I do either a Cross Fit WOD, or train a specific bodypart in a bodybuilding type workout. On gorgeous days when I need some sunshine in my life, I may trade my lift day for a 5-6 mile mountain bike ride or a 3-5 mile trail run.
Saturdays are usually a rest day (if not racing), or if I’m lucky to get to town for another lifting workout.
Sunday, it’s usually a long trail run at the state park in Stone Mountain, NC. Hard mountain running with amazing views are always worth it, I look forward to Sundays because it refreshes my soul.
My favorite Beverly supplement is UMP. I use it several times a day. UMP Cookies & Crème is a must in my morning oatmeal. I always have an UMP Graham Cracker shake blended with water and ice after my midday workout, and often another one right before bed.
Glutamine Select is a must in my gym bag. It definitely helps me recover quickly from my intense lunch break workouts.
During racing season, I need to be lean and lighter. Even one pound of extra weight can alter my upper performance on the OCR obstacles. So, to help me stay lean, I take Beverly’s Lean Out. It helps me burn fat from the extra food I’m eating while in intense training. It keeps me soaring though the upper body obstacles.
Last, I truly believe in vitamins to keep me feeling good and keep my immune system strong. When racing I need something extra potent. I’ve worked too hard to get where I’m at so I’m not taking any chances on being sluggish. Race season, I take Beverly’s Super Pak.