It’s All About Progression… Not Perfection

At a Glance: Michelle Gonda

Age: 45

Occupation: Receptionist, Road Secretary, and Parks Coordinator Harborcreek Township

Family: 4 Sons - Brett (25), LCpl Luke (forever 21), Cpl Jacob (22), Brady (13) and Boyfriend/Coach/Trainer- Jack O Newport.

Current Residence: Erie, PA

Years Training (total): 15 years

Height: 5’ 4”

Weight: Off Season-125 lbs, Contest-113 lbs

Favorite Bodybuilding or Fitness Meal: 1/2 cup oatmeal + 1 tbsp Smuckers Natural Crunchy peanut butter + stevia, 1 Scoop Chocolate UMP + 1 cup vanilla almond milk (mixed w/ ice in my Nutribullet)

Favorite Supplements: Chocolate Ultimate Muscle Protein - Quality product/great taste. Lean Out & 7-Keto MuscLean - for fat loss.

What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before? UMP

Music: Hip Hop, Rap, Pop, Heavy Metal, anything goes really … When the lifting gets tough the headphones go in!

Hobbies or Interest Outside of Bodybuilding: Spending time with family, interior design, furniture refinishing, upcycling, flea markets, garage sales, thrift stores, horror movies.

I watched my Dad lift weights as a little girl in our basement. They say your children are always watching and listening. I know that I absolutely was. But I didn’t really start working out until I was 30 years old. That’s when I joined the YMCA and began using the cardio machines. I took a few weight training classes but the weight room intimidated me.

Ten years later I was going through a divorce and decided to try a bodybuilding competition. A friend reintroduced me to that weight room and we began working out together. We gave it our all for 16 weeks, but neither of us had much knowledge of the importance of nutrition or proper supplementation. Consequently, I placed last in two divisions in my first contest. I was absolutely devastated; my confidence was at an absolute low.

A few months later I approached Jack O Newport, a bodybuilder at our local Y. It was COMPLETELY out of character for me. But, I left that conversation with a fire in me to try again, and also butterflies in my stomach because I really liked him! Three years later (2017) I competed again. That bodybuilder who had given me butterflies had become my boyfriend. I competed again in that same show where I finished last and this time took first in both divisions with his coaching.

On July 3, 2017 life as I knew it changed forever. My world stopped. My 21-year-old son, Marine LCpl Luke Gonda took his own life. My grief absolutely consumed me. The next year I decided that prepping for another show might be therapeutic and help me navigate through the grief. It forced me to get out of bed. It forced me to exercise. It forced me to eat. It forced me to be social. The gym became my antidepressant.

I competed in October after the hardest contest prep I’d ever gone through. I was told at that show my physique had become too muscular for their bikini division and placed accordingly. I was heartbroken and questioned if the bikini division, which I loved, was no longer an option. Through the encouragement of Jack and local gym owner and IFBB Pro Judge, Jack Sullivan, I stepped out of my comfort zone and into another organization, the NPC.

I trained for 24 weeks and competed in the NPC Mid-Atlantic States bikini division. I placed 1st in Masters 40+ and 2nd in three additional classes while qualifying for the NPC Nationals. I went right back into prep for 4 more weeks (and fulfilled an ultimate goal) when I stepped on a national stage at the NPC Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh, PA. I didn’t receive the placing I’d hoped for (received 3rd call outs) but we either win or we learn and I learned a lot from the experience. I know what I need to do to be competitive at this level and I plan on trying again in July 2020.

After the Nationals I was battling the post competition blues when I saw a contest sponsored by Muscle and Fitness Hers on social media. It was for the title of “Ms Health and Fitness 2019”. I entered (along with 20,000+ other women). The title is decided through online voting and donations to the Wounded Warrior Project. Through weeks and weeks of voting I’m humbled to say I made it into the Semi-Finals along with 150 deserving woman who also had their own stories and journeys. This was very near and dear to my heart having two sons who followed the military path as Marines.

Exercise has helped me navigate through very difficult times and has been my antidepressant. I’ve been blessed to spread mental health awareness through this platform. It is a true honor to be featured in the No Nonsense magazine and to be able to share my story with others.

Presentation Tips

I run through my posing routine almost every morning before I shower in the off season. During contest prep I work with my coach on Saturdays after HIIT training for about 1/2 hour. This typically starts about 8 weeks out. Posing is something you can always improve on and it should become second nature. My nerves take over on stage and that’s when the auto pilot kicks in.

In Closing

I have competed in 6 shows since I started in 2014. My placings range from dead last to first and everywhere in between. My best advice for a competitor is do not let the placing define you. Train to win but enjoy the experience and the friendships you make along the way. Last place drove me to try again and first place gave me the opportunity to step on the stage at Nationals. You never lose in this sport. You either win or you learn. You can always improve and that’s what drives me. It’s all about progression not perfection. God willing, I stay injury free I will continue to compete until I no longer find joy in the sport.

Nutrition and Supplements

Off –Season: Sunday - Friday
6:00 am 8oz water, apple cider vinegar, juice of 1 lemon

Meal 1: 1 scoop UMP in 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup oats, 1 tbsp Smuckers Natural Chunky Peanut Butter

Meal 2: 1 cup egg whites, 25g walnuts, 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup fruit

Meal 3: 4oz 90% ground beef, 3oz veggies, 1/2 cup jasmine rice

Meal 4: 4oz chicken or fish, 1/2 jasmine rice, 3oz veggie

6:00 pm Intraworkout drink: 1 scoop Glutamine Select & 1 scoop Creatine Select

Meal 5: 1 scoop UMP in 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup jasmine rice or 3 rice cakes w/ sugar free jelly

Meal 6: 5 eggs (2 whole eggs + 3 whites)

Saturday: My “Cheat” day. I typically stay on track and splurge on one meal (dinner) but allow myself more flexibility while still
following the plan throughout the day. If I want a cookie, I eat a cookie or whatever I’ve been craving that week.

Drink 1 gallon of water daily.


FitTabs multi vitamin/mineral 2 tablets with meals 1 and 4

EFA Gold 3 softgels with meals 1 and 4

Beverly’s Multiple Enzyme Complex 1 tablet with meals 1, 3, and 4

16-Week Contest Prep Diet (7 days a week*)
I do all of my meal prep and shopping on Sunday. (This plan gets tweaked by my coach depending on my physique)

Meal 1: 1 scoop UMP in almond milk, 1/2 cup oats, 1 tbsp peanut butter

Meal 2: 5oz chicken or fish, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 3oz veggies

Meal 3: 5oz ground turkey or 90% ground beef, 3oz veggies, 1/2 cup jasmine rice

Meal 4: 5oz chicken, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 cup rice

Intraworkout: 1 scoop Glutamine Select + 1 scoop Creatine Select

Meal 5: Post 1 scoop UMP & 1 scoop Glutamine Select in almond milk and 1/2 cup jasmine rice

Meal 6: 10:30 pm 5 eggs (2 whole & 3 whites)

*Cheat meals are very limited – only if it is determined that a refeed day is needed.

Drink 1 gallon of water daily.


FitTabs (multi vitamin/mineral) 2 tablets with Meal 1 & Meal 4

Energy Reserve (l-carnitine) 2 tablets daily

Quadracarn (carnitine multi-species) 3 tablets twice daily

Lean Out 1 capsule 4 times daily with meals

7-Keto MuscLean 3 capsules twice daily

EFA Gold 3 softgels twice daily

Multiple Enzyme Complex 1 tablet per meal (this is an especially important supplement for anyone who is increasing their protein intake – particularly if you are over 40)

Off-Season Cardio Schedule

Leg Day / Warm up on recumbent bike -15 mins

30 mins - StairMaster, incline treadmill, or elliptical*

Rest Day (during contest prep I may add a cardio session)

30 mins HIIT or 15 mins of rowing

30 mins - StairMaster, incline treadmill, or elliptical*

(during contest prep) 30 minutes HIIT

*Target heart rate for steady state between 120-140 bpm

Training Schedule

I use the same basic workout during both the off season and contest prep, but intensity increases during prep.

Monday: Leg Day (1)Amount
Squats4x10-12 (go deep)
Leg Curls12 reps (30 sec rest) + 12 more reps; repeat 3 times
Stiff Leg DB Deadlift3x15 reps (increase weight each set)
Hip Adductors3x12-15 (last set to failure as drop set)
Superset Leg Extension & Leg Press3x12-15
Tuesday: ShouldersAmount
DB Press4x10-12
Cable Lateral Raise3x12-15
Plate Front Raise3x12-15
Rear Delt Lateral3x15-20
Triceps Pushdowns4x12-15
Thursday: Back, Biceps, Calves DayAmount
Assisted Pull–ups4x10-12
Rack Pulls4x12-15
Wide Grip Pulldowns3x12-15
Bent Rows on Smith Machine3x12-15
Face Pulls on cables3x15
DB Curls4x10-12
Calves4 set to failure (2 sets w/ toes forward, 1 set w/ toes
inward, 1 set w/ toes outward)
Friday: Leg Day (2) Glute/Hamstring FocusedAmount
Warm up - Superset Ball Raises & Banded Lateral Walk3x15-20
Hip Thrusts3x12-15
Hip Abductors3x20
Hack Squat4x12-15
Donkey Kicks on Smith Machine3x12-15
Hyperextensions(focus on the glutes) 3 sets to failure
Cable Kick Backs3x15-20
Walking Lungesto burn out
Posted in 2020 Collection, Fit 45 (Women 45+).