Sometimes you meet people and wonder, “How do they do it?” August’s KickAss Woman of the Month makes us wonder. Michelle Otero is a Licensed Mental Health Therapist who owns her own practice, consulting company AND is a national level Figure competitor! ON TOP OF THAT, she is super cool, which is what we REALLY like at KAW! Hope you enjoy reading Michelle’s interview and enjoy looking at her pictures! – kaw
How did you get into fitness/competitions?
I got into the fitness industry for the first time when I was approached by a trainer at my local gym about 12 years ago. She told me that I should consider training to compete in the figure division because I was very athletic and had the potential and structure for the sport. It took me a couple of days to decide but after giving it some thought, I said to myself that it would be a pretty cool challenge to see how my body would transform. I had always played sports and knew that if I put my mind to it, I would be able to achieve another goal in life. I went on to compete in 3 shows that year and qualified for Nationals but decided to put a hold on it because I had just started my Masters Program at Nova Southeastern University and I didn’t really have the time anymore to dedicate to training as hard as I was.
Twelve years later after going back and forth about getting into competing and going through some fertility issues, I decided that I needed to do something that I had fallen in love with 12 years ago. So I made the decision to take on the challenge and just do it again. I contacted my current trainer/coach Randy Scoates at “Idolmaker Physique and Performance” on November 2011 and he told me that he could get me ready to compete in March 2013. So about 4 months after, I went on and competed in my first level 5 National qualifier “Sunshine Classic Show” where I placed third and qualified for Nationals. I was really so excited so I registered to compete in my first National Show “Team Universe” and placed 5th… my next show after that was the “IFBB North Americans” where I came in 3rd place and was one place away from getting my Pro Card in the figure division. 2012 was quite an amazing year so I decided to continue and just make improvements for this year. Next, I will be competing at the Nationals in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl on November 22, 2013 and I am super excited!!!
Were you athletic growing up?
Sports have always been a huge part of my life and have given me the tools to be where I am now in life. They have taught me dedication, motivation, perseverance, team work, consistency, to never give up, to always take on challenges, to push myself always and most of all, to always do everything with passion and a heart. I have been playing sports since I was about 7 years old when my mom enrolled me in the YMCA when we lived in NJ. Ever since the 7th grade, I have been involved in swimming and track. I was also part of my high school water polo team and was the captain during my junior and senior years of both the water polo and swimming teams. I truly believe that sports should be a very important part of kids’ lives because it helps them stay on track and develop a great sense of self, helps them build a strong character as well as a great self-esteem.
You are a mental health professional (LMHC). Does your fitness career help with your work in any way?
I am a Licensed Mental Health Therapist and my private practice is called “Journey 2 Empower Consulting”. I am a professor as well at Miami Dade College. I feel that my fitness career and my mental health career go hand and hand and that is why I just started my new company called “EmpowerFit”. I want people to be aware that fitness and mental health should not be separated but instead worked on simultaneously. The mind is a very powerful tool and your thoughts can either make or break you. In order to accomplish great successes and goals in life and in the fitness industry, you must be able to visualize yourself doing so.
“Visualization is a way to see your desired destination while you are yet in your present situation.” – Eddie Harris Jr.
The fitness industry is a subjective sport and therefore you have to be very strong minded in order to take the criticism that goes along with it. You must have a high self esteem and the understanding that at the end of the day, you are competing for yourself. Everyone wants to win but the true winner is that person who doesn’t give up when the results are not favorable.
I believe that my career has given me a healthy balance in the fitness industry and has kept me grounded at all times.
Many times fitness personalities are personal trainers, or work in the industry. How does it feel to be a little “different” from so many of the other girls?
I believe that because I am not a personal trainer and have a different educational background from many other women in this industry, I have a better understanding of how difficult it can be to juggle a full time job and still train 2 hours a day, 6 days a week and get ready for a competition. I believe this proves to many women and men out there that have children or full time jobs, that it CAN BE DONE!!!
You are currently sponsored?
Yes, I am currently sponsored by MHP/ MuscleMeds and I am an ambassador for ZEM gear. Both companies are wonderful and have supported me throughout my fitness career. They have also given me a great opportunity to meet so many amazing people in the industry and learn so much more about supplementation and nutrition. I also get a chance to go to big events and inspire others who want to be a part of the fitness world.
How do you train?
I train 5 days a week doing conventional bodybuilding weight training. I also incorporate outdoor endurance and strength training techniques using sleds and tires.
I do cardio 6 days a week for about 35 minutes and when I am getting close to training for a show, I usually do 40 min and double cardio 3 times a week.
How do you eat, and any supplementation?
I eat 6 meals a day. I intake 180 grams of protein and 125 grams of carbs on my weight training days and on my non-weight training days, I intake 180 grams of protein and 25 grams of carbs.
I take several supplements such as: fish oil, vitamin C, Kre-Alkalyn, Beta-alanine, Activate (MHP Multivitamin) and glutamine.
You have the ability to REALLY be a role model since you are fit AND know/understand mental health. Do you have the opportunity often?
The great thing about being sponsored is the ability to inspire so many women and men that want to be a part of the fitness industry. I participate in doing demos at different nutrition stores, gyms, local fitness events and large fitness expos where people have the opportunity to ask questions about nutrition, fitness and becoming competitors.
I also have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram fan pages where anyone can write to me and ask me questions. I have an awesome following and really feel that the fans I have give me so much motivation, especially when I am getting ready to compete.
What is your favorite thing about your role in the fitness industry?
My favorite thing about my role in the fitness industry is that I can inspire many people to believe that they too can be healthy, bring up their self esteems and work hard to achieve their fitness goals. It’s a great feeling when people set their minds to do something that they thought they could never achieve. After several months of being consistent, disciplined and motivated, I have seen many individuals make awesome changes and everything about who they are just gets better. They write to me and tell me that they are happier, feel sexier, and are definitely healthier.
I would have to say that my least favorite thing is when I hear the negative comments that people have to say when they see someone like myself who is fit. People can be very judgmental and will either say that I am on steroids or that I am not feminine enough because I have muscles. Even though sometimes these comments can be annoying, in the end they drive me to even look better and be proud of everything that I have accomplished because I know the truth and I know that hard work pays off.
Do men CONSTANTLY approach you?
I would say that I get approached often. It’s actually really nice when I am admired for my hard work and men see that I have put a lot of effort into having the shape that I have.
How do women respond to you?
For the most part, women usually see me as a fit and feminine person but I also get a few comments that tell me that I am too muscular and that they don’t like the look for themselves.
I really love being approached by women whom I have inspired or motivated in some way. It feels good that women can feel comfortable coming up to another woman and admiring them. I get asked what they can do to get fit and how it’s awesome that I have a career and also make the time to workout and live a healthy lifestyle. I get constant Facebook and Instagram messages from women and men who admire and look up to me and have changed their lifestyle to a healthier one because I have motivated them with posts and pictures ton my pages. It really feels awesome to help others out!!
Any parting words?
It’s great to look amazing on the outside but I also feel you must have a strong sense of self, believe in yourself, and love who you are in order to bring the total package to the table!
“Be Strong, You Never Know Who You Are Inspiring.”
Feel free to follow Michelle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for motivational posts, updates on her upcoming competitions and if you have any questions about the fitness industry or starting a healthier lifestyle!
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