Bikini Competitor Tara Camilla Chapell
Height & Weight: 5'8"; 135 Contest, 140 Off-Season
Occupation: Finance, Commodity Hedge Fund
Although fitness is just a hobby for me, it's a hobby that my entire life revolves around. It has taken on a myriad of shapes, forms and transformations, beginning with a good foundation. As a child, I was skinny and had a fast metabolism, and a mother who preached daily exercise and a healthy, balanced diet. I stayed active with ballet, Jazz, gymnastics, figure skating, swimming, hiking, rollerblading, biking and daily mile-long walks. In high school, I started running and participating in athletics. In college, I adopted an obsessively healthy regime, as a scrawny, sub-120lb-zero-muscle runner. Strength training was a new venture for me, beginning only about two year ago, concurrent with the commencement of my career.
When I started lifting in the fall of 2006, I was just looking for a new routine, to cut my cardio time in half without sacrificing my workout. The perfectionist in me quickly turned it into an addictive drive to reach my potential for physical fitness. That winter I found myself in a conversation with Fitness Atlantic champ Sherry Carature, who taunted me with a new goal, which played on my competitive nature, and propelled me onto the stage at Fitness Atlantic, that April of 2007.
For me the greatest challenge as I embarked on the world of high-fitness, was gaining the muscle. I didn't grow up an athlete in the traditional sense. Instead I danced for 10 years, until high school when I traded dance for tennis and field hockey. However, whatever disadvantage this may have lent to my physique, it was compensated by the advantage it provided me in presentation and stage performance- arguably half the battle. Overwhelmingly, I placed in the Top 5- 5th at my first show. That fall I went on to compete in NY, placing 4th in Model. When I retuned to Atlantic in 2008, physically I was a different girl. My body had taken on a completely different, more "symmetrical" and athletic shape. My family was astonished, that for the first time in my life, I actually had "curves". I placed 5th again, but this year in a class double the size from the previous- of about 40 girls.
Tara Chapell Interview With Fitness Atlantic
For me, having a career and competing, is like having two full-time jobs. My day begins around 5AM. I get up and do 30-40 minutes of cardio- unless I'm getting ready for a show, in which case I do 45-1 hour. I'm at work at 7AM. It's not really an ideal job for someone who is into fitness as I sit at a desk for 10-12 hours a day, in high-stress, fast- paced environment, but I do love it. When I finally get out for the night, usually between 5:30 and 6:30, sometimes later- I go straight to the gym, and train with weights for about an hour, 5 days a week. After the gym, I barely have the energy to make it through my shower, and yes, pathetically, I try in get in bed between 9 & 10.
In terms of nutrition, I eat every 3 hours, even though most days that adds up to about 7 or 8 times a day. When I'm training, my diet is very strict. I like to diet slow, as I feel it's healthier, so I usually start about 12 weeks out. I generally only lose 5-7 pounds, until the last 2 weeks, when I tend to lose another 5-7 more (mostly in water). In the off-season, I eat a healthy balanced diet- lots of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats from nuts, eggs, oil and avocado- keeping my carbs lower and fats higher during the day when I'm just sitting, and my carbs higher at breakfast and before and after the gym. I'm very big into nutrient timing- so even though conventional wisdom often preaches cutting carbs after a certain hour- in the late afternoon- I think everyone has to factor in their own lifestyle, and for me my highest carb meal is actually at 8PM when I get home from the gym. I cheat once a week with whatever I want- usually ice cream and/or pizza.
My greatest accomplishment over the past 2 years has not been a trophy or a physical transformation, but rather it been all that I have learned and the people who I have met. Fitness, for me, is a way to keep my mind intellectually engaged, while giving myself a break from the markets, politics and finance that I deal with all day. Competing is a positive outlet for my competitiveness- to see who has figured out the puzzle of our anatomy with the greatest precision, and has the will power and determination to execute it most effectively. All the while it has created a huge network of people who share the same passion and lifestyle.
I cannot take all the credit for what I have learned and attained. There are so many people to whom I am so grateful for their help, guidance and support. To Sherry Carature, who taught me, literally, everything I know about presentation, walking, costume, make-up, and appearance, for help with my diet and for essentially holding my hand through the first show- I couldn't have done it without you. To Ron Rich, who wrote and directed my diet, monitored my progress and guided me through the critical last week. To Julina Moore- my partner and crime at Atlantic '08. To my friends and family who have supported me, and all the fitness-friends I have made along the way. To Donna and Brian, and all of their hard work that makes Fitness Atlantic possible. Most of all, to my boyfriend and bodybuilding competitor Neil Connery, who has been with me through all 3 shows, who is responsible not only for my training but also for my emotional support, and who has stood by through my crazy diet-induced mood swings; I've been truly blessed to have him in my life. Thank you sincerely, to everyone.
For now, I've decided to take a little time off, but am looking forward to competing again at Atlantic next year!! Good luck to all my competitors going on to nationals…Hope to see you next year!!!
Bikini Competitor Tara Camilla Chapell