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Interview with IFBB Bikini Pro, Insurance Liaison, Coach & Entrepreneur – Candyce Graham

candyce graham

Can you give us a brief background about yourself (where you were born, profession, education, where you live, etc.)?

I grew up in Gainesville, Florida, and have a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics from the University of Florida, and am currently completing my Masters of International Business. I reside in Tampa, Florida where I work as an Insurance Liaison, a Personal Trainer, and Competition Prep Coach.

Your father is a former bodybuilder. How was it like growing up? Was he the reason you decided to follow the healthy lifestyle and become a fitness model and competitor? If not, what and/or who inspired your decision?

Yes, my father being a bodybuilder had a great influence on me. For one, it exposed me to the health and fitness industry and lifestyle. I began learning about weight-training and nutrition at a very early age. I would go with my father to the gym and do my own work-out routine while he prepped for his competitions. The gym was my playground and I enjoyed every second of it. At that point, I really took interest in learning about the body and how you could manipulate it through weight-training.  Becoming a fitness model was something I’ve always wanted to do, but after seeing fitness personality Melissa Hall on the cover of Oxygen Magazine, I really took an interest in competing and felt if I tried the competitor route, it would help improve my success as a fitness model.

While in high school, you participated in multiple sports, such as track & field, judo, cheerleading, golf, and basketball. What did you take away from your athletic past that you use for your fitness lifestyle now?

My athletic past helped develop my mental toughness and drive. When preparing for a competition, photoshoot or anything in general, I’m able to instantly develop tunnel vision and fully focus on my goal without getting distracted. My training style is a direct derivative of my athletic background as well. I try to stay as true to my background as possible and maintain some form of high-impact physical activity during my training process. I find that my body responds faster to this type of training than doing a complete gym-only workout. I’m always incorporating different training techniques to continually shock my body which also keeps my training fun and exciting!

Where do you get your motivation from to stay consistent and continue to strive in your fitness lifestyle and careers?

I’m very self-motivated! Anything I want, I work hard until I achieve it and I will get it! My motto is: Go Hard or Go Home! If I’m not fully committed to doing anything, I’ll back off until I feel that fire again. I simply follow my heart!

With living a healthy and fit lifestyle, what does your daily diet look like? Do you give yourself “cheat days”?

I believe in doing everything in moderation. I maintain a balanced diet, allowing myself a few indulgences throughout the week. However, when I’m preparing for a competition, I follow a strict diet of lean meats and vegetables, but I do allow myself one cheat meal each week until I’m 3 weeks out from a show.

For Example:
Meal #1: 1/3 cup of oatmeal and 2 egg whites with spinach
Meal #2: 3oz of grilled chicken breast and 1 cup of kale
Meal #3: 4oz grilled orange roughy, 1 cup of broccoli, and 4oz of sweet potato
Meal #4: 1 scoop of Life’s Basics Plant Protein with almond milk and frozen blueberries
Meal #5: 2oz of lean beef and 1 cup of green beans
Meal #6: 4oz of grilled fish and 1 cup of asparagus

FMI 728x90

What does your training routine consist of? (Please include a few details – training split, sets/reps, exercises, types of cardio, etc.)

As a former track athlete, I find that my body responds to basic- style training. Heavy lifting and sprints.

For example, for my leg workout I’ll do:
4 sets of 15 reps of leg press, seated curls, leg extensions, smith-machine squats, and finish up with 20 minutes of HIIT cardio.

In addition to your diet and training, do you believe in supplements? If so, which kinds do you use and what results have these given you?

For myself I like to keep it simple. I prefer to get most of my nutrients through whole-foods. However, I do supplement my diet with a daily-multivitamin, vegan protein mix, BCAAs, and an Omega 3-6-9 tablet.

Besides being a fitness model and competitor, you are also an insurance liaison for Tampa’s largest employer. Can you tell us about what you do and was this something you wanted to pursue alongside fitness?

For my position as an insurance liaison, my main objective is to ensure that the physicians, nurses, attorneys and the insurer or all in communication and on the same page with my client and that all contractual obligations are being upheld. Since I didn’t compete until after college, I was already in my career when I began and everything wonderfully fell into place. My career afforded me the ability to become a competitive fitness athlete and I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to choose. It’s great to have a career that allows me the flexibility to maintain a fitness career alongside my professional career.

You are an IFBB Pro competitor and have attended Olympia and Arnold several times. Can you tell us more about these achievements and opportunities? Have they affected your life in any way?

Yes!!! Competing at Olympia and the Arnold was such an amazing experience for me! It was something I worked really hard for and I was happy to see all of my hard work pay off. By earning invites to both of these prestigious events, I became the first African-American Bikini Athlete to compete in either event. It was a huge milestone for me, which provided me a greater platform as a fitness model. My life hasn’t changed drastically as a pro athlete, but it has afforded me a lot of great opportunities to meet and work with a lot of influential people.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start fitness modeling and compete, but don’t know where to start?

Do your research and attend FMI! FMI was a catalyst for my modeling career and a real eye-opener! I learned so much and met so many amazing talented people, with whom I still keep in contact with today! It’s the best fitness family an entrepreneurial athlete could have.

Stage-Ready-Nutriton-Training-by-Brian-Cannone

We had the opportunity to work together in creating amazing photographs. How would you describe your overall experience with Natalie Minh Photography?

Working with Natalie Minh was such a great experience! I just remember having lots of fun and the entire shoot being effortless. Natalie is great at making you feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera and really encourages you to be spontaneous and have fun, which I love! Most importantly, my first shoot with Natalie resulted in a cover, which was a total surprise and my first big accomplishment as a model!

Were there any key factors you came out with during our time working together? (In regards to life, fitness, photography, etc.)

After working with Natalie, I learned the BIG difference between working with a good photographer and a great photographer. Natalie is a great photographer! She has the ability to not only create amazing pictures, but also make her models better during the process.

What are your future plans and goals? Do you have any competitions in the works?

Currently, I’m working on my business, CMG Fitness Inc., in which I have launched a brand company called Bikini Bellas, which is an online resource for bikini athletes and aspiring bikini athletes. Bikini Bellas not only provides valuable information, but also provides competition prep and training services. So everyone, please go and check out Bikini Bellas for the latest and hottest in bikini news and for any of your bikini competition needs! We have it ALL! I have some more great projects in the works for Bikini Bellas and will continue to expand the brand! So be on the look out!!! (shameless plug :) )

So tell us more about Bikini Bellas. Why did you create it?

Bikini Bellas has been a long time coming. I wrote a business plan for Bikini Bellas after my first year competing. I experienced a lot of frustrations with meal prepping, suit shopping, tanning, and all the other nuisances of competition prep and I knew there were others like myself who were prepping alone and had no clue what to do or how to properly prepare for a show. So, I wanted to create one-spot (community) where bikini competitors can go for all their needs and also vent and share advice. It’s still a work in progress because I’m always thinking of new things to add and new ways to improve the brand. However, one of the newest things I’ve decided to add is a competitive bikini team after numerous requests from clients I’ve trained and consulted with. So that’s one of the new additions I will be adding and promoting heavily. :)

Any shout outs?

I would like to thank my family for their unlimited support, my trainer, Master Trainer Beau Taillefer of Formula 55, the amazing Natalie Minh for providing me with this wonderful opportunity, and FMI for the invaluable experience, knowledge, and being the catalyst of my fitness career!

Lastly, where can we find you on the Internet?

My Personal Social Links:
Like Me
Follow Me
Website
Instagram

Bikini Bellas Social Links:
Website
Instagram
Twitter
Tumblr
Youtube Channel
Vimeo

 

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