risti Winger Szudlo was born in Mississippi (a southern girl!), but grew up living most of her life right outside of Columbus, Ohio with her two older brothers who taught her a great balance of being 50% tomboy, but still allowed her to be 50% pageant girl/princess. She attended Ohio State University and of course a BIG Buckeye fan (OH-IO!!! Go Buckeyes!!!). Lived in the suburbs of Columbus since graduation and love how young, active, and diverse the city of Columbus and the suburbs are.
She worked in medical sales full time since college and love what she does for a living. Enjoys working with young ladies and women who have identified with her as a mother, a working professional, and/or as an athlete who has won her fitness pro card in the WBFF federation. Inspired to help others who want to get fit, need help in balancing it all, or are seeking motivation.
She leads a weekly radio show called “Fitness Fanatic” on BlogTalkRadio where she feature athletes, models, designers, photographers, and industry experts in fitness that share stories of inspiration, business know how, and tips for those who share a passion for fitness.
Finally, she has a passion for coaching. she have enjoyed providing guidance to women and men who are competing in fitness competitions on two teams she help lead and also, loved coaching her children’s baseball and soccer teams.
Your son was born 15 weeks early and you were on bed rest for 21 weeks during your second pregnancy. How did you get through it all?
KWS: Spencer and Aubrianna are true miracles in the actual definition of the word. We are so blessed to have a healthy 7-year-old and 4-year-old today! However, “getting through it” during my son’s premature birth and my daughter’s needed bed rest, as you asked, at times was difficult.
Spencer was born unexpectedly 15 weeks prematurely and at the time, they had no explanation (medically) they could offer for why he came prematurely. I had a perfect pregnancy until the day he was born. There were no signs of problems at any of my check-ups, no pain, bleeding, and no other warnings. There really is not a way to prepare for something like that. Even if the doctors can forewarn you, as they did with our second child when I was 19 weeks pregnant, and they discovered I appeared to be beginning to threaten to go into labor. The feeling of helplessness in both cases as a mother to know your baby is in danger was intense. Spencer weighed just 1 pound and 10 ounces and measured just a mere 13.5 inches in length at birth. We were told he had a 5% chance of survival during the first 24-48 hours and those odds would only increase slightly in the first week, depending on the many complications that they were sure would occur over the coming weeks and we would face over the coming years as well.
Through the NICU experience and the years of his care that followed, it was prayer and our faith that sustained my husband and me, along with our tremendous support system of wonderful family and friends that we knew we could rely on. In NICU, we used a blog to update family and friends and prayers from all over the USA and literally many parts of the world were uplifting us and made us feel so supported. 96 days later and still on oxygen support, our little guy finally came home from the NICU for the first time and it was amazing! He was not blind, deaf, or riddled with brain bleeds and other terrible fates that could have and often do occur. We were so grateful to the wonderful medical team in the NICU, the medical research previously done by The March of Dimes on lung development in preemies, and mostly the blessings and grace that we were given by God’s honor in granting our prayers.
Despite the fact that “lightening had struck twice” and we were faced the possibility of another premature baby when I was told I was threatening to deliver—a very scary situation, we buckled down into our faith and prayer again. I was grateful that for my daughter, they were able to proactively take measures to identify an issue, which was something that did not happen with our son. I was grateful that they had options to offer and did a surgical procedure as well as gave me weekly progesterone shots that had medical evidence behind it that did have a benefit in preventing preterm labor. I was not super excited to be on 23 hours a day completely restrictive bed rest, but I was really happy that I could focus and do it. I was grateful that doing it resulted in her full term delivery and at nearly 10 pounds! Gratefulness, gratitude, and faith is what carried us.
What advice would you give to new moms who want to shed a few pounds?
KWS: While on bed rest for 21 weeks for my second child on 23 hours a day total restriction, I gained 65 pounds!!! Yikes! I had 13 weeks to get the weight off after a C-section to go to my national beauty pageant competition as the Ohio Beauties of America representation and get into my evening gown, do a fitness round, and interview in front of judges, an audience, and other state competitors!!! I wanted to do well and not embarrass myself, but also not hurt myself while healing with a C-section incision while preparing.
Once our princess was born healthy, I first made sure nothing was in the house that allowed for temptation. I watched my diet closely and ate a lot of protein (65% of every meal) and green veggies or veggies that were less starchy that are good for a nursing mom who wants to be fit. I also ate whole grain fibers that help fill you up as my carbs. I ate 6 healthy meals a day, with protein as more than half the source of each of the meal. I ate no desserts, but used fruits for a sweet taste.
I never sat in front of the TV without moving while doing it—leg lifts, bands, and bicep curls, all can easily be done. I walked with the baby in a stroller right away or even just carried her at least 1 mile at first and up to 3 miles as my stamina increased. I increased this to twice a day quickly and quicken my pace as I was able. I made sure when I was out walking to pay attention to my appearance too, as mental attitude matters! Wearing oversized sweats and no make-up all the time isn’t motivating! Get on something that makes you feel good and get on a “face” that is your best as you hit the streets for that walk or to the store!
Once I was medically cleared to do more aggressive workouts, I added an incline on the treadmill and varied the speeds from running, to jogging, to walking, and back to running, etc., intervals. I jogged the stadium steps at the high school. I had ankle and wrist weights I would wear around the house as I did laundry, dishes, or activities with the baby. I lifted weights (a must) and I used my sweet, but heavy baby as one of the weights (even a baby carrier), which she loved. I also used bands, the ball, and no doubt, thanks also to nursing– I managed to lose those last couple of pounds that brought me to my pre-pregnancy weight (minus the gained 65+ pounds) before I had to hit the stage to compete in the pageant! BAM! Thank goodness too because my beautiful Shari Hill evening dress was threatening to not zip unless all the weight was off! Results: My 13-week-old daughter won the hearts of the judges and everyone at the pageant, and I was lucky enough to win 1st runner up and also took 1st in evening gown and the fitness divisions. It was a wonderful night for the two of us!!!
What made you decide to go into fitness modeling and what inspired you to compete?
KWS: I was also lucky enough to meet an amazing woman while at Beauties of America, who later would guide me into the start of my fitness career by suggesting I try fitness competitions. She was one of the judges of the pageant—Melissa Hall Little. She was a former Miss Minnesota America and Miss Bikini Universe. She provided me with the guidance, training, and assistance I needed to do my first competition and we started a wonderful friendship from that day forward. She is a beautiful friend, personal cheerleader, and mentor I cherish who has helped me with modeling and every aspect of fitness. I also was guided by wonderful friends, Chady Dunmore and Kim Dolan Leto, who I greatly admire and respect. Each of these 3 women all have graced the cover of Oxygen magazine, a dream of mine, among the many other covers they have done!
How many competitions have you been in so far and what titles have you won?
6/2010: Fitness Universe (Nat’l) – Miami, FL (FIRST SHOW EVER!) – Bikini – 13th Place
8/2010: Carolina Nationals – Charlotte, NC – Bikini Classic – 1st Place, WINNER
10/2010: Midwest Classic – Chicago, IL – Bikini Classic – 3rd Place
11/2010: Fitness America (Nat’l) – Las Vegas, NV – Bikini – 12th Place
6/2011: Fitness Universe (Nat’l) – Miami, FL – Bikini – Top 10, 6th Place
6/2011: WBFF Boston Championship – Diva Bikini Model Tall (open) – 3rd Place / Diva Fitness Model Tall (open) – 7th Place / Diva Fitness Model 35+ – 7th Place
10/2011: WBFF Edmonton Championship – Diva Bikini Model Tall (open) – 6th Place
11/2011: WBFF New England Championship – Diva Fitness Model Tall (open) – 4th Place / Diva Fitness Model – 1st Place, WINNER (PRO CARD in Diva Fitness Division!)
8/2012: WBFF World Pro Championship – Toronto, Canada – Pro Bikini Diva Division
Shoulder Injury: I worked in production, conducted red carpet PPV televised interviews, and handed out WBFF Amateur and World Pro Winner awards for the WBFF World Pro Championship show in Las Vegas
Competition To be Determined!
For those new to fitness competitions, can you tell us the benefits of being a WBFF Bikini Pro? How do you earn a Pro Card and what does it mean once you have one?
KWS: It takes an exceptional amount of hard work and sacrifice to earn a pro status, especially if you have a full time job that is not in a gym, are a mother, and then train and diet in addition to that; as was the case for me, but it is so worth it! It does take the commitment of the whole family or if you are single, of those around you supporting your vision and dreams. You will have days that will require you to dig really deep to stay focused! I assure you it is worth all the hard work and sacrifice!
The benefits of achieving that status for me has been that I was able to do this after the birth of both of my children. They were able to see that you can set a goal and with perseverance, focus, and hard work, you can achieve the dreams and goals you set.
As a competitive person all of my life, having a competition I can do as an adult that is fitness related became a great outlet for me to stay fit and healthy, while challenging myself to be my best.
As you become a competitor aiming for your pro card, you will learn that you compete with yourself long before you get on the stage to be compared to others by judges as you train!
It is what you make it and it can be a wonderful opportunity and journey to grow in many ways and not just by muscle mass!
The World Beauty Fashion and Fitness Federation (WBFF) was such a positive experience from day one. As I transitioned into that federation, I was challenged physically by the caliber of athletes they bring to the stage, challenged mentally by my initial doubts of if I could do it, but I was ready to up my game and find out! At the registration for my first show in Boston, I was welcomed with open arms by not only the wonderful organizers and owners, Paul and Allison Dilliet, who make it their mission to be sure everyone new and old to the WBFF feels a part of their fitness family, but also by the amazing warm, helpful, and beautiful individuals that were competing in the event. I was hooked. I knew from then on I had to step up my game to be a top competitor, but I wanted to be a part of the shows that were polished and professional, in venues that were top notch, and with athletes that were in every way themselves polished, intelligent, and beautiful people inside and out. I truly felt I had entered the “big leagues” and I wanted to take that opportunity as far as I could. After just 3 WBFF shows, I was blessed to win a Diva Fitness Model Pro card in November of 2011 at the WBFF New England show. It was one of the best nights ever!
The relationships, exposure, and opportunities I have been given as a result of my Pro status with the WBFF has been incredible. Not only my own sense of personal pride over my accomplishment, but also to be able to model, be invited to be interviewed and published in magazines and radio shows, to have now my own Fitness themed radio show, and to co-lead a female and male fitness team are just a few of the wonderful experiences. I was able to do a red carpet televised affair with the WBFF for their 2013 World Championship show as a co-host; interviewing guests, as well as work production for the show, which has open doors for more of this type of exciting opportunities.
I also have made so many amazing friends from all over the world while competing, which is such a blessing to be a piece of so many wonderful people’s lives. I feel blessed to have wonderful people reach out to me from social media for help as a result of reading my family story and finding inspiration or being encouraged that I am a mom and got back into shape or that I can manage a job and still find time to stay fit. That is a gift.
And just think, what if God had not guided my path to compete in the Beauties of America pageant? If not, I would not have met Melissa Hall Little as the judge at the national pageant who suggested I try fitness competitions and helped coach me to my first show. I would not then, of course, be a WBFF Pro possibly and be doing many of the things I am doing today! How fantastic!
Can you tell us about your experience and top 3 tips for someone who wants to compete at that level?
1) Diet – It matters! It is the most critical part of training, in my opinion. I believe just slightly more critical than even the gym, believe it or not. If you are not educated on the proper way to fuel your body while training, you need to have someone knowledgeable and experienced helping you. Not properly fueling your body during a time of intense cardio workouts, muscle building, cutting in, and depleting (not all stages applicable for everyone), which can take a period of a few months to a year depending on who you are to be stage ready, can make you sick, cause long term damage to your body, begin unhealthy emotional and psychological body and eating issues, and even put you in medical danger. It is not smart, not worth it, and you won’t look your best when you hit the stage!
You need to be prepared in advance with the right information and guidance and a plan for your diet needs. A plan for your diet needs includes many things…starting with budget considerations. Eating a diet that is concentrated on clean proteins will cost more than one that is fast food or processed, be prepared! A schedule is critical, not only for the gym, but also for your diet too, so that you stay on track. Plan time each week to prepare your meals by shopping for the foods you need in advance of each week and do all your necessary cooking for several days to a week at a time. This will allow you to store and freeze the food for the week and have planned food ready to be packed for work and travel, so that throughout each day, the nutrition you will need in the portions you need are ready for you at your fingertips! When you have the right foods, eaten at the right time in the right portions, you won’t undermine your hard work at the gym, but enhance it.
2) Gym Time – Work hard and smart. My only advice since everyone’s body is different is to be sure you know the competition criteria. If you are in Bikini Diva, Fitness, Figure, Men’s Muscle Model, Men’s Fitness Model or Bodybuilding, know the judging criteria of each category in each federation. If you do not have a coach or are not a part of a team, try to speak with someone who is a Pro who can help identify what your physique most closely appears to fit into within the categories of that federation and why. Review the videos of previous competitions on the federation’s website and look up past winners to get an idea of who the federation is awarding their Pro cards to. You want to get examples of who is earning the World Championship nods. From there, begin to train with a goal in mind that you are not supposed to become them through your training, but the best you. You never want to cheat yourself; you could be the next Pro and the next World Champion when you step on that stage. It could be YOUR name they call!
3) Stage Presence and Posing – Some people just have that “it” factor…or do they? Maybe they were indeed born with it and maybe they practiced until they got it perfect! The truth is, you will never know and they will never tell you, but no question it is their stage presence and that “WOW” factor that sets them apart. NEVER underestimate the time you should commit to your stage walk, poses, smile, personality, and engagement with the judges and audience. All of that equals marketability and that is what they want! It is so much more than a physique contest! Today it is about beauty, marketability, presence, modeling, your image in social media, and your physique. The total package. Everyone who hits that stage has done their work in the gym and are amazingly fit, they have a perfect tan, their hair and make-up is flawless, their competition swimsuits and other wardrobe is stunning, and now they are all lined up side-by-side to you on the stage… So, it is time to shine baby! Pour it on and razzle dazzle because if you have not done your prep work here to prepare for this critical moment on stage, the gym and diet work you did will not get the attention you worked so hard to get! Own that stage!
We’re curious, what is your diet like? What do you eat in a typical day? Do you avoid anything in your diet?
My typical diet, even when not in preparation for a competition, is normal but very healthy. I avoid all processed foods, sugar, soda (pop for the rest of the country!), and I replace higher carbs and fat choices with low carbs/low fat choices.
An example of my average non-training diet is:
- I eat oatmeal for breakfast with blueberries (if I add anything to it) and some egg whites scrambled. Coffee with stevia is a staple as well!
- I often times can be caught snacking on a Light & Fit Greek Yogurt, a protein bar, or Raw Almonds (unsalted), which I always have with me. If I do eat a protein bar, I will eat it early in the day or before a workout. I also keep almonds quantity to a handful since they are high in fat.
- I love a simple piece of grilled chicken, tuna, or salmon with asparagus, brown rice or a plain small sweet potato if I want carbs. This can be my lunch or dinner.
- At night, sometimes my children and I (all popcorn lovers) enjoy the 100 calorie bags of various flavors. Those not only cut down on fighting (7 year old boy and 4 year old girl) since everyone gets their own serving size bag, but also keeps me on track too, so I can have my favorite Kettle Corn flavor once in a while and feel zero guilt!
- My sin is peanut butter—love it. I eat tablespoons of it as a treat often… Reese’s peanut butter cups could be my nemesis, so I don’t even let my eyes wonder over to look at them in the checkout isle of the grocery store! (Although every once in a blue moon, it still lands in my grocery cart somehow! LOL!)
- I am always saying to people if you are hungry—eat more protein! A grilled plain chicken breast is very lean and filling and will not increase your body weight (as a snack!) if not smothered in a fattening topping!
- I season my on the go foods with lemon, Mrs. Dash no salt, yellow mustard, or salsa. I like to keep my toppings from adding fat, salt, and calories to my meals, yet add some flavor.
Cooking in prep for competitions or for dinner for my family, I have a lot of recipes I use that add a lot more taste to it, which I can share if requested.
I train 5 days a week/12 weeks out and 6 days a week/4 weeks out for a competition. I take Thursday and Sunday off during the 5 day trainings and Thursday off during the 6 day a week trainings. (Note: With the intense way I train and my build, I seldom do cardio, but if needed, I will add that in the last 4 weeks)
Monday – Legs and gluts
Tuesday – Arms, shoulders, back, and abs
Wednesday – Legs and gluts
Thursday – Off
Friday – Arms, shoulders, back, and abs
Saturday – Legs and gluts
Sunday – Off or arms, shoulders, back, and abs
One of my favorite exercises to do is for shoulders and I do it slightly differently, as I will explain on the days I do shoulders.
Tuesday (and Sunday) Shoulders
- You need to pick an awesome upbeat fast tempo song that is more than 2 minutes and can be more than 4 minutes in length.
- Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, grab 2 barbells that are one weight lighter than your typical choice to do shoulder exercises with.
- Hold the weights, one in each hand, by your side.
- Bring only the right hand up to a hammer curl position.
- Still with the right arm, twist the weight and your hand as you press the weight until your arm is fully extended overhead and your fist holding the weight is facing forward. Steps 4-5 are done as one fluid motion.
- Drop the weight, maintaining control and good form, back to the starting position by your side in one motion. Do this in rhythm to the tempo of your song.
- Repeat on the left side.
- Repeat until complete muscle fatigue or the song is over.
- Do 3 sets.
Friday Shoulders (All things in this exercise are the same, except you are changing weights)
- Choose 3 weights, using the one you use Tuesday/Sunday in the middle, and one weight lighter and one heavier.
- Pick an up tempo again. You will need to set a timer. Set it for anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes for each of the 3 segments, for each weight. The time will depend on where you are in your strength and training.
- Pick up the first and lightest weight in both hands, go for the set time, performing the exercise as you did Tuesday, until the time is up.
- When the time is up, immediately grab the next set of heavier weights with no rest and go for the set time.
- When the time is up, grab your last and heaviest set of weights with no rest and go for the set time.
- After going through 3 timed exercises with all 3 weights, rest 60 seconds.
- Repeat and do 2 more sets.
Do you believe in supplements? If so, what are the ones you use and what results have these given you?
I have hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), which I was told was the cause of both my son’s premature birth and my daughter’s need for me to be on 21 weeks of bed rest. Of course, at that time those challenges occurred, I was not yet diagnosed, but this disease can clearly be very dangerous if not managed properly.
I have only had one exposure to supplements while training. I had them written out for me by my coach and was taking multiple ones throughout the day with meals and pre/post workouts as part of my preparation. In my case, instead of making gains, I was becoming more lethargic, sick, and losing muscle. I worked harder and harder in the gym to compensate, only to continue the vicious cycle of fatigue, sickness, and poor results compared to my usual performance and results of training. I unknowingly was taking some supplements that interfered with my thyroid medication and after consultation with my physician about my fatigue and health, I quickly stopped all the supplements. After doing that, in about 6 weeks, I was back to my usual energetic self.
It was a great lesson to me and I hope to readers, to check with your physician before adding supplements to your diet and exercise plan, if you have any other medications you are on or medical concerns.
Now after consulting with my physician, I do use a pre-workout powder that I feel really aids me in my workout and in recovery. I love Chady Dunmore and our current WBFF World Champion in Male Fitness Model, Justin Gonzales as athletes, so Misfit and Muscle Pharm products are where I pick from because of their sponsorship.
What lies ahead for you in the fitness industry?
I have a pending publication I am super excited about…wait and see! I am working more with Fit Moms and have a few concepts working on the total family related to fitness that I am excited about as well. I will be at the Arnold Expo in Columbus, Ohio at the end of February and representing War Hammer Gym Gear in the beginning of March, so come out and see the amazing new gym gear I love!
Any shout outs?
I always have a heart filled with love and gratitude for my family that supports me and allows me to chase my dreams. I have amazing friends that give me so much love and support inside and outside of the industry that are too numerous to mention by name. I have two who have “been there” along my path in fitness that I must mention: My wonderful friend Melissa Hall Little, who helped me get started to follow WBFF Pro and best girlfriend Tammy Streich, who I have partnered with on TeamBSH and TeamGenetics, among many other great projects.
I am also grateful for those sponsors who believe in me, from Bestway ToHealth, LaCasa Hermosa Gowns, War Hammer Gym Apparel, Vemma, and KickAssWomen with BlogTalkRadio.
Last words, where can we find you on the Internet?
I am best reached by Facebook and can be found in 2 places:
Thank you so much for allowing me the chance to share myself with you! It has been an honor to have been asked!