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Dr. Venus Ramos: Rehabilitation Physician, Fitness Model & Competitor
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Lauren Jacobsen - Consultant, Writer, Online Coach & Biochemist
Dr. Venus Ramos was born in Kansas City, Missouri and consider herself fortunate to have grown up surrounded by a loving and supportive family. She wanted to be a doctor from a very young age. She can’t really pinpoint a specific memory of when she came to that decision, but she likes to remember a story when she fell down on a playground in preschool one day. Someone slapped a Band-Aid on her knee and BOOM! She knew then, that she wanted to be a doctor or someone in a similar profession.
Dr. Venus Ramos received her medical training from Yale University, University of Miami, and the University of California-Irvine. Her medical practice in the specialty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is located in Long Beach, California. However, she wanted to be able to share her health and fitness expertise outside the walls of her office as well, so she created a blog, a YouTube channel, membership site, and a group coaching program.
Besides being a rehabilitation physician and fitness model and competitor, you have been in countless television programs, movies, prints, music videos, and plays. How did everything get started for you and what/who inspired your decision to follow these many paths?
It’s actually all very tied together by the love I have for life and wanting to experience all that it has to offer. Driven by that, I’ve always sought out new challenges. I just find it so exciting!
During my med school years in Miami, I remember sitting down with a couple friends at a restaurant while a fitness competition was showing on TV. One friend noticed the awesome fitness routines and “dared” me to try it myself. Always up for a new challenge, I said, “Why not?” The next day I did a “Yahoo!” search…back then we didn’t “Google.” I discovered that the Fitness America Pageant ESPN Series was shot in Miami Beach each year, so it worked out perfectly for me to enter my first competition! That led to twenty straight years of competing in fitness, figure, and bikini divisions.
Fitness and swimsuit modeling almost comes hand-in-hand with fitness competition, as there are always plenty of photographers ready to take your picture in every contest. [Note to competitors: Not everyone with a camera will act professionally or act in your best interest. So please be careful.] My first major television appearance actually came as a result of competing in a Venus Swimwear contest. I had entered the contest because I wanted to practice getting in front of audiences to improve my confidence for a fitness competition. Among those watching the Venus Swimwear contest happened to be a casting director for FOX’s Temptation Island. Being featured on that show led to a photo shoot and writing a fitness article for Oxygen Magazine. After appearing on one TV program, I got contacted by several other casting directors for other shows. So every opportunity I’ve gotten to step in front of an audience in some way has led to even more opportunities. It takes some luck, a lot of hard work, and definitely some “stick-to-it-iveness.”
As a rehabilitation physician, you get to work with many clients. Did it influence you in regards to your own health, fitness, and life?
My patients have had a huge impact on me. I remember one patient in particular – a young man who was injured in military action. He ended up paralyzed from the waist down. As I followed his progress through rehabilitation, I was so inspired that he didn’t let his disability become an excuse to stop living life to its fullest. He sought out opportunities to continue to be active and to train for sport. His journey to becoming a Paralympic athlete is motivating for me to overcome whatever stress or obstacles life puts in front of me so that I can stay fit, be healthy, and enjoy success.
We’re curious, what does your weekly diet look like?
As a 20-year veteran fitness competitor, I’ve tried a lot of different training diets. I’ve been off-season, on-season, and rebounded a time or two…or three (lol). As far as a weekly diet goes, it really depends on when you catch me during the year and whether or not I’m close to a competition. But I’ve found that I feel the best and fully primed to enter “contest prep mode” when needed if I’m following nutrition principles that focus on optimizing my gut health and minimizing inflammation in my body. I actually compiled the concepts of my diet into an e-book, “The Quick Start Guide To The Dr. Venus Diet” and you can get a free copy of it at www.DoctorVenus.com/diet
Please walk us through a typical 1 week workout routine for yourself. (Please include a few details – training split, sets/reps, exercises, types of cardio, etc.)
A general conditioning regimen (not for contest prep):
Who or what has inspired you the most in your career, and why?
It wasn’t too long ago when my father suffered a major stroke. I tried to stay strong for my family, but inside I was completely crushed. I just love my father so much. Over the next several months, I dedicated myself to helping my father through his stroke recovery, but in becoming his caregiver, I somehow lost myself. I fell into a depression of sorts- it was a textbook case of Caregiver Syndrome. I stopped working out, I indulged in junk food, I gained weight and felt exhausted all the time. I was ashamed that I allowed this to happen since my job as a rehabilitation physician often involves helping families of my stroke patients deal with such situations. As a health and fitness expert, who has been on TV & radio to advise others on staying fit, it was very humbling to have fallen into this pit of apathy with regards to my own health. Then I realized, “How can I expect to be able to take good care of my father if I didn’t take good care of myself?”. After I took the steps to get back on track, I thought it would be a great idea to share my journey with others on social media. I hoped to motivate and encourage others who might be struggling with similar situations – busy career women who had a lot going on in their families (perhaps also having a devastating medical condition strike a loved one) and who was trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That’s when the idea of creating a fitness membership site was born!
You were a semi-finalist contender on NBC’s television program American Gladiators, which is a competition show that tested competitors’ strength and agility. How was your training and diet process like to prepare for the show? Did it differ from your training for fitness competitions?
The auditions for the finals cuts for American Gladiators came shortly after the NPC National Fitness Championships, so I was actually in a condition to complete a high-intensity two-minute fitness routine. And in truth, I did not make the final cut for the show. Weeks had passed. I was finishing up rounding on patients at a nursing home when I got a call from an American Gladiators producer, asking if I was available to come into the studio that day. One of the contenders had been injured on the show, and I was needed to step in for her. So I did not have a diet and training process to prepare as I had no time to prepare. Luckily, I did not fall into bad habits after the National Fitness Championships so I had a generally healthy base to give me confidence going into the studio for my first day of competition. That was the biggest key to my ability to advance to the semi-finals. My mindset…my confidence.
As someone who has a busy schedule within their careers and life, how do you make time to juggle everything and also workout? What is the most challenging part? What advice do you give someone who is living a similar lifestyle as you?
My big takeaway after becoming a caregiver for my father was to just take one step at a time. I’ve come to realize that truly knowing my priorities and understanding how each one might or might not be tied to another is crucial for achieving ultimate satisfaction and congruency in life. You truly don’t have to do everything all at once all the time. Just take on a little bit at a time. It’s OK. YOU are enough.
There’s an often-used fitness mantra, “No excuses.” I actually don’t believe in this philosophy. I don’t think it really works. Your “excuse” is your situation as it is right now. It’s basically who you are…right now. Ignoring It doesn’t work. Because it’s right there. It doesn’t go away because you close your eyes to it. For example, if I had said, “No excuses” and just left my mom to take care of my dad while I went to the gym for an hour, then I may have placed more stress on my mom perhaps causing her to become ill as well…creating an even worse situation for my family. So instead of “no excuse,” I say, “Embrace your excuse.” Take the time to fully evaluate your excuse and educate yourself on the best way to work through it. Then you can eventually eliminate that excuse. I call it my 3E Strategy – evaluate, educate, and eliminate.
Going back to all of the entertainment programs you have participated in, which one did you enjoy the most and why? Did you regret joining any of them?
No doubt, American Gladiators was the most rewarding experience. To this day, I look back on my comeback win on the Eliminator obstacle course and it motivates me to never give up. Whenever I’m feeling that things are getting challenging, whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional…I tell myself, “It’s GLADIATOR time.” I actually have a “Gladiator” mode and can feel when I shift into it. It brings me an amazing energy.
No, I don’t regret my involvement in any of the programs. I am actually very intentional when I agree to appear on a TV show. I make sure that it sounds like something I will have fun doing and that the format of the show is a fit for me.
Can you tell us more about your sales pages and membership site project? What are the unique features of your membership site that we can look forward to?
I am very excited about my fitness membership site and the group coaching program that I offer on my website. Not only did I use my physician expertise and fitness training background in this project, but I also put my whole heart into it. My experience of taking on the role of caregiver for my father and overcoming that very stressful period in my life has made me so determined to share the lessons I learned with others who may be struggling with low energy and lack of time. My membership site and coaching program place great importance on self-care and how to make time for it despite feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
One other unique aspect of the content on my site is that it allows you to modify your workouts if you have concerns about certain joints or recurring aches and pains. Given my specialty in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, I also included workouts that are modified to avoid stressing specific areas of the body. So if you have difficulty finding exercises that don’t aggravate your “back issue” or your “bad knees” or other joint concerns, then you can find workouts specifically designed to avoid that problem.
What was it like working with NMI?
Working with NMI was really a simple process which is very important to me because my expertise is health and science and definitely not “tech stuff.” I gave them my vision in the way I was able to express it, and NMI created a nearly perfect match to that vision. Any tweaks that I requested were made promptly, and when I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted or needed, I was given suggestions that were “spot on!” There is always so much talk about how important establishing the right brand identity is. Creating the right visual representation of that can be really difficult to achieve. Sometimes you know how to describe it, but you’re not sure how that might look. NMI knows how to create the visual representation of the ideas you have floating around in your head. I am so impressed and thrilled with the results.
If you could say one thing to inspire those who want to build a career in fitness and health, what would it be?
It’s GLADIATOR time! Turn on the switch and do it. Go at it with relentless positivity and confidence.
What are your future plans and goals? Do you have any competitions coming up?
After taking a break from the competition stage to focus on my father’s stroke rehab and then launching my fitness membership site, I’ve definitely been feeling the itch to perform a fitness routine again. I find myself back in the habit of practicing my one-arm push-ups in my living room during the evening news. I’ve got my sights on returning to national-level competition in 2018.
Any shout outs?
Christopher Hartman: photography
Kevin Bickelhaupt: videography
Mark Richards: videography
Dylan Jones-Tuba: video editing
Lastly, where can we find you on the Internet?
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