1. Tell us about yourself (where you live, education, job, background…)
My name is Isabel Norton, I was born and raised in Guayama, Puerto Rico. I moved to Tampa, FL back in August 2000 to attend the University of South Florida (USF). There I pursued my BS in Biomedical Sciences. During my last year at USF I met my husband Layne Norton. He was on his way to attend the University of Illinois to pursue his PhD in Nutrional Sciences. As soon as I graduated I moved to Champaign, IL. There I worked in for the public health district, but my passion for weight lifting and nutrition grew and I knew that I wanted to expand my knowledge. So I decided to pursue a different career path and began personal training at our local Gold’s’ Gym. From there it’s history! I began to help Layne with our business BioLayne, Inc. and till this day that is what I do. We are partners in everything we do.
2. Being the wife of Layne Norton, it’s pretty easy to see how you would also be interested in nutrition and fitness as well since you have a joint business together. Please can you describe your business to our viewers and what is your role in the family business?
Our business really began due to the amount of exposure and knowledge that Layne had shared through the years on different web-sites. He began to posting message boards as well posting articles like bodybuilding.com when he was 18 yrs old. He always had a passion for bodybuilding and began competing when he was 19 yrs old. He would answer people’s questions all the time, via e-mail or private messages. He also began to help people with contest prep. Little by little the e-mails began pouring in and more people wanted his help.
Till this day we help people achieve their goals, whether it’s to compete in bodybuilding, figure, bikini, mixed martial arts or even get ready for a photo shoot. Layne’s knowledge in nutrition and metabolism gives him the perfect combination to come up with a unique plan that is tailored to each and every single person’s needs. My role in the company is to handle most of the day to day operations as well as provide posing help and I consult with the figure and bikini competitors on all the details leading up to the big day.
3. At what point did you decide to compete again this year and why?
I had been contemplating whether or not I wanted to compete again since the beginning of the year, but I knew that if I decided to compete it was not going to be until late summer or early fall. Layne had just completed his 2010 competition season in mid November so we wanted to take some time to enjoy our new home state of FL. We were in Puerto Rico for our third anniversary we spoke about my desire to compete this year. I had looked at some dates before our trip and knew that if I wanted to do this I would have to start as soon as we got back. So the day we arrived back to FL I began dieting and I was in it 110%.
4. 2011 has been a great year for you, turning Pro after doing two shows. How long did you prep for the first show, what were your points to improve, and did you tweak anything prior to the your last show?
I dieted for 12 wks for the first show and I have to admit that I have never worked harder or wanted anything more than this. My main weakness is the ability to get my legs lean enough. Like most women I tend to hold most of my body fat in my outer thighs. So I literally worked my butt off.
The day of the show, I was speechless, not only did I reach my goal but I exceeded my own expectations. To be quite honest my placing was icing on the cake. It felt amazing!
5. What is your diet like the last 4 weeks before the big show?
My diet has always consisted of keeping track of my macronutrients. I would have two days a week which were considered refeed days. On those days the total amount of carbohydrates would increase, my protein & fat would slightly decrease. So for example five days a week I would consume 100g of carbs, 160g of protein & 25-30g of fat. The re-feed days I would consume 120g of carbs, 140g of protein and 20-25g of fat. So the last few weeks we had to get pretty aggressive so my carbs dropped between 80-50g.
6. How important are supplements in your bodybuilding program? What are some supplements that can actually help natural athletes?
I barely used any supplements during this prep. I have always used BCAAs post workout so that didn’t change. I have always used whey as different source of protein, I love adding it to my oatmeal. My daily supplement regimen consists of a multivitamin, calcium supplement, vitamin D, fish oil and of course my BCAAs. I did add a fat burner (Dialene 4x) for the last few weeks. I also used syneburn which is a great appetite suppressant during those days that hormones took over.
7. What kinds of exercises do you focus on? What specific method do you find most effective in building lean muscle mass (some use tabatas, HIIT, etc)?
My main go to exercise to really kick it into high gear in terms of fat burning is definitely HIIT. I took advantage of the weather & I got creative with it. I used a sprint parachute, a dragging sled and our pool in the backyard to get it done. When in the gym I would use the recumbent bike or the elliptical. I used a heart rate monitor to keep track of my progress during my intervals.
8. What areas do you typically have a hard time getting lean and what are you doing to make a difference?
My legs are by far the most troublesome area to get lean. This time around I really “pumped” up the intensity when it came to my workouts. I hired a trainer and a friend in our gym to put me through some brutal workouts. I knew I needed that extra push and I wanted to keep a faster pace during my workouts. When I was depleted and tiered I wanted someone to tell me what to do, I didn’t want to have to think about it. So that’s what we did. During a workout I remember when we were done, he tells me: “Do you realize you just did 150 front squats tonight?” Granted it was with 65lbs but none the less, I was extremely surprised & could barely walk out of the gym. I truly focused on every rep trying to concentrate on the movement and making sure that I wasn’t just going through the motions. That mental to muscle connection is very important.
I also never missed a HIIT or a low intensity cardio session. Even when we traveled for 14 hrs to see Layne’s parents this summer. We got in at 10 pm and I did my 45 mins of low intensity in his parent’s treadmill. Those factors really made a huge difference, I was 110% committed to my prep.
9. What is it like to have your husband as your coach?
It is amazing! He always has my best interest at heart and I would not trust anyone else do help me through this journey. I know it was hard at times for him to look at me as a client and I know he didn’t want to tell me that I had to do more cardio or that I had to lower my calories. So I tried my best to not complain & making sure that I was hitting all my numbers as well as training my butt off (literally). He is such a supportive husband, he would always help me prep my meals and help me cook all my food. I can’t put into words what his support & love means to me, it’s everything to me.
10. Do you listen to music while you train? If so, what’s on your playlist right now?
I do listen to music when I train. The type of music that I listed to in the gym always depends to what sort of mood I am in. Right now I have everything from Shinedown, Metallica to Britney Spears and Rhianna. I love anything with a good beat. Right now I am in love with Chris Brown’s song, Beautiful People. It’s great for cardio!
11. What is your philosophy on nutrition?
I have always believed that the best diet is the one someone can stick to. I have always eaten pretty much everything in moderation. When it’s time to prep and the calories are limited and the macronutrients are very specific I like to get creative with recipes. That way I can still “indulge” while dieting. I always try to consume foods that are filling as well as tasty. I am a complete believer in giving yourself enough time to diet for whatever your goal may be, so you are not starving from the get go. That is not a healthy way to diet and it crashes so many people’s metabolisms. So I tell people to be honest with themselves and don’t try to “crash” diet, because that’s pretty much what’s going to happen to your metabolism.
12. How do you deal with cravings? How do you deal with meals out when you are dieting?
By getting creative with recipes, we would try and come up with ways that I could have what I wanted while still hitting my macronutrient goal. For example we make a low carb, low fat, high protein brownie. We also make the most delicious “lasagna” with lavish bread. We substitute the pasta for the lavish bread and use a low calorie pasta sauce, 96% fat free ground beef, fat free cheese and fat free ricotta cheese. It is one of my favorite meals to eat!
13. What’s next on your plate? Future plans, etc.
We are looking to enjoy the rest of the fall and the upcoming holidays with family and friends. Our whole family is coming to visit for Christmas, so we’re pretty excited to have all family together for the holidays.
I am continuously training hard and looking for ways to improve as well as challenge myself. I have considered training for a sprint triathlon and have even considered doing a powerlifting meet with Layne in the spring. We are also considering starting a family, so a lot of new and exciting things are in the horizon for the Norton family.
14. Last words.
I want to take the time to thank my husband for being my best friend, my number one supporter and for loving me unconditionally as well as always believing in me. Having the support of my family and friends is of amazing and I could not have achieved this goal without their support as well.
I love this quote by Ken Venturi –“I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.” That’s what I set out to do and I did it.
15. Where can we find you on the Internet? Do you have any services that you would like offered to the audience by chance?