Interview With Ms. Fitness America, Ms. Bikini America, and Fitness Model
By Eddie Cervantes, Muscle-4Life-Nutrition.comSpecialist In Performance Nutrition
CEO - Muscle 4 Life Nutrition LLC
Editor's Note: Special thanks to Natalie for taking the time to speak with Muscle-4Life-Nutrition.com. All photos courtesy of Natalie Hunt.
Hello Muscle-4Life-nutrition.com readers! I got the chance to meet and bring to you this extraordinary lady, Natalie Hunt is an elite athlete and fitness supermodel, who has overcome numerous challenging obstacles in her life. With her support from her parents, family, and her belief in God she has risen to be one of the most successful and recognized fitness models in the industries.
Eddie: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in modeling, acting, and in the fitness industry?
Natalie: Fitness has always been a huge part of my life. My parents put me in my first gymnastics class when I was only 4 yrs. old. As it turned out, I was a natural in the sport and advanced very quickly. So right from the start, I was training up to 4 hours a day, 6 days a week.
As I advanced in the sport to the elite level, my training hours increased significantly, training up to 7 hours a day, 6 days a week.
It was definitely grueling, and my family and I had to make a LOT of sacrifices throughout the years. I basically had to give up most aspects of 'normal' childhood to make sure I achieved my goals. I had my priorities, I guess you could say! All of my hard work paid off in the end though when I received a full scholarship to the University of Oklahoma.
That was my ultimate goal. I received my degree in kinesiology and immediately went into personal training after graduation. That was the year that I competed in my very first fitness competition. It was something I had always wanted to do, but because of my prior obligations in gymnastics, there was no time to pursue that sort of thing.
I remember watching the Fitness America Pageant on TV and making a commitment to myself to give it a try after my gymnastics career was over.
I ended up winning my very first competition and was hooked after that. Soon after, I won the title of Ms. Fitness America, as well as the title of Ms. Bikini America. As far as the modeling career, it was VERY unexpected. After my first fitness competition, a photographer approached me and asked if I had ever done any modeling and if I was interested in setting up a shoot.
I never considered myself model material, but I figured, 'what the heck', and took him up on the offer.
Surprisingly, the shots turned out pretty good, so on a whim, I sent them into a modeling competition I had read about in Oxygen magazine.
I got a call a few weeks later... I had won. So that's how my career started. I'm STILL shocked anytime I see myself in a magazine or advertisement. My original plan was to be a personal trainer and compete in a few fitness competitions, so its been more than I could ever dream of!
I really feel blessed to have been able to accomplish all that I have. Trust me, none of it came with ease.
I had numerous setbacks and there were MANY times when I wanted to quit and give it all up. I have suffered from a lifetime of health problems w/ my lungs. I was born with severe asthma and spent ample amounts of time in the hospital and doctor's offices trying to battle it.
On top of that, a rare, life-threatening illness when I was only 10 yrs old almost took my life. The illness I contracted is known as streptoccal toxic shock. I was comatose for weeks, enduring numerous complications along the way, including Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), sepsis, and full organ failure.
It was a long, difficult road for me overcoming that. It left me with severely scarred lungs, and having to rely on extreme doses of medications with dangerous side effects to keep me out of the hospital. So when I say that I feel 'blessed' to have accomplished all that I have, I TRULY mean it. God has been with me every step of the way. He gave me the strength to turn tragedy into triumph, and its been more than I could EVER ask for!
Eddie: I have to say Natalie, you are blessed with more strength then most. People's assumptions would would gear them to think after looking at your pictures in numerous features and ads, that this beautiful young lady does not have a care or problem in the world and probably has lead a charmed life. Since you are a model, what has it been like to maintain your physique?
Natalie: I am naturally very thin, so when I used to compete, it was very difficult for me to gain the size and definition that the judges wanted to see. I competed in the Fitness America organization, which promotes a healthy, 'mainstream' look, but even then, I really had to train hard to gain even an ounce of muscle. Now that I just focus on modeling, I have eased up a bit on the intense training and have embraced my natural build. I still train hard, but given my bad joints from all my years as a gymnast, I have to be smart and listen to my body.
Eddie: That's where all your education in kinesiology pays off, I'm sure. Where do you reside and train at?
Natalie: My husband and I recently moved from my home state of Texas, to Kentucky. I have opted to spend the cold weather months in Texas, and the hot weather months in Kentucky. When in Texas, I train at 24-Hour Fitness. When I'm in KY, I train at home. We have a fully stocked gym at home, which is really convenient to have.
Eddie: Fully stocked gym at home, must be nice. What is it with Texas? I noticed a lot of beautiful fitness models come from there. Do you have a trainer or do you do it on your own?
Natalie: I worked as a trainer for many years, up until we made the move to Kentucky. It truly was a rewarding job, but I find myself traveling too often these days to be able to give a client the attention they need in order to reach their goals. Ironically though, I would HATE to have a trainer for myself. Nobody can motivate me to do something better than myself. I don't like the idea of a trainer barking orders at me, so I opt to train solo at all times.
Eddie: I understand totally, I feel the same way. Can you tell us more about how it was to be an elite gymnast?
Natalie: Yes- I was a gymnast for 18 years, competing at the elite level at the peak of my career. I received a full scholarship in the sport to the University of Oklahoma. Gymnastics never gave me the opportunity to play any other sports, unfortunately.
I had a grueling training schedule throughout my entire childhood, training up to 40 hours per week, 6 days per week... that's basically the equivalent of having a full-time job in ADDITION to going to school. In gymnastics, there are no off-seasons, and coaches were very 'no mercy' when it came to injuries, time off, vacations, etc.
Most people are absolutely shocked to hear of the injuries I've endured.
I've broken all of my fingers (and toes) multiple times, cracked vertebrae and ribs, torn rotator cuffs, dislocated knees... I've also had some nasty eye injuries, broken my nose many times, had a handful of concussions, ruptured discs in my back. Ahhh, those were the days! (Note the sarcasm in that last sentence!)
Eddie: Natalie, I am so happy I finally met someone who has broken as many bones as I have lol..football was the cause of my damage. It was so bad that the x-ray technician at our local hospital and I were best friends. What is your training philosophy?
Natalie: I believe in training hard, but smart. I also believe that consistency is truly key to building and maintaining your physique and physical fitness. I'm not one of those 'on one week, and off the next' type of people when it comes to working out. I ALWAYS workout in some form 5 days out of the week no matter what.
Eddie: What does your training routine look like?
Natalie: Day 1: Legs and 30 min. of Cardio- I typically choose 6 exercises, and pair them up as supersets, and move very quickly through the entire workout
Day 2: Upper Body and 30 of Cardio (excluding shoulders)- I set up my workout in the same fashion as I do for my leg workout
Day 3: 45 min. of cardio (usually outdoors on this day)
Day 4: Shoulders, Abs, and 30 min. of Cardio
Day 5: Full-body workout- This day consists of numerous plyometric exercises, med ball work, sprints, jump rope, and body weight exercises. This is my hardest (and favorite) workout of the week.
Day 6: Light Cardio- usually something fun like hiking, a long walk, or a bike ride
Eddie: Is this training routine something our readers can use to build muscle and lose body fat, or is this something that is more suited for an advanced athlete?
Natalie: Since I didn't list any specific exercises that I do, you could definitely modify this workout schedule to fit your goal, whether you're an athlete, or merely wanting to look your best. I alter my routine quite often to prevent boredom, so no two days are alike for me...
Eddie: Now for the question everyone wants to ask you. What was the hardest thing you had to deal with when it came to your diet?
Natalie: Honestly, this part has never been difficult for me because I've always believed in moderation. Don't get me wrong, I love the healthy stuff, but life wouldn't be the same without my beloved Tex-Mex food!!
Eddie: You are making me hungry! Give me an example of your diet. What do you normally eat each day?
Natalie: For breakfast, I keep it simple w/ a bowl of cereal (high fiber most of the time). My snacks include protein drinks, fruit, peanut butter, etc. For lunch, I typically stick w/ a turkey sandwich on whole wheat, soup, or 'leftovers' from the night before. Dinner is always different, but you can almost always bet that whatever I eat will be incredibly spicy... cajun style food is my cooking specialty. But then again, so are baked desserts! I'm always baking something... I'm surprised that I'm even able to keep my figure w/ all the sweets that are displayed proudly in my kitchen!
Eddie: I was going to say the same thing, you do not look like desserts are on your menu. If you could thank one person for helping you reach your professional and fitness goals, who would it be?
Natalie: I thank God everyday for blessing me w/ all of the wonderful things in my life.
Eddie: Thank you for that answer. it is so refreshing to hear someone give thanks to God. How important are supplements in your fitness program and which supplements do you use year-round?
Natalie: Supplementation is very important. I know that I don't eat perfect, so a good multi-vitamin is a must. I consider it a little 'insurance policy' to make sure that my body is getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals. I also take probiotics, antioxidants, and garlic for a healthy immune system... and BCAA's before/after my workouts.
"I love that Muscle-4Life-Nutrition.com isn't simply another spot on the internet selling a plethora of supplements. You sell only the best of the best, so that buyers can rest assured that what they are getting is top notch. Not only that, but you provide a wealth of fitness and nutrition information for people of all fitness levels to help them reach their goals. And something that really stood out to me is that you bring in the most important aspect: the spiritual one. So many people these days are turning their back on spiruality and God. Its refreshing to see a company who gives credit to the one person who created us all, and gave each of us our own unique set of gifts and challenges that make us all a special individual."
Eddie: Thank you for those kind words. I am so happy you noticed that we give praise to the lord everyday. Muscle-4Life-Nutrition.com was built with the values God teaches us. What advice would you give someone who has tried a number of different weight loss programs with no success?
Natalie: If the program you are currently on isn't working, and you've tried numerous different programs, then its time to seek the advice of a professional. EVERYONE has the ability to lose weight, gain lean body mass, and get in the best shape they can possibly be in.
A large number of the people I have trained are in that exact same boat: they tell me that they've tried every diet program, they practically kill themselves in the gym, they do tons of cardio, yet don't see any results. A good trainer will analyze what you are currently doing in the gym, closely examine your eating habits and what supplements you're taking (if any), and make the changes necessary to start seeing changes.
There's no sense in being stubborn and trying to do it on your own, hoping and praying that the next program you try will work. There are trained professionals out there who know EXACTLY how to get you on the right track. They will be with you every step of the way, motivating you, making the necessary changes in your program along the way, and ensuring that you never lose sight of your goal.
Eddie: What has been your stepping stone in getting where you are today?
Natalie: I can't think of an individual moment in my life that has helped me get to where I am now. Rather, its been the culmination of numerous things: hard work, believing in myself, never giving up, never taking my eyes off my goals, and even the little bumps in the road along the way have helped paved the way for me.
Eddie: That's right! Keep your eye on the prize. Where and when is your next modeling or acting project?
Natalie: Actually, my husband and I just bought a new home, so I've paused for a bit to enjoy the process of moving in and doing all the little 'projects' around the house to make it our own.
Eddie: Oh congratulations! Enjoy your new house. I know you are married because you mentioned your husband, so tell me about him and your family?
Natalie: I have such a wonderful and supportive family. They have been there for me every single step of the way, through good times and bad... I can't imagine that too many parents out there would sacrifice what mine had to sacrifice for me when I was growing up.
Their lives were turned upside down to 'cater' to me. The gym I trained at was an hour drive each way and we had to do that twice everyday. And between my NUMEROUS illnesses and injuries, they were always driving back and forth from doctor's offices and hospitals.
And the expenses were mind-blowing. We weren't rich by any means growing up, so I know they went through some challenging times.... but they never once let my sister and I know it. They kept me on track, and never let me quit... and trust me, there were times when I just didn't think I could do it anymore.
There's only so many times that you can get sick or injured before you start questioning your ability to keep making 'comebacks'. It was tough, but I never gave up, and my parents never let me give up.
Last but definitely not least, is my husband, Patrick. We've been together 11 years now, so he's been there with me throughout my entire fitness career. He's a very laid back, funny guy, and just goes with the flow of everything. Whatever happens in my career, he's always proud. I've always considered him to be my 'other half'. We have the best time together, laughing at the silliest things... life is definitely not too serious when we're together!
Eddie: What has modeling taught you thus far?
Natalie: To be honest, the world of modeling is a VERY shady industry. There are lots are creeps out there trying to take advantage of you, scam you into doing work for free, etc. It has taught me to trust NO ONE.
I came into the business VERY naive, assuming everyone was honest, helpful, and had the best of intentions, because that's the type of person I am. But unfortunately, that's not the case. I made so many mistakes when I first started out, mainly because I didn't have anyone to turn to for advice.
I didn't know anyone in the business, so other than my family and husband's 'common sense' type of advice, I didn't have anyone who I could talk to, get opinions from, or help get me jobs. I had to really network and get my name out there, learning from all of my mistakes along the way.
These days, I make sure to go out of my way to help girls in anyway that I can. I want them to know that they can come to me for advice anytime. Anyone who has ever emailed me knows that I don't hold back w/ the advice and go out of my way to help out. I just don't want anyone to feel as 'lost' as I felt when I was first starting out.
Eddie: That really shows what an outstanding person you are by helping the up and coming models so they do not get taken advantage of. What was the hardest thing for you to overcome when you first started?
Natalie: My shyness for sure! I am SUCH a shy and introverted person, and to be honest, its just torture when I talk to people I don't know well, or go to a new photo shoot, or train a new client, etc.
I would much rather stay in a little corner of the room and be 'invisible', but that doesn't get you very far I suppose! So over the years, I have been forced to come out of my shell. When I was little, teachers and principles at school would call my parents and ask them what was going on to make me so painfully shy.
I would literally go ALL DAY without saying a word to anyone at school. I didn't have any friends, I sat by myself at lunch, and teachers would actually mark me absent in class because I was too scared to answer when they called my name during attendance! So I've definitely come a long way since then...
Eddie: Wow, I would have never guessed, You shy! You sure have come a long way. Who has been the most memorable person you have enjoyed working with?
Natalie: I can't think of a specific individual, but a company does come to mind: the WWE. Yes, wrestling. I was a die-hard fan from a really young age, and always wanted to be part of it! I always wanted to know what it felt like to walk down that ramp in front of thousands of screaming fans. Of course, when you grow up, those 'dreams' usually fade, but it didn't with me.
So as my fitness career advanced, I made more contacts, and dropped a few hints here and there that I LOVED the WWE. So at a trade show I was working at one day, a man by the name of Brock Lesnar was there (yes, THAT Brock Lesnar)... and I just had to meet him! I told him that he had my 'dream job', and he responded by asking me for my name and contact info.
I figured, 'yeah right, he's just going to throw it away as soon as I leave'. But low and behold, only a few weeks later, I got an email from their VP of talent relations. One thing led to another, and I eventually got invited to one of their training headquarters for a 'try-out'.
They were impressed with my potential to be a 'high flyer' and offered me a contract. They even let me come to a couple of their shows, go backstage to meet everyone, and I even got to live my dream of walking down that ramp in front of thousands of screaming fans with another wrestler.
I turned down the offer in the end though. Believe me, it was a tough decision, but there's a dark side to everything, and my gut was telling that it would be a very bad decision if I went through with it. So I listened, and walked away from it. Looking back on that decision, I'm glad I followed my instincts and have no regrets. I still got to live my dream of being a part of it and its something I will remember for the rest of my life.
Eddie: That must have been an amazing experience. "In this corner Natalie (The Hurricane) Hunt" LOL. Would you like to give a shout out to anyone?
Natalie: As a matter of fact, I would. I would like to give a 'shout out' to everyone in my life who told me it wasn't possible. To the doctors who told me that my lungs were too weak... and that I would require an oxygen tank for the rest of my life.... and that gymnastics would be too strenuous for my weakened body.
And to the coaches who told my parents that I was 'washed up' and needed to call it quits after all the illnesses and injuries that I was constantly enduring. To all of you: THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. Without your voices ringing in my head, I would not have had that extreme inner drive to prove you all wrong!
Eddie: That is one of the best answers to this question I ever heard. I think you should consider becoming a wrestler, it is plain to see you have the instinct of a fighter. What are your big plans for the future?
Natalie: Honestly, whatever the Lord decides to bless me with next is just the icing on the cake! Everything so far has been more than I could ever ask for. I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that I plan to live everyday to the fullest and enjoy the 'little things' in life.
Eddie: Anything else you would like to add?
Natalie: A special thank you to Muscle-4Life-Nutrition for taking the time to contact me for this interview. I'm honored that you thought of me!
Eddie: Thanks Natalie, we are the ones that are honored to have you on our website. I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. Have fun with your new house and continued success with your fitness modeling career. God Bless.
Click Here For More Featured Athlete Interview's