What is your athletic background, and how did you get involved with natural bodybuilding?
At a very young age, I was very fortunate to have a mother who saw talent. She signed me up for ballet lessons when I was six. A passion was born! I loved everything about it; the discipline, the grace, the beauty and the strength. It was a great way for a shy little girl to express herself and stay active. I still remember the day our teacher took us to see ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet. This had a huge impact on me. It kept me motivated to practice and improve my skills. I poured my heart and soul into my dancing and this continued for many years.
In school I was never picked for team sports because I was so tiny. So I never had the opportunity to experience those activities. But in junior high I found a sport which I could do on my own. I channeled all my energies into running and became part of the school’s cross-country running team for three years. The act of running gave me pure joy and it taught me to compete against myself; something I would later use as a bodybuilder. Running continued to be part of my life on and off throughout my adult years.
It wasn’t until much later that bodybuilding entered the picture; it happened quite by accident. In December of 1997, I entered a gym for the very first time in my life. I wasn’t there to work out. I was there to purchase a membership for my husband for Christmas. After asking many questions, I was taken for a tour of the facilities. As the fitness consultant pushed open the double doors into the gym, I entered a new world, a world I KNEW I wanted to be a part of. I was fascinated by everything I saw and felt there that day. I HAD FOUND IT. I did not know what IT was yet, or even that I had been searching for IT, yet here this was, calling to me. After Christmas, I too joined the gym. This would be the beginning of a wonderful, life-changing adventure.
On my very first day at the gym, I was assigned to Trainer Mike. He would show me all the basics and how to use the circuit machines. Deep down inside though, I longed to train in the free weights section. I wanted to be with the iron; to feel it in my hands. After my workout, I would sit on the stationary bike and watch all the action around me, absorbing everything I could. I was so eager to learn. I still remember the day he finally took me over to the benches. This would prove too exciting for me and I nearly fainted after my first bench pressing experience; I had just learned how to fly!
He sensed my passion for this new-found sport and he pushed and encouraged me. I’ll forever be grateful to him for that. I became stronger by the day. I wanted to know everything there was to know about the sport. I read every book and magazine the library had to offer on bodybuilding and nutrition. The first book I picked up was Pro-Style Bodybuilding by Tom Platz. The more I read, the more my desire grew. I wanted to compete. But I remember thinking to myself at the time, “Who am I kidding? I’m a busy mother of six. I can’t be doing this! What are my children going to think? What’s my husband going to think?”
I continued training and living the bodybuilding lifestyle and life went on. Nine years went by and now I had also become a grandmother. I got to a point where I could no longer deny my wish to compete; it was too strong. I took my decision to the Lord in prayer. I needed to know if this was the right thing for me and for my family. The answer was quite humbling. My journey would be a way for me to reach out to others. I never slept that night. I was too excited to get started. But first I had to tell my husband. With his support in place I began training for competition in March of 2007.
I competed for the very first time that June. Nothing compares to the feeling of being on stage. It’s like Christmas and birthday all wrapped up into one. I was hooked! I wanted to share my competition experience with Trainer Mike who had believed in me right from the beginning. What were the chances of him still being at the same phone number after 9 years? I was so happy when he answered. I’ll never forget his words, “Out of all the people I’ve trained, you are the only one who has done something with it. I’m so proud of you.” I wonder what he would think of ‘grasshopper’ now.
The following year I earned my IDFA Pro Card. This was a very emotional moment for me. There were some tears backstage when it finally hit me…I had just turned PRO! Most of the family was in attendance that night except for my daughter who was in the hospital giving birth to twins making me grandmother of 3. Wow, what an unforgettable weekend! A year later I had the privilege of flying across Canada to take part in my first Pro show. I remember sitting at the airport feeling so overcome with emotion. I just felt so grateful to be having this experience. This was epic for me. I was on the verge of competing as a Pro!
The journey continues. I am currently training for a couple of fall shows in hopes of earning my WNBF Pro card as well.
What do you love most about bodybuilding?
I love everything about bodybuilding! I have always enjoyed pushing myself and competing against myself. This sport has given me a great outlet in which to do that. I like seeing progress. There is so much growth that happens both physically and mentally as you train. In order to reach new heights you have to be able to motivate yourself and cultivate that inner strength that will help you train for weeks, months, even years, for that one moment when it all comes together on the competitive stage. It’s such a satisfying sensation to finally have the opportunity to showcase what you have worked so hard to achieve.
Another great thing about this sport is being part of the bodybuilding community. I believe in surrounding myself with positive people; people with similar goals and aspirations. Bodybuilders are among some of the happiest, most down-to-earth and hard-working people I know. There is a lot of support and a spirit of camaraderie that goes on backstage, in the gym and also in the online communities. I have formed strong bonds with fellow athletes over the years. It’s such a pleasure to be part of one another’s journeys. I feel greatly privileged to have such amazing friends and supporters worldwide. Their encouragement makes all the difference.
What were the major milestones that gave you that "extra" motivation boost?
My first competition was definitely a milestone. That experience is where it all happened for me; where something inside me clicked and would keep me motivated for years to come. During the morning pre-judging I felt a little intimidated. I had never even attended a show before and my inexperience showed. With the stage lights on, I couldn’t see anyone in the audience. A voice in the dark called out the mandatory poses. It was quite daunting. I found myself looking at the competitors beside me for guidance.
But by the time I returned for the evening show, I was a changed person. I told myself that from now on I would live my life with a ‘ZERO FEAR’ attitude. I figured that if I could have the courage to get up on that stage in front of strangers who were there to scrutinize me from head to toe, I could do most ANYTHING. I couldn’t wait to get on the stage that night. I stood in the wings anxiously awaiting my turn under the lights. A bodybuilder was born!
I would like to share another major milestone with you. This story has a way of making me emotional every time I tell it. It happened at the beginning of 2008; the year I turned pro. It had such a profound effect on me. I have no doubt that it had everything to do with how well I did that year.
I was surprised to receive an e-mail message one day from a Sergeant stationed in Iraq. He had found a picture of me on the internet, a picture of me leg pressing 1000 pounds. He told me that he had been using this picture to motivate his troops to stay in shape while they were deployed. I cannot adequately express to you how much this meant to me. That I, Carla Hampshire, could motivate a group of American soldiers in Iraq was incomprehensible to me. There was more to come.
A few days later, he posted a picture of his troops in their workout gear. They were holding up a giant cardboard sign that read, “Carla’s A Beast!” In my home hangs an enlarged version of this precious photo signed by all these valiant men. On the back is a special message… “Thank you for your support and the motivation that you bring with it. Best of luck and wishes in all you do.”Along with the photo, Sergeant sent two patches he had been wearing on his uniform since arriving in Iraq.
Through this humbling experience I gained immeasurable motivation, and made a very dear and lifelong friend in Sergeant Steve L.
A more recent milestone was being nominated as ‘Bodybuilder of the Month’ on the World Physique website for the month of April 2011.
I was very thrilled to learn that I had been nominated by Chad Shaw, someone that I greatly admire in the natural bodybuilding scene. I had just turned 50, and had been thinking a lot about my life and what I had accomplished thus far and where I wanted to go from here. So I was very excited for the great opportunity this gave me of sharing my life, my passions and my goals with everyone through this interview on World Physique. This experience will continue to be a great source of motivation as I progress toward my competitions this year.
When Muscle & Strength asked for this interview, I felt very blessed. Here again would be a chance to reach out to others and share my thoughts and feelings about the sport that I love so much. I feel very privileged to be part of a website that provides such great information to natural athletes worldwide, as well as giving natural athletes a place where they can be recognized for their achievements. To be acknowledged as a featured athlete is a great accolade. I am very grateful for the extra encouragement this provides.
This next milestone may not seem like it belongs here. But I have to tell you that I am certain that were it not for my husband’s support right from the beginning of my journey, I would never have competed. He continues to be very proud of me and his encouragement is a great motivator. I am delighted to say that we will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary this summer! Now THAT’S a milestone!
What keeps you motivated?
Being around other athletes at the gym, or going to watch or volunteer at the shows is a great way to stay excited about the sport. I also enjoy reading books and magazines on the subject as well as watching posing routine videos of my favorite bodybuilders. I am blessed with a husband and six children who support me and are proud of me! That keeps me motivated to be the best I can be.
I am also inspired and encouraged daily by a group of outstanding people and athletes that I interact with online. I am grateful for these special people in my life who contribute greatly to my motivation. Essentially though, motivation has to come from something deep inside; a fire within. It begins with a desire, and that desire drives you to excel. I love bodybuilding. When you find something you love so much, it’s far easier to remain motivated.
I also use visualization as a motivational tool. It’s a proven technique that helps you imagine your goals. When you see your motivation in images you will have more clarity of what it is you wish to achieve. I have created a vision board of my specific competition goals with pictures and slogans. I see it every morning when I wake as a constant reminder of where I am headed. I also have my competition pictures on my bedroom wall and mirror to keep me motivated to improve. My trophies and awards are in a prominent spot in the house where I can see them daily. These are some of the visual tools I use.
In addition to this, I have written a vision statement of my goals as though they were already accomplished. I read this on a regular basis. A vision statement has a way of articulating your dreams and hopes. It points out what you are trying to build. These visual reminders are great motivators that help me work toward my goals. They act as tools of encouragement to stay optimistic, focused and motivated while on this journey.
What are your future goals, dreams and plans?
I just turned 50 but I’m not ready to slow down. My most immediate goal is to continue training for my fall 2011 competitions. A WNBF Pro Card would be an amazing accomplishment. I would also love to travel and compete outside of Canada in the near future. Another goal of mine is to become a certified PT. I am currently studying and will soon be an accredited Personal Training Specialist. Creative writing is something that has always been dear to my heart. One of my goals is to publish a book of my many quotes and poems. I would also like to use my writing skills and create inspirational articles for physique publications and websites.
Something I would like to delve into more is being a motivational speaker. After my first competition I was invited to speak to a group of youth from my church. My topic was something I had learned the night of my first competition, ‘Feel the Fear, but Do It Anyway’. My encouragement to them was that it was ok to feel fearful about a new experience but to push beyond that into success. People heard about my message and a few months later I had the privilege of speaking to a group of university students as well. It was such a privilege to share my life experiences with them and how bodybuilding had changed my mindset from one of always playing it safe to one of improved self-confidence.
What does your current training and split look like, and what do you like most about it?
For years I was one of those people that loved to train for hours on end. But as a competitor I have learned that this is not always the best practice. On weight training days I am in the gym for 60 minutes which includes warm-up sets and stretching. What I like best about Sean’s program is its intensity and variety. My training includes supersets, monster sets, ascending sets, yo-yo sets, running the rack, all of which I love. I enjoy the experience of taking an exercise to failure. It’s great to know that my programs are tailored to me and the content is modified to meet my rate of progress.
- Monday: Legs
- Tuesday: 30 minutes of steady state cardio
- Wednesday: Pushing (chest/shoulders/ triceps)
- Thursday: 30 minutes of steady state cardio
- Friday: Pulling (back/biceps)
- Saturday: Core and 20 minutes of high intensity cardio
- Sunday: Rest
How often do you perform cardio?
I prefer to do my cardio on a separate day from the weight training or at a different time of day from the weights. Cardio is often the more tedious part of training. It’s important to keep it interesting by including different activities as well as doing both steady state and high intensity cardio. Right now I perform cardio 3 to 4 times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. This will increase as I get closer to competition.
What does your post-workout nutrition and supplementation look like?
Because I do my weight training after meal one, my first three meals of the day are the most important; where I focus most of my calories. Meal one has a higher amount of carbs along with the protein and some fat. This will give me energy for my workout. Meal 2 is a post workout whey protein shake (about 20 grams) and some fruit for recovery. Meal 3 I include a good amount of complex carbs along with my protein to help me prepare for the next day’s workout.
How do you prepare meals? Do you cook daily or cook for the week?
Having a large family it’s hard for me to prepare meals for the week because they have a way of disappearing from the fridge! But I always make sure I have these things ready: a rice cooker full of brown rice, a container of cooked fresh vegetables and of course chicken. This makes it easier for me to throw my meal together before running out the door. Ha-ha, for some reason though, the kids don’t seem to dip into my vegetables quite as much.
Do you focus on specific macro (PCF) levels/percentages while cutting and bulking?
Dr. Joe has set up my nutrition program to work towards peaking for the goal competitions of the year. This is what my macronutrient breakdown looks like right now. This will change as I get closer to competition time.
- Five day baseline food intake: 135/125/35 (protein/carbohydrates/fat)
- One day mid-week: 135/150/35 (protein/carbohydrates/fat)
- One day on the weekend: 135/200/35 (protein/carbohydrates/fat)
I create my 6 daily meals from the following list:
- Protein: Whey protein powder, chicken, eggs, extra lean beef, fish.
- Carbohydrates: Oats, yams, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain bread, and a variety of vegetables.
- Fat: Fish oils, coconut oil, olive oil, flax seed oil, avocado, almonds, natural peanut butter
I believe in precision nutrition. I measure and weigh my food and record it daily. It’s a great way to track my progress and it makes it easier to fine tune the diet when I know where I’m coming from. Dr. Joe has been fantastic at tweaking my diet to suit my needs. When it comes to nutrition for natural competitors, he is the go-to man. I look forward to continuing my journey with Joe and Sean.
What are some of your favorite supplements and why?
I prefer to get most of what my body needs from the food I eat. Since I do not take stimulants for religious reasons, it’s hard for me to find products I can use. I use a good multivitamin/multi mineral as well as the following:
- Whey protein: post workout (20 grams).
- Glutamine: pre and post workout (7.5 grams) to enhance muscle growth and recovery.
- BCAAs: pre and post workout (3 grams) to reduce muscle breakdown and improve recovery.
What are your favorite meals and foods?
Here is one meal that I look forward to every morning. It feels like a cheat meal.
- ½ banana (50 grams) mashed.
- Add ½ cup oats (50 grams) and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
- Soften this with ¼ cup of warm water.
- Mix in 4 egg whites and 1 whole egg.
This makes two 8 inch pancakes. You can top this with zero calorie pancake syrup by Walden Farms. Note: if you are on a carb restricted diet, I have successfully made this without the ½ banana and less oats.
Macronutrient breakdown: 27/47/8 (P/C/F). Calories: 371.
Which athletes do you admire any why?
Although I admire the pioneers and legends of bodybuilding, my greatest respect goes to all the natural athletes for their dedication in building and maintaining their physique naturally. It takes a great amount of patience to do this. There has to be years of consistency in training and nutrition in order to be the best. The hard work and the unbending commitment these athletes exhibit in order to attain drug free physical excellence is quite admirable.
What are some of your favorite motivational quotes?
Oops, you shouldn’t have asked! Ha-ha I am a HUGE fan of motivational quotes. I could be here all day! I read quotes every day as a source of motivation. I also love to write my own. You know what they say - a picture speaks a thousand words. Well I feel much the same way about quotes. A phrase or two has the ability to express our inner thoughts in a very powerful and concise way. Rather than repeat quotes we have all heard before, here is something my son James wrote in a recent e-mail. As a bodybuilder and a spiritual person, his words really resonated with me.
“I strongly believe that we are not born into this world with perfect talents and abilities, but instead talents with potential. And we collect the tools or knowledge along our life’s journey that enable us to sculpt our chunks of rock into works of art. And I believe that as we seek the Lord’s help, He will guide us to those tools and make our paths clear.” ~James Hampshire (aka Jay.j.Fresh in the music industry)
Do you have any tips for someone who is looking to compete in your sport?
Do it; it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have. The best thing you can do for yourself is to seek out those individuals who know more than you do and be humble enough to ask for their help. If you can, hire a coach with bodybuilding experience to guide you with your nutrition and training; it’s such a worthwhile investment. Learn from the top in the industry.
What attracts you to the natural side of sports and competition?
The discipline of it all is a huge attraction for me. I learned discipline through the years I spent in classical ballet training and I transferred that to bodybuilding. I also have a huge sense of pride and satisfaction in knowing that what I accomplish, I do so on my own terms with no chemical enhancements or stimulants. It's a personal choice and a healthy choice both physically and morally.
Favorite activities and hobbies you enjoy when away from the gym?
I love writing poetry. Let me share one of my motivational poems with you. I wrote this at the beginning of the year, a time when most people are focused on making resolutions. I wanted to write some words for those who are hesitating to take that leap of faith into a healthier lifestyle. It sometimes takes courage to make the all-important changes that will ultimately lead to a more fulfilling life.
The first step - the decision - is by far the hardest part. The rest naturally follows once the decision is firmly in place. Whatever your health related goals are, start today. This poem also speaks to those who have a dream. Every great achievement begins with a hope and a dream. Whatever your dream is, don’t hesitate; act on it now. Begin by taking small steps toward your goal. Have faith; take action; believe in yourself!
The Wide Abyss, written by Carla Hampshire Jan 9, 2011.
So wide and deep the gap there lay,
"I'll leave this leap for another day
When fairer weather I should find
Or find myself with clearer mind."
Do not wait; the time is now,
Don't take the time to wonder, "How?"
Just toss the rope to the other side,
You can do it with faith inside.
Hold on strong and don't look back,
With one big bound, you'll cross that crack.
Though you may falter; though you may fall,
The will to win is within us all.
A big thank you to Steve Shaw of Muscle & Strength for the privilege of this interview and for promoting natural athletes worldwide.