With the help of her fitness-trainer son, Anita Mack, 56, is bouncing back as she transforms her body by competing in figure bodybuilding
Anita Mack, sitting in an office, working and snacking, found herself at her heaviest weight at the age of 52. At 173 pounds, she says she was tired of looking at herself in the mirror. “I was feeling down after having a hysterectomy due to fibroids,” she adds. So she turned to her oldest son, who is a trainer and owns a gym.
Now, about four years later, she’s an NPC master figure competitor in the off-season. “I was managing my weight of 135, until my husband and I moved to Florida,” says the 56-year-old. In addition to her move, Mack’s also been busy finishing her Ph.D. program. Her last stage weight, though? 121 pounds–which took 20 weeks through prep and with support from her family, friends, nutrition coach and trainer (Yes, she still trains with her son).
The Seed is Planted
For Mack, it took someone else planting the idea of competing in her brain for her to consider it. “I realized I was making noticeable, effective changes in my body and my life when one of my son’s clients noticed my back and biceps. She asked me if I was competing,” she says. Mack had not been considering it, but it got her wondering if it was something she could pursue.
And from wondering if it was something she could do, Mack turned it into a reality. She placed third in her first competition and went on to compete in another, never letting her eyes off of the prize. “This time I came in first, but realized I did not compete in open–my next show, I will compete in open,” she says with determination.
That next competition is coming up fast–it’s scheduled for May. Mack is feeling confident about it, despite having gained more weight recently than she would have liked. “The setback I have now is eating whatever I want since moving to Florida,” she says. But she has a plan in place and will be eating healthier and working out regularly to prepare for her competition.
It has always come back to eating well and getting exercise done consistently. For her, her transformation came down to clean eating and having consistency in meals. While the program always returns to those pillars, emotionally, though, how she approaches training has changed. In the beginning, she found she felt better about herself thanks to taking action.
Now, Mack has gained confidence in herself that she didn’t have before. That sense of confidence, however, doesn’t make her feel as though her health and fitness journey is over. “My journey will never be over. I made eating clean and exercising a lifestyle. I will be in maintenance mode after I am done with competing,” she says.
Looking back, Mack wishes that as a teenager, someone had told her to steer clear of processed foods. She also wishes she’d learned earlier that food can’t be used as an emotional filler. “No matter what you are going through, emotional eating does not fix emotional problems. It makes you feel worse,” she says.
Those are wise words for everyone–no matter what stage you’re at. As for women who are looking to start or ramp up their own journey to a healthier lifestyle, Mack recommends finding a program you enjoy. It shouldn’t be an unpleasant task, she says. She chose bodybuilding as she loves the muscle tone she’s developed. Tap into what you love and enjoy to make your journey successful, and reap the rewards of confidence, the ability to function, and a sound mind. Those are the key benefits Mack’s gained from her journey and what she looks forward to continuing to enjoy as she pursues competing even further.
Bouncing Back with Anita’s Favourites
Fave healthy snack: Almonds
Fave splurge food: Burger and fries
Easy-to-make, go-to recipe: Healthy crepes
Fave form of cardio: Walking outside
Fitness idol: Cydney Gillon
Personal mantra: Getting older doesn’t mean you’re weak.
What she eats in a day:
5 egg whites, 1 whole egg
1 cup spinach
½ cup oatmeal
1 cup of blueberries or strawberries
¼ cup almonds
1 scoop whey protein isolate
6 oz cod
¾ c sweet potatoes
1 cup broccoli
6 oz chicken breast
¼ c jasmine rice
1 oz avocado
6 oz cod
1 ½ oz avocado
Salad made with ½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 2 cups mixed greens and ¼ cup tomato
Photos by MidStudio