👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Francesca Lauren and I’m 38 years old, originally born and raised in Portland, Oregon but currently living in Las Vegas, Nevada.
I have always been very active in growing up and tried just about every sport from the swim team, softball to dance, cheer, snowboarding or wake surfing. I suppose you could say I enjoyed a little bit of everything or anything that kept me active.
I didn’t really start training in a gym atmosphere until 2004, I was trying to get in shape for a trip to Hawaii. After my first son, I really started hitting the gym regularly but I can certainly say, I was not exactly well versed in what I was doing.
Years later, I had a co-worker telling me that she was going to start bodybuilding. She was a petite thing and I thought she was crazy until she told me about this new division called Bikini.
I watched her preparation and adopted some of her general practices, like eating breakfast, and saw a huge change in my physic. She did her first show and did very well in it and that inspired me to give it a try.
I couldn’t afford a trainer at the time and so, I used magazines and the internet to learn what I could do about exercise and nutrition.
I prepared myself in one week before my first show. Clearly, I had no idea what I was getting into. Although I can’t say that was my best, I certainly understood that was just a starting point to learn from and so, I decided to give it another try.
I did 5 shows that year as an amateur, winning 1st in my height class before I was cohered into doing a national show. I was first added to call-outs in that show but did not make the top five.
Again I was selected into the last national show available for that year but went into this one expecting nothing but another opportunity to enjoy that experience. In that show, I earned my pro card.
From that point I just kept on going by continuing on the pro circuit, earning spots at the Olympia in 2015, 2016 & persisting in shows until 2018.
Fitness became a huge part of my life, as I did end up leaving my job as a corporate trainer. So, I could pursue what I had fallen in love with full-time effort.
This past year off has been the longest break from the stage but certainly a well-needed one. I certainly miss all of my bikini sisters and colleagues from the industry but thanks to social media, I’m still able to keep up with them.
I do still try to involve myself with local shows as well as the IFBB, NPC, and bodybuilding community has been such an integral part of my life. Because fitness is my passion, I would think it’s safe to say that naturally, my daytime job is in that field.
I love helping others to achieve a healthier and balanced lifestyle and have recently taken on a new role as an orangetheory coach & trainer. I also work with bikini athletes in their posing and stage presence for shows.
I am a very artistic person at heart, I like to create and find beauty in everything I do. And yes, this includes bodybuilding, but a hobby of mine is makeup artistry but more along the lines of costume and theatrical makeup.
I stumbled upon a new passion for permanent makeup and microblading as I was intrigued by the idea of enhancing someone’s natural beauty subtly.
I decided and so, pursued further education and become independent PMU and PhiBrow’s artist. I know that may seem like quite an odd combo but to me, it all flows and all relate to one another.
Bodybuilding is about sculpting and creating that ideal physically, posing is all about properly displaying that physic and makeup is with just another finishing touch to the work of art!
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
These days I take a more intuitive approach with my training and have been utilizing a daily undulating periodization(DUP) like a model to my training splits.
I’m always working on improving my overall physic and integrating various mobility, stability, endurance and power-focused movements in the mix.
Whatever groups of muscles I work with, I do always try to allow a 24-48 hours recovery period for those muscles.
As far as what I end up doing when I train, it’s always on the fly based on what equipment or modalities are available and the muscle activation, I am focusing on at the time. This also helps prevent me from doing the same lifts over and over again and working the muscles in various ways.
When lifting I can count on a solid 90 minutes session regardless of on or offseason. If I could, I would spend the whole day in the gym. It’s my “me” time and so, I prefer to train alone. I just get in my zone and focus on that mind-muscle connection.
I incorporate an orange theory workout every other day, about 2-3 days a week for my cardio. This interval style of training is my favorite kind of cardio and the only cardio, I am currently doing.
I definitely push myself so much harder with the guided runs then when I’m at home or on a machine solo at the gym. Like my training splits at the gym, they change every day and so, I still get a challenge every time I go.
When it comes to cardio for a show, I will start adding in fasted or MIS cardio, bit by bit, as I get closer and closer to a show.
Something new, I have started to do with the inspiration of OTF’s heart rate zone training process is to start tracking my heart rate training zones via the apple watch during my weight lifting sessions as well.
It’s been interesting to see how my perceived rate of exertion versus what my HR zones indicate. It also allows me to efficiently manage my time in the gym knowing when its time to move from set to set or one exercise to the next.
I do also track all of my lifts with an app called Gym Hero on my phone, mostly so that I can see what lifts I had done previously and if I have been able to increase the loads to gain strength progressively over time.
As you can see, I honestly don’t have a set plan at this point, I’m just enjoying the process of learning and challenging myself in new ways again.
Going pro and the first four years of my pro career, I was self-coached and I had utilized a simplified but similar approach.
Right now I’m just all about getting back to enjoying the process of growing and challenging myself along the way.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
I’d be lying if I said, there was never a day I didn’t want to train.
Juggling everything is so difficult and when you are exhausted emotionally and physically the last thing you want to do, and in most cases, go to the gym and do some more work. The same can be said for when you make it to the gym and lack the motivation to make the best use of your time.
Personally, I think that a lack of motivation is a lack of clarity or a gap in knowledge. I have lost track of what my goal(s) are or I’m unsure if what I’m doing to work outright.
This is where smart goal setting is the key and having your priorities set is crucial. Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant & time-based goals.
Without a goal set in mind and clear vision of your “why” behind it, you will find yourself wandering aimlessly towards any given direction with no purpose, passion or conviction behind it.
I keep it very simple for myself, I figure out what I want, why I want it, what it takes to get it and I simply do it. This way when you are faced with challenges that will arise, you can check in with yourself to find that voice in your head that drives you to make the most of every moment.
At the end of the day, it’s you against you and the conversations you have in your head will be what helps or hinders your progress.
I’m certainly not immune to those feelings or conversations myself, but when I do have them, I try to catch any self-doubt or negative thoughts and replace them with thoughts of appreciation and positivity.
For example, if I’m tired, have to work all day, have family things to manage, but need to get a workout in, I may think “UGGGHHH! the only time I have is a 5 am workout and I’m no good for a real workout at 5 am”.
No, it’s not ideal but I have to quickly remind myself of my goal, how far I have come, where I’m at with making my next bench mare and how lucky I am to have the ability to train the way I do whether it be 5 am or 5 pm, I physically and mentally can simply do it and not everyone can say that.
That’s usually enough to get me moving and once I get going, I just set a bar and focus on making the most of every workout to the best of my ability with what I have in the tank for that day.
This process of growth and overcoming these challenges is in fact what has kept me holding strong with my passion for training. Internally, I am watching myself overcome and surpass every hurdle, I once thought I couldn’t, so physically and mentally I feel more whole and confident in my capabilities as a person.
It’s one of the best feelings in the world and I love sharing that with others in helping them find that for themselves.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today is just another day to get better at whatever I feel, I need to focus on improving. There is always something I am working on, I’m not one to sit still or loaf around the house.
In all my years of experience, I have wanted to get a certification as a personal trainer but never buckled down to study or take the exam.
Before the end of 2019, I wanted to obtain this and made it my kick of the new year goal. I scheduled the test for December 31st and that is exactly when I officially got my NASM CPT and as mentioned, I took on a new role as an Orangetheory Coach/Trainer.
This job, although I’m familiar with the general role as it pertains to fitness, has been a learning experience from day one. It’s definitely a challenge as it’s taken me out of my comfort zone in other ways.
I care about everything I do and I always strive to be the best, I can be in everything and so, starting something new like this is humbling.
There is certainly a different set of skill sets that I need to work on and shadowing all of the amazing coaches currently that have inspired and helped me to learn my opportunities for improvement. I’m excited to develop these new skill sets and eager to excel as a coach and mentor in this format.
Seeing how something as simple as taking an hour-long class has such a positive effect on changing so many of their members’ lives lines up with what I feel my purpose and passion are. So, as of right now, my family and of course my gym time pretty much consumes my entire day from start to finish.
Competing and bodybuilding, are, for the most part, a very self-centered sport. I still love it, I still miss is it, yearn to jump back on stage to get back at it, so I’m not done competing yet.
I will be back but timing is everything and right now my focus is on coming back with the package that will help me to achieve the next couple of goals, I have set in that world. Couldn’t tell you when that will be.
I am in no rush. I strongly believe in living this as a lifestyle, and I honestly think it shouldn’t be rushed.
Hindsight, there were probably times where I needed to give myself a longer break a long time ago. I was always doing shows from the year I earned my pro card in 2012 up until the end of 2018.
I was doing approximately 6-9 shows a year. That didn’t give me much of a break but I badly wanted to do well and take first place at just one pro show.
Came close taking 2nd over a handful of times, but still haven’t landed that spot, so I can’t help but think, just maybe if I had a little bit of time to get myself to the way I envisioned, a perfect package I would have landed it.
Don’t get me wrong, I believed, I always brought my best and always presented a great package but that perfectionist in me always saw opportunities for improvement even at my best.
Taking that time, now as I know what I’m capable of and certainly want to act on that, before I come back. All in all, it’s a personal challenge I have for myself, not going to go mad over it or throw all other life priorities out the window for it, but going to work on it and balance life out around it.
I like to lead by example and I think it’s important for my kids to see the whole process of goal setting, sacrifice, and the balancing act can be done.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I cannot stress the importance of proper recovery time in your training regimen! I’m certainly one who is too familiar with overdoing it.
I had gotten to a point one time where I would walk with a limp but during my workouts, all was fine and dandy. Needless to say, as I got closer to that show I could hardly pose and that was my reality check.
Pushing myself beyond my body’s limit could have completely wasted all of my hard work. So, now if I’m injured or if my body is not simply moving in the correct form as it should I slow down and work to fix these issues rather than push through them.
It could be I need to stretch more, foam role or paying more attention to my form for muscle imbalances, get more sleep, etc. I just listen to my body to seek professional help when needed.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
Currently and traditionally during my offseason, I use an IIFYM format. Still utilizing clean food choices but will indulge here and there for a date or family night meal on the weekends.
I do use MyFitnessPal to log all my food, not to obsess over it but to see what my macro breakdown is for calories in vs. calories out awareness.
I’m in a place where I am trying to rebuild a bit of muscle in my back, glutes, and shoulders. I certainly need the nutrition and energy to build but do not believe in an overly excessive amount of calories to do so.
Right now my macro breakdown is roughly at about 1,700-1,800 calories with a pretty even split between protein, carbs, and fats. Depending on training days, carbs & proteins will vary but fats are always below both.
I seem to operate best with this breakdown but as you can tell, my nutrition is a bit intuitive as well. I try to listen to my body and understand the difference between feelings of hunger, satiation, thirst, or the simple need for sleep.
So, I track my macro’s to understand these feelings and to make sure, I am getting a balanced intake of carbs, proteins, and fats in correlation with my daily training efforts.
This has been a trial and error process I learn, when I first started, so I have had to learn with being a bit uncomfortable with not knowing the right process off the bat, in reality, no one really knows.
5-6 meals a day is pretty standard for me, I will set a general guideline for my macro numbers to stick to for 2 weeks then asses from theirs.
When I feel like I have hit that sweet spot in my macro breakdown, this is usually when I physically see the results in the mirror and how my clothing fits, I will buckle those macro’s in start becoming more and set those numbers for 3 weeks before I start a mini cut for 2 weeks.
I will go back to a slight increase again then preform another mini cut. I go through this cycle a few more times as my goal is to slowly brining my body back down the size and condition, I am looking for without scarfing to much muscle.
Typically I will do this until I feel like I am happy with how I feel and look then will work to maintain and preserve from there.
When it comes to prepping for a show I will switch my diet over to a rigid and set meal plan cutting out sweeteners, all processed or packaged foods, etc.
My social life slowly dissipates as I don’t like to put myself in the position that makes my friends and family feel like I am not enjoying my time with them because I am not eating or drinking with them.
Typically this starts anywhere from 2 months to 3 weeks out. It just depends on my body’s starting point before the show date and how responsive my body is to changes made.
I incorporate the use of one of EVOGEN’S pre-workout, fat burner, CLA or a thermogenic at this point as well to help tighten things up and eliminate excessive water.
There is no right way or one way of doing this as I have found that my prep has changed from show to show, year to year and results will always vary based on the foundation you are currently working with.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
Music simply moves me! I play a good playlist at the gym and usually find that I end up spending more time there because I am enjoying my tunes. Usually, I listen to some Hip Hop or Rap and when I find a good high energy mix by a DJ, I will put that on repeat as well.
One of my biggest inspirations was a PT/Coach I worked with when I was still living in Portland, Coach Cem.
He was more than a personal trainer. He was a mentor and motivator. He knew how to get in my head, inspire me and build my confidence from the inside out. I learned so much from him in many ways and still appreciate his continuous inspiration, support and guidance to this day.
When I’m lacking creativity I will also look into Instagram for ideas on ways to target various muscles more effectively.
Bret Contreras(@Bretcontreras1), Brittany Perille(@brittanyperilleee) are some of my favorites go to accounts or I will simply browse for whatever muscle, I’m trying to work or even motivational quote to see what’s out there.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
It really comes down to know exactly what you want to improve and understanding if you can find the answers for yourself or if you need to seek expert advice.
I started out on my own and I did pretty well for myself. I may have done better and faster if I could hire a coach but that was not in the cards for me at the time. So, we make the most of what we have. That’s all we can do and when the opportunity presents itself for help, take it.
I find that too often, people don’t want to ask for help or unwilling to learn something from another’s’ perspective because they may think, they already have all the answers. Never stop learning, never stop challenging yourself, this is how we grow.
You may know what you know but there is so much more to learn, so many ways of accomplishing the same thing and so many other things to learn, master and share.
My whole life is based on this and I will probably never stop as it builds a sense of community and gives me a sense of purpose.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
Right now, I take only a few posing clients based on schedule availability. At this time, I only work with one client at a time.
I invest a lot in my clients and do expect the same level of commitment and investment from them. They are a direct reflection of me when presenting on stage so I will put in an extra effort to make sure that they are where they need to be before they take the stage. And so, I require the same effort in return.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
I haven’t been very active on my youtube but you will find some of my older videos still up there. I may pick that back up when I have more time.