Fitness Model Karen Ficarelli Talks With

How did you get started with bodybuilding?

I had been into fitness for many years, but my husband was very overweight. A childhood friend of his, Mr. USA John Defendis, got him involved in bodybuilding and diet and I watched my husband lose more than 150lbs. That was a turning point for me, I was so inspired and I began to take weight lifting to the next level.

What gets you motivated?

I am very spiritual and believe that all that I am and all that I have is because of the Grace of God. Because of that I believe it is my responsibility to myself and my family to take care of my health and my body. My passion for fitness flows from this belief and it has become a way of life for me.

What is your training philosophy?

My mantra is to engage the core and I practice it in every exercise that I do. Not only will it give you fabulous abs, but will strengthen your back and increase your range of motion, which is so vital to the body as we grow older. Engaging the core is one of the Pilates principles which I incorporate into most of my exercises.

I also stick to a program that includes 3 days of aerobic activities alternated with 3 days of strength training exercises. This helps to build endurance and strengthen the heart while increasing flexibility and building muscle.

If you have to pick only 3 exercises, what would they be and why?

My abs are important, but since I incorporate the Pilates core principle into every exercise, I would say…

  1. Squats although it is primarily legs, it is truly a total body experience. I love the feeling I get by engaging my core muscles during squats. It tightens my abs and strengthens my back muscles.
  2. Dumbbell presses because I love working my shoulders and sculpting my arms.
  3. Spinning. I love the aerobic workout I get from spinning. It truly is a mind, body and spirit exercise. I feel both invigorated and somewhat at peace after an exhilarating spinning class.

When trying to cut down do you prefer to use HIIT or just normal cardio?

I prefer Intense Spin! When I get in that class, the adrenaline just pours. It really burns the fat and calories, I think around 600 calories or so in an hour, depending on how hard the instructor works us.

What is your philosophy on nutrition?

Eat well and eat often. I eat 5 meals each day, which includes 2 healthy snacks. By eating 5 regularly sized meals, rather than 3 large meals each day, I’m always satisfied and never have the urge to overeat, especially when I know my next meal is just a couple of hours away.

It’s important to eat a serving of protein at every meal and I adhere to that rule, and there are many sources of protein that are low in fat such as chicken, fish and vegetable protein.

What are your favorite meals?

I love to cook so I can truly enjoy every meal, but I guess my favorite foods would have to include grilled salmon, spinach and sweet potatoes, broccoli, and chicken cooked in a variety of ways. I use lots of olive oil, garlic and cinnamon to flavor my foods and love to snack on fresh fruit.

Favorite cheat food?

My husband and I are both Italian so we love homemade sauce. I can make a killer sauce so on Sunday I like to cook a huge pot of it and my famous turkey meatballs and enjoy a big Italian dinner with my family.

What supplements do you use that give you great results? How do you use them?

My favorite supplement would be healthy food. I’ve studied nutrition and know the value of certain foods and how they affect my body. I eat a well-balanced diet and I never skip meals. I also get plenty of rest, sleep is vital to a woman’s overall health.

Which era of bodybuilding had superior physiques? Yesterdays Bodybuilders or Today’s?

Well after reading your article, Today’s Bodybuilders have the upper hand so to speak since science has discovered much more about nutrition, health and the human body than was known in the prior era.

However, as far as their appearance, Yesterday’s Bodybuilders had fine physiques and were the envy of many a young man.

Favorite Quote?

If you have faith, nothing shall be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20