AMHERST – Amherst’s Tammy Allen traveled to Charleston, South Carolina over the weekend and proved she can compete with the best of them.
It was the first fitness competition she ever entered, the Big Shot Classic All Women’s Fitness competition.
She said she felt confident in her chances of winning, but giddiness bubbles to the surface when she talks about what it feels like for a woman from Amherst to win against American competitors in the Masters Figure, Over-35 category.
“It’s crazy,” she said with a laugh. “It felt pretty awesome. It was probably a surprise for the other competitors to see someone from Canada come in and win.”
She competed against nine other women, winning gold and silver, and qualifying for the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio.
“The Arnold Classic is on the March 3 weekend but I’m undecided if I’ll go or not,” she said. “It’s quite a financial commitment, and quite a training commitment, training three hours a day.”
Allen has a 10-year-old boy and an eight-year-old boy. She has worked out as a hobby for about 10 years but started training for the fitness competition 16 weeks ago.
She said her family was very supportive.
“They took up all the slack. They cooked the meals and got the kids off to school (at Spring Street Academy) in the morning while I worked out.”
Allen’s workouts were a combination of cardiovascular training and weight training.
“I worked out on a treadmill or a bicycle or did plyometrics, for an hour at a time,” she said. “It was different every week. Every week my trainer sent me another plan, so it was never the same thing. It kept me engaged because everything was so different.”
In addition to the cardiovascular training, which she did one or two times a day, Allen did weight training five days a week.
“It was a five-day split, so one day I would do legs, another day back, another day chest, and so-on, for the duration and, again, it would be different every week.”
She also followed a strict diet.
“I was sent a meal plan every week and, as I got closer to the end, it was less and less variety as to the type of food I could eat,” she said. “There was a lot of protein. I could eat anywhere from six to eight meals a day, all of which were protein rich. That meant a lot of egg whites, chicken and fish.
“For instance, a meal to wake up to might be five egg whites and half a grapefruit, and the next meal might be four ounces of sweet potato plus three ounces of chicken.”
Allen's energy reserves depleted 12 weeks into her training, but she upped her food consumption, especially protein, and got back on track.
Besides better nutrition, she also said her family helped pull her through.
“Part of my push near the end, when I found it harder and harder, was to prove to my children that if you set a goal and you’re really determined to do something, that you can do it,” she said. “You just have to see it through, as hard as it is.”