Code Red! Bikini Competitor Eve Bernal Talks To Muscle & Strength
What is your athletic background, and how did you get involved with fitness and bikini?
I grew up in a very active family. I began running on a competitive track and field team in 2nd grade. I ended up lettering in track and volleyball and played volleyball at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. I found it natural to get my Personal Training certification. After years of being in the fitness industry, I wanted an extra challenge, so physique competitions seemed like a great challenge.
What keeps you motivated?
I stay motivated by reminding myself that I’m setting an example for my kids, my friends and the thousands of mothers out there who may think they can’t look great after having kids. I had twins!
What are your future goals, dreams and plans?
I would like to continue writing my children’s books, competing and would like to earn my pro card. I’d love to be considered one of the “go-to” girls for fitness modeling and would love to use my platform to inspire women to live a healthy lifestyle—mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
How often do you perform cardio?
I’m playing with my cardio right now. I used to do cardio every day, but I leaned out a bit too much and couldn’t gain the muscle I needed. So, I’m currently doing light cardio 2 times/week. I switch it up between the step mill, biking and running.
What are your thoughts on fasted cardio?
I typically do fasted cardio—unless I have switched up my routine and am doing HIIT. I love to do it first thing in the morning.
What are some of the most common mistakes made when someone is trying to build muscle and/or get ripped?
Going at it “blind.” It’s important to make sure you do your research or enlist the help of a professional who can properly guide you. You could be sabotaging yourself without even knowing it.
What are your favorite 5 muscle building exercises and why?
I love good old fashioned squats. They’re so versatile. I can switch them up to focus on activating different muscles more. Jump squats are fun, too. I really feel them activate my quads. For my arms, I love rope extensions. I seem to be able to get a great mind-muscle connection when I do them.
What are some of the biggest training mistakes you’ve made?
I’ve made two training mistakes lately that I really regret. I switched jobs at the end of last year and it was “off season” for me. I loosened the reins more than I should have on my nutrition and exercise. While I didn’t go crazy, I didn’t hold myself to the standard I should have.
The other mistake I made was switching to a month of only HIIT. I had never done strictly HIIT and it was suggested that I do them. Although, I didn’t think this was a good option for me, I thought, “I don’t know everything and am willing to give it a shot.” Well, I ended up losing a lot of muscle—despite my diet being on target. So, now I stick with mostly Super Sets and will put HIIT in to change it up every once in a while.
Do you have any gym, muscle building or fitness pet peeves?
My gym pet peeves are machine hogs and people who don’t understand that I’m there to workout—not socialize. Mind you, I’m not totally anti-social when I’m at the gym, but when I have my headphones on and am in the middle of my workout, that’s not the time to talk to me.
What does your cutting (eating) plan look like?
When I’m leaning out, I eat EXTREMELY clean and stick with either chicken or fish and either green beans or asparagus. It’s very boring, but I can handle it for the 2 weeks that I do it. I do keep my oatmeal breakfast in there, but I tone down the serving a bit and add more eggs.
How do you prepare meals? Do you cook daily or cook for the week?
I cook most of my meals for the week on Sunday. Since I have a family of 5, it’s very difficult to try to make my food and the kids’ food each weekday after a busy day at work. So, we cook as a family on Sundays. I very rarely eat out and you’ll always find food in my purse or car so that I can keep up with eating every 3 hours.
What are your favorite cheat meals and foods?
I LOVE pancakes! I also love the brunch at one of our local Mexican restaurants. It’s always my celebration cheat meal after a competition.
What are some of your best diet, nutrition and supplementation tips for someone who wants to look good?
I have friends who want to look good, but don’t want to compete. I suggest they stick to eating clean and doing exercises they enjoy doing. I also suggest they make sure they’re getting their proper nutrients such as their Omega-3s.
What are your thoughts of niche diet approaches like the Paleo Diet, Adkins Diet, Keto Runs, the Warrior Diet, Intermittent Fasting, etc.?
Anyone who knows me; knows that I’m very much against any certain “diet”. No one way of eating can give every single person their desired results. Thinking a specific diet can work for everyone is like thinking you’ll get the same color of orange if you mix the same yellow with different shades of red. No one person is the same. We’re all different “shades of red” so you have to start with the basics and fine-tune it to work with your body.
What are some of your favorite supplements and why?
I use protein powder, Y.E.S.’s EFAs – Parent Essential Oils, Nutiva Coconut Oil and High Performance Fitness’ Glucosamine blend.
What are your favorite meals and foods?
I love having a piece of P28 toast with coconut oil on it. I also love cooking my own healthy meals. My entire family loves my coconut chicken.
How important is nutrient timing for performance and/or building muscle?
It’s essential. You can lift to your heart’s content, but without the proper nutrient timing, you’ll never get the most efficient results.
What are some of your favorite motivational quotes?
I have two favorites that always come to mind. “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t; you’re right.” Also, “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
If someone wants to connect with you, where can you be found?
Do you have any tips for someone who is looking to compete in your sport?
Enlist advice from someone who has been there before. Read other competitor’s blogs, watch Youtube videos of passed competitions and make sure you’re prepared for the costs associated with competing.