Elizabeth Bradshaw Interview
Not only have I had the opportunity to photograph the lovely Elizabeth Bradshaw, I was lucky enough to catch up with her last week to discuss the importance of family, setting goals, and staying motivated.
How did you get involved with the fitness industry? Were you athletic growing up? Growing up I was not athletic and I was quite shy. In my early twenties, I set a goal to fit into my first bikini for spring break and attained my goal after months at the gym. Winning a one week free pass to a local Houston gym at my cousins’ school fair set my love of weights in motion.
Joining the gym was the start of my quest and at first I was intimidated and unfamiliar with the equipment. Since I didn’t know much about the proper way to get in shape, I did what every person usually does when they set out to lose weight: excessive cardio. Losing weight was easy by engaging in long sessions on the treadmill; lots of cardio and cutting back on carbohydrates. This left me skinny almost anorexic looking but it didn’t help my muscle tone or develop any muscles. I first became exposed to a more exciting positive quality way of life when I met my husband who had competed for decades. My husband Phil Bradshaw was Mr. Texas, Mr. USA, and earned 10th place at the Universe. He helped me realize the body requires a certain amount of protein, fats, and carbohydrates to grow and develop. He also helped me rehabilitate an injury I incurred almost a year before I met him. The injury led me to gain weight because of the excessive amounts of comfort foods, develop muscle atrophy, and sciatic nerve pain. He also showed me the proper way to execute exercises and develop routines to shape and condition my body for competition. Each training session was carried out in preparation to someday compete. I also met Rock Balboa, owner of Rocks Discount Vitamins N More through my husband; who is also my biggest sponsor. In 2013 my good friend Karen Serpa from Body Perfect Personal Training Studio suggested I compete at NPC Battle on The Bay.
How many competitions have you participated in? So far I have competed in five competitions. The first competition I participated in was a local competition (Battle on The Bay) in my home town of Corpus Christi, Texas on July 20, 2013. Then three weeks later I was on stage at the Dallas Europa Super Show qualifying to compete nationally in the Figure division. Since then, I competed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the National Championships on November 23, 2013. This competition was the toughest one because I was caring for my mother-in-law, who had terminal cancer. Besides I was training to compete and attending classes full time, all at the same time. She was so proud of me and believed so much in me that I had to continue on my journey to make her proud. Unfortunately we lost her a week before the competition but I knew she would be watching that day. Then we decided I would compete in Charleston, South Carolina at the Jr. USA and while there we ran into Lee Haney for a second time. My sixth competition was the IFBB North American Championships in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I feel fortunate to have God and my loving husband by my side to give me the strength to compete while having a busy and hectic schedule. At first I decided to go back to school in July of 2011 after a long leave of absence while training to compete and then training a few clients and immediately rushing to work at a financial institution from 7am to 5pm then attending community college after work. I kept this schedule until I earned my Associates Degree in Business Administration on December of 2012. Then I had the privilege of furthering my education at a faster rate by quitting my job and attending Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi as a full time college student in January of 2013. As of August 9, 2014 I can officially call myself a college graduate. My aspiration to earn my Bachelors in Business Administration in Human Resource Management can now be checked off my list of life goals.
How would you describe your debut in the women’s physique division? Did you enjoy it? My debut in the women’s physique division was at The Adela Garcia Classic June 21, 2014. It was an amazing experience to walk out on stage and hear the roar of the crowd cheering for me. Until then, I had been competing in the Figure Division for nearly a year and after being told I had too much muscle and not placing in the top five at Nationals I found myself at a crossroads. Then the famous Mr. Lee Haney who is 8X Mr. Olympia suggested I switch to Physique and so I took all the criticism from friends, judges and my husband (trainer) and acted on it. This was the best decision for me, as it was liberating to remove the stilettos and express myself through a choreographed routine. This division has allowed me to flex and pose to show off my muscularity and lean condition. It has truly been an amazing experience and I have loved every minute of it.
Have family and friends been supportive of your weightlifting? When I first began to lift weights, my mom was not accustomed to the idea of her only daughter having muscles. She feared I would get too big and look masculine; a simple misconception. I’m still uncertain about how some family members feel about me lifting weights. Both my brothers are supportive and even contributed substantially towards my competition at the Dallas Europa Show. They often show my pictures off to people and my five and six year old niece and nephew try to pose like bodybuilders. Both my brothers have played basketball since junior high and try to work out as often as possible and stay fit with weight training. My mom and brothers often praise me for being able to stay on a competition diet for so many months. They find it challenging to eat clean for one day. Their lifestyle is different from mine but overall they understand my social sacrifices; although they would love to spend more family time together. It is funny here we are the 21st Century and people still find it difficult to see women with muscles and accept their passion for steel. I’m fortunate to have a husband who supports my every endeavor in the sport.
Who inspires you? Did you have any specific role models when you decided to pursue a career in fitness? My husband inspires me every day to be better. Phil began lifting weights at the age of 12 and has continued for over 50 years. He competed for 30 years and has been retired since 2000. His extensive background and knowledge in competing have provided me with the tools to improve as an athlete. We make a great team; we help each other be better people and each year we make adjustments to improve my overall conditioning. He now focuses on me reaching my goals and earning my Pro Card. He has always believed in me and my drive to make it to the top. He says I have the attitude of a champion. My husband has always gone through life helping others. One day as I was picking up a few supplements from “Rocks” I learned something from one of the employees. Ben Bindseil-Nolte shared a story about my husband and how he helped him over ten years ago during his workout. Phil was walking out of the gym and noticed Ben needed coaching; he was the only one who had given him advice without wanting anything in return. Other trainers wouldn’t give a 15 year old the time of day without receiving payment. This is one of thousands of stories about my husband helping kids of all ages and adults in their training and through difficult challenges in life. Not only for this reason does my husband inspire me but because he always looks for the good in people and he focuses on the positive side of people and situations. He has always believed in my ability to inspire others through personal training and through competing. Growing up I was shy and weightlifting has given me the opportunity to express myself through photographs, competitions, and in personal training. I enjoy being a fitness model and working with photographers like Alfonso Aguirre with Rocking Photography. People who are genuinely good and aspire to help people always inspire me to be better, to do better and grow as a person and athlete.
My mother has also inspired me to be a hard worker and go after my dreams. She was a single mom of three and she sacrificed so much to provide for us so that we may have a better life than she did. She worked a hard job packing meat and worked long hours to ensure we had food, clothing, and a roof over our heads, and most importantly an education. Her dream was to someday own rental property and she never gave up until she made her dreams come true. My mother was dedicated, driven, goal oriented and focused on setting a good example for us by earning her way through life without government assistance and without asking of others. When we moved to Corpus Christi, Texas almost thirty years ago we lived with family for one week and within that week she found a job and a place for us to live. She instilled impeccable work ethics, good values, and kindness towards others and to always be thankful to God for all the blessing in our lives. I carry these memories with me and apply her teachings in my everyday social experiences with people, during my training and especially prepping for competition.
What advice would you give to women who decide to start weightlifting? Be consistent and make the commitment towards a lifestyle change!!! Get your family (children) involved in eating healthy this way you are promoting health and you also have a great support system. Begin with attainable goals and do plenty of research. If you are looking to hire a trainer make sure you ask for references and find out as much about the individual. This way you can rest assured you are hiring a qualified trainer and not someone who is simply certified. Keep a log of where you are beginning and list weekly or monthly goals and keep track of meals, get plenty of rest and surround yourself with positive people who will be supportive of your goals. Most often people who do not work out or eat clean will try to sabotage your hard work and keep you from achieving your goals. Take monthly progress photos, pictures never lie and this can be motivating as well. Save time and money by doing your own meal prep which can help keep you on track and help you avoid making poor choices in foods that will derail your progress. I often tell clients when they begin their healthy lifestyle change not to tell anyone because someone will always attempt to persuade them to go out and drink or eat a cheat meal which will slow down progress. Most times my client comes to find out this is true the hard way.
If you had to pick just one, what has been the most memorable moment in your fitness career? Qualifying for Nationals at the Dallas Europa Show in 2013 was a defining moment for me as a Figure Competitor but then again a bigger defining moment was recently qualifying for Nationals in the Physique Division at The Adela Garcia Classic. These two National qualifying competitions were attained within one year. This has brought me a step closer to realizing my dream. It’s important to learn and grow from each experience because we are not going to win all the events we compete at. My goal has been to improve for each event and make sure I present the best overall symmetry and conditioning. Competing can be hectic and stressful but once I step foot on the stage and the crowd cheers; let’s just say it’s on. I’m a humble person so sometimes it is shocking to hear the crowd cheering especially when I travel out of state to compete nationally and I hear the audience roar, clap and call out my name. I always think nobody knows me here. So for the fans I am eternally grateful and I aspire to be the best for myself and for them as well.
What is in the future for Elizabeth Bradshaw? I am working towards earning my “Pro Card”. This is my ultimate goal and after that I plan on competing at the Pro level against the best. Recently, I received my Bachelors in Business Administration in HR Management and I’m also a personal trainer and I am looking forward to combining the two. I would love to make a difference in people’s lives and impact the way others view food and exercise and integrate it in the workplace to efficiently and effectively increase productivity. I look forward to a continued and growing relationship with my sponsor “Rocks Discount Vitamins N More” and I also wish to work more closely with photographer Alfonso Aguirre owner of Rocking Photography and expand my image into the Latin market. Weight lifting and living a healthy lifestyle are a couple of my passions and I believe it’s important to have consistency, structure, and discipline while maintaining a happy, healthy and more productive way of life. We are given one body and it is up to us to take care of it as best as possible.
About the Author
Alfonso Aguirre is fitness photographer with an MBA and a major in Marketing. He is also a guest judge for Musclemania Texas.
For more information on Alfonso’s work, or to book a photoshoot, visit the following links: