Keeping your Motivation Up


Jenny venus top small

Coach Jenny knows what it takes to win a Venus Contest.

As we start out this latest Venus Contest- VT12, expectation and motivation run high. It is so exciting to think of the possible change you can drive in 12 short weeks with consistency and hard work!

For some the newness will wear down after a few weeks; challenges will inevitably present themselves and motivation will wane. What you will be left with is a choice to continue on with the commitment you made or to throw in the towel. Many will choose the latter. Do not be one of them.  You can do this!
Here are some practical tips to keep up your motivation-

1) Refocus and reflect

I like to look over how I did the day before and plan out the day ahead for both calories and workouts. I then take my daily goals and turn them into weekly goals. Those become a weekly journal where I can reflect on what went good or bad.  It is from this weekly feedback that we learn what works.



Coach Roberta’s main motivation is her workouts. The workouts help her keep her eye on the prize and make healthy choices with food.

2) Try a new tool

There are many to choose from, and how well they work for you will change with the seasons. Being open to trying new things and to changing something that is not working for you is important on a fitness journey. Experiment with the time of day you work out, try adding a day of cardio, change up the number of meals a day, or give fasting a try.

3) Find others who have walked the same path and succeeded

I find listening to Venus Index podcasts each day both inspires and motivates me.  They keep me focused and I always come away with at least one helpful idea.


The Venus Index community is brimming full of women who are previous contest winners and those who are on their maintenance journey.   It is so easy to reach out and get more personal via PM’s, texts, or email. The accountability is often very helpful when you are struggling.


We now have Venus Premier Coaching available for those who want it. A Venus coach will tell you exactly what to do and keep you accountable with regular check points.

Coach Lita is in tip top shape and knows how to get her clients there too

Coach Lita is in tip top shape and knows how to get her clients there too.

4) Start a streak

Get yourself a calendar and reward each forward day with a sticker. Log continuously on My Fitness Pal. Creating a streak can be motivating! They also tend to develop into habits which take up less mental space.

5) Spend money

Where your money goes often reveals your priorities. It should be enough to make you feel the need to use it so make the amount appropriate to your income. Some ideas would be to purchase home gym equipment, workout clothing/shoes, or advanced programming like Immersion or Venus Premier Coaching.


Hiring a photographer is another great motivating tool for your contest photos. What better reward than professional documentation of being in the best shape of your life!

Liss teal workout outfit

On scene at my last shoot, photographers and timelines are motivating for me.

Try incorporating a few of these methods into your contest or contest shadowing. This is a choice you are making, so commit to honor that as best you can. Forgive yourself when you mess up, learn from it, and power on. We call that stumbling forward in Venus land. Best wishes for VT12!


X- Liss

How to ENTER The Venus Transformation Contests.

How would you like to achieve the same success as these previous Venus Transformation contest winners?

How would you like to achieve the same success as these previous Venus Transformation contest winners? You definitely can do it too – at any age!

How to ENTER a Venus Transformation Contest:

We will accept contest entries any time during the 12 week window.  There is no deadline except both the before and after pictures must be entered during that window.  That is all.  Pretty simple right?  We want this to be as stress free as possible and for you to have FUN.

Obviously the bigger the window you create for yourself the better chance you have for making the biggest change.

Please follow the instructions on this page. The newspaper front page picture must be taken during the same photo session as your pictures.

PLEASE READ THE CONTEST INSTRUCTIONS, RULES, AND REGULATIONS.  The only confirmation email you will get is the automated response from the contest tracker entry form.  The email address for YOU is the one you use for your Venus account.

Click here –> Contest instructions, rules, and regulations <– Click here



Here are the steps to enter:

1)      Login using your Venus login online Venus account

      Then use the BLUE JOIN BUTTON for the contest during the dates listed:

contest screen shot



Please carefully read the contest instructions before you enter the contest.

You will receive an automated email from the tracker tool after the pictures have uploaded.  This means YOU ARE IN the contest.  So it’s time to hit the gym (even it’s at home!) and follow your nutrition plan.  Make this happen!

See the results of our previous contests.

The Venus 12 week contest is an En Route Train Stop in your life long Venus journey!

Have fun!

Coach Roberta

PS Email me if you have any problems or questions entering the contests.


The final deadline for the VT8 Venus Transformation contest will be Sunday August 11, 2013 at midnight EDT

The last day for the 8th Venus Transformation contest will be Sunday August 11, 2013.  The final deadline for pictures, measurements, and essay’s will be midnight EDT Sunday night.

The final requirements will be:

  1.  Front pose
  2.  Side pose
  3.  Back pose
  4.  Newspaper pose – same as front pose but with current days newspaper front page clearly visible in your hand.
  5. Up to 15 cover model poses of your choice.  Each change of outfit AND change of scenery must have a new newspaper pose.  The newspaper pose must have the front page clearly visible. 
  6. A 250 word essay with your name and age.  Write about what the Venus lifestyle and workout means to you.
  7. Your weight, height, shoulder, waist, and hip measurements at the time of the photo shoot.

It is very important that for your front, side, and back poses your arms are down at your sides but not covering your waist and that they are full head to toe pictures.  Do not crop out your face or your feet.

Front, Side, and Back poses must be done with hands down at sides.  You can submit additional poses with the cover model pictures

Front, Side, and Back poses must be done with hands down at sides. You can submit additional poses with the cover model pictures.


IMPORTANT:  For your cover model pictures you can use a variety of different outfits and scenery (indoor or outdoor) but you must have a front newspaper pose with each new scene AND each new outfit.

There must be a newspaper pose with each change of clothes AND each change of scenery.

There must be a newspaper pose with each change of clothes AND each change of scenery.


Have some fun with scenery and posing

Here are a few examples of past contest cover model pictures.














There will be more information soon on how to use the Tracker tool to submit all of your pictures, metrics, and essay.

In the meantime you can get more ideas on planning your photo shoot:

Photo shoot prep part one

Photo shoot prep part two

Photo shoot prep part three

If you are a Venus customer and don’t already have it there is a seven day nutrition protocol for photo prep designed by John called “Slim in 7”  available in your Venus cockpit shopping cart.

Tips from previous Venus contest winners in their final week of preparation:

Most of all, have some fun!

We can’t wait to see the results of your hard work.

Remember, the contest is just an En Route train stop along the rest of your Venus journey.



Preparing For Your Contest Photo Shoot – Part 3: The Final Week

The deadline for the 7th Venus Index Transformation Contest on April 15th is quickly approaching.  This article is part of a 3 part series to help gear you up with ideas on how to make your photo shoot fun and successful.  We covered posing practice in part 1 and Photography and lighting in part 2.  Today let’s wrap things up and talk about the final week.

Bikini and shoes

I’m told by more experienced Venus girls and models, although not required for our contests, that a solid colored bikini and neutral colored 5″ competition style heels are the best because they don’t distract from your overall look and shape;  This is exactly what one of our recent contest winners Deanne Hernandez used.

Deanne used a solid color bikini and neutral colored competition style heels.  I think the overall effect on her is quite beautiful

Deanne used a solid color bikini and neutral colored competition style heels.

The bikinis in my pictures from part 1 and part 2:

  • My white bikini top is from Venus Swimwear.  I like this brand because they have “enhancer tops” which are necessary for those of us who may have lost most of our body fat in that area, or perhaps we are not otherwise genetically gifted or surgically enhanced in that area.  Victoria Secret makes some good enhancer products that go well with the Venus tops.
  • My white bikini bottom is from Berrydog company.  I’m fairly conservative so this was a difficult change for me (getting such a small bikini).  First of all only months prior to this photo session I’d bought my first bikini ever in over 30 years, let alone a Brazilian style bikini.  I’m sure less conservative girls would laugh at this difficulty as the Brazilian style is still relatively conservative by other standards.  It turns out if you want to show off your best shape smaller is the way to go.  The bigger the suit bottom the bigger your behind will look; it’s not fair but that’s how it is.
Five inch competition heels

Five inch competition heels

  • My shoes were from the brand Pleaser, but the shoes I got had a thin strap which kind of cut into my feet.  The shoes in the picture above are similar but the clear straps look more comfortable.

Once you’ve taken bikini pictures it’s fun to take some more sporty gym pictures as well.  Just remember you need the current days newspaper front page with each scene and for each outfit.

Tan, makeup, and other ideas


Having a tan definitely looks nice and shows off your shape.   You don’t want a tan as dark as fitness competitors.  Some people have fair skin and need a spray tan or lotion.  There are a variety of products you can apply yourself.  Try them out ahead of time with a camera.  I tend to tan easily and get fairly dark naturally so I get a base tan in the sun naturally (or a tanning booth once a week in the winter).  Then I use a VersiSpa spray tanning booth at the local tanning salon the evening prior to the photo session.  One important note for any spray tanning product is they work best if you exfoliate your skin first.


I was lucky enough to have my friend and model Lauren Monday help me with my photo shoot.  She lined up the photographer and told me to prepare myself by practicing and bringing the pictures of the poses I wanted.  She also helped me with makeup of which I am a complete novice.  I learned from Lauren that you need to apply your makeup really thick and dark for the photos.  I couldn’t believe how thick it was!

Lauren did an awesome job helping me.  She held up the fitness model pictures and told me how to adjust my poses.  She helped me improvise when it wasn’t working right.  Many of the poses I ended up with were completely Lauren’s own imagination.  I can’t imagine having done as well without her help.  If you can, try to find someone who is used to being in front of a camera to help you.

Nails and eyebrows

I got my nails done and my eyebrows waxed for the first time ever.  The nails were kind of fun but I didn’t realize how much it hinders a tomboy like me.  I couldn’t take out my own contacts when I got home and I had to clip them off within days because of Sheriff training.  It turns out the training I needed to participate in was called “weaponless defense” and we were not supposed to have weapons, yet my nails qualified as a dangerous weapon!  Needless to say they were quickly trimmed and filed down to normal.

Teeth whitening

Some people make an appointment with the dentist to get their teeth whitened.  I just used the whitening strips you can purchase at the store a couple times during the photo prep week.


I also had my hair colored and styled the morning of the photo shoot.  I had a fill-in hairdresser and everything turned out different compared my normal style and it made me a little nervous.  I thought my hair was too “big” and it wasn’t the right color, but it seemed like everything turned out okay.  There wasn’t much I could do to change it so I had to go with it.  So I guess my only advice here is if you use a hairdresser it’s not the best day to try out someone new.

To water load or not?

To water load or not?  Only you can decide.

To water load or not? Only you can decide.

I did both.

Water load

For the professional photo session I did a 3 day water load.  For my size at 5’1″ that meant about 2 gallons of water a day for 3 days prior to the photo session.  I typically drink about 1.5 gallons so this wasn’t such a big deal for me.  For me the hard part was the depletion day.  I only had sips of water and some coffee and constantly felt thirsty, but I was busy so that helped keep my mind distracted.

Muscle cramps

The other difficulty I experienced is that my muscles cramp and this makes posing more difficult than it already is.  If you look closely at my pool scene picture you will notice that 1) I’m not smiling so much, and 2) my right upper abdominal muscle is in the midst of a charlie horse session (which is why I was not smiling, it hurt!).  Even though I took my calcium and mineral supplement and my Electrolyte Mix this problem always occurs for me during a water deplete.  The problem is that I was dehydrated.  There could be health risks associated with this temporary procedure.  Only you can decide if you are willing to take the risk.


During this week you don’t need to do much different with diet except do not eat foods that make you bloat.  For me this meant I needed to eat gluten free carbohydrates.  Everyone is different.  You have to find what works for you.  By this point in your diet and fitness journey you are likely to know what makes you bloat.  During the water deplete I add in wheat crackers and that works okay for me.

Sodium and depletion workout

I didn’t add salt to my foods this week but I still ate foods that contained some natural sodium.  The day before the photo shoot I ate only protein and vegetables in the morning.  I fasted for 4 hours and hit the gym for a 45 minute “depletion workout” which was just a circuit and 30 minutes of cardio with only tiny sips of water.  I went home and added some fruit, crackers, and honey to my diet, along with protein and some vegetables.

In the morning I did another fasted depletion circuit and cardio. After the workout I snacked on fruit, almond butter, honey, and crackers the morning of the photo shoot.  I drank a Starbucks double shot espresso drink right before the photo session to help keep my energy up.

I did not do a water load or depletion workout for the 2nd photo shoot

For the next days photo shoot at home I was not water loaded nor depleted other than to not consume too much water or food until the photo’s were complete.  I did not do any depletion workouts the 2nd day.

Practice, practice, practice

If you do plan to try a water load you really should experiment at least once if not more to see how it goes for you, and of course if you have any medical concerns you should check with your doctor.  It’s not necessary to do a water load or deplete if you are uncomfortable with it in any way.

I did 3 practice photo shoot sessions at home the during the 6 weeks prior, once with no water load but one day of water depletion, once with one day of water load and one day of water depletion, and once with two days of water load load and one day of water depletion.

For the last two experiments I did the diet and depletion workouts I described above.

The visual results for me:

I took pictures during the experiments and it turns out the only real visual difference showed in my abs.  My arms, legs, and back all looked exactly the same whether I was full of water or not.

The visual results seemed the same for me no matter how many days of water load, but the real difference for me depended on how long I depleted.  I typically already have some ab definition but it took around 17 hours to see the deeper lines and then they rapidly turned to deep crevices after that.  The only reason I continued to do without much water after 17 hours was because taking pictures always took longer than I expected.

Because I learned from the experiments that it took so long to get the deep ab definition I had to stop drinking water around 5pm the day before the actual photo shoot which was scheduled for noon.  We were late getting started and had a lot of setup, Lauren helping with makeup, etc, so by the time many of the bikini shots were taken it was getting later in the afternoon.  It was pretty late in the day when we did the gym pictures which is why the lines in my abs were so deep.

The metric results for me:

The morning of the photo shoot with Donnie I weighed 118 lbs and I was pretty nervous about not losing the water in time.  By 5pm when we just finished the last photo I weighed 109lbs and my waist was finally right at VI ideal for that moment in time.

I didn’t take any measurements except when I weighed 109 lbs I took all my VI measurements for the contest chart.

The months of hard work and proper calories are still the most important factor

All of the processes for water loading, water depleting, carbohydrate depleting, carbohydrate loading, depletion workouts, etc are not necessary to have a successful photo shoot.  They will only have an effect if you are already fairly lean.  The level of leanness varies for each person.  Most of these processes are uncomfortable.  It’s important to experiment well in advance before the actual photo shoot in order to not ruin your special day.

The most important factor is still the healthy lifestyle you embraced all the months ahead of time;  The hard work and fat loss over time.  This alone plus posing practice and good photography will get you a superior photo shoot.

Kimberley’s five day water load experiment

Kimberley day 5 1pm

Kimberley did a 5 day water load experiment.  This is her on day five.

My friend Kimberley did a 5 day water load experiment.  You are welcome to check out her pictures and results.

Process and select your final photos

Going through the process of selecting photo’s takes quite a bit of time.  Make sure you allow at least a day before the deadline to get this done.  Once you narrow down the selection crop them and make them look nice.  I have found that cropping takes out the distractions and helps put the focus on you in the picture.

I’ve found it helpful to have others help choose the pictures. If I didn’t have help I would have discarded what ended up being one of John’s favorite pictures of me.

Resize them so they aren’t too big for the download process.  Once you are ready to submit them you can use the community forum and there is a tab labeled “contest” at the top right.

Don’t forget the newspaper!

The day of your photo shoot don’t forget the current days newspaper front page!

An unusual and highly structured week

If you choose to structure your diet for less bloating and do a water load this final week it will be a strange mix of days.  It will not resemble a normal week in your life.  It is highly structured and not sustainable for a long period.  Most people who complete the process are exhausted at the end and will not likely want to do it again.  It’s hard.  It’s something most people will only want to do once or twice a year, if that.

Of course you can always forgo all the hard work and discipline, put health and longevity aside, and rely on the beauty industries “Fotoshop“.  You know I am just kidding, right?  Be proud of the fact that you have improved your health and have embraced a difficult yet rewarding lifestyle and don’t need to rely on Photoshop to look fit and fabulous.

This wraps up this 3 part series.  It is my sincere hope that this helps.  I know many of you have been working hard toward your goals.  It’s not easy.  Everyone struggles and yet seems to keep moving forward at whatever pace they can handle.  That is all you can do.  I am looking forward to seeing the beautiful results.

Have an awesome week and keep up the great work!



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Preparing For Your Contest Photo Shoot – Part 2: Photography And Lighting

The deadline for the 7th Venus Index Transformation Contest on April 15th is quickly approaching.  This article is part of a 3 part series to help gear you up with ideas on how to make your photo shoot fun and successful.  We will cover posing practice, lighting, photography, scene setup, water load and deplete, bikini and shoe selection, tanning and other grooming ideas. In part 1 we talked about posing practice.  Today lets talk about photography and lighting.

Take pictures at home or hire a professional photographer?

You can take awesome pictures at home or hire a professional photographer.  I did both.  One advantage of using a professional is they have special lighting equipment, experience, a variety of backdrops and props, and usually more powerful camera equipment.  The professional who took my pictures used a couple of remote flashes around me which had an amazing effect.

There is no way I could have duplicated this exact effect at home without the special equipment.  I watched and learned and then I improvised with lights at home but we’ll get to that in a moment.

The photographer used remote flashes in this picture

The photographer used remote flashes in this picture

The photographer I used was not nearly as expensive as I thought, especially for the quality of service I received.  His name is Donnie Newton and he did an amazing job.  He clearly loves photography.  I would highly recommend him to anyone in California; A day with Donnie in Sacramento is well worth the drive.

Donnie used special colored filters in the gym, but the photographer can create the same effect later when processing the photo.

Donnie used special colored filters for these photos

Donnie used special colored filters for these photos

Lighting at home

I saw what Donnie did with lighting so I decided to take some pictures at home.  I used my husbands Nikon D300s digital camera on a tripod.  I tried putting lamps behind me but I couldn’t get the pictures to turn out.  They either wouldn’t focus or were completely washed out.  I did some research online and it turns out that light shining into the lens messes up the camera.

The remote flashes Donnie used were timed and adjusted by the equipment.  You can purchase special umbrellas and light boxes but I didn’t have that option if I wanted to get my pictures done that day.  So I improvised with my husbands construction lights, tar paper, and duct tape.  These items were handy since the room was under construction.

I improvised with construction lamps, tar paper, and duct tape

I improvised with construction lamps, tar paper, and duct tape

The construction lamps were hot and needed to be turned off in between sets.  I did not dare leave the room with those hot lamps on.

The tar paper funnels kept the light shining on me but did not interfere with the camera lens.

One thing I could have done to improve the picture quality was to bring the camera closer so that my image filled the screen.  I wasted valuable resolution by having my image so small and cropping so much off.  The picture with the lamps is actually cropped from the original.

Here is the cropped version of the picture

Here is the cropped version of the picture

Sometimes you get “surprise” pictures

One of the fun things about this photo is that it was just a test.  I was using the camera timer and was testing the camera setup and lighting before “posing”.  I had mentally “discarded” this picture.  When I had my friend Lisa help me narrow down the pictures to select for the mandatory front picture she said she liked this one the best.  This surprised me.  You never know what surprises you will get if you have someone snapping away with the camera for you.

Lisa liked what my facial expression said to her.  I think I was just having fun enjoying the process and the progress I had made.  I had just finished a successful photo shoot with Donnie and was trying out some ideas of my own.  I was having fun and I think it showed.  Lisa said it looked to her like I was saying “I have a secret!” and I think I kind of felt like I did have a secret bubbling up inside.  I had not yet had a chance to show off my work.

The most important factor is still the months and weeks of hard work

One other important point about this picture and all the others I took at home during this session is that I had a full meal the night before.  In fact I had eaten a fair amount of calories and drank a lot of water because I was water depleted during the previous day’s session with Donnie.  The meal was a kind of “stress relief meal” that the photo session was complete.

I had not quite decided if I would take pictures again at home.  I nibbled at some food and took a few sips of water in the morning before this session at home.  This session was done with just a normal nightly fast and simply not consuming too much food or water until the session was over.

I will talk more about the diet and water deplete in part 3 but for now remember that it is not really necessary to do all that for a good photo shoot.  Of course you don’t want to eat a whole pizza the night before, or eat a lot of foods that make you bloated.  The most important factor for your shape is the exercise and diet for the weeks and months leading up to the time of the photo session.

It is not necessary to do a long fast or water deplete for good photos.  The most important factor is still your months of hard work with diet and exercise

It is not necessary to do a long fast or water deplete for good photos. The most important factor is still your months of hard work with diet and exercise

Indoor scene setup at home

  • Select a backdrop; I like to use thick fleece blankets for the backdrop and on the floor because they don’t wrinkle like the sheets do.
  • Make sure the color of the backdrop goes well with the color of your suit and shoes
  • Make the scene clean from clutter; move items out of the scene, i.e. toys, trash cans, etc.
  • Try a variety of lamps
  • Try using daylight streaming in through a window

Outside pictures

There are a lot of nice outdoor settings that can be used; parks, gardens, fields, lakes, ocean and beach, forests, and pool settings.  Lighting can be tricky.  Like the problem I had with the lamps you don’t want the sun shining directly into the lens unless there is special equipment.  You can get some nice effects with early morning sun or evening sunsets.  A sunset scene can really show off your tan but you only have a few minutes before it gets dark.

Donnie had the right equipment to get the lighting just right for this pool scene

Donnie had the right equipment to get the lighting just right for this pool scene

Make sure you got what you wanted

Whether you are using a timer on a tripod or someone is taking the pictures for you make sure to check them before switching sets or calling it a day.  Zoom in on the pictures and scroll around making sure you like your facial expressions and poses.  Even better download them to a computer and make sure they are what you really wanted.

Zooming in on the picture helps you see if the focus is set correctly as well.  It is difficult to use auto-focus in an indoor setting like I used with the construction lamps so I had to switch to manual focus. If you are by yourself with the camera on a timer it’s a bit more cumbersome to set the manual focus. I used a white sheet of paper marked with a black felt marker as a focus tool.  The sheet of paper was attached to a large cardboard box which I moved to the spot where I would be standing whenever I needed to set the focus.

Don’t forget the newspaper front page with each scene and outfit.

Don’t forget to have fun!

Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the progress you have made.  The reason you are doing this is because of what you have accomplished, be proud of what you have done.

Even of you don’t have time to do all this preparation you can capture your accomplishments in a five minute photo shoot like my friend Kimberley.  She was not planning to submit pictures and was packing for a vacation and knew she wouldn’t get back before the contest deadline.   So at the last minute she threw on some shoes and a bikini and had her husband Roly snap a few pictures.  And just look, she has been labeled the Every Day Venus ever since and her pictures happen to look beautiful.

On Monday we’ll wrap up with part 3 and talk about bikini and shoe selection, and what can be done the final week of the photo shoot; water load and deplete, tanning, and other grooming ideas.

Have a great weekend!



Preparing For Your Contest Photo Shoot – Part 1: Posing Practice

The deadline for the 7th Venus Index Transformation Contest on April 15th is quickly approaching.  This article is part of a 3 part series to help gear you up with ideas on how to make your photo shoot fun and successful.  We will cover posing practice, lighting, photography, scene setup, water load and deplete, bikini and shoe selection, tanning and other grooming ideas.

Preparing for your contest photo shoot – Part 1: Posing practice

When it comes to taking good pictures getting in shape is only part of the equation; it is the most important part but you still have to learn how to “present yourself” once you get there.  Posing is something you should start practicing now if you want successful pictures.  It takes some effort and can be tiring.  Like most “training” it works well if you can spread it out over time so you can rest in between sessions.  This gives you time to mull things over and come up with creative ideas to try out for the next session.  Always try to end your sessions on a positive note.

We already have a tutorial with Loren Jacobson and an interview with her; there is much to learn from Loren’s experience and wisdom.  I’ve tried this type of posing with a group of competition girls and it is hard; it takes practice.

One of the very first Venus contest winners, Alisha McGinn, did a phenomenal job with with taking pictures.  She took first place in two contests.  You can see the pictures and listen to what she did to make them so awesome during her interviews for the 1st Venus Index Transformation Contest and the 3rd Venus Index Transformation Contest.

Alisha is one of the first pioneers of the Venus Index program and her driving force, dedication, and trust in John and Brad have enabled most of us to enjoy new features of this program like the Reverse Taper Diet of which she is featured on the cover.

Alisha did so well on her photo shoot that her picture is featured on the cover of the Reverse Taper Diet manual

Alisha did so well on her photo shoot that her picture is featured on the cover of the Reverse Taper Diet manual

The Reverse Tape Diet manual and calorie calculator are included with the Immersion product.

Mandatory poses

You will need to take a mandatory front, side, and back photo, arms down, just like the before pictures you submitted.  These are for comparison but you want to make these look nice and show your best.  Once those are done you can be as creative as you want.  You can submit 10-15 photo’s if you wish.  You need the current days newspaper front page in a photo with you for each outfit and scene, they do not have to be in a “posed” picture.

Gather up photo examples

Spend some time finding pictures from magazines, supplement packages, advertisements, and internet searches and save or print them.

Here are some examples of pictures found online, in magazines, and even supplement packaging

Here are some examples of pictures found online, in magazines, and even supplement packaging

Practice imitating the various poses in front of a mirror.  Try it from various angles and you might find your right side or left side is better.  You will find that some poses look awesome on the model in the picture but not for you, or that with your physique it looks better with the same pose slightly modified, or even greatly modified.  This is where spending the time practicing will pay off.  Once you practice many different poses you will find the ones that look best for you.

Practice with a camera

Once you decide on poses that look best on you try them with a camera.  Lighting is important and we’ll get to that in part 2, but for now practice with a camera because you might find the poses need a few more adjustments.  Things are slightly different in the camera lens and on the actual photo.  If possible try taking the pictures in various light settings to see what looks best for your look on camera.

It is really important to practice with the camera whether you ultimately take the pictures at home or with a professional photographer.  If you choose to use a professional photographer you will want to know ahead of time what poses present yourself the best.  Many photographer’s may not be able to help much with posing or know what gives you your best look.

Change up the lighting

Try the same poses in different lighting if possible;

  • inside and outside
  • morning
  • middle of the day
  • sunset
  • sunlight streaming through a window
  • a lamp or two placed in various places around you
I practiced by copying online fitness model poses

I practiced by imitating online fitness model poses and experimented with lamp placement

Try different facial expressions

Some poses look best with you looking away, others look better with you looking into the lens as if you are looking someone in the eye, smiling or otherwise communicating to them with your expression.  Some girls can get away with a pout or sexy look while others look better with a simple smile.  Older women like myself usually do better with a smile while we might have done okay with a more pouting look in our younger days.

Have fun trying out new poses and expressions!

Have fun trying out new poses and expressions!

Try different stances

Front poses are usually best offset slightly with a kind of twist to show more of an hour glass shape, but you don’t have to follow any rules.  Find what works best for you.  I ended up doing some pictures offset and some straight on.

On the left; an offset stance with a slight twist shows of an hour glass.  One the right; straight on.  Try each.

On the left; an offset stance with a slight twist shows more of an hour glass shape. On the right; straight on. Try each if you want.

The back view pose

I found this pose to be the hardest.  In fact I spent a least an hour getting this one photo.  My extremely patient friend Judy helped me.  I emailed her what I had and she said “No that needs work”.  Then she pointed me to a fitness contest website ( IFBB Arnold Classic) with professional fitness models to attempt to imitate.  I took Judy’s advice and tried to imitate images from my computer screen.  I snapped some pictures, emailed her, and waited for her response.  She responded with feedback on what to improve and we repeated this process at least 10 or more times.  It was frustrating,  hard, and tedious but I am very grateful for the help I got from Judy.  It is a difficult pose but with practice you will see how you need to arch your back, set your head, neck, and shoulders.

I found the back pose to be the hardest but well worth it in the end

I found the back pose to be the hardest but well worth it in the end


Enjoy your own progress, your own physique, and have fun!

Most of all have fun and enjoy the progress you have made with your shape.  The end of the contest is only five weeks away.  If you have been consistent since the beginning you should be seeing some progress so enjoy those hard earned victories now while you keep moving toward your goals.

Do not compare yourself to others

One key thing to remember when using fitness model photo’s like this is to not compare yourself to them.  You have your own beauty, your own physique, your own gifts, and you have no idea what the model did to get her look.  The pictures are just examples for trying to figure out what poses bring out your best shape.  Do not aspire to be them; aspire to be the best you possible.

On Friday we’ll cover part 2;  Photography, lighting, photo scene selection and setup.



Transform Your Mind And Your Body By Keeping It Simple

Today John talks to Deanne Hernandez who placed first in the 6th Venus Index Transformation Contest.

Check out her transformation pictures from the 12 Week Contest:


Deanne before the contest

Deanne Hernandez - 1st Place - After Photos

Deanne Hernandez – 1st Place – After Photos

At the beginning of the contest Deanne did the Venus Index Workout but tried to eat gluten free because it sounded like a good thing to do.  Like many of us she was eating a certain way for no particular reason other than it seems to be the latest fad.  She realized she could not lose weight because she was still eating too many calories.  Her weight stayed the same during the first eight weeks of the contest.  She did not take her diet and calories seriously enough.  Then she got really motivated and kicked into gear, got motivated, got her correct mindset, took a good look at her calories, and ended up with some amazing results. You can change the way you look.  Deanne also decided to get involved in the Venus Index Community Forum and that helped her a lot.  She didn’t realize how much support and information was available there.  She highly recommends others to get involved there to help with your success.

Stay Motivated

Deanne realized that the process was mostly about mindset.  Like most of us have also learned she found she needed mindset techniques like cause and effect; “If I do this than what?”, and “You either do it you don’t.”  She decided she needed the contest with the end date to help keep her motivated.  She said the contest was the best thing she ever did for herself.  She realizes now that what she learned how to do during the contest is something she can do for the rest of her life.

Deanne loved listening to the previous contest winner interviews and loved to imagine herself looking like the pictures of Alisha.  Not only did the process transform her body but it transformed her mind.  She had spent most of her life with a poor image of herself and a lot of negative self talk.  The process she used during the contest and listening to Olya’s interview helped her stop the negative self talk.  She started treating her workouts and diet as gifts to her body.  She now treats herself with kindness and respect.

Knowledge Is Power

Deanne learned that managing the correct amount of calories, Eat Stop Eat, and eating foods you like were the keys to successful weight loss for her.  She learned the truth about calories from the Venus Index manuals and from the Venus Index community.  Deanne learned that the process was simple but not easy.  She decided to keep it simple and tune out all of the conflicting information that comes from the diet and fitness industry.

Keep It Simple

Deanne really liked April’s interview and the plan for doing the VI workout lifting weights three days a week.  Even though more advanced weight lifters can do the workout more days per week the three days per week kept it simple for her.  She decided she would do something every day.  Mostly she paid attention to her activity level for the day and tried to make sure she was taking 10,000 steps.  She walked while she listened to the Venus Index podcasts and that made it fun and enjoyable for her.  She decided that if she did not feel like exercising she would just do it anyway, even if she decided to make the workout easier or lift lighter.  Even on the days she decided to do an easier workout she found that once she got going she felt like pushing herself hard and it felt good.  She found that by doing this she learned to be consistent.


Look what being consistent and motivated did for Deanne. She looks fabulous.

Links from the interview:

  • Eat Stop Eat – Diet Lifestyle protocol designed to help you to lose fat and regain freedom in your food choices
  • Original Venus Index Workout – Workout program for women that’s responsible for the most amazing transformations online
  • Venus Index Community – Friendliest and most supportive women’s only fitness community on the Internet

Advice from Deanne:

  • Don’t wait, Do something NOW.
  • Keep it simple
  • Figure out how many calories you need and go from there
  • Join a transformation contest
  • It is mostly about mindset
  • Set a goal with a date
  • Even if you don’t feel like it do an easy exercise
  • Exercise as a gift to your body
  • The process is simple, but not easy

Read what Deanne wrote about her experience with Venus Index:

I vaguely remember reading somewhere that the difference between success and failure was education. That idea now makes perfect sense after completing VT6. My failure in weight loss was completely due to my lack of education about the way the human body works. I was an overweight child, and my fittest years being in early college when I was the most active. After college, my weight crept on me and I went through …Continue reading here

Listen to Deanne’s interview here, and please “like” it when you’re done:

Getting In Contest shape: Interview With Erik Ledin Part 2

This is the second part of an interview series I did with Erik Ledin. Originally it was never meant to be a two part interview, but Erik has so much to say that we just kept going…(I’m sure we could talk for 100 hours on this topic). So this is the second part of our lengthy conversation.

Part 2 of our interview with Erik Ledin

Today we talk about supplements, and what might be useful.

Expecting perfection will only set you up for disappointment. Setting realistic goals with realistic expectations is important to being in a positive mindset.

You also have to realize that the leaner and sharper you get the harder and harder the path becomes. The process might be the same, however you will discover that going from 25% bodyfat to 15% bodyfat feels much easier than going from 15% bodyfat to 8% bodyfat.The actual number of pounds lost might actually be less, but the effort increases exponentially.

We’ll also discuss metabolic efficiency and the law of diminishing returns from doing more and more cardiovascular training. It might seem that more cardio simply equals more fat loss, but this isn’t always the case.

You also must be wary of the so called perfect time to train or eat. If you’ve heard that cardio on the morning on an empty stomach is the best time to train, but you simply cannot get to the gym in the morning, or just flat out hate working out in the morning, then you simply won’t do it. This can lead to feelings of self doubt and failure, and a mindset that it’s just too hard to get in shape or that “it’s just not for you”.

The reality is that compliance and consistency is what will win the race. That means the workout and diet must fit into your life and not the other way around.

These are all factors you must consider when you decide to change your body.

The process is actually rather simple but not necessarily easy. It requires effort and consistency, but if you stick to it you can take your body as far as you want.


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Learning to Maintain a Change: Interview With Erik Ledin Part 1

Getting in shape is a lifestyle not a destination. It’s an ever evolving process that changes throughout life as you change.

Learning that your body and you fitness and your shape is a not just a moment in time, a contest, a one day goal, but rather it’s a lifestyle.

Erik is one of the best in the business at getting people in contest shape.

Sure you may compete in a contest, one of our contests, or getting in shape for an event or a photoshoot, but you must understand it’s just a stop along the way of the bigger journey of your life.

Date specific motivation can help push you to a new level of body composition and fitness can help kick start your journey, but it cannot be your only way to motivate yourself.

Adopting a lifestyle of training and fitness is with an eye on your diet as it relates to your body composition is truly a lifestyle change and a way to live for your entire life and not just a 12 week run at an event.

Today’s podcast is a part 1 of a two part series I did with a friend and diet/fitness coach Erik Ledin.

Erik has over 11 years of experience coaching people into the best shape of their lives from pro bodybuilders and fitness competitors to every day gym rats and stay at home mom’s who just want to finally get in shape.

We’ll dig into the psychology of diet, training, and the common post contest malaise that hits many competitors. We also talk about what it takes to finally adopt the true lifestyle of taking care of your body and staying in shape…the elusive state of ‘maintenance’.

Listen up cuz this is an awesome interview.


P.S. The audio file today ends rather abruptly, it’s not an error, it’s just my less than adequate editing skills!

P.S. You can learn more about Erik at his website: Lean Bodies Consulting

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Getting into “Stage” Contest Shape, Tracking Results is Key: Interview with Don Gauvreau

Prepping for a bodybuilding or fitness show is an inexact science. There are different ways to do it and different schools of thought on what is the best approach. Over the next few weeks I will be interviewing some of the best in the business at getting people into contest shape.

Today I interview Don Gauvreau. He’s has extensive experience formulating and developing sports supplements and has recently started his own brand of supplements. You can check them out here: Pharma Freak

Donny G definitely knows what it takes to get into contest shape.

Besides his own competitions, Don has coached many top level bodybuilders and fitness/figure competitors through their pre-contest diet/training to prepare for a show.

In this interview Don will give his advice and insights on the process of getting in shape for a show. We’ll talk about training intensity, volume, cardio, and how to make adjustments along the way.

We’ll also discuss the effect of changing diet along the way and what seems to work and what doesn’t.

At the end of the day there is no rules about what to do beyond what is working vs what isn’t working. This is the hardest thing for most people to grasp as we all want the final answer on what to do. The real answer is everyone’s body is slightly different and what works best for you may not work best for someone else.

With that said there are likely going to be some general guidelines for where to start, but after that, it’s all about recording and tracking your progress.

Tracking progress will allow you to make an objective determination of what worked and what didn’t. This is the single most important thing to solving the muscle building and fat loss riddle of your own body.


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