Shayna Fiorina wakes up each morning thinking about her lift. She goes to bed each night envisioning herself walking through the doors to the Pete. As she sits in class, eating chicken from the plastic containing her fourth or fifth meal of the day, she watches the minutes tick down on the clock. She’s excited for the day to be over so a new one can start.
Fiorina began bodybuilding in 2013, during the summer before entering her freshman year at college. Now a sophomore, Fiorina has already competed, placing first and second in her two divisions, and is currently preparing for her second show.
Her “prepping” season — the 16 weeks she spends getting ready for a competition — includes working out six days per week, eating six meals per day and rising at 6 or 7 a.m. daily.
“It’s like a job,” Fiorina said.
To make sure she gets the right nutrients throughout the day, Fiorina eats every two and a half hours.
“I’m that kid in class that pulls out a Tupperware thing full of chicken and rice,” Fiorina said. “My backpack is called a six-pack bag, and it’s like a mini fridge in one section.”
She usually eats the same thing for each meal, although she can vary certain food choices, such as vegetables.
Similar to her eating habits, Fiorina’s schedule is structured, and she follows a daily routine — gym, eat, class, eat, class, schoolwork, eat and sleep. Fiorina doesn’t mind the repetitiveness, describing it as comfortable.
One day each week, however, breaks routine — Saturday.
Not only does she get a day off from exercising, she also gets to cheat on her diet. Neglecting the strict rules that she follows for the rest of the week, Fiorina gets to indulge in a cheat meal once per week. A cheat meal is exactly what it sounds like — a chance to eat whatever she wants.
Two weeks ago, she went to Burgatory and cleaned her plate of burgers and fries while slurping down a milkshake. Last week, she went to The Cheesecake Factory, where she reveled in fried chicken and biscuits and turtle pecan cheesecake.
The cheat meal has another benefit besides delicious food — time with friends.
“Whenever I’m not eating, making food, doing cardio or at the gym, I’m doing school work or sleeping,” Fiorina said. “I’m not gonna sacrifice my sleep for a social life.”
Although she has given up a “normal” college experience, Fiorina said her friends work around her schedule, planning dinner outings around her cheat meal or letting her know ahead of time where they want to go so she can look at the menu and find something she can eat. Often when she goes out to eat for non-cheat day meals, Fiorina will bring her own chicken along with her.
“I can still go out to eat, I just have to put in a lot more effort,” Fiorina said.
This amount of effort extends to all parts of her life, but she finds it rewarding, rather than daunting.
“I think I’m just a very goal-oriented person,” Fiorina said. “I like to have something to work toward. I like to be productive, and when I’m not doing anything, I get anxious. I like to be ‘go, go, go’ all day. That’s probably why I can go to sleep so early.”
Before her bodybuilding career, Fiorina had a goal of finishing a half marathon — check. Then finishing a half marathon in under two hours — check. Then competing in a bodybuilding competition — check. Now, her goal is to win her second competition. In the future, she wants to get a job that she loves, but that allows time for her to pursue other passions outside of the workplace.
Fiorina is majoring in global management and supply chain, but said she does not have a clue why.
“My parents said a business degree is pretty versatile and I could get a job with pretty much every company, so at least I’m working toward something,” Fiorina said.
Although she doesn’t know yet what she wants to do, she plans to go through internship programs until she finds something that she loves.
“There’s no way to know [what you want to do] until you go out there,” Fiorina said. “You have to find out what you don’t want to do to figure out what you do want to do.”
Fiorina had a similar mentality with her fitness goals — she tried lifting, decided she loved the feeling of strengthening her muscles and always looking for ways to improve her mental and physical health, and she hasn’t stopped since.
“It’s pretty amazing to see what you can make your body do,” Fiorina said. “I never would have pictured myself being able to lift what I can now.”
Fiorina set a new personal record a few weekends ago for deadlift — 225 pounds.
“It’s a great feeling,” Fiorina said.