Naturally Fit

Bodybuilding Helps Woman Gain Confidence and Lose Weight

Trista Elaschuk
Photo: Tim Dardis

Starbucks has a magical drink — four espresso shots blended in ice with four pumps of sugar-free caramel syrup. Zero calorie magic! This is great news for Trista Elaschuk, who monitors every crumb and drop that goes into her body. She has to, because Elaschuk is a natural bodybuilder.

No extra capsules or drugs, she builds her body with real food — egg whites, oatmeal, chicken, green beans and, her favourite, sweet potatoes. The rest of her regimen comes down to straight-up grit and determination: 4:30a.m. wake-ups for cardio, then weights after her day at the office, six days a week.

But this lifestyle shift is relatively recent for Elaschuk. She has struggled with weight and confidence her whole life. Yo-yo dieting offered no respite, making her feel worse; nor did the first time around at Weight Watchers. But after starting to lift weights, the excess pounds started to stay off and her confidence grew. At her heaviest in 2006, Elaschuk weighed 195; now she is a healthy 131.

Today, the straight-talking young woman is wearing a stylish chevron midi and bright pink sandals; she is fit and walks with her head high. Her hair, makeup and nails are all done as she enjoys her drink. Her mantra: “Champions aren’t built with excuses.” (It’s on her fridge and mirror.)

In January she called her coach and told her she wanted to be competition ready, standing on a stage in July. The training was hard and her diet was strict — sometimes reducing food so much that within minutes of eating a meal she could see changes in her body. The journey was made easier with her support network; her boyfriend is also a bodybuilder.

Elaschuk prides herself on being a natural bodybuilder in a sport where using illegal supplements can be controversial. Natural bodybuilders don’t use performance-enhancing substances such as anabolic steroids and human growth hormone.

“I’m very adamant on being a natural athlete and sticking with that. If that doesn’t get me to where I want to be, then I tried my best and all I can do is try my best.”

In July, she stood on the stage in Red Deer, Alta., as the winners were announced. She was third. “I had to stop myself from crying,” she says, proud of her accomplishment. She ripped off her five-inch heels and ran barefoot to hug her family.

Elaschuk’s body is a canvas of ink.

There’s a tattoo on her arm — an empty birdcage with a peacock feather and the quote, “She who is brave is free.”

Elaschuk says she feels like the bird missing from her tattoo; she feels free.