So you train for a show and win. What’s next? Most people would be jazzed and doing jumping jacks and celebrating with their favorite new boyfriend or girlfriend “Pound of Peanut Butter Cups”. Not Jessica Ortiz. The California native and NPC competitor pulled some double duty and managed to win twice in the span of a week recently in March. Tough to compete in one show, let alone two and let alone win one. So it’s a complete testament to her dedication to pull this off and get the trophies.
But could a gal do the back-to-back wins as a plant based athlete? A lot of naysayers would probably say “nay!” but we’re in a day and age where vegans are winning often and breaking the stereotypes show in and show out that they can’t hang with the norm. We know this isn’t the case. Jessica is a perfect example on how to train, eat, and live as a vegan and compete on the NPC stage like any other. As you can see she’s packed with top-level muscle, prize winning legs and a stage persona and attitude that even comes through the camera extremely well. Sounds like a winning combo. We caught up with Jessica post victory to chat about her training, recent success and how a double winner treats herself post-show.
MMF: So I guess to start, congratulations for winning two shows in the span of 8 days. How crazy does it feel to know you were able to do that?
Jessica Ortiz: Thank you Dru! I still feel like I’m on cloud nine. It was a dream come true being able to do a back to back bodybuilding competition as a vegan and taking first place in both of them. It was a great accomplishment, not only for me but for the vegan community.
MMF: I know it was a bit since your last show. What did you do differently if anything to train or prepare for these two?
Jessica Ortiz: I knew for the show I had to do a 10 week bulk, which was a mental challenge because I’ve always been petite and lean. So, to put on the weight I had to step out of my comfort zone because I no longer had that lean muscle, I had bulky muscle. There were many times I felt like giving up on the bulk and quitting, but I knew if I wanted to step on stage with a different physique I had to push through. I had to keep on going and continue eating because in the end I’d be able to lift heavier, which would help me develop a stronger, fuller physique. Then after the end of my 10 weeks I chose a show, the San Diego Championships on March 21, 2015. So then after the 10 week bulk, I did a 12 week prep, when in the past I had only done an 8 week prep before a show. To my surprise my body responded well to the vegan cutting plan. By the time I was 4 weeks out, I was already more defined than I had been when I was stage ready for my last competition. That’s when I decided to take advantage of the cut and new physique and had signed up for the Muscle Contest Competition that was on March 14, 2015. I really wanted to see if I could have the discipline to do this; to see if I could give myself that mental and physical challenge and accomplish this goal.
MMF: Beings you’re a plant based competitor, your “off season” body never seems to be too far off from your show look (at least to me). For someone reading this now, can you tell us the differences in diet or training for your off season and during your peak? Do you think the last month of cutting is easier being plant based since the food you eat is easier to process?
Jessica Ortiz: During off season I make sure to eat clean, I’d say about 80% of my day is eating clean. Being a vegan it definitely is much easier to eat clean. During a prep I always make sure to go to the gym 6x a week with very intense lifting sessions and occasional cardio sessions. During off season I still prep my food on a daily basis, but I only workout 4-5x per week at a lower intensity, and I leave room for the occasional cheat meal. I feel like cutting is still just as hard, because you were eating a lot before, but for a cut you decrease your calories and your carbs which is difficult for your body to adjust.
MMF: Like prepping your body but also prepping mentally for “ok I’m going on completely lockdown diet” wise, right? Like the occasional oreo is off limits at that point….
Jessica Ortiz: Correct. During a cutting plan I tend to remove all vegan sweets from the house. And I make sure to always go to the store with a grocery list and I stick to buying only what’s on that list.
MMF: While I was looking for pictures to use for the article on your page, I saw you seem to have a post-cupcake tradition after your shows. Did you get your cupcake fix after these two recent wins? (laughs) I would imagine so…..
Jessica Ortiz: I did for the Muscle Contest Competition, my friend Jenna Saulnier brought me a delicious mocha chocolate cupcake. For the second show my friend Heather Doppke brought me a grocery bag full of cookies and cookie butter, let’s just say I was eating cookies for a whole week.
(*editors note: yes Jessica and I both know the “Butter Cookies” aren’t vegan…she didn’t eat them don’t worry)
MMF: (laughing) yeah I saw the “pic” with you and the oreos. well deserved treat of course….back to a bit of training questions, a few of my female friends have seen your pics and mentioned to me they envy your legs and glutes. What is your secret weapon exercise to help keep your glutes in tip top shape? Or would you care to enlighten our female readers with how you train your legs?
Jessica Ortiz: Oh I’ll gladly share my glute tips! For those 22 weeks I made sure to work out my glutes and legs 3x per week. The key was and always will be…to deadlift. You can deadlift with a barbell, dumbells, cables, plates, you name it, just make sure whatever you find in the gym use it to deadlift. I also incorporated cable kick backs, donkey kicks, squats, lunges, and curtsey lunges. Then some advice for any girl that wants bigger and stronger glutes is to not be scared of carbs, complex carbs will help you build fuller glutes and legs. So eat and eat and eat complex carbs.
MMF: Though I know there is always a focus on the show itself and doing well, surely you have discussed being vegan with other ladies and helped break down a few misconceptions in the process….Do you ever get into conversations with other girls who aren’t vegan at shows?
Jessica Ortiz: Yes, I actually had a few girls back stage approach me asking if I was “jessi_vegan” (from her Instagram), they would always be impressed with my physique, and they would say “I can’t believe you’re vegan and you look like this.”
MMF: Through that have you managed to get a few girls interested or contact you later about how to progress and make the switch at all?
Jessica Ortiz: Yes, I’ve helped girls that have competed on a regular chicken and fish diet who felt like they would like to do a competition as a vegan. Some had felt guilty for eating so much meat, and others have gotten sick from eating such a high amount of animal protein. I’ve also helped out people that are already vegans who are seeking to get fit.
MMF: I saw that you’ve been at this for a few years…aside from the wonderful socio-environmental benefits and doing your part to not contribute to the plight of animals, what has been the best part of your choice to go vegan?
Jessica Ortiz: Like you said the love of animals, but I’m also grateful that this lifestyle took me to the NPC stage, because honestly if I was a vegan I don’t think I would have accomplished this much.
MMF: So speaking of the stage, you’ve competed at several California shows now…are you looking into competing our of state, possible trying out a large National show in Vegas or elsewhere next?
Jessica Ortiz: Yes, I decided to do Nationals in Florida in November of this year.
MMF: Will this be your first time out of state competing? Any changes you’ll be making to your training or will you stick with what’s been working?
Jessica Ortiz: Yes, this is my first time out of state. The only thing different will be a longer bulk, this time my ideal end of bulk weight will be 120lbs instead of 112lbs.
MMF: We got one more for you….since you started competing, you’ve probably met a lot of women you’ve inspired and inspired quite a few just through social media. If you could give one message to girls reading this, whether they compete or are feeling timid about starting a life of fitness and health, what would you tell them?
Jessica Ortiz: To never listen to the naysayers, especially when it comes to being a vegan because people are going to say such things like that it’s just a cleanse, that you can never build muscle on a vegan diet, and that we need to eat meat. Also, accept that it’s ok for people to have that mentality, and that it’s our duty as female vegan bodybuilders to educate others that you can achieve whatever physique you desire even on a plant based diet.
You can follow Jessica on her instagram at Instagram.com/Jessi_Vegan