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About Deviant ninj4st4rMale/United States Group :iconfemalemusclemorphs: FemaleMuscleMorphs
 
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Pumping Vengeance chapter 1
Amber sat in her car, paralyzed by trepidation and the fear of discovery.
She had known for some time that this was a bad idea. She had lied to herself that this wasn't necessary. Her car tick-tocked with the sounds of the cooling engine, as it had been sitting down the street from her boyfriend Matt's townhouse. Her car sat parked just outside the view of Matt's townhouse for her to effectively recon the situation. Amber had been sitting now for over twenty minutes agonizing about what she'd find. Her heart sank the moment she turned down his street. An unfamiliar car had been parked outside, and if her guess was right, had been there for some time now. Beads of early morning dew had collected all over the powder blue paint job and the windows. Someone had stayed the night.
Matt had gone dark. No text, nor phone call over the last week had reached him. No status updates on either Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. What had happened to him? Nobody had seen hide nor hair of Matt, and Ambe
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BIGValABS1 by ninj4st4r



Every so often, an athlete just pops out of nowhere and takes things by storm. Valentina Medvedeva is one such athlete. Appearing on the scene just a short time ago, she's already lit up the internet and exploded in popularity. Her outrageous muscularity, her phenomenal strength, her girlish beauty, and her cheerful personality earning her millions of fans literally overnight. We recently shadowed Ms. Medvedeva, or Val as she insisted on us calling her, during a grueling abs workout. We found that she's a natural for the camera, and enjoyed a chance to show people what she can do with some iron. Afterwards, she was gracious enough to sit down with us and grant us an extensive interview to allow us, and you the reader into her mind, body, and soul. We found a litany of wisdom, and were deeply charmed by her.

Here it is, 'At Last': The Valentina Medvedeva Interview!

First of all, let me say what a pleasure it is to finally get you to do a spread for us, Val.

Oh, thank you. I fell in love with your magazine from the first moment I read it! I never thought for one moment that I would be gracing the cover of it one day!

Straight and to the point. Why are you so popular? 5.4 million likes on Facebook, 85.8K on Twitter, and 990K on Instagram. Similar to Arnold in his heyday, you’re also a crowd favorite at every show. Why do people love and gravitate towards you?

I wish I knew! I really don’t have any clue. I wonder what it is that made me so popular, but when I think of one thing, something else pops up in its place. I don’t know how I got to this level. I think the biggest reason is that I'm very accessible. People reach out to me, and I take the time, no matter how exhausting it can be to get back to them. A lot of people ask me all kinds of training questions and I try to help them as best I can with what little information they choose to give me. I think people respect me for things that don’t normally happen in the bodybuilding industry. Like, breast augmentation for example. I get a lot of respect from women who respect me because I’m real. There’s nothing fake to me. There’s almost like a comfortableness with me. I show the world that big muscles can be sexy, and that being strong is always in a woman's best interest. Guys like me too, for the obvious reasons. I honestly don't mind all the attention I get from horny men. I know several women in the industry who scoff at the idea of being a sex-symbol, but I revel it it! (laughs) I mean, what better ego boost is there than knowing that there are legions of men and women out there who not only want to look like me, but be with me. I get marriage proposals by the truck-full. It's quite overwhelming at times.

That said, my fan base isn’t just people who want a sexy bodybuilding girl. There are tons of girls who do the cheesecake thing and that’s why guys follow them. But a lot of the guys that follow me are different. I have a lot of fans who are couples. They look at me and Andy as like this power couple and an example of the woman being stronger than the man, but being in a relationship based off of love and respect. That I think is my crowning achievement. I hate the notion that a woman with big muscles is a bloodthirsty psychopath, or a bully or that guys who appreciate a woman with bigger muscles than him is some kind of creepy weirdo, or a total weakling sycophant. I try to do what I can to dispel those stereotypes. I think people see that, and hold me up in that regard.


Let's start with the basics: tell us about your background.

Well, I was born in the last days of the Soviet Union in what was then Leningrad, which is now St. Petersburg. My parents were both Olympic level athletes, which is probably where I got my genetics from. My mother was a gymnast, and my father was a weightlifter. My parents both took part in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, and took home gold medals in their respective events. The Soviet Athletics Federation said 'Hey, wouldn't it be a great idea if we tried to make some superbabies?' So they put my parents together as some sort of ad hoc eugenics program, and nine months later, voila! Here I am!

Interesting. So, did it work?

Haha, you tell me. ;) (Wink)

How did you parents feel about it?

They didn't really have much of a choice. At first, anyway. They were told that it would be for the 'glory of the people' and 'Догнать и перегнать Америку' and all of that. Luckily for me, they developed feelings for one another, and resolved to defect. But before they could, and potentially get shot or something trying to break through the Iron Curtain, the Wall came down and they whole thing was scrapped.

Did you and your parents emigrate right after?

Not right away. They couldn't. The lifestyle they led, pretty much every waking moment governed by the State, was gone. They had nothing. I spent my first five years living in a 'new' Russia, a 'democratic' Russia. People were so used to the government being there, even in the era гласность (glasnost) and перестройка (perestroika) and демократизация (democratization) that when it was suddenly gone, everything was all topsy-turvy. Things that were 'Western' and illegal for decades suddenly weren't, but nobody could afford them. It was hard, but eventually, my parents made enough money to leave, and we ended up in New York City. (She smiles) The classic immigrant story! (she laughs) There I was on a steamer in black and white, with everything moving a bit too quickly on camera, avoiding the guy who's looking for stowaways with no tickets, the Keystone Kops with the title cards with some, what is it called? Y'know, the player piano music. Is it called Ragmop? Ragtime? (she turns to her boyfriend, Andy, for clarification) 'Honky-tonk music?' Are you sure? Isn't that like country music or something? Whatever. You know what I mean.

So then, you grew up in New York?

Yeah. The Brighton Beach area in Brooklyn, specifically. It basically became a dumping ground for former Soviet ex-pats looking to get a slice of that American Pie. It really wasn't a bad place, all things considered. My parents adapted quickly. My father opened several businesses and was quite successful, including a couple of gyms, and my mother taught gymnastics. We managed to live quite comfortably. Ours was not a unique story. There are TONS of Russian-language businesses and what not, and I attended a Russian Language school for the first few years. It was hard for me to make American friends because I didn't speak a lick of English until I was like nine or ten. Maybe eight. Suffice it to say, there was a language barrier.

I find that surprising, considering how fluent you are in it now.

Thanks! I worked hard to learn it after I got sick of being bullied. My parents, bless them, even took to speaking English at home to help me along. But even after I learned how to speak English, I still had a thick accent and still got picked on, but at least I knew what the little дураки were saying! (she laughs). Kids kept wanting me to say things like 'I must break you,' and 'nuclear wessels' and stuff like that. Eventually, I rolled with the punches and didn't sweat it much. I managed to shake my accent for the most part fairly quickly, but ended up on the other side of my initial problem, where I almost forgot how to speak Russian! О нет! (she laughs)

Really? How did that affect you at home?

It didn't really bother my parents too much, because like I said, they took to speaking English, but it made talking to other relatives and neighbors a bit of a hassle because I had to look at them like I had a head wound while I tried to remember what they were saying. I picked it back up, but everyone tells me that I sound like a янки. A Yankee. I guess I just can't win! (she laughs)

How and when did you start training?

I have always been very active and sporty my entire life. Starting at age 5 and being sort of, I don't want to say 'forced' (but I will,) into gymnastics and ballet by my mother. I didn't really think much of it at the time, but it got boring. I was very outdoorsy and loved playing in the mud with the boys! Instead I was stuck inside, and standing en pointe and flipping around like an inexperienced player of Tekken who picks Eddy Gordo and doesn't know how to do combos. I drove my mother nuts! Aside from that, I dabbled here and there in other sports, eventually just getting burned out and put my foot down and said to my parents 'no more'. I was around eleven or twelve when I started lifting weights, at first for sports, but I grew to love it! No pun intended!

I just kind of started going to the gym on my own. My whole background growing up was athletics so it wasn't a total shock for me. Every season I was involved with at least two sports, because I was on traveling teams and then school teams. I had a small background in lifting prior in that I knew exercises and I took strength and conditioning in high school, but never anything serious. I went with without really knowing anything about proper lifting, or diet, or anything and did a lot of research to find out what I was supposed to be doing.

How did your parents feel about that?

They HATED it! (she laughs) Well, at least my mother did. My dad wasn't too keen, but he got over it. My mom was very adamant that I was to be girly at all times, and didn't hold with me doing things that boys did, like lift weights and play basketball, and ride bikes and scrape our knees. Y'know, basic kid stuff. I found it a bit hypocritical of her, considering she strength trained during her days as an athlete. 'Valen'ka,' she'd say, 'if you touch the weights, you will get all big and muscley and boys won't want to ask you out!' Well, she was half-right anyway! (she smiles). At the gym, there were two girls that were getting ready for a show, and clearly just unhappy with their lives, and making sure everyone knew they were prepping for a bodybuilding show. I hate to brag, but I wasn't really even trying and I knew that I was better than them, so I found out what the girls were doing, and said, “I look better than them and I just started lifting, so I’ll do the show at some point too!” It was mostly just to add a little competitive side. I got some help from my father who at that point realized that it wasn't a passing fad and threw up his hands in defeat and agreed to train me. After my first show, I instantly became addicted.

Around middle school, I was left with all this extra time on my hands that I was never used to… No more practices, no more games, no more coach telling me to run hither and yon. I met my best friend Suzy at this time, and we quickly hit it off. She's a couple years older than me (she's probably going to kill me for telling you that! Sorry Suze! It's not my fault you're pushing 30!) and was into HIT like me, and she was REALLY big and strong. I mean, like bodybuilder big. She helped me out a lot, and we became really close over the years. Like really close. I had a general background in weight lifting through sports, but I basically just followed exactly what Suzy did and lifted just like the “guys.” We looked around, and saw the other girls in the gym on the cardio machines, and the girls with the pink weights doing random exercises and it became a joke to us. They basically were just wasting their time. The looked at us like we were crazy! (she laughs) I just basically followed her around and did what she did. I started putting on muscle really fast, even without dieting. We were basically just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what stuck. All of our gains were purely genetic at that point. We were only concerned with getting stronger. After just a few months, I started seeing some impressive gains in strength and muscle mass. It wasn’t long until those gains got me hooked (I mean like, check me into the Betty Ford Clinic addicted) to the gym. I have that crazy competitive side of me that just thrives on pushing myself to see how far I can go or how much weight I can push or how I can sculpt my body. I loved competing with Suzy and myself, and found out that it was just fun to go to the gym and lift everything we could get our hands on! The gym is my addiction!! After just under a year of training like that, I entered my first bodybuilding contest back in May of 2004. The preparation and training for a competition was that extra drive that made my weight lifting into a lifestyle.

Which you won, correct?

Yup! (she smiles) I was above that level physique-wise and even at 15 1/2, I was way bigger than any of the other women competing, even some of the guys! I felt bad for them, but I loved winning more. I did a few more local shows, then a few regionals, but hung it up after that because I didn't like dieting so crazy. Powerlifting was more my thing and I started getting into that. I was already crazy strong from training with Suzy, so I mopped up the competition pretty easily in all those shows I did. Suzy was in the weight-class ahead of me, and I would've loved to compete with her then, but good things come to those who wait, and I surpassed her in every way and she knows it! (she laughs) I'm just kidding, Suze! Big Kisses!

What kind of physiques and personalities inspired you in the beginning, and what made you choose this path?

Well, at the time, I didn’t follow the sport at all. I honestly didn't even know female bodybuilding was a thing, let alone something I wanted to do. The first show I ever went to was my own. I had no clue what to do. I literally went in completely blind. I just did it. It was pretty cool. I got addicted to getting ready for something. I was going to the gym for a purpose. But I never followed the sport or went to a show before my own. It was only after all that when I began taking things seriously enough to get invested.

How do you feel the ideals and judging in the female bodybuilding have changed over the years?

It changes from show to show, and changes based on what girls show up. Every show will be based on who shows up. If everyone shows up shredded or everyone comes in fuller, that will be the standard. It all depends on who’s judging, the quality of people that show up. So it’s never consistent. You have to go into it remembering that it’s an opinion-based sport. You’re judged on your body, so you have to remember that when you go in. That’s how I train. I used to train for the judges. In the beginning, they told me to soften up, not to lift so much, do more cardio, come in smaller, and I did the opposite because I didn’t want to look like that. I just did my own thing. My goal for Nationals in 2010 was to come in dead last. I wanted to look that good. I wanted abs and veins, and to be hard. I wanted to come in the total opposite of what they wanted. And that’s how I use the sport. There are people who train who don’t lift a certain way because they’ll do better at the show. That doesn’t sound fun to me. Why change the thing that I love the most, which is the gym? I just compete on the side. You can’t lose focus of the thing you love the most. People stop enjoying the process or their training, That’s why I look the same year round: because this is my lifestyle and it works for me. It’s people who do drastic things to get onstage that don’t enjoy it. You should enjoy everything about it.

Describe your typical day.

I tend to wake up around 6 am to eat and go work out. I leave the house in the late morning to get to the gym. I work out for around three to four hours. I get home around afternoon to eat again and cuddle with my sexy lil' man! When I'm home I, or my boyfriend Andy (usually him) cooks my meals. I bring this up because he doesn't let me in the kitchen for some stupid reason, even though I'm a much better cook than he is! (Andy protests, Valentina turns to him and they argue for a good long while) You know it's true! Alright, fine, we make and eat lunch and dinner (and all meals inbetween!), in addition to meals for the next day. Then, I go to work! I dance and perform at Annie Garibaldi's nightclub, Themyscira. My routine switches depending on the kind of thing that we're doing that night. I might be dancing, lifting, wrestling, whatever Annie needs me to do. I then eat yet again, take a deliciously long shower with my man, and and then try to get in bed at a fairly reasonable hour, but I usually get sucked into watching TV (and more cuddling!) or updating my social media, or whatever, and end up getting to bed later. Then wake up the very next day and do it allllllll over again!

Can you tell us about your training routine?

Routine is kind of an ugly word. I don't stick with one for very long. I'm a firm believer in shocking the muscle into growth. I use an 8-day cycle that varies most weeks. I hit usually one body part a day and hit it hard. For the most part, I do heavy weight with lower reps for my upper body. My rep range is anywhere between 16-25 with 8-12 sets of each exercise. For lower body, I take it a bit easier because my legs grow like crazy! I already have a lot of mass in my legs, I work out a little lighter with a higher rep range of 10-15 or 15-20. I do cardio, even if I hate it and it is boring. I do the stair climber or elliptical if I must. If it's a nice day out, I might go for a quick run around the neighborhood, but I don't go crazy. I don’t really like taking days off from the gym, I guess you can call it an addiction, but I try to arrange my workouts so body parts get enough rest before being worked again. Rest is necessary for growth!

What can you tell us about your diet?

I am not a very strict dieter. I love eating! I do not count carbs, I do not weigh anything, I do not record anything…I just eat! I try to eat clean for the most part, but it's a struggle. My boyfriend doesn't help matters when he gets a new recipe he wants to try, and it's really unhealthy or his love of fast food. He's lucky in that he can eat whatever he wants and not gain a damn ounce, but if I pig out, I just feel fat and bloated. Yuck! My main sources of protein come mostly from egg whites, turkey, fish, steak, and some chicken. Most of my carbohydrates generally come from oatmeal, rice and sweet potatoes. But I do not like bland boring meals, I like eating. I try to make healthier choices for the ingredients. Example, if I’m hungry for spaghetti, I make nice wheat pasta and load it with tons of lean ground turkey instead of beef. Simple things like that keep me happy and prevent me from killing someone (usually my boyfriend!)

Your weight doesn’t vary much between off-season and pre-contest. Are your meals significantly different in the two phases?

My meals are actually basically the same. The biggest difference for me and other bodybuilders is my life doesn’t revolve around the clock. I’m not eating every 2.5 hours religiously. Like I said, I eat when I want, but it’s the same kind of meals and generally the same portions. I try not to go too far from my plan. I may add a little extra protein, like 4 ounces pre-contest to 5 ounces off-season. Then, when I need to diet again, it’s not as hard. I also eat less frequently too in the off-season, like seven or eight meals versus ten or twelve pre-contest. Sadly, there’s no spontaneity to my life in that time period. I’ll go out to eat when I have to. If I have to do a lot of traveling, I’m basically eating out for most of my meals anyway.

Do you have a favorite cheat food?

Favorite? (she laughs) If it has the ingredient chocolate, peanut butter, or ice cream in it… It's a wrap! I could talk your ear off about all the foods I love and wish I could enjoy but I abstain. We only have 24 hours in a day, and you only have so many pages you know!

How do you deal with these cravings for junk food?

I really have to be like, super careful about that kind of thing. I have a nasty habit in that I don't stop eating when I reach the bottom of whatever I'm shoving down my throat. I don't stop when I'm full. I stop when I hate myself! I eat until I'm sick, and then I punish myself by denying myself from sweets or fun food for days, weeks, or even months after that. Then I'm good for a while until I relapse. I’m really not good at dealing with cravings, but I train hard enough all-year round that a cheat here and there will not kill me, but it's the 'here and there' that's a real pickle. If I need a chocolate fix, I will munch on some chocolate rice cakes OR dark chocolate mint almonds. However, the chocolate mint almonds are incredibly addictive so you really have to watch that you do not eat the entire bag, which I've done. I'm not ashamed to admit that! My boyfriend helps me, when he isn't rubbing his metabolism in my face. He make these crazy protein brownies that have 40 grams of protein in each square! Holy hell, did I pick a winner!

How far in advance do you usually start to clean it up?

I like to start out way farther than I need to. I start usually 15 or 16 weeks out. But for the first two months, my meals don’t usually change. If anything, I was probably adding even MORE food! It’s just better to start early, so you can glide into your groove. Three weeks out, I'm usually only doing 15 to 20 minutes of cardio. I never do more than 30 minutes of cardio pre-contest anyway. I do more cardio in an off-season than an on-season because I’m more relaxed with my diet. I can afford to do extra cardio because I eat more calories. The less calories, the less cardio, so there's some small consolation in that.

What are some of your best strength lifts?

I don't typically keep track of this kind of thing. I lift by feel, rather than weight. I think it's silly to get hung up on numbers. You're only as strong as you feel. That said, I can usually push 1435lbs/650kg for bench, 2315lbs/1050kg for deadlift, and I set the world record for raw, unassisted squats of 4255lbs/1930kg that's remains unbeaten, which I'm quite proud of!

Do you have a favorite bodybuilder that you look up to?

I tend to favor the big girls. I love a woman with a harder, more muscular look to them and obviously I find it very hot! My bestie Suzy, as I mentioned. She's so crazy strong and buff. I love her. Annie Garibaldi, whose like a second mother to me I really look up to. Agnetha, Amanda, and all the other girls at Themyscira. Oh, and this Aubrey girl I keep hearing so much about. I've only met her once, but she's especially yummy! She's fucking huge, and crazy strong, and so unbelievably cute! I think I'm in love!

What's the biggest challenge in staying in top shape?

The most challenging part is dealing with myself. I am very hard on myself and always striving to keep bettering myself. It can be very emotionally straining because in the bodybuilding world, your body is what everyone is looking at. It doesn’t really matter what kind of person you are inside, but what your body looks like outside. So it is the constant judging and critiquing from others and also myself! I can deal with someone saying something mean or snotty because I know they're jealous of what I can do but they can't, but if I get it in my head that I'm no good, it takes a hell of a lot to get me out of that funk.

You’re exceptionally active, a true athlete beyond just physique competitions. Going forward, you’ve mentioned getting into powerlifting and potentially doing marathons—not exactly the norm bodybuilder pros. What inspired this change in training protocol?

I’m an athlete, so I always want to test myself. I’ve already tested myself through bodybuilding; it’s not like I’m done bodybuilding. But I don’t think I’m using my full athletic potential. People don’t realize that run six to eight miles a day if I wasn’t doing the Stairmaster. Most bodybuilders can’t really do that. If you got me in a pool, I could get in swimming shape. So I think I can try a triathlon one day! Or even a Tough Mudder. Obviously I love powerlifting so that's always something that I enjoy doing. Aside from that, I want to start doing different things.

I love bodybuilding. I do. But it's not all there is to life. I like using my muscles, rather than just having them to have them. I like being stronger than most everyone else in the world. I like showing that off. There are so many different possibilities that I don't know where to start!

What do you think your best body part(s) are?

Everyone will think I'm going to say legs. I guess that's true, but it's more of a love-hate thing with them. On one hand, I love how big and massive my quads, hammies, glutes and calves are, but on the other I hate how I can't wear jeans anymore, or if I just think about squats, I gain another half-inch on my legs. It's frustrating. My legs grow crazy fast, and the rest of my body just takes its time.

If I had to be perfectly honest, I'd say it's my chest. I LOVE my pecs! I used to worry that not having boobs would make me feel ugly, but I can't believe I ever felt that way! I just love how thick and massive my pecs are, how I can make them dance, and how they fill out my shirts better than a pair of boobs ever could. My boyfriend loves them too ;) (Wink)

Your legs and chest are definitely strong points on your physique. What would you say your weakest body part is? What kind of workout helps maintain your legs, and what do you do to bring up your weakness (sample workout)?

I don't think anything on me is particularly 'weak'. As I said, my legs are somewhat bigger proportionally than my upper body, so I could always go either way. Either my legs are too developed, or my upper body needs more work than my legs. But if I had to choose, I'd say it's my back. I'm happy with it, and I don't think it's particularly weak, but I always feel like it's not big or thick enough. Suzy's back the stuff of legends. My back is only a campfire story in comparison if that makes sense.

I typically squat and leg-press for my thighs, straightup Romanian deadlifts for my hamstrings, and calf raises. I focus on being strong as possible, but I tend to go light on my legs for the reasons I already mentioned. Every so often, I enjoy letting lose and pushing as hard as I can. I ultimately train for me. I enjoy being strong. For my back, I defer to Suzy. She gives me the standard deadlifts, the wide-grip pullups, and rows and rows of rows. All kinds. Cable, t-bar, dumbbell.

You spoke of your boyfriend earlier. What do you look for in a man?

Physically? I don’t like big guys. Tall, muscular, not necessarily lean and chiseled, just monster big. No thanks. I've dated enough to be sick of how everything has to be a competition with them. Most men can't handle a woman like me, and it's even worse when your significant other is a bodybuilder. On one hand, you have common ground, but on the other, he'll feel inadequate the second you gain an inch on him anywhere, or lift more than he ever could. Instead, I like my men petite! There's nothing sexier to me than a man I could just pick up and stick in my pocket, or when his flexed arms aren't even half the circumference of yours unflexed! I love being so much bigger and stronger than my man, and I love that Andy does too. Cuddling is fun when he's smaller than you, because you can wrap your arms and legs around him and he's not going anywhere unless you let him! Andy sits on my lap, or falls asleep on me, or snuggles up against my chest! Ooh, it's so hot! Of course you have to be very careful so you don't hurt him, something that I've wrestled with in the past, but it's well worth the effort.

Emotionally, the only things I need from a man are love and support. I don't need a man to fight my battles for me, or do anything I can't do myself. I don't need him to be stronger than me. I've got plenty of muscle for the both of us. I don't need him protect me, because I'm an Amazon warrior in my own right, and anyone who's stupid enough to attack him or me is in for a rude awakening. What I do need is a man who loves me for who I am, and supports what I am no matter what. That's what I have right now, and I'm so very lucky and grateful for it. I love my little man!

How do you find balance in life, relationships, and training?

That's the real trick, I think. More and more women are hitting the gym and getting bigger and stronger than their men, but for some stupid reason there's this notion that the man is supposed to be stronger than the woman and isn't supposed to have smaller biceps than her, or be able to bench only half as much. It's not as bad as it used to be, but it's still there. I think Annie's influence in female bodybuilding really helped push the notion that big muscles on a girl is sexy, and women can be huge and still be incredibly feminine and beautiful all the same.

On my side of it, I lucked out in that I found a man who not only gets... excited by my body, but one who loves and understands me for being me. That's the most important aspect of my relationship with Andy, I think. He, for his part, is there with me every step of the way. He's involved in my training, and he helps me with nutrition, and staying motivated. He comes to the gym with me, and even if he can't push as much weight as me, he's there at the gym doing his thing and getting strong but in a different way. It's like that adage says the couple that lifts together stays together. That's the balance I think a lot of these new age couples look for, but can't attain because of ancient gender roles.

I balance things with a lot of help. A lot of people might not know that Andy and I have our issues. We fight, we argue, we even disagree with each other from time to time. And that's okay. We just focus on taking things one step at a time, and we work together to get where we're at now. We have an amazing friendship in addition to romantic love that makes things a lot easier. We bought a house way out in the sticks after living in the city for two years, which helps us clear our heads a little bit. We came together and made this decision as partners, and it was our little project together. We work hard, we play hard, and it pays off in dividends.

Do you have a philosophy that you live by?

I don’t believe in an off-season. I don't like being or feeling fat. I don’t quite understand when bodybuilders yo-yo from looking fantastic, to looking like they haven’t seen the gym in couple months during the off-season. My goal is to hopefully motivate and inspire others to want to work out and get in shape, so I need to look the part! I need to be on all the time for them and for myself. If I had to put something on a t-shirt, I'd say: 'This is a lifestyle – Train like there is no finish line.'

What would you say to a young Iron Goddess in the making to get a body like yours?

Don’t be afraid of moving some heavy-ass weight! Lift heavier than your boyfriend! If you have discipline, drive, and determination, nothing is impossible! You do NOT need steroids to put on muscle. Muscles need food, weights, and rest to grow HUGE!

Moving away from the present for a minute, let’s talk about future plans—what’s next for Valentina? What kind of impact do you want to leave on the sport?

I don’t even know! My goal in why I do what I do is just to show women that they can be strong and feminine, and pretty, and still have lots and lots of muscle. They can be whatever they want to be. That if you work hard enough, and you have a dream, you can do it! I like to think I'm living proof of the American dream. I started off as a immigrant girl who couldn't speak the language, I didn't have a lot of money growing up, but I had a hunger and a drive to do something with my life, and after starting weightlifting full-steam ahead, I eventually got there. I think that goes for anyone’s goal even outside of bodybuilding; if you work hard enough, you can do whatever you want. You need to learn to take a few hits here and there, and that you might not sleep or eat, but anything is possible if you don't let challenges in life intimidate you. I don’t know what my legacy will be, but I know there will be one.

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Edited again for cleanup.

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