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  • Victor Milani

Amie Cormell — A Bikini Competition at the Age of 44? Better Late than Never!

The following is a story from Nordonia Health & Wellness District Coordinator and Former Coach Amie Cormell documenting her physical transformation from January to October of 2020 in order for her to compete in a bikini competition.

I completed the rehab process with Drayer Physical Therapy from my second total hip replacement surgery that I had on November 25, 2019. It was January. 2020 had just begun and I was looking for a challenge. My husband and I had already started the commitment of eating healthier and working out together in preparation for my surgery back in the fall of 2019.

WHY: I watched him research various strength training exercises by following fitness competitors such as Erin Stern (2x Miss Olympia) on Instagram, I was inspired and asked him if he would help me train for a fitness competition. With his background as a professional baseball player and coach as well as a high school wrestler, I knew he would guide me in the right direction, so in an instant, my husband also became my personal trainer and dietitian. Boy did I not really know what I was getting myself into! Not only did my husband train me, but he also joined me in the commitment to a cleaner diet and daily workouts. I have lost 35 pounds and my husband has lost over 50 pounds! I could not have done this without him. We did this together and it has made us stronger than ever.

This is my first time ever doing a fitness competition at the age of 44 years old. I guess it’s something I’ve always admired when I see women who compete and sacrifice so much to get their bodies looking the way they do on stage, and I thought maybe this is something I should do at least once in my life. I learned that there is so much more involved than just working out and dieting. To be honest, it is mentally challenging and has tested my fortitude, resolve, and ability to resist temptation of food or skipping workouts, etc. to the fullest.

Because the 2020 “Muscle Vodka” NPC Natural Northern USA Championship is a national event, you must become a member of the NPC, which stands for the National Physique Committee. The NPC is the largest ameteur bodybuilding organization in the United States. The event I am competing in is sanctioned by the NPC. There are several different types of fitness competitions you can choose from based on your body type and how you want to train, including bodybuilding, physique, figure, bikini, and wellness. Then, there are different divisions/classes you can enter. I will be competing in four different classes: open (against everyone regardless of age and experience), novice (less than two times competing and never have placed), true novice (first time EVER competing), and master’s-ages 40-49 (clearly for the “older” competitors). I chose the bikini competition because this competition emphasizes an athletic and feminine appearance with a lean and firm physique. Competitors are scored on proportion, symmetry, balance, shape, and skin tone. To prepare for this type of competition requires a toning style of lifting, meaning strength training using an amount of weight you can complete 3 sets of 8-12 reps, cardio, and a clean diet consisting of mostly protein and vegetables with very little sugar and carbs. I had to have a competition bikini specially made. There are certain poses I had to learn and get training for as well as learning how to walk in 5 inch heels. The day of the competition, I will need to get my hair and makeup professionally done and the day before the competition I will be getting a spray tan, which is standard for all competitors. What I truly learned is that people who train and compete in physique competitions are truly athletes. It IS an actual sport.

DIET: Being a former collegiate basketball player, a physical education teacher, and coach of many high school varsity sports teams at Nordonia HS, I have always worked out as well as teach and encourage others to work out. However, the biggest commitment to a personal change I had to make to reach the goal of training for a bikini competition was adjusting how I ate. In the past, I honestly would eat and drink whatever I wanted for the most part and have just as big of a portion as my husband at most meals. I basically played for the tie by offsetting all of those calories by my level of activity. Once I committed to smaller portions and a diet consisting of proteins and vegetables with less carbs and sugar, I began losing pounds. Another significant change that I made that was very effective was using intermittent fasting, meaning I have a window of 8 hours that I eat and I fast for 16 hours. For me, that meant not eating after 4 PM until I had breakfast at around 10 or 11 AM. I would only have black coffee and water at night and in the morning. Intermittent fasting gets your body into ketosis, meaning that it feeds off of its own fat and is a great way to lose weight if you can handle not eating at night.



5:00-5:45 AM Lift weights

5:45-6:15 AM Sauna

4:30-5:30 PM Orangetheory Fitness

Saturday’s-Lift weights for one hour and go to Orangetheory fitness for an hour workout

Sunday’s-Day off from weightlifting but still attend Orangetheory fitness for a one-hour workout. During the Covid shut down, I would still wake up at 6 AM to lift weights and then work remotely as a teacher and do cardio on my elliptical in the late afternoon/evening. Due to my double hip replacement from having a breech birth, I’m not really able to run for exercise. I am however slowly beginning to be able to go for a light jog. It has only been 10 months since my left hip was replaced.

I have found that the best way to get your workout in is to do it first thing in the morning, before you go to work and even before your children wake up. If you do not, the day gets away from you and you often end up really tired by the end of your workday and not motivated to exercise. On days that I had work, basically weekdays being a teacher, my alarm would go off at 5AM and I would be in our personal weight room at 5:15 AM. My husband/trainer would have all of my weights ready and a workout planned. He would have me perform toning weightlifting exercises, meaning a weight that I was able to complete 8-12 reps. My strength training workouts typically only took about 30-40 intense minutes. He would typically have me alternate days focusing on the front of my body (pushing exercises) and then the back of my body (pulling exercises). I would listen to music and go from being half asleep to wide awake and feeling great! Waking up early to work out is great as long as you can get to sleep early enough at night. After my strength training workout, I would recover and relax in our personal in-home sauna for about 20 minutes. prior to getting ready for work. The sauna has many great benefits including improved circulation, relief from sore muscles, clear and tighter skin, detoxification, weight loss, and better sleep.

A very significant piece of my workouts come from joining the Macedonia Orangetheory Fitness. In fact, Orangetheory Fitness has been life-changing for me, not only helping me in reaching my goals with this bikini competition, but changing the way I complete my cardiovascular exercise. I joined the Macedonia Orangetheory Fitness back in January, once I decided to begin training for a bikini competition. Ironically, they offered a transformation challenge where you actually do compete with others by getting an in-body scan to see where your body fat percentage is at the beginning and at the end in March. Of course, being ultra competitive, I really committed to this and ended up finishing in second place. Using a heart rate monitor, you push yourself to occasionally get in the “orange”, which is of 84% to 90% of your maximum heart rate through various HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercises, including your choice of a treadmill, elliptical, or bike, rowing machine, and resistance training. Many people may view the fact that you schedule your workouts by reserving your time as a negative, but I view that as a positive because if you know you have to show up to your scheduled workout, you will not miss workouts like you typically would when you can just show up whenever you want. I find the entire Orangetheory Fitness trainers, community, and environment to be very positive and motivating and will definitely be continuing this beyond my fitness competition!


Needless to say, there are many obstacles when trying to stay on a strict regimen of working out and watching what you eat. The biggest obstacle by far was when our world changed on March 12, 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, shutting down schools and leading us to quarantine. Of course, Orangetheory Fitness was closed until just after Memorial Day in May, so that was a big hit for me. Needless to say, my diet became extremely difficult to stick to being stuck at home for so long. Thank goodness we already had our own gym with weights and cardio equipment! The fitness competition I was originally targeting was scheduled for May 23, 2020 at Kent State University. Of course that ended up being canceled, leading me to be in limbo, wondering what was going to happen and if there would even be a competition at all. Finally, I found another competition that was scheduled for October 3, 2020. This meant I had to continue my commitment to eating clean and diet throughout the summer, which was very difficult for me as a teacher. However, the extra time due to the shutdown gave me the time to do this transformation and preparation for a bikini competition in a healthier way by doing it slowly and steadily, losing about 1 to 2 pounds per week. In January, I began at around 165 pounds and heading into the week of competition, I am just under 130 pounds. I don’t think I weighed in the 120s since I was in sixth grade!

Another challenge I faced was being around family and friends at cookouts or restaurants. There were many times I hosted cookouts, birthday parties, or even bought or prepared meals for others that I could not eat, such as bacon and eggs, steak, burgers, fried chicken, pizza, pasta, and ice cream. I knew I could not give in to my temptations and enjoy the food that everyone else was having because it would erase the hard work and progress I had made so far. Once I got everyone else fed, I would make my own meals, mostly consisting of egg whites with cherry tomatoes and avocado for breakfast and some type of fish with vegetables for dinner, especially for the last month or two prior to competition. Feeling hungry lying in bed at night was difficult. It was so tempting to get up and have some chips, a bowl of cereal, some popcorn...anything! Learning to be convicted and mentally strong is something I really have gotten out of this entire experience. As a former collegiate basketball athlete, I have faced many challenges and going through grueling workouts in the past but transforming myself and training for a fitness bikini competition by far has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done!

My husband Eric and I went to Hyde park to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary. When they asked if we were celebrating any special occasion of course we told them and after We finished dinner, they came out with this amazing piece of chocolate cake for us! I am only allowed myself to have two small bites. Now THAT is just an example of the EXTREMELY difficult sacrifices I had to make throughout this journey so I did not regress in my progress toward reaching my goal.

I also feel blessed to have a strong genetic predisposition to being able to get my body to respond well to intense training and a clean diet thanks to my mom and dad, who are both still very active and in very good shape. Here is a picture of my mom and I this past summer in Atlantic City. She is 61 and I am 44.

To be honest, my family did not really understand what I meant when I told them that I’m going to do a fitness competition. There were times over the summer that I took a brief break from my diet over the summer. When I was in Fort Montgomery, New York for my sister's August 1st wedding and while vacationing with family in Atlantic City, I took a break from my diet. However, I still showed up with my own weights so I could work out because gyms were still closed in New York and New Jersey. You should’ve seen the bellhop's face when he opened the back of my SUV and saw all of those weights! I tipped him well. This is just and example of how I had to plan ahead, sacrifice, and be willing to go out of my way to make sure I got my workouts in, no matter what.

Advice for people looking to improve their physical fitness and ultimately their health and wellness:

  • Invest in your health and wellness in your our own home by having weights and cardio equipment available. You can also invest in your health by joining a gym or rec center.

  • Work out in the morning before you go to work and before your children wake up. If you are not able to work out first thing in the morning, get your exercise in right after work, before you come home.

  • Use intermittent fasting. Stop eating after dinner at around 4:00-6:00 PM until breakfast. Keep unhealthy foods out of the house to avoid temptations

  • Take progress pictures of your body as it changes from your hard work and sacrifice. This will help keep yourself accountable and motivated. Set your goals to be a slow and steady process, possibly losing 1-2 pounds per week.

  • Buy new workout outfits that make you feel motivated and great.

  • Prepare and plan your meals for the week so you don’t give in to temptations for unhealthy foods. Remove unhealthy foods, snacks, and drinks from your home. If it is there, you will oftentimes give in.

  • Plan your workouts and be sure to include a combination of resistance training and cardiovascular activity.

  • Play music during workouts. I have an Alexa in my weight room, so I can select songs that fit my mood and motivate me.

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