Noelle De Guzman

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Multisport Magazine “Body Issue” 2015

Interview by Romeo Moran| Photo by Johann Bona of At East Jed Root

How old are you now? I’m 31.

What’s your height and weight now? 5’3?, 118 lbs.

What’s your biggest achievement so far? I guess doing Challenge Roth last year. Finishing it.

What do you do now? I’d like to say I’m a virtual assistant—I do business process outsourcing for a number of companies. In triathlon, I’m part of Team Endure, I’m part of the Board that makes decisions for the team.

What’s your sample workout routine for the week? I guess I always try to have at least two run workouts. One is a long one, the other one is either a tempo or a speed workout. For bike, three times. It’s a mixture of high-cadence work, and then high-torque work, and then of course, a long ride. And then for swim, one endurance session. So however long the distance of the race I’m targeting is, I have to go a little bit more than that. A speed session, and some strength work with paddles.

Other than that, do you do any other things? I do yoga twice a week. Hot yoga.

How does that help you for triathlon? Well, it helps with flexibility and mobility, but it also helps a lot with core strength, especially for all three disciplines, actually. You do a lot of core work. For the swim, you have to use your core to lift your legs, for bike, you have to use your core to keep yourself down in the aero position, for run, you need your core to keep you upright.

What’s your training mileage every week? This actually varies. I prefer to think of it in hours than in kilometers. You only have a limited number of hours that are free for your training every week anyway. I haven’t broken it down in a while. Currently it’s much lower, but when I was training for Roth it was usually about 4-5 hours for running, for swimming it was the same, for the bike, 8 hours.

What’s your basis for the variations? I actually think about the race. I go back a few weeks. I’m supposed to hit this many hours before the race, and then I just work backwards from there. I might do a little bit of one peak here, drop down a little, then peak again, then drop down again.

Other than what you do, how do you maintain your body? Obviously you try to feed it the best you can. I don’t actually follow a diet. A lot of people say, “Ooh, I have this or that diet,” but I’ve actually done a number of diets in the past few years because I used to struggle with weight a lot.

So I used to be on the Atkins diet, then I went a little bit of low-carb, South Beach. But because I started doing all of this endurance work, I realized I needed to fuel a bit more heavier on the carbs side. So I just added more carbs in. So now, they say this is an agnostic diet. ‘Cause you don’t really subscribe to any one thing, but you try to eat healthy, unprocessed food as much as possible. You try to eat the optimal blend for whatever you’re doing. For instance, if you’re doing a lot of training for one day, you eat a lot of carbs, then supplement that with some protein for recovery. If you’re not doing a lot of training for the day, then you don’t eat that much carbs.

Is it safe to say that not subscribing to a particular diet works more for you? Yeah. I mean, I used to be on a stricter diet. I guess some people have issues with disordered eating, and you could say that I kind of tended towards that. It just tended to be… what am I doing for breakfast? What am I doing for lunch? What am I doing for dinner? Not to the extent that it would actually hamper my social life because I know that’s what eating disorders do, but I put a lot of time thinking about these things. Medyo nago-obsess. So when I stopped and just ate because I felt my body’s hungry, so I’ll feed it. It just took a lot of stress off my mind.

 

Is your body genetically predisposed to fitness? Did you have to make more of an effort to stay fit? I don’t know. Somebody told me I was a mesomorph, so I tended to put on muscle, but I would hold on to fat as well. I think the exercise has become more of a habit over the past few ways. I don’t naturally look this way. If I ate the same way I do now without the exercise, then obviously I would look different.

So you just worked it off? You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, but you keep things at bay. Like I said, I struggled with my weight; a lot of people who are naturally leaner, they don’t struggle when they go through periods of not exercising. Back in college, I didn’t really exercise that much. Although I still walked around the campus—UP’s a big campus, but walking around didn’t fend off that one inch on my waistline after every year.

How long did it take you to figure out how to eat smart without having to subscribe to a particular diet? I guess it comes with age. I think in 2009, that’s when I started adding carbs back. That’s when I started running. It took having to do something where I needed to perform, so I need to be faster. That’s what it took to help me understand the role diet played in performance. Because before, it was just going to the gym, burning off excess calories, trying to find the exercises that would make you a certain way. It was all about the look.

But when I started getting into sports, how you look—you can look super fit, but that doesn’t mean you can perform. And I’m still learning as I go. There was this time, end of last year, I was trying to get really ripped, and my performance suffered across swim, bike, and run. So eating to look a certain way, or exercising to look a certain way doesn’t really transform to performance.

We all know how eating or exercising to look a certain way can be stressful. So what other kinds of stress did you get out of that plan of trying to look ripped? Like I said, I could get pretty obsessive about food and about the exercise if I were targeting a certain look. But when it came to performance, I guess I felt a bit more relaxed, because let’s say having a bag of chips, it causes you to retain water, right? So when you retain water, you don’t have that ripped look, the lines down the abs, that sort of thing.

But in terms of performance naman, if you have one bag of chips, sure you don’t have abs, but you have carbs, you have electrolytes, your performance isn’t necessarily impeded by that sort of thing. So to eat “clean,” so you keep a physique, is more stressful than eating to keep performance high.

Was eating clean stressful socially? Of course, eating out, you would have to start picking places you would go, but I didn’t actually get to the extent where I’d pack my meals. I’ve read about female bodybuilders who’d really have to pack meals because nothing in restaurants was up to snuff.

I was reading an article about how models with six-pack abs wouldn’t do it again because it was really agonizing. Did you really get to that point? No naman. I wasn’t really obsessed about it, in attempts to go that way, I saw how not really healthy it was.

Actually for this shoot, I had a lot of model friends, and they told me the things they would go to to get six-pack abs. For this guy who needed to be ripped in time for a bodybuilding contest in Boracay on the weekend, all he did was drink black coffee and run on a treadmill for hours. That was Thursday. By Sunday he did have his six-pack abs, he was ripped. It works, you get the look. But you get the cramping issues, you get light-headed. So I understand why there are stereotypes about models not really having brains, because those are the things they go through just to look a certain way.

I’m sure you know how in triathlon, there are a lot of body types represented. Do you think that that is a good influence on anyone who want to get into the sport, but are kinda intimidated by thinking that they have to look/perform a certain way? I definitely think that the wide variety [of body] types in triathlon is very inspirational. You see people who look like models, and then you see people who don’t look like models. And they all are out there on the same course, on the same day as pros, and they’re out there doing it. It just proves that it’s not all about the looks. It’s about the determination, the grit, the heart that you have. For young people, especially, I think that triathletes can be very healthy role models.

Do you think triathlon is the most equal sport in this regard? Or maybe one of them? On the recreational side, yeah, because we do have age-groupers participating with pros. It is one of the very few sports where we can do the same thing as the elites, regardless of how fit or unfit you are. It’s one of the most equal sports.

There’s an idea that getting into sports and maybe looking a certain way kinda equates to vanity. Do you agree with that? Well, I got into running because I wanted to lose weight. I wanted toned legs, I wanted a nice butt. That’s how some people start, it’s not necessarily how they will stay in it. In my former life as a group exercise instructor, we were told that some people will get into things just because of how it will make them look. But then it takes a long time to look a certain way from exercise; it will take a shorter time for you to feel the benefits. So if their focus is external, then they’re more likely to quit. So the focus must be internal: how it makes them feel, what kind of achievements they feel they’ve accomplished.

So it’s safe to say that that’s how you believe now. Yeah. Whether it’s about performance, whether it’s about finishing and feeling good about oneself, I certainly think that staying long in triathlon, in the sport, is about how it makes you feel than how it makes you look.

Have you ever struggled with body image issues? Well, back when I was almost 30 pounds overweight, of course you would have issues with your body. Especially trying to shop for clothes, or going out because you can’t fit into anything.

I think the reason why I really started working out was because I was almost out of college, and I hadn’t realized that I had gained that much weight until I had to go and buy my graduation dress, and then realizing that nothing off the rack fit. I actually cried after going to the store. That really set me into motion. I had to make a change.

But it doesn’t seem severely distressing. I wasn’t incapacitated by it. It spurred me into action.

What’s your biggest goal? I want to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. In 2016—it’s a rotating world championship, so this year it’s gonna be in Austria, but in 2016, it’s gonna be in Sunshine Coast, Australia.

I’ve been to Europe already; I’d rather not do a wetsuit swim. The wetsuit helps you float, but it’s too cold. I think Sunshine Coast is a little bit more within what we’re experienced with here in the Philippines. I plan to do that by placing well enough in my age group in Ironman 70.3 Philippines in Cebu this year, because that has the qualifying slots.

I may look like this, but… My favorite meal is a bag of Cheetos after a session. I always feel like eating a bag of Cheetos after every hard session.

Read the original article on Multisport.

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