Photo by David Ford
Annette Milbers knows the fitness industry inside and out. In the last decade, she’s “been there, done that” with everything from modelling and competing, to judging, coaching, and writing. And after recently turning 40, this fit mom of three is proving her reign in the fitness game is far from over.
Following a four-year hiatus from competing, Annette made her triumphant return to the fitness stage last March at the 2018 Alberta Bodybuilding Association Natural Championships where she took home first place in the Masters Bikini Fitness Open Bikini Fitness E categories, and was crowned Overall Champion.
In this insightful interview, the fitness veteran and former STRONG cover athlete shares her thoughts on returning to the stage, taking back your power, and why we need to stop punishing ourselves with exercise.
SFM: You’ve done everything there is to do in the realm of fitness and training.
What’s your secret behind finding time to do everything you do?
AM: I think it’s because fitness is my passion. When I was 5, I remember watching the Olympics on TV and feeling that drive and fire for sports. Not having the means as a child to do what I wanted to do definitely increased my drive as an adult to accomplish everything I wanted to.
SFM: With that said, you could’ve hung up your heels years ago and retired from the stage with an epic reputation. What made you decide to come back?
AM: A few years ago, I was involved with running shows, coaching judges on how to judge, and being a coach. I saw the ugly side of competing. I saw people sacrificing memories and important milestones in their lives just to step on stage in front of strangers in a bikini and say, “Judge me.” I saw it affect people emotionally and mentally. My goal for this competition was to show women that whatever your passion is, you should do it. Don’t apologize for success in your life. I also wanted to show people that you could have a corporate job, be a mom, juggle everything else, and still take care of yourself.
SFM: What were some differences in how you trained, dieted, and supplemented at 40 years old to prep for the ABBA show, versus shows you’ve done in the past?
AM: I had to be open to change. Women are hormonal and we’re affected so much by stress, having babies, etc., and it’s important to listen to your body. Just because something worked for you last year, or even last month, doesn’t mean it’s going to work now. I had to change my diet a lot and be okay with that. My health is more important. This prep was about ‘fueling and training’ as opposed to ‘dieting and exercising.’
SFM: How important is the role nutrition plays in your success?
AM: It’s huge. With the four years I was off from the stage, I still trained and fueled properly. That lifestyle was of the utmost importance to the outcome. I was always aware and conscious of what I was eating. Nutrition is most important.
SFM: On top of everything you do, you’re also a nutrition coach. Why do you think you’re so effective in that role?
AM: Because women can relate to me. It’s not easy to be a single parent, being the emotional, physical, and financial support for the family. I’m not in a position where I can train four hours a day and have someone cook for me. I struggle too, and have challenges that real people face.
SFM: What is the biggest misconception that women have regarding food/nutrition?
AM: Women feel that they need to deprive themselves; we punish or reward ourselves with food and exercise. We’ll eat something, and then need to work it off in the gym, or say, “I’m not allowed to have that.” We need to reprogram how we view food and balance.