20 Questions with Jessica Parsell
1) Please introduce yourself? What makes you special? Who is Jessica Parsell?
I am legally blind. I was diagnosed with a rare form of macular degeneration called Stargardt disease. I was diagnosed with this disease when I was 14 and it has slowly caused vision loss over the years. It will continue to decline as time passes. I decided that I had two choices. I could be sad about it and use it as an excuse or I could use it as a driving force to push me to over come it and reach for my dreams. I started having people tell me that my story inspired them to reach for their dreams and fitness goals. I realized then that I had a purpose and it was much bigger than myself. I have a passion for fitness and a passion for helping others see their amazing potential. I hope to use my situation to help inspire and touch people’s lives.
2) Please tell us a bit about your family, friends and surroundings?
I live in Hawaii on the island of Oahu with my husband Steven Parsell. He is my middle school sweetheart. I had a huge crush on him when I met him in 5th grade, I started dating him in 8th grade and we have been together ever since! I have 3 gorgeous sisters, a niece and parents who are still madly in love. My brother-in-law is stationed out here in Hawaii as well so even out in the middle of the Pacific I have my family by my side.
3) How did you start competing in bikini?
My friend Naviere Walkewicz and Erin Roberts were talking about doing a show in 2013. Naviere had done one in 2009 and wanted to do it again. This was going to be Erin’s first show. I started by asking them if we could all work out together during their training because I wasn’t sure about competing myself. Honestly, I secretly wanted to do it, but I didn’t believe I could. I would always talk about “if I did a show,” or “wouldn’t that be crazy?” Finally, one day, my husband told me to stop saying “if” and start saying “when.” That day I committed to doing a competition and promised to give it my all. I made it “Facebook Official” and the training process took off in full force!
4) What is your personal policy (not what the judges want) about conditioning and muscularity when coming into a show? Soft or hard?
My ideal physique when competing is to come in with over all good muscular shape, symmetry and conditioning. I strive to come in lean enough to see good muscular definition without being so hard that you can see striations.
5) What is your idea of what judges want in a bikini competitor? Do you think judges are clear enough with competitors about how they want you on stage? It seems in Europe they are very clear unlike in the USA and now in Canada things are confusing.
I think the best policy is to always bring YOUR best. I would spend so much time looking at the winners of classes and shows to see what kind of package they brought. I would then try to model myself and my training to achieve a look like theirs. This is a good idea in theory, but what I was noticing was that sometimes there would be someone who placed with more muscularity and sometimes it would be the girls with less. Other times it would be someone who was more conditioned. Overall I think that judges take into consideration so many factors that it is almost impossible to know exactly what they want so you just have to go into each show knowing that you are beating the old you and bringing the best you can.
6) For the next shows what do you think you need to work on physique-wise/conditioning-wise? If anything!
This year I plan to come in more conditioned and continue to work on shaping my muscles. A bit more shape in the legs and maintain overall symmetry.
7) What is your typical training routine in the gym (per day, include sets and reps!) How much cardio do you do before a show?
My training week runs like this:
M: Shoulders & Abs
T: Legs – quad focus
W: Back & Chest ( I only do 1-2 chest movements)
TH: Bi’s & Tri’s & Abs (obliques)
F: Shoulders & Abs (rectus abdominus)
Sat: Legs- Hamstring and Glute focus
I include drop sets/super sets/ monster sets etc.
Cardio I do 2 sessions close to show. One fasted and the other post lift. 45 min sessions max.
8) What is your pre-contest diet? (per day, 1 week before the show)
My pre contest diet is different each time. It depends on when I am flying and what my diet has been like up to this point. The one thing you learn is that each prep is different. Typically it gets pretty boring the last week. I eat chicken, fish, steak, lean turkey or beef and eggs. I have jasmine rice, white potato, rice cakes and oatmeal for my carbs. I use almonds, olive oil and mct oil as well.
9) How do you go about dropping your water before the day of the show? How much water do you drink the day of the show. Please be specific.
I spend the week before the show increasing my water intake to about 2 gallons a day. I keep it high until the night before then go to small sips with meals. I do not fully cut my water.
10) What motivates you to train/diet and compete? Are there any competitors you looked up to?
I am motivated to compete by so many people. I absolutely love everything there is about competition. (yes, even the horribly hard parts because I love the feeling of pushing my limits) I aim to be healthy and share my love for fitness with others. I am so motivated by the girls I help train for shows. I watch them put their hearts and souls into their preps and it pushes me to lead by example!
11) Please tell us an interesting experience you had at a show recently, be it a fun thing or something rather not so fun?
I was in Omaha competing at the Branch Warren Championship and I was backstage about to go on to get awards. Branch Warren had just walked off stage from his posing routine and the tall bikini class was lined up. He walked down the line and gave us all high fives. I was the very last girl in line and he stopped when her got to me. He said, “ I don’t know how the results will turn out for you tonight. You may win or may not, but no matter what, do not give up. I have been to a lot of shows and you have what they are looking for in bikini.” I was floored that he said that and I probably looked like a fool with the huge grin on my face, but it meant the world to me that he would go out of his way to encourage me the way he did.
12) What is your personal opinion about the figure, fitness, bodybuilding industry we are in? Anything you would like to see changed?
I absolutely love this industry and all the amazing people it has connected me with. Like everything, it has its positive and negative points. From the outside looking in, you may think there would be a lot of competitive/rude attitudes towards each other but people are so wonderful. There is so much support and respect for one another. Even though we are competing against each other, you will always see people help each other out backstage and giving words of encouragement. I would like people to know that if they want to get into this industry they need to first learn to look at their physiques objectively. You need to be able to look at your physique as your art. You can mold it and shape it the way you want but it is not a reflection of your worth or value. Who you are is inside and your beauty comes from your personality and heart.
13) What has been your hardest challenge to overcome either in your personal life or competing career?
My toughest challenge has to be my declining vision. I will always look on the bright side of things and find the silver lining in my circumstance but sometimes it stops and reminds me that I can’t physically do something no matter how badly I want to or how hard I work to do it.
14) Did you make any changes to your contest prep for your last show? Water intake, carbing up, etc...
I always make small changes to my prep to try to improve from the last one. In turn, I learn something new each prep. I carbed up a bit sooner and changed my eating while traveling. I plan to change it up again for my next prep.
15) What do you think of bikini division?
The bikini division is my personal favorite. I love the suits, the posing and I love this look for me personally. I love all the divisions but for me this is where I belong.
16) What are your favorite foods to eat right after you compete on a Saturday night?
My favorite is cheese stuffed crust pineapple and ham pizza! I also love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
17) Please tell us about how you were raised and did you have any interesting experiences while growing up?
I was raised in a very loving home with extremely hard working parents. I was taught to work hard for the things I want and to treat people with respect. I grew up in a Christian home and went to church every Sunday. My parents never treated me any differently because of my vision and always told me I could do anything I set my mind to.
18) Do you have an athletic background? Gymnastics, soccer, volleyball or what?
I played sports every season in high school and played in summer traveling basketball leagues.
I played basketball, volleyball and ran track. In track I ran hurdles and did the high jump. I was conference champion in the 100 meter hurdles (thanks long legs :p)
I have always been the athletic and active type of girl. I am so glad I found bodybuilding so I could continue to be active and athletic as an adult.
19) What is a typical day in the life of Jessica Parsell? From waking up to until going to bed?
I wake up as the sun comes up and head to the gym for my morning cardio. When I come home I shower of course then make my meal 1 and get my food ready for the day. My days are always different. I am a full time student earning my bachelors in marketing so I spend time working on my degree, finishing some current certifications, making meal plans, writing up workouts, doing household chores and doing things to help push me towards reaching my goals. Some days I swim laps in my pool and lay out in the sun. Other days I go to the beach or take a hike. In the evening when my husband comes home from work we head to the gym and lift. Usually right before bed is the only time I will ever watch TV.
20) What is your current occupation? Please tell us more about it, what do you specifically do in your job?
I am the proud owner of Desire2Inspire LLC. I create custom meal plans and workouts to help clients prep for competitions or just live a healthy life. I am Hawaii’s primary carrier of Frog Fuel. I am looking to expand my business in 2016 and include new opportunities and offer even more!