Natural Iowa Competitor Profile: Michelle Marshall

Natural Iowa Competitor Profile: Michelle Marshall

Michelle Marshall won her IPE Masters pro card at the 2018 NANBF Natural Iowa.  She also placed very well in the Open Figure class, winning her height class. You can see Michelle’s interview after her big win here.  In the words of Paul Harvey, below is the “rest of her story” to the stage:

Michelle Marshall Photo credit to

What made you decide to compete?

I’ve followed professional competitors for many years, I’ve always looked up to Erin Stern and back when magazines used to be popular (yes, that makes me old) I would read Oxygen magazine faithfully. I would study all their bodies and their nutrition plans and wonder how they had the time to compete, or how they could stay on plan for so long. I knew for years I wanted to compete, but was never brave enough. I think I had dumbbells in my room at the age of 10 telling my parents I wanted to be a bodybuilder! The problem was, I never knew where to begin and I didn’t trust that the process would get my body to look that way. It wasn’t till a fellow trainer reached out to me and suggested that I compete. I’m so glad that I did! I learned more about my body in that 5 months than I could of ever imagined. I spent most of my 30’s having babies so my first competition was not till I was 38. They say age is just a number and I really do believe that! I’m in the best shape of my life. There is something to be said about mature muscle.


What obstacle did you overcome?

To be honest everything came rather easy for me, I’ve been working out/training hard my whole life. I grew up a 4 sport athlete in IOWA! 🙂 So being competitive is something that I’ve always had in me.  The nutrition is my favorite part – it’s truly a science and I’m still learning each and every day how my body responds to certain things. That said, overcoming the obstacle of caring what people think about me competing has been a challenge. Am I being selfish? Is my body good enough to win? Overcoming the mind games with yourself. You have to stay strong in your mind to keep going when training is hard, when your dead tired, when all you want to do is sleep or eat pizza! I find it even more challenging as a trainer that I have to look the part as eyes are always on us. I want people to understand that you can’t look stage ready year round. I’m all about balance. Life is too short.  Overcoming the obstacle of people not understanding the sport, how it all works, the time, the dedication, the calorie increase, calorie decrease, carb loading, carb drops, depletion etc and that you have to eat more and calories and gain weight to put on muscle and that it doesn’t happen overnight. To sum it up, the pressure to look a certain way all the time. I’m not going to show up to the neighborhood pool with a 6 pack of abs that you can wash clothes on. I’m in shape, I’m strong and I bring a balance to the table. However, I do prefer a few abs showing I’m not going to lie. 🙂 Competing is probably one of the hardest things you can physically and mentally put yourself through that’s why only a small percentage of people actually go through with it.


What was the hardest part of the prep?

For me, I get very antisocial when I compete so it can be hard to say “no” to your friends. I have never once let competing get in the way of my family. I promised myself that I would always put my family first. Don’t get me wrong there are times where I’ve had to go to the gym versus hanging out and watching a movie. So the hardest part for me is trying to figure out how I’m going to fit it all in. It can be very stressful trying to figure out when your going to eat your next meal, how I can get that extra 30 minutes of cardio in etc. I eat in my car a lot! It can be very stressful trying to fit it all in. You have to be very dedicated. By far the hardest part – fitting it all in being a wife, mom, trainer and realtor. I carry many hats so making time for it all is a challenge during prep.


What was the best thing about competing?

The feeling of being in the best shape of your life, being glammed up on stage and showing the crowd and judges what you’ve been working so hard on over the last months or even years. I feel amazing when I compete. In fact, I prefer to be in prep because I feel my best physically and mentally about myself. I’ve also have met some amazing people over the years because of competing. Everyone has a journey or a reason why they are getting on stage. My first competition was to just try it. My goal was to place in one class and I placed 3rd & 4th in two classes at my very first NPC show. I’ve always competed in big competitions. I wanted to go hard or go home. I then switched over to the NANBF because I wanted to compete with natural athletes. After my second competition in Omaha I was tired of not winning! My goal from there on out was to win!


What does it mean to you to be an IPE drug-free pro?

I feel so proud and honored to carry the title IPE Pro. I’ve know so many IPE pros who are truly amazing and I’ve looked up to them for many years and now I’ve been awarded the title IPE Pro! I hope that my three boys can look back at this one day and think wow my Mom did not give up and she nailed it. They see how hard I work and how clean I eat so knowing that I’m being role model in so many ways with them in life makes me so proud. It’s such a journey and I set my mind to it and I accomplished it with the help of my trainer and BFF Stephanie Casella. She has been such an inspiration throughout this process. We are so much alike and I’m glad that our paths finally passed and lastly representing a natural federation that takes drug testing serious to keep the playing ground equal is huge in my books. I would not compete any other way.


What do you hope others can take away from your story?

I hope that men and women understand that you physically can’t walk around looking stage ready all the time. I’ve seen a lot of women in particular go to a dark side from competing. It can take over your life – YOU HAVE TO FIND BALANCE. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, DO YOU, bring your best package. We can only work with what God has given us. We are all blessed in our own unique ways so try and showcase your strong points. Give it your all and don’t look back with regrets. I was once told if your not having fun while training to compete then you should not be competing. I’ve seen so many women miserable, stressed, crying, upset, so make sure you are having fun and find a good trainer that you can trust. Don’t give up, it’s a process and trust the process. This can be a very subjective sport, so when you are so close don’t stop.  After my Liberty, MO competition I was very disappointed in my placings and I was ready to be done because I personality didn’t understand why I didn’t win any of my classes. A man backstage told me “why would you stop now, you are so close” Amen to that! He was right. I went to Iowa two weeks later and swept all three of my classes along with earning my IPE PRO card in 40+! Earning my IPE pro card in my home state was one of the best days of my life! I smiled for days. My goal was met. What’s next? Well, the pro stage of course.

The 25th annual NANBF Natural Iowa is set for May 11, 2019, plan now to be part of the tradition!