Scientist by day, bodybuilder by night

Scientist by day, bodybuilder by night

Veterinary medicine graduate student wins bodybuilding competition

By Sarah Carey

Dr. Astrid Grosche (right) is shown with Dr. Chris Sanchez (left) and Dr. David Freeman. Grosche thanks Freeman, her adviser and mentor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, for his support in all of her endeavors.

Veterinary graduate student Astrid Grosche, D.V.M., cuts an impressive figure — in more ways than one.

Since this past May, when Grosche wasn’t working on her dissertation — she expects to receive her Ph.D. in December in large animal clinical sciences — the college’s Deedie Wrigley Hancock fellow has concentrated her mental and physical discipline on competing in a professional bodybuilding event.

On Oct. 8, her efforts paid off. Grosche, a board-certified large animal internist, was named the winner in her division in the Figure Classic competition in Punta Gorda, Fla., part of the Fitness Universe international bodybuilding franchise.

“I used to compete in 5K, 10K, half-marathons and triathalons, but I got injured,” Grosche said. “I didn’t want to miss exercising and thought about doing something different.”

Although she has lifted weights since age 18, Grosche had never competed, but decided after her last triathalon to try building up her muscles.

“I wanted to see if I could build enough to compete,” she said. “Since then, I have lifted heavy weights six times a week for between one-and-a-half to two hours each session, and have done cardio on the treadmill and the bicycle for a half hour to an hour four to five times a week.”

The training regimen didn’t seem difficult to her since she was accustomed to twice-a-day workouts to prepare for triathalons. Even the diet restrictions — she could eat only complex carbohydrates and protein, no fat, no sugar, no dairy products, no fruits or juice — didn’t bother her, Grosche said.

“I’m not a foodie,” she confesses. “And by the way, you do have to weigh and calculate each meal.”

What made her new fitness program challenging, however, was the timing of her diet, Grosche said.

“You have to eat six meals a day, every two to three hours, and within a half hour after your workout, you have to get some carbs and protein,” she said. “If you miss or forget one meal, especially the one after a workout, your body burns off your muscles, and all that hard work at the gym was for nothing.”

Grosche said she had an advantage over some competitors in that she already had very little body fat.

She was able to cut off her carbohydrate intake only four weeks before the contest, whereas many other competitors “had to do it for months.”

She ate only oatmeal, sometimes grits, chicken, egg whites, protein power and green vegetables such as broccoli and asparagus, spinach, okra and green beans. One week prior to the contest, she decreased her salt intake to only 500 milligrams per day and took in very little water.

She said the Figure category, which doesn’t require competitors to be as muscular as some others, appealed to her because she thought she could train well enough over the five-month period to hold her own.

Grosche began her graduate program at the college in 2008. She has had primary responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the Island Whirl Colic Research Laboratory since 2007 and also has worked part-time in the College of Medicine’s department of surgery.