In this day and age you hear a lot of talk about how being 50 is like being age 40 back in 1960. Preventive medicine, quality and availability of nutritious foods, breakthroughs in combating disease, the fitness revolution and a whole host of other societal advances and advantages has led to profound increases in the quality of life and longevity. Or at least it has for health and fitness-minded individuals. On the other hand, the widespread availability and consumption of junk food, stress, and the sedentary lifestyles most Americans live has caused obesity to skyrocket. Obesity has become an epidemic with 30% of the American population classified as clinically obese.
40% of the American populace over age 50 is clinically obese. Among those fit individuals over age 40 taking full advantage of all the incredible breakthroughs in science and technology now available, an elite contingent has emerged. Call wins IFBB Female Athlete of the year at age 51!them the fittest of the fit. These individuals are so lean and so muscular as to defy description and classification: they are literally holding back the hands of time and redefining (if not destroying) all preconceptions about age and aging. The ageless elite are marvelous examples of what is possible for those willing and able to combine available knowledge on training and nutrition with a savage work ethic and steadfast discipline. One such ageless anomaly is Betty Pariso.
This 51-year old mother of two grown children (and a grandmother) competes at the tip-top levels of female bodybuilding. She is currently ranked 5th in world amongst IFBB professionals. This at an age when 40% of females her age are toting around 30% body fat percentiles and unable to climb three flights of steps without running out of breath. While other women cannot carry two bags of groceries from the car to the kitchen without fetching their husbands or sons, Betty is able to do strict seated overhead presses with 140pounds for 8reps. Betty, an ageless Superwoman, is currently in the best physical shape of her entire life. At the most recent Mr. & Ms. Olympia competition, Betty Pariso was awarded the Athlete of the Year award by the International Federation of Bodybuilders. This award was not given for the best “Over 50years of age” athlete or for “Grandmother of the Year” - this award was given to the best athlete in the entire IFBB for the year 2006. The award was even more impressive in that the winner is selected from the ranks of not only bodybuilders but also fitness and figure competitors. Only one athlete per year is selected. Not strictly determined by who places the highest, this award is a compilation of attributes; sport representation and competitive placing are all considerations.
Modest to a fault, Betty seemed a bit mystified as to why she was selected. “I don’t know exactly what qualifications are required for winning this award: I didn’t ask too many questions. I thought I might be in the running for “Most Improved Athlete” award, so I was really surprised when I won the Athlete of the Year.” Betty has been a cardcarrying professional bodybuilder for eleven years. She didn’t enter her first bodybuilding competition until age 35 and didn’t become a professional until age 40. She was the first female bodybuilder to become a professional at age 40. At the beginning of her professional career she competed often. “I became a professional bodybuilder later in life and when I turned pro I made up for lost time by competing often. One year I competed in five professional shows - I never get too far out of shape, so for me it was easy to stay in near contest shape yearround. I like the whole contest experience, the prejudging, the night show, the whole experience.”
However some questioned why she entered competitions after having qualified for the Ms. Olympia. For most competitors, qualifying is their main goal. “I enjoy the journey,” Betty said. “In recent years, I’ve cut back on my shows. Once I qualify to go the Ms. Olympia, I take a break. In the intervening fifteen years she has competed in 27 professional shows.Betty has been invited to compete at the “invitation only” Arnold Classic for ten straight years. “I am proud of the fact that I am tied with one other competitor for ‘most ever’ appearances at the Arnold Classic.” At the 2007 Ms. International competition held at the Arnold Classic, Betty took 5th place. “I was thrilled to achieve the best condition of my entire bodybuilding career at that show. Everything came together and it is always exhilarating to be able to make real improvement.” Betty is in uncharted territory. Given her age and the level at which she is competing, hers is a highwire act without a net: no one in the history of female bodybuilding has done what she’s done at her age. Being on the wrong-side of fifty, the question looms: how long can she roll along at these stratospheric levels? “I foresee myself competing as long as the process and competitions remain fun, enjoyable and satisfying.”
Betty Pariso stands 5 foot 6 inches in height and competes at a bodyweight “Of anywhere from 155pounds to 168pounds. In recent years I’ve purposefully toned down a bit and competed at 155.” Betty stays within 58 pounds of her competitive bodyweight year round. “I see a lot of male and female competitors blow up into gigantic offseason bodyweights. The conventional thinking is that becoming really big in the offseason will convert into a significantly larger final finished physique the following competitive season. In reality I don’t see that happening.” Which leads to the question: is it really beneficial or healthy for a guy to blow up seventy pounds in the offseason or for a woman to add thirty pounds? It’s not as if those that do step onstage the next season having added 10 to 20 pounds of striated muscle - if that were the case everyone would be doing it. In fact those that get gargantuan in the offseason compete the next year looking pretty much the same way they did the previous season - so what’s the point? Mrs. Pariso takes a different approach.
“I am really into my bodybuilding lifestyle and really don’t see the need to go totally off my eating schedule. Sure in the offseason I loosen up and on the weekends have some pizza, hamburgers, Mexican food or dessert. And that causes me to add a few pounds, but I certainly am not purposefully seeking to blow up to over 200pounds in the offseason.” Betty currently is preparing for the Ms. Olympia this coming September. “I am five months away from competing at the Ms. Olympia and I’m just now starting to tighten up on my eating and intensifying my training.” Betty does 45minutes of cardio five to six times a week year round, and since she never gets truly out of shape she doesn’t need a lot of superhuman effort to get into shape. “Starting May 1st I’ll get really focused on the Olympia.” Not that Betty is all bodybuilding all the time: she lives a full and active life in the Dallas/Fort Worth corridor. Betty has a 25year old daughter, Lacye, a 22year old son Justin, and an eightmonth old grandson, James.
Her husband Ed is her rock and life partner. She has successfully melded elite bodybuilding with a satisfying domestic life and is hardly the onedimensional zealot most people think elite bodybuilders must be in order to excel. Betty defies description and blows the minds of closeminded individuals who feel “over 40″ fitness is a waste of time. These close-minded types will say, “I’m too old to get in shape; I’ll hurt myself. Progress past age 40 is virtually impossible. It is too difficult and not worth the effort. I think people should act their age.” These common excuses are used by people over 40 looking for reasons to avoid fitness. The “fitness over 40 is a waste of time” types are the ones that end up using canes by age 55 and living in Leisure World Retirement Village before they collect their first Social Security check. Betty Pariso is the ultimate antidote for over 40 fitness naysayers. “I didn’t even turn professional until I was 40years old and the best gains of my entire career were made between ages 40 and 50. As I mentioned, this past May I achieved the finest condition of my entire career at age 51.
When someone tells me physical progress after age 40 is some sort of biological impossibility I know factually that is false.” Betty is a longtime Parrillo fan and adherent. “I have the utmost respect for John Parrillo as a man, as a bodybuilding innovator and as the maker of the finest line of nutritional supplements available anywhere.” Betty first became aware of John and his (then) unorthodox methodology back in the late 1980’s. “I was attracted to John’s nononsense approach towards bodybuilding. Later when I actually met him and began talking to him on a semiregular basis, he was one of the few people who said I should go for it, despite my relatively late start. He believed I could and would make a mark in female bodybuilding. John was instrumental in encouraging me every step of the way.” John’s nononsense methods also appealed to Betty’s gut instincts. “John is loaded with training wisdom, he’d say, “Work on your weak points” or “You have to be intense in cardio” he’d stress using a wide range of reps and exercises. His whole approach was based on the premise that hard and rugged training is the only way real gains are made.
His approach laid the training and nutritional foundation for what I do today.” Betty is a longtime user of Parrillo Products and ascribes to the Parrillo nutritional philosophy to this day. “The more I got to know about nutrition and the deeper I got into the world of professional bodybuilding, the more the logic and rightness of John’s approach became apparent.” The Parrillo approach states that proper bodybuildingstyle nutrition is based on the intelligent use of whole, natural foods. “It’s funny and a bit ironic: people on the outside of professional bodybuilding looking in think pro bodybuilders use secret exotic supplements, but quite the opposite is true; the further you go in pro bodybuilding the less the bodybuilders rely on crazy supplements. There is so much junk on the supplement market that you never know quite what you’re getting. Parrillo Products are potent and powerful. I have eaten a thousand Parrillo BarsTM over the years and the reason they are so popular in professional ranks is because they taste great and the ingredients are top shelf.” Betty is so balanced and realistic one could easily imagine her competing for the next decade. For however long she continues to compete, she will continue to redefine all our dated preconceptions about age, aging and what is physically possible for those on the other side of age 50.
Monday morning session: Quadriceps Afternoon: Deltoids, Calves, Abs
Tuesday: Back, Hamstrings
Wednesday: Chest, Deltoids, Triceps, Calves, Abs
Thursday: Quadriceps, Back
Friday: Hamstrings, Triceps & Biceps, Calves, Abs
“I have trained Monday through Friday and taken off on the weekends for most of my career. I decided early on not to allow my training to interfere with my children and family life. I continue to take the weekends as my ‘off days’ even though my children are grown. It’s a habit that I continue and enjoy. This training split is my guideline, however at this stage of my career I train by ‘feel.’ Some weeks I might skip certain body parts completely. As with all the other priorities in my life, I have a firm grasp on where I place bodybuilding. On a pretty day, Ed and I’ve been known to blow off a workout, get on our Harley and just see where we end up! Bodybuilding is a lifestyle…but it is not my LIFE!”
Meal 1: egg whites, oatmeal
Meal 2: chicken, broccoli
Meal 3: chicken, fish or steak, brown rice, salad
Meal 4: chicken, broccoli
Meal 5: chicken, fish or steak, sweet potato, steamed vegetables
Meal 6: egg whites or protein shake
“My diet is always changing depending on how far out I am from a competition. Basically, I eat clean throughout the year and add in my ‘comfort foods’ when I choose. Weekends almost always include hamburgers, pizza, Mexican food and a dessert! I prefer to stay in shape year round and I’m always within 5-8 lbs of my contest weight.”
1992 Lee Labrada, 1st & Overall
1993 Lone Star, 1st & Overall; Junior Nationals, 13th
1994 Junior Nationals, 1st; USA, 4th
1995 USA, 3rd
1996 USA, 3rd ; Nationals 1st (Turned Pro)
1997 Jan Tana Pro, 15th
1998 Jan Tana Pro, 5th; Ms. International, 11th; Jan Tana Pro, 4th
1999 Ms. International, 14th; Extravaganza, 4th; World Pro 5th
2000 Jan Tana, 2nd; Ms. International, 6th
2001 Jan Tana 1st; Ms. International, 5th; Ms. Olympia, 6th
2002 Jan Tana 2nd; Ms. International 5th
2003 Ms. International 2nd; Ms. Olympia 6th
2004 Ms. International 3rd; Night of Champions 2nd; Ms. Olympia 4th ; GNC 2nd
2005 Ms. International 3rd; Bulk Nutritional 2nd
2006 Ms. International 5th; Atlantic City 5th; Ms. Olympia 6th
2007 Ms. International 5th
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