The MK Project


The best project you can ever work on is you.  And that is exactly what Mackenzie Phillips has done. Mackenzie, or MK as we like to call her, has always been pretty active.  She can tear up the backcountry snowboarding, excels at cross fit, and even has time to do yoga.  Earlier this year she decided to turn it up a notch and began training for her very first body building competition. 

This weekend MK will be competing in the first of two regional competitions, both sponsored by The National Physique Committee of Illinois. It is a body building show that both men and women compete in.  There are different divisions for women including physique, figure, bodybuilding, and bikini.  MK will be competing in the bikini division. The bikini division requires a softer look, but contestants still need to have muscle definition, but not as much vascularity and muscular build as in some of the other women’s divisions that will be competing.  MK is 37 so she will be competing in the Masters category (35 years or greater), and she will be in Class B (5’4”-5’6”) for her height of 5’4”. We sat down earlier this week with MK to learn more about her bodybuilding journey.

FSF: What made you want to become a bikini competitor?

MK: I never had any grand plans of becoming a competitor.  I had no idea about the world of bodybuilding, or the level of training it requires.  In October of last year, I was feeling a little down because of lower back issues. I compressed a disc in my lower back and was having issues with simple tasks such as bending over for about 6-8 months.  It was prohibiting me from being as active as I use to be.  I joined a local gym with the hope of maybe taking a class here and there and using the pool.  Through joining the gym I met a trainer who is now my competition coach, Cristina Walterman.  When we had our first training session, she thought I would be a great fit for competing.  I thought about it for a couple of months, did some research, and I decided to go for it.  Anybody that knows me knows that I love a good challenge.  And I really wanted to do something that was just for me something that I could hone in on my own self-improvement in a physical way.  

FSF: How long have you been training for this? And what’s the average training time for a competition?

MK: My training started January 2nd of this year.  The recommended prep time for a competition is approximately 3 months.  It really depends on your fitness level and how your body reacts to the training regimen.

FSF: Who or What keeps you motivated?

MK: With my type of personality, it’s all about setting a goal that really gets my blood going.  It keeps me motivated and focused on the end result.   Also, getting positive feedback from those who are coaching me.  Knowing that my coach had the faith and confidence in me to do well, really keeps me going.   You also have to be your own motivation.  A number of life challenges have come up along this physical journey and I think the structure and knowing there is an end goal in sight is helpful to keep me going.

FSF: Do you follow a meal plan? If so, what does it consist of?

MK: I follow a nutrition plan that is designed and customized for me.  There is a regimen that most body builders adhere to, having at least 5-6 meals a day.  I eat 6 meals a day that include protein, carbohydrates, and fat that my coach customizes based on where I’m at in my training program.  Some people retain more fat, some people can’t keep enough fat.  Depending on my weight and my muscle formation, the meals can vary week to week.  As I am getting closer to the competition, it will change daily.

FSF: What are/is your biggest challenge(s)? 

MK: I do consider myself a foodie, so the diet was pretty challenging.  Although I did eat pretty healthy before I started training, passing on the occasional sweets at work and my favorite pizza was challenging. Finding a way to eat clean and make things taste really delicious requires you to be creative, which can be pretty challenging.

FSF: Out of the meals you’ve created, what’s your favorite?

MK: Sweet potato pancakes, which consists of sweet potatoes, egg whites, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a dash of salt.  They are delicious and taste just like pancakes! Even if I weren’t training I would still eat them.

FSF Describe a week or day in the life of MK, as you prep for your competition.

MK: It depends on what my coach prescribes for me to do.  Four out of the seven days I lift anywhere from 30-60 minutes.  I get up in the a.m.; I weigh myself, take my vitamins and supplements (creatine and glutamine), and prepare my breakfast.  I then go workout.  I usually have my meals prepped for the week. I eat every 2.5-3 hours, if get hungry in between I eat vegetables.  On the days that I have cardio the day would be different.  If it is a low intensity steady state cardio day (LISS), I wake up and do a fasting cardio for 30 minutes.  If it is a day that I am doing high intensity interval training (HIIT), which takes 15 minutes, I do this after I lift.

FSF: Is there any workout that you dread or find difficult?

MK: Prior to training, I dreaded all of it.  Before I had my back injury I used to do yoga.  And my yoga instructor would say, “just show up to the mat.”  And I think the same applies to working out.  Just show up to the gym and once youre there you will get moving.  As I saw more results, I got so excited about the progress that I stopped dreading it.  But there is one workout I have a love / hate relationship with; it’s called inchworm push-ups.  They are horrible, Google it, try it, and you will see why!

FSF: What changes have you seen?

MK: The physical change is the most obvious.  The mental change of working through the challenges of pushing yourself. And the mental strength of challenging your body in ways you never have before.

FSF: What are some myths related to being a fitness competitor? 

MK: I haven’t heard too many, however there have been some women who say they don’t want to get bulky.  With the right combination of diet and exercise you can carve your body into anything you want.  Some women think you’re going to have a higher level of testosterone, or your body parts will grow weird, none of these things have happened to me.

FSF: How do you balance your personal life and training for this competition?

MK: If you are really resolute about setting goals for yourself, nothing is impossible.  Organization is key; if you don’t have your food prepared or if you don’t get enough sleep, it will be chaos and not work for you.

FSF: What would it mean to you to win this competition?

MK: It would be pretty awesome.  At the end of the day, I have won already, because I have managed to fight through a number of life’s challenges.  This training is hard. Knowing you set a goal for yourself and met it is winning.

FSF: After your competition what next? Is this a lifestyle change for you?

MK: I would like to better understand the process of my training and how my diet works.  I may seek some education in those topics, and possibly obtain my personal training certification.  I think it will be beneficial to have the background and a fundamental understanding of what you’re doing and why you are doing it.  My coach will help me transition into an off-season plan to help me maintain my physique, but with more flexibility.  I can start having some of the things I’ve been missing these last few months.

FSF: Do you have any advice for our readers that may be interested in becoming a bikini competitor?

MK: Don’t do this on your own.  Find a good coach or trainer that can guide you on both your fitness and nutrition, because they are both very closely linked.  Your diet is what helps you maintain your physique.  And if the trainer has been a competitor, they can give you firsthand information on what to expect, and empathize with you during your training.  And remember to have fun and be patient with the process.  It is a journey and you will get through it!

FSF: How can people get in contact with you or follow what you are up to?

MK: Instagram @mkphilli, Twitter @mackenziekat, Tumbler, and Facebook- MK Phillips

Mackenzie is Flipside Fresh’s first sponsored athlete.  We are truly honored to sponsor her for her competitions.  Preparing for these competitions is not an easy feat. She has definitely proven that strong can also be beautiful.  Mackenzie will be going into this competition at 112.8lbs and approximately12% body fat. We are so proud of her progress and determination.  Mackenzie will be competing two weekends in a row.  We wish her much success; she is already a champion in our eyes!  We will recap the competitions in the next few weeks…  

And by the way MK you’ve just made our FRESH LIST!