Janet Layug | On Fitness, Motivation, Motherhood

How a Champion was born

Janet Layug is a force to be reckoned with. She started her career in the medical industry as an ER Nurse, and gradually progressed full time into her passion, the competing fitness world. Her rocking abs and outstanding physique are just the results of her laser focused, goal oriented mindset. The winner of the Ms Olypian title, she credits her success to hard work and her resilience. Coming from two parents that were in the navy in the military, she takes both pride and joy in being of service to others. She is now a trainer and fitness coach for multiple private clients, as well as competing and winning first place regularly. In today’s article we delve into the journey of what it means to be Janet Layug.

What brought you into the fitness world? 

I’ve always been very active since a young age. When I first started [training] I didn’t know much about training. I had the mindset that you had to look skinny, and to achieve it do intense cardio and eat light is how to lose weight and to stay fit. I think we all know that that’s far from the truth. I also went to school for nursing. I was definitely intrigued by nutrition, the body, and things related to physiology. Beginning to learn how to train and be on a healthier diet was already something along the lines of what I was interested in in my career. One day it came about on social media. I saw this division within bodybuilding called Bikini, and I looked at their bodies and they had muscle. They were tone and lean. I really admired that look and thought to myself, “I want to set a goal and train like a bikini athlete.” I got a trainer and I started doing research on my own about training and learning about dieting. I didn’t know any of it. It was a lot of work to learn all that. 

Tell us the transition from being a nurse to entering the fitness industry?

I was actually pregnant when I was in nursing school. There was a lot of pressure on me to finish school and continue, because not only do I have to perfect it for myself, but I had to show my daughter that I could do it as well. I was in the middle of a semester when I gave birth to her. I said, “if I don’t do this now, then I’ll never feel like I’ll accomplish anything in my life.” I earned my degree. I knew that since I could do that than I could do anything in life. 

You hear people who are young mothers, and whatever it is that you are passionate about, there is a way. It was a big sacrifice of my time, but every little bit was worth it. I had to devote time to studying, taking care of her, and taking care of myself. You find balance. You make those sacrifices. I wasn’t the one who always went out partying. I had goals. I knew that when I get my career going, life would be so much easier to handle. Fast-forward here, I don’t do nursing as much as I did back then because my fitness career has taken off and it’s a big demand of my time. The fact is is that I continue to balance my time with family. 

Do you find balance is what made you successful?

I believe the holistic approach is everything. You will not be successful if you don’t have a mental balance along with that physical training. If you don’t have a support system with you. It’s a process to teach people what you’re doing. Not everyone will get it at first, but you give people the chance and be like, “Hey, this is what I’m doing.” Not everyone will support it or your goals. Sometimes you have to just focus on yourself and do what you have to do to get there.

What was one of your biggest challenges in the beginning when you first got into competing? 

You don’t win every time. We compete to win and to be our best self. If you are competing only for the title or only to win, you’re setting yourself up for failure. There’s so much more that goes beyond that first place title. When you’re competing you have to keep in mind your ‘why’. Why are you doing this? What is your journey? It’s a big sacrifice of your time and your energy and your life. The why keeps you focused on your passion and less on placings. 

What did you learn about fitness and dieting that stood out the most to you?

I think it’s important that everyone educates themselves on health and wellness and training and eating better. That’s what began my journey. I learned so much about myself and about my health during my prep along the way. Beyond that, I learned so much about my work ethic and staying persistent and resilient. When people talk about competing at bikini or any other division, you learn so much more than anything physical. There’s so much mental that you can apply in your daily life as well.

You mentioned how important it was to get a coach. Can you speak more about that? 

I didn’t know anything about training or about nutrition but I took it upon myself to do research to educate myself. If you really want to take it to the next level, you want to take it to someone who has the certified training and knowledge to teach you the proper ways because sometimes you can end up teaching yourself bad habits that aren’t good for you and you wouldn’t even know it. That’s why it’s important to get someone who is certified. Sometimes you don’t see exactly what you’re doing and you teach yourself wrong moves. When you have a pair of eyes on you to help you do things properly, that’s the way to go. 

Can you tell us more about bulking and gaining more muscle? 

I never lifted a weight. I only ran on the treadmill and I had to learn and teach myself how important it is to do weight training. You burn more fat that way. Your metabolism goes up. You need resistance training. It’s good for your bones and your muscles. It’s hard for some people to understand that it does increase the fat burning process as opposed to just cardio. 

Sometimes there’s this misconception that if you train hard then you’re going to gain all of this muscle. Honestly, it’s so far from the truth. There’s so much that’s involved with building muscles. You’d have to eat a lot of protein and a lot of calories, and that’s not really in our frame in our daily lives. Lifting is how we get that nice sculpted body. It’s how we shred the pounds. I really advocate that you have to do both cardio and weight training in order to reach your fitness goals optimally. 

It’s a little bit of everything: cardio, strength training, and eating healthy. The saying is: you can’t outwork a bad diet. One bad meal also is not going to make you fat. You have to find a balance. It’s a little bit of everything and that’s how you will maximize your fitness goals. 

What inspires you? 

I’ve always been a very ambitious person. Anything I take on, I take all the way. That’s always been my mindset. It goes beyond a figure in your life. My daughter inspires me to be the best that I can every day. At the same time, motivation and inspiration have to come from within. Those things are short term to me. You have to be dedicated and persistent. Those are the things that will carry you on to keep going.

What is a big goal that you would like to achieve in the next five years? 

There are so many. I just won the Ms Olympia title. I would love to be a two-time champion for the sport and become the ambassador for the bikini division. I one day want to get my nurse practitioner’s license. That’s a personal goal that I would like to do. There’s so much more, such as reaching out to many people and inspiring them to make changes in their lives. Now it’s even more important to me to give back what I learnt because I can’t continue to compete forever. I think the most golden thing is the education and the knowledge to give to others. I love training and hosting sessions or chatting with people on social media or making that engagement, even face to face or in person. It’s like you’re making their dreams come alive or come true or are making the best versions of them come alive. 

Looking back at everything you’ve accomplished so far, what would the advice be that you would give yourself when you started this journey? 

There’s a lot of small things that we tend to worry and stress about. They also always seem to end up not mattering. I think you should focus on the bigger picture and take life day by day. Also going back to the whole, “no matter what you want to achieve, as long as you put your mind to it,” you really have to believe in yourself because there will be days where no one else will believe in it. You’ve got yourself to carry on and continue going. 

What’s coming up next for Janet’s fitness journey?

I’m putting on my first fitness event. It’s called Battle of the Bodies. It’ll be held on July 31st in Fort Lauderdale. This fitness event is open to all men and women who want to compete in whatever division of bodybuilding, whether it’s men’s bodybuilding, men’s physique, women’s bikini, or women’s fitness. Anyone who wants to compete can come out, challenge themselves and get into the best shape, whether they’ve competed before or it’s their first time. I also have an IFBB pro-bikini championships, because I’m a pro-bikini and that’s why I have a division there. These professionals from all around the world will come to compete for prize money and a title, and the opportunity to compete. It’s an Olympia qualifier. 

What made you decide to host your own show?

The reason why I’m doing this is not because of business, but the fact that I’m able to take advantage of the opportunity with my title, and a lot of people have been a part of my journey (I’ve been competing for eight years now) and seeing my ups and downs and successes. This is an opportunity for me to be a part of their journey, whether it’s their first time competing or fourth or fifth. I get to be a part of that, and that means so much to me. There are fitness shows all around the world, so I definitely want to make this something special for them. It’s really coming from the heart, and being a part of their journey means a lot to me. 

For more information on Battle of the Bodies, to get your tickets to the event head to janetsbattleofthebodies.com.

Follow Janet’s inspiring Instagram @JanetLayug

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