“I think the message I’m trying to portray, especially to young women, is that weight means nothing.”
We all want to believe that the scale doesn’t matter, and that the number on it doesn’t measure our progress or worth. Nika Bekavac is a woman who has helped me and many others give up on basing progress on that number; she is definitely an amazing example of someone who defies traditional female logic in regards to weight. Nika is “six-pack” ripped at 177 pounds, and proof that weight gain is not bad. I caught up with Nika this past week, and she graciously shared her fitness and training tips, motivation and how she got over the scale.
FitnessRx: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me for FitnessRx for Women! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Nika: I’m 22 years old, born in Croatia, and currently finishing up my last semester at Saint Louis University studying psychology and biology (graduating in two months!). I work at two different facilities where I personal train, and well as online training, so the combination of those plus school keeps me very busy! I love dogs…a LOT. I also like to travel and try to go back and visit my family in Croatia and Bosnia every other year, and hit a few other European countries while I’m over there!
FitnessRx: You are very open about your weight, which can be sensitive for most women. What inspired you to share this? What message do you try to portray by sharing it?
Nika: I became very open about my weight when I had a mini freak-out when I weighed myself about a year and a half ago. The scale read “179” and the reason I freaked out was because about five years ago when I was at my heaviest, the scale read “185,” and the fact that I was only six pounds away from where I started terrified me. I stepped back a took a deep breath, and then compared where I am now versus where I was then, both physically and mentally, and I looked (and was) and completely different person. Body composition is far more responsible for the way you look than an arbitrary number about how much you weigh.
Another reason I’m so open about it (and many times people think I’m lying) is because I do weigh a lot, at least compared to what the magazines want you to believe is the “ideal” weight, and a large reason for that is because I’m very tall (6 feet tall!) and I also have a significant amount of muscle mass. The combination of the two lead to a pretty high number on the scale, and in reality, that doesn’t mean anything because I look and feel wonderful!
I think the message I’m trying to portray, especially to young women, is that weight means nothing. You can weigh 100 pounds and not look how you’d like to look, or you can weigh 170 pounds and be lean and look like your “fitspo.” It’s about opening up the eyes of people to have them realize that a certain weight isn’t synonymous with a certain body type, and that’s important to remember for everyone, but also very prevalent for tall, fit girls!
FitnessRx: You have you competed in both Strongman and NPC competitions, which is awesome! Which do you prefer?
Nika: I did one NPC Bikini show last April. It was an enormous show and ran behind about five hours, which is probably one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy it very much.
I’ve competed in three Strongman competitions and I absolutely LOVE them. The atmosphere is wonderful; you’re competing against yourself, and the other competitors are truly the most supportive individuals out of any sport I’ve ever competed in. It’s said that Strongman is the only sport where your competitor will cheer you on like you’re their teammate, and I think that’s why I’ve fallen in love with the sport so much.
FitnessRx: So, what is your current goal in fitness competitions?
Nika: I currently just want to be stronger than I was the day before.
FitnessRx: Awesome! Great goal. What does your training currently look like?
Nika: I only lift four days per week and rest three of them. I usually do one day on, one day off, two days on, one day off, one day on, one day off, and repeat. I’ve been doing the Strongman cube method, which is essentially a leg day, a press day, a back day with a strong emphasis on deadlifts and a Strongman implement day. Between the leg day, back day and press day, I alternate between strength, speed and volume every week. So, for example: In one week I may do legs for strength, deadlifts for speed and presses for volume, and then switch it up the following week!
FitnessRx: Sounds interesting! I’ve seen a couple of your Instagram videos, like one of you pulling a truck! What else is in your Strongman implement workout? Where do you get the equipment you have to train for this?
Nika: All of my workouts are done to improve my Strongman implement days, which are usually farmers walks, yolk walks, runs with the sandbag or keg, presses with the log, stones, etc. I only do three to four implements per Strongman day, just because they’re really taxing on the body.
I train at a gym called JD’s Gym, which is here in St. Louis, and it is hands down the best gym I’ve ever attended in my life. It definitely has a community feel, and is family owned! One of the owners is the Missouri representative for United States Strongman, so the gym stays up to date with different rules and such. They also organize competitions at the gym, and they’re all USS sanctioned competitions (meaning you can qualify for Nationals).
The gym also has some super strong individuals who train there, and having national champions train alongside you is extremely motivating, but also very helpful because they can help with form and give little tips they’ve picked up along the way!
FitnessRx: You have three rest days a week. What do you like to do during them?
Nika: I work almost every day, so my rest days are still spent in the gym training clients. But if I have a day off and a rest day, I lie in bed and watch Netflix.
FitnessRx: Sounds perfect. You are a vegan, which I think is so rad! What does your typical diet look like?
Nika: I usually start my day with a bowl of oatmeal, protein powder, a banana, chia seeds and peanut butter. I snack on protein bars, Clif bars or fruit between meals.
For lunch, I usually have a burrito with rice, black and pinto beans, veggies and guacamole (either from Chipotle or Qdoba— both of their pinto beans are vegan).
For dinner, I almost never have the same thing. Sometimes I have potatoes with mock meat (Gardein is my favorite brand), mac and cheese, pizza or whatever else I’m in the mood for. Good thing is there’s a vegan version of EVERYTHING, so I never feel like I’m missing out on yummy food.
FitnessRx: Sounds yummy! What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Nika: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Do you and don’t compare yourself to anyone other than yourself. As long as you’re working to improve yourself, it doesn’t matter if person X is smarter and person Y is stronger and person Z is leaner; they are not you, and you have something unique to offer.
FitnessRx: Great advice! Do you have a quote or motto that you live by?
Nika: Be kind to yourself. It’s so simple and easy, but we get so caught up into being more and being better and going to significant (and often dangerous) lengths to be “great,” and we lose sight of what’s truly important, and that’s being nice to yourself and enjoying the world around you as it is right now.
FitnessRx: Anything else you would like to share?
Nika: Just remember to live your life— don’t get so caught up in fitness that you lose sight of who you are as a person and don’t neglect your mental health for the sake of a physique.
FitnessRx: Thank you so much, Nika! Best wishes to you as you graduate, and in your future endeavors!