Name: Shana Sissel
Birth Date: 06/21/1978
Birth Place: Worcester, MA
Current Residence: Boston, MA
Height & Weight: 5’3”, 103lbs
1. What made you want to compete?
A number of my friends had become involved in the WBFF system and had success, so they really encouraged me to give it a shot. Fitness competitions are in my blood, my dad used to be a competitive body builder and my grandfather was a champion power lifter so my family really supported the idea.
2. What do you do to stay inspired?
My husband Jason makes it easy to stay inspired, as an ultra endurance athlete he pushes his limits every day. In addition Jason is the founder and President of the Endure to Cure Pediatric Cancer Foundation. The organization is built upon the premise that no physical challenge we face compares to a child battling cancer. Jason lives his life upon that premise and as a result its pretty easy for me to stay inspired just by seeing what the children and family he works with go through. Currently, Jason is riding his bike, self supported, across the country to raise money for the programs, I figure if he can spend hours a day on a bike, I can get my butt to the gym for an hour or two.
3. What shows have you already been in or plan to be in in the future?
I’ve never done a fitness show before but I competed in beauty pageants most of my life. I’ve held a number of titles including Miss RI Teen America, Miss RI Galaxy, Miss Bay State and I placed in the top 10 in the Miss RI USA pageant.
4. Who got you started?
WBFF Bikini Diva Pro Amy Diaz was my initial inspiration. Seeing her transformation and success really got me interested, but it was my coach, WBFF Bikini Diva Pro Melissa Folster that really encouraged me. I also consulted my dad and former trainer, Al Thurston who both felt I could be successful if I fully committed to the plan.
5. Who do you look to for help now?
I always look to my Team Fit Girl coaches Melissa and Liz Cort for advice on my progress, but I can’t help but consult with my dad whenever I need advice. I really am Daddy’s girl.
6. Where do you usually workout?
I work out at Wave Health & Fitness at the Seaport Hotel. It is close to my apartment and is a full service gym not a just a bare bones hotel gym.
7. Do you use any suppliments? If so, what ones (brands, names, etc)
I am fueled by Advocare. I use a strict supplement regimen to prepare for the show. Of all the supplements I take I love Advocare’s SPARK product the most. It’s a great tasting energy boost and has completely replaced my Diet Coke habit.
8. What are your most noticeable results?
My abs for sure. I’ve always had a flat stomach but now I have real definition. My upper body developed quickly as did my quads, I can thank my dad’s genetics for that.
9. Has fitness changed your life? If so, how?
I’ve always been a fit person, living a healthy lifestyle has always been a priority, especially as I’ve gotten older.
10. What personal fitness goals have you set for yourself?
Nothing specific, I’d like to improve my overall muscle tone and build muscle mass.
11. Describe your diet.
I focus on eating clean, no processed foods, no sweets, just fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and lean proteins.
12. What does your workout schedule look like?
I try to work out right after work, weight training and cardio, 5 days a week.
13. What do you do for a living?
I am an investment research analyst for a major asset management firm in Boston.
14. What are your personal non-fitness goals?
In the near-term my husband and I hope to buy a home and start a family soon. Long term I’d like to continue to develop in my career and potentially run my own mutual fund someday.
15. Have you participated in any other sports?
I enjoy horse back riding and competing in downhill ski racing. When I was younger I competed at the junior olympic level as a Downhill and Super GS specialist.
16. Here you can mention your family/thank you’s.
I could never have stuck with this without the continues love, support and inspiration of my husband Jason. My dad has been my rock throughout this whole process and his constant support and advice have been invaluable! My mom, sister Chrissy, close friends Kristen Pope and Justin Popovics, and coaches Melissa Folster and Liz Cort have been there to encourage me every step of the way. Lastly Amy Diaz, for continuing to inspire me and women everywhere with her can-do attitude and eternal optimism!
17. Do you have any hobbies?
I love doing research on family history, traveling and reading books about Theodore Roosevelt.
18. What are challenges that you face that may keep you from reaching your fitness goals?
I suffer from a rare virus called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, otherwise known as POTS. In short, my body doesn’t compensate for gravity. When I stand up my blood pools at my extremities, causing my blood pressure to drop suddenly, which in turn causes my heart to speed up to rates normally only seen during a typical cardio session. Most of the time it just makes me really tired (as far as my body is concerned I’m running a marathon everyday) but on rare occasions it causes me to faint, usually when I stand in one place for too long. To make matters worse I’m cardio intolerant. Any type of exercise exacerbates the issue, making me even more tired. Everyday of my training has been a struggle with POTS, it takes a lot out of me and the diet can exasperate my blood pressure issues. I’ve had to really listen to my body and make adjustments to my routine from time to time.
19. What obstacles have you overcome to be where you are?
For the last 6 years POTS has ruled my life, I’ve been completely inactive and tired all the time. I’ve tried so many different medications but nothing as helped. Ironically the key to overcoming POTS is exercise! I’ve tried to get back into a regular gym routine more times than I care to admit but I’ve always lacked the motivation to push through the fatigue. Additionally I am a survivor of the 9/11 attacks and have fought relapses of PTSD over the last 10 years.
20. Is there anything else you would like to add that you think we’ve missed?
I’m a professional model and have appeared several catalogs and U.S fashion magazines over the years. My nickname is “Money Honey” because I have appeared on CNBC, New England Cable News and WCVB-TV (Boston’s local ABC affiliate) as a financial expert.