Suzanna Tjarks shares her story
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Home Country and City:
USA, Huntsville, AL

Current Country and City:
The USA, Fayetteville, Ga

Complete Bio: 
I am Mexican/ American born in Ft Hood, Texas, and raised all over the world. After living in Huntsville, Al for 30 yrs where my father retired from the US Army, I married my husband, Cpt. Chris Tjarks in 2014 and moved to Fayetteville Ga. I have a younger brother, Rob Maciel. I have a beautiful daughter and Step-Daughter and both are of the same age and grade and oh, what a challenge!! Growing up,  I was always involved in some sport from softball to swimming team, cheerleading, track, shot put, volleyball, karate mountain biking, trail running, and even roller skating! Once we settled in Huntsville and I started working full time, sports took a back seat. I missed being active so I started lifting weights at 22. I loved it! I tried a fitness show at 27 and loved how my body transformed but was never able to hold the leanness. Life took over and at 35 in 2008, I became a mother to my beautiful little girl. Life had a new meaning now and I let dreams of competing again fall away. Fast forward to 2010 and I’m at an NPC bodybuilding show to support a close friend. An old friend and coach approach me to ask why I’m not on that stage? Right. I’m too old! I was now 43. He said a few things and wished me well and left. Yes, the wheels started spinning.. Age is just a number! I started my competition career in April of 2011. I placed very well in my first 4 shows either 1st or 2nd or Over All winner and qualified for Nationals. However; things would drastically change for me in October. I woke up on Oct 2, 2011 and felt strange, tight, hard to get a full breath. I went to work and by 11:30 am, I was rushed to the emergency room and admitted with severe acute pancreatitis. I was so scared. My aunt had died two years prior of pancreatic cancer and my other Aunt had her pancreas removed. I don’t remember the first five days due to heavy sedation. I was told that I almost left this world twice. Friends and family kept vigil over me 24 hours, nonstop. Three cat scans couldn’t tell the Drs what was wrong. They kept me for two weeks and finally let me go home even though my amylase and lipase levels had not come down.  They ended up removing my gallbladder because it was releasing sludge and making the pancreas flare. To this day, I closely watch those levels in my blood work.. Pancreatitis, hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, menopause, and completely damaged SI joints in my back, due to a fall out of an attic, makes me a nightmare in competition.  I suffer a great amount of pain in my low back. They want to burn the nerves and /or do surgery and I refuse. I find other avenues of dealing with all this. I am an avid believer in acupuncture, cryotherapy, and myself! I am a fighter. I know on my weakest day, I am stronger than most. I hope to inspire others who feel like they can’t when I know they can. You don’t know how strong you are until you are threatened with loss of life!

Are you a trainer?  If so, what is your training philosophy?
Yes, I am ISSA and IAFS Certified. My training philosophy is  “ What is your WHY?”

Who is your trainer?
I have just signed on with Stephanie Ayala and TEAM DYNASTY

What makes him/her so special as a trainer?
Stephanie and Kerry have such a deep impactful commitment to their clients. I connect with that and I think that when you connect with something the results far exceed expectations. You train better and are more focused.

What was it like stepping on the stage this year?
This year was different for me as a competitor. It was about winning an internal battle more than winning on stage. I had to overcome several health issues and emotional trauma. I had to find myself again so I had already won before I ever got to Worlds and, for me, placing this year wasn’t a high priority. Next year it will be because from this point forward it’s about complete transformation with TEAM DYNASTY.

What does it mean to you to compete?
The WBFF is a completely different federation in that as athletes we get to really shine, perform and have a great time on stage instead of boring quarter turns. The WBFF is exciting, fun, beautiful, colorful and so full of bling! It truly is Glamorous mixed with fitness, fashion, and beauty. I am SO PROUD TO BE A WBFF PRO!!


Who are your most inspirational athletes?
Wow! So many! Stephanie Ayala, Hattie Boydle, Karina Marin, DeeDee Ramon, Alexa Hess, Rabecca Lee, and all the Transformation athletes who have overcome huge obstacles in life!

Occupation details:
I’m the President of my child’s choral department at Starrsmill High school. I am the Vice President of my HOA, yes, I’m that neighbor :}, I’m a certified ISSA personal trainer and I’m MOM OF THE YEAR!!

Relationship status:
I am married to Capt. Chris Tjarks also competes in Strongman competitions!

Fitness Goals:
My goal at 51 is to fight the flab! Menopause is the devil but I’m winning! This year it’s about conditioning for me, not muscle. I’ve done 16 shows since 2011 and each time the weight creeps back on. I don’t have a lot of real estates to have all the chub hanging off so my main goal is to keep it lean. It takes at least a year to reset your body’s set point for weight.  I’m also looking at starting a Bootcamp for teen girls!

Training Plan:
That’s up to TEAM DYNASTY!! My current plan has me training 5-6 days offseason with high cardio daily and contests prep is 6 days of weights and cardio and 7th day is cardio and stretching.

Thoughts on HIIT, Powerlifting, TRX, Yoga, bodybuilding, other:
HIIT has been proven as THE FAT BURNING workout so I love doing it! I am in awe of Power lifting but I would never do it as it would just make me thicker! TRX is a complete challenge and I’d like to do more of it this year! Yoga, hmm, I’m ADD so I’m always thinking …NEXT move, please. It’s really hard for my mind to slow up to YOGA pace but I love PILATES and will be attending more classes this year. Bodybuilding?? LOL, now that’s my style 😉

Nutritional & Supplements:
I’m a big advocate of supplements. I think that everyone should invest in those who workout or run or bike or who are overall active. Amino acids, BCAA’s and glutamine are a must. A good multivitamin and fish oils. I use a lot of MCT oils in my diet as good fats burn fats.

Special skills?
I can sew! Yup, clothes, curtains, comforters and projects! I used to do it all the time and it was therapy.

What do your parents mean to you? What did they teach you?
My parents are my BEST FRIENDS. My TEAM! As military children, growing up all over the world, my brother and I were taught resiliency. Bounce back fast baby!

What separates Status from other fitness magazines?
I got a copy at Worlds and looking at it online does not compare to handheld! This magazine is gorgeous! It’s very colorful. The pictures and graphics are captivating. Status features more athletes from all federations, not just one or two and that is so cool. Thank you! While I love learning about new products, I don’t want every other page to be an add! I like reading about people.

What would it mean to you to become the next Status Fitness Cover model?
I’ve been trying to answer this question and honestly, words do not do it justice! Can I scream from the top of Mt Everest how I’d feel? That’s how loud that dream is screaming in my head!

If you could ask Status Editor-In-Chief, Rodney Jang one question what would that be?
How long did you dream of creating this gorgeous magazine?


What was it like working with Warren from Healthy Vision Photography?
Working with Warren was so fun! We laughed and cracked jokes the whole time! He made it comfortable and that made me actually come up with some cool concepts on shots! Thanks Warren!!

6 things people would not know about you:
I’m a very transparent girl!
I am 51.
I want to be an interior designer.
I would give you the shirt off my back but I don’t look like it.
I want to be in a movie or two or three!
I have a very soft heart.

Who inspires you?
Many people inspire me…but people who work hard and who are honest inspire me most.

Who do you wish to inspire?
My daughter. Live right, do the right thing, be honest and work hard baby girl.

Transformation story:
I have many transformation stories but the prep for the 2018 Worlds stage takes the prize. I had a very dark 2016-17 year. My thyroid went way off key, I had shoulder surgery, and I had some very dark emotional moments. I had a pancreatitis scare and thought it had returned. I almost died from severe acute pancreatitis in 2011. I started menopause in January of 2016 and I was always sure that it would skip me because I was such a strong athlete, boy was I wrong! So I caught a real good glimpse in the mirror one morning in January 2018 and didn’t know who I was looking at! I had retired from competing and had no goal dates to shoot for, I decided to challenge myself to step back on stage at WBFF Worlds! I had a lot of work to do inside and out but I am a strong woman and I needed to fight for me this time. I had a hard training regimen and a good nutrition plan but the weight wasn’t coming off. I ripped my left labrum and my left rotator.  My thyroid wasn’t working at the correct levels.  It was a struggle to get my thyroid medications at the right levels to get the results we needed. Let me express how important blood work is for athletes at any level. Three weeks out from the show my weight started sliding off and I was finally seeing results. I was completely happy with what I brought because I knew what I had gone through to get it. Post show and I am still maintaining form. For me, post show has always been a struggle but with the help of my Coaches and proper reverse dieting, I think this time is a complete different body.

Life goals:
To be of sound mind, body and soul. To raise my daughter to be strong inside and out! I want to travel more with my husband and see far off lands.


5 lessons you have learned:
I am a complete snacker, gotta change that.
Age is definitely just a number and it’s never too late to start a dream journey.
If you REALLY want something bad enough, you will find the workaround.
Always tell the truth to someone even if it hurts.
Never lose sight of yourself.

Music and artist you listen while training:
I am a huge Zayde Wolfe fan so I listen to that station on Pandora when training

Favorite actors/ movies:
I’m a Superhero movie freak, All of them! I love Thor aka.. Chris Hemsworth,  and he actually frequents our gym when in town filming at Pinewood Studios.

Favorite books and authors:
I don’t get a chance to read a lot but I do spend time with my nose in Anatomy books by Frederic Delavier, I have them all!

5 most important attributes you see in a person?
Honesty, integrity, tenacity, work ethic and their value of humanity.

Advice you can give to children who want to start training?
Exercise and nutrition are the building blocks of life. I think we’ve lost some of that in today’s world due to technology. Kids don’t go outside and play anymore!

Favorite Quotes:
“You can look in the mirror and find a million things wrong with yourself. Or, you can look in that mirror and think – I feel good about my health, and I’m so blessed.”   Isla Fisher
“I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family is a healthy you.”   Joyce Meyer

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