Oxygen: How did you get started in the fitness industry?
Michele Levesque-Presciano: I was always very athletic, so training was not new to me. My training had a different purpose, though, and it was geared more toward plyometrics and running. (I ran track.) After a knee injury, I started to get a little more serious about weight training and was convinced to enter my first figure competition in 2005. That was my introduction to the fitness industry. My training shifted from performance training to strictly aesthetic training, meaning weight training became a way to “sculpt” my body and achieve symmetry.
Oxygen: What sets you apart from other fitness models in the industry?
MLP: I was able to land several magazine covers without even competing. A few years back, most girls thought you had to compete to land a cover. Of course, times have changed ... but the peak of my career wasn’t when I was competing. It might have helped me get my first cover, but I was not known as an IFBB pro or someone who has 4 million followers on social media. I was just a Canadian girl who had a dream and made it happen with perseverance.
Oxygen: What is a “must” for you when you start getting ready for a photo shoot?
MLP: Cleaning up my diet is a must. And by that I mean eliminating the “extras” — extra bites of nuts throughout the day, extra sauce, extra sodium — and I’ll run an extra mile and do an extra set. If I eliminate all that, I get leaner pretty quickly. I am human just like everybody else, so as much as I eat very healthfully, I can’t do chicken and broccoli all year long. I like taste, flavor and carbs. So when it’s time to become leaner for a shoot, I make sure to eat five meals a day at least and control my cravings.
Oxygen: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
MLP: “Stop worrying about what others think.” I used to worry so much about what others would think of me — the way I dress, the way I did my hair, the way I walk or talk. It’s exhausting! I now go on in life without a care in the world. I am who I am, and if some people don’t like the way I express myself, it really doesn’t matter. I think this type of attitude comes with confidence and maturity.
Oxygen: What is one thing you would tell your younger self when you were getting into competing?
MLP: You will not make a living out of competing, make sure you stay in school and keep your job. Unfortunately, I see so many young competitors relying on competing and sponsorship to make a living and waiting for something big to happen, trying to build their social media platform to get paid. Yes, there are some great opportunities out there, but there is nothing like having a career or a plan B. You have to think ahead and not just live in the moment. Will your IFBB pro card buy you a house and put your kids to college 10 years from now? Don’t get me wrong, I am all about following your dreams, but I might not be as big a risk taker as others. I like to have my feet on the ground more than my head in the clouds.
Oxygen: How do you juggle staying fit and being a mom?
MLP: Fitness has always been part of my life. If it’s not there, I don’t exist. Some days I have plenty of time to work out. Some days I have none and I just have to roll with it. As much has my daughter is everything to me — and she will always come first — keeping a healthy lifestyle is crucial to me. It helps me feel strong, and confident, and it gives me energy and keeps me focused. I’d say I do a pretty good job at managing both!
Oxygen: What’s the one thing you always have to have with you?
MLP: I wear a chain with a gold cross my mother gave me when I got married that had belonged to my grandmother and even her mother. It’s been passed through the generations, and my daughter will one day have it. It never leaves me.