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Tampa Bay TV personalities reveal secrets to looking slim in front of the camera

Brad and Monica Culpepper do a kickboxing workout in the Stars Gymnastic and Warrior Training Facility in Tampa earlier this month. The couple is on the current season of Survivor.
Published Sep. 19, 2013

TAMPA — They say the TV camera adds 10 pounds to your frame. But when you're the one on camera, it can seem like more.

"For me, it was 20 pounds," says WFLA-Ch. 8 morning show anchor Gayle Guyardo.

"A consultant told me once in the '90s that, because of the shape of my face, I looked like a chubby teenager on the air." That's when she focused on trimming down and shaping up.

Monica Culpepper, wife of former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Brad Culpepper, always has been athletic and slim. But even for her, the prospect of appearing on TV's Survivor in a skimpy bathing suit sent her to work sculpting a figure she would be proud of, even with the camera's enlarging effects.

For Juli Marquez, a meteorologist at Bay News 9, the motivation for physical change came after her second pregnancy.

"When you're shorter, it's easier to gain weight," said Marquez, who says she's just shy of 5 feet 3. She learned early in her TV career that extra pounds are more noticeable on a small frame. "It took working out and eating right to lose the weight," she said.

Add to the TV problem challenges most women can relate to: battling pregnancy pounds, the demands of a busy life, and the metabolic slowdown that starts after age 35 or 40.

So how did these three women cope with all these issues to whittle off weight, keep it off and put their best-looking selves on camera? Read their stories and be inspired.

monica's mantra: weights

Monica Culpepper grew up playing team sports and doing tumbling and gymnastics as a cheerleader. When she graduated, married and had children, she kept the healthy habits, staying in shape by jogging and going to the gym. And it worked, to a point.

"After my third child, I had some extra weight that I really wanted to lose," said the 43-year-old Tampa resident. "I was a little tired of just running and going to the gym, so about seven years ago, I started taking kickboxing lessons. That changed my body forever. I got rid of the extra 10 pounds of baby weight and became real lean."

But earlier this year, after she and her husband signed on for the current season of Survivor, she was a little worried about the bikini she received from the wardrobe department.

"It's one thing to look good in clothes, but another thing to look good in a bikini," she said. After all, nobody sees your muscle definition through a layer of fabric.

With only eight weeks to taping, she saw a roadside sign for a trainer, and called her up.

The advice was simple and effective for a woman who was starting out in good shape: Just add a 30-minute workout with weights.

The publicity photos from Survivor show how well that advice worked.

To maintain her size 2, bikini-ready body, Culpepper jogs three days a week, takes kickboxing class two days a week and mixes in lifting small weights and doing lunges, pullups and situps.

"This doesn't have to be scary," said Culpepper, who spends no more than an hour a day working out and takes most weekends off, except for daily evening walks with her husband and the dog. "Just move every day, eat right and add some weights. It'll get rid of the dimples and give you muscle definition."

She says she generally eats what everyone else eats, including dabs of chocolate chip cookie dough when she's baking. But she skips the bread that helps fuel her active children, ages 16, 13 and 11. She tries to buy organic milk, meat, yogurt and eggs, because they consume so much of them. Husband Brad makes breakfast every day—whatever the kids want—waffles, bacon and eggs, oatmeal, black bean and egg white wraps.

While he cooks, she packs school lunches. Once the kids are at school, Monica plunges into her workout, runs errands, fits in volunteer work and is back in the kitchen by 3:30 p.m. to get dinner ready and on the table promptly at 4:30 on weekdays.

There's always a protein, vegetables, fruit and bread for the kids. Then it's out the door again for the kids' afterschool activities.

Her philosophy: Do something every day to change whatever you don't like in your life. Be positive. And move. If all you have is 10 minutes, move for 10 minutes. And don't neglect weight training.

"I wouldn't look like this if all I did was the treadmill," she said.

Having a partner who's dedicated to fitness can't hurt, either.

As a 6-foot-2 defensive tackle, Brad Culpepper weighed 275 pounds and had a 42-inch waist. As soon as he retired from football in 2001 in favor of a legal career, he changed his workout and diet.

"I've lifted weights since eighth grade and probably never ran more than a mile in the NFL," he said. Brad quickly dropped 80 pounds and has kept his weight down since, with a trim 32-inch waist. His weight did change while taping Survivor, but we'll have to watch the show — it just started this week — to see exactly how.

gayle's guide: routine

Gayle Guyardo begins her day at 2 a.m. to get ready for the 4:30 a.m. newscast.

After 2 ½ hours of anchoring followed by in-studio taping, there are stories to report and write, emails and phone calls to answer, websites to update and upcoming broadcasts to plan.

She leaves work when the rest of us are breaking for lunch, and usually hits the gym or pops in a workout tape. Then she grabs a bite, picks up the girls — she has four daughters, ages 6 to 15 — from school and ferries them to their activities.

Weight-conscious since arriving at WFLA in the early 1990s, Guyardo, now 47, made fitness a top priority. Motherhood made scheduling more of a challenge, but she picked up competitive running as a hobby.

All of her pregnancies were considered high risk, which limited her physical activity. She gained 60 pounds with each baby, but quickly lost the weight — until No. 4 came along.

"I was in a car accident when I was pregnant, broke my foot in two places and had to have surgery," Guyardo said.

With running competitively out of the picture, she took up boxing. "I'd rather hit a bag for an hour than just about anything else. I love to box," she said.

She takes classes at the gym, and even has a bag at home.

"You don't have to stay in step with anyone else. You're in your own world and at the end you're dripping from head to toe. It's a whole body workout."

Guyardo rarely deviates from her strict weekday schedule of sleep, work, working out and time in the evening with her kids and husband. She's regimented about her diet, too, preferring organically grown foods and passing up sweets and starches, except on special occasions. At work, she sips an almond milk protein shake and may nibble on a low-carb energy bar or fruit. Lunch is leftovers at home.

Dinner with her family is lean meat or poultry and vegetables. For Guyardo, a healthy lifestyle isn't just about maintaining her size 2 figure, it's also about passing along good habits to her daughters. She has a family history of breast cancer, and knows that exercise and diet are connected with a lower incidence of cancer.

She tries to be in bed by 7:30 p.m. and asleep by 8, six hours before the alarm goes off.

"It's never easy,'' she said of finding time for fitness. "But finding something you love to do for exercise is key. For me, it's boxing."

juli's judgment: healthy choices

Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez says the key to keeping her weight down is making healthy food choices every day.

She's at her desk by 3 a.m., and unless there's severe weather to watch, clocks out nine hours later.

"The schedule is difficult and I'm tired a lot of the time," said the 40-year-old mother of Josephine, 8, and Jackson, 5. "But coffee is a real pick-me-up for me and I drink a lot of it."

When Jackson was born in 2008, Marquez found the postpregnancy pounds didn't coming off as easily as they did after her daughter's birth.

"I joined a gym and went several days a week, doing cardio and weight training," she said. "I would push myself to go. I had to make time for it."

The weight came off slowly, over the course of a year.

Eventually, she had to give up gym workouts because of the demands of having two young children. So she switched her focus to improving her diet.

"I've been a vegetarian for 20 years, a very long time. But I had to learn to be a healthy vegetarian," she said.

"I try to think about always eating well, especially during the first half of the day. I will allow myself a little treat maybe on the weekends or at an event, because I know that during the week I ate healthy."

Marquez's diet includes lots of fruit, vegetables and salads, plus fish and dairy. During the week, she rarely strays from her set meal plan. "I pack a banana and oatmeal to have in the morning at work. Lunch is fruit and Greek yogurt, vegetables and humus," she said.

Dinner may be grilled fish, vegetables and salad. She keeps dinner portions on the small side because of her early bedtime.

"Every day I just try to make healthy food choices to balance the fact that I'm not working out like I used to," she said.

That's about to change, as the weather cools off enough for family bike rides, and Marquez's schedule loosens up a little.

"Now that both kids are in school, I may be able to do something for myself during the day," she said. "Like everyone else, I try to do my best and model healthy behaviors for my kids."

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