A year ago, junior Margherita Capolino would have never imagined being able to bench-press 135 pounds. Only then did she realize that she needed to dedicate herself to fitness.
“I was actually very overweight for the majority of my life and found myself physically incapable of exercising at all,” she said.
Now, not only does she lift heavy weights but also squats 205 pounds all in the name of competition.
Capolino took up bodybuilding as a hobby when she began to see results. She has competed in bodybuilding competitions like the 2013 NPC New York State Grand Prix and the 2013 NPC Ft. Lauderdale Cup. Both were held in October.
She participated in the pro-bikini category. She placed 12th in the New York competition and did not place in Ft. Lauderdale.
She was the youngest in her category by about eight years, and could not afford to hire a nutritionist or coach like the other competitors. But for her winning it did not matter.
“It was about proving to myself that I could do it,” Capolino said.
Capolino grew up around fitness and exercise. She was influenced by her father, a former football player. Her house was always full of Muscle and Fitness magazines and containers of whey protein.
Capolino’s 55-year-old father has two artificial hips, but he continues to lift weights.
“He very recently sent me a picture of himself leg pressing over 800 pounds,” she said.
Capolino may not be bench-pressing that much, but she takes her exercise regime as seriously. She hopes to compete in the National Physique Committee, the largest amateur bodybuilding organization in the United States.
For each competition, Capolino follows a strict routine: cardio in the morning, main workout in the afternoon and getting enough rest at night. In between, she schedules the right meals, according to a strict diet.
“When you’re going to compete, every meal, every calorie, every macronutrient and when you eat, it matters and is completely specific to your own body and what you’re trying to accomplish with it,” she said.
Before finding the right fitness program, Capolino tried other methods. One diet called MediFast left her feeling terrible.
This diet caused her to gain the weight that she had lost.
“You just revert back to old habits,” she said.
Capolino, a sister of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, also attributes her success to her supportive sorority sisters.
One of her sisters, Dominika Swieboda, often joins Capolino at the Wellness Center.
“I enjoy working out with her more than I enjoy working out alone. She’s always positive and supportive,” Swieboda said.
Another sorority sister Kathryn Collins also attests to Capolino’s commitment to staying fit.
“The time and focus she puts into her training is truly remarkable,” Collins said.
Capolino says that bodybuilding isn’t about being skinny or concentrating on your physique. It’s about learning to be committed to a program and loving your body.
Even though fitness is an important part of her life, she has no plans to make it a career. Her dream is to become a lawyer. She hasn’t ruled out the option of becoming a personal trainer, but only as a means of paying for law school.
Regardless of the future, Capolino is proud to say that she was able to go from a size 22 in high school to a size two in the fall.
“That’s what was important,” she said. “Just being able to do it. For myself and nobody else.”