Written by: Adrian DeBarros Inside the Mind of CJ Dunning 

BAC: What were some of your favorite family activities as a child?

CJ: Well, I’m the youngest of 3 girls and we are all 3 years apart. As far as activities, I remember camping in Las Vegas, camping, and fishing out here in Colorado. My dad and I have a love for the outdoors and mountains, I started skiing at 2 years old, which progressed into snowboarding with my middle school team.

BAC: When did you start with weightlifting and modeling?

CJ: I started lifting weights at 13 and started with modeling shoots at 16.

BAC: Can you tell us a bit about your high school years?

CJ: I was actually bullied a bit in High School, bullied for being a bit of a geek. I had all AP classes and honors, I had a semester and a half worth of college credit before graduating. I read all the time and still do. Knowledge and growth were firmly rooted in my growing up and it has stayed with me. I also played tennis and I was a cheerleader.

BAC: That worked out beautifully for you, as you have a Bachelor’s Degree in pre-law, Criminology & Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology. Not to mention all of your many athletic endeavors.

CJ: Yes, I attended Northern Arizona University from 2010-­2014. I did a year of AFROTC. During my college years, I continued to lift and that was one way I channeled negative energy into positive energy. I’m a firm believer of the greatest revenge is with large amounts of success.

BAC: We touched on this earlier, but can you dive more in depth about your fitness competitions?

CJ: My first bodybuilding competition was in March 2014, I was sponsored before the competition and placed 15th. In August of 2014, I placed in the top ten of USA’s, then a year (August 2015) later at my 3rd show, I placed 9th

CJ’s work-outs BAC Magazine

BAC: Let’s start off some fun facts about yourself,­ what are your favorite colors?

CJ: Pink and Turquoise.

BAC: Together, mixed like a Kool­aid drink, or separate like war paint?

CJ: Always separate, never used the colors as war paint, but you just gave me an idea…

BAC: What’s an interesting fact(s) about you, that you can tell us?

CJ: I’m a curve-ball tomboy, who loves to listen to heavy metal while reading books.

BAC: We did a bit of research on you, and discovered you have a hidden talent for writing, what genres do you like to write?

CJ: Documentaries and inspirational stories.

BAC: Have you ever worked any odd jobs?

CJ: I wouldn’t call this odd, I’d call it soulful if anything. ­ I worked on a ranch during college.

BAC: What do you do during your downtime? What kind of things do you do for relaxation?

CJ: I’m a huge movie buff, with a concentration of scary movies based on faith, paranormal, unexplained events.

BAC: How do you combat fear in the sport of wrestling?

CJ: I’d like to start off with, fear is controlling and toxic and it’s something that is innate to us as a human race. What I do to combat and place reins on fear is, I challenge myself, take risks on opportunities and erasing “what if” out of my vocabulary.

BAC: When you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall, what helps you to stay focused?

CJ: Self-reflection and visualization of what I strive for and the grounding of my beliefs.  I write notes in my a noted journal, I place thoughts and goals into it. I always revisit my note journal and that is one source that assists me when brick-walls pop up.

BAC:  With those thoughts in mind, what’s your definition of a champion?

CJ: A person who is purposeful, doesn’t settle for mediocrity.  Doesn’t want to win, but lives to win. A person who is in love with accomplishing what no one else around is willing to do. Putting proven goals into action.

BAC:  CJ can you give us insight into your daily diet and workouts?

Roy B and CJ Dunning

 CJ: Sure, as far as my diet, I keep it simple. During the competition I consume macronutrients. Outside of competition, I maintain what my body needs, I don’t count calories, I eat more lean meat than red meat, dark-colored carbs over light/white based carbs. Greener the better when it comes to veggies and no dairy, dairy is hard to process in the human body, so I stay away from it.

BAC:  CJ, can you give us a little insight into the bodybuilding culture?

CJ: I’ll tell you, it is completely opposite for men and women.  Perhaps this is from our social conditioning but 9/10 men are found attractive, I’ve known male competitors in bodybuilding that were just in it for the magnetism of women. For the women’s side of things, 2/10 women appear attractive to men. It seems women bodybuilding is not “ mainstream attractive” in our culture.

Photographer Roy B and CJ Dunning

BAC: Can you tell us your source(s) for your inspiration?

CJ: Yes, I’ll start with my faith in God first. Recently, I tattooed “I Am Second” on my foot to permanently commit myself and my recognition to Christ. “I Am Second” means to me, regardless of what I want to “win” or accomplish, regardless of the “trophies” I strive to retain, regardless of my surroundings and public presence I may ever have, I will always put myself second to God.  My family. Bethany Hamilton ­ Soul Surfer, I couldn’t even imagine what to do if I lost a limb and my soul told me to continue my sport. Another would have to be Ronda Rousey. I like her perspective of “Don’t be a D.N.B” Don’t be a do-nothing bitch! Do something of value with your life and don’t sit around looking pretty, resting your existence on someone else’s gratification, desire or will for you.

BAC:  CJ, thank you again for your time. We appreciate you for letting us share your story with the world!


Written by: Adrian DeBarros 

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