The chase for the perfect body has evolved into an addiction for fitness junkies Julie Lee and Sommana Lavering.
The Pasco women spend their days together, sculpting their bodies and practicing poses. Their goal of becoming respected bodybuilders inches closer with each rep and minute spent on the bike or treadmill.
And they see each day as a new opportunity to improve their already toned physiques and to get their daily workout fix.
"When you go a day without it, your personality changes. The day changes," said Lee, 37, as she stood inside a Pasco gym. "It's that drug. Once my body gets that fitness drug, it's good to go."
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Lee, a mother of three, is a local fixture at her gym, running on the treadmill or pressing dumbbells. She's also is a fixture on the streets of Pasco, where she pushes a yellow stroller during her daily 10-mile runs.
Both woman recently took home the top spot in their divisions at the Iron Mountain Physique Championships in Wenatchee. It was the first time Lavering, Lee's protg of sorts, had ever competed.
Lee -- a 5-foot-2, stay-at-home mom-- met Lavering at the gym more than a year ago. She noticed the 53-year-old's lean physique and instantly pegged her as a candidate for bodybuilding.
Lee, also a part-time fitness trainer, has been on the bodybuildingcircuit since 2006 when she won the overall award at the Wenatchee show, she said. From there, Lee competed in premier amateur shows, routinely winning or finishing in the top five.
When Lee was 16, she picked up a fitness magazine and was inspired to start working out. She taught herself how to properly weight train about seven years later. By the time Lee met her husband, Richland police Officer Chris Lee in 2005, she was ready to pursue bodybuilding full time.
"I want to be a better me tomorrow than I am today," she said. "I look in the mirror and ask myself, 'Are you going to look better than you do today?'"
When Lee saw Lavering at the gym, she approached the Pasco woman to see if she would be interested in bodybuilding. The two quickly became friends and workout partners.
Lavering, originally from Thailand, moved to the United States 23 years ago. She'd already been following workout routines she saw on TV to lose excess weight gained during a pregnancy.
Lavering, who taught herself how to lift weights while living in Alaska, had been approached before to do bodybuilding, though she never thought about it seriously.
When Lavering started working out with Lee, she began to see her body become more toned, she said.
Lavering started a more high-intensity workout with heavier weights to prepare for a recent bodybuilding show. She focuses a lot of her routine on cardio, strength training and maintaining a 1,700-calorie diet when she prepares for shows.
"I have built more muscle," said Lavering, who is married and has three children. "When I was working out by myself, I didn't have much muscle. When I met (Lee), I learned to do a lot more."
Lavering's dedication to building more muscle mass and dieting paid off when she won the masters division at a recent Wenatchee show. Lee thinks Lavering now has a real chance to compete at bigger shows around the Northwest.
"It was her first time on the stage and she was natural," Lee said. "I was highly impressed and proud."
The two women competed in Shelton this past weekend.
Lavering placed third in the masters division.
Lee took first in her class and won the overall title for figure, earning her a spot at nationals next summer in New Jersey.
"I'm on cloud nine," Lee said Sunday. "I'm so proud to know I'm conquering what I set out to do ... (when) I started in 2007."
Lee has had to skip nationals on two separate occasions when she got pregnant with her two youngest kids. Now, her focus is to win the national competition and turn pro.
"I don't plan on getting pregnant anymore," she said.
Lavering wants to get a few more shows under her belt and continue to train so she, too, can compete nationally, she said.
"After I won (in Wenatchee) I want more," she said. "That's my dream, to do this for a long time."
-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Ty_richardson