Paige ’12 Gauge’ VanZant was born in Oregon. Her parents owned a dance studio and she grew up dancing ballet, jazz and hip hop, and she also enjoyed outdoor sports like riding dirt bikes and fishing. Bullied at school, VanZant took up martial arts to defend herself. She won her first amateur fight at age 18 and made her professional MMA debut the same year. She signed with the UFC in 2013 in the new Strawweight division and was also cast to appear in the reality show The Ultimate Fighter, but due to the presence of alcohol in the house, she was turned down for being underage. VanZant has appeared on other shows including Dancing With the Stars where she reached the finals. She also won the cooking competition, Chopped. She has admitted to an eating disorder connected with making her weight class. Injuries including complications with a broken arm have sidelined her for a time. VanZant’s biography Rise was released in 2018. She has modeled for Columbia Sportswear and Nike. She is married to MMA fighter Austin Vanderford. VanZant has millions of followers on social media. She is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 125 lbs. for a fight and 135 lbs. during her downtime.
Paige VanZant’s Diet
Like all fighters, VanZant must pay strict attention to her diet in order to make weight, but she found the stress of cutting overwhelming and created an eating disorder. After witnessing a fellow fighter suffer seizures due to kidney failure, she decided to go up to the next weight class (fly weight; 10 lbs heavier) which she finds more manageable. She still makes a point of following a healthy diet. She eats plenty of vegetables and fruit and only keeps wholesome snacks in the house, like nuts, fresh fruit and raw veggies. Hydration is key when doing intense sports like fighting, and VanZant always drinks plenty of water.
- Medium Carbs 30% 30%
- Medium Fat 30% 30%
- Medium Protein 40% 40%
You Gotta Eat
VanZant says deprivation diets don’t work for her and that eating too few calories slows her metabolism, causing her to gain rather than lose. She says it’s important to fuel herself with healthy foods, but she can’t skimp on calories.
VanZant loves to cook and says if she weren’t a fighter, she’d probably be a chef.
VanZant thinks it’s silly to buy things like trendy waters or muscle-building drinks. Instead, she invests in the best fruit and vegetables she can find.
Tricks for the Tastebuds
To keep on track with her diet, VanZant will sometimes substitute tofu for meat in a curry, or slip in extra veggies.
Phone a Friend
VanZant surrounds herself with like-minded people so she doesn’t get sidetracked from her goals.
Drinking sufficient water can be an easy way to drop excess pounds. VanZant says most people don’t drink enough water each day.
Treat Yourself Right
VanZant says cheats help her stay on track and prevent binge-eating, which is not only unhealthy but makes her feel sick. She’s a big snacker, so she makes sure to only keep healthy ones on hand.
Some of VanZant’s favorite cheats to indulge in after a fight are burgers, candy and Mexican food.
What to Eat
What to Avoid
VanZant on Pressures of Cutting weight
‘I was giving myself an eating disorder to make the weight.’
VanZant on How to Effectively Lose Weight
‘To stay fit and lose weight, you have to make sure you eat enough food. If I don’t eat enough it has the opposite effect on my body.’
VanZant on Hydration
‘When you’re hydrated, everything works better, and you feel better too.’
VanZant on Weight
‘Don’t stress yourself out about numbers on the scale. Set goals but understand that muscle weighs more than fat…To measure my success, I go by how my clothes fit.’
VanZant on the Importance of Treats
‘If I deprive myself of good treats, then I’m not happy. And when I’m not happy, it’s hard to stay positive.’
Paige VanZant’s Fitness Routine
VanZant has been active her entire life, dancing in her parents’ studio, running around outside, riding dirt bikes and fishing.
VanZant was a tomboy growing up, and she still loves the great outdoors. Fresh air exercise is one of her favorite things.
Ditch the Scale
As a fighter, VanZant has to pay close attention to her weight, but obsessing over it was making her sick. She now uses the skinny jeans test to keep herself on track.
A force to be reckoned with inside the octagon, VanZant encourages others who want to make healthy changes in their lifestyle to take it slow and allow time for their body to adjust.
Dress the Part
VanZant says the right workout clothes make her want to exercise, not only because they’re comfortable and encourage movement, but also because they’re cute.
VanZant doesn’t fool around at the gym. Even her warm ups are intense: box jumps and 10 minutes of jumping rope, followed by shadowboxing, handstand walks and pushups while gripping a heavy bag with her legs.
Leading up to a fight, VanZant does CrossFit every morning. For her conditioning, she’ll do 2 days a week with a trainer. Afternoons are spent on MMA technique and sparring, and then evenings, she’ll do 45 minutes to an hour of cardio on a treadmill or stair-stepper, followed by a sauna.
Make it Fun
VanZant is all about keeping things fun when she works out. She says pretty much no one will stick to a boring workout, so it’s important to find something you enjoy.
Crank Up the Tunes
VanZant says a great playlist is another easy trick to motivate herself and keep from getting bored.
A Paige VanZant Warm Up Routine
Box jumps 10-12 reps x 2 sets
Jump rope combo: do a variety of movs such as crosses, side swings and basic moves for a total of 10 minutes.
Shadowboxing combo: Do jabs, punches, hooks, uppercuts and the like for 2-5 minutes per round for 2-4 rounds. Mix in with kicks if desired.
Kick series: Same as shadowboxing. Do 2-5 minutes per round for 2-4 rounds. Include high kicks, flying knees, kick the can, etc.
Handstand walks: Walk forward as far as you can, keeping legs & body long, then lower feet to the floor carefully. Work with a partner if needed.
Fighter pushups: Keeping elbows close to ribs, do 20 reps x 2-3 sets.
Heavy bag sit ups: Wrap legs around bag & do 10-15 reps x 2-3 sets. These can also be done on the floor. Keep elbows out to the side throughout and do not yank on neck.
Get outside, exercise with friends or do what ever motivates you. Keep it fun!
VanZant on CrossFit
‘I really enjoy CrossFit…I love doing squats. I like to powerclean with squats. I love the leg workouts but I feel it the most the next day.’
VanZant on Outdoor Exercise
‘When you surround yourself with sights you enjoy, it distracts from the fact that you’re working out.’
VanZant on Sticking with Exercise
‘Whether it’s weightlifting by yourself or a weekly Zumba class with your firend, it doesn’t matter. Just find something you like that keeps you active.’
VanZant on Learning a New Rroutine
‘Give yourself time to adjust to the lifestyle. Nothing changes overnight…it gets easier.’
VanZant on Mistakes
‘If you eat badly or don’t exercise one day, it’s okay to restart. Never give up on yourself.’
VanZant on Getting Fit
‘It’s never too late to start and it’s never too late to try again.’
Paige VanZant’s Supplements
VanZant is keeping quiet on the topic of supplements, but it’s almost guaranteed that she takes protein to build and maintain muscle.
A post workout is also popular with serious athletes to help speed recovery and minimize muscle wasting.
She probably also takes a pre workout to help keep her energy up during strenuous workouts, along with creatine.
Paige VanZant’s Lifestyle
VanZant was out of commission for over a year with an ongoing arm injury, but she says she can’t wait to get back into the octagon.
VanZant says her family made a lot of sacrifices including moving multiple times to help her get her career off the ground. Her dad, a former wrestler himself, goes to all of her fights while her mom babysits VanZant’s American Eskimo Chihuahua.
VanZant’s given surname was Sletten, but she changed it to VanZant after being called ‘Slutten’ following a gang rape at a party. The need to defend herself spurred her to pursue a career in martial arts.
VanZant’s first modeling gig was selling a mop. Hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere. She has since scored bigger gigs, like Nike.
VanZant is unapologetic about being a girl’s girl. She love manicures and always picks her favorite color, pink.
Life is Good
VanZant believes that what matters in life is finding the things you enjoy and making time for them.
VanZant on Her Return to The Ring
‘I’m not going anywhere. I am only 25 years old and I am a gangster fighter.’
VanZant on One of Her Idols
‘I have to look up to Ronda Rousey…she made people want to watch women in the sport.’
VanZant on Downtime
‘I love to cook, it’s one of my passions. I love going to the movies and I love taking bubble baths, pretty much anything that can help me relax.’
VanZant on Herself
‘I’m a very, very girlie person.’
VanZant on her Success
‘Even at a young age, I kind of knew I was going to be successful. I started practicing my signature at 5 years old!’
VanZant on Life
Life is about being happy.’
Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Life