“Nancy Oshana Wehbe… Beauty, Strength and Assyrian Pride”

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” Arnold Schwarzenegger

From the moment I set foot in her home, I felt surrounded by a warm ambiance of friendliness and structure.

Nancy Oshana Wehbe was born in the Assyrian village of Tel Tamar of the Khabour region in Syria. Her relocation with her brother to the United States at the tender age of ten helped her push boundaries to become very independent. Similarly, her forward-thinking mentality and positive attitude is in large due her open-minded upbringing by both parents.

She earned a Bachelor degree in International Business and Business Management, and later, inspired by bodybuilding and nutrition, became a Certified Personal Trainer by the American Council on Exercise (“ACE”).

Actions have more strength than words… “Years ago,” states Nancy, “I was judged very harshly at the onset of my involvement with body-building, commonly a male-dominated sport,” and in particular, by her patriarchal-lead society. “But instead of giving up, I fully embraced the sport and manifested the negative into positive.”

Like her many other life choices, her ammunition for entering into and winning competitions is emerged into prayers seeking guidance from God. If a plan is ascertained, she is shown the way. Once she sets her mind on a goal, nothing can distract this 5’6″ Glenview resident, wife and mother of four boys, making her toughest hurdle balancing family life with a career that requires diligent workout and appropriate diet, for which she trains an hour to an hour and a half daily, five-days per week by breaking down body parts.

Happily married since 2005, the 38 year-old goddess turned body-builder has since turned every road block into a stepping stone by overcoming the frivolous impediment of cultural barriers and gender prejudices and has gained a widespread respect and support for a hardcore competitive sport that requires fitness and modeling, both, in and out of her taboo Assyrian community.

“Everywhere I go I am asked about my diet.” While training for a competition, her meal plan consists of oatmeal, six eggs (one whole and five white only) for breakfast; fish, chicken turkey breast, steak, brown rice, sweet potato and steamed vegetables, eating six meals throughout the day, with three hour intervals in-between meals. During off season, however, as a Middle-Eastern woman, she thoroughly enjoys spending time in her state-of-the-art kitchen, cooking her mother’s recipes and Lebanese cuisine for her husband and #1 fan, using only canola and olive “spray” oils.

In an image-conscious society, Wehbe embodies the importance of honing a signature style and remaining true to it. Her last show placed her in the top ten at the national level. Still, she claims that she has areas to develop, such as triceps and rounder shoulders, which will require rigorous training. This year, as she stands on the brink of yet another competition, she insists that she must gain more muscle mass by consuming a high protein diet and training throughout the summer, making her new goal to reach the top five tier. Through it all, though, Nancy is not competing with other women, but instead is further developing herself in a sport that requires a lot of discipline. After all, she skillfully plans to become pregnant at least once more with a girl.

Healthy eating habit, the counterpart to building physical strength, is on her agenda. Nancy’s other notable passion lies in helping women become more health conscious, and thus can train a body that is out of shape in as little as three months… all depending on how bad someone wants it. Realistically, it’s like a switch that goes on inside the head. But if she can wake something up in another woman, even if it’s to eat healthier, she feels that she will have accomplished a lot. “Starving diets,” she adds, “just won’t work; they slow down metabolism.”

Awards and Competitions
-2012 NPC Junior Nationals Figure division D placed 10th
-2012 NPC Illinois State Masters overall winner
-2012 NPC Illinois State Masters 35-39 winner
-2012 NPC Figure open placed 5th
-2009 NPC Midwest Ironman placed 4th
-2009 NPC Natural open class placed 1st
-2003 INBJ Great Lakes Bodybuilding placed 2nd
-2003 NPC Junior Nationals placed 16th
-2002 NPC Junior Nationals placed 7th
-2002 NPC Regional Midwest placed 1st
-2002 NPC Regional Midwest overall winner
-2001 NGA Natural Powerhouse placed 1st
-2000 IFF Miss Bikini National overall winner

This article is dedicated to the immortal soul of the 23-year old Physiotherapy student who met rape on a New Delhi bus and embraced her death on December 16, 2012.

~ Helen Talia, MBA, CPA
January 15, 2013