I started my weight loss journey back several years ago during college at Western Michigan University. My freshman year of college, I became a vegetarian. Not really knowing how to approach this new way of eating, I just knew to eliminate animal protein. I had no idea how to replace it, so I did what do most folks do when they become vegetarians – Eat All The CARBS. While there is nothing wrong with eating all the carbs, I didn’t have any balance with all the other macronutrients, hehe! It sure was a quick and fast way to pile on the pounds. For the exercise portion of my weight loss, I would sometimes frequent the Student Recreation Center to work out, but I knew nothing. I didn’t know how to lift weights. I would run on the track or get on the elliptical and then maybe mess around the machines. I had no real direction, and I didn’t keep that up to long. I didn’t continue to go. I had definitely packed on the Freshman 15 and then some by my second year of college.
Sometime later in my college years, I came across Oxygen Magazine and Muscle and Fitness, the men’s and women’s version. Oh, was my mind blown! I saw all these buff ladies, and was like “oooh, I want to look like that”. In addition, I read every fitness magazine I could get my hands on to learn all things health, fitness, and nutrition. Little did I know, most of the women on those magazines were only that lean for that moment in time, and many of them go to extreme measures to look like that. Also, many of those models are photoshopped to tenth degree! I had no idea until later on in my fitness endeavors and career that most of the people “On” or “IN” the magazines diet down for the shoots, and it’s was only a temporary look. Here I was, thinking that’s the freaking way they look all the time.
During this time I was still running, but I had approached my nutrition differently. I started eating more veggies and found other ways to get protein in and what not. Not long after, I received a free membership to a Powerhouse Gym in the area where I lived. My apartment complex offered a free year membership as part of the rental package. I went to sign up for my membership and check out the gym one day, and I was hooked from there. There was no turning back! I started training several times a week. I was lifting and combining cardio for my daily routine. My physique changed right before my eyes. Then I started hearing those folks that kept on saying “Don’t get to big, you’ll look like a man!” I hated hearing that. I know you ladies hear this all the time, and it’s a load of BS!! It’s not really possible unless you’re predisposed to a muscular physique, and so what if you are. It’s all about loving yourself just the way God made you.
When people said those ignorant comments, it just inspired and pushed me to lift heavier and heavier weight, and get more muscle. I loved the way the ladies looked. I was looking at the women bodybuilders and the figure competitors, thinking I can do that and look like that one day. I thought they were absolutely beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with having muscle – It creates curves and keeps your muscles and bones strong.
I continued to lift and transform my body over the years, just pursing health and fitness, and helping and training people along the way. I absolutely loved it! So as you have read I learned about the competition scene through the magazines and seeing a few contests back in the day on ESPN when they would show Fitness America competitions!
I started my physique competition journey in 2008, and boy was I in for a ride. I competed in first figure contest and I was hooked. As you all may know, that world can be very extreme, but I learned eventually that it doesn’t have to be. I didn’t know that then, but I do now and I am here to tell you there is another way. There are better ways than an endless amount of cardio, 2 hour weight training sessions and a 3 food item diet. During my first contest prep, I subsisted on green beans, chicken breast, and sweet potatoes. Till this day I cannot touch green beans with a ten foot pole. I used to cry because I had to choke down just that one vegetable for my entire prep. I was told to pick one vegetable during the prep and stick to it. Now how crazy is that? You may be asking yourself “why would you continue doing this!?” It was because when I start something, I finish it, and at the time I thought that’s what it took to get on stage. When I set out to do something, I follow it to the letter of the law – I am such an “A” type personality. If my coaches said DO IT, I did it! No questions asked. It was all in the name of leanness. I was so lean and ripped for my first competition.
I competed for a few more years, then decided to hang up my heels in 2012 to work on the inside, and build my physique without a judge’s critique of what I needed fix. I stopped the diet cycle and started practicing moderation with food, fitness, and life. It was liberating and very rewarding to see that I could do it on my own, and keep the weight off without a competition or without following a meal plan. I found balance and love for myself. No more all or nothing or on and off the wagon. There was no more black or white, and I now see things in gray, and that’s what I teach today. The hard and fast rules get us nowhere, except a quick trip to an eating disorder.
Recently I started to work with a contest prep coach. I finally felt ready to do it again. She is a great coach, with a healthy way to the stage. She didn’t starve me or cardio me to death on little food. The workouts weren’t insane either. She showed me another way. I worked with her to see how her approach was, and I liked it. I ended up deciding not to compete because of some things going on in life, and I couldn’t commit 100% to the process. When I do stuff, there is no half way of doing anything. Like I said before, the stage is always there. I haven’t yet returned to the stage but someday I may. When I do it will be done in healthy, sane way.
Thank God for the thick skin through my competing years, and that it didn’t consume or turn me narcissistic. To this day, I still enjoy the hobby and I may grace the stage someday again.
So here I am today, eating, lifting, and thriving with a healthy mindset, healthy body image, and helping women end the diet cycle (mentality) and become the best versions of themselves. I want to show you how, and help you live a diet free life and love yourself as you are, while working towards your physique goals!