I grew up in California and was raised in a Filipino household. We ate white rice with most meals that included delicious, sodium-packed entrees like chicken adobo, longanisa, and tocino followed up by desserts like ube ice cream, halo halo, and turon. I was the youngest in the house of two brothers and one older sister.
Unfortunately, I wasn't genetically gifted, I and grew up the "bigger" sibling, so I was often told to "reduce" throughout my teen years. My brothers and sister ate the exact same meals but didn't put on the pounds like me. However, weight was never a concern. I was active in sports like volleyball, basketball, and track and field, which helped maintain my weight. I was told I held the pounds well.
It went downhill when I turned 21 years old. I had a full-time job (and a great car), but no time to cook my own food. I had a pocket full of money, a car to get me to Taco Bell or McDonald's, and spent my weekends at nightclubs with girlfriends. I spent my lunch hours doing a 30-minute cardio session on the elliptical and thought it would help me lose weight. I had no clue about the benefits of weight training and thought eating an apple and half a bagel with cream cheese before dinner would help me lose weight (I washed it down with soda). Slowly, the pounds piled on and I weighed 165 pounds on a good day.
I had a closet full of baby-doll-type shirts (tight in the chest area and free flowing around the midsection) and a bathroom drawer full of acne face wash and hair ties. My skin got dry from a lack of vitamins and my hair was uncontrollably coarse and frizzy, so I always put it in a bun or ponytail. I felt lazy and grumpy. This wasn't how I wanted to live, especially in my 20s.
Getting fit was the biggest and hardest decision I made in my life because I knew it involved an entire lifestyle makeover. I slowly distanced myself from friends because I knew my decisions were peer-pressured or influenced. This allowed me to cut out alcohol and soda, add 30 minutes on the treadmill three times per week, and lose 20 pounds in two months. I was excited by the progress, started researching how to get fit, and began having meal-replacement protein shakes. I had more energy, less acne, shinier hair, and a more positive outlook on life. My lifestyle change trickled down to my job and I got promoted twice. This was the start and of my fit journey.
I wanted to lose weight during the first phase of my fit journey. I was never a big fan of cardio, so I joined a boxing/Muay Thai gym and trained 1-2 hours Monday-Thursday. After dropping the weight, I wanted toned arms and abs. I bought my first subscription to Oxygen with Jamie Eason on the front cover and thought "I need to get on that level!"
I followed a home video workout system that targeted specific muscle groups on certain days with plyometrics and weight training. It changed my life. I combined that with fruits, protein meal replacements, and clean eating and took my body to the healthiest state possible. I turned it up a notch and hired a coach to design a nutrition and exercise plan that targeted my trouble areas. I do legs every other day because work needs to be done in that area.
Medicine Ball Glute Raise (shown with barbell)3 sets of 30 reps
These meals are spaced 2-3 hours apart. I prep meals one day in advance, which takes about an hour. I also consume one gallon of water per day.
I read somewhere that "Fitness isn't about being better than someone else. It's about being better than you used to be." There was a point in my life when I was about 150 pounds and told myself it was my genes and I was meant to be a big girl. I accepted my fate and threw in the towel, but there was a side of me that felt I could beat it. When my body started changing, I realized you can override your genes and form your body.
It's strange for me to reflect and realize I enjoy a good challenge. I look back at old journal entries and photographs and use it as fuel to push myself. I often bump into people from my childhood or people from different phases in my life and they can't believe how different I look. It motivated people from my past and present to make positive changes in their lives. I'm happy to share and make a positive impact in someone's life from such a dark phase of mine.
As cheesy as it sounds, my best friend and boyfriend, Ryan, is my motivation. He lives a very active lifestyle and spends weekends riding his bike, swimming, running, or lifting. He fills our refrigerator with healthy food and stocks our pantry with healthy snacks. He's a huge part of my healthy life. If he didn't live a healthy lifestyle, I would struggle with it.
I love Invicta Fighting Championships (pro women's MMA). I love following women who fight for the organization and their training videos on YouTube. They often say "Train hard so the fight is easy." When I get lazy before a workout, I watch Invicta Fights to spark the bad girl inside me. Some of my favorite female fighters are Gina Carano, Cris Cyborg, and Michelle Waterson.
I competed in the Contra Costa Show in Hayward, California, on May 11, 2013, and won first place in bikini class A. I trained hard for the event in a short timeframe (40 days prior to the show) and couldn't believe I won. It was a sign, and I definitely want to pursue a future in fitness.
I love to motivate and inspire others with my journey and want to show people it can be done. It's not all genetics. It's harder as a petite woman to achieve the results you want. I want to show everyone that even at 5 feet tall you can have the body you want.
Surround yourself with people who motivate, support, and impact your life in a positive way.
Like many women, my favorite fitness competitor is WBFF physique athlete Andrea Brazier. She has the most amazing muscle tone and is the perfect combination with hard muscles and a feminine look.
I enjoy the feedback and ratings feature on Bodybuilding.com. I read through as many ratings and reviews as possible before purchasing and it helped me pick the right supplements. Reading real feedback from users is much better than a salesman at a supplement shop. Without these supplements, I definitely wouldn't be in the shape I am today.
- "Dragula" by Rob Zombie
- "Feel So Numb" by Rob Zombie
- "Super Bad" by James Brown
- "Get By" by Talib Kweli
- "Gossip Folks" by Missy Elliott
- To Mike and Trish Woods at Iron Addiction for coaching me throughout the entire process. Mike and Trish did amazing jobs designing my healthy nutrition and workout plan. Trish is an awesome posing coach, too.
- To Jeff Quinlan, my boxing coach, for working with me on calisthenics, flexibility, and core strength.
- To Lena Guillory, for being one of my biggest inspirations and supporters during the process.
- To my boyfriend, Ryan Quinley, for motivating and supporting me, and putting up with me when I'm hangry (hungry + angry).