Both of my parents passed away during my youth. My mom died when I was 11 and my dad when I was 16. After the death of my father, I realized how much of a blessing it is to have good health and decided to show my appreciation by having a clean diet and pushed my physical capabilities past their limits.
I went from taking ballet classes to weightlifting classes in high school, and realized lifting was my avenue. I lifted a few times per week because physical strength made my day-to-day activities easier. I didn't have any muscle definition and didn't care to build any, but it felt awesome throwing up iron. Toward the end of my junior year, my father passed away from life-long asthma. That was when my passion for healthy living ignited.
When my father passed, I underwent a huge lifestyle change and moved in with a family member at a critical time in my life (when I started preparing and testing for college). I have the ability to find the bright side in any situation. I didn't go into a depressive or reckless state. With uncontrollable factors happening to me, I targeted something I could control—my diet.
When I felt stressed, I took it out on food by binge-eating, which was a personal and discrete habit I formed. To be honest, I didn't realize I had a problem with binge eating until recently when I reflected on the past few years. I love reflecting on the situation and sharing it because it's how I learned to appreciate the beauty of the mind and body.
It didn't take longer than a few months to realize I was gaining weight. The weight was subtle enough that no one else noticed, but I sure did. A fat roll on my belly formed when I sat down and the jiggle on my thighs while dancing in the car drove me crazy. But, like many people, I kept my problems to myself and the stress multiplied. Before the problem got out of hand, I started researching how to lose weight and learned about different foods and their effects on the body.
With what little information I gained, I binged on healthy, low-calorie foods. I made a point to have foods like celery, carrots, and lettuce on hand so I could eat my stresses away without the detrimental effects. The healthy transition wasn't as easy; it was a constant mental struggle.
Our bodies constantly communicate with us, but most people are too caught up in the fast-paced world to listen. It's fascinating that simply altering a diet can change our mental clarity, long-term health, and physical appearance. The effects of strength training are synonymous with personal effort. With nutrition on my side, I gave exercise more attention than ever so I could have balanced health. I researched training methods, proper form, and sports nutrition.
I owe Bodybuilding.com huge thanks for helping me become who I am today. The website was and continues to be my main source of information. Bodybuilding.com provided a motivating community when I didn't have anyone to share interests with.
I'm still experimenting with what I like and what works best for my body. This is the routine I've been on for last three weeks. I run and bike to commute around campus.
I incorporate green smoothies in my diet and love the way it makes me feel. I'm in the process of a vegan transition, but still eat fish and dairy proteins. Nutrition is my passion, so I'm always cycling a variety of foods so I get a wide range of health benefits and keep a steady 10 percent body fat. You can never eat enough veggies. I keep it mostly plant-based with lots of spinach, kale, seaweed, Swiss chard, broccoli, and plant protein powders. I use lots of ethnic spices and include high levels of healthy fats like coconut oil, nuts, avocados, olive oil, hemp seeds, raw cacao, and flaxseeds. My meals vary depending on the school cafeteria menu. When I'm training, the gym is my science lab and I'm a chemist in the kitchen. I create new meals that combine macronutrients with super foods.
1/4 cup (sprinkle 1 tsp of flaxseeds for crunch and nutty flavor)
Edamame Wasabi Hummus
Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding: For my sweet tooth
Broccoli or Bell Peppers and Tomatoes
Strength training provided an incredible realization that the future is in my hands. If I want something, anything is achievable as long as I put in true effort. After applying and testing many techniques that I learned from Bodybuilding.com, the results kept me coming back. With determination, self-motivation, and effort, I can produce any outcome I want, so I transferred this mindset to my future outlook. This mindset I acquired from healthy living and strength training got me where I am today.
I have access to a much nicer gym and met other like-minded bodybuilders at college during my freshman year. This gave me motivation to train heavier and start sculpting my body. It's a great addiction and I want others to have this same amazing experience.
My motivation to transform and stay current with the latest fitness trends helps me set and achieve goals. As long as I'm always setting new goals, my adventure never ends.
My father is my main source of inspiration. He passed away on Easter morning in 2011; four months shy of my 17th birthday. Growing up, my mother was the sole provider for our family and my dad was a self-employed boat mechanic. When I was eight, my dad's health began deteriorating; his lifelong asthma slowly got to the point where he couldn't breathe enough to work. At age 11, my mom unexpectedly passed away, leaving my father and I with only each other.
During the following years, my dad's breathing got even worse. Without my mother, we were left with no income or medical coverage, which forced me to take care of him. I'm grateful that it gave me the chance to be close to him. My dad and I knew each other inside and out, and together we took care of each other. Seeing him fight a never-ending battle and still managing to be happy made me realize that our health is truly a blessing. We should treat the body we have with gratitude and respect by eating foods that love us back. Since he passed, I've been inspired and focused on my athletic abilities.
He always made jokes about how tough I was, and now that he's passed, it's inspiring to think about how proud he and my mother must be in Heaven.
I recently got exposed to the world of figure and fitness competing. I never knew such a life existed. The thought of putting an objective with my strength training made my future become evident. I want to inspire people to appreciate their body. I want to continue my education in holistic nutrition and fitness fields and make the full transition to a vegan diet by cutting out dairy and fish.
I want to become a spokesperson for all that I believe in and be an all-around lifestyle coach. I plan to do this through competing, modeling, and earning my degree. Working in front of the camera is such a joy and I aspire to be on the cover of magazines that promote good health.
My other future plans include a website, which I'm currently working on, to inspire and teach others why and how they should appreciate their bodies. I'm constantly asked questions about my lifestyle by peer students and I find that many of them simply don't understand the impact their actions have on their bodies.
I haven't competed yet, but it's thrilling to imagine my first competition. I spent lots of time researching and gaining knowledge. I successfully trained my body and managed my own diet. I'm saying this because I want people to know that it doesn't take lots of money, fancy supplements, and experience to accomplish goals, so please don't use that as an excuse. You have to believe in yourself and you can do anything. I plan to train in posing, attend as many competitions as possible, and continue training for my first competition this upcoming summer. I'm going to compete until I get to the top.
Release your attention from your surroundings, pay attention to your breathing, and focus on your body. Appreciate that you can breathe and take advantage of it. Everything around us is a blessing. That's the message I want to empower to bodybuilders; breathe and smile with every breath. Those words can take you so far in life. Breathing techniques are vital to lift weights and overcome life's challenges. Never forget who you are and what your values are. Don't get so caught up in training and dieting that you miss the smaller miracles in life.
Those who know me would tell you that I'm always happy and smiling. "Smile With Every Breath" is the message I'm destined to empower because the acronym fits my initials perfectly—SWEB.
Nicole Wilkins is my favorite. She's so gorgeous inside and out. I also love Marzia Prince for promoting vegan bodybuilding. I admire Justine Munroe, Jamie Eason, and Arnold Schwarzenegger for his determination to accomplish his goals.
How has Bodybuilding.com not helped me reach my goals? I used Bodybuilding.com from the beginning of my fitness journey and still use it every day. My only disappointment is that I didn't make a BodySpace account until much later during my fitness journey. I didn't realize everyone was so friendly and motivating. It would've been a huge help from the start. I encourage everyone to make an account no matter what stage you're at because BodySpace is a great way to track your progress, and by making healthy commitments public, it's much easier to follow through.