Sharmaine Diaz remembers the overwhelming stress of bringing home her new baby and moving into a new house, all on the same day. "My husband and I closed on our first home just three days before our son Anthony was born," she says. "We had an air mattress on the living-room floor, and my husband went out and bought a little rocker for him to sleep in. It was overwhelming, to say the least." 

By the time baby number two arrived, Sharmaine was in a rut; her motivation to work out and get back in shape just wasn't there. Luckily, an advertisement for a transformation challenge sparked her fire.

This is Sharmaine's story. 

Why did you decide to sign up for the $250K Challenge? 

I didn't want to feel the way I did after the birth of my first son. I had started a transformation that year as well, but finding out I was pregnant a few weeks in was an easy excuse to quit. I gained even more weight. My second baby boy was born in November 2015, and I knew this time had to be different. I remembered the challenge, looked online, and saw there was another one starting in January. I decided right there and then that I was all in! 

Sharmaine Diaz Transformation: Before

Age: 35, Height: 5', Weight: 135 lbs., Body Fat: 34%

Sharmaine Diaz Transformation: After

Age: 36, Height: 5', Weight: 108 lbs., Body Fat: 17%

What motivated you to break through your rut and hit fitness full-force? 

At first, it was about the money. Who wouldn't be motivated by a hundred grand? But it quickly became about family. My loving husband had been supporting us financially since I decided to stay at home fulltime with the boys. He's been our rock, but it was getting tough, and bills were piling up. I knew that the challenge could be something great for us. It was a win-win situation; a win for me mentally and physically, and a financial win for my family. 

What kept you going on days you wanted to quit? 

The photo requirements were genius! Progress pics were a huge motivator for me. I was so nervous about having to post my photos online for everyone to see, but at the same time, that accountability was so real. I knew that I wanted to keep that motivation, so I decided to commit to posting pics weekly. You can't fake a bad diet. If I wasn't eating the right way, it would show. 

Sharmaine Diaz Transformation

Did you set an overall goal? 

My goal for the challenge was to get down to 113 pounds. In the beginning, I thought that was going to be impossible and let that get me down. I thought, "Why bother?" Instead, I decided to focus less on the big, long-term goals and instead set a weekly target of losing 2 pounds a week. I felt like that was attainable. 

With a new baby, how did you find the time? 

At the beginning of the challenge, my baby was only seven weeks old, and my oldest was only 22 months old! My home was full of chaos, to say the least. Just two weeks into the challenge, both my sons contracted RSV [an respiratory-tract virus] and passed it on to me as well. It was a nightmare! My baby was so little. He wasn't handling it very well and was admitted to the hospital. That was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I was sick and had to be without my toddler while caring for my newborn in the hospital.

I definitely wanted to quit, but even though all of that was going on, the challenge stayed with me. I only missed a few days of working out, and my diet was strong. Even in the hospital, I committed to making good food choices. It was tough. I thought about my boys a lot throughout this challenge. I still do.

My family is my motivation. I want them to see Mama as a doer and as someone who continually strives for a goal and successfully completes it. Win or lose, I knew I had to finish this time around.

What aspect challenged you the most? 

Diet was the most challenging for sure. Sweets love me, and I love them back—but our relationship is all jacked up! They give, I take, and I gain a gazillion pounds. During the challenge, I felt like temptation was lurking around every corner, but I made a conscious effort to stay away from the sweets as much as possible.

Sharmaine Diaz Transformation

But let's keep it real—I knew I was going to need some "relief," so I'd allow myself one cheat meal a week. Usually it would be one meal. I was able to celebrate Valentine's Day with my husband at a restaurant without feeling deprived, and I enjoyed my son's second birthday party and shared his first piece of cake and ice cream with him. That was nice. But when the meal was done, it was back to business. 

What supplements helped you through your journey? 

What are your future fitness plans? 

I was asked this question a lot after the challenge was over. I didn't really know and answered with a lot of "maybes" and "hopefully." Along with my success in the challenge, I also made mistakes. I slowly reverted back to some unhealthy habits. I learned a lot from that mishap. It has allowed me to focus on a real struggle that a lot of us face—nutrition. I've decided to work on developing a better relationship with food. I want to understand how to live a balanced and healthy life long term, and I hired a coach to help me with that.

My plan is to work on "walking the walk" in regard to eating well and training. I want to develop a sound foundation. In the summer of 2017, I'll be entering my first bikini competition! I've decided to give myself time to mentally grow before the show. This challenge has taught me to dream big. I remember always looking at different women's fitness magazines like "Oxygen" and wondering what it would be like to grace that cover.

I never thought that could really be a possibility for me. But why not? This challenge has shown me that the impossible can be possible. 

Sharmaine Diaz Transformation Story

What advice do you have for aspiring transformers? 

If you succeed at one goal, create a new one. Always keep moving forward; time is going to go by regardless. When it comes to strict dieting, be sure to include a maintenance plan in your schedule. After I finished such a strict diet, I failed to plan beyond that. That was my biggest downfall.

My advice is to set up a plan for yourself even beyond your current goal. When you've crushed your diet and fitness goals, and it's time to move on, you'll know exactly what the next steps should be. 

How has helped you reach your goals? 

BodySpace was my lifeline! I believe that being active on that page was one of the biggest factors in my success. There's so much motivation living and breathing on the BodySpace site—it's unreal. There's no way I would have been able to surround myself with so much willpower, positivity, strength, and kind-spirited people had I not been a part of that. I was never "alone" during a workout (and I worked out at 3 a.m.). I started following some of my BodySpace peers on social media, and it's been an honor to be part of such comradery.

About the Author

Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Smith is a New York native who caught the fitness bug while earning a master's in journalism at the University of Missouri.

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