LaDawn played sports growing up, so she burned off most of the excess calories she was consuming. When that wasn't enough, she began wearing loose clothing. But at a certain point, it became painfully obvious that LaDawn Latawiec was overweight.

After an eye-opening joke about weight gain from her uncle during a family Christmas gathering, LaDawn's self-esteem took a hit. After a night of Netflix and food binging, she finally came to the realization that things needed to change. Signing up for a challenge in 2015 kicked off her journey toward a healthier lifestyle. Despite several life hurdles and roadblocks, she managed to stay the course.

This is LaDawn's story.

Why did you decide to transform?

I was sick and tired of being uncomfortable with my body. I'd felt that way since childhood and all the way through my four years spent in university. I never felt fit enough to wear a bikini or a tight dress. In tenth grade, I remember saying I wanted to get in shape and lose my tummy, but it took 10 years for me to make a change. Once I did, my whole outlook on life changed.

How did things change?

People around me started to look up to me for being the fit one, which I loved! I had friends and family ask me questions about how I was achieving my goals, and I loved sharing things with them! The confidence I gained once I learned what to do in a weight room was amazing. I feel better now than I ever have! I no longer worry about having that slice of pizza because I know the occasional cheat meal is okay. I don't worry about being invited to the beach, because I know that I can rock a bikini. The best part about being confident is always smiling!

LaDawn Latawiec Transformation: Before

Age: 25, Height: 5'7", Weight: 189 lbs., Body Fat: 33%

LaDawn Latawiec Transformation: After

Age: 27, Height: 5'7", Weight: 153 lbs., Body Fat: 18%

How did you accomplish your goals?

Once I decided to change my life for good, I made drastic changes. In January 2015, I entered the transformation challenge. That was the first time I stuck to something for 12 full weeks. I meal prepped every Sunday to prepare for my long work week. I was working six days a week for up to 12 hours a day, so preparation was key!

I also dedicated my evenings to the gym instead of spending time on my couch or with friends. I even spent two or three mornings a week doing fasted cardio before work. I wanted to quit so many times during those 12 weeks, but every time I felt that way, I watched an inspirational video or read articles online. I would also talk to some people on Bodyspace to get my butt back in gear, but a lot of my inspiration came from my dad! He's been lifting weights his whole life.

How did help you reach your goals?

Oh, man, had everything I needed to be successful. For me, the free challenges were the best part. Those helped me stay accountable and encouraged me to meet like-minded people in the Bodyspace groups. Combined with the free training and nutrition plans, and the thousands of articles offering information on health and fitness, I got well-rounded information. Did I mention it was all free? I didn't have the money to pay a trainer, so that was huge for me!

LaDawn Latawiec transformation

What training plan kept you on track?

I lifted weights four days a week when I first started out, splitting my routine into "push" and "pull" days. I would rest or do cardio in between the two days. Then I would repeat the push and pull days, followed by two days of rest or cardio. I played soccer 3 times a week, which is how I got most of my cardio.

For something different, I would do 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on the treadmill. In HIIT, low-to-moderate intensity intervals are alternated with high-intensity intervals.

LaDawn Latawiec transformation

What aspect challenged you the most?

Nailing down my diet was the most challenging. Man, do I love food! I was an athlete growing up, so working out was the easy part. Initially, I didn't understand the importance of nutrition when it comes to leaning out. I thought if I worked out hard enough I could eat whatever I wanted and get the body I hoped for. Obviously, I was wrong.

I slowly learned that healthy food doesn't have to be boring and that I could change things up daily if I wanted to and still stay on track if I made healthy swaps. I also learned how to only eat until I was full instead of eating to the point of making myself sick. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I've always been one to overeat! I've since established a better relationship with food. It's not the enemy if you learn to eat proper portions of the right things.

What supplements helped you throughout your journey?

Where will you take your fitness next?

I plan to compete in a figure competition in the next year or two. I also just earned my personal training certification. My biggest goal is to be a finalist in the spokesmodel search. I also want to get back into triathlons, which I used to do as a kid.

LaDawn Latawiec transformation

What advice do you have for aspiring transformers?

Keep fighting, even when times get tough. Pushing through a few difficult days will leave you so much stronger and feeling better about yourself. Remember, you're not alone; thousands of people are fighting for their own transformation daily. Use resources such as Bodyspace to connect with your fellow transformers.

Lastly, remember that you don't have to be a superhero to change your body—ordinary people are doing it every day. If you start to feel like you aren't good enough, think again!

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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