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Pursue Your Passion: Are You Following Your Dreams?

Do you have a dream that seems so far away, so impossible and out of reach? Find out how Alissa got through the army and overcame the obstacles that were presented in her journey to become a successful fitness competitor.

A young woman graduates high school and leaves her small country home voluntarily to be subjected to loud, angry, and highly effective screaming drill sergeants demanding everything from folding 45 degree angles into her bed sheets to raking leaves out of the grass with her hands.

She passes that phase of training and is shipped away to another new set of sergeants and instructors on a new base to repeat the same mundane tasks that, while at the time seem to have no purpose, effectively instill morals, ethics, and discipline into even the hardest nut to crack.

Graduation comes again, and the young woman gives a final good-bye to her friends and family to hop on a 13-hour plane ride to the other side of the world - South Korea. There she gets her first taste of the "real" Army life and things start to settle down.

A Taste Of Army Life

Many of her fellow soldiers are separated from their spouses and children, so they either resort to partying the time away, traveling and sightseeing, or pumping iron. After trying a little of all three, this young woman realizes a year later which is her ultimate preference, and a future fitness competitor is born.

Being new to Camp Humphreys, South Korea, she accepts any friendly invites she receives, and one of the first is of an arrogant, bold know-it-all named Jon. He tells her of his need for a workout partner, and after initial reluctance, she is reassured that he can teach her everything she needs to know to be a good workout partner, and to "become a hard body." She's not sure what that means, but it sounds pretty good, so she agrees.

They start their lifting program the next week - a four-day split similar to a lot of bodybuilders' programs. Day one was Chest and biceps, day two - legs, day three - cardio, day four - shoulders and triceps, day five - back and biceps. Jon was patient with the young woman and showed her proper form on all the exercises while explaining what muscle groups each exercise targeted and how many reps, sets, and weight to lift.

Despite this, and even noticeable muscle gain, the woman was young and restless and wanted to have fun, so she soon traded in her dumbbells for shot glasses and her training partner Jon for a new partner - Jack Daniels. But, after 6 more months of the same old thing, she got bored and wanted a new challenge, so she decided to enter into the gym again.

Armed with a big dose of motivation and the training program Jon initially wrote for her, she once again started pumping iron. Within weeks she noticed muscle developing in her shoulders and arms, and this amazed her and motivated her to keep training. The woman still had a lot to learn, but she kept at her training and sucked in all the knowledge from every bodybuilding magazine she could get her hands on.

It was then that she started noticing little pictures of fit and feminine women in bikinis gracing the final pages of her magazines. She soon discovered them to be IFBB Pro Fitness athletes, and she was instantly amazed and intrigued by their dedication, physical abilities, and awesome physiques. She hoped to some day be able to compete, but never thought she would have a physique worthy to step on stage.

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Meanwhile, she continued her Army career and met a young man named David. They began dating and soon fell in love, but a short while later they found themselves plagued with a common occurrence in military relationships - separation. For seven months they were apart, so the woman dedicated herself to her fitness program in her spare time.

Upon reuniting, the couple were married and left Korea to start a new Army job near Washington, DC. They were a happy young couple and, while they enjoyed their newlywed years together, the young woman always kept training in her life, as she enjoyed it so much, despite making only small gains.

Six months or so passed and the woman decided she was up for the challenge of entering a fitness competition. With her Army career ending as she entered into civilian life, she had the time and sense of freedom necessary to concentrate on such an endeavor.

After the couple bought their first house, the woman joined the local Gold's Gym and began training with a new vengeance. She started training with a gymnastics coach, then a sport-aerobics world champion, and revamped her training program to get out of her plateau. She started taking a more serious approach to her lifting and nutrition plans.

A year later, this woman was on stage in her first figure competition, in which she placed third out of six girls. She instantly fell in love with the idea of competing and scheduled two more shows for the year.

After receiving some tangible advice on what to improve upon, she entered full-force into her off-season training and nutrition program, aiming to pack on more muscle and improve her quads and back. Heavy power-lifting exercises every 7-14 days, supplemented with a more traditional bodybuilding workout on lighter days resulted in a solid 5 lbs. lean mass gain in 4 months.

She learned all she could about training and dieting and continued to make huge strength gains, resulting in lifts such as 225 lbs. squats, 450 lbs. leg press, 125 lbs. bench press, and 225 lbs. dead lift, all for reps. Her 5'7" frame was now topped out at 142 lbs. as she entered her 2004 contest preparation.

She hired nutritional expert Dr. Joe Klemczewski was more determined than ever to make an impact in 2004. Diligent training and a sound and very strictly kept diet allowed this woman to lean out and reach her best conditioning possible - a lean and hard 125 pounds and 9% body fat.

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She won the overalls in her first fitness competition ever, and has her sights set on two new goals - placing in the top 2 of her next two competitions and taking a long off-season to prepare for 2-3 national fitness competitions in 2005. She hopes to earn her IFBB Pro Fitness card by 2006.


In case you haven't figured it out by now, I am that young woman! Why did I share this story with you? Because I once had a dream that seemed so far off, so impossible and out of reach, that I almost missed my chance to experience the most rewarding aspect of my professional life, and my true passion - fitness competition.

I don't want any of you to miss out on a chance to pursue your passion, either. I hope my story can inspire and motivate you to not just follow your dreams, but to chase them down as quickly as you can!

All you need is determination and belief in yourself, and you can do anything you set your mind to. Thanks for listening and best of luck not only with your health and fitness goals, but with everything in life!

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