WEIGHT 160 lbs
BODY FAT 33%
WEIGHT 115 lbs
BODY FAT 12%
I started gymnastics at age three and remained athletic my entire life. I continued gymnastics until high school, when injuries sidelined me. It was time to hang the competition leotard up, but I needed an energy outlet and some form of exercise.
I started working out at a health club during high school and had no clue where to begin in the weight room. Clueless and stumbling around the weight room, I found a women's only health club (it was the only reason I was brave enough to join). A friend suggested I pick up a copy of Oxygen and I was hooked from the first issue. Seeing lean, fit, and healthy bodies motivated me to a new level. I was determined to achieve that look and step onstage.
I religiously followed the workouts and meal plans provided by fitness models and competitors and my body quickly responded. Oxygen and other mainstream fitness magazines helped pave the way during my first years of fitness beginning in 1999.
Due to the workout and diet regimens, I successfully transformed my body to the point that the owner of the gym noticed my progress and extended me an employment offer at the gym. It was my first job ever and it happened to be as an aerobics instructor in high school. I preached this healthy and fit lifestyle throughout high school and into college. I was healthy, happy, had six-pack abs, and was starting to research fitness competitions. I wanted to follow in Monica Brant's footsteps.
Shortly after relocating to Southern California for college, my best friend of 12 years was tragically killed in a car accident. I was on my own in Los Angeles with no family or close friends to comfort me during this time of loss. I was devastated by the event and fell into a state of depression.
To cover up my state of despair, I made new friends from the gym who ate out at restaurants on a nightly basis and engaged in social drinking on weekends. Of course, I always accepted the invitation. This was the start of my struggles to balance a healthy lifestyle with school, full-time work, and my newfound social agenda.
I never stopped working out during this time. I continued to indulge in cocktails and unhealthy meals for the next few years until I had an "Oh my goodness!" moment and decided to change my lifestyle for good. To put it in perspective, I have pant sizes in my closet ranging from 0-11, which is clearly not a healthy range—especially for someone who competes in the short class category at under 5-foot-3. Sadly, this moment came when I was still working as a personal trainer helping others achieve their fitness goals.
Since I still managed to workout 3-5 days each week and had a decent amount of muscle, I justified buying larger pant sizes with excuses like, "Well, I've always had big quads and a booty from gymnastics. It must just be all this muscle." Clearly, I was not a walking brick house; I was a beefcake.
The defining moment happened when I tipped the scales weighing 40-50 pounds more than I do today with more than 30 percent body fat. I was furious for allowing my health and fitness to spiral out of control, especially because I was a personal trainer who was supposed to set an example for clients. On the bright side, I must either be a great trainer or have a fabulous personality, because people continued to request me as their trainer.
After my eye-opening moment, I vowed to maintain a healthy, balanced diet and make strength training and cardio a priority. The process was gradual—there was no crash diet or extreme weight-loss programs allowed. During the past five years, I lost body fat, gained hard-earned muscle, and embraced a balanced meal plan.
With anything in life, especially fitness goals, consistency is the key to reach your goals and long-term success. In order to lose weight and become healthier, I had to create a realistic plan. I couldn't go from eating out every day of the week to eating chicken breast and veggies. I was in it for the long haul. I wanted to achieve and maintain the results like the clients I assisted for years.
I started by limiting my meals at restaurants to weekends only and chose to forgo lunch and happy hour appetizers with co-workers for meals I prepared at home, such as homemade grilled chicken breast sandwiches, steak fajitas with lettuce wraps instead of tortillas, and protein shakes with a side of fruit. I still enjoyed a variety of delicious and tasty meals. There was no boring, bland "diet" food. This was the key to make my new meal plan stick.
I cut back on alcohol and reserved wine nights with the girls to once or twice per week. I have since eliminated this completely and rarely indulge in alcohol anymore, which greatly enhanced my overall weight loss and improved my health. I never thought about quitting, but I admit that cutting back on dessert—my favorite—proved to be my Achilles heel.
Then I stumbled onto recipes at Bodybuilding.com that provided healthy alternatives to some of my favorite desserts. Bodybuilding.com showed me how to prepare sweet treats without worrying about excess sugar and fat. Learning these dietary tricks and switching out regular fudge brownies for a reduced fat, higher protein version finally helped me stay on track.
As a result, I became more energized, healthy, optimistic, and looked younger. When I finally achieved and maintained a healthy weight at 125 pounds and body fat percentage of 18-20 percent, I set my sights on competing. If anyone had asked me five years ago if I would step onstage in a bikini to be judged on my physique and compared to others, I would have laughed and said they were crazy.
I fulfilled my teenage dream to compete in a fitness competition in June 2011 and earn a pro card with the WBFF. My mind is still boggled. It's amazing what determination and consistency achieve. It goes to show that hard work, determination, and consistency can make a far-fetched dream a reality.
I love dessert. Throughout my fitness journey, it was definitely the diet that proved to be the most challenging. I grew up in a home where dessert wasn't an option—it was nearly mandatory after every meal. Cutting it out of my daily meal plan proved tricky. Family gatherings were stacked with brownies, cookies, and Rice Krispies.
Family events are basically a ticking diet bomb for anyone trying to eat clean. I made it known to my family that I was serious about my health and fitness and that I appreciated their support. Luckily it was well-received and my grandma wasn't offended when I declined her chocolate fudge cherry cake in favor of fresh fruit and Greek yogurt.
I still indulge in desserts in moderation. It goes back to balance. Instead of eating frozen yogurt every day on my lunch break, I opted for protein shakes in dessert-like flavors, such as peanut butter marshmallow, cookies and cream, and strawberry milkshake.
I learned to be creative with my protein powder and blended shakes with light, unsweetened almond milk, plain Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, and other recipes. These concoctions end up tasting more like a milkshake from Ben & Jerry's than the healthy, nutrient-filled drinks that they are. Sign me up for a meal that tastes like dessert but can be included in my diet on a daily basis.
As of right now, I'm back working in the field of fitness full-time and I'm excited for all that is to come. Throughout the past year, I've worked with and reached more people than I ever could have imagined, in large part to social media. I successfully operated my customized online training business and have clients in countries worldwide. I work with anyone including former couch potatoes, people who want to take their fitness to the next level, celebrities, athletes, and fitness competitors.
I'm ecstatic about working in the fitness field and helping others reach their goals. I've been on both sides of the health and fitness spectrum, so I know how much it means to my clients when they come to me determined. Helping others achieve their goals means the world to me. My clients are a constant source of inspiration. With newly heightened levels of self-motivation and determination, you never know what will happen next.
First step: get started. Set your goal and have a plan. I had a goal to compete for years. It was a great goal, but it lacked a set plan to get there, which is why I procrastinated for so long. Set short and long-term goals. I always have new clients list a goal they would like to accomplish in the next 30 days, three months, and six months. Hold yourself accountable.
I hired a coach for my first show to make sure I was on track each week as I progressed. If hiring a coach or trainer is out of the question, enlist a good friend or workout partner and lay out your goals, plan, and timetable. You become accountability buddies. Sign up for a challenge on Bodybuilding.com, and log your workouts and results.
Be active on BodySpace and surround yourself with others who share similar fitness goals and challenges. There are supportive members on BodySpace who truly want other members to succeed and achieve their true fitness potential. Results don't happen overnight, but with consistent efforts, a plan, and good old-fashioned hard work, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Consistent effort plus hard work equals well-deserved results. What are you waiting for?
I constantly use Bodybuilding.com as a resource. It's a tool for my fitness goals and helps me with clientele. I constantly share informative content from Bodybuilding.com through various forms of social media.
One of my favorite options on Bodybuilding.com is the clean eating recipes. Discovering new recipes that allow me to eat chocolate protein cake and have abs played a huge aspect in my adherence to a healthy, balanced diet. Many of my clients struggle with their sweet tooth and tell me that the recipes I share with them from Bodybuilding.com have been a blessing in disguise. Now their families enjoy healthy dessert options, too.
Another extremely helpful tool is the variety of food recipes. The recipes allow me to reinforce to my clients that a healthy lifestyle complete with a balanced and nutritious diet doesn't have to be bland and boring.
The exercise database on Bodybuilding.com is a tremendous help. If I ever need fresh ideas for a certain muscle group, I simply check out the exercise database and find new exercises, or old favorites that I forgot, for my next workout. This helps to prevent plateaus and makes working out more fun. There is always something new to try in the weight room.