Body Transformation: Preparing To Sail

Alaina lost 86 pounds and 32 percent body fat in one year while battling injury, medical conditions, and a cruise line wedding party. She resisted regression and stood firm on her fitness pledge!

Name: Alaina Burger

Alaina Burger Alaina Burger
AGE 26
5'4 1/2"
206 lbs
AGE 27
5'4 1/2"
120 lbs

Why I Decided to Transform

I played sports growing up and struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I went through super healthy periods with extreme motivation followed by periods of junk food and partying. I always seemed to sabotage myself and can't remember a time when I was comfortable with my body.

I hit my rock bottom after suffering two herniated discs during hockey while I was in college studying to be a personal trainer. I wanted to be fit and healthy for good and surround myself with fitness and positivity. Bedridden and in extreme pain from my injury, I relied on my roommate, who wasn't health conscious, for meals. I quickly went from 175 to a whopping 206 pounds in no time. I was devastated, depressed, and had no idea what to do.

I was given a great opportunity to become a personal trainer despite my appearance by a fitness manager who was extremely supportive. For the next year, I rehabbed my back injury and slowly got back into exercising and eating healthy, but the weight just wouldn't come off. I loved being a trainer and my clients were fantastic, but I felt like a failure because they got better results than their trainer. I was losing hope, motivation, and becoming depressed. I did everything right, but saw no results.

My fitness manager suggested I see my family doctor. After consulting with my doctor, she sent me to a hormone specialist who diagnosed me with hypothyroidism.

How I Accomplished My Goals

After being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I had new hope. Maybe I was doing everything right. I continued eating clean and exercising and the body fat finally started coming off. After four months of hard work, I dropped 35 pounds before I hit a plateau. I ran into an old friend at the gym and my jaw dropped. She was training with an IFBB pro for a figure competition and looked amazing. Something clicked inside me and I decided to compete. I got her trainer's information and called that night.

My life changed the day I met with IFBB figure pro Kim Tilden-McPhail. With her knowledge, support, motivation, and dedication toward my goal, I hit the road running. All I needed was someone who believed in me and held me accountable. Kim was completely honest with me every step of the way, which is exactly what I needed.

Kim changed my workouts and meal plans while I worked my butt off in the gym—literally. She put me through amazing workouts at her club (Are You Game Conditioning Club), which gave me an edge against the competition. Kim provided tips for food prep, supplementation, and helped me plan meals and workouts around my work schedule. Despite my background in personal training, I learned many valuable lessons from her.

Shortly after starting my 12-week show prep, I threw my lower back out again and saw my dreams of stepping onstage slowly disappear. Kim recommended I see an osteopath, who got me back in the game after only two weeks. Kim worked with my osteopath to change my workouts and keep me on schedule for my show. That wasn't the only obstacle I faced during show prep. Nine weeks out from the show, a friend was getting married on a cruise. I was going to be away from home on a cruise ship surrounded by alcohol and food for nine days. I was able to sit down with Kim and make a plan of action.

Half of my suitcase was filled with supplements, protein powder, canned tuna, and exercise gear. I made a quick run to the grocery store before boarding the ship to grab staples like peanut butter, oatmeal, and rice cakes. The cruise ship had a decent gym onboard, so I woke up early to get my hour of cardio in before breakfast. In the evening, I snuck off while everyone was at the bar to lift for an hour before dinner. I managed to hit the gym twice per day and stick to my meal plan on the cruise. I had my eye on the prize and didn't want to let myself down or ruin all the hard work I put in.

I weighed 167 pounds when I started training with Kim, and 11 months later I stepped onstage at 120 pounds for my first figure competition. I remember telling myself before the show that no matter my placing, I already won. Beyond my wildest dreams, I won first place and qualified for provincials. I was so nervous, but I was hooked the moment I stepped onstage. Two weeks later, I competed at provincials and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I now believe in myself and know I can do anything I put my mind to.

What Aspect Challenged Me the Most

At first, the hardest part was trying to eat all the food in my meal plan. I always felt full. As I grew used to eating my meals, the biggest challenge became food prep. I don't like to cook or do dishes, so I found it easier to pick two days per week and spend 1-2 hours cooking and doing dishes.

It was a constant battle to break my habits of late-night snacking and chocolate cravings. I used motivational pictures to keep my goal in focus at all times.

My Future Fitness Plans

I'm in my first off-season now and still training with Kim. After dropping 86 pounds in a year, my body fights me after shows. I suffer from adrenal fatigue and high cortisol levels, which resulted in gaining back 30 pounds. I'm a fighter and refuse to give up my dream of going to nationals.

I've been working with Kim and a naturopath to bring my body back into balance and to successfully reduce my cortisol levels so I can start training hard again. I look forward to competing next season and will remain active and eating clean.

I want to be a role model and inspire people who want to change their lives. Being a personal trainer again is an ongoing goal.

Suggestions for Aspiring Transformers
  • Make a plan of action.
  • Surround yourself with positive people who have similar interests.
  • Be prepared for some people to not be supportive. Sometimes you have to leave people behind to move forward.
  • Think positive thoughts.
  • Take progress pictures; they show better progress than the scale.
  • Schedule your workouts and food preparation like meetings.
  • If you don't have the knowledge to do it alone, don't. Hire a trainer and use
How Helped Me Reach My Goals is full of amazing articles on supplements, exercise, and nutrition. always posts new articles to keep my fitness knowledge fresh. The convenience of ordering supplements online saves me tons of time and money. I find BodySpace to be motivational, encouraging, and positive.

  • To my trainer and great friend, Kim Tilden-McPhail.
  • To my mom, dad, sister, grandma, and best friends.
  • To the supportive people at work.
  • To my gym family, Kim's Krew, and AreYouGame members.

Photo credit:
William Ainsley Photography, Adam Belnap

Stage photos:
Liana Louzon