Why I decided to transform
Growing up, I did dance, high school track, karate (blue belt), and some jiujitsu. I competed in karate tournaments and dance competitions, and even had the opportunity to do a 3-day tour of Montana with my dance team. As I entered my 20s, I became less active and wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I discovered my love for bodybuilding at 24 years old. I met my now best friend, a fellow competitor. After I saw pictures of her competitions, I decided that I wanted to compete.
She trained me for my first figure competition in 2007, where I placed 7th. I loved it and planned to continue competing; six months after my competition, I discovered I was pregnant with my first baby. I had a difficult pregnancy with complications, including gestational diabetes and a premature baby son. I gained quite a bit of weight with the pregnancy, and after I had my son, I focused on being a new mom and training fell by the wayside.
Eighteen months later, I learned I was pregnant with our second child but still had 12 extra pounds on me from my previous pregnancy. Despite my best efforts to be cautious with my second pregnancy, I again developed gestational diabetes and gained even more weight with my second pregnancy.
With a toddler and new infant, I felt overwhelmed at first, and put all my energy into being a mom. My weight was at an all-time high and my self-esteem at an all-time low. I didn't feel like myself; I was always tired and unmotivated. When my daughter (my youngest) turned 2.5 years old, I decided something had to change.
We (my fiancé and I) joined Gold's Gym together. They had a daycare. My best friend and trainer, Alicia Cleveland, helped get me on the right path with my nutrition. I began planning my meals and eating properly with lots of lean protein, complex carbs, and veggies.
I cut out processed foods and sugar, making sure to eat every 2-3 hours. I also changed the way I was training my body. I started weight training and doing 30-minute cardio sessions on the stepmill or doing HIIT.
It seemed like a very slow process at first, and the first 3 months were very difficult. I saw very slow changes. I stuck with it and I began seeing definite changes in my body. After steadily working on my transformation for one year, I am proud to say that I am fitting back into the clothes from my pre-pregnancy days! I am finally feeling good about myself again and have regained my confidence.
I always wanted to get back on stage after having kids. It took me a long time, but I finally accomplished my goal in June 2014, competing in bikini at the Idaho Muscle Classic. I plan to keep improving and keep competing!
How I accomplished my goals
I began cooking all of my meals. I like to cook several pieces of chicken, a large pot of rice, and a big pan of red potatoes at one time and keep them in the fridge for quick meals. I make sure to plan ahead and take my food with me in a cooler if I have a busy day.
There have been plenty of days along the way, where I wanted to quit or I didn't want to cook and didn't feel like working out. On these days, I look at past pictures and remind myself about how far I've come to rekindle my motivation.
My kids are also a huge inspiration for me to keep going. I am determined to instill a healthy body image in them and I want to be the best example I can be for them. I want them to learn that with determination and hard work, you can do anything.
Supplements that helped me through the journey
I have a heart arrhythmia, so I am careful with supplementation. I don't take anything that has too much caffeine in it.
What aspect challenged me the most
Without a doubt, diet. I love to eat and have a sweet tooth. I overcame it by finding healthy recipes that my entire family likes. I try to find new ways to cook my chicken with new seasonings. I love Jamie Eason's protein bars and other recipes because they work wonders for my sweet tooth and are extremely portable.
My future fitness plans
I plan to keep improving my physique and continuing to compete. I would also like to get my certification in group fitness and become an instructor and do some obstacle course races in the future to challenge myself!
Suggestions for aspiring transformers
Take lots of progress pictures. You don't have to show them to anyone, but on those days when you feel like you are not getting anywhere, progress pictures can really keep you motivated. Surround yourself with positive, encouraging people. I am lucky to have a very strong support system. Bring in the positive and block the negative.
If you know you have a busy day ahead, try to plan for it. I cook my meals ahead of time and put them in containers and pack a cooler with me for the day. That way I'm not tempted to hit a drive-thru. It is also helpful to keep a training log to track your progress, and a nutrition journal to keep you accountable.
How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals
I have always loved Bodybuilding.com. It is a great tool to find new exercises, watch videos on proper form, or find amazing recipes. Bodybuilding.com has helped me stay on track with my nutrition by providing tons of great recipes.
If there is ever an exercise that I am unsure of, I can watch a video of it on Bodybuilding.com to assist me. I love reading the articles and gaining new information.
I would like to thank Alicia Cleveland, my trainer, who has helped me in many ways along my journey. I would also like to thank my fiancé, Derek, for being so supportive and encouraging. My kids for not complaining about going to the gym all the time with me, and my parents who have always encouraged me to be active.