Body Transformation: Tessa Howsden Wins 2012 MusclePharm Live Shredded Challenge!

Her competitive nature craved a challenge that could transform her busy life into a well-structured existence. The 2012 MusclePharm Live Shredded Challenge provided all of the above!

Tessa Howsden Tessa Howsden
152 lbs
126 lbs

How I Did It

I would describe myself are family-oriented and competitive. I'm proud to say these two characteristics are what made me who I am and where I am today.

When I was growing up, my parents always encouraged me and my siblings to pursue recreational and competitive sports. So I played soccer, softball, volleyball, basketball, and ran track.

After high school, my competitive drive pushed me to stay active in intramural sports in college, too. Six years and a Bachelor's and Master's Degree later, I became a speech-language pathologist. I currently work with the geriatric population in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities and absolutely love it!

Helping and caring for others rewards me every day. There's never a dull moment and plenty of laughter. That makes the name-calling and hair-pulling I occasionally experience easy to forget.

My free time is filled with live music events, sports tournaments, family time, and traveling whenever I can. My favorite vacation destination is San Diego. I would love to live there someday so I have the beach at my fingertips - despite my fear of sharks!

I know I have a lot of living to do, but I'm so happy with the life I've been blessed with thus far. I have God, my faith, and my family to thank for that!

Congratulations on winning the MusclePharm Live Shredded Challenge! What inspired you to enter the challenge?

Tessa: Thank you so much! My inspiration came from a need for something new and challenging in my life.

I played sports when I was younger, achieved my Master's Degree two years ago, and have been working like crazy ever since.

Exercise took a backseat to my job and I needed a new challenge to get myself back on track.

Before entering the contest, I thought I could eat whatever I wanted because I was working out every day. I realized that if I made some lifestyle and diet changes, I could have a more toned and fit body.

I had tried numerous diet and workout fads without much success, so this challenge is just what I needed to get myself back on track!

How surprised are you at the extent of your transformation?

I was very surprised, actually!
During the first few weeks of the
challenge, I felt a little discouraged
because I wanted instant results.

As the weeks passed, my clothes
became looser; I could feel myself getting stronger. I just felt better.

By the end of the challenge, when I compared by "before" and "after" photos, I thought to myself, Wow, do I really look like that? Seeing my results really solidified the goal I was hoping to achieve.

You obviously stayed motivated throughout the contest. Any tips for our readers?

Planning my meals and workouts really helped me stay on track, but the occasional cheat meal was a must! Also, if I knew my afternoons or evenings were going to be busy, I would always make time in the early morning to do at least half of my workout.

There were days I felt tired and less motivated to hit the gym. But every time I pushed myself to do my workout, I always felt like I accomplished something great. That feeling of accomplishment was all the motivation I needed!

How did you push through those moments when you wanted to give up?

There were definitely moments of weakness where I wanted to ditch the workout and grab a cheeseburger instead!

The 4 a.m. workouts were not something I always enjoyed, but anticipating the end product helped me push myself in the gym every day.

I didn't want the contest to end feeling like I could have done better or more.

What was the single hardest aspect of your transformation?

Definitely the nutrition and meal planning. My job doesn't exactly allow me to take breaks throughout the day, and I typically have to work through the lunch hour as well.

That said, adjusting to a 6-meal per day plan was difficult.

Also, it was hard for me to understand how eating that many times each day would help me lose weight. I was convinced it would make me gain! In my ignorance, I was skeptical about adding so much protein to my diet because I didn't want to get buff man arms.

Once I got into a routine and made myself eat throughout the day, it became easier.

Any helpful tips for readers who might be struggling with the same issue?

What helped me the most was keeping a journal and tracking my meals one week at a time. Also, preparing meals in bulk at the beginning of each week was a huge timesaver.

I would also encourage people to read up on the Paleo diet. For the average person, a low-carb, high-protein diet is best for getting lean.

A lot of people are going to read this and think, "Nah, I couldn't do this. Not me." Tell them why they're dead wrong.

They'd be dead wrong, because that's what I thought about myself! To be honest, it's about how hard you're willing to push yourself.

This challenge was definitely not easy, but seeing what I could achieve in the end made it all worth it.

Now that you've tackled this fitness goal, what's next? Want to get shredded like cheese, ripped like paper, or climb Mount Olympus? Fight pirates? Build a fitness career, perhaps?

Honestly, just maintaining my progress is most important to me! I'm not sure making fitness a career is good for me right now.

However, since I've finished the contest, I'm enjoying helping my family and friends get more involved with fitness.

It's nice to know that I've been an inspiration to others.