Name: Yalanda Baldon
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Why I decided to transform
I was a heavy girl growing up. I always felt unlucky and insecure in the shadow of my older sister who, in my view, was perfect. I had thick glasses, was heavyset, and had gaps in my teeth. My sister always tried to lift me up, but it was my personal battle.
In 2004, I moved from Boston, Mass., to Las Vegas, Nev., as a single mother with a newborn and nearly weighed 300 pounds. I got a job at an upscale hair salon and overheard that a few hires, including me, didn't have the look. That was one of many incidents I recall during that time.
I always covered up my body by wearing a jacket and lots of black clothing, even in the middle of summer in Las Vegas. I never wanted attention and didn't want people judging me. Finally, I couldn't be a prisoner in my own body anymore and decided to change.
My life is drastically different now. I don't hide in the shadows anymore. I came out of a shell and feel alive and present. I feel confident and love myself.
How I accomplished my goals
I didn't know anyone when I moved to Las Vegas and decided to join Gold's Gym after seeing an ad for a low monthly fee. There was also daycare for my child. It was exactly what I needed. I started running on the farthest treadmill from others every day.
A guy used to walk by and ask why I only did cardio. I told him I didn't want to be bulky. I eventually became a regular and made friends with a pro bodybuilder who took interest in my goals after seeing my dedication to lose weight. He introduced me to weightlifting and said I had to lift to sculpt or I would have loose skin. He also dedicated time to train me, never thinking I would compete one day. I fought with him about weights because I thought I'd get bigger, but I lifted anyway.
I started training during my free time and wanted to get in shape like I wanted to breathe. My trainer wouldn't give up on me and would go nuts if I made excuses, which rewired my way of thinking.
My first show was the 2011 Muscle Mania Fitness Universe. I was scared but committed. I booked a flight and a hotel, registered for the show, and destroyed my comfort zone. It was the most amazing experience of my life. I bawled when I left off the stage in front of many people with no jacket to hide behind. I've been hooked since.
What aspect challenged me the most
My biggest challenge to this day is my diet. I love working out and don't have problems going to the gym, but I love food. I can't have cheat food in the house during contest prep. When I'm not competing, my weight fluctuates. I'm still working to avoid slipping away from my contest weight.
My future fitness plans
I'm now an ISSA certified personal trainer and will compete at the 2014 Jay Cutler Desert Classic on April 19, 2014, at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. I hope to gain pro status. Going pro and becoming a face of inspiration for people who feel it's impossible to transform is my dream. I also want to compete overseas.
Suggestions for aspiring transformers
Commit to leave your comfort zone and don't fear defeat. Envision change and take steps toward your goals every day. You will transform if you dedicate to it, stay hungry, and engage in the lifestyle.
Go to fitness expos, read fitness magazines, and make likeminded fitness friends to hold you accountable. Enjoy the journey and fall in love with yourself.
How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals
Bodybuilding.com has everything I need for fitness, dieting, workouts, inspiration, and more. It helps me stay updated on new fitness supplements. I met awesome competitors on Bodybuilding.com and received great tips and awesome compliments.
My favorite area of the site is the contest photos. It's the best one-stop shop in the fitness world.
Yalanda's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Partition" by Beyonce
- "Where Have You Been (Remix)" by Rihanna
- "Wait For A Minute" by Tyga ft Justin Bieber
- "Pop That" by French Montana
- "I'm Different" by 2 Chainz