In some way, shape, or form, I was born into a future including athletics. As a child, I was incredibly active. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania on a farm with my parents and my younger brother. I rode horses, ran, swam, and played sports. I did youth league soccer and softball, then progressed to field hockey and track, and ended with indoor track and cross country in high school. I went to college as a cross country athlete, but only ran competitively on the collegiate circuit during my freshmen year.
My introduction to physique competition stemmed from my love of the gym, lifting, high-intensity training, and my desire for a competitive outlet. I competed in my first figure show at age 20 at a small local NABBA show with the help of a local bodybuilder. As soon as I set foot onstage, I knew I had found something I was passionate about. I competed in my first NPC show in the fall of 2007 at age 23 in the NPC Reading Mountain Valley. I won my class, overall figure, qualified for nationals, and have competed nationally ever since.
I'm an athlete at heart. I don't know a life without fitness. Although what I do in the gym may change, training has always been stimulating, mentally and physically.
I'm very intrinsically motivated—I have a deep desire to continue growing and challenging myself. If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you. Every workout and training session should lift you physically and spiritually. Your workouts should move you, change you, and send you out through the doors a better version of yourself.
I'm a very musically motivated athlete. A surefire way to get me ready to train is to update my iPod with new tunes. I love watching motivational YouTube training videos, especially those involving Erin Stern, whom I admire. I also pray if I'm struggling for motivation. I rely heavily on my faith in God for the strength to give 100 percent during my workouts.
I truly hope I never stop evolving as an athlete. Currently, I've registered to run my first Spartan Race in 2013 and I've become a staunch believer in the power of CrossFit. In February of 2013, I will have a Level 1 CrossFit certification, which I'm excited about. Aside from that, I plan to be onstage in figure in 2013 and continue modeling. I'm very proud of the evolution of Alli-Fitness Systems LLC and the growth of my paleo/primal training approach programming through www.predator-diet.com and will continue working hard to foster those endeavors.
Don't be afraid to step off the beaten path. Growth occurs outside your comfort zone. As athletes, we should never cease to seek, learn, grow, and evolve. There is never only one way.
My favorite figure athlete is Erin Stern. I admire her incredible physique, her mindset toward life balance and competing, the unique manner in which she incorporates a variety of methods into her athletic training, and how professional and warm she is in person. Aside from Erin Stern, I admire Kim Dolan Leto and Alicia Marie.
Bodybuilding.com was the first website I came across in my early 20s that gave me insight into the fitness industry. I ordered supplements, browsed BodySpace, and read solid training and nutrition articles authored by well-rounded and educated individuals.