Fitness Amateur Of The Week: Don't Bet Against Rachel!

Goals were foreign to Rachel until she competed and placed for the first time in bikini. Now she's driven and addicted to the feeling of accomplishment and success!

Name: Rachel Strout
BodySpace: Rachel5280
Location: Littleton, Colorado
Age: 31  Height: 5'5.5"  Weight: 120 lbs
Years Competing: 1

How Did Your Fitness Journey Begin?

As a child, I had a trampoline that I bounced on for seven years. It was my favorite toy and it helped me build a strong physical base. In high school, I played volleyball and cheered. Sadly, after high school, I took up smoking cigarettes while working in the corporate world. Within a year, I went from a size 0 to nearly a size 10. I was depressed and gave up my active lifestyle.

In 2005, I met my husband, Jeremiah. He inspired me to give snowboarding another try (I tried and hated it my first time at age 16). After I learned to snowboard, I was hooked. Snowboarding challenged me physically in a positive way and I gave up cigarettes to enjoy snowboarding more. Every season, we got a pass and hit the back bowls. Though I loved it, I was still not in the shape I wanted to be.

I thought about prior days when I was skinny and athletic. I really missed those days, but knew I couldn't get away with eating candy and drinking sweet tea all day. Leading up to that point, I didn't develop any solid knowledge about dieting and weightlifting, or how the two go hand-in-hand. Putting on weight made me feel insecure, unhappy, and unhealthy. I ate whatever was available or convenient. Starchy carbs were a big part of my diet, and I also ate lots of pork-based items and fried food. I was miserable and desperate.

In August 2010, Jeremiah proposed and I panicked about how I would lose enough weight to fit into a wedding dress. I was unhappy mentally and physically and weighed 145 pounds, so I employed portion control and bought Eat This, Not That. It helped me drop 15 pounds. However, I wasn't as toned as I wanted to be and my gym visits seemed futile. Snowboarding provided only a small amount of physical exercise.

One morning before work in November 2011, I was at home watching a local TV morning news program. The hosts introduced a woman who shared a story about how she transformed herself from unfit and unhealthy into a competitor. To my shock, it was a woman I went to high school with, Stacy Sekiya, owner of Reiko Wellness. They showed her before and after pictures and I was stunned. Seeing her helped me make the connection to understand that it's possible to change. She was honest about the struggles and her tenacity revealed her accomplishments, which I admired. I wanted to feel that same sense of accomplishment. She gave me that "aha" moment I needed to get off my butt.

In January of 2012, I turned 31 and started to feel anxiety again. I lost the weight, but something was missing. I was 130 pounds, a size eight, soft, and still unhappy. I thought back to Stacy and how hard she worked to tone her body and that served as inspiration again. It was the muscle I was missing. I did too much cardio and not nearly enough weightlifting. When I lifted, it was with minimal effort.

With my husband's encouragement and support, I logged onto and signed up for the three-month shred challenge. I followed Jamie Eason's LiveFit program and saw results in 30 days. The most important aspect I learned was that clean eating is key to a solid body foundation. Now my husband and I enjoy working out together, an added relationship benefit. I still refer back to the website for supplements, workout techniques, and new ideas.

How Did Your Passion for Fitness Emerge?

Fitness provided my life with real structure. At the gym, I clear my mind and can finally focus; that focus flows throughout my day and into my work and tasks in my personal life. I tackle my daily checklist with more vigor thanks to the energy my diet and workout provide. Going through the competition and placing was the first time I really accomplished and finished something in my life.

Watching my own and other people's bodies evolve and change is what I love to see, especially when captured through pictures. When someone's story comes full circle, I can't help but smile for them because I know how hard they worked to get there, and how good it feels.

What/Who Motivates You to Live a Healthy Lifestyle?

My husband is a big motivator for me because we share the same passion to challenge our bodies through sports. When we snowboard with the guys, it's my husband I try to keep up with. He always tells me I'm beautiful and sexy, so I want to make sure I give him a good reason to hurry home after work.

I try to motivate myself by realizing this is a reciprocal process. When I treat my body well, I feel my best, and then I can give my best in various areas of my life. Feeling confident in slim clothing is just the icing on the cake. Friends and family also serve as motivators because I want to make them proud.

Where Did You Go for Inspiration?

Jamie Eason and Stacy Sekiya served as inspirations while I got in shape for my wedding. They exemplified what's possible and achievable. Once I got into my scheduled daily routines of eating right and working out, I wanted to up the ante. I started searching for bikini competitors and came across some workout plans for Felicia Romero and Amanda Latona. I instantly fell in love with their leg workouts and fused the two together to create my own.

I find inspiration in many people, especially the ones I met during competition. There were a lot of moms at the show who didn't look like they had given birth. One special lady I met, Michele Gardon, competes in bikini masters. There was no doubt how hard she and others worked to look amazing.

I've always had a boyish figure and petite breasts. Prior to getting in shape, I was insecure about my body and hated the way I was formed, especially when I put on weight. Looking at other strong male and female bodies inspired me to reach for my maximum potential.

What Are Your Future Fitness Plans?

I don't know what the future may bring, but I have a few things I'm working on. Continuing to train and work toward my ideal body is priority one. I would like to compete and take that as far as I can to earn a pro card, and of course, a sponsorship. I would love to be an active part of others' goals to transform their minds and bodies.

What Is the Most Important Fitness Tip?

Overcome your excuses. Stay true to yourself and your goals by writing down any excuses you make. Seeing excuses in black and white makes them seem trivial. In addition, writing down excuses leaves them on the paper, not in your mind. It frees up more space and time in your mind to find solutions.

Who Is Your Favorite Fitness Competitor?

It's hard to name a favorite; I aspire to be like a few people for various reasons. Right now, one of my favorites in bikini is Amanda Latona. I've seen her body transform over time and she has a great lower body workout.

I aspire to compete in figure, but that's farther in the future. One that I like is Larissa Reis. She's edgy, and I like that. I love that bodybuilding is a sport that spans the globe.

How Did Help You Reach Your Goals?

I access as often as I can. When I started, I used it all the time to find a plan, watch videos, and find recipe ideas. It was a critical part to stick with my program. I printed everything from the LiveFit Trainer.

Then it evolved into logging on more to read inspirational stories, purchase my supplements, and check out what the guys are doing. At every stage, I found a reason to get on and I still do. I'm still surprised at the feeling of community with other members. Everyone is supportive. You never know, maybe you will see some of those people backstage at a show.

Rachel's Top 5 Gym Tracks

  1. "Intro" by XX
  2. "Ambition" by Wale ft. Rick Ross & Meek Mill
  3. "The Only Way I Know" by Jason Aldean
  4. "Cracks" by Flux Pavillion
  5. "Take Five" by Dave Brubeck Quartet

Thanks: A special thank you goes out to my trainer, Mark Chism. He's a bodybuilder and he customized my workout and diet.