Fitness Amateur Of The Week: International Competitor

Family genetics told Sandi she was in trouble if she didn't shape up fast. She overcame the challenges with support and a no-excuses attitude that led to European competition domination!

Name: Sandi Griffin
BodySpace: SDGriffin
Location: Ramstein AFB, Germany
Age: 38  Height: 5'4"  Weight: 130 lbs
Years Competing: 4

How Did Your Fitness Journey Begin?

I'm a proud Air Force wife and mother of three teenage children. Our family relocated to Landstuhl, Germany, in May 2002. The first year overseas was difficult with the onset of seasonal depression, in addition to adjusting to life in a foreign land.

In 2007, I realized I was on a dangerous path of failing health. My weight reached 175 pounds after I had suffered a major knee injury in a skiing accident. I was being monitored for high blood pressure and discovered that a majority of my maternal family were type II diabetics. I had my gall bladder removed and was told the typical markers for that were three "F's"—female, fat, and 40—but I was only 33. Lacking any self-esteem, I felt completely defeated.

In August of that year, I decided to start on a road to personal fitness and healthy living for myself and my family. God blessed me with a beautiful family and they deserved a healthy mom and wife. It began by making healthier meal choices and going to the gym to rehabilitate my knee. Soon, I was venturing into the cardio room. Those small additions to my activity level (which was nothing previous) helped me shed 20 pounds. I ran into someone at the gym who hardly recognized the "shrinking" me and commented on how great I looked. That was all it took to rev me up. In January 2008, I set a goal to finish losing the weight and compete in my first-ever military bodybuilding/figure competition. I weighed in at 124 pounds.

I began learning the fundamentals with my husband and later started working with my current trainer. I outgrew military contests soon after and began venturing into the international circuit. It's amazing to think I barely knew the difference between a barbell and dumbbell then. Now, there's no exercise, equipment, or obstacle I can't overcome. After my first competition, it became a passion to push myself in the gym, gain more knowledge, and strive to be better. I may not place first in a competition, but I'll be stronger, harder, and more confident than the last time.

How Did Your Passion For Fitness Emerge?

Having a fitness goal saved my life and continues to help me stay on track to live healthy. I was headed toward high blood pressure, diabetes, and was the perfect candidate for heart disease if I didn't change my ways. It's not only the physical changes that occurred in my life, but the emotional. I recognize how strong I am inside and out. The gained confidence thanks to bodybuilding opened up a whole new world for me. I live each day to the fullest and try to invest in each person I'm privileged to work with as a trainer so they can discover their strength. Most importantly, I want my kids to have a healthy mom so I can enjoy every minute with them.

What/Who Motivates You To Live A Healthy Lifestyle?

I tell my husband that he created a monster by teaching me how to lift weights, holding me accountable to my goals, and supporting me even when I didn't think I would succeed.

My kids are a massive source of motivation and support too. They help me cook meals and are my biggest and loudest fans at competitions.

My coach/training partner is also a major source of encouragement and support. He helped me accomplish things I never could've dreamed of.

Where Did You Go For Inspiration?

In four years of competing, I've met some amazing women (and men) who overcame enormous obstacles in their fitness journey. Knowing each competitor I come in contact with makes the same sacrifices and has the same struggles and challenges inspires me to keep moving forward. I don't ever want to look or feel the way I did before. I have no excuse not to be healthy. Excuses are my reasons for going to the gym every day.

What Are Your Future Fitness Plans?

I'm honored to represent the USA at the NABBA Universe this November and have a goal to be a finalist this year. I'll work toward obtaining my pro card and continue helping other amateur athletes discover their potential as a trainer and volunteer coach for our military community.

Who Is Your Favorite Fitness Competitor?

I really like Dana Linn Bailey. I don't look as much at physiques as attitudes. I love her tough approach in the gym. She's not your average female when it comes to lifting weights. She's in the gym to work her butt off, not look pretty. But she's beautiful onstage.

What Is The Most Important Fitness Tip?

Step out and stretch yourself. I went from overweight and unhealthy to standing on a universe stage. I never thought that was possible five years ago. You'll never know what you're capable of until you step out and try.

How Did Help You Reach Your Goals?

I love the extensive exercise guides. When I was beginning, I utilized these resources often. I still use them for new training ideas. The nutrition articles and recipes are terrific, especially in the off-season when I still want to eat clean but enjoy a variety of tastes and flavors. I'm new to BodySpace. I've always been somewhat shy about my progress. This year, I'm really excited about my upcoming contests and thought it would be a great way to stay accountable.

Thank You

  • My lord and savior. Without Jesus, I would have nothing.
  • My amazing husband, Anthony Griffin, for being by my side through thick and thin.
  • My awesome kids (Kait, Ivy, and Billie) for putting up with my crazy training and eating regimen and for being terrific.
  • My trainer, Bobby Windley, for investing your time, talents, and belief in me.
  • The Landstuhl Fitness Center and staff and all my friends who continue to encourage me every single day.
  • My photographer and friend, Nick Cormier. You're the best.