International Transformation Of The Month: Cindy Garcia-Lister

After a tough childhood, Cindy used fitness to find happiness and build confidence. It's also her ticket to becoming a professional physique athlete!

Name: Cindy Garcia-Lister
Email:, BodySpace: Cindy83
Country: Costa Rica (Currently residing in England)

Cindy Garcia-Lister Cindy Garcia-Lister
AGE 27
174 lbs
AGE 29
105 lbs

Why I Got Started

I have always loved sports and fitness. From the age of three, I wanted to be a model. However, life took me down a different path. I had a difficult childhood and life was certainly not easy where I lived. Success was a struggle. Opportunities were hard to find.

When I was 18 years old, I decided to try fashion modeling. I found an agent and was given several jobs, but was restricted due to my short height. So, I continued working at my usual desk job.

I left Costa Rica and moved to France when I was 22. After learning French, I began my degree in business management. My schoolwork brought me to England, where I learned English and completed my degree. For most of this period I kept active: riding bikes and hiking, but something was missing. For some reason, I did not feel complete, and without noticing I began to exercise less and less. Then, I lost somebody close to me and found comfort in food.

I was stressed, emotionally drained, and feeling pretty low. I ate to feel better, but as my weight increased, my self confidence and self esteem got lower and lower. I found myself in a vicious cycle.

As my weight increased I began to have pain in my legs, I found it difficult to walk in heels, and I even had pains in my chest. I knew those problems resulted from my diet and weight. I didn't weigh myself, though. I just didn't want to know.

When I decided I needed a change, I tried various types of diets. None of them worked like I wanted. Some diets even made me look and feel worse. I wasn't eating enough, or I was eating too much of the wrong things. Finally, I realized I didn't need a temporary solution; I needed a lifestyle change.

How I Did It

I set a goal, joined a gym, and permanently changed my diet. I began eating real, clean, healthy food. I worked hard, and spent many long hours at the gym. However, I was frustrated because I was not achieving my goals as soon as I wanted. To make matters worse, I had friends and family telling me to accept the changes in my body. They told me I'd never go back to my old shape. (I'm sure this sounds familiar to some of you.)

For me, fitness has never been about how much I weigh—that's just a number on a scale. Fitness is about being healthy, enjoying life, and feeling more confident.

After taking the time to learn a thing or two, I began to understand how fitness and dieting works. Only then did I begin to see results.

I learned I could combine both of my passions: fitness and modeling. In the fitness industry, height doesn't matter. Once I recognized that I could still be successful, even as a short woman, I decided to take my fitness to the stage!

My goal became to overcome my insecurities and compete on the stage. It was a scary and big challenge for me. I booked a flight to my first fitness competition and competed in Miss Galaxy Universe. I was nervous, but once I hit the stage I knew it was where I wanted to be. I placed fourth in the Bikini category. Although my placing made me happy, it was the experience and confidence boost that was most important to me.

I entered my second competition in September of this year. At the Musclemania 2012 European & Commonwealth Championships, I won the Bikini, Model and Overall Bikini Categories. These wins have given me professional athlete status. Now, I'm looking to compete next year in the U.S.A.

It has been a long and emotional journey. And, in many ways, it will continue to be so. But I wouldn't change it for the world. I could not be happier.

My Top 7 Tips
  1. Always think of your health.
  2. Never starve yourself; eat the right food at the right time.
  3. Have fun in the kitchen, learn about food and how to cook healthy food.
  4. Drink, drink, and drink lots of water. You must keep hydrated.
  5. Be patient and committed. Success takes time.
  6. Don't complain—just do it!
  7. Ladies, don't be afraid of weights! It's not all about the treadmill. If you are losing weight, don't buy too many items of clothing until you reach your goal!