Why I decided to transform
My life came to a complete halt in 2007 when I was diagnosed with Morton's neuroma in both feet. Morton's neuroma is a painful condition that involves a thickening of tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes. It feels like you're standing on a pebble in your shoe or on a fold in your sock. The pain was minimal and then grew gradually from a tingling sensation to what felt like walking on fiery shards of glass. At first, I was treated with orthotics and then progressed to alcohol and cortisone injections.
I was able to start working out again and competed in 2008. Unfortunately, the remedies were short-term. Shortly after my fitness show, I started feeling the burning sensation again. I stopped everything in hope that rest and the previous treatments would resolve the problem. When nothing worked, I resorted to surgery, which made the condition worse.
My recovery was brutal and long. I had to crawl to the bathroom and kneel on a stool to cook. For more than a year, I was unable to stand for more that 10 minutes without pain. I couldn't make it through a grocery store without the little motor scooter, so there was no way I could hit the gym.
On top of my complete lack of physical activity, I was on the "see food" diet and ate anything in sight. I didn't have to be hungry; I didn't even have to like it. If it was there, I'd probably eat it.
In 2011, I started using lots of natural remedies to heal my feet. Herbal supplements, massages, stretching, and foot exercises really helped. My fiancé Dr. Halid (hshokunb) taught me to tape my feet and do exercises to strengthen them. I also invested in Vibram shoes and a pair from New Balance. Over time, my feet were able to withstand more.
By 2012, I gained weight and attempted the $100K Transformation Challenge but wasn't prepared. I was physically limited in the gym and mentally focused on a career. But 2013 was a new chapter in life. I learned to balance my busy life and reeducated myself to work out with limitations. I decided to give the transformation challenge another shot and am very glad that I persevered.
How I accomplished my goals
I started on the bike to prevent recurring injuries. My feet progressively improved and I eventually graduated to the stairmaster and did HIIT sessions for 20-25 minutes. Dr. Halid introduced me to heavy lifting. Initially, I thought increasing the weight would make me look manly, but I was wrong; it made me stronger and leaner. Now I enjoy lifting heavy. I like to challenge and push myself to see how much stronger I can become.
Dr. Halid taught me the importance of tracking macronutrients and meal prep, which saved my life. When I got busy, I had my lunch with me ready to go so I didn't have to think about it. Dr. Halid devised a nutrition plan based off Layne Norton's Ultimate Cutting Diet and broke down the macronutrients for each meal.
What aspect challenged me the most
Nutritional planning kicked my butt because I hate cooking, tracking meals, and planning for macros. To stick with it, I simplified my food choices and stuck with the basics. I'm no chef, so 80 percent of what I cook turns out disastrous. Supplementation was difficult because I couldn't remember to take my pills on a regular basis.
My future fitness plans
Fitness and health will always be a part of my life. I love being active, fit, and flexing. I love making new goals and challenges regularly. I learned to appreciate good, quality food and know I can still enjoy food if it's in line with my daily needs. I will keep lifting to be fitter and healthier. This is a journey, not a destination.
Suggestions for aspiring transformers
- Educate yourself and understand how your body works.
- Take baby steps. It's hard to jump into unfamiliar territory.
- Be persistent. Give yourself time and learn to accept that results don't come overnight.
How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals
Bodybuilding.com is amazing. I wouldn't have done this without motivation from Bodybuilding.com. I love that Bodybuilding.com continuously has contests and challenges to keep people motivated and inspired to live healthy.
When I started posting progress photos to BodySpace, the response was amazing. Many people encouraged and congratulated me on my success. It was refreshing to know that my transformation was an inspiration for others.
Kyla's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Go N Get It" by Ace Hood
- "Go Getta" by Young Jeezy (Feat. R Kelly)
- "Clique" by Kanye West
- "We Takin' Over" by DJ Khaled
- "Hit Em' Up" by Tupac