Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Erika Lit Her Fitness Fire!

Erika lit the bikini stage on fire in 2013 and has bigger plans for 2014. See how this 40-year-old found solid ground to make a run at her fitness dreams!


How did your fitness journey begin?

My decline started in college because I didn't play organized sports anymore and put on weight. I managed to get the weight off my senior year and kept it off, but I never got back to where I started. Eventually, I got engaged and decided to get into better shape.

I trained for a half marathon, did a few classes with dumbbells, and got into great shape—or at least I thought). Five years after I got married, my husband and I moved from Seattle, Washington, to Chicago, Illinois. I traveled back to Seattle regularly, didn't have a regular routine, felt tired and jet lagged most of the time, and had a herniated disk in my back and Achilles tendonitis in my left ankle.

Last year, we moved back to Seattle and I decided to get back into shape. My birthday present from my husband was a health and fitness program called "My Best 10." The program kick-started my journey.

When I started the program, I weighed 139 pounds and had 25 percent body fat. I was told that I was in good shape, but ate what I wanted, drank alcohol every night, and felt tired, bloated, and unhealthy.

At the end of the program, I weighed 128 pounds and had 18 percent body fat. I lost 14 pounds of fat, gained 4 pounds of muscle, and was thrilled. I had never loved my body more.

Then Thanksgiving and Christmas came. I didn't gain weight, but noticed a change in my body composition. I was determined to avoid my old habits and needed a goal. I wanted to run another half marathon but didn't think my body could handle it. My trainer trained a girl for a bodybuilding competition, so I mentioned to him that I needed a goal. We decided a bikini competition was the way to go.

"The discipline is intense and gave me new appreciation for bodybuilding. "

How did your passion for fitness emerge?

My passion for fitness reemerged when I started a program at my health club. My first competition was an experience to learn what to do and when to do it. The discipline is intense and gave me new appreciation for bodybuilding. I love learning about the body and the intricacies of nutrition.

I'm on a great team, Tanji Johnson's Save Fitness, where I see girls work hard every day to achieve their goals. They are kind and generous individuals. I have never seen that many women and men bond together to support each other.

I have a wonderful support team that I couldn't do without. My mom helps me get ready on competition day. My coach, Tanji, always checks in to make sure we're ready to step on stage. My nutritionist, Dr. Susan Kleiner, guided me to make correct nutrition choices that gave me results and energy. My trainer, Connor Gavin, knows exactly what exercises build the body I want. My husband, family, and friends all support me in what we all know is a time-consuming sport.

What or Who motivated you?

Seeing results motivates me most. I love my body for the first time in my life. The effort I put into bodybuilding really shows and makes me want to look better.

Where did you go for inspiration?

I get inspiration from people around me. My trainer's girlfriend, Emily Bissett, and I became friends and shared the journey on the way to our competitions. Watching how dedicated she is to training and eating right inspires me to do better.

The girls with Save Fitness have great stories and incredible transformations as a result of hard work and dedication. This team of girls wouldn't be the team they are without Tanji Johnson. Tanji is an amazing competitor, a good person, and built a team that reflects her.

"Seeing results motivates me most. I love my body for the first time in my life."

What are your future fitness plans?

I wanted to compete in a national competition this year, and qualified, but have conflicts that prevent me from competing. Instead, I will compete at a local show in Vegas in November. I hope to compete in at least one national competition next year, most likely at Masters Nationals in June 2014.

What is the most important fitness tip?

Listen to your body. If you feel run down, take a day off and have a cheat meal. When I do this, my body looks better and I can push myself harder at my next workout. Just don't make it a habit.

Who is your favorite bodybuilder/fitness athlete?

I get the feeling that Jamie Eason has good balance with her life and the sport and is successful. A non-bikini competitor who inspires me is Tanji. She also found a way to balance life and success. Balance is something both competitors have that I admire.

How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?

Bodybuilding.com has a wealth of information. My biggest struggle with the sport is nutrition. I followed nutrition plans before and cheated on them every day. I felt guilty about cheating on the diet and was stressed and depleted. With the information on Bodybuilding.com, I stopped beating myself up and managed to reduce my stress and feel better overall.

What music pumps you up to exercise?

  1. "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  2. "Hold It Against Me" by Britney Spears
  3. "Love You Like A Love Song" by Selena Gomez & The Scene
  4. "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5
  5. "Bubble Butt" by Bruno Mars, 2 Chainz, Tyga & Mystic
Competition History
  • 2013 Tanji Johnson Fitness, Figure and Bikini Classic - 1st Place Masters Over 40
  • 2013 Emerald Cup - 3rd Place Fit Body Over 40
  • 2013 Washington State Open Bodybuilding, Figure, Fitness, Physique Championship - 1st Place Masters Over 35, 3rd Place Class D
Photo Credits
  • Kailus Images by Joseph Lindstrom
  • Mark Mason