Location: Rochester, NY
Height: 5'4 1/2"
Weight: 119 lbs
Years Bodybuilding: 1
How did your fitness journey begin?
In April 2011, I was in a car accident and suffered a herniated cervical disc and compressed root nerve that caused severe pain, numbness in my right upper body, and extreme triceps weakness. To alleviate the pressure on the nerve, doctors removed part of my cervical disc. I stayed home from work, recovered for nearly three months, and was in physical therapy for two years. I was unable to train or lift more than a gallon of milk, and I feared training would cause re-injury.
A chance meeting with my coach, Sebastian Zona, in February 2013, changed everything for me. I started a journey that enhanced my life in amazing ways. I was 136 pounds and 30 percent body fat, and he encouraged and supported me throughout the entire process. He always reminded me that I was strong and could do it. Most importantly, he believed in me from day one.
My fitness journey is more than a physical transformation. It brought me peace, emotional healing, genuine happiness, strength, determination, and beautiful friendships. I see life in a more positive light. I'm not that same girl physically or emotionally. I believe in myself and others, smile from my heart, laugh often, and believe in the impossible.
How did your passion for fitness emerge?
I was sad, depressed, and defeated after my injury and surgery. I was unhappy with my looks and the way I felt. After Meeting with Coach Zona, I felt hopeful and excited for the first time since my accident and decided to make changes. I left feeling motivated and committed.
What and Who motivated you?
My coach, teammates, and other amazing competitors and bodybuilding friends supported and encouraged me. I encountered amazing people during my journey who reached out and inspired me daily.
Where did you go for inspiration?
I'm inspired by emails, posts, and comments I receive on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It touches my heart when someone lets me know I inspired and motivated them to make positive changes in their life. I never get tired of the emails, and I get emotional when I see and follow the progress of people who made changes because of me.
What are your future fitness plans?
I'm currently training to compete in master's bikini at NPC nationals. My goal is to bring my best physique to the stage. I want to make my coach, family, and friends extremely proud. I want to keep training to learn and to grow as an athlete. I get excited when I do something I couldn't do the week or month before.
What is the most important fitness tip?
Believe in yourself and have faith and belief in the process. It doesn't happen overnight, but progress is progress, no matter how big or small. It will be worth it.
Who is your favorite bodybuilder or fitness athlete?
I have lots of respect for athletes and bodybuilders, especially after prepping for a show. They earned my respect and admiration. It takes strength, determination, and courage to prepare and step on stage. I truly admire and follow IFBB bikini pro Dayna Maleton, IFBB pro Corinna Booth, and WBFF pros Julie Bonnett and Eleonora Dobrinina.
How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?
Debraelizabeth's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Euphoria" by Alex Moreno
- "Let The Good Times Roll" by Flo Rida
- "All Of The Lights" by Kanye West
- "Getting Over You" by David Guetta (Feat. Fergie)
- "Spectrum" by Florence & The Machine
- 2013 Rochester NPC Championship - 1st Place Over 35 Masters Bikini, 5th Place Bikini Open
Steve Newey Photos
- To my coach, Sebastian Zona, who completely changed my life and transformed my body.
- To Karen Palotto for teaching me how to cook healthy and do food prep.
- To my friend, Anne Marie DeSalvo, for the amazing competition tan and beautiful flowers.
- To my brother and best friend, Dr. David Shaw, for your love, support, and encouragement.
- To my closest and dearest friend, Greg Polisseni, for the friendship, love, and support.
- To my physical therapist, Heather Carvill Henry with Rochester Sport & Physical Therapy.