Transformation Hero: Elsa Longpre

Setbacks will happen, but they won't stop Elsa from accomplishing her goals and setting new ones.

Transformation Hero: Elsa Longpre

Fight Fire With Fire

By the end of my first college program, my friends urged me to try out to be a forest firefighter. The thought was extremely amusing: Me, fighting fires in the forest? I'd never even picked up a bat as a kid, let alone a fire hose!

I took on this challenge, chalking it up as an experience. I passed the course and physical test, and went on to apply. Well, I got the job, and it turned out that I loved it.

After that summer of firefighting, I realized that if I wanted to keep this job I would have to become stronger. As you can probably imagine, firefighting is a physically demanding and dangerous job. This gave me an excuse to finally also address body-confidence issues that have stuck with me. I wanted to stop being so self-conscious, to strengthen my mind along with my body. This, along with my desire to keep firefighting, only added more fuel to my motivational fire.

Before 130 lbs.
After 125 lbs.
Age: 21
Height: 5'3"
Weight: 130 lbs.
Body Fat: 25%
Age: 23
Height: 5'3"
Weight: 125 lbs.
Body Fat: 10%

Self-Made Lifter, Hear Me Roar

I decided to get a personal trainer, who impressed upon me the basics of weightlifting and conditioning: squats, deadlifts, bench press, military press, and sprints—you name it, we did it. Unfortunately, our relationship didn't last very long, as my trainer had to leave, but as a thoughtful parting gift, she gave me a chin-up bar.

From there, I trained on my own for a year, researching everything I could about training and nutrition. I placed a deadline on myself by deciding to do a photo shoot, and hired a coach to help me reach my goals. This coach gave me a diet and cardio program that made me overtrain while undereating. While I did lose weight on this nonsensical program, I also developed an eating disorder.

Initially, heavy weight training gave me time to work on myself (not only physically but mentally and emotionally) and use my energy to become stronger. Later on, the eating disorder took a toll on me physically and emotionally. At first, I couldn't figure out a way to tell my friends I wanted to eat this way, why I stopped drinking, or why I wanted to go to bed early. But now most of my friends understand, and I meet people with a similar mindset. I now have professional help with my eating disorder, and I make progress every day. For inspiration, I turn to female bodybuilders, athletes, or anyone who represents a healthy lifestyle.

To make sure I never fall prey to another ill-conceived program, I signed up for a basic personal training and sports nutrition course to learn how to train myself properly. Eventually, I'd kept getting the question of whether I was competing; I wasn't at the time, but this piqued my curiosity and I looked into it. It didn't seem like I'd be into it, I thought.

At this point, I'd been fighting forest fires across Canada for three years. I bit the bullet and registered for my first competition in the figure category. I went on to hire a coach seven weeks prior to the competition and followed the diet, supplement regimen, posing practices, and training.

Shockingly, I won second place.

Looking Forward

I have been training for three years now, and for me, it is only getting better. I love and enjoy this lifestyle and hope more people get the chance to discover it.

I continue training to be physically fit for my job as a forest firefighter with the secondary goal of maintaining my health, but now I want to become stronger, get better at yoga, compete in the physique category one day, and thoroughly enjoy the process throughout. has been a great tool. At first, I used it for all the information about training and nutrition, then for the recipes to add variety to my diet. And the transformations on the site always keep me motivated!

For inspiration, I turn to female bodybuilders, athletes, or anyone who represents a healthy lifestyle.

Throughout this whole process, I've had many bad days, especially due to the struggle with my eating disorder. Alas, that's life. The ups and downs of life are part of the beauty of this journey. It's when you step back and take it in as a whole that you appreciate the true majesty of your accomplishments—big or small.

The Best Advice For You

If you're a beginner, reading this article and finding the inspiration to spur yourself into action, I want you to realize that you need to take one step and one day at a time. Setbacks will happen no matter how much you try to avoid them, but they should never stop you.

If you really set your mind to achieving greatness, health, and respect, only good things can be the result.