Growing up, I had a number of health issues and still to this day battle a handful. I was never the most popular girl or the prettiest. So, my confidence was very limited. I have always been the one that wears a cover-up at the beach, never mind walk around in a bikini. I never liked the way my body looked.
I was too “fat” in my eyes. Argh…fat…such an ugly word! Due to my askewed view of myself, like most girls in high school, I stopped eating and developed an eating disorder. It took a few years to stop, but the disease is more mental than physical. Anorexia is very damaging to the body, but it takes the mind a greater deal of time to heal. My eating disorder is something I still struggle with even today!
Exercise was something I did, but I never saw the results I wanted. So, my patience ran out and like most people, I give up. After a few months I tried again! What I eventually realized is that I was pursuing it to appear as society thought I should look like and never worked out for myself.
I was too skinny, my butt was too big, if it wasn’t one thing it was another. Due to my physical and mental struggles from my Anorexia, I was never gonna be “that girl”!
After reading a few fitness magazines at the grocery store, I thought to myself “these women are beautiful, strong, curvy, confident, they had butts and were proud. I WANT THAT!”
I made the decision to take control of how my body looked, how I viewed myself and with prayer, the new me was ready! I started researching exercises and diets. I learned that I had a passion for Figure Competitions; who knew! It was the type of body that I was looking for (healthy, strong, and confident) and became my goal.
When I first started training 3 years ago, I realized I had to eat a ton of food…really? Years ago, I never ate. I was afraid of food yet in order for me to achieve my goal, I had to eat 6-7 meals a day with lots of protein.
I began to eat healthy and clean but still never saw the results I desired. Why was this happening? What was I doing wrong? Although I was eating clean foods such as whole wheat, egg whites, and cottage cheese with the combination of cardio and strength training, I felt very tired, constantly and looked bloated.
My dream was to always look like those women I saw. So, I was very discouraged, yet determined to figure out why I was not seeing the results I desired.
I visited my doctor and she recommended having a food allergy test done (I recommend getting blood samples taken versus the scratch test, it is more accurate). After getting tested, the results showed that I was allergic to over 15 food items; the major ones include: wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, yeast, coffee and peanuts; major food staples of a clean eating diet.
Yes, you may be asking yourself, what the hell does she eat? I had no choice but to remove these items from my everyday meals and see what would happen. From never eating, to not being afraid of food and now learning I had allergies to a majority of the popular clean foods, it definitely took a toll on me.
I remember visiting the grocery store and getting tears in my eyes because EVERYTHING had something I was allergic to. I learned how to read labels very quickly after that!
Within 2 weeks, my body changed completely. In union with the lessons I learned about eating clean, I “retaught” myself how to cook for someone who has allergies and made variations of the meals I used to make. No longer feeling sick, or having headaches and the constant bloated look was gone, it was the first time I was healthy…I actually had abs…me?!?!?! I am no longer skinny fat or that ugly girl. I feel confident, beautiful and sexy.
During all this, I set out towards a new dream, something I thought I could never attain. I wanted to compete in a figure show. My personal life had taken a different path than expected at the time and I hit a rough patch. Not knowing where life was taking me, I was depressed and lost track of the new dream I had.
With spiritual guidance and prayer, I started to feel like myself again and forced myself to get out. Perfect place to spend my time was the gym. It took my mind off of things and I began going every day. I started training hard and the results I saw shocked me. This was when I realized, I am going to compete someday!
I hired a trainer and set out towards accomplishing my goal to compete in my first show. When I started my first day of prep, I got a serious backlash from people. “Why do you want muscles”? “If you train, you are going to look like a man!” “Men will never be attracted to you if you look like this or can lift more weight than them!” I have heard it all.
Though at first, it was very discouraging, I did not let it get me down like before. I realized, it’s not about making other people happy but making myself happy. Everyone is going to have their own opinion but the only one that matters is mine! I wanted muscles, I wanted striations, I wanted tear drops…I wanted to be the me I have been dreaming about!
With the spiritual and emotional journey underway, we had a lot of trial and error due to my health restrictions. My egg whites can only be organic, oats had to be specifically gluten free, and most importantly, the infamous tuna cans…MUST be soy free; and yes, tuna has soy!
After a few weeks, my body adapted and the changes started happening. The strength I got from God and the support from my family, helped me to persevere. Having a strong support system is key on any diet, life style change or in my case, prepping for a figure competition!
I wore my first bikini with no cover-up in my life during a vacation in Miami and I waited 20 years for that feeling. It is priceless!
The confidence that I gained during the experience of the prep was overwhelming. Having felt quite down prior to it, feeling good about myself and actually setting out to accomplish my dream was one of the best feelings I have ever had.
On November 5th, 2011, I competed in my first INBF show and placed 3rd in Novice figure short. I competed with 12 amazing ladies and developed great friendships with them.
From being the shy, ugly-duckling to the confident, strong, beautiful woman I am now, the journey that it took to get to this point is one that has forever changed me, spiritually, mentally and physically. Anything is possible with faith and if you want it bad enough!