Body Transformation: Kassandre Harper-Cotton Body Transformation

Kassandre was fed up with her life. She felt constantly fatigued and didn't feel good in her skin. Committed to turning her life around, she lost 50 lbs.
Editor's Note: Everyone is different and these results may not be typical for the average person. To achieve these results you need to be willing to put in the work both in the gym and in the kitchen. Use this transformation for motivation for you to make the changes you want!

Before Stats

  • 33
  • 185 lbs
  • 39
  • 36
  • 42
  • 14/16

After Stats

  • 35
  • 135-138 lbs
  • 33
  • 26
  • 35
  • 2/4
  • 125-128 lbs

Lifestyle Prior To Change

Kassandre Harper-CottonPrior to changing my lifestyle, I was convinced that I did not have time to go to the gym. My days were like many others. I woke up and cursed my shrinking wardrobe. I ate very few meals throughout the day and ‘working out’ was not a priority. I worked 8-10 hours and usually ate what was offered at work. I have always worked in the education field and found there was no shortage of cakes, bagels, juices, cupcakes, and other treats. I convinced myself that the people in ‘those fitness magazines’ worked out for hours and were genetically gifted. I thought, “If I had someone to cook for me, train me, and I did not have to work full-time, I could look like that, too.”

While at home, my meals usually consisted of meat, a carbohydrate, and vegetables. But my portion sizes were large due to the lack of eating throughout the day and my preparation included a lot of extra fat and calories from butters and oils. Even when I made intermittent decisions to improve my diet, I was largely unsuccessful because of my sedentary lifestyle and diet. When my husband, then fiancé, entered the picture my poor habits multiplied. One of our favorite rituals was to sit down large plates of biscuits, butter, and syrup. I went from 120 pounds to 185 pounds over the course of several years. Interestingly, I always kept a gym member. I would visit the gym intermittently, but would give up after weeks of marathon training sessions when I did not see the results that I wanted. The cycle continued to years, each time I would return to the gym heavier and more frustrated.

What Was Your Turning Point?

It was March, 2007, and I was finally fed up. I was a wife and the mother of an active 3-year old girl, and felt so much older than I was. One Saturday, I found myself trying to play with my daughter from the couch. I was lethargic, insecure, uncomfortable in my skin, and I wanted to change. I knew that I could do better and be better. Even if I would never look like the women in the fitness magazines, I knew I could make drastic improvements.  I was tired of not being able to fitting into my clothes and pulling at them. I was becoming more introverted and self-conscious. I decided to make a commitment to myself and took my first set of ‘before’ pictures. I was mortified but determined to build the best body I could. I read the magazines and numerous articles. It was time to put some of what I learned into action.

What Was Your Exercise Plan?

I knew that lifting weights was going to give me the body that I wanted, so I committed to getting to the gym 3-4 times per week. The first ‘plan of attack’ was to stop lying to myself about the effort I was putting into my workouts. I had to admit that my workout intensity and focus was lacking. I hated to sweat and I would always stop lifting before it became too uncomfortable. No wonder I had little success. I was also underestimating my strength and abilities. I remember the rush that came from curling a 15 pound dumbbell for the first time. I did not know I could do that. Soon, after that I was eager to push my limits.

Kassandre Harper-Cotton Figure Competitor

What else could I do? Only time would tell. So I stopped focusing on the weight I was trying to lose and, instead, focused on challenging myself. How many repetitions could I complete with good form? I would read my magazines and try new moves during the week. I discovered that I enjoyed the variety, pace, and challenge of supersetting and I did that, religiously. Not, long after I made the commitment my current trainer took notice and began to work with me. Under his guidance, I was pushed beyond my own expectations and my body morphed into something that I did not know was possible. It was then, that I knew that competing in figure, something that was ‘just for those women in the magazines, was a possibility for me, too.

What Was Your Diet Plan?

The best advice I received was to begin journaling. By doing that, I learned that over 50-60% of my diet came from carbohydrates, highly processed carbohydrates. I was not eating enough vegetables or lean proteins. I wanted a sustainable lifestyle change and had to interest in the ‘quick fix’ at this point. My body was a laboratory of sorts and I found great pleasure in learning how to fuel it. I knew that If I ate well, my workouts would only improve.  Armed with my food log and fitday.com to help me calculate my intake and macronutrients, I learned that my body responded well to a high protein diet with moderate carbohydrates. With more research, I learned how to cycle my carbohydrates.  This worked well, as my body bloats severely with too many carbohydrates. But this discovery would not have happened without journaling and blogging.

What Supplements Did You Use?

The supplements that I used were for general health. I used a protein powder, multivitamin, glutamine, and a pre-workout drink. I focused, primarily, on eating whole foods.

What Is Your Life Like Now?

Kassandre Harper-CottonThe difference in the way that I feel about myself, now, and how I felt almost three years ago is like night and day.

I am that women that carries a large cooler with all of her meals for the day.

I have become the woman that wakes up at 4 and 5 a.m. to go to the gym.

I run because I can.

I lift the heaviest weights I can because I want to gain lean mass.

I seek the soreness that you get from a productive workout. 

I have walked on stage in a two piece and five inch heels.

I have become an athlete and a competitor. 

I feel confident and comfortable in my own skin. I was painfully shy and now I am more likely to take a risk, now and then and test my limits. I have competed in four amateur figure shows and I am proud to say that I improved with each showing.

I am currently preparing for my first national show next year and I am learning how to have a productive off-season.  I am studying to be a personal trainer so that I can help others reap the mental and physical benefits of better health. I have adopted this lifestyle and will never go back to what I was.

Advice For Others

The best advice that I can offer is to be patient, honest, and persistent and do not compare your gains or losses to others. Everybody is different and is going to respond, grow, lean out, and change, differently. And enjoy the process.  Building one’s body is an art. It is not about instant gratification. No amount of powders, creams, gadgets, gels, or pills can replace putting in one’s time with the iron. There is value in taking the time to know your body better than anyone else.

More from Kassandre Harper-Cotton

Professional Photos by Weiferd Watts, San Francisco.

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12 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Fri, 05/06/2011 - 15:15
August Harringt...

just wanted to stop by to say hello and i do hope that everything is going well for you. I hope that you are happy with what you are doing and much success to you in the coming months

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Posted Wed, 11/03/2010 - 14:57
Cleo The Songbird

I agree with everyones comments. You are such an inspiration! Why do we keep letting life get in the way of our health/happiness & goals. I'm on my way back to being fabulous after having a baby & just settling on just being a working mother. Everyone deserves to be happy & we are all in control of that. Thank you again for keeping all of us motivated to make time and just do the damn thang:)!!!!!

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Posted Wed, 02/24/2010 - 14:24
Juanita

Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are an inspiration! I am very much how you used to be and I want to make a change. I'm currently 155 lbs. at 5'4. It may not seem like much to most but this is the biggest I've ever been and it's very, very uncomfortable for me to carry. My stomach is outrageously big and uncomfortable. I can't fit any of my clothes and I'm very uncomfortable in anything I wear. My goal is to be able to wear a white fitted tee with a pair of cute jeans without looking like a can of biscuits. I used to be very active and worked out at least 3-4 times a week. With the new job and the many responsibilities that comes along with it, I just felt I didn't have time. By the time I finished my day, I 'm too tired to make an effort. But thanks for sharing your story. I know I have to put more effort into making myself healthy for a lifetime. You have given me the tools to start my journey. Thank you!

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Posted Sat, 02/13/2010 - 12:51
DERAMIUS A. LEONARD

BABY YOU LOOK GOODDDDDDD, ALL THE HARD WORK HAS PAID OFF.

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Posted Sun, 01/10/2010 - 17:00
Alisha

The "What is my life like now" section is my favorite. Keep working it out! You are truly an inspiration to all of us.

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Posted Mon, 01/11/2010 - 21:50
Kassandre

Thank you for reading and for your comment. This is a wonderful lifestyle and I am happy to share my love for it!

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Posted Sun, 01/10/2010 - 16:27
Rae Goodman

When I read your article, I found myself in every word written. I too was overweight and made a commitment to lose weight. It has not been easy. I have found that looking at pictures like YOUR keeps me motivated and influences me to reach for the stars. Now that I am 85 pounds lighter, I decided to go back to school to obtain my doctoral degree. In the beginning, I thought it would be too much (being a wife, mother, business owner and workout-buff). Now I see that time-management and food preparation is a vital component in obtaining your goals. There are several other women and men, like yourself, who are juggling their lives and doing a spectacular job.

I want to commend you on your success. Again, the motivation you write in every word keep me focused. I am working with a trainer to get me in shape for my first competition. Wish me luck.

Rae

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Posted Mon, 01/11/2010 - 21:49
Kassandre

Thank you so much for writing what you did! Isn't it amazing? You suddenly realize that there is so much more than can be done! Congratualtions to YOU on preparing for your first competition. It is a thrill to test your limits, see the changes, and then get the see your hard work culminate at the end. There is no other feeling like it! Do you have a journal here? I'd love to follow along!

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Posted Sat, 01/02/2010 - 19:32
Steven

Kassandre...I think you have the perfect legs. Great shape and muscularity.

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Posted Sat, 01/02/2010 - 19:45
Kassandre

What a compliment--thank you! I'm working hard on them!

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Posted Fri, 01/01/2010 - 22:55
Maritza

Congratulations!! I was reading Muscle and Fitness Hers and there's a picture of you in an ad for bodybuilding.com.

You look amazing!! And you are definitely a great inspiration!

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Posted Sat, 01/02/2010 - 17:04
Kassandre

Thanks! That was really exciting! It was something that I could not have even imagined was a possiblity.