- Transformation Start: March 22, 2013
- Milestone: Hitting the 100lbs lost mark
- Milestone: My first 300lb squat
- Milestone: Becoming a nationally ranked powerlifter
- Transformation End: My transformation will truly never be over.
What was the driving force that made you decide you wanted to start your fitness journey?
After leaving a long term and abusive relationship, I made a lot of mental changes. I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself and realized that nobody is dealt a hand they have to live with. I realized that I had the power to change everything - so I did.
The moment I was mentally strong enough to make physical changes is when everything truly began.
What was your lifestyle like prior to your change?
I had such severe social anxiety. I was severely bullied my entire life and just had no confidence. I was scared to even be seen in public.
I ate fast food almost daily. I stayed in my apartment and really had no direction. I just thought it was the hand I was dealt and I’d learn to live with it. And I felt extremely stuck in the awful relationship I was in.
Most transformations create a support group for the transformer. Who were your biggest supporters and how did they help?
I’m very transparent with this question – I had no supporters. And I say that in the least salty way possible, because it’s understandable. Everybody had seen me try fad diets or start at the gym for a week and quit. Everybody, myself included, figured this lifestyle wouldn’t stick.
But the one person I can say that has been my rock is my brother. He’s always lent an ear to listen to me regardless of what I have to say, a shoulder to cry on, and he’s the only person in the world who will tell me exactly what I don’t want to hear when I need to hear it the most.
For every supporter, there is likely a hater. Did you have any haters? How did you deal with their presence? Have you turned any of your haters into fans?
I don’t use the term “haters,” but yes, absolutely. It’s funny, because I get a lot of nasty, hateful comments, DMs and people in real life that talk behind my back – but I haven’t had one of those things said to my face.
The way I see it is, who cares about things people say that they don’t have the guts to say to your face? It used to get to me when I first started getting them, but now I know that these people are truly bored or want something that I have.
The sun still rises, and a mean message doesn’t dim my successes or push me any farther away from my goals. And as far as turning them into “fans,” I’m not sure. I can say that I noticed a lot of people who didn’t care for me or even give me the time of day before everything, now tell everybody how they know me.
You really learn a lot about people when your life changes, and even more importantly, you learn who’s truly there for you.
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
When I first began, I truly dabbled into everything. I was a cardio bunny, I did a lot of basic weight lifting, and finally found a happy medium.
A majority of my transformation was weight training/powerlifting based with some cardio on the side.
Currently I don’t do cardio, even when I’m cutting, unless I feel like it (stadium steps and hiking are my favorite).
What motivational tools did you use to stay on track in the gym?
It’s just kind of second nature to me now. I love powerlifting, so it definitely makes it easier to get to the gym when I need to.
But like everyone else, there’s days I’d rather be anywhere but the gym. I like to always have a goal in mind to keep pushing me through.
If your goals don’t motivate you, you probably need different goals.
Please share 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training, and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- You absolutely can’t outwork a bad diet.
- Women who lift aren’t going to turn into Shrek. It embraces the nature curves you already have, and you actually burn more calories even when you’re not working out.
- Don’t freak out if the scale goes up. I’m the leanest I’ve ever been at 200lbs. Even leaner than I ever was at a lower body weight.
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
I’m currently being coached with structured powerlifting training.
It’s way different than it’s ever been. I’ve never had a coach, or been on anything really structured.
I’ve always done more bodybuilding work on top of everything else, but once I trusted the process and reevaluated my nutrition approach, everything else just fell into place.
Transformation Diet & Nutrition
What was your diet/nutrition approach like during your transformation?
I was a very firm believer in IIFYM since day one. I still preach that to this day, and will put clients on such approach if it can work with their lifestyles.
When I first started, I had no idea what I was doing, so I ate what I wanted within a caloric range, with no regard for macros…I didn’t even know what they really were.
Once I began seeing results, and doing more research and followed true macros (which I’ve always done myself), is when the results started to really show.
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes that you made and learned from?
Way too many to count. When people ask what I did and what my “tricks” are, it was just a lot of trial and error. I learned what my body responded best to and what it didn’t.
Same with doing my macros – it was all a learning experience because everybody is so different. People are so afraid to make mistakes with their macros and want to follow the exact ones I did.
It’s not that serious. Experiment a little or just bite the bullet and hire a coach if you’d rather have more structure and accountability.
Please share 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Food is not the enemy. Stop being afraid of calories, carbs and fats. It’s all about balance.
- Nutrient timing plays a bigger role than most may think. I used to think it was stupid and a huge waste of time, but now that I actually do it, it’s made all the difference.
- It’s ok to enjoy life and food. Don’t kill yourself with your diet and miss out on birthdays, dinners, and time with family and friends to ensure you’re on point with your diet. Trust me, that was me at one point and I refuse to ever do that again.
Can you provide us with a sample daily eating plan?
Currently I’m just eating a certain amount of protein/carb/fat sources at different times of the day. For example I eat about 5-6oz of lean protein 4-5x a day, a lot of veggies, and fats/carbs depend on if I’m training that day.
I drink my protein/carbs intra workout and have casein at night. I have a pretty boring “bro diet,” but I enjoy it, and I find ways to make things taste good. Dieting or changing your lifestyle doesn’t have to suck. But, if I want pizza, I’ll have pizza. It’s all about balance.
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
Absolutely. I feel like enjoying your favorite foods once in a while is pretty necessary. And I don’t have set cheat meals, I just kind of live my life in balance.
If a friend wants to grab dinner, I will. Or if I want a quick meal after the gym, I’ll grab Chipotle or something.
I just run around so much and work crazy hours that I like to keep things fairly flexible for my own sanity.
Advice for Others
What are your best 3 tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
- Get in the right place mentally. Before I did, I never stuck with anything because I was so mentally weak and not ready.
- You’re going to have “off” days. You’re going to go over your calories or eat junk for an entire weekend because you could. It’s not the end – just get back on top of things the next day.
- Find what you love. I’m lucky enough that I found and fell in love with powerlifting. It makes going to the gym and doing what I do so much easier and fun.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who's having trouble staying on track?
I always remember where I started and know I never want to be that girl again. And again, I always have a goal that I’m working towards.
My advice would be to step back and evaluate what it is that you’re doing and why you’re having trouble. Bringing it back to finding something you love.
I have friends who love so many different sports, like obstacle course races, CrossFit, running marathons, and powerlifting. There’s something out there for everybody if they play around enough to figure it out.
As far as diet goes, IIFYM is always my choice, especially for beginners that can inch their way into more complex dieting. I've found it has always been the most easily sustainable diet.
Your Life Now
What is your life like now that you've made a transformation?
My life is crazier than ever, in the best way possible. I’m the healthiest, happiest, and strongest I’ve ever been – I’m a completely different person.
I’ve had a film crew follow me around for a TV show, I’ve had huge magazines reach out to me and I’ve met some of the most amazing people I could have ever imagined.
Although I’ve lost some people I never imagined I would along the way for whatever reason, the good always outweighs the bad.
I know who’s truly there for me. Those who never treated me differently and those who do treat me differently now than they did when I was over 320lbs.
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
I plan to keep building my business and make my living off of helping others take on a new lifestyle.
I know that if I don’t practice what I preach, I can’t be successful, and not being successful and happy is just not an option.
I’m also just a very driven person now and love the push of wanting to be stronger than I was before.
Also, when I read messages saying that I’m the reason that person does something or gets up to go to the gym, it melts me.
The people that think I motivate them are my biggest motivation, as cliché and cheesy as it sounds. For every nasty message I get, there’s 20 that make up for it.
Anything else you'd like to share?
Don’t worry about what other people’s opinions of you are. There’s always going to be people that don’t like you, make up excuses about why you succeed, and just want to see you to fail.
With physical transformation comes mental transformation, and some people can’t handle that.
Some people also just don’t like to see others succeed, and that’s not your problem. It hurts to lose people you care about or hear nasty lies about yourself, but surrounding yourself with good people with good intentions, and not worrying about the rest is the best thing you can do.
Just remember that you’re living your life for yourself, nobody has to understand your journey but you.