I have been on a great journey in the fitness and wellness industry for quite some time…15 years to be exact! I attended Western Illinois University to study kinesiology/exercise science and that was just the beginning of my personal growth and expansion of health and wellbeing. During the time that has passed since graduating in 2001, I have had trials and challenges and have learned so much through personal experience. I am so grateful now to be able to share with others about what is most effective for maintaining vibrant health, well-being, and living your best life.

As a former top-ranked national level bikini and figure competitor I have had many ups and downs with self image, weight, body fat, energy levels, moods, hormones,  etc. My identity from 2004-2011 was very much defined as being “a figure/bikini competitor”. With that came a lot of pressure-all of what I placed on myself, but also from what others expected of me (or so I thought at the time).

As far as my physical body was concerned, I always used to feel like I had to be getting ready for a competition in order to achieve the body that I found to be most desirable for me and to feel comfortable in my own skin.  Achieving that body in the past was always a moving target and a catch 22. When I competed in figure, my weight, bodyfat, and mood would fluctuate drastically-about 20lbs gain and double the body fat in “off-season”. When “in-season” coaches would say things like “you need a wider back” or “your legs are too thick” or “your stomach needs to be more ripped” “you’re too soft..you’re too hard eat some peanut butter” etc.  Also even though I looked good on the outside, once I reached the physique I was going after, I was burnt out, exhausted, hungry, and moody. When the show season was done I was left feeling empty and without being distracted as I deeply was while competing, I was facing a failing 8 year relationship that desperately needed to be addressed. After this up and down cycle, I took a few years off to restore balance in my life and body, where I maintained a weight that was about 15lbs from where I maintain now.

In 2010 I got the desire to compete again but this time in the bikini division. I thought for me it would be an easier physique to achieve and maintain but at the time it was just as challenging. When I was getting ready for this division it was another moving target for me.  I heard new comments and feedback such as “you’re too muscular..run, run, run” “do two 60 min cardio sessions/day to take off some of that muscle” “don’t lift too heavy, we gotta keep you tiny” …”the judges are looking for_____” fill in the blank, I was never there. Even when I thought I was there, I wasn’t in someone else’s critical eyes. What it took for me to get lean and show ready was a ton of cardio-sometimes 2 hours/day with no rest days, diet pills, a highly restrictive diet, and a mindset that I wasn’t quite there and that I could always be better.

I learned so much about myself from all of those years competing. To me the meaning didn’t align with my true nature and purpose-to serve others and to be kind, loving, balanced, and accepting of myself with a healthy desire to live my BEST life. My self-worth was heavily weighed upon my body image and ranking/status in the fitness industry and it was a big distraction for me.  There was so much judgement, criticism and deprivation.  While I wanted to inspire others-which certainly one of the positive things that happened through my experience, to me inspiring others was not worth the way I was conflicted with myself internally.

After 2011 I took time to focus on internal work. I used  healing modalities such as Isagenix cellular cleansing, juice fasting/juicing, Reiki, deep tissue massage, prayer, meditation, SRT ( spiritual response therapy), chakra balancing, EMDR, Bodytalk, PsychK, Gong Meditation, affirmations, reading books and listening to podcasts for personal development, Omega Vector, sage cleansing, deep cleaning home-giving away things I didn’t use or things that carried an old energy/emotion, proper rest and nourishment, and likely more 🙂  I feel great purpose, self-love, self-acceptance, clear vision, and am maintaining a balanced, lean, healthy, fit physique that I would’ve had to work so hard for in the past. My body is responding to the love and trust I have for it. I am healthy, well, balanced, and can serve others at a much higher level than ever before.

Ironically 3 years after stepping away from competing I landed my first fitness magazine cover in July-Scottsdale Health Magazine, which was always a dream of mine.  The biggest gift in all of this is that I can now teach others how to create different meaning and experience so they can live their best life and love themselves in the process.

Now, I am simply sharing my OWN story. I am not implying AT ALL that competitors this way by any means. In fact, I am still coaching and enjoying helping many women prepare for competitions. Each individual must assess their own meaning as to WHY they are competing and what it means to them. To me the meaning of competing at the time did not serve me to my highest good. There are plenty of amazing competitors, including many of my own clients who come from a place of balance and self-love where competing serves them to their highest good.

If I were to ever decide to compete again, it would have a completely different meaning and I would take a very different approach. I have learned through this process to TRUST in my body, have thoughts of encouragement, self-love, and acceptance of where I am right now at this exact moment. Mindset and inner work FIRST and foremost. Then putting other important things into practice with nutrition, exercise, nutritional supplementation, rest etc.

I now know I went through this journey and self-discovery so that I can give back to others who decide to pursue this journey. I would love to share some tips I recommend for those choosing to compete so that they may have a meaningful, balanced, and positive experience with competing:

1. Love and Accept Yourself as You Are Today: This is TRUE happiness. Practice non-judgement and accept and love you for your essence. Use positive affirmations even when you are not quite where you wish to be with your physique. Know that you are right where you need to be in this time and moment as your life is unfolding. What you focus on EXPANDS so focus on the best for yourself and others.

2. Trust the Process-whether you hire a coach or train yourself, listen to your body and your own intuition. If you need rest, TAKE it! Challenge yourself to do your best each day but know your limits. Worry will only create a spike in cortisol which will inhibit the release of body fat and increase spike of insulin. Trust keeps the body calm.

3. Lift Heavy and Use HITT Cardio-Heavy compound weight training combined with functional multi-planar training will optimize your hormone levels-eating right and doing HITT cardio will put it all together. If you are doing 2 hours of cardio and lifting very light weights this will set the grounds for adrenal fatigue. Less is more so use your resistance training and cardio intensity to beautifully shape your physique and balance your hormones.

4. Visualize Success-see yourself successfully accomplishing your goals. If it doesn’t happen in your mind, chances are it won’t happen in your reality. Create vision boards, meditate, and affirm success.

5. Stage Presence is Key-Be sure you are comfortable and confident on stage. Know your routine and your mind can focus on connecting a radiating positive energy which is key. Success on stage comes down to how prepared and confident you are. Positive talk in the mind is also key while out on the stage.

6. Nourish the Body-Be sure your coach is rotating your diet. Over time eating the same exact thing for 12 weeks or longer can really damage your metabolism and create food sensitivities. You need a full spectrum of foods and proper nutritional supplementation to dial yourself in and maintain your physique for longer than 12 weeks of prep.

7. Rest and Sleep-it is imperative that when you’re training as hard as you do for competitions that you take the time to allow the body and mind to reset and heal. Rest at least one day/week and also get at least 7-8 hrs of sleep per night. Protect your adrenals by allowing your body and mind to rest well!!

8. Ditch the Diet Pills-if you want to maintain a healthy balance of mood and hormones, do not rely on the diet pills for lasting results. They can really sabotage your health in the long run. Instead use healthy energy boosting alternatives such as organic coffee-small amount just before workout, green tea, Isagenix e+ shots, and Isagenix Ionix Supreme adaptogenic herb blend.

9. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate-but NOT with artificially sweetened diet drinks! Water is your best friend. You can add cucumber, fruit to give some essence of flavor but do not put chemical sweeteners in your body. Water will nourish your cells and keep your body functioning at a very high level.

10. Use Pink Hymalayan Sea Salt-you will be able to cut salt closer to showtime but adding this kind of salt will support healthy thyroid, improve muscle contraction and keep electrolytes balanced. A small amount on meats or veggies at least once/day is sufficient.

Enjoy these tips and please connect with me if you’re looking for a coach who wants to take you to the next level both inside and out with SELF-LOVE as the driving force!

Left-My former “off-season” body-142lbs 16% bodyfat
Right-My current body-125lbs, 10% bodyfat, no competing just balanced living with self-love and acceptance