Tell me a little about yourself and your background?
I am 24 years old, born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Growing up I was not an athletic child, actually quite the opposite. I grew up having “Brachymetatarsia” which is a growth defect in the metatarsal. Meaning certain toes/fingers are abnormally shorter than they should be. This affected both my feet and hands, so being physically active and on my feet was painful. It wasn’t till the age of 15 I was able to find a doctor who could help me. During that I time I underwent three surgeries and spent two years on crutches as well as 6am weekly checkups on Friday mornings. During my two years on crutches I lost weight due to lack of appetite, I was finally that skinny girl I thought I wanted to be growing up. I was hitting the gym doing small workouts to keep myself lean even while I was on crutches. I sound crazy right? Thinking back I guess so, but I didn’t know any better. To keep myself skinny after I got off crutches, I ate little to nothing and did a lot of cardio. I thought I was healthy but in reality I wasn’t, I wasn’t even happy with the way I looked. I didn’t think I was good enough to what I envisioned for myself. I wanted to get stronger, so I started lifting weights and eating more. I still wasn’t happy with the way I looked, soon enough I gained more weight than what I was comfortable with. This is where my competition journey started, I wanted to challenge myself again and see how far I can take it. During my three years of competing I would diet down for a show, then binge eat through the off season. I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food, which added onto the unhealthy relationship I had with myself. I felt bad about the way I looked off season, and not good enough in season. I finally had enough and decided to pursue balance and happiness in my life.
What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy multiple aspects of fitness! I don’t have a particular one that I can choose. Fitness is not just a goal or a lifestyle to me. It is so much more than that. It is a constant journey that teaches more about myself and to challenge myself not only what I am capable of doing physically, but mentally as well. I also love that fitness has allowed me to connect with so many individuals whom I call now my friends.
How long have you been into fitness?
I started my fitness journey about 8/9 years ago.
How did you get into fitness?
I didn’t want to take the simple action of walking, standing, or running for granted. I wanted to see what I can do with my body physically. I can honestly say I’m blessed to be able to do the things that I can do now, and how grateful I am to be able to walk/run. You really don’t know what you have until it’s taken away; being able to be physically active is such a blessing that I wish it wasn’t taken for granted.
What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?
I have had MULTIPLE turning points; each turning point I had was during some unfavorable situation in my life where I would have to challenge myself to change the situation. My BIGGEST turning point would be last year, when I decided to pursue happiness and balance in my life with fitness. I’ve reached a point where I no longer wanted to battle with myself every day because I didn’t look a particular way, or didn’t feel good enough.
Since then I’ve taken everything I’ve learned and applied it to creating a happy and balanced lifestyle that I live today. Now it is something I want to share with everyone else and help as many people as I can.
How has fitness impacted your life?
Fitness has made me challenge myself in so many ways, not just physically. It has taught to step out of my comfort zone, how to be consistent, not to second guess myself, and be disciplined. It has not only impacted my life, but fitness allowed me to use my passion to help and encourage others on their journeys.
What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?
Do not look at fitness as a GOAL, it is so much more than that! It’s even more than just a lifestyle, it’s your own personal journey. There will be ups and downs, but through all of this you will learn so much about yourself. It’s a growth process that’s not only physical, but mental and emotional as well. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and try new things at the gym. If something doesn’t work out or you don’t see results fast enough, don’t be discouraged, stay consistent! Don’t try to rush the process, everything takes time. Most of all, believe in yourself when the going gets tough. You can do anything you set your mind too.