What is my background and how did I get started in the fitness industry?
I am a graduate in Sports Medicine/Exercise Science with a concentration in health fitness. I am Zumba Certified 1, 2, Gold, ZumbAtomic and Toning as well as being Kettlebell and Spinning certified. I have worked at Duke University, for ADIDAS and currently do personal training coupled with nutritional and lifestyle coaching. I figured out while in college that I was passionate about helping others build confidence, become healthy mentally and physically, while still having fun and creating a routine that they could maintain for a lifetime. I understand both sides of the fitness world and wanted people to understand that no matter what their goals were, that they could achieve them, by facing their fears head on, dedicating and focusing on themselves to become happy and reaching points they only thought were dreams.
How did you go from fitness professional to pageant beauty queen? How does that happen?
My clients have had unbelievable goals. Their courage in losing 100 lbs. or beating depression with a healthy lifestyle was contagious and it was the drive I needed to tackle the Miss USA pageant. The pageant was a goal I had for a long time that I knew would be incredibly difficult, but equally rewarding and without my clients, I don’t know if I would have done it. I grew a lot from the experience; I no longer believe you have to be super skinny to be happy; curves are beautiful and muscle is healthy! I’m completely embracing lifting heavy and feel like I’m back better than ever!
Is modeling, beauty pageant competition now your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?
Absolutely not, that was a once in a lifetime opportunity and experience that was both extremely challenging and rewarding! I do personal training paired with nutritional and lifestyle coaching the majority of my time. I also am building a brand new volleyball program as first year coach at a local high school and have 32 girls that I’m extremely proud of. I also am a high school and collegiate basketball official, yes… I wear the stripes and absolutely love it. Lastly, I am training to compete in Bikini Fitness Competitions! Embracing my muscles and curves and loving life!
How do you utilize your experience from pageants into your fitness profession?
The fitness profession helped me perform in the pageant world, for sure. I was named ESPN the Magazine’s National Basketball Player of the year my senior season; preparing for the National Championship with that type of pressure really helped me prepare for the Miss USA Pageant. I knew I had to stick to my game plan of only worrying about what was in my control to be the best ‘me’ I could be. Understanding I had to stay both mentally and physically healthy helped keep me in line with my morals and values so I could look back at the situation with great memories regardless of any possible outcome. What I learned was that there is no such thing as ‘perfect’. I go into competitions with a motto; “Rock what I’ve got!” Once you’re there on the big stage, you can’t change anything. Preparing yourself as best you can and having the confidence to know what advice you should and shouldn’t take is a valuable lesson to learn. At the end of the day, you need to do what’s best for you to feel comfortable in your own skin.
What do you feel is your biggest fitness-related accomplishment?
I am really proud of being ESPN the Magazine Player of the Year for Divisions II, III and NAIA as well as two-time recipient of Kodak All American for basketball. Fitness wise, there was a time when I used to food to cope with emotions. I turned to food for happiness, rather than fuel for my body. I just really struggled with moderation and that being said gained quite a bit of weight! My highest weight was 182lb and for me that was really out of shape! So getting back into the best shape of my life, embracing having curves and muscle and having fun walking the stage of Miss USA in front of millions of viewers with no insecurities was the best feeling ever!
What are your immediate and long-term goals?
I recently competed in the Flex Bikini Model Competition in Las Vegas and it left me hungry for more! I had never even been to a show as a spectator before, so competing against girls with sponsors who have won competitions was scary. I learned a ton from their experience and made some great contacts. Finishing in the top 18 was a bonus and really motivated me to get home and back to the drawing board for competitions in the near future. It would be a thrill to be in fitness magazines, videos and shows down the road! When my career is over, I hope to have been an IFBB Bikini Pro and with my own line of fitness DVDs for sale, my own fitness/cooking show and to have had the chance to continue officiating and coaching.
Please describe a typical day for you.
My days are really busy but I like them that way!
6-6:30am- Rise and Shine! Let me dog out, quick walk, breakfast
7-8:00am- Head to the Gym (Cardio and Heavy Lift)
9:30-10:00am- Home/Shower/Snack/Emails/Create Programs
11-2:00pm- Meet/Train Clients/ Lunch
2:00-4:30pm- Volleyball Practice
4:30-6:30pm- Quick snack/Train Clients
6:30-7:30pm- Cardio Session
8:00pm- Home/Shower/Listen to Music/Dinner and cuddle with my dog
10:00pm- Journal/Read/lights out/Goodnight Moon
Please describe your normal diet? How do you eat to stay in shape?
My diet is a little challenging because I have Celiac Disease so I can’t eat wheat or gluten. Over the past few years I’ve created amazing recipes to make food tasty and much healthier! I eat a lot of eggs, especially egg whites thank goodness I love eggs! I usually have egg whites with oatmeal or my delicious proatmeal creation (chocolate protein powder with oatmeal, tastes like no bake cookie). I also eat tuna, haddock, salmon, turkey burger lean and I add in lots of veggies, spinach, asparagus, onions, few carrots, and I use apple cider vinegar and salsa for dressing. The new Luna Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein bars are good and they are Gluten Free! For carbohydrates besides oatmeal I will eat brown rice, sweet potatoes and brown rice cakes. The thing is I absolutely love sweets and I won’t completely eliminate them! I like fruit dipped in chocolate as a good treat! My biggest thing is no wheat/gluten or high fructose corn syrup or anything white! I also have very little amounts of dairy and soy.
How many times do you typically eat in a day?
I eat three meals usually and two snacks. It’s a pain to get used to but with two a day workouts or trying to stay lean it is extremely important and I look forward to each meal! I love food!!
Do you balance your calories equally or do you have one heavier then lighter caloric meal during the day?
I like the saying by Adelle Davis, “Eat breakfast like asking, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”. Haha!! I have my biggest carbohydrate meal in the morning before training. I hit a plateau and realized I wasn’t incorporating enough carbs in my day and I was really struggling with energy and getting in a great workout and wasn’t seeing the results I needed. So I try to make sure I have the proper amount for my body of carbs, protein and fats in each meal. However, I switch the amount of carbs throughout the day and it has made such a difference in my results and overall energy! I’m a big fan of listening closely to your body as to what works best! I also believe in variation so I may have two to three lighter carbohydrate days and then a higher carbohydrate day to make sure I keep my metabolism and body on it’s toes. I love variation and switching it up in everything I do!
If any, what supplements do you use?
I sip on BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids) while I work out. I also use protein powder Elite Gourmet is Gluten Free, and L-glutamine and Maca Root in my shakes! I also drink a lot of green and dandelion root tea.
How do you motivate yourself to stay in shape?
I love seeing results but more importantly feeling the results. Being active, working out, lifting and eating healthy has tremendous affects on my energy level, happiness, and overall well-being. It is my peace of mind. It has become my one consistent place that I can clear my head, relieve stress and walk out always feeling better about myself. It’s my therapy!
What are a few of your favorite fitness, health and beauty related websites?
I really enjoy reading Muscle & Fitness Hers, Oxygen, MuscleMag. I like finding different recipes and reading about others success stories and keeps me fresh. I love learning and educating myself so I also do a lot of research! The Daily Love is a great email based sights that send inspirational messages daily that I really enjoy as well. Honestly, I don’t spend much time on the computer at all so I’m not that up to date on websites and would love some suggestions!
If someone you knew asked you how to lose weight and get into shape quickly, what would you tell them?
I would first say to cut out high fructose corn syrup and white breads/pastries/pasta etc. I then would tell them to make sure that they are eating smaller portions consistently throughout the day. The key is 5-6smaller meals per day rather than one big at night. I notice most people skip breakfast and lunch and just snack and then feast at night! I would tell them to try and take out things that are processed and preserved and eat clean, fresh and organic, such things as eggs, fish, lean meats, fruits and veggies with whole grain carbohydrates. I would make sure that they were drinking adequate water, which most people don’t and often mistake thirst for hunger. As well as doing some weight training coupled with HITT, steady state or Tabata training. I truly believe it is about always changing up your routine, not allowing your body to settle into a routine and plateau… keeps your body guessing and working!
What do you feel differentiates you from other people in your field?
I’ve found success after battling many of the issues my clients present to me by really focusing on the emotional and mental aspect of health. I've gone from being an All-American basketball player to losing50 lbs. with an eating disorder to coming back and finishing top 8 at Miss USA and so on. The highs and lows have lead me to appreciate the value of physical health, but genuinely respect the mental side. No matter how much physical training I give someone, the changes they make to beat eating disorders, weight gain or any other issue- will never be permanent if we don’t uncover why they’re mentally struggling. The goal is for my clients to become not just the healthiest, but the happiest they’ve ever been- and I really ask them to search deep within themselves on the way there.
What tips would you give to someone who wanted to get into the fitness and/or beauty pageant/entertainment industry?
There will always be variables outside your control once you reach the competitive level. Being confident that you are the best ‘you’ that you can be is all you can control. I’ve got a great group of people around me who remind me of that, and I also bounce ideas off them or look to them for support. Having a positive attitude about how I’ve prepared and networking for the right kind of support works for me!