Before I started competing, I was an athlete yes, but I was known more for being a bookworm a music lover an outdoor girl an animal advocate a business professional a foodie
Then I fell into fitness and I became known mostly for that. ♀️ I guess you could say things have come full circle, because I’m back to being known as more than just an athlete. Not that there’s anything wrong with it - but nowadays I’d prefer to be known for my heart and my mind, not my body or competitive record. In fact, I don’t even mention fitness when meeting new people. A friend just reminded me that when he first met me, he had no idea I even competed until he saw me on social media!
That was intentional. Most of what I post is fitness related...I share my competitive knowledge and experience as a way to give back. Hopefully you can learn from my successes and setbacks. But fitness really only makes up about 10% of my real life and who I am - so it’s not the first thing I talk about. I have a corporate job, friends, family and a love life that will never make it to the Gram. And I have a personality that can’t be fully expressed in pictures. All of these facets make up who I truly am, and they are not dependent on how I look.
Even though my appearance (and level of fitness) may change, it’s still me on the inside. And that’s what I hope to be known for now - my heart, my faith, my character. #notransformationtuesday#me#justme
The 2018 NPC MID ATLANTIC ZONE SCHEDULE - so many opportunities to compete!
Dates are subject to change and more dates will be added!! Which shows are you planning to enter??
March 24 – NPC BALTIMORE GLADIATOR, NPC NORTHERN KENTUCKY
March 31 - NPC NATURAL OHIO
April 7 – NPC PHILADELPHIA
April 14 – NPC GREAT LAKES
April 21 – NPC MOUNTAINEER CLASSIC
April 28 – NPC KENTUCKY DERBY NPC MAX MUSCLE VA CLASSIC
May 4/5 - NPC/IFBB PITTSBURGH
May 12 – NPC MIKE FRANCOIS NPC NATURAL CAPITOL
May 26 - NPC LEHIGH VALLEY, NPC NORTHCOAST
June 2 – NPC JULIE PALMER
June 9 – NPC MD/EAST COAST
July 7 – NPC PA STATES/ULTIMATE
July 14 – NPC LENDA MURRAY PRO/AM
July 18-21 - MASTERS NATIONALS
July 28 – NPC VA STATE/CLASH TITANS
August 4 – NPC DELAWARE
August 11 – NPC CUTLER RICHMOND
August 18 – NPC BATTLE ROYALE, NPC KENTUCKY OPEN
August 25 – NPC CAPITOL GRAND PRIX
Aug 28/Sept 1 - NORTH AMERICA
Sept 15 - IFBBOLYMPIA, NPC ELITE PHYSIQUE
Sept 22 – NPC OHIO
Oct 6 – NPC BIG CAT CLASSIC NPC TRICKY JACKSON
Oct 13 – NPC NATURAL NORTHERN USA
Oct 20 – NATURAL MARYLAND
Oct 27 – BALTIMORE PRO-AM, KENTUCKY MUSCLE
Nov 3 - NORTHERN USA, NATURAL KENTUCKY
Nov 10 - WEST VIRGINIA, MAX MUSCLE MID ATL OPEN
Nov 17 - NATIONALS
Show up every single moment like you’re meant to be there.
My first time competing on a national stage, I was intimidated. Looking around at the competition, I was impressed - and wondering what the heck I was doing there. Just then my coach came up to me and said, “You look like a deer in headlights. Wipe that look off your face and get your together.” Anyone who knows Mike D knows this is totally something he’d say He also reminded me I worked just as hard as any of those other girls and I deserved to be there. I knew he would not put me in a show if I had no shot at doing well. I was ready and now it was my chance to show it off on stage. Time to shine! I was still a bit nervous, so I decided to fake it. Literally decided to create a persona. I’d act the part of a confident, classy athlete even if I didn’t really feel like one at the moment. And it worked. The minute my foot hit the stage, I stepped into the role and did everything in my power to make those judges look at me. I wound up Top 5.
This mindset never left me. It’s true - you can fake it til you make it. And after so many competitions of playing this part and putting out this vibe of enthusiasm, it actually became part of who I am as a person and athlete. My confident behavior became my belief about myself.#believe#confidence#power#shine
I’ve always been a supporter of other women. I do not feel threatened by the success of another because my destiny is ordained - nothing and no one can interfere with it. But other women haven’t always been so nice to me - and I ran across a special kind of “mean girl” when I got into the fitness industry. A lot of them went to my own gym I’ve had girls comment on my appearance (call me fat and anorexic depending if on or off season) and make up horrible rumors about my personal life. I called those B’s out when necessary, and ignored them when possible. I’ve always known those people are seasonal, not meant to be part of my life for the long haul. And I was right, most of em are still stuck in that gym, living the same ol sad life while I have grown and moved forward.
I stand up for myself and I’m not afraid to stand up for other women either. From girls making snide comments to each other backstage at a show, to girls making fun of some other girl’s pics online, I have no issue stepping up and defending that person. Im mostly meek and mild, but Im unafraid of confrontation when people are being mistreated.
We as women all suffer due to the lack of cooperation and camaraderie. When women band together to uphold standards and respect for one another, our value rises. When women undercut each other, as so many do nowadays, our value decreases.
If you’re one of these girls who says such inappropriate, hurtful things to or about someone else, I urge you to take a look at yourself and figure out what’s going wrong inside you to make you act out in this way. And know that those of us who are self aware see your behavior for what it is - a childish attempt to make yourself feel better. It’s always been my opinion that our industry can attract those seeking external validation for what they lack within. Sadly this need can manifest itself in the demoralization of others. If that’s you, expect to be called out on it. There’s no excuse for it, in any realm of life. Ladies, I support you and I got your back.
Time to share a story about sportsmanship and perspective. Here’s me at the NPC Pittsburgh with 2 of my teammates. That year, the show was held 6 days after Junior USA’s. For me, it wasn’t enough time to fill back out (look how flat I am!) I went from 5th place at a national level show, to 6th at a regional show. Not the goal lol. But thankfully, my coach had my mind right. I was conditioned to think of competing as a long term process with successes and setbacks. I was expected to be gracious in victory or defeat. Because of this I was resilient and positive. I could shrug off this result and maintain my focus which ultimately brought me to 4th place at NPC Nationals that year. And since I wasn’t wallowing in my own self pity, I was able to celebrate with my friends who both won their classes! That made my weekend worthwhile!
I’ve always had a different outlook than most athletes, but I’ve also been more successful than most, so I think I may be on to something. I view competing as all offense, no defense. All you can do is be your best - you cannot predict or control what your competition is doing. And keep in mind - this is a game of genetics. Just like no one cares how much a bodybuilder can bench, trophies aren’t awarded for hard work. Bodybuilding is dominated by genetic freaks. Most of us will encounter one of them in our career - and quickly be eclipsed. This happened to me several times - but I could recognize quality, and one look at them and I thought, “that person is a Pro in the making”. Can’t hate on someone for being built for it! And I didn’t get down on myself for being less than perfect either. You can’t control who shows up. You can do everything the judges tell you and still get beat. Might be someone genetically better or simply be someone you’ve never competed against. Both are outside your control. What you can do is consistently come in shape, showing improvements over time. That’s how you become recognizable to the judges and establish yourself as a contender. Focus on the positives, think long term, do NOT view the success of others as a failure on your part. These are traits of sportsmanship- and good character.
It’s thick thigh season and for once, the size I’ve added is muscle and not the typical Fall fluff! I’ve always struggled with adding muscle - no matter how hard I lift, not a whole lot changes But something has shifted these past few months and I’m pretty excited that my legs are stronger, shapelier and not as soft as they might have been in the past! It’s been a long journey to get my hormones balanced and my body to a place where I can actually build. But it sure has been worth it and I’m looking forward to improving my physique even more in the future #nosquish#justshape#workinprogress#neverdone
Seemingly random pic right? It served a purpose when it was snapped. Let me explain: this was at finals for the Detroit Pro and I had just gotten feedback from the head judge - he said my glutes needed to be tighter. All I heard was "you're fat". So without me knowing, my friend took this pic to prove that I was not, in fact, fat. I mean check out that thigh gap (the girl behind me was wearing an orange dress which happened to highlight it )
When I had time to actually process my feedback, I knew the judge was right. Having come from Figure, I was so focused on not coming in too hard that I hardly ate anything the morning of the show (I literally ate 2 oz of tuna and 15 almonds before PJ). I came in tiny - and so flat I looked a bit soft. For my next show I ate a bit more, came in a touch fuller and thus looked tighter. As a result I went from last call out to first, proving the judge's feedback was accurate. It was my interpretation of it, in the moment, that was not.
Thank goodness for my dear friend who took this pic and talked me off the ledge. A friend like this serves as a reality check and I hope you all have one in your corner.
Looking back on this experience, I wonder if sometimes, when I give feedback, it affects some of you in the same way. After all, I don't know if you have body images issues or eating disorders. I'm just giving you an objective opinion of what you need to improve upon. It's your job to interpret that, put it to work and keep it in perspective. If you struggle with body dysmorphia the way I did, I hope that you have a strong support system in place to help you frame the feedback, and to keep you safe and healthy. Because no competition, no trophy, NOTHING is worth your sanity. Through the process of competition, we create mindsets - good and bad - and they can follow us through the rest of our lives. Do whatever it takes to learn healthy habits - and discard the demons you may unearth in the process. And if you can't do it yourself, enlist a solid support system to help you sort it out. I'm so glad I did! It was the key to my success - and sometimes my survival - over the years! #bigpicture#perspective
This pic came up on my Time Hop today. I don’t think I’ve ever shared it! I was never very happy with my look that day. But I was proud of the work I put in to get there. This was a comeback show for me. In 2009 I developed some serious health issues including cysts on my thyroid, digestive problems, high cholesterol, sleep apnea... oh and I had mono I took 2010 off to recover and I was told I’d probably never compete again. I refused to accept this and battled my way back to health - becoming one of only 2 patients my doctor ever had that actually recovered from ailments this severe and compounded.
I was nervous about competing at less than my best conditioning. Being an IFBB Pro is an honor I took seriously and I didn’t want to disrespect myself or the stage by coming in out of shape. But my trainer assured me I was within range and would not embarrass myself. He encouraged me to compete as a celebration of overcoming so much those previous 18 months. I’m glad I did.
It felt so good to be back in a familiar physique. And it reinforced a valuable lesson: you never know someones’s story. They may not look the best, but you don’t know what they went through to get to this point.
I remind myself of that when I’m judging. At the local level, there’s usually someone who shows up out of shape. But for them, that may be the best shape they’ve ever been in and it may have taken years to get there. That’s a victory! And they deserve to celebrate just like anyone else.
I occasionally see commentary that people like that are a disgrace to the industry and the lower the standard of the shows. Those comments piss me off!!! It’s a local show and anyone who wants to compete can do so. Whether you’re trying to win and go to the next level, or you’re looking to celebrate a fitness milestone, you’re absolutely free to do so. Other shows, such as national level, have requirements. Local shows do not. The more the merrier.
I love a good transformation story and enjoy seeing these athletes shine on stage. I was once one of them, and I’m glad no one took my moment away from me. I do what I can to protect and encourage that moment for others. I hope you do too
Ask me about the day I turned pro and I’ll tell you, I was not over the moon excited. Yeah it was surreal when they announced 3rd and I realized I won a pro card. And pretty sweet when the announced 2nd and I realized I won. But I was not absolutely elated like I thought I would be! Sure, it was cool the next day to get so many congratulations, to do the interviews and photo shoots, to know I cleared that hurdle and could call myself an IFBB Pro. But after the weekend was over, I went back home to my normal life. I showed up at the gym Monday morning ready to go and my trainer asked me what I was doing there! Didn’t I want time off? Well no, it was Monday and it was leg day and I was just operating on auto pilot so there I was, ready to train!
That’s how I was that entire prep - and probably why I wasn’t as pumped as I could’ve been after my win. To me, it was finishing a journey, completing a task. I was never about turning pro anyway - I was about the process. And viewing it that way helped me get through tough times during prep. But putting the blinders on also made me miss out on some important, fulfilling aspects in my life.
My priorities at the time (in order):
work (to pay for competing)
I can’t even list friends because all my friends were fellow competitors and I counted doing cardio together as socializing ♀️
Maybe balancing my priorities and nurturing my soul a bit more would’ve allowed me to enjoy that moment as it was happening, rather than realizing the weight of the accomplishment many months later. Then again, to work that hard and achieve such goals, you kinda need blinders on. ♀️
But if I had it to do over again, I would not place competing above personal relationships - and certainly not above God (I am horrified by that). I realized this in retrospect and my later years of competing were not so empty. I’m glad I learned the lesson, but I hope you newer competitors learn it sooner than I did. Competing is a great experience, but it’s not lasting. Your fondest memories will be of friends and family - they make life worthwhile. To me, that's having it all