Thursday, February 16, 2012

{Trimming} Myself From The Family Tree // Fitness Success Story (Vol. 2)

Being healthy and fit were not topics I heard talked about as a kid. I remember watching older family members of mine struggle with their weight and feel uncomfortable with their size. However, there were never any discussions around the family dinner table regarding nutrition or exercise. Growing up, I didn't even have a concept of what going to the "gym" looked like. By the time I was a teenager in high school I realized that my body was different from some of the other girls on the dance team. For our performances we sometimes wore tiny skirts or midriff-baring tops. Looking around I could see that most of my friends had what seemed like perfectly tight and slim frames. I wondered why I didn't look exactly like them when I danced just as much as they did. But over time I grew more comfortable with my body and loved the fact that I had curves.

On the right with friends at my High School Senior Prom (2000)

By the time I graduated from high school and began college-life, my weight fluctuated even more. I was becoming aware that the food I was eating and my lack of dancing had an impact on how I looked and felt in my clothes. I figured it out for the first time at nearly 20 years old. Being an adult meant that I had to address the situation all on my own. By 2003, when I celebrated my 21st birthday, I weighed more than 150 pounds at only 5 feet tall.

On a missions trip to Honduras (Age 20)
After moving to Minnesota, I met a good friend who did weight training regularly. I asked if he would take me on as one of his "projects" and help me lose weight. Thankfully, he was up for the challenge and gave me great support and accountability. This was my "AH-HA" moment when I decided that a change was going to have to be all up to me. It was time to commit to breaking free from the vicious cycle of being unfit!

The first thing I did was join a gym (by now they referred to them as health clubs) and I started to cut foods out of my diet that I had been eating since I was a kid, such as bagels, pasta and fried chicken. I tried to make lifestyle changes, such as drinking my coffee without cream and sugar. Within two years of working out more regularly and focusing on my diet, I was able to lose about 20 pounds and felt great. I managed the weight loss for a couple of years, when out of nowhere my body was overcome with chronic pain. I struggled for years with intense pain, migraines and gained some of the weight back. Feeling hopeless and depressed, I finally made the discovery that I have a severe allergy to gluten and wheat, which was causing all of my symptoms. Within a few weeks of eating a gluten-free diet, my health and physique took a major overhaul.

My weight gain after being set-back with Fibromyalgia.

Months later, I decided to give competing in figure and fitness a try. With a new clean diet it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make my dream of being a performer come true. In May, I won the Overall Beginner Figure Title at the Mr. and Mrs. Natural MN competition and placed 2nd in Fitness. Just last November, I placed 8th out of 35 fitness competitors at Fitness America in Las Vegas and came in 6th for my Open Figure Short class! This new, fit lifestyle I've created has brought me many great experiences and so much happiness. Becoming a competitor and fitness model has been one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I'm posing with Medium and Tall Figure Winners at my 1st Competition

As I approach my 30th birthday, I can reflect back on all the new healthy habits that I have learned on my own. I love eating turkey bacon and gluten-free oats in the morning for breakfast instead of a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. I get excited to order a fresh salmon salad at a restaurant in place of my old childhood favorite, Chicken Parmigiana. I now enjoy heading to the gym on a regular basis and feel relaxed after a great work out. In addition to my passion for dance, I love my group fitness cardio, yoga, weight training, nutrition, and the amazing feeling of a new healthy life!

If you are looking to break free from an unfit family pattern or start your own new healthy journey, all you need is a couple of things.

First, GET A PARTNER. Find a friend, trainer, or coach who will keep you accountable and cheer you on along the way.

Second, MAKE A PLAN. If you don't have a visual in front of you, how will you see where you are going and how you'll get there?

Third, FOLLOW THROUGH. If you make the commitment you WILL need to work hard. Make sure you include days of rest and permission to enjoy yourself when you need it. I train hard when I need to, but I also need a good balance of rest and rewarding myself from time to time.

With only two competitions under my belt, I couldn't be happier and more excited for the future! I am looking forward to a new year with more opportunities to compete, choreograph, model and perform.

This hip-hop-loving, pussycat doll is ready to strut her stuff in 2012, so watch out!

BethanyJN's Fitness Routine at Fitness America 2012

BethanyJN's Fitness Routine at Fitness America 2011

Interview Round (TOP 10 FINALIST) - FITNESS AMERICA 2011