Let me make one thing very clear: I don’t wear a bikini. In fact, I’ve never worn a bikini in public until last weekend.
So people may be a little confused as to why I got into a tiny two-piece and paraded around a stage to be judged at a figure competition in Denver.
Well, I had something to prove – to myself.
Since May 2008, I have lost 130 pounds, and I am incredibly proud of myself.
The turning point was returning to Omaha after my freshman year of college at Saint Louis University and realizing that I needed to change. I met with a trainer and a nutritionist and began my journey.
In January, I was featured in People Magazine’s Half Their Size Issue. My social media sites blew up with girls looking for inspiration, and I realized that there was a need for a positive role model among young women.
To stay on track with a healthy lifestyle, I’m the kind of person that needs a goal to work toward. A lot of times I get complacent, and I like pushing myself further than even I thought I could go.
So when I heard in April that the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion show decided to add a transformation makeover division to its figure competitions, I knew I had to do it. This meant upping the level of my dedication to my workouts and my clean-eating lifestyle.
The decision to compete in a fitness competition was a huge milestone for me. My body does not look like the typical bikini competitor. As proud as I am of my weight loss, I have scars and stretch marks that most of my competitors don’t have. But those marks are a physical reminder every day of the battle I’ve won.
It was definitely emotional being on stage at the competition. Before I went on, my picture was showcased on the large projection screen, so when I walked out, I was staring into the face of the old me. In that moment I realized that I am still the same person on the inside. I still have the same smile. The only difference is that I choose to live a healthy life and inspire others to do the same.
So far, I feel like I am doing just that.
I won first place in the transformation makeover division last weekend and will take the stage at the WBFF Worlds Las Vegas in eight weeks, competing against women from across the world with similar transformation stories.
Winning was just a bonus to my overall goal. I want to show people that every body is beautiful, and there is no right or wrong body. I want to continue to spread my message of self-love, because I know it can be life-changing.
Since being featured in People Magazine, I’ve spoken to young women and teens at junior highs and high schools about the power of self-love. I’ve never felt so much support and love, and it gives me hope that I can inspire the next generation of women to be strong and independent.
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