The first time I felt exploited was in 2003, right after placing top five in two national fitness competitions. While waiting for two post-contest photoshoots, I watched as colleagues pose suggestively in thong bikinis at the hotel pool. I saw as our hard earned physiques was being used and exploited by photographers, magazines, companies and contest promoters to gain money. I canceled both shoots scheduled that day and left Los Angeles alone in my Honda CRV, driving home to Sacramento alone in deep thought and reflection. I meditated on all the decisions that led me to that moment in time; from making a conscious decision to start eating differently from my family, to praying every time I was bullied in school, to becoming empowered when I saw my body transform through fitness, to choosing not to react to senseless actions of the people around me.
I was 22.
Those deep reflections and personal life experiences would not only prepare me for what will publicly erupt in my life ten years later, but it would be a resounding lesson when I would deal with people in my personal network who would utilize my name and organization for personal gain. Similar to the day I felt my body’s exploitation in 2003, I struggle with the same vulnerable feelings today in my heart’s exploitation.
When you pour your heart into something, you conceive ideas, create structures and consistently work – because you are passionate.
Passion creates an unending wealth of energy. It starts with a desire, proceeds with an action and continues with a purpose.
For nearly 20 years, my soul has been satisfied through servicing others through fitness. As a high school student, I volunteered to teach aerobics classes. In college, I became a part-time personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness. In my twenties I started writing and podcasting with bodybuilding.com. In 2007 I founded a fitness nonprofit called, Fitness without Borders and in 2009, I started the first No Excuse Mom group, working out with mothers for free in my local park.
For many, my public presence came out of nowhere. For thousands of other people, my journey has been well documented for them to read every arduous step, every painful struggle and every evolving stage to get to exactly where I stand today. Defining your path, Refining your purpose and Aligning with resonating energies of people, will keep you concentrated on this endless expedition towards personal enlightenment.
In our lives we will experience both pain and pleasure. We will feel used and we will feel valued. There are times you will be tested and times when you will triumph.
That’s the duality of life.
You cannot have one without the other. You cannot know you are sick, if you don’t know what being healthy feels like.You cannot have those who love you, without those who hate you. For there is no strength without first enduring struggle. In order to grow and mature, you must come from a place of depth and humility.
We all read truths throughout our lives, but we don’t truly know them until we apply them – until we rewrite them in our own reflections and in our words. When I drove six hours home in deep reflection and prayer 13 years ago, I became awakened to what was pleasant and painful about the world.
You can focus on what is ugly – but I choose to see beauty every day. While it’s not easy to choose beauty, the beauty is found in the word, choose. That’s wisdom.
In 2003, I won Miss Bikini California and placed 3rd in Bikini America. I was asked to shoot a few pictures with this male model before competing the next day.
New Years Eve 2007, I underwent what I call a ‘spiritual transformation’ and experienced disordered eating. I was an emotional eater who binged heavily on food, for several years I also dealt with Bulimic episodes. I gained 30lbs and endured low-carb dieting, over-exercising and a poor dependency on diet supplements and laxatives.
Pic taken in 2008, teaching moms to be healthy even before becoming a mother! I love fitness. For those who want to get in the industry, I always say to do it lovingly, freely and passionately, even if no one’s watching, paying or appreciating your gift to them.
Creating an annual calendar is not an easy task, nor is it inexpensive to do. However, I do it because we need real role models in our world and I believe that health starts at home and comes in all sizes. Our world needs to see that! Please support our No Excuse Mom movement and purchase yours today HERE Your support is tax-deductible. Calendars were delivered (finally) and will begin shipment Dec 23rd. Thanks for your patience!
Merry Christmas everyone! This is our annual card. My husband and I were both surprised to find our little poser in the middle (who looked like he was meditating without our knowledge!)
FANTASTIC words of wisdom!!! As a male, I admire your extreme discipline and hard work, but I especially admire your decision NOT to participate in suggestive posing…
Love it and I am so happy to see how you have found the balance in your life!
Thank you so very much.
Thank you for sharing this. I admire your honesty and strength.
And I too, yours!
Thank you for sharing so much–not just the good, but your struggles too. It shows you are real! So nice to meet you! You are truly inspiring!
Thank you so much for the support! Maria
I LOVE FITNESS But I don’t have time to do it. thanks for your sharing and I admire your strength.