Welcome to April’s Rule Your Nation Awards! We have a couple athletes who decided to take control of their lives in pretty unique ways. Without further delay, let’s get started.
Where did you grow up?
Mostly in Wallowa County, Eastern Oregon. Enterprise is the town I mostly grew up in, but we moved around a lot.
Were you an athlete growing up?
Yeah, I played like every sport. I played basketball, volleyball, track, cheerleading, dance, ballet, and softball.
Which was your favorite?
Probably dance. When I was like a little girl my mom gave me the option of doing karate or ballet, and I picked it. I did it at 5 and was hooked since.
When did you start fitness competitions?
About a year ago in 2014. In 2015, I became Oregon State Champion. I won the first place in my class for bikini, first place in my class for figure and then figure overall in the Oregon State Championship. I was two points shy of winning bikini overall in that same show.
What inspired you to start the fitness competitions?
I liked the lifestyle and alcoholism runs in my family. I wanted to do something healthy so I wouldn’t end up going the wrong way.
Which side of the family?
Did you have an issue with drinking?
Yeah, I did in college, and it lasted a few years after college. I was scared that it could turn into alcoholism if I kept doing it, so I wanted to get out of that lifestyle completely.
Do you not drink at all?
Like occasionally, but you really can’t drink when you body build because it affects your physique so much. I feel like you can’t win a lot if you drink.
How happy are you with your decision?
Very happy. I love bodybuilding. I love how crazy it is too. It’s like all the same drama you get with being a partier only it’s constructive, healthy, and you look better. It’s not all one hundred percent healthy but mostly.
What kind of drama would you have as a bodybuilder that you would as a partier?
Well, you would have the same amount of drama, but it’s different. My drama now is, “Oh my God, is my food prepped, and have I taken my vitamins, and my morning cardio, and how will I fit in my workout?”
There’s learning how to pose and taking your physique and adding your own flavor. There’s all this planning and everything. It’s still stressful and dramatic, but you get way more out of it than the hangover you would get after a party.
What’s unhealthy in bodybuilding?
Some people cut water before shows, which helps the skin tighten around the muscles and show more of your lines. It’ll help you be sharper, but sometimes you can cut water way too hard. Some can get really messed up and end up in the hospital. I’ve had some friends do that.
Some of the girls, and guys too but I know the girls, don’t get coaches, and end up starving themselves, and that can be bad for your body and your brain. You kind of have to know what you’re doing or at least have a coach.
Are you more on your own now?
I was on my own last year except my last show. I hired Andre Scott since the end of last season. I’m really happy with him. He seems to know quite a bit.
Why the phrase “Fitlific” on most of your social media posts?
I made it up. I eventually want to do a clothing line and have my own brand of athletic wear. I want to do my own bodybuilding shoes because some people lift in crazy shoes.
What’s an example of the craziest shoes?
Flip flops. Sandals. Converse, which is not that crazy, but I wouldn’t be able to lift in them.
What’s a better example of a shoe you would design?
I would make the bottom of it flat, so you won’t move around a lot when you’re doing, say a leg press, but there’s still a lot of traction. And a few other things that I won’t share because I don’t want someone jacking my idea.
What’s your ultimate goal within the next five years or so?
To get my pro card and build a Fitlific empire. I’ll probably write some books. I don’t know if they’ll be related to bodybuilding. I write much better than I speak.
Do you have any advice for someone who sees you as a role model?
Make sure to take care of yourself and your body when you do any sport, but[especially] bodybuilding, make sure you know what you’re doing. There’s a lot of things your body needs that your body won’t get. You have to do your research. Adrenal fatigue is a big one that people should avoid getting.
Have you seen that one a lot?
Yeah, in woman and not a lot of people talk about.
Well now’s our chance to bring to discuss it. How does it happen?
Not getting proper nutrients for how hard you’re working. Not listening to your body and overexerting yourself and making your body catabolic. The human body is really strong and made to do lots of things but not if you’re not nourishing it properly for what you’re making it do.
What advice do you have for your past self?
Study the politics of bodybuilding a lot more before I get into it.
What kind of politics?
All sports are political, and it’s good to be informed so you can plan and adjust accordingly. It’s just like anything. You should research it before you do it. I did my research on lifting and eating right, but when it actually comes down to competitions politics come to play like who do you want on your team, whose team do you want to be on, or what people you can be affiliated with who might harm your reputation; or who will be a positive influence on your bodybuilding career.
Have you seen examples of negative influences?
I can use myself as an example because I didn’t study the politics. In the beginning I did really futuristic makeup and stage makeup, and that ended up hurting me because it’s not just about how great your muscles look or how hard you worked in the gym. It’s also about overall presentation. So I went on with my fun, futuristic makeup, and they’re looking for more girl-next-door, so that hurt me. But then some of the judges came up and talked to me and told me flat out.
Does that look change for each competition,or is that generally what they’re looking for?
It’s generally what they’re looking for. It’s just the safest way to go. I know women who still use futuristic makeup. Mine at the time was bright fire-engine red. Ultimately it does affect you even if some people say that it doesn’t. It’s about presentation. Are you the complete package or not? They judge you on size, proportion, how you look, and even down to how you pose. Hair and makeup is part of it to an extent.
Is there anything about the judging that you think should change?
Yeah, I think it should be broken up into different categories that are actually more tangible. Even then I don’t know if it would really help because it’s still another person’s opinion on if you nailed it or not.
How did your family and friends respond to your change?
It went okay. I wasn’t partying as much as I was in college. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t follow in the footsteps of previous family members. My parents were proud and so were my sisters. And I have some friends I don’t really hang out with anymore. I’ll talk to them on the phone, but I don’t want to get mixed up in their drinking.
Did your change influence anyone around you?
I actually find that it has influenced a lot of people. I run into my Facebook followers. I went to the 711 the other day, and some guy asked, “Is that part of your diet?”
I was in off-season, so I said: “It’s not supposed to be, but it’s off-season.”
People write me all the time. I actually have never gotten through all my messages.
How about family and friends?
My wife at the time, who I’m now separated from, ended up losing like 45 pounds when I started this. She actually hated the gym. She didn’t like getting her heart rate up. It gave her anxiety I guess, but she did it anyway. I found that people who haven’t been to the gym are like : “I’m not in shape. I’ll look silly.” I eased her into it and she started going with me, and my sister Carly was working out when she lived with me.
When you hear the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what comes to mind?
Don’t be a perfectly acceptable sheep. You have to be different and stand out to rule. If you’re like everyone else, no one’s going to follow you.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up just outside of Athens, Georgia.
Were you an athlete as a kid?
I did dance and horse shows, but I wasn’t a runner or team sports athlete. I didn’t get into that until I got back to the states about four years ago.
Where were you before that?
My husband and I were stationed in Germany for about five years.
I understand you worked for the Department of Defense. What did you do?
Yes, I worked in the Warrior Transition Unit. with the wounded Warrior project at the Landstuhl hospital right outside of Ramstein, Germany working with wounded soldiers.
Could you describe the warrior Transition Unit where you worked?
It’s where soldiers learn how to use prosthetics or transition back to the civilian world.
What inspired this work?
I have fibromyalgia. Diagnosed at 17. Doctors told me I would never run again and I would need my knees replaced by the time I was 30. After a while I kind of believed that, but after seeing so many friends come back from losing limbs and still deploying and doing their jobs, nobody could tell me what I could do or not do. So I started building my own program to work myself up to do the things I thought I couldn’t. Just because the doctors tell you you can’t do something, doesn’t mean that it’s true.
What was the first thing you thought you couldn’t do that you found out you could?
Run more than a mile without excruciating pain.
What else did you do after that?
I started an apprenticeship with my coach on how to be a better trainer and athlete and about power lifting and kettle bells and realized I could pick up some heavy stuff and put them down.
Which achievement are you the most proud of?
When I placed second elite female in the national point standings for Superhero Scramble in 2014. It’s a national race. It was a favorite race of mine and it really felt cool to be known as a national champ even if it was just second.
Are you a professional now?
I’m semi-pro. It’s very difficult to make a living in this sport.
What have you found in obstacle course running that is unique?
It’s a full test of your entire athletic ability. It’s not just about being fast or strong. It’s not just completing it, but completing it the best way. Even watching the guys on the Spartan pro teams. It doesn’t matter who you think is the best. Every race is different and even the pro guys aren’t guaranteed a spot.
How many races have you run up until now?
It’s more than 50. I’ve lost count at this point.
Have you found that your obstacle course running inspired anyone in the military?
I’ve had some friends who are still serving or who recently got out who want to get into the sport. For me it’s really about the adapted athletes and showing them you can do it.
What’s an adapted athlete?
Anyone who might be considered disabled. The point of adaptive is to remove the stigma of disabled. The adaptive athlete can do anything anyone else can, just a different way.
What advice do you have for anyone who sees you as a role model?
I’ve actually had people introduce me to their kids and say, “This is who you should be like.”
I tell them even if you look up to someone, don’t try to be like them. It’s not about being someone else but being the best person you’re capable of.
Any advice for your old self?
I would’ve pushed myself harder sooner and not spent so many years accepting what other people told me I could or could not do.
“You are more capable than you think.”
When you hear the phrase “Rule Your Nation,” what come to mind?
Master your domain.
There you have it, folks. Both of these athletes have shown that you don’t have to fit into anybody’s expectations but your own. I hope you start creating them soon, or someone else will do it for you. That’s an option neither of these ladies chose to accept.
Rule well, my friends.