Beauty, Brains and Barbells

By Wellness360 Magazine

Tell us about your lifestyle. Why did you choose to integrate school and bodybuilding?

I am in my last semester of my undergrad at the University of Florida pursuing a computer science engineering degree. With my degree, I hope to foster an inclusive computing culture that exposes young children to computer science(s) and addresses the lack of diversity in CS (computer science). Since I was a little girl, I have lived a very active lifestyle- from ballet to gymnastics to cheerleading then CrossFit and now I am a bodybuilder competing in the bikini division. My drive to compete came from wanting to see how far I could push my body and having a goal to work toward every single day. After watching a bodybuilding competition, I was in awe of how these strong and beautiful women looked on stage and I wanted to see if I could achieve that physique as well. This was the day I decided to start prepping for my first show.

How do you live a 360life?

A balanced life is unique to each individual. I try to balance the things I must do with what I want to do. For me, I need to make time to workout, cook my meals, spend time with loved ones, and take care of my mental health. Working out is how I de-stress and is honestly what I look forward to all day long. I listen to my body and have rest days when I see necessary. Involving mental health, I like to use my Breathe app on my Apple Watch, I find that it helps when I am overwhelmed or stressed, along with making sure I am saying kind things to myself. We are all our own worst critics so remembering to show self-love, whether that is by doing my nails, getting a massage or just saying a few kind things to myself- is really important in achieving my 360life.

How do you prepare for the competitions?

Preparing for competitions takes months of hard work. My diet, workout regimen, and lifestyle change in order to achieve a physique I am proud of. Relating to my diet, I track my macros and adjust them weekly in order to continue to see progress. For my workouts, I focus less on lifting as heavy as possible and start doing more repetitions with less rest in between each set. My overall lifestyle gets shifted to focusing on competing, so I make it one of my top priorities ultimately meaning that some other things must take a back seat.

What do you enjoy most about competing?

My favorite thing about competing is surpassing my own expectations. Setting a goal that at the time seems almost impossible to achieve and working toward it every day gives me purpose and something to look forward to when I wake up every morning. Being able to step on stage and show the months of hard work is just the icing on the cake.

Please share your biggest moment in competing, in detail, and what it meant to you.

My biggest moment in competing would have to be when I won the Overall Title at the Ruby Championships in September 2018. Winning overall means you won your height class, and then the 1st place winner of each height class competes against each other for the overall title. This was my 3rd competition, and I was trying to qualify for Nationals (where you must get 1st or 2nd in your height class to qualify) and had missed the qualification by one spot in my 2nd competition. I truly believed I was going to qualify in my second competition, and when I didn’t it stung. So, I decided to do this competition the very next week. Having missed it twice before and knowing I had what it took to qualify was the reason why winning on the third try meant so much to me. No matter win or lose, I am always proud of how I am able to transform my body, but I had put so much blood, sweat and tears into my prep and finally having the satisfaction of being told that I could compete against the best in the nation meant the world to me. This had been my goal since the first time I stepped on stage and achieving it was an unforgettable experience. To top it off my family and best friends were able to go watch me compete and having them with me made it even more special since they don’t always understand my lifestyle. They were able to see why I work so hard and make the sacrifices that I do when it comes to competing.

How would you encourage others to start living a 360life?

I would encourage others to find what they are passionate about and what they truly enjoy doing. Health encompasses mental and physical aspects, so if you hate lifting weights and feel like going to the gym is a chore, you might achieve the look you want but will never truly be happy with yourself as a whole. Don’t be scared to try new things because it might be what you were meant to do, and you are never too old to find your passion. With that being said, nourish your body and brain, and make time to do things that ultimately make you happy.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from this lifestyle?

The most important lesson that I have learned is that a balance lifestyle is unique to each individual. People ask me all the time how I can dedicate so many hours of my day to the gym, but for me it’s just what I love doing. Working out and being active is how I relieve stress, and the gym is my happy place. While others might enjoy going out, I honestly enjoy seeing how far I can push my body both physically and mentally and being a bodybuilder is exactly that.

Favorite Quote?

My gymnastics coach, Maria de los Angeles, told me many years ago that, “Hard work beats talent every time.” This quote has stuck with me ever since I was eight years old because growing up as a gymnast; I was not always the most talented. However, I always pushed myself and worked hard every single time I went into the gym, which is why I was able to be so competitive in the sport. I now apply this concept to all aspects of my life. Whatever I set my mind to I make sure I am giving it my 110 percent in order to achieve the best possible results.