How did you get into bikini competitions?
"I was already training with my coach, just as a way to keep healthy, and he was training several other girls who were working towards the stage. Watching their journeys was very inspiring. I just thought to myself, Hey what have I got to lose? I am also very goal-driven, and my training at the time didn't have particular goals aligned with it, so this was pretty perfect for me."
What's the most rewarding part and most challenging part about competing?
"The most rewarding part is finding out what your body and mind are capable of — and getting to the end. For me, building confidence in myself and learning to appreciate and love my body was the best part. After having my daughter, I had postpartum depression, and I cried every time I looked in the mirror because of my stretch marks and all the other bits, bumps, and sags that came along with being pregnant.
"I was so scared [my daughter] would grow up thinking that it is normal to be ashamed of your body, and I was determined to not be that type of influence on her. I am proud and happy with all my lumps and bumps now and I know this wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t push my body and mind to extremes to find what I was capable of.
"I think every goal in life is challenging, is it not? It's just finding the strength to push through whatever it is that gets you upset on any day: whether it be tiredness, temptations, grumpiness. Surround yourself with people who support you and your goals, that’s what made it easier for me."
What's the biggest misconception people have about bikini competitions? How would you change that?
"I think the biggest misconception is that you are either starving yourself, or that you are being incredibly risky or doing unhealthy things to get stage-ready. This is in no way true for my journey or many others I know. When I first began, I was eating more than I normally would, but just clean, healthy foods, which were much better for my body than all the junk I was feeding it before.
"I just think people should understand that we are not punishing ourselves: These girls are athletes, and for a short period of time they are at the extreme level, and then they go back to a healthy balance. Find yourself a coach that genuinely knows what they are doing when it comes to nutrition and training, and make sure to do your own research, too."