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Heather S. Takes Fitness From “Hobby” To NPC Bikini Competitor

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Heather Sumpter

This month we had the opportunity to chat with NPC competitor Heather S. about her fitness journey from getting started to how her life has changed since taking on a healthier lifestyle. Read Heather’s inspiring interview to get the lessons she has learned along the way, tips on how you can not only start your journey but also stay on track and see how what was once “just a hobby” for Heather has now become a lifestyle! 

How would you describe your life before you began your health and fitness journey?

Life before my fitness journey was a normal college life. Although I majored in exercise science, I was not exactly 100% healthy. I would eat whatever I wanted, go out on the weekends and drink, and think I could exercise it away. I was never happy with my body and could not figure out how to fix it.

What led you to want to change your life?

I always read the fitness magazines and wanted to compete. After college, I wanted a hobby to occupy my new-found free time. Once I started researching about cleaning up your diet, I knew this would be a challenge but I was determined to try it. Everyone laughed at me when I told them I was going to try to compete because they knew me as the “foodie” who loved her happy hours. I was always trying some new diet and failed. This gave me more motivation to prove them wrong.

Heather Sumpter

How has your life changed since your transformation and journey?

It has given me a complete change for the better. I am healthier than ever and love the way I look. I have more energy and have not been sick since I have started this in 2011. I use my knowledge to inspire others. I no longer drink alcohol and feel better for it. I have found my purpose and live my life fulfilled because I am helping others change their habits through my example.

Have you experienced any difficulties on your journey and if so, how have you been able to overcome?

At first, my friends did not like or understand that I did not want to go out anymore. I felt pressure to drink and party like my old ways and sometimes felt left out but I knew if they were really my friends they would stick around. I would also get comments about how I was too skinny and how I did not eat (even though I eat 6-7 times a day). In the black community being ‘thick” is something that is praised and people seemed offended I did not want to be like that. I just realized that people will always criticize the unfamiliar and people eventually came around when they saw this was permanent.

Many people feel they are too busy or have too many obstacles as to why they can’t make a lifestyle change or live healthier? What excuse busters or advice do you have?

It’s important to be organized. If you have to make a schedule for yourself to make the time then do it. If you want something, you will find the time. Just like you find the time to go shopping or out with friends. 1 hour of exercise is only a small part of your day. Most of the time we spend Saturdays or Sundays relaxing and watching a movie; why not take that time and prep your food for the week, which saves you even more time to finish tasks during the busy week.

Keep your gym clothes in your car to remind yourself to go before or after work. A lot of black women give me the line “I’m not trying to lose my butt!” Curves are beautiful, and exercise makes them even better. In fact, I have more curves and booty than before. Don’t make excuses on why you can’t because there are so many reasons why you can.

Heather Sumpter

How do you keep your body in shape? What is your typical nutrition regimen?

I stay in shape by doing cardio consisting of running distance and sprint intervals. I also like to incorporate HIIT and plyometrics. As for resistance training, I lift weights five days a week working a different muscle group each day.

I prepare all my meals for the week on Saturday or Sunday. It is important to have a plan for becoming successful such as, I eat about 6 meals a day with a 40/30/30 split of protein, carbohydrates and fat. I eat mostly clean foods and stay away from sugar but I do allow myself to have one free meal a week.

What are your favorite indulgences?

I love peanut butter and chocolate covered almonds

What advice would you give to those who are looking to improve their health?

It’s not going to be easy at first. It will take time and you will have to make sacrifices. Be patient and don’t try to rush it. You will be thankful later.

How can people learn more about you and what you are up to?

You can follow me on Instagram or Facebook.

Candice and is a Fitness and Nutrition Coach and a former track and field athlete, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Exercise Physiology, Nutrition and Food Science from Florida State University. She has over seven years of fitness training experience to include working as a corporate wellness professional. She received a master's degree in Science Education from Mercer University and currently work as a science teacher all while being a business owner and fitness competitor. Her training approach helps clients adopt a healthy and fitness lifestyle that leads to prevention and treatment of disease, increased self-esteem, and improved health, appearance and quality of life.

Podcast

Episode 5: The REAL Bow – Dr. Rainbow Barris

On ‘Black-ish’ Success, Marriage, Motherhood and Living Healthy Her Way!

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Rainbow Barris, Blackish, Kenya Barris, Rainbow Barris book, podcast

We had the great pleasure to chat with The REAL Bow – Dr. Rainbow Barris for episode 5! Click on the link in this article to listen! And, read on to see more info on your chance to enter to win a copy of her brand new book!

podcast, rainbow barris

In this episode, we get right into our interview with Dr. Rainbow Barris, who is the inspiration behind the character Rainbow Johnson on ABCs hit show ‘Black-ish’ and author of Keeping Up With the Johnson’s – Bow’s Guide to Black-ish Parenting. It’s hard enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle period – let alone as wife of director and writer Kenya Barris, being a medical doctor and raising six children! But Barris has found what works for her and wants to encourage other women balancing family and career to find what works uniquely for them! Plus, we talk about the show, Mr. & Mrs. Barris’ recent $1 million donation to Clark Atlanta University, and what life is like for her now. Don’t miss this!

Beginning Friday, June 29th – you’ll be able to enter to win a copy of Barris’ book! Stay tuned to our website, and Facebook and Instagram pages.

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Podcast

Episode 4: Leah Uko – Journalist on Fox 11 Los Angeles + Bodybuilder

Los Angeles area native Leah Uko is back home working as a nightside reporter, as seen on Fox 11 Los Angeles. But she’s also a bodybuilder preparing to step on stage again this fall. Learn more about her journey, why she loves to bear arms on camera, and why discipline and journaling keep her motivated and determined to reach her goals.

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leah uko, los angeles, fox 11

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Interviews

CrossFit Inc Global Branding Manager Talks with Black Fitness Today Ahead of Manion-WOD to Honor Fallen Hero

Ilen Bell, MS, CSCS, Co-Founder of Black Fitness Today

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Manion WOD events will be occurring at CrossFit gyms across the United States on Sunday, April 29, 2018. Times vary by location. Proceeds from each event will go towards TMF veteran initiatives such as TMF veteran expeditions, veteran-empowerment programs, and scholarships.

 

On April 29th, CrossFit gyms across the country will recognize the sacrifice of 1stLT Travis Manion and complete the Manion-Workout of the Day (WOD) to benefit Travis Manion Foundation (TMF) veteran initiatives such as TMF veteran expeditions, veteran-empowerment programs, and scholarships.

Read our interview with CrossFit Global Branding Manager, Jimi Letchford, and TMF President and Sister of Travis Manion, Ryan Manion.

Who was 1stLT Travis Manion?

Ryan: Travis was my best friend, and younger brother by 15 months. Even though I was the older sibling, I looked up to Travis in many ways because he always set the example. Travis was a high character person even from a young age, and when he saw something wrong, he would stand up. He was an all-league standout in wrestling, football and lacrosse, a member of five championship teams, and an All-American wrestler. Travis was best known as a motivating and popular figure to his classmates. This combination of leadership, athleticism, and academic achievement opened the door to his appointment to the United States Naval Academy.

After graduating from USNA, he decided to follow in our father’s footsteps and was awarded a commission into the United States Marine Corps. After finishing at the top of his class at The Basic School in Quantico, VA, Travis was assigned to 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force, with whom he deployed to Iraq for his first tour of duty. On April 29, 2007 during his second tour of duty in Iraq Travis, his fellow Marines and Iraqi Army counterparts were ambushed. Leading the counterattack against the enemy forces, Travis was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper while aiding and drawing fire away from his wounded teammates. Travis Manion paid the ultimate sacrifice that day, but his selfless actions allowed every member of his patrol to survive.

 

How does CrossFit serve as a vehicle for honoring heroes like 1stLT Travis Manion, who paid the ultimate sacrifice?

Jimi: Every day, millions of people engage in CrossFit workouts around the world. Our Workouts of the Day (aka WODs) are constantly varied, (relatively) high intensity, functional movement challenges that are intended to elicit physical and mental responses like no other workout regimen. The CrossFit program may not be for everyone, but it is for anyone.

Our Hero WODs are a different breed. They’re intended to take you to your limit. It’s up to the athlete to decide whether they’ll push past this limit. During this process, we honor the Hero(es) in which the workout was named. The men and women we honor through these WODs have amazing stories of character and bravery, and knowing about their legacy pushes us to go even further than we thought possible.

CrossFit has closely aligned its core values with that of the military. Why might CrossFit be something veterans want to give a try?

Jimi: CrossFit has a very tight-knit community, and a great sense of camaraderie among participants. When veterans join a CrossFit gym, they often find that camaraderie very similar to what they experience while in service to our Country. The idea that you belong to something bigger than yourself can often be lost while transitioning out of the military to civilian life. Like the military, there’s also a competitive nature to CrossFit. That friendly competition is something many veterans continue to look for in the next chapter of their life, and CrossFit is a great way to fill that void.

“If Not Me, Then Who…” is a question that has come to shape 1stLT Manion’s legacy. How is TMF and CrossFit answering this question?

Ryan: “If Not Me, Then Who…” isn’t actually a question, it’s a mantra that Travis lived by every day, and we’re inspiring future generations to put that mantra into action within their own lives. Just before Travis left for his second deployment to Iraq, he attended a football game with my husband Dave, and while they were leaving the stadium, Dave said to Travis “How about I push you down the steps so you break your ankle, and you won’t have to go back?” Travis looked at Dave very serious, and simply replied “If Not Me, Then Who…” He went on to explain that if he didn’t go back, someone less prepared would have to go in his place. This is the way Travis approached everything in his life, even from an early age. Those words have grown into a national movement that is inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to be of service to their own communities, and to be part of something bigger than themselves.  

Jimi: Travis was as true a friend as you could ever find. He always looked out for others, and often times would even thank me for pushing him to work harder. He was also a fierce competitor, and would never cut corners. His mantra of “If Not Me, Then Who…” really does represent how selfless Travis was. To me, Travis is representative of all the other Heroes that our Nation, and CrossFit community, have lost. So, I’d like to tell anyone that will be honoring Travis (or whoever else they’ll be honoring this weekend) to do so with the utmost integrity to the workout standards. Remember that those we honor through our Hero WODs paid the ultimate sacrifice in their line of duty. It is now our duty to never forget them. “If Not Me, Then Who…”

How does CrossFit motivate its members to collectively complete intense WODs sometimes named in honor of fallen military and first responders whom the members have no personal connection?

Jimi: The people that walk into our CrossFit boxes are people that recognize that only hard work will achieve health and wellness. CrossFitters don’t believe that there is a ‘magic pill’ for fitness. It turns out that this psychographic also tends to be very altruistic and humble. As a CrossFit community, all we have to do is tell the story of the fallen Hero, how it may relate to the workout, and the rest just happens. For example, the “Manion” Hero WOD is extremely leg intensive. We know from our relationship with Travis that he always had the strongest legs of anyone on our team. So, Travis’ workout consists of a 400 meter run and 29 back squats (135lbs), done over 7 rounds. The numbers are somewhat poetic; Travis was killed 4/29/07.

Manion WOD events will be occurring at CrossFit gyms across the United States on Sunday, April 29, 2018. Times vary by location. Proceeds from each event will go towards TMF veteran initiatives such as TMF veteran expeditions, veteran-empowerment programs, and scholarships.

How can people exemplify Travis’ character and sacrifice beyond the four walls of a CrossFit box where many join together once a year to complete a WOD honoring Travis’ legacy?

Ryan: Get involved in your own community. Look for your passion and a purpose, and wake up with determination to make a difference in the world every day, no matter how small. Live by “If Not Me, Then Who…” and look for those opportunities that present themselves each and every day that you can be the best version of yourself, and take advantage of them.

What communities does TMF serve?

Ryan: We currently have offices in 8 cities across the country, which include: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington D.C. However our impact and opportunities for involvement are nationwide.

How does the Travis Manion Foundation ensure that children of fallen heroes are not left behind?

We work closely with families of the fallen, and specifically organize service expeditions for survivors. These expeditions allow family members of fallen military to spend time with others who can relate to their journey, while providing them an opportunity to carry on their loved one’s legacy by being of service to a community in need. We host 8-10 domestic or international expedition each year, and one such expedition is specifically for teens who have lost a parent or sibling in service to our country. These young adults learn that while their loved one may be gone, they can honor their memory and carry on their legacy through the actions they take each and every day.

Where can people find information on joining or volunteering with TMF?

Ryan: Anyone can join the mission by visiting travismanion.org. We have volunteer and engagement opportunities throughout the year, which includes our Operation Legacy service projects and the 9/11 Heroes Run 5K series.

What do you want people to know most about Travis?

Ryan: Travis always challenged himself to be the best person he could, and he did that by focusing on being big in the little things. Because of that, he was prepared when bigger challenges arose. The legacy that Travis left behind, and for that matter all our fallen heroes, is one that we all have a responsibility to carry on. The way that we do that is by look towards the character they lived with, and challenging ourselves to think about how we can be the best version of ourselves – because “If Not Me, Then Who…”

 

 

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