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The Road to Competition – Sherry Smith



Q. What inspired you to become a fitness competitor?

A. After the birth of my daughter, I got serious about lifting weights but nothing was pushing me to really strive for my best. Leave it to my mom to be the catalyst. She will be competing in her first figure competition next month in the ‘Over 50’ division. Initially, she was on the fence about it. She had mentioned doing one a few times before and never followed through. I thought, “what better way to make sure she keeps at it and motivate her than to enter myself?” 

Q. What were some obstacles that you had to overcome on your journey to the stage?

A. The transition back into shape after I had my daughter. I didn’t have a huge weight gain, but I knew if I was going to get back to my pre-pregnancy body it would take work – REAL work…diet included.  That’s when I opened my Oxygen Magazine, not just for the workouts, but for the recipes. About three months after my daughter was born, I was back to my old self!

Q. Where did you find encouragement along the way?

A. I had been approached in the gym a few times and asked if I was a trainer, or if I compete, etc., and took that as a good sign. After researching the different classes and some of my favorite fitness all-stars, I decided my body is currently best suited for bikini. She was ecstatic at the idea of doing this sort of thing together. So I entered myself in the Tanji Johnson Classic, Bikini Division, in Vancouver, WA.  I got 3rd in my class in my first contest. I guess that’s a good sign!

Q. What is your biggest weakness when it comes to fitness?

A. I am TERRIBLE about sweets. None of this would have happened had I not cleaned up my diet, and stuck with an actual training plan. It showed me there is always room for improvement. The pictures don’t lie. It also inflicted me with competition fever.

Q. What types of workouts did you do leading up to your completion? Did you work with any trainers?

A.  I didn’t have a trainer. I consulted a friend of a friend on posing and state prep (i.e. spray tan?! Really? LOL), but the workouts were all mine from research. I have been reading quite a few workout magazines, and following some of my favorite competitors for years. I kept the lifting pretty heavy and threw in supersets for variation. Cardio was mainly high intensity interview training (HIIT).

Q. How did you diet change during competition prep?

A.  As far as diet I kept it simple.  Food would be protein/good carb/veggies for my meals, except dinner where I cut out the carbs.  I ate about every 2 ½ hours. I also had my protein shakes pre and post workout.  Closer to competition I cut down to only two, then one carb a day.

Q. Were you an active person before you began training for competition? What do you like most about training for competition?

A. Yes, during my time in the military, I exercised regularly and my ex-husband got me to start lifting weights. I loved what it did to my arms, so I kept with it. As far as training, I love it. I enjoy the discipline it takes to stick to clean eating, and being a source of motivation for my mom and many friends. 

Q. There are different ideals on what it means to be “in shape.” How do you assess your progress or measure your level of fitness?

A. I think the true measurement a great physique is, “what do you look like naked?”  I never looked bad, I just knew I could look better.

Q. This was your first show and you placed in the top three. That’s pretty impressive! How did you celebrate?

A. I DESTROYED about six donuts after the competition. [Laughs]

Q. So what’s next for you? Are you preparing for any upcoming shows?

A. I plan to compete again. Look for me at Nationals. The USAs in Vegas on July 26-27. It’s a pro qualifying event!  Just like my last show, no matter the outcome I know I will get the feedback I need to push myself even more and continue to go after the things in life that are only seemingly out of reach.

Q.  How can readers follow you and stay up to date with your training and upcoming fitness competitions?

A. Those who are interested can follow me on Facebook. (click here)


Do you want to share your health and fitness journey with us? Do you have a “Transformation Story” or know someone who does? Submit your information to be featured on our website! For more information click here.

Ilen & Lauren Bell are the husband and wife team behind Black Fitness Today, born, in 2011, out of their motivation to change culture, build a platform and lead the charge. Their purpose is to help change the culture towards health and fitness in the African-American community, showcase those who are making an impact, and promote healthier living. They also aim to serve as a platform for African-American fitness and health professionals and enthusiasts who are otherwise overlooked in traditional fitness media.

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Recap: 2018 Finding Ashley Stewart Event

Watch our recap of the 2018 Finding Ashley Stewart Finale Pink Carpet at the King’s Theater in Brooklyn, New York.



Photo: Finding Ashley Stewart

The 2nd annual Finding Ashley Stewart Contest searched around the U.S. in search of a diva who personifies Ashley Stewart and everything she stands for: kindness, resilience, confidence, community and fashion! In the video below, Finding Ashley Stewart host and comedian Loni Love, 2018 Miss Ashley Stewart winner Tiffany Gosa-Flamer, journalist and author Soledad O’Brien, DJ Kid Capri, actress Andrea Rachel-Parker, Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Peter Thomas, Essence Editor-at-Large Mikki Taylor and Naughty by Nature all talk with BFT contributor Ryen Watkins about the importance of this competition and how Ashley Stewart is immersing themselves into the communities that support the brand.

Video: Ryen Watkins
@ryenwatkins (IG)

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Episode 5: The REAL Bow – Dr. Rainbow Barris

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



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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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.



leah uko, los angeles, fox 11

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