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.
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.
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?