On March 17, 2012, I was driving home from work. I stopped at ‘In and Out Burger’ (a popular SoCal burger chain) and had a grilled cheese sandwich, fries and a strawberry milkshake. Then, I drove across the street and had two buttermilk donuts. I was at an emotional low, after a very turbulent 3 1/2 years, I had gotten up to 222lbs and 38% body fat. After this “meal”, something stirred inside of me to move. So, the same night, I walked 15 minutes on the treadmill, because that’s all I could do. But, I went back the day after and walked again. I ended up walking on the treadmill everyday for 30 days. I had lost 10 lbs in a month and felt great. However, there was still something inside of me telling me to move. So, I increased my intensity with my workouts and by October of 2012 I was down 40lbs. All the while I had one goal in mind – to be a bodybuilder.
In November of 2012, I hired ‘Fit Diva’ Dawn Rae to work with me. Dawn taught me things about my body that I didn’t know before and together we worked on my plan to compete in a bikini competition.
On October 13, 2013, I achieved that goal and ended up with a first place trophy. My life has been forever changed and I am so thankful that I listened to that voice inside of me telling me to move. I now know that my purpose is not to sit around and lead a boring life…it is to have fun, be excited and experience adventures. They say to never post anything online that you wouldn’t want on the front page news one day. I am very proud of myself right now and am posting these to hopefully inspire other people to live their dreams out loud. It’s a great feeling to be led by the spirit.
World’s Youngest IFBB PRO, Shanique Grant, Discusses Her Successful Rise in Figure Division
Shanique Grant may only be 19 years old but she is already making a name for herself in the world of professional bodybuilding. As a figure competitor, Grant has quickly climbed the ranks. Starting in November 2013, Grant, in just one year’s time has turned her budding interest in fitness into a profession, earning one of bodybuilding’s most coveted titles – IFBB Pro. Given that many athletes compete for years and never achieve pro status, Grant’s accomplishment is nothing short of amazing, and now she has no plans on turning back. Check out our interview with IFBB Pro Shanique Grant as she discusses her journey from 18 year-old novice to 19-year-old professional figure competitor!
BFT: When did you start your journey?
SG: I started my fitness journey this time last year November 2013, I was so new at the “eating clean, training mean” lifestyle but I was determined to make a change and step outside of the crowd…to stand out.
BFT: Did you play any sports growing up? If so, do you think this helped prepare you for the sport of bodybuilding?
SG: I ran track & field (sprinter and high jumper) since I was in 3rd grade racing in town track events and then throughout high school, earning three varsity letters and a total of 70 medals. I wouldn’t say that specifically prepared me, but the ability to have such a focus for all these years (whilst running track) has prepared me for such a big jump into this sport of bodybuilding.
BFT: How did your nutrition and training change once you decided to commit to changing your body?
SG: I changed my eating habits drastically cutting all junk foods, no more soda; more water…I was even surprised at myself how disciplined I became. I trained seven days a week for 3-4 hours and it became a daily regimen, a part of each day had to consist of me attending the gym.
BFT: Often times, getting started on a new plan is easy, but it’s sticking to the plan that can be the most difficult when the results don’t come immediately. How did your mentality change once you started to see results?
SG: It became a passion, a very strong passion! People started noticing me, asking if I competed — which I had no idea what that was at the time — so I looked it up and found out myself. I was never the type to be center of attention and so outgoing so I was hesitant about it. A couple months passed and I was contacted by my now prep coach JohnnyDiezel. He told me he saw potential and a very strong future for me as figure competitor so I listened.
BFT: What did it feel like to hit the stage for the first time?
SG: My first competition was August 9th, 2014 in West Long Branch, NJ (NPC Muscle Beach Championships). As soon as I hit that stage my mind completely went blank, the lights were SO bright and I was so nervous. But once I heard the crowd cheering me on, I said to myself “make an impression, you’ve worked so hard, own it” and with that being said at my very first competition I won first place in my class and first place overall for Figure Division.
BFT: How soon after your first show did you start prepare for your second?
SG: My coach started me up with my diet and training prep a week after my first show for NPC East Coast Championships (November 15, 2014 in Wayne, NJ) and also NPC Nationals (November 21-22, 2014 in Miami, FL). My coach and I were hesitant about prepping me for two shows so very close to each other but we went for it. I won first place at NPC East Coast Championships and the following weekend I took 2nd Place at NPC Nationals earning my pro card, I am now the World’s youngest IFBB Figure Pro at 19 years old!!
BFT: How does it feel to be the world’s youngest IFBB Pro? What’s next for you?
SG: It has to be one of the best feelings of my life, I feel accomplished but it doesn’t stop there. Next year, I will be competing at a pro level show, New York Pro. With five months of training and dieting, I have high hopes on what greater improvements I can make by then!
BFT: What advice do you have for young women looking to get started in the sport of bodybuilding?
SG: Honestly…Go for it! With the right mindset and discipline, your achievements are endless. Just stay on course and never give up.
BFT: How can people find out more about you and stay connected with you on your fitness journey
Photos courtesy of MyContestPix.com
Interview with Team JBM Elite Bikini Competitors Of Cincinnati, Ohio
BFT: What inspires you to strive for greatness?
Courtnea: It’s all about purpose. God placed me here for a reason and it is nothing short of greatness. I’m just operating according to His will and striving to live out His purpose that He has for me.
Krishawnda: What inspires me to strive for greatness is my belief that everything I do should require my full effort. I never want to involved myself in anything that I can’t fully dedicate myself to. I believe that God blessed me with many talents and abilities in order to help others. In order to do this, I must work daily to perfect that skill.
Angel: In this sport I feel that failure is not an option. God gave me this body and what God gives me is GREAT! I strive to keep that greatness going in all aspects — physically, spiritually, and mentally.
BFT: What have you learned about yourself while on your fitness journey?
Krishawnda: On this fitness journey, I’ve learned that the tomboy in me never left lol! After high school, I drifted away from my athletic talents. But it’s great to be back into it. I feel that at an older age, I am stronger and a better athlete than I was in high school. More importantly, I learned that I have a higher sense of self-control that I knew. I’ve always been a small girl, but I love food and would eat anything. Competing has become such a serious part of my life that I have the ability to control what I put into my body. My ability to do all things through Christ has manifested itself in my fitness journey. These who ladies and I have all competed and done well in shows. But we see the challenges in competing as well. One can easily question themselves and their “look” by placing low in a show, leading to self-esteem issues or the desire to give up.
Angel: I’ve learned that I’m a fighter. I had a full blown stroke at a young age and was told I’d never be able to do any type of physical activity. I fought to prove doctors wrong! I started lifting, gained a love for it and competing and never looked back. GOD is so amazing.
Courtnea: Quitting is never an option and that I can go through the fire and come out a gold. Let’s just say I’ve experienced a lot of life in a short period of time while simultaneously trying to reach a fitness goal of mine – going pro as a bikini athlete. I’ve learned that no matter what was thrown my way, there was never a reason for me to give up. I pressed through even when I didn’t want to but I know what I need to do to reach my goals. I sucked it up and lifted it out in the weight room.
BFT: It’s often said that Black women take the time to build one another up – how do you keep each other accountable so that each of you reach your personal goals?
Angel: I use encouragement as a tool to lift us up and stay on track in reaching our goals. People often try to bring female bodybuilders down with negativity; we need that encouragement to give us that spark to keep going.
Courtnea: This brings me back to purpose. I remind myself and others to remember that there is a reason for every obstacle, victory, what may seem at the time as a defeat, there is a reason for all of it. Don’t be discouraged, keep your eyes set on your goals and weather the storm. God will provide. It may not be when we want it or how we want it but if it’s attached to your purpose it WILL happen, flat out. I just speak life back into them. Well, God speaks through me, I’m just a vessel.
Krishawnda: We train together at least once a week. We keep each other informed about fitness events that surround us. We recognize that we are a team. We want to move upward together because we share a love for training and goals to become pros. And it any personal issues arise, we do all we can to better that situation and ensure that it doesn’t affect training. Angel, Cournea and I hope to impact women, especially women of color, encouraging them to take care of their bodies and to support other women with fitness goals. Having muscle and definition as a woman does not make you less feminine than another. We hope people see that when they see us.
Professional photo credit: @the_artist_imagery
Former Transformation Story Ray Holmes Places 4th As Physique Competitor
“It’s crazy to think that people who haven’t seen me since college remember me as that 305 pound guy on the left. I remember waking up with random aches and pains and being told by doctors I need to gain control of my cholesterol and blood pressure. I remember going into stores and having to goto the Big & tall section to find my size 4XL shirts and size 46 waist jeans. However, I also remember the day I decided to change all of that. Thank God for my will power, desire to change, and support from friends & family, bc that’s what got me to where I am today. I haven’t looked back since and I can’t imagine ever doing so. If I can do it…ANYONE can” – Ray Holmes
Check out Ray’s transformation story where he covers how he got started on his fitness journey and what kept him on track!
Follow Ray on Instagram @holmboyray!
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