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Since moving to California almost 18 years ago, one of my favorite foods is definitely Mexican. Growing up in eastern Canada (Nova Scotia), the only Mexican food we ever knew were the boxed hard shelled tacos with the little spice packages. But, I quickly found out that the California take-out burritos and tacos were very dangerous! I gained about 15 pounds that first summer!

It was then that I decided I wanted to get super fit and look likes those girls in the fitness magazines… and maybe even compete. So that’s what I did! I hired a local trainer who wrote me a diet to prepare me for my first fitness show. It was a great experience because I won the show. But after that terribly strict diet and weighing in at a measly 103 pounds, I realized I could never again eat plain dry tuna and chicken for 6 months. I thought, if I had to do that, I would never compete again.

So I learned to cook – healthy. I learned all about fresh California chilies and flavors of Mexican food from my friend’s mom. She even taught me how to make tortillas, great posole and tamales! To this day, some of my favorite go-to foods are tacos, homemade guacamole, spicy salsas and homemade (lard free) beans.

Even though I have worked out most of my life, I feel like my real fitness journey began when I decided to compete. From 1997-2012 I competed in over 35 NPC, CBBF and IFBB fitness, figure (and 1 bodybuilding!) shows. After that first contest I fell in love with the competitive aspect and personal drive it took to get to the stage. I could diet for months at a time, get up at the crack of dawn and do cardio, learn and practice a fitness routine and then hit the weights with just ONE thing on my mind. I wanted to be the best. So finally after winning every local So CAL NPC show I entered, the local NPC promoter, and a good friend of mine, Jon Lindsay, made me promise to go to nationals and try the “big leagues”. I finally did- I had to compete in Canada because of my citizenship, but after qualifying in my home province I went on and placed 2nd out of a stacked roister of Canadian fitness hardbodies. I stuck it out there for almost 7 long years, with top 3 finish after top 3 finish, never getting that 1st place spot to even be considered for a pro card. It actually became a running joke among the competitors backstage- I had the nickname of the “bridesmaid”. So finally, in 2011, in what I knew was going to be my last attempt at nationals, to my HUGE surprise and to a judge’s table standing ovation, I was finally chosen to become an IFBB pro.

That year, I did a record of 7 contests with my last and closest I ever got to the Olympia stage, a 4th place finish at the Kentucky Pro. It was then that my body, through months and months of continuous dieting began to break down on me. My energy was in the dumps and I finally went to the doctor to get checked. I had the scare of my life! I was informed that my hormones (from the strict dieting, low caloric intake and 4 hrs a day of training) looked like a 60 year old woman!! My cholesterol (both good and bad) were almost nothing, my hair was thin, my joints ached and I knew it was time to call my competitive days to an end. (On a healthy note, once I put back on some healthy weight and lowered my insane 2 gallon a day water habit, my levels looked like a different person and I was completely feeling terrific.)

Having hung up my heels and sparkly IFBB pro suits in 2012 after a 7th place finish at the Toronto Pro I was wondering around the gym without a goal anymore. That’s when cross fit happened; a very good friend and neighbor of mine literally dragged me into CDR Redlands. After the “wod” was over and I was lying on the ground in a pool of sweat, I was chosen to complete 25 burpees in one minute to “save” the class from another round of whatever the workout was. I was hooked. My competitive spirit was fulfilled and I have been a crossfitter ever since.

I now run the nutrition program at Crossfit CDR, where we teach new members about functional nutrition, how to make your diet work for you to fuel your workouts, become a better athlete, and improve your health. We do nutrition challenges, both group and individual to help people change their bodies and improve their health.

My fitness journey has allowed my to understand the importance of healthy eating for a well-balanced life. Join us at Fit Foods to see for yourself the transformation of mind and body that results from fueling your body with the clean, balanced nutrition your body craves…and your tastebuds enjoy!