Can you give us a little background about yourself and what it is you do (education, profession, where you were born, where you live, etc.)?
In a nut shell, I’m a self motivator and go-getter. I was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a beautiful Congolese mother and tenderhearted American father. I’ve predominantly grown up in the northeast of the United States with a younger brother and sister. I work full time as a hair stylist and just this past Fall, took the leap to go back to school part-time. In a few years time, I will be graduating with my Associates of Applied Science in Complimentary Alternative Medicine. I want to support and encourage people on their own fitness and wellness journey. When I’m not working or at the gym, I love spending time with my friends, whether it be cooking and sharing a meal together or playing with my goddaughter. When I need it, I like nothing more than to retreat to my happy place, find a good book, and dig in. Book nerd for sure!
Have you always been active? When did you first start getting serious about living a healthy lifestyle? What was your turning point?
I played sports as a young child and ran track in high school. Through my twenties, I wasn’t very active at all. I woke up the day before my 29th birthday and realized enough was enough. I had packed on the pounds during my 20’s and found myself in a place where I was unhappy with my outward appearance. I was ready to take my health and fitness into my own hands.
What made you decide to go into fitness modeling and what inspired you to compete?
When I made the decision to start working out and eating better, I found a lot of helpful information online. After about 6 months though, I had tapped out on credible information and lacked real direction. I got in touch with an old friend, Bela Santos, via Facebook. I kept seeing Facebook posts about her new studio, BelaBody Fitness, a couple of towns away from me. I set up a consultation with her and before you knew it, we had a plan and a focus for me. When I arrived at her studio for my first class, she actually brought up competing and modeling! I thought she was crazy! However, I did think about it for a few days. Bela has been a trainer and competitor for many years and I trusted that she saw something in me and a potential that I myself hadn’t recognized yet. I’m now preparing for my 4th competition. I love the drive and focus during competition prep. My training sessions have a totally different vibe when I know that in X amount of weeks, I’ll be rocking the stage. I enjoy knowing that my results depend on how much or how little I put into it. I can’t wait to hit the stage again and show off my hard work and dedication.
What is the most challenging thing you deal with in order to stay in shape?
I try to make my workouts my priority. I like to work out first thing every morning because it helps me clear my mind for the day. The sense of accomplishment I have after an early morning workout is incredible. However, my busy lifestyle can get in the way. Some mornings, sleeping in is so much more appealing than hitting the gym. Before I know it, it’s 8:30 at night and I still haven’t made it to the gym. Effective time management makes all the difference.
We’re curious, what is your diet like? What do you eat in a typical day? Do you avoid anything in your diet?
I try to eat at least 80% clean when I’m not in competition prep. I make it a point to avoid processed foods and try to choose organic fruits and vegetables when possible. I like an assortment of fruits and vegetables, like apples, berries, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, squash, and green beans. I focus on having lean proteins and occasionally will have a protein shake when I’m on the go. I typically will make an oatmeal bake with apples, chia seeds, and almond milk for quick and easy breakfasts during the week.
What’s your training routine? What specific program do you follow? (Please include a few details – training split, sets/reps, exercises, types of cardio, etc.)
I’ve started training for my next competition and receive all of my exercise and nutrition guidance from Janelle Nicolo of Body Ambition. Right now, I’m in the gym 6 days a week lifting. I like to lift in the AM and then I’ll go back to the gym in the evening for at least 30 minutes of cardio. I’ve been working on at least 2 HIIT cardio sessions a week. I like for my HIIT workouts to consist of push-ups, squat variations, ab work, and burpees! I go to a small group training session once a week at BelaBody Fitness for that extra push and a great full body work out.
Do you believe in supplements? If so, what are the ones you use and what results have these given you?
I currently take a vitamin D supplement and a B complex. On mornings I have a hard time getting the energy for my workout, I take an Amino supplement. Other than that, I rely on my 5-6 balanced meals to get me through.
What made you attend the FMI Conference? What are your top 3 take away?
Although I would love to go to an FMI event, I have yet to make it out to one. I met Natalie Minh this past May when we worked together on a photo shoot at her studio and on Venice Beach. These are my favorite pictures to date!
How would you like to be known in the fitness industry? What is it that you wish to accomplish as a fitness model?
I would love to make health and fitness feel more inviting and user friendly. Before starting my fitness journey, images of ripped, toned females in gym settings seemed so intimidating. How was I ever going to get there? I want to make fitness feel fun, light, and inviting. There are so many levels one can take their fitness. I want people to feel comfortable, excited, and fulfilled in whatever they commit themselves to. Growing up biracial, I’ve always looked for other women who looked like me to look up to. As an adult, I want to be that supportive fit chick that young girls look up to!
What do you think is the biggest issue women face today in regards to getting involved in fitness?
I think insecurity and a lack of feeling supported can deter women from getting into fitness. I hear a lot of women say they wouldn’t know where to start or they wouldn’t know what to do in the gym. I all too often hear women saying lifting weights is manly and they don’t want to look foolish in front of the guys in the weight room or they don’t want to get bulky. What really worked for me was going to my friend Bela’s weekly small group training sessions. I would pick up new exercises and she would be right there to help me with form or any questions I had. When I would go to workout on my own, I felt confident that I was doing the exercises right. The more I worked out, the more my confidence in myself grew. Almost 2 years into my fitness journey, I’m amazed at how strong I’ve gotten, how much I’ve learned, and my growing confidence in myself and what I’m capable of.
Any plans for the future? When and where can we see you next?
I’m currently training and preparing for my next fitness competition, the WBFF Fitness Atlantic on April 12, 2014. By June, I would love to be certified as a personal trainer. I plan on getting my Lifestyle Coaching program underway by the end of this year. I’m really excited to help guide people through lifestyle changes with supportive nutrition and fitness! I want to help people live to their highest potential and feel great in their own skin!
Any shout outs?
Special thanks to Bela Santos and Janelle Nicolo for continually kicking my butt with amazing workouts! I would love to send tons of love and appreciation to my friends and family who support me during this journey called life.
Last words, where can we find you on the Internet?