When I look back on my high school years, not too many days stand out in particular. I was a very busy student balancing school with three sports: soccer, volleyball and basketball. I was also captain of the cheerleading squad but my Mom wouldn’t let me do any of the activities that I loved if I didn’t maintain good grades. That’s why I’ll never forget the day in tenth grade when my Mom let me skip school to meet my idol, the beautiful Cindy Crawford.
I always thought Cindy Crawford – and I still do – was the most beautiful woman on the planet. Not only was she pretty, but she was a successful businesswoman who carried herself with elegance, poise and style.
She was everything I wanted to be as I was growing into a young woman. And when I finally met her during a book signing in McLean, Virginia I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Getting a chance to talk to her for just a few minutes and see her impact on countless people inspired me to have a similar impact on what I’m truly passionate about, fitness.
The Oxford dictionary defines inspiration as the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something. Well just as Cindy Crawford inspired me as a 16-year-old girl I have tried to do the same. As a professional fitness competitor in the bikini division of the IFBB I want to be an example to women on how to attain a healthy, beautiful body. I’m very open about my training regimen and nutrition in blogs and social media so that women can see that if they work hard and have faith in the process they too can achieve their fitness goals.
Being a good example is very important if you want to inspire. Would you ever go to a hair stylist with bad hair? How about a dentist with bad teeth? That’s why it’s important to me to look my best whether I’m competing in the IFBB or simply working with my clients as a master personal trainer and certified nutritionist.
But being an example is not enough. If Cindy Crawford had been cold or mean to me when I met her I may not have chosen this path in life. Instead she actually took an interest in what I was doing and aspiring to be.
Listening matters. In fact it’s one of the biggest factors in inspiring others. So many people I’ve come across have changed for the better because I simply took the time to listen.
Before moving forward I need to find out what they are searching for, what fulfills them and what they love. Sometimes I have clients who prefer non-traditional exercises so I suggest activities like kickboxing. Other times I have clients who get bored easily so I constantly change their workout regimen. The key is establishing a connection, finding out what works for them and then continuing to inspire them through constant communication.
Encouragement is very important. We all have bad days. Becoming fit and healthy can be a challenge especially with our busy lives and fast food available at every corner. That’s why letting people know it is okay to fail can be important. We all fail. But we shouldn’t lament on these failures. Instead we need to keep moving forward. I constantly try to tell my clients that they can do it even when they have failed. Did Michael Jordan make all of his last second shots? No, but he kept shooting!
Even the fitness pros have days where we go off the deep end and binge. I have found that surrounding myself with people who are there for me is vital to my success. Hearing positive words from those that I care about brings out the best in me. That is why it’s important to remind people of their strengths so they can believe in themselves even when they have stumbled.
Sharing my experiences can also serve as an inspiration. Though women may see my competition pictures which project a certain image, they may not know that I came from an obese family and that I struggled with my weight while working as a professional cheerleader for the Washington Redskins. It was during this period of my life that I had to teach myself how to live a healthy lifestyle. I became obsessed with learning everything about nutrition and exercise. Simply sharing these stories helps me connect with women by letting them know that they can change their lifestyles, that they can overcome rough periods during their lives, that they can overcome genetics and bad eating habits.
Although most women will never step on stage in a beauty pageant or fitness competition, I’m not that different than anybody else. So if I can do it, why can’t you? That’s my message of inspiration. You can do it! And no matter how hard it may seem and no matter how many times you may stumble, just keep moving forward. Keep chasing your dreams and going after your goals. You can do it!
It’s crazy that it’s been almost 17 years since I met Cindy Crawford. It seems like yesterday that I was watching her fitness videos in my basement and trying to style my hair just like she did. But the truth is though I’ve never met Cindy Crawford again, she’s never left me. That’s inspiration.