This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by Jacqueline Gomez.
Let’s start off with a general introduction. How would you describe yourself, what are you all about and how did you get involved in health and fitness?
Success in life comes when you simply refuse to give up, with goals so strong that obstacles, failures, and loss only act as a motivation…
Each word stated exactly describes my fitness journey.
Let me start off by introducing myself, my name is Jacqueline Gomez a NPC Bikini Athlete.
During my younger years in high school, I looked forward to the sports, my gym class was instructing. I loved playing soccer and volleyball. However, I was surrounded by many influences which led me to believe that I was overweight. I always wanted to be “fit” you can say.
I took matters into my own hands, and at the age of 16, I decided to “be healthier” hence the quotation marks. I started doing mounts of cardio, as well as eliminating a lot of foods which led me to lose 20 pounds in just 2 months.
My family were concerned with me and my overall health. I looked like a skeleton. I looked completely malnourished which also led to other symptoms. I had really low energy levels and my hair was falling out. My family kept telling me to eat but I didn’t want to, due to the fear of gaining weight. I didn’t want to believe that I looked bad. I thought that I had accomplished something great. Now, I completely understand that I was going through a disorder known as Body Dysmorphia.
It wasn’t until after I moved to North Carolina with my husband who was a Soldier enlisted in the U.S. Army, that my future would lead into health and fitness. Since I was looking for a job at the time, I decided to make myself productive rather than hanging around in my house all day. I followed many fit people on many social media accounts, as well as fitness competitors. I was intrigued by the way they looked. I wanted to look like that. I wanted to be fit and have muscles.
I also thought that competing was pretty cool and I wanted to be a part of something like that. However, I didn’t know where to start. I started working out every single day and it kept me busy. I mimicked every exercise I was seeing from other fitness accounts. Day in and day out, I was in the gym. It was not until one day when a person came up to me that my life was set to change forever.
A coach/personal trainer known as Brad Willis came up to me and asked me “Hey, what are you training for?” I told him I was just training to be fit and healthy and then he asked me “Have you ever thought about competing?” I replied by telling him that I had actually thought about it, but I didn’t know how to start. He offered to train me for my very first competition and I was extremely happy to have the opportunity to get the dream body I wanted.
I gave my trust to him and we trained together every morning, 5 days a week. He gave me a nutrition plan and I followed it. Slowly but surely leading up to my first competition, boy was I impressed with how my body had changed. I had muscles, something I wanted to have. I felt determined. I could tell you that at my very first competition, at that very moment that I stepped on the stage, I fell in love. I felt strong, proud of the goal, and how I looked. This was what I wanted to be a part of.
Till this day, it will be three years and counting with my coach Brad Willis from Elite Pro. He believed in me and he knew I had something special to give in the competition world. I am forever grateful for the motivation and support he has given me to succeed at every task. As a team we have become very successful at dominating every goal we’ve set. I’m also thankful for the strong support system I have from my husband and family who understand my passion and devotion to health and fitness as well as competing.
Where does your motivation come from?
I would describe motivation as wanting something, making a plan of action, and working hard day in a day out to reach that goal. My motivation comes from within me. I have a passion, a drive, a dedication to succeed. I lose the fear when I’m motivated even when I come across challenges along the way, I keep my mind focused on my goal.
When I step into the gym everyday, I put on my headphones and clock into another world. A world where nothing is around me but the weights and I. I give it my 100 percent effort in my training regimen because of the will-power and self-discipline I have to be better than yesterday.
When you put your mind into something you really want, you make it happen. The accomplishment is rewarding. To know that you can constantly be better, is why I’m motivated to keep going. Opportunities are only given once in a lifetime. I like to keep the mindset of a champion.
As you decided to make a career out of your passion – what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?
My biggest stumbling block along the way was at the very beginning of my first competition prep. It was my first time being on a strict and healthy diet regimen. Attendance to social gatherings with friends was extremely hard to face because there was food involved. It was hard for me to stay committed to my diet while everything and everyone else around me was not, which made it challenging.
I had to explain to my husband why I wanted to exclude myself from any social festivities because I felt like it was a target to my competition prep. I was afraid and hungry. People didn’t understand why I did it, why I didn’t eat what they ate. The complete control of my cravings were wrapping around in my mind. My dreams at one point were about indulging in all the favorite foods I wanted to have. Even though it was hard, I kept pushing.
What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?
Self-care is extremely important for your overall mental and physical health, it makes you feel stronger, living a happier and healthier life. My perspective on self-care is loving yourself.
I want to feel confident in what I do and surpass myself from situations in life which can possibly lead to anxiety, unwanted feelings. It is important that I recharge my body and mind, and keep my mind positive and stress free.
Many young women who want to lose weight believe that not eating is the way to do it, without realising the consequences of that kind of behavior.
Why do you think this is and what’s your perspective on educating society on healthy nutrition habits?
Many young women believe that not eating will make them healthier and help them achieve their desired look. There are many factors that contribute to this type of behavior for example, cultural peer pressure from friends, stress, social media that promote the female body as being thin, and social environment.
I believe there should be more and more promotion and information about healthy eating. The more people know about it the better approach they will get to achieve what they want. Young women need to understand the importance of eating the right foods which leads to a healthier self, lowering the risk of any type of health issue in the future.
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?
Rejecting my limitations was one unexpected lesson learned throughout my health and fitness journey. Many times I have told myself “I can’t do that” or “that’s way too heavy”. I have learned to tell myself “Yes, I can do it” and “Yes, I will succeed”. And sure enough, I found myself to be stronger than I ever thought possible.
Before I perform an exercise, I take a deep breath and perform my best. I don’t focus on failures, I believe in what I visualize for myself. Another lesson I’ve learned along the way is to love yourself and love what you do and don’t let anyone or anything stop from your passion. Many people till this day still don’t understand why I do what I do. I’ve explained it many times but some just don’t seem to get the full reasoning behind it.
Just because others don’t understand your commitment doesn’t make you less of a person. I learned to be thankful for the people that have inspired me and helped me continue in this journey and support my dreams. I like to stay humble and keep inspiring others to follow their own health and fitness journey.
What do you do to maintain balance in your life?
Balance is the key to a healthy life. I learned throughout the years of being in the health and fitness industry to be better at it. One of the ways to keep a balance with myself, husband, family, and friends is simple. When I’m not in contest prep I plan out a cheat dinner date with my husband per week. It’s very important to keep the spark going while being in a sport, which can be very demanding and time consuming.
I plan out my day depending on what I need to do. If I have any social outings whether it be with family or friends, I make sure I get my training in early in the morning so that I can enjoy my time with them. I also find balance while in contest prep by bring my meals everywhere I go so that I can stay on track and not limit myself to events because of it. It is important for me to keep my social life going.
How do you stay productive?
I manage to stay productive by planning my day ahead. Time management is very important to me. I like to train in the morning, since I feel that at that time I have the highest energy. Once I’m done, I feel accomplished and I feel better to continue on with my day.
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
If I could choose one thing I would tell my younger self that I will achieve what my mind believes. With much trust and commitment anything is possible. Opportunities will come knocking on the door and it’s simply because I have chosen not to give up.
Can you give a breakdown of your current diet, training and supplementation regimen and the thinking behind it?
Currently I’m in my improvement season stage. 2 months ago, I competed at a national level which was known as Miami Nationals. I placed 4th in my Class. After my competition, my coach Brad Willis slowly added a reversed diet. What that means is the slow increase of calories while being at a deficit so that your body adjusts properly to food. The type of food I eat while on a improvement season is your typical higher carbs and protein and less fat intake for example oats, egg whites, rice, chicken, lean ground beef and an isolate protein supplement.
During a prep for a show my body responds well to higher fats, protein, and less carbs which allows my body to use the stored fat as energy to burn, cutting down to an ideal stage weight for the competition. Keep in mind that I always keep my water intake high. It’s very important to keep your body hydrated. Water helps flush out any toxins in your body and the reduction of constipation and bloat.
The supplements I use at a day to day basis is a lean ISO protein. I am sponsored by a company called GenOne Nutrition and they have a great protein called ISO-Gen Whey Isolate which offers 24grams per serving of protein with three great flavors to choose from. I also take other supplements for example, BCAA’s for recovery, CLA, and my everyday vitamins.
My daily training is as follows, I wake up and do my fasted cardio, have my breakfast, get ready and hit the gym. I usually take about 1 hour to 1 hour and a half depending on the type of body part that I train per day. After the gym, I go about my daily activities and once I get home I do another round of cardio. My cardio is simply walking on a 15 incline at a moderate pace.
Usually during my improvement season my cardio slows down slightly. This regimen of training and diet is not ideal for everyone. Every person has different goals which is why it is important to do what works best for you.
What are your biggest life goals for the year?
Going on to 2017 my biggest life goals would be keeping everything at a balance while improving my mind, body, and soul. I have a plan to compete in 2017 for another chance at becoming an IFBB Bikini Pro. My ultimate goal is one day becoming an Olympian, though I like to focus on one goal at a time and not get overwhelmed. I consider my goals, realistic goals; goals I work hard for, day in and day out, no shortcuts. New year means stronger self I say.
Where can people go to learn more about you online?