How did you get started in the sport of competing? I have always enjoyed working out and living a healthy lifestyle, but was looking for something to challenge and motivate me a little more. My sister in law, Grace [who is also my trainer], had started to compete the year before. I admired the dedication it took to compete in the sport and decided that I wanted in! Grace began my competition prep by slowly editing my workouts and nutrition over a 14-week period. How was your experience competing with the NPAA? Wonderfully-thrilling. It was my first time competing, so I really had no idea what to expect. The organization did a great job of informing through email, and sent an itinerary for the weekend and show day. During the athletes meeting the day before the show, it was great to see the faces behind the organization and hear from them what to expect. There was an opportunity to ask questions, which was very helpful. Everyone was so friendly! I truly have nothing but good things to say about this experience. What did you learn most about yourself during your contest prep? I learned a lot about myself during prep… most of all, I learned that I CAN do it! It is easy to get distracted from your goals with “life” going on. This taught me to stick to a plan and see it through until the end. Competition prep is accountability at its finest. Only you can decide how hard you want to work. If you put in the time and effort, you will get results. The sense of accomplishment is exhilarating. Who are you biggest supporters or fans? My family and friends were very supportive from the get-go, but my biggest fans would have to be my husband, momma, and trainer. The 3 people who I tend to confide in the most. What is the best advice you can give a fellow competitor who may be stepping on stage for the first time? small carry-on-sized suitcase with all the essentials such as a couple changes of outfits, compact powder and lipstick for touch ups, and a water bottle. First of all, have fun! You have worked so hard for this day and should be proud of what you have accomplished. You’ll feel the nerves creeping up… but understand that that is natural and the athlete next to you likely feels the same way. Relax, smile, be mindful of your poses, and repeat! Can you share your best motivational quote, song or “thing” that keeps you inspired and excited to keep training and living a healthy lifestyle? What new goals have you set for yourself after competing in your first NPAA show? Growing up, my dad would say to me, “Why do tomorrow what you can do today?” It is a simple mindset… whatever the goal may be. It may not always be easy, but it’s as simple as starting the first step NOW. a. Build more lean muscle mass - I will compete again with the NPAA, and during prep I would like to focus on building more lean muscle. This takes time! For me, listening to hip-hop music at the gym is mandatory! b. Limit all things artificial with respect to food - During prep I sometimes used artificial sugars to satisfy sweet cravings through diet sodas and protein bars. This go around, I would like to cut out, or at least limit the use of these and find new ways to satisfy those cravings with healthier alternatives. c. Document recipes – I came up with some creative, delicious ways to still enjoy favorite meals and I would like to share these more! How was your photoshoot with NPAA chief photographer Tim Dardis, can you tell us about the experience, how did you prepare for the shoot? Tim was excellent to work with. His professional and friendly manner is just what I would expect from such a photographer. He edited the lighting to be just right throughout the entire shoot and knows how to capture athletic features! I was very impressed with the photos he took. To prepare for the shoot, I treated the day similar to a “show day”. For me that meant eating a light balanced meal a few hours before and only sipping water as needed. I wore lose fitting clothes the entire day until I got to the set in order to minimize any lines that may indent the skin. I had hair and makeup done, and organized a few outfits that I felt would work. I brought a 55.