JESSICA

I’m not sure where to begin talking about my journey, so I’ll start when I first began gaining an unhealthy amount of weight. I was not an active child, and I began putting on weight in about 3rd grade. I kept gaining weight throughout middle school and high school, so by the time I began college I was obese. During college, I hit my highest weight, 168 lbs. on a 5’1″ frame. I didn’t have a strong support system either. My family happily pointed out that I was fat, but never bothered to frame it in a context of concern for my health. I was just fat! My self-esteem gradually eroded, and I developed eating disorders, which I battled through most of high school and my early college years. Luckily, my school had a great counseling program for women with eating disorders and after about 6 months of private and group counseling, I reached a place where I could manage the eating disorders and my physical health. I learned to make better food choices and to incorporate physical activity into my life, though I didn’t enjoy it very much. It took several years, but I finally reached a healthy weight. And in the process, I discovered a love of shopping and fashion! Fashion became my gateway drug to fitness and a main motivation for working out until one day I realized I loved my workouts as much as my wardrobe, and that’s saying a lot!

About 2 years ago, I was in the grocery store and picked up a copy of Fitness Rx for Women with Nathalia Melo on the cover. When I got to the section of competition updates, I knew that I wanted to compete, but I still lacked the confidence to get into the weight room, let alone on stage. I didn’t think it was possible for me to get into that kind of shape, and I was scared to try. Fast forward to 3 months ago. I still wanted to compete and I realized that I was getting in my own way. It was time to quit tripping myself up and at least give it a shot. So I goggled SLC Bikini coaches and it brought up the Sandy Hancock and her website Body By Sandy. I was still scared when I went for my initial consultation with Sandy, but I had a goal to compete in the NPC show on October 13th 2012, which was only 8 weeks away. I didn’t think it was possible to get in the right shape in time, but I went in with a “Now or Never” mindset and a commitment to give it my all, possible or not. Within 2 days, I had my nutrition and cardio plans. It was hard, especially drinking a gallon of water a day. But I stuck with it and kept focused on my goal and how I wanted to look for the show. Then came my first posing session. I was terrified! I hadn’t worn a swimsuit publicly for nearly 15 years, so posing in a bikini, in heels, in a gym with people watching was mortifying. But I managed to get through it. Then the first thing I did was buy a couple of big mirrors and I made a “studio” in my basement. I practiced and practiced until my back was sore almost every day. Before I realized it, the impossible had become possible. I had dropped 6% body fat and Sandy said I was in the right shape to compete and that my routine was looking really good. I felt great, and loved the way I looked. But I was still terrified because part of me worried that maybe I wasn’t ready or in the right shape and that Sandy was just being nice to preserve my feelings. And I was still terrified at the show. I was shaking horribly on stage, praying no one would notice. Honestly, the fear didn’t wear off until I got my first trophy at the evening show. I took home three trophies that night, two 4th places and one 2nd place. And I haven’t been scared since. I can’t express how crucial it was, and still is, having Sandy in my corner. She gave me great nutrition and cardio plans that were key in changing my body composition. She also helped me through posing, giving me great feedback and homework to practice after each session. But the best support she gave me was the emotional support. Whether it was my freak-outs about drinking a gallon of water a day, or my uneasiness with posing, she always gave me the right support for each situation. Because of Sandy, I was able to overcome my fears and gain a new confidence that has carried over into my everyday life. I can’t wait to work with Sandy again for the next competitive season.