Our Transformations Series tells the world that people can become anyone they want to be through fitness, diet, and perseverance. Throughout the month of July, we collected submissions from our dedicated and awesome fans - it helps that one lucky fan will win a 6 Pack Fitness gym bag! This series recognizes individuals who have lost weight, gained muscle mass, or overcome mental barriers. Today we meet Denise Johnson, a 48 year-old former Marine who lost sight of her health with the craziness that occurs when you have a family, as Denise has 3 kids and one grandson. She hired a personal trainer in June of 2012 and two years later, she competed in a body building competition. Denise decided to get back into fitness and a lifestyle of healthy eating when her younger sister had a heart attack. "Over time, through giving myself to my family, church, and community, I lost sight of myself and my health and voila, I was 210 pounds and had high pressure, high triglycerides, and borderline diabetes," Denise told us. Not only was Denise scared that she would suffer heath problems like her sister, but she was embarrassed to tell people she was a Marine, and that she used to be in great shape. She chose to make a change in her life, not only for herself, but for her children as well. She hired a personal trainer and began her fitness transformation.
Denise has lost 83 pounds total on her fitness journey, going from 210 to 127 pounds. She even had a shirt made that says "Former Fat Girl" on the front and "Let Me Encourage You" on the back. During her fitness transformation, Denise got the idea to start competing. "In my younger days, I loved Cory Everson and my friend suggested I should compete," Denise explained. Cory Everson is an amazing former professional female bodybuilder and actress who won the Ms. Olympia competition six years in a row, from 1984 until 1989, the year she retired. (Fun fact about Cory Everson: she never lost a single Ms. Olympia she competed in!) Denise says about deciding to compete, "I set my eyes on a show and worked my butt off. Now I train myself and just passed the NASM exam so I can hopefully help others see how amazing being healthy really feels." Denise wants to set an example for her three children, so not only is she eating healthier but she's trying to train her kids to eat healthier, as well.
"I said, 'Enough!' I got angry at myself, hired a personal trainer, and lost the first 50 pounds in 6 months."
Denise is a huge Dana Linn Bailey fan and entered our competition to win one of our gym backpacks signed by her. Although she didn't win, she decided to buy her own 6 Pack gym bag, especially after seeing a friend who also is a trainer and competitor using one. Before getting a 6 Pack gym bag she'd been lugging around tupperware containers, which just didn't fit right. Tupperware was too bulky to take anywhere, so she had to haul a big cooler with her everywhere. Denise decided to treat herself for her birthday and ordered a 6 Pack gym backpack in July, and so far she loves it! Training for competitions has pushed her beyond what she knew she was capable, even when she was in the Marines, and now she's in even better shape than she was then. Denise believes in setting your sights on a target, and says, "Goals are extremely important, [such as setting your sights on accomplishing] something beyond [what] you think you can do." Denise won second place in her first competition at the Nevada State Championship Woman's Physique 2014. She'd like to compete for a few more years and see how far she can go. Denise's inspiring transformation story isn't all about fitness, but diet too.
"Whatever you are doing, just don't stop. It will work if you are dedicated."
She says that everyone stumbles with eating habits. One piece of advice she offers is that when you eat out, tell people your goals and just explain what you're allowed to have. Servers will typically make accomodations and help you find something on the menu that fits into your diet. Clean eating was the key to unlocking her potential. Denise would prep her meals for hours on Sundays, which she recommends as a great routine to follow. Now that Denise has passed the exam to become a personal trainer, she wants to encourage others to pursue their own fitness transformations.
"The biggest thing as far as eating is that you cannot outwork a bad diet at the gym."
Just like she was able to find herself again through hard work and determination, Denise wants to help others find themselves again as well. She hopes her story can serve as motivation and inspiration for anyone else out there in the world, looking for encouragement to start their own fitness transformation. By having a good attitude and staying determined to train and eat clean with meal prep easily on hand in your gym bag, you too can achieve anything.
"I want to motivate people to accept challenges and help people take back their lives."