After more than a decade of battling with poor eating and drinking habits, Deziree Slusher was diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and early-stage throat cancer. Though in July of 2013, at the age of 32, Deziree set out to make a lifestyle change and never looked back. Over the course of the next two years, Deziree was able to completely transform her health and lifestyle, losing more than 50 pounds, putting her health conditions in the past, and becoming a competing NPC athlete in 2014. Deziree's story is the latest inspiring tale in 6 Pack Fitness' Transformations Series. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Deziree had always been athletic and went on to play two years of college soccer after graduating from high school. However, after reaching the age of 21, Deziree had continuously battled against her diet and drinking habits and found little success bouncing between fad diets. "After I hit 21, I started drinking, partying, and over-eating when it came to food," Slusher said. "I was yo-yo dieting for about ten years, but never really took dieting seriously during that time." The poor eating and drinking habits eventually compounded into health complications for Deziree, including high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, and diabetes. However, worst of all in 2012, Deziree found a lump in her throat that was eventually diagnosed as a grade-three tumor: a sign of early-stage throat cancer. The lump would eventually lead Deziree to radiation treatment and chemo therapy before the tumor was eventually removed via surgery in 2013. At that point, Deziree made up her mind that she would change her lifestyle for the better.
Deziree had found the motivation to change her diet and exercise routine, though she wasn't exactly sure where to start. However, Deziree said that Google and YouTube were two of her best resources for health education, and joked about watching countless videos on YouTube for exercise ideas. "The first three months were 'you live and you learn' for me," Slusher said. "I went to a health store for the first time and I think I spent $600 on supplements that I never used. I was doing cardio before weights, which is a no-no. I was doing everything backward until I started self-educating myself." As Deziree began to learn more about fitness and nutrition, she began to realize the importance of preparing her own meals on a regular basis. Investing in a 6 Pack Fitness meal management bag, Deziree went from eating three major meals every day to spreading her portions out through smaller, pre-prepared meals. "That bag taught me that you have no excuses," Slusher said. "If you have your food with you, you're not going to end up in the drive-through at McDonald's or binge eating somewhere else." "People tend to eat three big meals a day, but our metabolisms, especially as you get older, cannot break that amount of food down when it's such a high caloric intake," Slusher said. "Your body just doesn't have the time to break it down, so being able to eat four to five mini-meals a day is going to make you more successful, keep you fueled, and help you stay away from binging." With the help of her new nutrition plan and a fitness coach, Deziree was able to drop a significant amount of weight in the first year. Setting small milestones to maintain her progress, Deziree attributed a lot of her success to making realistic and attainable goals. "Set up realistic expectations and goals that will make you successful," Slusher said. "Tailoring your nutrition around food you can enjoy and your training around your lifestyle is essential for your success." Through her transition, Deziree was able to put her medical conditions in the past and no longer has the tumor, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Losing more than 50 pounds overall and dropping roughly 21 percent in body fat, Deziree said that the transformation also lead to improved mental and spiritual health.
"After the procedure, at that point, reality kind of hit. In the back of my mind, I realized, 'I am way too young to be having all these health issues, and way too young for death to be knocking at my door.'"
In 2015, Deziree is striving to become a qualified WBFF athlete after making her NPC debut in 2014. While she originally aspired to join the IFBB, Deziree decided to pursue the WBFF instead because of the fashion aspects the competitions incorporate. "The WBFF really focuses on fashion as well as fitness," Slusher said. "I know that's more my cup of tea when the competitions involve elaborate costumes." Currently in the competition off-season, Deziree spends time in the gym six days a week and is still setting new goals for herself today. She is set to make her amateur WBFF debut on June 13th in Sacramento, and is hopeful that she can become nationally qualified to compete in the WBFF professionally within the next few years. After losing more than 50 pounds and beating early-stage cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, and blood pressure issues, qualifying for the WBFF seems to be well within reach for Deziree. "There's no doubt about it that there are times when your mind wants to quit, but you have to dig deep and beat those demons," Slusher said. "Remember, this is your goal and what you want to do. Just keep pushing and getting to the next milestone." For more motivational transformation stories, check out other inspiring articles in 6 Pack Fitness' Transformations Series. If you're looking for a meal management bag to eat right like Deziree, you're sure to find the ideal bag for you between 6 Pack's choice of gym backpacks, gym totes, and sports duffle bags.
"I know what it's like to deal with low self esteem and low confidence," Slusher said. "But it's really about being able to come terms with who you are now, whatever shape or size you are. I love myself and who I am in this moment, but I'm still going to strive to make myself better."