Ever wish that you could have somebody else's body? That's how Autumn felt at the start of her fitness journey. Though she had always been on the lighter side of the weight spectrum, body shame and envy consumed her. "I wore a size six, but I was 40% body fat—yikes!" she exclaimed. "I was ashamed to wear swimsuits and clothing that revealed too much skin. I would look at other girls on the cover of fitness magazines and I told myself that I wanted a body like that. I didn't realize it at the time, but most of [these people] were bikini competitors." After doing a bit of research, Autumn made a promise to herself: she would become a fitness competitor in 2014. It was difficult at first. Autumn hardly saw changes in her body when she first started. "Before PumpUp, I was new to my journey and I was still making a lot of unhealthy food choices," she elaborated. "I was a 'carb-o-holic' and all 32 of my teeth belonged in the sweet tooth family." When Autumn realized that her progress was stagnating, she made the jump: she learned more about nutrition, hired a trainer, and registered for her fitness competition. She joined PumpUp shortly after. "It was recommended to me as a means of daily motivation and as a way to potentially make friends who were interested in the lifestyle that I was attempting to live," she explained. "I didn't want to look like the girl who shouldn't be up there on stage. I had 11 weeks to my competition and my body fat percentage was still at 32%."
With the help of the PumpUp community, Autumn made more strides with her nutrition than she could have ever achieved on her own. By the time she stepped on stage as a fitness competitor, she lost nearly 25 lbs in 11 short weeks by making changes to her eating and exercise habits. This was an incredible feat for a female over the age of 30. "I learned that less food isn't always the answer," she shared. "But at the same time, too much of anything is always a bad thing. Life is about balance - I allow myself treats. I've always been a vegetarian, so protein is always a challenge. I now focus on eating every 2-3 hours. I count my macro nutrients and I make sure that I take vitamins daily. "
Whenever Autumn's motivation is running low, she turns to PumpUp for support. "I love browsing people's pictures and seeing real people like me doing everything they can to make progress," she gushed. "I love that there are people who succeed as well as those who fail and start over on PumpUp. It gives me a very real connection to 'reality'." This keeps Autumn grounded whenever she feels frustrated with a health or fitness-related obstacle. "I can go to PumpUp and see [somebody else] venting [about what] I am feeling in that moment. A couple of pictures later, I see a different person finding the motivation to accomplish their goals. Both are exactly what I need [when I feel frustrated]. [It's] all I need in one app."
As a fitness competitor, Autumn insists that the mental component of preparing for a show is the most challenging aspect. "After a while, workouts become routine," she mused. "You learn to love the hurt and you crave the gym. Your mind adapts to the nutrition. I never think about putting dressing on my salad any more." Competing pushed her mental strength to a completely different level. "There are days you are emotional and you don't have a clue why... then you remember that it's the third or fourth day in a row that you've been on low carbs. There are always people who want to criticize you and your path. But in the end, I'd say there is NOTHING like [competing]."
Autumn's Best Advice
Aim to make lifestyle changes over a period of time. Fad diets work, but they are unsustainable. You have to find something you can maintain for the rest of your life. I pick a habit that I want to change and I make a calendar for 21 days. It takes 21 days to form a habit and in every one of those 21 days, I find the motivation to get it done. At the end of those 21 days, I re-evaluate. Is this thing now habit for me? Can I maintain this indefinitely? Did this satisfy the goal I was trying to achieve? Some of those things stick (like the no dressing thing) and some don't (like doing 100 sit ups a day). I never beat myself up about the habits that don't stick and I do praise myself for the ones that do. And ALWAYS take progress pictures. The old saying remains tried and true... "a picture is worth 1000 words".
Autumn's Biggest Motivation
My biggest motivation is my family and my fit fam. My entire family has always been supportive from the beginning. My mother was front and center at competition number one and tells me daily that she is going to get up there with me one day. My fit fam is full of competitors and they just get it. They are the ones who make sure I do that last rep when my body is ready to give out. They are the ones who roll out my sore muscles and let me cry on their shoulders when my carbs have been low for way too long. They are the ones who call me at 4 in the morning when I try to sleep in and ask me where I'm at hahaha. Without my families, I would have quit a long time ago.
Autumn's workout routine
As a competitor, the gym becomes a part of your life. It's like getting up and taking a shower or going to work. It's what we do. My favorite exercise routine changes depending on which body part I am currently obsessing over. Right now, I'm all about the leg/butt area and my shoulders. These are the two most important areas in bikini fitness competitions. There's a saying that goes, "Bikini is won from the back". With that said... I will be working on this back side and these pumpkin shoulders until I feel that I have reached my level of satisfaction.
More about Autumn
I started my Master's in Clinical Nutrition last fall. I am actually a tom boy more so than anything else... like the NFL football-loving type of tomboy. "Sexy" is not something that I know anything about. It is actually pretty hilarious that I picked a hobby that requires it as part of your stage presence. I am generally very awkward in my own body. At my very first posing session, my coach told me that I was posing like I was on the prison yard! Whenever I pick my competition costumes, I find things that allow me to be awkward in my body (but it still comes off as "cute"). It's not quite sexy, but I'll take it!
Keep track of Autumn's journey on PumpUp @abreeze27 and on Instagram @abreeze_bikinifit!