I want to prepare you upfront that this blog is going to be a bit lengthy. I have a few points I feel I need to get across. After receiving countless inquiries from friends and followers on how I got started in the fitness industry, I feel a blog would be helpful.
I began my journey when I was diagnosed with cancer and my husband left for his 2nd deployment. After pursing my degree in public and media relations from Purdue University, I had a 7 month time span after graduation where I spent my last few months with my family in Chicago before my husband and I moved back to Florida after his re-enlistment in the NAVY. After he left for Japan, I wrote down goals that I aspired to accomplish. My list looked like this:
- Sign with a modeling agency
- Work with notable Photographers and create a portfolio
- Begin a social network outlet, website and image
- Compete in a national qualifying competition
- Stay positive through my husband’s deployment
- Work with Oxygen magazine, Muscle and Fitness Hers and Bodybuilding.com on sharing my journey fighting cancer and Morgan’s journey overcoming her eating disorder
- Help women and be a role model demonstrating even though challenges, fitness and a positive mental attitude can and will change your life
- Begin a personal training program and become certified
- Obtain Sponsors
- Be closer to God
Yes, this is a bit personal but I want to share with you my story. As I wrote this list, I almost laughed at myself. I wasn’t sure if these were wishes or goals but I knew that after the past year in half of the challenges I encountered with my health, I had a change of perspective on life. After all, any action begins as a thought. Write down what you wish to pursue. Think of yourself as the person you want to become. That’s the first step.
Executing The Plan
1. Find your Niche
It took 7 long months of working around 5-8 hours networking and planning each day. I researched to find which editors worked with the magazines I read, and affiliations of companies I wished to reach out to. My first step was to create an image for my sister and I. What is OUR story? What do we STAND for? What sets us apart from every other fitness model? We wanted to change the fact that many people are transparent in regards to life’s struggles. People everywhere are dealing with their own hardships, yet the fitness magazines primarily highlight weight loss successes or extremely thin models that are looking more for an ego boost than the satisfaction of making any little change to the world. Yes, that may sound a little harsh and upfront, however, it is my honest opinion. I wanted to make a difference. I was dealing with many stresses and by helping others, I found solace. It took my mind off my husband overseas and the endless worries I had with my other health issues. I had to change something. By deciding to take time to help others reach their own goals was a constructive way of pouring my energy into something bigger than myself. Morgan constantly enlightened me. At the time, Morgan just returned from Hungary with Habitat from Humanity Global the year prior to my college graduation. She worked through her summers to save enough money to pay over $4,000.00 to help better the lives of others and spent weeks helping build a home for a needy family. After overcoming her eating disorder through high school, and transitioning her career path to nursing, even as my younger sister, she became my role model. As I fought the melanoma, I looked up to her for support and knew if she could overcome her challenges, I could fight for what my goals in life as well. I wrote out our stories, sent them to magazines, websites, newspapers, photographers and got to work on sharing who we are with the public through our social media sources.
When you are looking to be featured in a magazine or looking for a sponsor it is in your best interest to find what sets you apart from everyone else. What are you doing to help others? What accomplishments have you had? What are your future goals? There are a million models and winners or competitions begging for sponsorships. You need to dig deep and find your niche.
I remember asking my friend, Kelsey Byers, for her advice on how to gain recognition with contacts, magazines and start a following. Kelsey told me to focus on helping others while genuinely aiming to make a positive impact in the world and the rest will fall into place. Positivity attracts. Kelsey and Jamie Eason were a catalyst for my entire journey. From hiring my Nutritionist, Kim Porterfield at IEM and constant motivators in the past three years of my life, I can honestly say their advice has altered how I view every little thing about my life. My advice to you, like Kelsey told me, focus on helping others… not on how many people are following you, how many likes you receive on “selfie” or what you rank in a competition. Do it for the right reasons and good karma will come back to you.
Research what photographers work with the magazines. Invest in notable photographers and begin a portfolio. You need to be working with photographers who already work in the industry! Send your portfolio to agencies, magazines, websites and sponsors. Include your story, your image and your social media outlets and websites. Stand out in the industry! I also created business cards and took them to all of my competitions and events I attended. I constantly reached out to companies and let them know our story and goals.
3. Following Up
Magazine editors, publishers and photographers receive endless emails a day. Write an intriguing subject in the “subject line” and be sure to follow up in a few weeks if you have not heard back from them. I personally used the Constant Contact program (constantcontact.com) when I sent out my story and photos to contacts. This way I could track who has opened them and was able to create media contact lists where it is possible to send out one mass email to many contacts through on quick click. Create a brief lead including all your personal information, key points and attach your feature story and three best images.
Personally, it took about 3 months of contacting companies to be hired with our first company, OhYeah! Nutrition as Digital Ambassadors. Our story sparked the interest of the assistant marketing manager and we began our contract. During the same month we were also signed with Naturally Fit modeling agency and completed our personal training courses. Additionally, after a few short months I began working with OYN as their content specialist and spokesmodel.
Create Your Vision and Write Down Your Goals
Goals are powerful. Clear objectives are the keys to success and give meaning to personal drive focus, motivation and provide a sense of direction when aiming for progress. By implementing goals you possess the understanding to bring forth accountability. You will be able to turn weaknesses into strengths and strengths into second nature. Administer a path to follow to help yourself visualize plans of actions to get you to where you want to be. Define and separate actions from wish thinking. You deserve to achieve your dreams. Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right. A recent Harvard Study compared the power of writing goals down versus goal setting. This research shows 84% of graduates had no specific goals at all, 13% had goals but were not written down and only 3% had clear written goals and a strategy to accomplish them. The results were intriguing. The 3% of the students with written strategic goals were earning nearly 10 times increases annually earnings than the other 97% put together.
Steps to Success
Have a clear vision of what it is you are aiming for. What are your main objectives in life? What are your health destinations? What strategies are you executing to obtain the results you seek? By writing down specific intentions and facilitating strategies to reach your aspirations, you may help pave a path leading to success. Generate a plan on to reach your goals. This can be performed in a few simple steps.
- Write your goals on a sheet of paper.
- Decide why the goals are important to you. What is your inspiration and motivation for achieving them?
- Realize your capabilities and find motivation from within. Visualize yourself after you have overcome your challenges.
- Place your list of goals somewhere you may pass by frequently such as a mirror or refrigerator.
- Produce clear objectives and define each one in detail.
- Measure your goals and create a realistic timeline of when you will complete them.
- Determine the strategy you will use to reach your ambitions.
Goal: train for a competition
Inspiration: “To live a healthier lifestyle and improved quality of life. When I feel healthier, I am energized, my clothes fit comfortably, I feel confident, determined and strong. I am able to use this strength to enhance other areas of my life. I want to be the best friend, mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son, employee and person I am capable of. I deserve that. “
Place the list on your mirror where you get ready each morning. Review your list daily. Envision your life after reaching your goals.
Strategy: Follow a healthy nutrition plan by eating 5-6 clean meals a day. Minimize fatty, fried and sugary foods. Comprise meals of lean proteins, vegetables and complex carbs with additional healthy fats throughout the day. Exercise 4-5x a week while incorporating weight training and cardio. Aim for 45 minutes of weight training and a half hour of cardio per session. Additionally, increase water intake to one gallon of water per day. Purchase business cards to bring to the show. Schedule a photo-shoot after the show with a high-end photographer and submit photos.
Deadline: “Competition Date”
Improve the Quality of Your Life
From strengthening confidence, generating productivity, and mental and physical focus, goals offer an extensive list of benefits. Living a healthy lifestyle is a journey, not a destination. Goals may benefit the overall quality of life and act the stepping-stones to success.
- Goals have the ability to measure your work
- Goals will provide you with a sense of direction
- Goals activate willpower, motivation and inspiration
- Goals may make work enjoyable
- Goals create a sense accountability and may illustrate ones strengths and weaknesses
- Goals may improve weaknesses
- Goals may be a catalyst for new journeys, destinations and future goals
Focus on helping others and making a positive impact on yourself and in the lives of others. Be the person you would want to meet. Create your own image and run with it. Stand out from the crowd and fight for everything you want in life. It’s not going to be easy but it will be worth it.