Success is a journey, not a destination."
During high school, I participated in Track and Field – it was during this period that I was introduced to weight lifting. I yearned to achieve the toned, muscular look, so I would hit the weights a few days after school. After graduating, I stopped weight training, as I was caught up in spending as much time as possible with friends before we left for college. Then, while attending the University of Delaware I decided that it was time to start going to the gym. One morning during my freshman year, before Thanksgiving break, I awoke from sleeping and my body was shaking uncontrollably – I thought that I was having a seizure. After what seemed like an eternity, it stopped. I slid off of my top bunk to go and call my mother and when I landed on my left leg it felt almost numb. My family and I shrugged it off as a pinched nerve or something of the sort – until it happened again. I went for an MRI on December 24, 1998, during Christmas break, and I was told that I would need to have brain surgery. I had the scare of my life – anxiety took over and I became seriously depressed.
"The road is often bumpy. You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals."
Booker T. Washington.
The brain surgery, performed on December 28, 1998 by Jeffrey Oppenheim – who I believe to be a true angel - revealed that I had what was described as a granuloma on the right side of my brain. After a series of tests on this granuloma, the only way that Dr. Oppenheim could describe it to me was similar to a pimple – just in a very bad spot. The area where the granuloma was situated pressed against the part of my brain that affected my left leg causing my leg (and therefore my body) to shake uncontrollably. My left leg still bothers me at times – but I am so blessed that the brain surgery revealed a granuloma instead of something more serious. This was in fact the scariest time of my life; it took me a long time to recover mentally and emotionally. As a matter of fact, I am forever changed as a result. I was always religious, as I went to Catholic school my whole life; however it was at this point in time that my faith became a huge part of my life. It was also at this time that I developed a strong reverence for St. Therese (thanks to my aunt Marybeth).
"Unleash the power within yourself. What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters when compared to what lies within us."
With the help of God, my family and my friends, along with my strength and determination, I returned to college right after Christmas break.
My passion for bodybuilding kicked into high gear during my junior year when I started training in preparation for Spring Break to Acapulco, Mexico. My best friend, inspiration, and roommate, Melissa, and I would wake up before 6 a.m. to train at the university gym facility every day before class. The results that I saw for Acapulco were good, however I was determined – and on my way – to achieving “the look” that I envisioned. I continued to train almost every day and spent countless hours in between class and homework on the Internet looking for new diet plans and different exercises to utilize at the gym.
"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already achieved, you will never grow."
After I graduated, I joined a gym where there were many athletes that trained for bodybuilding and figure competitions. I developed a strong desire to compete - this would become my next goal. In March, 2004 I competed in my first show: the Natural Bodybuilding Inc. Tri-State in West Nyack, NY. There I took first place in the Figure short class.
"Go over, go under, go around, or go though. But never give up."
Soon after the show I injured my right shoulder. I continued to train my other body parts but did not train shoulders for about 6 months – during that time I went to physical therapy, deep tissue massage and to the chiropractor in an effort to avoid surgery at all possible costs. Slowly but surely, I started to train shoulders again. While it still bothers me at times, it is not debilitating.
“Be the light that others can come to with their ideas, visions and dreams. Never doubt that blending your talents with those of others can change the world.”
I competed in the September 2005 INBF Naturalmania where I earned my pro card in the Figure class!!! In October 2005 it was “strongly” recommended that I compete in the Pro World Championship in New York City. “How could I compete at the pro level,” I thought? I was extremely nervous and felt that I would be better off if I took time to develop and bring up certain areas before I competed for my first time at this level. However, I did not want to miss any opportunity, so I decided to compete. I took 3rd place in the Figure short division. I competed with the WNBF for a few years. During that time, one of my greatest blessings occurred. GNC approached me to be one of their sponsored athletes! What an honor! I am still with them to this day and I couldn't be more thankful and proud!
"You will always miss every shot that you don’t take."
Then, in November of 2009, I gave up my professional status with the WNBF and made the switch to the National Physique Committee where I took first place in the Figure C Class at the Eastern USA. I competed at the national level for a couple of years and earned my IFBB (International Federation of Body Builders) Professional Card at the 2011 Team Universe! Since then, I have gotten engaged to the love of my life, IFBB Professional Body Builder Steve Kuclo "Kingsnake"; I have stepped on the Olympia stage twice - in both 2012 and 2013; I will compete at the Figure International for the first time this February in Ohio; I was signed as a Team FMG (Fitness Management Group) athlete! Dreams do come true...Thank you God!!!!!! I look forward to what the future has in store!
“Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.”
“There are many things in life that will capture your eye, but very few things will capture your heart. These are the ones to pursue. These are the ones worth keeping.”