1st Place Winner

Real fitness is a state of mind, body and spirit in balance. It’s life maintenance, more than a career or a hobby. How we look should be a reflection of how we feel. Your body is your temple and should be treated with respect.

I have taken my personal fitness to what some may consider an extreme, competing in drug-tested, natural fitness competitions. I have learned the importance of maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle. My competition promotes an even larger mission, to help people improve their lives.

I first became physically active at the age of three when my mom put me ballet classes. At the age of eight I joined a professional jazz dance company. I performed at many functions including EXPO86, the “Man In Motion Tour”, for Rick Hansen and for the welcoming of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. I knew then that I wanted to be a performer for the rest of my life. My mother was a single parent; she was a musician and entertainment photographer. When I was growing up I had little structure in my life due to our crazy schedules.
When it came to my eating I developed some bad habits. I never knew when I would be having my next meal so out of fear of going hungry I would eat as much as I could at one time. I wouldn’t feel satisfied unless I was stuffed. My active lifestyle kept me very thin so my weight was never an issue accept that I was very thin. I joined track and swimming lessons in school and went to dance classes six days a week. By the age of ten I decided I wanted to be an actress so I joined Vancouver Youth Theater. This is where I got my foundation for acting and speaking in front of people. I wanted more than anything to go to a school like the old TV show “FAME.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. Once I became a teenager my home life became even more unstable. I decided at a young age that I was going to leave home. I convinced myself that I didn’t need anybody in my life, especially family. I figured I could make it on my own. For the next few years I moved around a lot, taking classes and committing to courses was very difficult. I was now craving an outlet for my energy and built up anger inside me due to my situation and choices.

This is when I decided to get a gym membership. I became an aerobic junkie, and I was addicted to the endorphin rush. I would do two classes in a row, sometimes even three. After seeing some of the female bodybuilders in the gym I decided I wanted to put on some muscle. I started cutting back on the aerobics and started weight training. I first took the bodybuilding challenge after seeing a pilot for a fitness TV program, and hoped that I might be part of it. I was told that my first step would be to enter some contests. I thought that since I was already spending so much time in the gym, bodybuilding might be the easiest way to make my mark.

It was in the gym Fitness Quest that I trained for my first competition. I was nineteen years old. I remember having no idea what I was getting my self into, however I was so determined to compete that I would do whatever it took to get there. I was nine weeks away from the first competition. This meant I would have to train for four full hours a day in order to transform my physique. I didn’t know anything about proper nutrition or supplementation. I thought that eating clean food six times a day and drinking lots of water was enough. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was putting 30% fuel into my body and I was expending 150% in energy.

I remember having to roll myself off of the bed and fall on the floor just to get up in the morning. There were days when I would go to the gym and the tears would roll down the side of my face. I didn’t think I would make it through another workout. I was so low on energy that I began to rely on thermogenic fat burners to keep me going. I would take two ephedrine, two caffeine pills, and a quarter of an aspirin three times a day. I started having severe anxiety, which shortly after led to nose bleeds and panic attacks. Do you think this stopped me from training and taking the pills, no. I thought my feelings of not being able to “do it”, were a sign of weakness and I was not going to be WEAK. It took me going to the hospital a week before the show to realize that maybe there was something wrong. The aspirin I was taking was thinning my blood, when I would get a nosebleed it wouldn’t stop. I can honestly say that there was a moment in time when I actually thought that I might bleed to death. I was so messed up mentally with the obsession of the competition that I couldn’t even talk to anyone. I was in my own little world and training became my whole life.
On a lighter note, I won my first bodybuilding contest in Kelowna, B.C. in 1997, and took home both the trophies for best poser, and best middleweight. This was followed by the 1997 B.C. competition in which I won the Junior Women’s Title a week later. Flex Magazine was so impressed with my look and my performance, that they flew me to La., to be photographed for the cover and centerfold spread of the September, 1997 issue. I was featured on seven pages of the magazine.

I looked great and yet I was extremely unhappy and unhealthy. I felt guilty when people said they wanted to look like me or they looked up to me. I felt like a fake, here I was on the cover of a magazine advertising health and I felt like I was half-dead. I didn’t want anyone to feel what I felt, or go through what I did. At the time I had been told that competing was about how you look not how you feel.

Although I won acclaim as a bodybuilder, and showed a lot of promise, I decided to expand into the fitness arena. I thought fitness might be easier, and wanted to explore my creative talents and dance background. It wasn’t any easier to prepare for a fitness competition than it was to prepare bodybuilding.
In 1998, I won the British Columbia Fitness championship against nine other competitors. It wasn’t long after that fitness competition that I met sports nutrition consultant and fitness coach T’ai Erasmus. He asked me when I was going to compete again. I was so burnt out from running on empty for so long that I told him I didn’t think it was physically possible for me to compete again. He looked at me oddly and said, “Ocean your 20yrs. old, you’re at the beginning of your career”. After telling him my story and how I was feeling he was able to give me some insight into what I had been doing wrong and how I could improve. He also explained to me that dieting down for a contest could be enjoyable. For the first time I was excited about looking good and feeling good. After working closely with T’ai on my nutrition, and following his advice, I went on to compete in the Canadian Nationals, the Canadian Fitness America Pageant, and in the Fitness Universe pageant in Las Vegas where I was fortunate to make the podium at every event. T’ai’s advice is easy to follow and it works!

I now believe that it is possible to feel as good as you look. I didn’t give up on myself. I’ve learned as a competitor and an athlete never to make winning the most important thing. Whatever happens to me on a day of competition is no longer in my hands, so I might as well have a great experience and live a healthy happy life. Competing for me is about the people I work with, the new friends that come into my life, what I learn about myself, my limits and my motivations, what brings me down, what my blocks are, and how to build from them. I tell myself and other competitors to “remember why you’re here, this is about you, not what other people think your purpose should be.”