Fact: 2014 Women's Health Next Fitness Star Emily Schromm, 26, has one killer bod. But she didn't always have those muscles. We asked her to diary the fitnessÃ¢â‚¬”or, rather, lifeÃ¢â‚¬”transformation that helped her become the strong, confident woman she is today. Read on for Emily's incredibly honest and motivating journey.
If you want to sweat it out like Emily, don't miss out on ordering The Next Fitness Star DVD (sold by Women's Health's parent company, Rodale), available now!
And if you think you have what it takes to become our 2015 Next Fitness Star, head to TheNextFitnessStar.com to audition!
I was probably the most talkative, energetic kid you would ever meet. (My sister's on the left, I'm on the right.)
I loved animalsÃ¢â‚¬”so much in fact that at one point I owned seven parakeets, two dogs, and a chameleon. If I didn't have an animal with me, I carried a stuffed animal instead. Anyone remember Wishbone??
I was super competitive and loved soccer more than anything. Playing sports, and being good at sports, really helped me growing up. As a family, we moved around quite a bitÃ¢â‚¬”soccer was my constant. In a sense, I was always interested in fitness because I was always interested in soccer.
When I went to college at the University of Missouri, I thought I knew what fitness was. I would spend time at the gym doing what I thought was right. I basically would mimic moves I would see throughout the gym, get on the elliptical or treadmill for 30 minutes, and leave. My mom taught me a great deal about eating vegetables, so I was used to trying to eat them, but a diet of alcohol and Taco Bell started to catch up quicklyÃ¢â‚¬”not just with my body, but with my skin and my stomach, as well.
When I was asked to be on The Real World, I said yes because I had no reason to say no. Convinced I was supposed to be a veterinarian, I was in college and on the way there, but I was beginning to doubt it was for me. I felt a lotta lost and a lotta unhappy, so to The Real World: D.C. I went.
Having your life filmed is a unique experience. Watching yourself is probably the hardest thing anyone can do, especially when you see all the imperfections that you want to pretend aren't there. Was I obese? Was I really overweight? Absolutely not. Was I unhappy? Was my face full of acne? Did I still hate the way my thighs looked and the way my body was shaped? 100-percent yes. I was my worst critic and wasn't even able to watch episodes of The Real World or the first Challenge I was on because I hated myself so much.
All I could see in the picture above was big, non-athletic legs. In my head, I wanted to be this badass, strong, athletic person. But that was not who I was! So the inner hate and inner battle began.
I tried everything. I puked my food. I skipped meals. I ran on the treadmill. I tried diet pills and would go box without any food and end up nearly passing out on my way home. I wanted to look different and was desperate to try anything. It made things worse. My binge and purge eating actually made me gain weight. I think this photo, which I took with my mom, stands out to me because even though I'm smiling, I look so unhappy and unsettled.
I finally got the guts to get out of the vicious cycle and move to Colorado from Missouri. I worked on the mountain in Keystone, Colorado, at Starbucks and started to learn how to be in the moment again. I was so used to seeing old moments on TV and being out of the moment that it was very therapeutic and necessary for me. Still, I didn't like how I looked. I felt so ugly and so ashamed that I dreaded getting into a swimsuit and hated being naked. I would constantly wish I looked like someone else. I wanted to be this or that.
Riding my first motorcycle was the only time I felt free. (I can't imagine feeling that way anymoreÃ¢â‚¬”I am blessed that I can feel free in my own skin every single day now, not just on my motorcycle.)
I had just made a big change and moved to the mountainsÃ¢â‚¬”I finally felt like I could change my inner life, as well. I was so sick of wanting, and I decided: I am going to be that person. That strong, athletic person who I had always wanted to be. I learned. I studied. I experimented. I worked my ass off. And I totally found myself in the process. For the first time in my life, I felt in control. I felt happy. I was doing what I had wanted for years, but not the bad way. The right way. I combined weight training with cardio, started doing things like burpees and sprints. I ate vegetables more and more, I learned about protein, and I learned about how my body responded to the food I ate.
My change became contagious. People wanted to know what I was doing. My body was changing, and I was loving it. Then and there I decided that I was going to be a personal trainer. I moved to Denver, washed dogs until I could afford my NASM test, and turned my passion into a career. This is where I found paleo, and I realized how gluten-intolerant I was and how low on fat I had been my whole life. I studied even more, and with a few more diet changes, my acne disappeared after 23 years! The stomach issues I'd had since I was a kid? Gone. And best of all, I got my abs where I wanted them to be.
The final Challenge I was on, Rivals II, marked the strongest, healthiest, and happiest I had ever been up to that point. My inner confidence that I had not had before shined through, and it isn't a coincidence that I happened to win that season. For the first time, I felt happy, confident, beautiful, and strong.
There is nothing better than feeling that way about yourself. Feeling strong, sexy, beautiful, happy... You deserve to feel that. You can't keep punishing yourself for not looking a certain way; you need to take the right kind of food, the right kind of working out, and change it. You and you alone have the power to do that. It is time for you to go be your own superhero.
P.S.: I can proudly say I now love my legs. :)