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Monique Gooding

This mid-40s mother of three didn't let health issues keep her from sticking to her fitness goals and achieving them.

Monique Gooding

Written by Monique Gooding

My fitness journey honestly has been going on for over 20 years. I'm about to turn 45. I was introduced to lifting when I was 16.

I loved lifting weight, but quickly fell away from it for various reasons. By the age of 21, I was close to 180 pounds. I'm 5'4," so that was a lot for me. I then injured myself and needed major back surgery and continued to gain more weight.

Then I got pregnant and gained more weight by the birth of my second child. I was 220 pounds, I was miserable, and I felt like I was always the heaviest woman everywhere I went.

I was in constant pain and had very low self-esteem. I believe I have done just about every diet and exercise program out there and had varying degrees of success through the years. I dropped about 50 pounds and then had my third child. After that, I was ready to get the weight off for good.

It was around this time that I was on BodySpace and read about Dr. Jim Stoppani. I was amazed at his results. I loved the programs I read about and how I could adapt them to lift at home since I did not go to a gym at that time.

Even with everything I already knew about diet and exercise, he just made me so excited to try new things. I read Dieting 101 and did my first program, Shortcut to Shred (still my favorite), and had great success.

I also started using Shred JYM, which I loved, Pro JYM and Pre JYM. I was dropping weight and body fat fast.

I really started to have confidence. I was getting many compliments when I was out and about. My family has always been my biggest support network, encouraging me to keep going. I know I wouldn't have been so successful without them!

I have done many of Jim's programs. I've lost track over the years which ones. After encouragement from gym members I met when I joined a gym, I decided to get into bodybuilding. I hired my first coach and have been following that journey for the last 3 1/2 years.

I have had to work out differently, and my nutrition has changed due to this. I have had two coaches and I'm now working by myself again and back in my home gym, which for works for me and my family life.

Since starting my journey, I've encountered many health issues and have had a few hiccups — lupus, hypothyroidism, in and out of kidney failure, chronic fatigue, and many autoimmune diseases. Really just too numerous to count.

The one thing I like about Jim's programs and diets is that they can all be adjusted to fit your goals and dietary needs!

Working out at home, I don't have all the equipment as a commercial gym, and there's always a suggestion of an alternate exercise on Jim's website.

After my last competition this past July, I did Jim's Full-Body Five & Dime workout and loved it. It was exactly what I needed at that time!

As for the future, I'm not exactly sure what my plans are. I really love competing, but my health and family will always come first! I take one day at a time now, staying healthy, and I want to continue to add lean muscle mass without adding extra body fat.

To anyone just starting this fitness journey, remember it's not a race — it's a lifestyle. You need to find a way to make this work for you for the long-term. That's the only real way to have long-term success.

Enjoy it all — educate yourself and don't get down on yourself! Find a support network that you're comfortable with.

Don't give up. We all stumble, and every day is a new day to change. If you have one bad meal, it doesn't mean you have to blow your whole day. You're only one meal away from feeling good and achieving your goals! It doesn't need to be restrictive; that's where learning how to diet and exercise properly are key!


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