Face of FITNESS Contest Finalists
Pages in this Story:
- GRAND-PRIZE WINNER: Phylicia Jackson, 27, Los Angeles
- READERS' CHOICE FINALIST: Melissa Bender, 30, Pittsburgh
- Trinity Salazar, 28, Spring Lake, North Carolina
- Sunita Goldstein, 43, Foster City, California
- Jessica Mason, 27, San Diego
READERS' CHOICE FINALIST: Melissa Bender, 30, Pittsburgh
Melissa received the most votes from readers and Facebook fans, which netted her an extra $500 (in addition to a weekly $250 prize)!
A recent fitness accomplishment: I just competed in my first NPC bikini competition; I wanted to celebrate turning 30 years old by feeling healthier, happier, and fitter than ever before. I feel better than when I turned 20! I was nervous about getting up on that stage, but I am proud of myself for setting a goal and going after it.
Personal "I Did It!" moment: Getting a medal in my second-ever 5K. (I was never a runner, but I married a very talented runner!) When I first started running, I couldn't go more than two blocks without stopping to walk.
A health challenge she's had to overcome: A few years ago, I found a lump in my breast. The lump was surgically removed and luckily it was not cancer -- but it was one of the most emotionally challenging experiences of my life.
Favorite (healthy) things to eat: Vegetables! Especially eggplant.
Personal fitness motto: You are only limited by the things you think you can't do. Fitness should never be about how you compare to someone else. It's your personal journey, so celebrate every accomplishment along the way.
How she influences others to be healthier: I started a fitness blog when I was in graduate school and it's now surpassed a million views! I have been very blessed in being able to share my workouts on my blog, YouTube channel, and Facebook page. Getting pictures from people who have achieved their goals, or improved their confidence through my workouts have brought tears to my eyes, many times.
On her fitness bucket list: Outdoor rock climbing, run a half-marathon, create a fitness DVD, and run a sub 20-minute 5K. Just to name a few!
Upcoming goal: I want to start an occupational therapy-based life coaching business to help people live fit, functional lives. Fitness means so much more to me than achieving an aesthetic goal. Fitness is about strength, courage, and learning what you are physically and mentally capable of.
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