Afton’s One Year With FitBody Fusion

One year. 365 days. 500+ completed workouts. Over 2,000 meals tracked. And two competitions. On paper, these are the things I have committed to and completed over the last year that I have spent as a client of FitBody Fusion, under the influence of Coach Jessie Palmer. My body looks completely different. I look like a physique competitor. I am a physique competitor. But this is far from the whole story. My story is not unlike many of the athletes that are a part of FitBody Fusion; but it is one that is worth telling, and worth reading about if you or someone you know has competed, or dieted down for a another reason, and has fallen on unhealthy, poorly adapted, or even dangerous habits or mindset. FitBody Fusion’s utmost goal in fostering athletes is health–mental, emotional, and of course physical.  Over the past year I have received an education on how to adapt my metabolism in a healthy way, to live life how I choose to, to eat whatever foods I want, to thrive in the gym, and most importantly, to love the body I am in; a combination of things money can and cannot buy, This is my story.

In February 2017, before I found Fitbody Fusion, I hired a friend of a friend as my first prep contest coach. Like many first time competitors, I knew absolutely zero going in, save for the fact that I was an athlete all my life, love competing, and wanted to improve my physique. Over the course of 30 weeks dieted and lifted to extremes, I lost close to 20lbs. and got ready to step on stage for the first time. “Peak week” arrived and I did many of the things I had read about or seen on social media: cut water, cut sodium, ate only a select few types of food (tilapia, asparagus). I looked smaller than I did in high school. I was “shredded” as I heard people calling it. I was excited; I couldn’t believe this was my body! I couldn’t wait for the big finish.

As the week wore on I didn’t feel so great. Digestively I had struggled at times to be regular for weeks, but during peak week I pretty much shut down and did not have a movement for seven straight days. I went back and forth with my coach at the time who suggested different things I could try to get me to go, but to no avail.The day of my show despite feeling very uncomfortable, I placed top five in both my classes, had my family and friends there and celebrated appropriately after. In the days and weeks following my show my calories were kept low, and my cardio steady; in my mind I was now set to maintain this weight and body shape until it was time to compete again. Right? Wrong. My digestion was a wreck, my stomach swollen. And despite low caloric intake I was gaining weight–rapidly. I went from just around 130 pounds the day of my show to over 150 pounds in just eight short weeks. How was this physically possible?

Now, let me give a disclaimer that I am not shaming my former coach’s methods, entirely. He comes from an old school way of thought, one that has become well-known for good reason, it has helped many competitors get lean and get to stage. Some call it “bro-science” and the more I learn, the more it’s not completely off the mark. But perhaps the greatest gift I have been given by Jessie and Fitbody Fusion is sustainability. Are you trying to get your physique on stage by any means necessary regardless of what it will do to your body? Or are you trying to change your life and live in a way that allows you to be happy and healthy…and shredded when the time comes? I was able to get stage lean, but at a cost. For me, after much of my own research and experience now, I can understand that initially my metabolism adapted to what I was eating, but eventually could no longer manage and digest the combination and amounts of macronutrients I was intaking, namely protein, and eventually started to combat me.  

To that end, the next disclaimer I would like to make is that you, and no on else, responsible for you, the decisions you make and the changes you incorporate into your life. Looking back, I was a 31, almost 32 year old woman and I blindly hired another person to dictate to me what to put into my body; a person I didn’t know, in a sport I knew nothing about–and when I think of it that way it actually scares me that I was so trusting and willing. But what I have described is the state of affairs for the alarming majority of bodybuilding coaches, especially online. What I did next was what I should have done in the first place: research.

Researching information about digestive issues, metabolic adaptation, and problems that arise for other physique competitors became not only important, but imperative. With each day that passed, and each pound that ticked over on the scale, I was desperate to find a solution. And the funny thing is, the moment I took some responsibility and stopped thinking about what was “happening to me” but rather searched for a way to restore my health, I found Fitbody Fusion, and I found Jessie. I had followed Jessie as a competitor, admiring her professionalism and commitment to the sport. I’d think to myself, that–is the kind of competitor I want to be. During this time that I was searching for help, Jessie had just began coaching with Fitbody Fusion; could it be fate?

Fate, maybe. Meant to be, definitely. The first time I spoke to Jessie after submitting an application of interest with Fitbody Fusion, I remember being nervous. All of the sudden this professional athlete with thousands of followers, was real. She was talking to me. And from that very first conversation I could hear the compassion, the care and the confidence in Jessie’s voice that she could help me. We talked for an hour; she listened, and let me tell her about how I had landed myself in the position I was in. About how I felt like I no longer had control over my body; I held back tears as I told her about the awful, awful way my body felt. Jessie has shared with me that after we got off the phone that first time, she cried too. What comforted me the most during that first conversation was that Jessie told me she wasn’t sure if I would be able to compete again; that she couldn’t predict. But she did know that she could help me regain my health. I knew in that moment this wasn’t just a coach trying to take my money, or jeopardize my health to get me to the stage; this was a genuine human being who was going to teach me, guide me, and impact my life in the healthiest way possible.

Over the last year, Jessie has helped me readapt my metabolism, reverse diet, gain physical strength, have confidence, have patience, compete twice, and ultimately recompose my physique. She has given me an education on flexible dieting, encouraged me to have balance in my life; she has become my friend. Above all, she is honest with me, and I can’t imagine not having her in my life. Let this be a lesson; do your research before you allow someone to enter your life and have an impact on your physical health and well-being. Ask questions by the dozen, and if something doesn’t feel right or your body is fighting you and your coach just tells you to push on–walk away. Here’s to one year of repairing, building, and becoming better, and more importantly here’s to the next!

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Angela Barbosa

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  1. Jessica Palmer 9 months ago

    Of course my eyes welled up reading the second half of this blog post! Afton truly is my WHY. Cases like hers are WHY I started coaching and WHY I wanted to coach. I never wanted to just jump right into coaching after doing a few shows, thinking I knew it all. Because I didn’t and still don’t. But that’s where Fitbody Fusion and Jami Debernard come in! I have been with FBF for 3 years, coached by Jami, and have been practicing as a prep and lifestyle coach for 1.5 years.
    Afton is a true athlete. She never once made excuses. She never once gave up when we came to a tough spot or a road block. She just followed my lead and trusted me. Coaching Afton has been an absolute reward. I knew from the moment we chatted, as she described, I had to do SOMETHING. I could hear the pain and loss in her voice over the phone. Sadly, she isn’t the only one that has gone through this or will go through this. I am just so thankful to have met Afton and worked with her, as an FBF coach. Its such a reward and continuing motivation for me to keep doing what I do!
    I love you Afton and my FBF FAMMM!!

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