BY ESTEFANIA MOREIRA
Photo courtesy of Vasti Gabriella. Gabriella competing in the summer 2018 bikini competition.
She is a pageant queen, actress and a fierce bikini competitor, with a heart of gold. Vasti Gabriella is a College of the Desert student who shared her story of fitness and health achievements with us. Her fitness journey is an inspiring story on how to get yourself back in the grid and to never stop pushing yourself to accomplish your health goals.
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced fitness and nutrition expert, Gabriella expressed during our interview how bikini competition was her ultimate challenge but also how it became a self-rewarding health and wellness routine both men and women can achieve.
At the age of 20, Gabriella said she never thought in her life that she would enter the world of fitness competition. Her first personal trainer Eddie Foulger, asked her if she would be interested in bikini competition, her impression was, “Me a bodybuilder? I don’t think so.” It didn’t take that long for her plans to change, Gabriella heard the word “competition,” and she was hooked.
Pursuing this path was not easy, “It was intense and strict, mentally and physically and exhausting, but it was something that I could not give up. It became more than wanting to compete, it became a self-challenge of wanting a better lifestyle. I wanted to do something that was out of my comfort zone. I wanted my family and friends to see that I am doing this because I wanted to. It was mainly for myself.”
Gabriella said she would wake up every day at 4 a.m. in a six-month schedule doing one hour of cardio and training with heavy weights. She had three different gym memberships to keep her moving forward abd two jobs to maintain, one as a caregiver and second, a waitress at a local restaurant. She was also studying criminal justice at COD. She is a fighter with ‘never giving up’ cells in her DNA.
Her nutrition diet plan includes lean meats such as fish, chicken, egg whites and vegetables including broccoli, kale and spinach. She keeps her carbohydrates consumption to a minimum. Gabriella says in addition to healthy food choices, the key is meal prepping and eating every three hours.
There were definitely tough days for Gabriella. The young warrior had to resist the emotional pressures of eating meals she could not have The feeling of isolation became stronger each day. “People around me were starting to treat me differently. I would not share meals with my family. It was heartbreaking to refuse my mom’s amazing cooking and to eat out with friends. I had to keep my nutrition plan stable with no flaws. Life became a gym, work and school. I would wake up and repeat every day.”
Despite her feelings, Gabriella began to make friends at the gym who were also getting ready for competitions. She realized that she wasn’t alone and started to learn about the importance of food chemistry. “Educating yourself about nutrition chemistry helps so much. I was able to understand how the body works with certain foods. My new friends who also compete taught me how to not skip on my carb intake. We are eating minimal carbohydrates and replacing them with lean meats,” Gabriella said.
As the days of the bikini competition came closer, Gabriella finally looked at her physical improvements and couldn’t have felt more excited for the day to come. She said, “Eleven days before my competition I finally looked at my body and witnessed my transformation. I would never look at myself in the mirror during my journey; I don’t know why I just never did. People around me in the first month said I was looking different and here I am, eleven days before my competition finally seeing just how much I have accomplished in this fitness level. I couldn’t wait to get on that stage as the days were coming closer.
Gabriella placed first in her first bikini competition in Palm Springs. She has also done small commercials, independent films and won Miss California, there is no denying her passion is fitness competitions. Walking up the stage, feeling the lights gleaming, listening to your family and friends rooting for you, the sound of the cameras clicking and embracing the hard work, finally paid off.
Gabriella’s advice to girls who want to achieve similar dreams, “You have to try things. When you hear your inner self saying you want to try it, do it. Do it for yourself and not for the people, the media, do it for yourself one hundred ten percent. Do it for your fitness goals and with the right heart and mind. Now because of this experience, healthwise I feel stronger, my nutrition eating style has improved, and I feel like an independent woman. My pain tolerance is off charts now. I can do more reps; my stamina is high. I feel that my mental and emotional state has improved. I’ve become a strong woman, and I do not plan on stopping. My confidence is better and I want women and men, of all ages never to forget you are the key to your success and improving your healthy lifestyle is possible. Never forget your possible.”
Gabriella says she will continue bikini competitions in 2019. Her next project is NPC Muscle Bikini Competition in California where she will train again to achieve her next goal: going into nationals, getting a sponsor and completing her pro-card for pro-shows where she will compete with women around the world. The life of a fitness competitor is challenging, but the results are self-awarding.