The Struggle is Real: Devoted to Unveiling All Sides of the Fitness Industry
Name: Diana Becker
Occupation: Online coach/Personal Trainer
Thank you so much for agreeing to share your story Diana! I appreciate your willingness to join me in being honest with your struggles, in hopes of helping others. I have been familiar with your story for a while as we are both from the North West and I have watched you go from the small stages of the Washington NPC shows to being on the Olympia stage, but for those who don’t know much about you can you fill them in on a little background about yourself and where you are at now with your fitness career?
I have been a personal trainer for almost 10 years now. I began training for a fitness competition after the birth of my son in 2004 and competed in the fitness division. Fast forward a couple of years to 2009 when bikini came out I gave it a try! I definitely felt like it was a better fit for me. I joined Team Bombshell in 2010 and began the journey with the goal of becoming an IFBB PRO. Through the past couple of years I have fulfilled that and every goal I ever set for myself. At this point I am home in Seattle being a mom and coaching women to all sorts of goals in and off the stage. I don’t have any plans to compete any time soon but work with Cyclone Cup and have my girls to be with at competitions so I get my fill.
When was your first show and what made you want to compete?
2005 I competed in fitness as a goal for getting back in shape post pregnancy. I think we all get into it for the challenge and many of us get wrapped up in the constant attention and affirmation that comes from looking so abnormally fit.
After your first show, how would you describe the weeks following? How did you handle eating? Working out? Your mental state? How was this different from the way you viewed exercise and diet previous to ever competing?
Well, I had an eating disorder that started in high school. For me, in the early days of competing, it was a healthy outlet for me to appreciate my body and learn about what actually worked to help me look the way I wanted to look. Once I became a pro and had a lot of expectations surrounding me it definitely became an added stress. Something to manage that had expectation attached to it. My relationship with food deteriorated. My relationship with my body deteriorated. My sense of self aside from how I looked in the current moment all but disappeared.
At one point in the weeks following a show I would do the typical post show binge. Man, at one point I retained so much water from a week of “fun” that on the flight home my ankles swelled so bad it actually hurt to walk.
Prior to competing seriously, I never experienced that. I was disciplined and regimented. I was in pretty good shape and I worked out daily and ate pretty well. I stayed within 3-5 lbs of my normal weight which was a healthy, fit, 125 lbs.
How many shows have you done since your first and why do you or didn’t you continue to compete? I have followed your journey for a while and know that you were with Team Bombshell, do you hold any resentment towards the rigidness of the plans you were put on? I also know that you did a TON of shows when you started competing at the national level, you were a machine! I always asked myself, how does she keep going… can you elaborate on that experience?
How many shows…I have actually lost count…..close to 40 at this point.
By now, I’ve won my pro card, competed at The Olympia twice, placed 7th at The Arnold, competed internationally, won a pro show, had an amazing sponsor…man…there is not much I haven’t done. I think that now, as a single mom of an almost 10 year old, it’s time that I spend the money I would use to travel to shows, on my kiddo. Take him to Disney or be able to put him into music lessons. I had an amazing career but priorities shift and I am so excited to experience new things as a coach. Thankfully going through the metabolic breakdown and the ensuing forced break in competing gave me the space I needed to really learn to love who I am again. Im lucky I learned to value myself based on intangibles and really get self reflective about the way I was living my life. I let a lot of things go to the wayside in order to achieve what I did. It is time that I put my value on who I am and place my priorities in an order that leads to lasting happiness.
I was a part of team bombshell. As a coach, I try to take what I loved about the atmosphere and the training process and use that stuff and let go of what I didn’t love. There is a certain empowering atmosphere that can be felt and I appreciated that greatly. It definitely helped to shape me. With my girls, I’m more one on one and hands on than I felt like I had the opportunity to be with my coaches by the time I left. I certainly won’t be coaching more than I can realistically handle. I don’t take the “whatever it takes” attitude with them.
When did you start to notice a difference in yourself and when do you feel you really hit your “rock bottom”? What was that experience like?
I had pushed my body past a healthy point. I had competed in close to 20 shows over the course of 2 years and even when my body became resistant I still pushed it to continue on. That was the fall of 2012. I was already in the middle of a divorce and had moved across the country in order to remove myself from a very toxic situation only to get involved with a toxic situation and it was just a lot for my wellbeing. At that point I really found very little value in myself off the stage. My identity had to do largely with how I looked and how well I placed in the latest show.
What would you say your strongest and weakest moments or most significant moments in your journey were?
Well immediately I thought of the moment I won my pro card, but it’s so easy to feel strong when you’re on top. In really reflecting I know my biggest moments when my strength showed thru when I got back up onstage for the NY Pro this year. A lot of very difficult things had transpired since the day i won my pro card and I could have quit many times over but I wanted to finish competing for me and me alone and that’s what doing that show was for me.
My weakest moment was definitely when I competed at St. Louis. I was still recovering from the metabolic issues I had, I had agreed to compete, but I was working an insane amount outside of the industry, my personal life was inexplicably awful, far away from my family, it was me competing for everyone else at a time when I really needed to take care of myself. Instead I did the opposite.
As stated, this series of interviews are to really develop the underlying issues, physically, mentally, and psychologically that affect us on the inside and are often not seen from the outside. What would you say your biggest “hidden struggle” is today?
Honestly, I have never been in a better place. I feel like my relationship with food and my body is better than it has ever been. I struggled pretty publicly to recover from metabolic damage and that taught me so much about valuing myself on things that have nothing to do with how I look. My biggest struggle will probably always be not reverting to that line of thinking. Reminding myself always who I am is much more than a number on the scale.
I try to be a really solid example to the women I coach. I want them to feel empowered by the process and excited about their ability to achieve goals even when their prep has ended.
My struggle…has become my strength.
What advice would you give to someone in your position, what has helped you find some balance?
Learning to love my body at all states has taken the panic out of contest prep. Seeing myself to be the same beautiful soul at 145 lbs as I can be at 115 lbs has empowered me to live in a state of balance and normalcy. It has allowed me to eat in a way that leads to how I want to look most of the time and have a little fun with out the pressure of needing to be a certain weight or ideal for stage. In my opinion, I’ve never looked better and that is a result of my relaxed, non panicked, non judgmental approach.
What methods of nutrition have you or do you currently use to help with balance? IIFYM, Intuitive Eating, Fasting, Specific Meal Planning, etc?
I have used IIFYM, meal plans, and intuitive eating in the past year. At this point I just cook a bunch of chicken, fish, or whatever protein I’m craving and use whatever in season produce I can gather to fulfill my macros. It makes eating more fun and gives me more variety. If I were to have a shoot I just eliminate the cheats and extras I enjoy in times I am not focused on a physique driven event.
I have never done intermittent fasting. I’ve heard great things about it, but I love to eat…maybe I’ll try it just to experiment but idk…I LOVE to eat. Haha. Even if it’s plain green beans and chicken breast.
How has social media/the fitness industry influenced the way you view yourself?
Well there was a point I needed the validation so much. I was really lost and hurting. I’ve actually left much of the pictures I posted then on my Instagram. Some of them are downright embarrassing to see when I see them with the perspective I have now. BUT I’ve left them there so that if anyone in encouraged by seeing the shift in thinking that has really brought about the transformation of my life, it’s there.
How has your body image changed over time?
Well I’m proud of my body at this point but it’s not my identity. That’s the biggest change. I’m so much more than how I look. In reality, how I look is just a reflection of the incredible transformation happening in my heart, soul, and mind. If for some reason I wasn’t in as good of shape I don’t think it would take on the shame and devastation that it brought on before. I can get back in shape, and sometimes, something’s are more important. Perspective is powerful. For example, when I was pregnant with Braden I was absolutely miserable. I hated how I looked and because my identity was found in that, I hated myself the entire time. I did not enjoy a single moment. I loathed absolutely every part and when he was born all I could think about was how awful I looked. I tell the pregnant women I know now to be careful with themselves. It’s a time that is special and really only happens a few times in our lifetimes we should take great care to nurture our bodies with our thoughts. We are creating another human being with our body and it deserves love, that baby deserves to have you love yourself with your thinking so that it is raised in an environment of love from the very beginning.
What motivates you today? Has that motivation changed since you started?
I am motivated by being the woman God created me to be. I believe I have a purpose. I believe He wants me to help other women take care of themselves. I believe he’s given me a unique perspective and much success to have a platform to speak from. I believe He has given me courage to share my experiences and the desire to empower and encourage women to be the happiest they can be.
It’s changed dramatically. At one point I only cared about being successful onstage. Thankfully I experienced much success and have the knowledge and wisdom to know that that does not equate success nor long term fulfillment. I had an absolute blast and am certainly so fortunate and extremely blessed to have been given the opportunities I had but part of me looks back and thinks, if only you knew how to really enjoy the success while still knowing who you were with or without it. It really would have been so much sweeter.
If you could do it all over again, would you? I know you have your son Braden as well, can you tell me if you felt like you ever “missed out” on experiences with him due to competition prep or extremes?
Yes I would. I know it’s part of my story. It’s part of what gives me the insight and words to encourage other women to look how they want to without it becoming their identity.
I missed out on a lot with Braden. I was married when I started competing seriously and missed out on a lot there too. If I had been more present maybe things wouldn’t have deteriorated to the point they did. I moved far away from him and pursued things that are not worth near as much as the time I lost but you know, I can point to the above statement on that as well. It’s all a learning experience and thankfully, gratefully, I am a better mom for it. I am a happier woman because of it.
What are your upcoming career goals, and how do you plan to pursuit your future with incorporating balance in your life?
Well, I’m finding my way. I moved home to Seattle and took a job at my old gym. I’ve started really putting positive energy into my professional life and it is paying off greatly. I train clients online, both competitors and non competitors. I feel lucky. I’m blessed by each client. From my single moms who inspire me to my little brand new competitors who come offstage with their eyes wide wondering “what just happened?” Each one teaches me. Each one gives me the avenue to encourage and empower daily. I couldn’t be happier with the group of women allowing me to lead them.
If you are interested in following and supporting Ashley’s continued journey to balance, please follow her through the following channels: