When I first started eating clean & training with weights, one of the first women I looked up to was Tabitha Klausen Leandri. I found her training tips on Youtube, as well as her pictures from competitions and photoshoots very motivating. It was obvious she was a very dedicated and determined woman. Little did I know, just 2 years later, I would meet her and be a panel judge for a contest SHE was in! During the contest, one of the hosts mentioned Tabitha’s previous battle with an eating disorder. I was surprised. I had mistakenly assumed that being healthy and fit came easy to her. I was intrigued by the obvious transformation she had gone through to get to where she was today. In this interview you will see that despite her tumultuous past, she came out stronger than ever. She has demonstrated that no matter what obstacles confront you, you can overcome them and go on to live a healthy, happy life.
What is your current nutrition like?
Right now my diet Looks like this:
2 vans gluten free waffles
5 eggwhites 1 whole egg
2-3 pieces turkey bacon
Lots of fresh fruit
Then 4 more small meals throughout the day consisting of a lean protein such as 5-7 oz (depending on if in competing, or offseason) skinless chicken breast, ground turkey, eggs or lean beef, a complex carb like brown rice or sweet potatoes, and lots of fresh fruit and veggies! I will also have nuts with some of my meals if I don’t have a complex carb. I try to eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies, the more color the better! I feel better eating food like this and have more energy, focus and strength. I also have a cheat food if I want it. I believe that life is all about balance and as long as I eat healthy most of the time a treat won’t hurt me. I have also gone gluten and wheat free. I suffered for a long time from stomach issues and about 2 years ago I found out I had a wheat and gluten intolerance through an elimination diet. I have also had lactose intolerance since I was a baby, so I am dairy free as well.
What is your current training like?
I train with weights 5 days a week. My breakdown looks like this:
- Day 1: back/abs
- Day 2: chest
- Day 3: legs/abs
- Day 4: shoulders
- Day 5: arms and glutes/abs
I do hiit cardio (high intensity interval training) 3-5 days a week depending on if I’m getting ready for a competition or not. I incorporate sprints, tabata, ropes, and plyos. I also love to hike in the warmer months and I plan on getting a bicycle this year and possibly doing my first 5k race! I love being active, trying new things and being outside!
Do you take any supplements? If so, what kind?
I take a variety of supplements.
In the morning if I am trying to lean down for a show I take BSN’s Hypershed in the morning before breakfast
I always take:
l-carnatine: fatloss support and recovery
Green tea extract: fat loss support and various other benefits.
A daily vitamin
BSN’s Amino fx: recovery
Preworkout: BSN’s hyper fx
How do you stay motivated? (Especially on days where motivation might not be 100%)
I always tell myself if I don’t go to the gym I won’t see the results I want. There is no time for excuses, unless I’m sick, or hurt, I will get there. I also like to look at
pictures of people with physiques that inspire me to get moving, and if that doesn’t work I’ll try to find a new workout to try on bb.com. There are times I need to listen to my body though, if I am starting to feel super run down I will take a rest day so I don’t get sick or overtrained.
What mistakes did you make when you first started working out and eating better?
My biggest mistake was not eating enough! When I first started working out seriously I was struggling with my eating disorders. I was not eating really anything, taking an energy/fat burner preworkout and working out hard. My husband (boyfriend at the time) was trying to get me to eat more, but it was a struggle for me. I didn’t realize, but I was losing a ton of weight! I had gotten down to 110lbs and it wasn’t till my husband showed me a picture of myself I realized how incredibly skinny I had become!!!! It took time, but I started eating more gradually and I eventually had no problem eating! I still had to be careful with my eating disorders, but I never got that skinny or sick again.
I understand you have struggled with eating disorder(s) in the past. Was there a specific event that triggered those behaviors for you?
It sounds stupid now, but growing up I was always very tall (I’m 5’11”). I was often referred to as being “big”. I had to get size large shirts to make sure my stomach was covered and for some reason that registered in my head as being “fat”. I wanted to be as small as possible, I didn’t want to be “big” anymore. Also growing up with stomach issues I realized once I ate less, I had no stomach issues! I realized I could FINALLY control my body by what I put in it, unfortunately it was not in a healthy way. My disorder was also triggered by emotion, if I was upset I lost my appetite and wouldn’t eat or would punish myself. I went through some really hard times growing up.
Can you tell us a bit about that time in your life?
I am going to be 100% honest, and many people don’t know this about me.
That time of my life was absolutely horrible. I dealt with some issues growing up that definitely affected my self esteem, and made me feel absolutely horrible about myself, as well as being picked on in school. I hated everything about myself, especially my body, and I learned I could punish myself by not eating, cutting and talking down to myself. I thought about ending my life frequently, it was a dark, dark time in my life.As I got older (senior year of high school) things got a little better for me, and when I met my husband and started getting into fitness my life became soo much better. I learned how to take care of my body, and love myself. Only I could make my life better, and thinking negatively about myself got me nowhere. Also having the positive support of my now husband gave me the strength to make healthy changes and take the negativity and negative people out of my life. It was time to move forward with my life and be happy. I can say now I am BLESSED to wake up every morning, and thankful for the life I have. We make our own choices and I chose to lead a happy and positive life!
I still have struggled over the years with my eating disorders, as they will never go away, but this usually only happens if I eat too much junk food and feel sick. So I try to watch how much I eat at cheat meals and holidays to avoid feeling too full and triggering an episode.
How has your fitness lifestyle helped you deal with your eating disorder(s)?
Learning how to eat to fuel my body and get the results I wanted made the biggest difference. My eating disorder was also a control thing, by switching this from a negative to a positive thing by eating healthy foods I was able to still have control over my body, but not destroy it. I had to learn balance though. It is not healthy being strict with clean eating all the time either. I had to learn that if I ate a cheat meal it was ok. I wasn’t going to get fat or ruin all my progress, I just needed to eat healthy my next meal. This took a long time, I even had times where I binged and had to start over again, but as long as you are making forward progress that’s all that matters. Never look back and always stay positive towards the future.
Did you ever seek out counseling or any other form of therapy? If so, did it help you?
I once told an adult very close to me about my eating disorders and how I could not stop. I was told to just “cut it out” and I was “doing it for attention”. I was devastated. I was looking for help and support and love and instead I was treated like a child. I kept it to myself from then on. I wished I could have gone to therapy or had some sort of help. All I really needed was support of some kind. It wasn’t a joke and should never be treated like one.
If you could give advice to a girl like yourself, who has been through similar struggles, what would it be?
My advice would be to get help. Tell someone who will listen or find a therapist or someone who will help.
Know that you are special, you deserve to have a wonderful positive life and you can overcome this! It will take time, and you will have set backs, but you can do it. Make everyday a new day and a new chance to love your body and feed it healthy food and positive vibes. Start slowly exercising and get a personal trainer if you can to give you a plan to start. You can also find online beginners workouts on bodybuilding.com. I would recommend lifting weights and cardio to get into the best shape you can. Yoga is also great for stretching, and staying flexible. This will take time, but if I can do it, so can you. You have the choice to make your life amazing, now is the time to do it.