Amanda's Alter Ego : GRATONA
Ever wonder who is behind the scenes making your bikini?? It's my alter ego... GRATONA!!!
GRATONA came about during my first competition prep in early 2013. I, like many bikini athletes, pretty much worship the booty of Amanda Latona. Being that my name is also Amanda (maiden name Grannen), and I have a pretty big badonk myself, my then coach started calling me "Amanda Gratona". It stuck. But hey, getting compared to one of the best bikini athletes on the planet is not bad by me!!!!
My journey into fitness has been a long one. I was born SKINNY. Like really skinny. and tall. I graduated high school at 5'9" and maybe 110lbs. I was asked multiple times if I had an eating disorder, even by my Health teacher who pulled me aside after class. I literally ate like a HORSE. Crappy sugar filled pancakes or waffles for breakfast, with a Dutch Bros Kahlua Kicker (best coffee on the planet, I highly recommend googling them)... enormous ground beef burrito for lunch with chips and soda, a can of spaghettios and popcorn after school, big dinner, and always dessert. Literally, like THOUSANDS of calories a day. Then college came, and with it the booze. I instantly put on 25lbs. The first 15 were probably needed (although gained in an unhealthy way), the next ten were all just bad. So I turned to the only workout I ever knew, cardio. I spent the next couple years doing the occasional cardio session which was enough to get to what I thought was "healthy". Really? I was skinny fat. I still wasn't eating right, and of course drinking my way through engineering school. (Give me break, solving differential equations will drive anyone to the bottle!) I graduated college with my engineering degree and moved to San Diego to start working for the power utility. There I got back in the gym, and decided to sign up with a personal trainer. She was great, but I soon realized all her clients were doing much of the SAME thing. Guys, girls, old, young... all too similar workouts. Cookie cutter. So I saw results at first, but quickly plateaued and lost motivation.
A couple years later I was introduced to weight lifting. Mind you 5lb dumbbells and a few squats, but at least it was something. I instantly fell in love. I still kept the cardio up, but started including weights a few times a week. It was then that I met a woman who literally changed my life... She came up to me in the locker room at the gym and said "Have you ever thought about competing?" I must have looked like a deer in headlights... cause I had NO idea what that question even meant. She went on to tell me that she was training for her first Figure competition (She's now a pro in one of the natural leagues) and that I "really don't have that far to go to be competitive in the Bikini division." SO I did what every person our age does, I got on Google... and Facebook... and Instagram. I started absorbing everything I could about the world of bodybuilding. That was it. I was hooked. It was time to find a coach and prep for a show.
Fast forward 2 years and I now have done 5 NPC bikini competitions, and have a 5th place, two 4th place, a 3rd place, and two 1st place trophies sitting in my office. (The picture in this blog is from my very first show.) I lift heavy like a boy and despise cardio (but do minimal amounts close to shows as the necessary evil that it is, lol) Do I have aspirations of #OperationProCard? Sure. I'd love to compete nationally someday, but its not WHY I compete. I compete because I love having a goal to push me. I love the insane high I get after a great workout. I love that I have complete control over my performance and no one can do this for me but me. And let's face it, I love getting on that stage in a ridiculously sparkly bikini. I now walk around at 140lbs in my "off season". That is the heaviest I have ever been besides that first year of college, and I feel the BEST I ever have.
Living a healthy lifestyle is such an important choice. It impacts every part of your life. I'm more successful in my engineering career because I have more energy, focus, and drive... I'm able to time manage so I can handle that, my swimwear business, and all the new projects that are soon to come. I LOVE that my swimwear business and just competing in general has opened up so many friendships with amazing women who are like minded. In fact, I got married in May (to the most amazing man ever!!!! You'll hear lots about him throughout my blog. <3 Ken) and one of my bridesmaids I met through my first prep. We've been attached at the hip ever since.
The point is, life is about balance. A "Healthy Lifestyle" is so much more than just working out and eating well... it's about being in a good place mentally, nurturing the positive relationships in your life, and taking control to make your goals happen. I'm hoping that my blog will help others find not just a beautiful bikini, but their passion in life. Even if it's just one person, it's worth it.
First blog done. Time to lift. Boulder Shoulders baby!!
Love and Sunshine,