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Libby Westphal had been a size 12 most of her adult life, but in 2007, her weight began to creep upward until she was a “tight” size 14.
“I was fighting my fourth round of ovarian cancer, was serving as the primary caregiver for my dying mother and taking care of my young son,” she says. “Seeing my mother getting weaker and fearing I’d be next was incredibly painful, so I medicated my pain with pizza, ice cream, beer and wine.”
Her mother passed and Westphal’s chemo treatments ended in 2009, but just when she thought the worst was over, she suffered a meniscus tear that required surgery. “By then I was the largest I’d ever been, and I hated the way I looked,” she says. “As I was leaving my surgeon’s office one day, he grabbed my arm and said, ‘You don’t have knee problems, you have a weight problem.’ That’s when I knew something had to change.”
At the beginning of 2010, Westphal finally made the commitment: She began by walking on the treadmill for 60 minutes every day and lost 30 pounds in three months.
She then joined a gym, hired a trainer and read fitness magazines like Oxygen for inspiration. “Oxygen has been my partner and a key part of my fitness toolkit during this journey,” she says, naming our very own America’s Fittest Couple Challenge 3 coach Hannah Eden as a badass who always motivates her to push harder.
The more Westphal exercised, the more she wanted to fuel her body properly. She settled on a Paleo-inspired plan that removed processed foods and refined sugar, and to avoid feelings of deprivation, she limited alcohol to the weekends and allowed for occasional cheats.
Ball Gowns and Bikini Crowns
It took 18 months to facilitate Westphal’s body transformation, and along the way, she set and achieved several goals, such as being able to bench-press 100 pounds and running four half marathons. Then she challenged herself by entering the NPC East Coast Classic and took sixth in the 35 and over bikini division. She competed in six more shows after that, most recently taking first in her division in May 2018.
Then Westphal’s journey took an unexpected twist when she visited a friend who was competing in a pageant for the Mrs. DC America title. Westphal posted pics of herself in a formal gown on social media and everyone mistakenly thought she was competing in the pageant, as well. “At the time, I thought it was laughable, since I’m a bikini competitor that my husband refers to as ‘Brutus,’” she says, laughing. “But then I thought, Why not? I can do whatever I set my mind to.” So she entered a pageant and took home the title of Mrs. Leesburg. At age 50, she is now hoping to win the Mrs. Virginia title in March 2019.
“I still have good days and bad days,” she says. “But I have learned that consistency and working toward goals have been the two factors that have gotten me into the best shape of my life.”
Hometown: Leesburg, Virginia
Old weight: 204 lb
Current weight: 145 lb (136 onstage)
Occupation: NASM-certified personal trainer and gym owner
Libby Likes …
Back day: My favorite move is TRX rows performed with my elbows out.
Mixing up cardio: I switch it up between rowing, the VersaClimber, the Jacobs Ladder, the treadmill and Peloton rides four times per week.
Pizza and hamburgers: I eat these things in moderation, but I don’t call them cheats so there is no stigma attached.
Pushing herself: Don’t just show up, really show up. When you’re uncomfortable, you experience growth.