Determined, Ambition, Passionate, Powerful…. these are all words that would rightfully define any Chief Executive Officer of any major company in the world…. but when thinking of Kayla Dillman a couple more words come to mind; Brave, Worthy, Perseverance, & Beautiful. Combine all the above words, in my opinion, you define Kayla in a nutshell (and yes, that featured photo is of her)! 🙂
I’d like to take some time today to tell Kayla’s story because I feel it can be a true inspiration to us all! If any of you have ever questioned your path in life or towards achieving any fitness goals of any kind…please take a minute to read her story…. and once you finish, I bet you’ll feel a little more empowered and realize that just like her, you can become the CEO of your own body!
And please…read to the very end to see how she can help you get results just as amazingly as she did!
Kayla Dillman here! For most of my childhood I was on a year round swim team. Two hour swim practices Monday-Thursday and a three day swim meet almost every weekend! For those of you who are swimmers, you know what a great workout swimming can be and, yes, you can eat pretty much whatever you want because you burn so much when you swim that often. Swimming was my life, then I entered middle school. It was then that I realized that I didn’t want to just swim anymore, it was all I did and had no room for social life outside of my swimming friends. So, come seventh grade I decided that I would stop my year round swim team and try other activities. I continued to swim in the summer and had started dance classes when I was 7 years old. I joined cheerleading and show choir. The one thing that didn’t slow down was my eating habits. Because I was no longer swimming so much, I started to gain weight slowly, because as I know now, you can’t out train a bad “diet”! In high school I was in many activities and kept up with my dancing, but I continued to gain weight, my highest being 186 lbs (you can see me here on the right with my lovely sister).
My biggest dream growing up was to be on Broadway! Musical Theatre was my heart and soul! I ended up going to college in NYC and LA and received my BFA in Musical theatre. I knew I needed to look “thinner” for most of the rolls I wanted to play, but I didn’t think about it as much until I was in college. After I graduated the conservatory program in NYC in February 2008, I started Weight Watchers. I was 176.2lbs. It worked right away and I was loving it, I even got my first professional show! After a few months, I hit a plateau for 6 months!! I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, I was counting every single point diligently!!! Side note, I wasn’t working out much, mostly because I didn’t really know what to do in the gym. In September 2008 I decided to get my very first trainer! He made me fall in love with fitness! Not just looking better, but how I felt! I felt like a badass walking into that gym! He even got me into running…which let me tell you, was something I never thought I would do or even like! After being with him for 9 months, I had lost a lot more weight. That was my missing puzzle piece, I hadn’t yet heard of calories in vs. calories out! I ended up moving to LA to finish school, where I received that BFA. In LA is where I met my Weight Watchers goal of 135lbs! I had two different trainers while living there. One of them being my first boxing/Muay Thai/MMA trainer, I fell in love!
After two years of LA, I decided it was time to move back to NYC and pursue my theatre career! I was able to keep off the weight for over a year and kept going to my monthly weigh ins like a good girl! But, I was getting bored with counting points and with my workouts. So yes, I got another boxing trainer! Closely after that I had two more boxing trainers. My last one though, would become a huge part of my life and I didn’t even know it yet, lucky number 7! Over the past year freshly back in NYC I had gone up and down 137-141lbs and was feeling I needed a change. I asked if we could get on the resistance train and work on nutrition. He set me up with calorie counting (something I hadn’t done before) and we got right to it! I am one of those people who puts their mind to something and does it, all in or not at all! So, like points, I diligently counted those calories and started doing resistance training at least 3 times a week. I got down to 127lbs and felt great and strong! The acting life can be very stressful and jobs are not easy to get with so much competition. I needed to make more money than what I was with my “day” job as a bartender. I finally had a thought, maybe I could become a trainer?! I feel like I’ve learned so much and I want to pay it forward!! My lucky 7 trainer just happened to be the fitness manager at the gym and when I told him my thought he didn’t miss a beat saying he would hire me in an instant. He told me how to get certified and handed me an application that day! Wowza!!! Well, I settled in to get my Personal Trainer Certification and 6 months later I was a trainer. Though it was scary to get started, I felt right at home with my clients and learned more and more as I went!
About six months after being a trainer I had a big life transition and decided I wanted to move home to regroup. Acting was not as much fun at the moment and living in NYC is hard to afford. I became a trainer at a local gym and immediately I had more clients then I ever had in NYC. It was people I knew and some I didn’t, and that felt amazing. I can help so many people!! After about a year I felt that my weight had crept back up. With not doing everything I did in NY and going through other life happenings, and having stopped counting calories, I was back up to 137lbs, but didn’t feel as good as the 135lbs before. I was introduced to an online trainer who worked with macronutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins). You counted those instead of calories. I had never done this before and was excited to try something new! I loved it and 6 months later I was down to 124lbs and more toned than I ever had been before. I am happy to say I still count macros to this day and am maintaining that weight! I feel strong and most importantly it feels sustainable. I am not hungry and have even more energy.
I have been a trainer for 2 ½ years and now have eight certifications, NASM CPT, CPR/AED/First Aid, NASM WLS (Weight Loss Specialist), Integrated Stretch, Pre/Post Natal, NASM MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), Zumba Instructor, and NASM PES (Performance Enhancement Specialist.) Fitness has changed my life in more ways than one! Bikram yoga became a huge part of my life and I do it whenever I can! Running blew up in my life and am proud to say I have run three half marathons! I even did my first Tough Mudder recently! I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to! Fitness for me isn’t just about how I look in clothes or the mirror, it’s about how I feel as a whole. I feel healthy and happy and like I can take on the world. I found a power within myself I never knew I had and that is the reason I became a trainer in the first place. I have been lucky enough to be on the journey of many clients, helping them reach their own fitness goal. Seeing them find their inner power is one of the best moments to witness, because I remember how I felt when I first stepped in that gym with trainer number one. I remember the anxiety of “am I going to fail or succeed?” Having every emotion possible, but knowing I could do anything I put my mind to! I feel having gone through my own journey that I can see the mental blocks as they come and try to help them as much as I can!
I learn more and more every day in the health and fitness world because it is forever changing and that is amazing!
My favorite quote became “You are CEO of your own Body!” I still use it to this day and I believe it to be the truth. My motivation is first and foremost me, all the versions of me that I have seen and grown from. My clients motivate me more than they know. I see them working hard and pushing through, watching their nutrition and it makes me want to be my best!
Nutrition is a huge motivation for me as well, as I think it is more important than exercise in many fitness goals from weight loss to weight gain. That “six pack” doesn’t come from crunches! If you think about it one hour of your day is exercise or movement, the other twenty three hours are food intake. 80/20 is my lifestyle. 80% healthy eating 20% exercise. The same with how you eat. 80% you are eating healthy 20% you have that ice cream sundae, creamy pasta, fried food, alcohol etc.,. There is a balance to everything in life!
My journey started in 2008 at 176.2 and today I am 124lbs and still on my journey to better myself in the gym, with nutrition, and in life. I am also happy to say that I am still performing, it may not be Broadway, but it’s a stage and when I’m on it, it is my stage!
“When your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme”—Jiminy Cricket