Starting weight: 161 lbs at heaviest weight

Current weight: 125 lbs current weight

Ashley Soto was able to get away with eating lots of junk food when she was growing up, but the combination of an unhealthy diet and having two children close together (daughter Melanie was born in 2010; daughter Ava in 2011) was hard on her body. By 2013, Soto, 24, packed 161 pounds onto her petite 5’3″ frame. It took an emotional toll as well. “I constantly pointed out what was wrong with myself.”

That March, she decided she’d had enough. She found inspiration in other women’s postings on Instagram. “I started teaching myself new recipes, going to the gym, and researching different exercises.” She replaced those high-calorie junk foods with sweet potatoes, chicken breast, quinoa, and leafy greens. As a stay-at-home mom who is studying health-care administration, Soto fit in her workouts by exercising in the morning and bringing her daughters to the day care at her gym. “I began to see the weight come off and my muscles emerge,” says Soto. Within six months, she had lost 25 pounds.

Last October, Soto decided to take it to the next level by entering a fitness competition. “I wanted to get on that stage and give it my all, even if that meant fighting the fear of what others may think of me. Just being able to feel comfortable walking around in a bikini in front of hundreds of people was huge,” says Soto. She brought her weight down to 111 pounds and placed third in her first competition, the Jen Hendershott Big Shott Classic, where she became a nationally qualified figure competitor.

Her newfound self-confidence has made her appreciate her family, and she hopes her daughters will learn what it means to have a positive body image. “No matter how you look, it’s important to always love yourself. You can’t change for anyone else but you.” 


Diet: Five meals a day

Favorite meal: Tilapia with brown rice and a leafy green vegetable

Workout: Soto works out five to six days a week for about an hour and a half, training different body parts each day

Favorite part to train: Legs

Favorite supp: Dymatize ISO 100 whey protein isolate