For the tall, statuesque and graceful Kayla Harrington, dancing and modeling was a natural calling for her. As she broke into the world of modeling, she found herself engulfed with the pressures of having to be thinner than the next girl. A practice of unhealthy eating disorders entered her life and soon took a toll on her body. With the help and support of God, her family and friends, Kayla rebounded. She found a new passion in redeeming her personal health and is now helping others find their best body. Meet Kayla Harrington.
NAME: Kayla Harrington
Current/Off-season:145lbs & 15% Body Fat
Competition/Stage Weight: 137lbs & 10% Body Fat
Tell us about how you started your fitness journey.
As a recreational / competitive dancer from the ages of 3-17 and a competitive martial artist for a period of time,
I’ve been very blessed to be active and disciplined throughout my life. Perhaps surprisingly enough, I never
even set foot in a gym until I was about 18, when I hired a personal trainer for a time and then, like most, fell off
the bandwagon. After a successful fashion / runway modeling career in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New
York City, I was a shell of the athletic girl I’d been my entire life. While I’d always been naturally thin for my
height, never had I concerned myself with what I was eating or what size I was. Until the pressures of modeling
took hold. I ate when I was hungry and wore whatever I liked that fit well. My dream of being a runway star was
ended prematurely (though not before wonderful experiences and blessings came my way) by my resorting to
disordered eating habits in an attempt to achieve the fragile, waif-like, and emaciated look of the models I was up
It was terrifying to realize that my unhealthy relationship with food and my mental outlook were making me ill.
Having always been a “perfectionist”, I struggled desperately to achieve and maintain a bodyweight of
110-115lbs, often spending up to 3 days on just water and Benefiber before big castings or photo shoots (I was
told this is the technique the Victoria’s Secret Angels used). Fattening junk food “binges” after these starvation
stints in the evenings or on weekends were then followed by the “purge” — obsessively exercising or misusing
laxatives and fat burners. At my lowest point I was too weak to work or go on castings and I hadn’t had my
menstrual cycle in at least a year; it was at this time when a good friend of mine helped me to understand and
admit (with confirmation and support from family) that I had a problem and needed to put my health first.
I wish I could say I exited gracefully, like I had so many times before during the final 8-count of a ballet number
or a Haute Couture designers fashion show. Unfortunately, in fear and insecurity, I frantically ran from NYC and
couldn’t reach my California home quickly enough. However, in this frenzy of clarity in knowing my priorities
were wacked, I decided to take action. I desperately wanted to be healthy; I wanted to enjoy food without the
guilt and shame associated with my disordered eating and I wanted to be physically strong and capable again. My
first step in faith that healing would come was empowering myself with knowledge. I bought and devoured my
first fitness certification and immediately began applying what I was learning to myself. Little did I know that my
decision to discover redeemed health would lead to a new career I am passionate about and a business by the
same name, “Redeeming Health Personal Training, LLC”. It took a long time before I felt completely free, but
thanks to the love, patience and support of my family and the healing found in my Savior, Jesus Christ, I was set
free, indeed. My health has been redeemed [Smiles].
What are your fitness accomplishments?
#1 Breaking my disordered eating pattern and getting healthy!
#2 Client success. I truly celebrate my clients progress like it’s my own, I am so proud of them.
#3 Qualifying at my first Bikini Competition for NPC Nationals! I am proud of every ounce of sweat I put into
my 2013 season. Nationals was such a privilege to be a part of.
What is your motivation to continue?
I think this quote really captures the essence of my thoughts on this question, “Walking your talk is a great way
to motivate yourself. No one likes to live a lie. Be honest with yourself, and you will find the motivation to do
what you advise others to do.” As a competitor there has to be intrinsic motivation that is hard to explain. But
apart from competing, this is the lifestyle I’m confident I’m meant to live. It isn’t entirely unlike when you meet
“the one” and you just KNOW you’re meant to spend the rest of your life with that person — regardless of the
hard times to come. I trust that my story has a purpose to help and inspire others. I’m just grateful and blessed to
have found an avenue by which I can bless people so tangibly.
What do you think the best piece of advice you ever received was (Fitness Related)?
“Do not fear your failure.” From my coach, Lou Aquino. In the gym, failure is when you can’t possibly eek out
even ONE more repetition of the exercise you’re doing. Ironically, it’s THAT very failure that makes you
stronger and primed for success the next time you step up to that exercise. This sentiment reminds me of the
Winston Churchill quote, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”
What is the best piece of advice you can give someone interested in transforming their body?
#1 Fall in love with the process – not just the idea / end result. If you aren’t enjoying the journey to a better you,
how will you know when you’ve “arrived?’ If you’re miserable on a diet then it’s not going to become a
maintainable lifestyle for you and it’s time to try something different. Same goes for exercise: You have to enjoy
it! At least MOST of the time. I still have days where I’m not feeling it and I don’t WANT to eat that or go to the
gym [laughs]! That is where your ultimate goal steps in as motivation to get you over the speed-bump.
#2 Keep in mind that transforming your body requires a transformation of the mind and heart. As a western
culture we so often look at the aspects of our lives compartmentally. Instead, try to re-wire your outlook to
appreciate yourself holistically. Your body cannot go where your mind does not allow it, so break free from any
bondage your mind or your emotions may have you under, and watch as your body physically begins to live out
#3 Find a reputable coach you trust and connect with. I believe in the importance of a coach so much I not only
AM one for so many people but I HAVE one, myself. A good coach is an invaluable asset to have on your team in
order to succeed.
What does your diet consist of?
Real, unprocessed, organic foods. I stay clear of gluten as a general rule, try my best to buy only Non-GMO
products, and mostly align with the Paleo style of eating. I’ve been “Reverse Dieting” this off-season — a protocol
where one rebuilds their metabolism slowly and methodically in order to add on additional healthy calories daily
without gaining large amounts of body fat. It is tedious, but much healthier in the long run than binge-eating on
all of the food you couldn’t have on competition prep/restrictive diets (guilty)! If you are interested in learning
more about the science and reasoning behind this protocol, please check out Layne Norton’s extensive video
material on the subject: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b5C3uqA1yRI
Over the past 4 months I’ve managed to “reverse diet” myself to these daily stats:
82grams of fat
210grams of carbohydrates
230grams of protein
Spinach is my favorite vegetable and beef is my favorite protein!
Currently, I am a little over 14wks out of my first 2014 competition. The calories and macronutrients I just
mentioned will be changing over the next few months to get me ready!
What is your training regimen like?
My coach has had me on a 4-days per week weight training schedule (with new programming every 3 to 4 weeks)
and NO cardio (happy, happy, happy!) We like to lift heavier during off season and put all those extra calories to
work. This challenges / strengthens my nervous system as well as my muscles and joints. For my body, and what
we have been working on in order to improve my symmetry in 2014, my week looks like this:
Tuesday: Shoulders / Arms
Friday: Back / Shoulders
Saturday: Sometimes I will train my glutes / abs, other weeks I’ve needed an extra day of rest.
Moving forward and into full-blown prep mode my workouts will change in intensity, programming, and
frequency. When it’s prep time, it’s go time. I just find my zone and Nike up, “Just Do It”. Each prep is different
and you have to be intensely tuned in to your body along the way (as with any transformation process). It’s a
What are your thoughts on supplementation? What do you take and Why?
I believe supplementation is very important, especially when requiring as much from your body as athletes do.
However, I am adamant that supplements are just that — supplemental to your diet. You should be eating enough
daily to hit your required macros and get as much quality micro nutrients as you can from colorful and rich
foods. That being said, my supplement list is extensive and ultra-personalized during prep so I will list the staples
I use year-round.
#1 Whey Protein – any flavor, granted the sugar is kept under control. I like having Chocolate and Vanilla on
hand for shakes and baking. And it’s nice to change it up flavor wise with different brands. My favorite brand on
prep due to their quality and cost-effectiveness is Protein Factory: Mega Whey in chocolate.
#2 Glutamine – glutamine is really important for the immune system and for recovery post-workout.
#3 Animal RAGE – this is my FAVORITE pre-workout supplement. When calories and energy are running low
during prep this gets me through. I like the pills because, for some reason, I cannot stomach liquid pre-workouts;
they never mix well enough that I can get past the texture or taste. RAGE also doesn’t have any creatine which is
great because I can continue to use it during prep and not just during off season.
#4 Magnesium & Zinc
I do not use fat burners. And I’ll admit I’m guilty of being terribly inconsistent with taking my multi vitamins!
What is your favorite quote?
I can’t pick just one! I love quotes.
“Perfect practice makes perfect.” – My Boppa
“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. … She is clothed in strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.” — Proverbs 31:17, 25
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great
make you feel that you, too, can become great.” — Mark Twain
Do you have any other hobbies besides Fitness?
My mom introduced my little sister and I to dance as soon as she could [smiles]. Since I was 3yrs old I had a pair
of ballet slippers, pink tights, and bobby pins on hand. Dance is very special to me and although it’s been a few
years since I’ve pulled on the tights and laced up the ribbons, it still calls to me. I hope to spend some time on it
again this year. I also have a passion for writing and (still) modeling; it is exciting to now be pursuing and
blending my love for these hobbies with fitness in a redeemed manner.
Where can people follow you on the web? (i.e. facebook, twitter, instagram)
Please do! I’d love to see you online. I am very active on Instagram @KaylaHarrington89 and my facebook
business page http://www.facebook.com/PalmDesertFitness4u I will also be making an athlete page for myself
soon, so stay tuned to either of these accounts to hear about when it is ready.
Any parting words, thoughts or advice you’d like to share?
If you or someone you know is a captive to disordered eating (anorexia, bulimia, binge-purge, etc) please don’t
continue to isolate yourself and feel alone. Contact me at Kayla@PalmDesertFitness4u.com I am happy to
connect you with a support group, send helpful resources your way to aid in your recovery, and just pray
with/for you. You are beautiful, dear one.
And if you are interested in personal training, nutritional guidance, supplement counseling, accountability and
motivation, please contact me via Facebook, Instagram or email Kayla@PalmDesertFitness4u.com