Caitlin McDermott is sharing her struggle with body image and healthy eating with the world online to win a contest. 

McDermott, a senior IdLS major, is currently in the top five for Fitness magazine’s “Face of Fitness” contest and is competing for one of the ten spots in the semi-finals against hundreds of other women. People can vote for her until Nov. 17  

The winner receives a photo shoot in New York City, a 2013 Ford Escape and is featured on the cover of Fitness magazine. But above all else, McDermott has the chance to share her story with people across the country.

In addition to a healthy diet, McDermott mixes up her workouts and frequently tries new exercises. Every week, she incorporates cardio, yoga or weights into her workouts. According to McDermott, it’s important to change your workout so the exercises stay interesting and you continue to see results.

“I just feel good about myself after I work out, knowing what I am doing is positive for me but maybe I can influence people around me,” McDermott said.

But it wasn’t always easy for McDermott to be positive about her body. Over a six-month period a few years ago, she started to worry about her weight. She ate very little and obsessively worked out.

“My self confidence went down big time,” McDermott said. “I felt guilty about everything I ate.” 

Family and friends were concerned when they noticed her significant weight loss. Her mother, Renee Maca and her boyfriend, senior and biotechnology major Connor Rodenbough decided to have a talk with McDermott to sort out her problems with self-image. 

“Reality set in that this wasn’t a good choice,” her mom said. 

Maca saw genuine confidence in her daughter once she started changing her lifestyle. Slowly McDermott started eating more and learning what it means to be healthy.

“I started researching what carbohydrates did, what proteins did and really got into the science behind it,” McDermott said. 

McDermott began to eat foods based on vitamin and nutrient content, not just calories. As a vegetarian, McDermott has to make sure she incorporates enough protein into her diet so she chooses foods like edamame soybeans and chocolate protein shakes to keep her fueled.

She recommends looking for healthy substitutes to replace the foods you crave. McDermott says roasted butternut squash taste just like French fries and Martin’s Arctic Zero ice cream is 150 calories a pint.

According to Rodenbough, McDermott wants to help her friends and family accomplish their health goals. She has even offered to write diet plans for friends. Ultimately, she wants people to understand that being healthy is important. 

When she is an elementary school teacher, McDermott hopes to incorporate healthy living into her lesson plans.

“She’s the kind of person who if she sets her mind to something, she’ll get it done,” Rodenbough said. 

Over Thanksgiving break, McDermott is running a 5k with her younger sister, Lydia Maca. Lydia is involved with a nationwide organization called “Girls on the Run.” The kids involved train for a 5k and they are taught about positive body image and healthy choices.

Winning the Fitness magazine contest would give McDermott the chance to make a difference on a national level. 

“She is always positive and is a go getter,” said Shanil Virani, McDermott’s boss at the John C. Wells Planetarium where McDermott leads some of the weekly “Star Talks”.  

Varani said that McDermott is the type of student he wants to see graduate from JMU. Last week he shared daily Facebook updates about the Fitness Magazine contest to help McDermott get more votes.

“A lot of girls, especially at a younger age now are becoming more and more self-conscious about their bodies, thinking ‘What’s beautiful? If this is what’s in a magazine, this must what’s beautiful, this is what I need to be’ but that’s not true,” McDermott said. “Being healthy should be what you want to be, not a stick.”


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