COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Fitness has always played a part in Ohio Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Megan Simpson's life. She was the first female on the Shawnee High School powerlifting team in Springfield, Ohio, and she's spent plenty of time in the gym as an adult and a Soldier. It wasn't until 2014, when Simpson returned home from a deployment in the Middle East, that she became involved in bodybuilding.
"I was going through a rough transition and needed something else to help me focus. I found bodybuilding was a great way to cope with outside stressors," Simpson said. "It helps me maintain a healthy lifestyle, and helps me teach my children about healthy eating, balance of nutrition and workouts and enjoying life."
Simpson competes in an average of two shows a year and has won numerous trophies in novice and masters' categories. Her office at the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 216th Engineer Battalion in Woodlawn, Ohio, is decorated with the hardware she's brought home, including four first place trophies and the overall winner at this year's Midwest Battle of the Champions in Indianapolis.
To stay in winning shape, Simpson works out five days a week, does cardio three to six times a week, and keeps to a strict diet and drinks plenty of water. She calls her Family - husband Dennis, 9-year-old son Lincoln, 7-year-old daughter Isabella, and her mother Elizabeth McDonough - her "team." The team is her cheering section during competitions and her support during training.
"It really is a team effort and I have the best one around," she said. "What bodybuilders do is intense and to the extreme when we get closer to show time, but my Family gets it. They put up with my carb depleted attitude."
She credits her kids for keeping her on track.
"If they catch me eating a cookie they'll ask, 'Mom is it a cheat meal?' 'Mom can you have that?' They crack me up."
Bodybuilding has been a plus for Simpson when it comes being physically fit for the Ohio National Guard. Since she started competing, she exceeds the scores she needs to pass the Army's physical fitness standards. On the flip side, her National Guard training has been a big benefit to her in bodybuilding.
"My discipline, focus and drive from being in the military helps me through the mental trials of bodybuilding," Simpson said. "Your body is an amazing machine and pushing it to its limit is enlightening and motivating."