Meet Tiffany, a SparkPeople Success Story and the Next Big Star!*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When you work at SparkPeople, Success Stories are a big part of the water cooler chatter. We know all of our Success Stories by name, and we love to spread the word when a member of the SparkPeople "family" has a WooHoo moment!

"Did you hear about that member who lost 80 pounds and is a back-up singer for Beyoncé?"
"What? No way!"
"Yes. She has an amazing voice and has an album of her own. CBS News just did a story on her."
"Whoa. Such a great story!"

True story--and one that we're psyched to share with all of you.

Not only did Tiffany Monique (AKAPELLA13) end a long cycle of yo-yo dieting and go from 235 pounds to 158 pounds--and counting--but she's also making huge strides in her career as a recording artist. Best known as one-third of the Mamas, Beyoncé's back-up singers, she recently recorded her debut EP, "Nemesis," and has another album in the works. She's primed for a big breakthrough, and SparkGuy and all of us here are trying to give her the boost we know she deserves. (You can help, too!)

First watch her CBS News story here:

She credits "The Spark," which she read while on tour with Beyoncé, for a large part of her success. She wrote to SparkGuy:
It's amazing because so many of the stories in "The Spark" made me feel as if someone were peeking into my window. I grew up as a skinny teenager and began gaining weight in college... I guess you can say I gained the Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior and Post Graduate "15." LOL!

This was also the time I began to take my music career seriously but always ran into roadblocks because of my weight. I was even told by a well-known music executive that I had the chops, but my "looks didn't compete with the divas" on his roster. I was CRUSHED. As my song Nemesis outlines, I learned to transform that negative energy into fuel for my success. That mentality showed immediate effects with my esteem, but it didn't do as much for my success in entering the major music entertainment industry.

I am honored that Beyoncé looked beyond my size to see my gift. The opportunity to sing background for and tour with Beyoncé gave me the education and training required, in my opinion, for any artist to truly be successful.

But it was not without consequence. I, and the other full figured background singers, read countless reviews that praised our vocals but criticized our weight. We were called "fat tubbies, big mommas, bodyguard singers" and more. It was a constant reminder of how cruel people can be, but also how unhappy I was with my weight and that I needed to get obesity out of the way to make my dream a reality.

This is where "The Spark" comes in. I joined the site and purchased the book all while on tour. And within the first couple of pages, I felt as if I needed to check the ceilings and windows for surveillance cameras. I was the one who saw the amount of weight loss needed as so extraordinary (100 lbs) that it seemed impossible. I was the one who set goals so grand and large but didn't account for the small steps that needed to be made first. And MOST importantly, I am the mother who, though thrilled with the opportunity of being on tour with Beyoncé, felt guilty that I was leaving my son behind in order to make a living. Yes, this is the life I desire, but not solely from the "background." I desire a successful music career on MY terms that affords me the opportunity to have my son with me instead of having to solely watch me on television or through a Skype camera for months on end.

Your book was definitely instrumental in helping me honestly assess what my goals and motivations were."
(Do you need a tissue after reading that? I did!) Now read our exclusive interview with Tiffany. When she's a big star--we can all say we knew her and supported her along the way! WooHoo!

dailySpark: How did you find SparkPeople?

Tiffany: I learned of SparkPeople through a sorority sister. I was a member of a sorority-based health & fitness forum and posed a question in that open forum seeking advice for successful weight loss programs. At the time, I was a member of Weight Watchers and the Biggest Loser Club but needed to cut costs. I asked which was the better of the two, and she immediately directed me to SparkPeople. After learning this was free, I cancelled my memberships with the other two and signed up immediately.

dailySpark: You tried plenty of diets before ultimately losing 80 pounds with SparkPeople. What about the site was different? How did it help you lose weight?

Tiffany: Truthfully, the first thing that stood out about the website was that there was no cost. That way, I was able to invest that expense into quality, healthy foods instead of monthly membership costs. As I spent more time on the site, I was inspired by the advice, tips and education it provides. Too often, we begin weight loss programs without knowing what we're really doing and why they work.

More importantly, without the education of how our bodies work and a true self-assessment of what our personal obstacles are, we cannot be permanently successful. Such was the case for me with other diets. SparkPeople not only made recommendations for immediate changes, but through the website, and The Spark , I was able to make an internal assessment and correct unhealthy behaviors and habits that contributed to my obesity. I had no idea or appreciation for calorie differentials, streaks and nutrition facts before this site. This knowledge, accompanied with the visuals provided in my daily/weekly reports allowed me to actually see what I was doing to my body by the food I was consuming and make healthier choices.

dailySpark: Who is your biggest inspiration?

Tiffany: My son is my biggest inspiration, by far. His presence in my life reminds me that I must always strive to be a better mother, woman and person. Being fit and healthy is no longer an option for me; it is imperative and my obligation to him as his mom. Because he is still young and in his formative years, this is a critical time for me to not only speak, but show him what it means to set goals and follow through with them; to take care of ourselves and our bodies and to properly govern our actions and reactions to the circumstances around us. Finally, he inspires me to be healthier so that I can break the family curse of obesity and its associated illness that has plagued my family for generations.

Tiffany, at right, on Beyonce's "I Am..." Tour in 2009

dailySpark: You’re an amazing singer. How has your weight loss affected your performance?

Tiffany: My weight loss has definitely made me a more credible and confident performer. When you have the opportunity to perform in front of hundreds or thousands of people, you feel and at times are perceived as if you're on top of the world. Unfortunately, you are human and like others, are affected by your emotions and the circumstances around you. I had the privilege of performing behind one of the top entertainers in music history (Beyoncé); the association alone is quite intimidating (smile). Compound that with the dissatisfaction of your physical image, fatigue and lack of confidence and you stick out like a sore thumb. I spent several nights on stage singing, while struggling with my thoughts of the audience's perception of me. Thoughts such as "I look HUGE on that screen", "what will the reviews say about me tomorrow?", "I hope they don't hear my heavy breathing over the microphone" ran through my mind the whole performance. Through my weight loss, I can dance more fluidly, sing more boldly and am becoming prouder of the image I am projecting onstage.

dailySpark: You mentioned in the CBS interview that at one point you ate fast food thrice daily, along with a couple of snacks. How have your eating habits changed? What is a typical day like?

Tiffany: My eating habits have changed tremendously. I no longer eat on impulse; my meals (even when dining out) are measured, pre-planned and budgeted in accordance with my daily caloric intake. I diligently study the ingredients and nutrition facts on all of the foods I eat, and have educated myself on the complicated jargon it often contains.

I also stay away from fast food restaurants at all costs. Don't get me wrong--I still love McDonald's, but I know that it represents a trigger for me, so I stay away. Finally, I carefully observe what triggers me to overeat. For example, I LOVE grapes and in many ways, they can be great for you. However, I acknowledge that after an initial serving, I will sneak back for more and before the end of a day, an entire bag can be gone. That is the behavior that caused me to become overweight in the first place. Therefore, I no longer keep them in my house. I still allow myself to enjoy them, but only in a forum where there is a limited supply and I am forced to eat them responsibly.

Also, I strive to find exercise in everything I do. Recently, my region experienced a big snow, and I used that as an opportunity for a great workout. I strapped on my heart rate monitor, grabbed my shovel and headed outside. Through 3 rounds and 5 hours of work, I burned almost 1,900 calories...YES - 1,900. I strive to incorporate those physical activities I HAVE to do into my daily workouts.

My typical day consists of three regular meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) and three small snacks. Because I don't necessarily like vegetables and can easily forget to eat them, I force myself to incorporate one in each meal. Also, I realized along my journey that I drank far too many of my calories, so aside from occasional homemade smoothies, I now only drink water and hot tea.

dailySpark: How do you stay in shape when you’re on the road?

Tiffany: Truthfully, it not too hard to stay in shape when you're on the road if you have the right mindset. 95% of the hotels we lodge in have fitness rooms, as well as healthy menu choices for in-room dining. So instead of opting for the fried chicken fingers, French fries and double scoop of ice cream I formerly ordered, I now order a salad, glass of water, and travel with my own fat-free salad dressing. I've learned through this process that I cannot allow external circumstances, including work and travel, to serve as an excuse for poor eating. I am in control of my destiny.

dailySpark: What advice do you have for someone who is just starting a weight-loss journey?

Tiffany: Slow and steady wins the race. You will not lose all the weight overnight, and if you truly want to conquer obesity, you won't want to! The most important thing I could recommend to anyone is to first, honestly assess why you're overweight and what your triggers are. No diet will be successful if you don't address the root of the problem. Clean and heal the wound before bandaging it. I've been temporarily successful on many programs, but because I didn't get to the root of the problem, I gained all the weight back, plus more. Next, determine what inspires you to succeed. I definitely got a better grasp of this after reading The Spark. I recognized that my son and my career were important enough to propel me forward. Unfortunately, the obvious and politically correct reasons (family history, health, etc.) weren't strong enough to make me take action--sad, but true. Figure out what motivates YOU regardless of whether it works for another, then use that as your fuel to speed forward. Finally, educate yourself. Learn how the body works and the reactions it makes to the foods you eat. Study your ingredients, nutrition facts, serving sizes and measurements; live by them. SparkPeople has a wealth of advice, support and information at your disposal; USE IT! With these resources, you will develop such an appreciation for your health that you will have no desire to conform to your old ways.

dailySpark: What is your next big goal?

Tiffany: My immediate goal is to complete my journey with approximately 15 more pounds I'd like to lose. My next big goal is to use all that I've acquired in health, consistency, happiness and confidence to propel my career beyond my wildest dreams. I'm currently working on my first album and hope to complete it in the next few months, as well as the continued promotion of my debut EP, Nemesis. As a self-funding, independent artist, it is difficult to compete with the majors and receive worldwide exposure and recognition. However, my intention is to do just that! This new phase of my life is filled with good health, promise, determination and inspiration. I'm the happiest I've been in such a long time and I intend to make this energy contagious! Dare to tell me no, and watch it turn transform into a "YES!" (smile)

dailySpark: The big question: Where can we hear you sing?

Tiffany: Well, of course! Please stop by to visit my website,, where you can learn more about my background as well as hear snippets from my debut EP, Nemesis. Also, you may view my debut video for Nemesis--a "transitional" song that chronicles my experiences and obstacles in the music industry here: (The more views her video receives from SP members, the more she'll stick out on YouTube.)

Finally, the EP, which contains 5 songs all written by myself and produced by Kevin "Kwiz" Ryan and Marlin Smith of Digital Khaoss Productions, can be purchased on iTunes.

SparkGuy has been super excited to get to know Tiffany. Her passion and enthusiasm for SparkPeople--and the profound effect that his book had on her--inspired him. He says: "I love that Tiffany is an authentic member of the SparkPeople family. She's also incredibly talented and very excited about inspiring other people to reach their goals. This is an amazing opportunity for all of us to help make a member of the SparkPeople family's dreams come true. If SparkPeople members join together, we WILL make a real impact in helping Tiffany become a true superstar since she clearly has the talent to make it big. I have watched her video several times and love her music!"

*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

We've already downloaded Tiffany's EP--have you? What a voice! How can we help make her a star?

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Sooooo Awesome!!!! Report
OMG! Tiffany is GREAT. I am sure she will go far with that talent, presence, and her increased self worth. I am definately going to down load her EP, and at least Nemisis is going on my iPod. Report
Congrats on your success with Spark -- hope it spills over in your singing career -Great voice!! Report
Thank you for sharing. Congratulations and smooth sailing with your dreams. You will do it all! Report
Congratulations Tiffany on your weight loss and definitely your career, which is going to go far. I will be looking out for your CD's and I feel proud to have you as a SparkPeople Sister. Take care and God Bless you. Report
congratulations, tiffany! i like the video and the song! Report
I am so blown away with your wonderful talent. Congrats on the success of your spark journey so far and I hope the future holds great things for you and your family. You are such an inspiration. Thank you! Report
My Spark Status this Wednesday read "Proud to see a member featured on our local news channel in LA." After reading your story in this blog I am more proud.
Keep on the journey and teach the children well through your many successes. Report
GREAT video! I love how you sum up all your challenges in the inspiring lyrics. I'm going to play it all the time and remember your story! You're AWESOME!!! Report
Awesome...Keep it going we know you can!! Report
It would take quite a while for me to respond to each of you who have forwarded your support individually, so let me start by doing so here. Thank you ALL for taking the time to read my story, and forwarding your support, sentiments and encouragement my way. This was not a brief nor easy journey. There were definitely times when I tripped up, made pit stops and searched for the quick and easy fix along the way. Nonetheless, I strive to always remind myself how important my goal is and the impact it will have on everything around me - including my health, career and most of all, my son! Furthermore, I have to remember that this is a LIFESTYLE change and look beyond reaching a magic number on the scale. This is my life and no longer simply about weight loss. I'm thankful for my family, friends and having a forum such as Sparkpeople to remind me of that. My journey continues but I am so much happier and now motivated to knock down other barriers in my life that formerly seemed insurmountable. Thanks to Chris, Bruce, Stepfanie and the entire Sparkpeople family for taking interest in my story, career and journey, then deciding to come along for the ride! It shows how genuine you really are! I'm confident that there are GREAT things ahead!! Report
Way to go SOROR!!! Congrats on the weight loss and your continued success!!

Great voice and music!!! Skee-Wee!!! Report
congrats and continued success! Report
Congratulations and much success in your music career. Report
I'm so happy for your success and wish you future success both with your voice and health!!! Cheers!!! Report
I don't know what to say, that hasn't already been said. May you be BLESSED... representing Balanced for "B", Loved for "L", Energized for "E", Spirit-filled for "S", Successful for "S", Encouraged for "E", and Devoted for "D"! You have a gift & your are beautiful, inside and out.

And when things get hard, there's another gifted lady, Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, who wrote, 10 Steps to Turning Your Life Around. In summary, Stand Up, Speak Up, Look Up, Book Up, Kiss Up, Listen Up, Hang Up, Make Up, Wake Up, & Cheer Up.

You're MOVING UP so spread those wings!! Report
WOW. wjat a famtastic voice! Report
Yes. A great voice and great look! Report
Congratulations! May all of your dreams come true. God bless you on your journey. Report
what a great history, I feel proud of be part of tis community. Congratulations Tiffany..!! Report
Very inspiring story. Congratulations to you and continued success! Report
Tiffany you look great. Thanks for sharing your story with us! Report
You are so beautiful. Shine! Report
Congrats Tiffany! I will def be checking you out on Youtube!! Report
That song is FIYA!!!!!! And your story is inspirational. Take your turn to the front of the stage MAMA!! Report
Yes to this!! The Spark is not just about losing weight and changing eating habits, it's also about dreaming big and making those dreams come true! Congrats!! *off to iTunes* Report
Such an inspirational story and song! God puts us in places that maybe another person will never be or go, therefore we have our own "spheres of influence"...thats for His purpose, His design! May you be forever blessed and successful in you endeavors but even more so, may you always remember The Source of those successes and share them continually in your sphere! Be a positive influence always, for the world needs it!!!
Many Blessings!!! Report
Congrats on your success! Report
Love the song, it shows plenty of swagger. Continue to be a light to all of us here at Spark. Much love and success to you in the future. God Bless you and your family. Report
Congrats on your weight loss and your career! Report
good job on the weight loss, have a nice voice but not my cup of tea for the type of singing Report
Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story with us. You are truly a motivation! Your voice is gorgeous and your music is wonderful! Report
This is SO wonderful! God bless you! Report
AWESOME!!! Love that you gave glory to God! May He use you in ways you can't imagine!
Tiffany, you are a very articulate woman, beautiful, apparently a great singer, you have everything going for you. (maybe even a book -on your weight loss journey!) Congratulations. Report
Thanks for sharing your story and your awesome talent!!! May you find nothing less than continued success! Report
Congratulations on all your success! Awesome! Report
Congratulations and much success for your future!! Report
Good Job and Congrats I hope I can do it! Report
Wow! Just like the lyrics says I won't let my own nemesis be me. At least not any more. Report
You go girl!!! CONGRATS!!! Report
All I can say is....AWESOME!!! Congratulations!!! Report
Terrific, Awesome, You can do it on the last 15 pounds. Then let the Lord be your guide.
Tiffany, you have so much of which to be proud. Your god-given talent and beauty are trumped by your desire to be all that you can be, a great mother for your son, a strong woman, a healthy role model. Those god-given talents will blossom now. You have really given your life direction - and inspired me too! Thanks. Loved Nemisis!! Report
Awesome! So wonderful to see someone achieve their dreams. I'm here on Spark for the same reasons. I found out reading an article in a magazine. Love this. I couldn't afford the others and once I found this, it was like prayers answered. Good luck to you and love that song. Report
Great song. Congratulations on all your success. You are a great inspiration to all. Report
What a journey you have had so far! Congratulations! You are very talented, good luck as you continue improving yourself! Report
Thanks for sharing your story! Nice Work! Report
Thank you for sharing!!! You are so VERY talented. Good luck to you on both your health and fitness journey and you career!!! Report
You are awesome...a true inspiration. Thank you for being some amazing! Report
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