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?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


I still remember Beyonce when she was new with Destiny's Child. They sang in Valdosta, GA at an amusement park. Or Jennifer Nettles with Sugarland when she used to play in local bars around here every weekend. Tiffany I think you'll be able to do anything you put your mind too. If this is your dream than go make it your reality. 😉💖 Report
Slow and steady is the key. Worked for me and will work for others. This is for life and hooray for Tiffany. Report
It's fun to meet people from all walks of life on here. Congratulations on winning a battle, Tiffany!! Report
I am so happy for you. Woo hoo. Report
What a great job. We can all do it. Woohoo Report
Awesome! Report
Loved it!! All of it! Her story, her music, her inspiration, all of it! What a great representative of SP!! Report
What a great story! Report
Inspiring! Report
She's already a star in my book... see her SPARK..le? Report
Best wishes. Report
WOW! What an inspiration you are to me ... keep doing you! Report
Wow! You are a true inspiration!!! I love to sing and have people tell me all the time I am good at it, but I don't seem to have the self confidence to pursue it. I have stage fright to the max. I also am here for the reasons we all are, health and want to enjoy life to the fullest without all the access baggage :) I am sooo happy for you. Love your song, you keep workin' it girl. You got what it takes! Report
Tiffany, It's such a pleasure to see you over here! I'm now a SparkPeople person! And, congratulations again to you on your truly amazing weight-loss success story! And thank you so much for taking the time to appear on my Gab with the Gurus Radio Show. I'm so excited to spread the word about you.

Also, I invite those of you reading this to listen at any time to our interview. Tiffany talks about her weight loss; she shares how supportive Beyonce was; how helped make her success possible, etc. To listen, go here --
Tiffany is the reason I'm here. My hubby was watching TV, saw Tiffany being interviewed and the next morning handed me a paper with on it. The rest is history -- thank you Tiffany, SP and my husband -- who is super supportive in my goal. Almost 10 lb down!! Report
You Rock! Congratulations -- bet your son is proud of you, too.. And he's so lucky to have a mommy who has got her priorities straight. Report
Tiffany~Wow Darlin' You Have It GOING ON! Wonderful video, and what neat clips of "A child with a dream." My own daughter has several friends who are on their way in the music world, just now having Nashville Artist seekers calling him, as well as his producer. This young man's name is Tyler Barham(sp?), and his producer/song writer for others as well is John Griffin. My daughter just celebrated her 14th birthday, and has high aspirations for herself. I back her 100%, and always have. She too is on the heavy side, but has a high self esteem, and says when she is ready for that weight loss step in life she is going to go at it with GUSTO! Her feelings are right now with her body still growing, this isn't a safe time in her life to calorie restrict, and whatnot. Personally, again I do believe she has the right idea as she has MANY MANY MANY FOOD ALLERGIES, and unfortunately is in the beginning of osteoperosis~due to those allergies since birth. They certainly haven't prevented her from singing her heart out, joining others as support as they are climbing to success by day, and doing live YouTube shows every Tuesday evening~ :o).

I am so proud of you dear! You sound wonderful, look AMAZING, and I sooo commend you for following your dreams & living the joy of making them become reality!!!! :o) Report
Love it! Good luck continued success Report
congratulation on on your successes in your journey to health and happiness. keep up the great work and I luvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv your song nemesis. I look forward to hearing the rest of your songs
all my best to you Report
I am so proud of you congratulations on your weight loss, I'm in the process of doing the same and it is so so hard ecspecially when you have alot of health problems and can't do but so much execising. I push my way through every morning because i feel if i loose the weight my health will get better and i really want to look good on my wedding day. The weight is so easy to put on but so hard to get off ecspecially when you don't have help or encouragement, i look at the pictures of myself when i was smaller and that is my motivation and now seeing you and reading your story as well as Jeniffer Hudson you both inspiration to me. Keep up the good work and i love that video. Report
Tiffany, what a wonderful story and inspiration you are. Congratulations on your success with your weigh lose and you career. Report
Hey Congrats to you! I hope to be joining you shortly in the land of the thin and happy! Report
Wow! Congratulations! Report
I read this article with wide eyes and unbelief....AMAZING and INSPIRATIONAL! I know can say...I can do it too! Thank you so much for sharing your story I really appreciate it. Report
good job! Report
Tiffany, Wow. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I too had some weight to lose & wanted a running partner, that was my initial contact with the amazing SparkPeople. I am a female independent record label owner here in Phoenix with international distribution, we should hook up. Check out . Great job really, and your vocals are sick!! Report
Tiffany, you are the perfect inspiration for me because I'm a singer that's on the road a lot too! Thank you so much sweetheart! Congratulations! And continued success to you! (Let me know if ya ever need a back-up singer yourself! LOL!) God bless you...

Tiffany, I love your story. Thanks for sharing! I joined Spark people over a year ago thanks to a co-worker & never really tried the site. I have 50 lbs to lose & feel encourged as I try this again. Thanks & you have such a beautiful voice. Report
You go girl. Judos to you. Report
Snaps to you, Lady!! Thanks, I really needed the boost today.

A rising tide carries all boats. Thanks for being the tide today.

-Alexis Report
very encouraging, thank you! Report
So inspiring! Thanks for sharing this story. If Tiffany can do this with her busy life as a professional and mom, so can I! Love the song - the verse that includes "I won't let my nemesis be me" is so powerful! Report
I just wanna be all I can be
So that I can be happy with me
I won't let what you say get to me
Cause I can't let my own Nemesis be me
No I won't let my own Nemesis be me

The lyrics in that bridge say it all!!!!!!! You are so inspiring,and actually make me think i can do it!!!! im downloading you songs today and will be following ur success! Congrats girl! Your amazing and beautiful keep it up! Report
Congratulations Tiffany! You are beautiful inside and out and don't ever forget that! From someone who has over 100 lbs to lose (and has lost and gained at least that much over the life of dieting), I know what a struggle it is and how thankful that we both found SparkPeople! I know that you will be successful in whatever you set your mind to. Best of luck with your singing career! God Bless You! Report
Tiffany looks just beautiful, and has learned so many of the important guidelines for healthy eating. I'm especially pleased that she pointed out that fitness centers are readily available on the road if you pick the right hotels, and mentioned avoiding "triggers." Grapes would not be most people's trigger, but if they're hers then realizing that and limiting her 'encounters' with them is really smart!

The tendency of music reviewers to mention the weight of the backup singers bothered me. It's irrelevant and it's cruel.

I'm so happy Tiffany has found herself and her inspiration, and wish her a wonderful future! Report
You look great! I'm happy for you and wish you the greatest fulfillment of your dreams. Report
Tiffany, you are such a gifted singer, and a true inspiration to all of us here in the Sparkpeople community. Congratulations and best wishes for your career! Report
congratulations thats so awsome doing a good job Report
Wonderful story! Keep going to your goal. You are so close to achieve your success.
You have inspired me to keep trying for another time to obtain my goal. I will be strong.
Good luck to your singing career.
Thanks for the challenge... I also must lose over 100 lbs. Your story is inspiring and I love your song. I have downloaded it and when I listen, it will remind me to be strong. Report
Congrats to you! Your stats are similar to mine and I'm hoping your story can provide some motivation for me! Many blessings! Report
WOW!!!! truly are a 'spark' to ignite a much grander fire amongst us! Thank you for sharing your talents as well as your 'heart' through your music and your 'story'. You make me want to get better and better!
Roz Report
Congratulations and thank you. Last night I had dinner with my beautiful future DIL and she has given up on losing weight, which is good and bad. I have never, in the several years here and my son have been together, actually seen her eat a meal. Last night, for the first time she actually ate when we went out. I so wanted to introduce her to SPARKS but was so nervous about hurting her feelings. I am forwarding your story to her. Your voice is awesome, your spirit more so. I loved Nemesis and wish you a long and super career. Thanks for the inspiration. Report
Congrats! I love your planning strategies. Keep up the hard work and take the time to enjoy your success, you WILL have much more! Report
Congratulations!!!! Keep up the good work, your story is very motivationa and I wish you the best on your journey !! Report
I love it! I enjoyed your story and found motivation whille reading it. I also love the song..."i'm living my life, while haters stand by, with my head to the sky, I'm your nemisis and I won't resist!" Love it!!! Report
Thank you for sharing such an amazing story and what an amazing voice - pure talent. It makes us all realise that we have many of the same personal and emotional challenges to face, and even for someone that is seen as successful (backing singer to Beyonce -what?) that Tiffany is still facing and overcoming her own demons. Best of luck with becoming a solo artist - you can do it, you have proven it by achieving so much already Report
Way to go SOROR. Much success with your singing career and your new healthy life. That's what it's all about. Making it regardless of the obstacles that others put before you. Report
Great story! Stories such as this reminds us all that we can all reach the goals we have set. Congratulations Tiffany! Report