Eve Guzman is continuing to reach her body goals.
The mom-of-two was featured in PEOPLE’s 2015 Half Their Size issue after going from 277 lbs. to 138 lbs. by dramatically decreasing her portion sizes and sticking to a high-protein, low-fat, moderate-carb diet. Since then, she has become a certified sports nutritionist and certified personal trainer and entered figure competitions.
Guzman hit another milestone recently by coming in third place at her fifth figure competition. It’s her highest placement to date.
That recognition came after a lot of hard work. The social media influencer, who competed in her fourth show a month earlier, underwent a grueling 20-week prep for the big day.
“In the off season when I’m not leaning out, meaning dropping body fat, I do heavy weight lifting 5 to 6 days a week with very little cardio,” Guzman, who weighed 125 lbs. at the competition, tells PEOPLE. “Once I start preparing for a show, I start slowly implementing more cardio every single week and I transition from heavy lifting to lighter lifting. Then I start cutting carbs and fat — I follow a macro-based nutrition program — strategically up until the final week of the show.”
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That includes “carb loading” three days before the competition to make her muscles appear fuller onstage, says Guzman, who has blogged for PEOPLE. It also includes a burger and fries in between the morning pre-judging and nighttime judging phases of the show. “I have found that my body responds best to potatoes as carbs and beef as my protein, so that’s my go-to and it’s worked every show, so I’ve stuck with it,” says the Indianapolis, Indiana resident.
As for her post-show celebratory meal, Guzman goes for the sweets. “In the car, my husband has a selection of doughnuts from me to pick from,” she says. “It’s [either that] or a cupcake.”
And although she’s in the best shape of her life, Guzman still faces occasional self-doubt.
“The week of this [last] show I got into my feelings. I was like ‘oh, the other girls’ skin is tight. I lost so much weight; my skin is saggy,” she says. “When I got there and saw the other girls I got into that comparison mode and then I totally snapped out of it. I was like, ‘I spent 20 weeks prepping and cutting food, if anything this is going to be the most fun show I’ve done. I’m going to meet people, make friends, have fun backstage’. And I pulled it off.”
Guzman says she plans to keep competing — and that it makes her proud. “It never gets old,” she says of being onstage. “It’s always new. I’m just forever grateful for my dedication. The support of my husband and my friends and family members.”