Dr. Darla Winburn, PharmD, 47, proves that it’s never too late to begin your fitness journey.

Darla grew up in a household that did not practice a healthy eating lifestyle. However, after seeing her father pass away prematurely from congestive heart failure, Darla decided she did not want to go down that road, subsequently dialing into nutrition and making healthy changes in her 20s.

Her most significant shifts were increasing protein and water intake, reducing dairy, swapping grains for complex carbohydrates, and controlling portion sizes.

However, it was not until about a decade later that Darla began to dabble in exercise for the first time in her mid-30s, after undergoing back surgery and a hysterectomy. Now she’s gearing up for the Tupelo, MS 2022 NPC Total Body Championship in Women’s Bikini and Wellness categories for those over 35 and 40.

Her workout regimen began modestly with the treadmill and elliptical at Rebel Body Fitness in Oxford. She recalls feeling intimidated by the machines and weights.

“I did not have an athletic background, so I figured my body wouldn’t be able to do those things. I didn’t know if I could push my body’s limits.” Personal trainer and gym owner Lawrence Muruako helped shift that mindset.

Never missing a day in the gym, Darla now enjoys the challenge of moving towards a goal while being pushed out of her comfort zone.

Strength training offers several long-term benefits for aging, such as metabolism support, bone density preservation, and injury prevention. Darla stresses the importance of not becoming complacent about one’s physical health with age and that a poor diet cannot be out-exercised.

The pharmacist explains that those experiencing menopause or other age-related hormonal fluctuations can still start with small dietary changes while their bodies adjust.

“If you don’t constantly challenge yourself, especially at this age, you’ll just stay stagnant and never achieve the goals you want.”

Darla took her fitness to the next level four months ago by training for her first bikini competition with Casey Nelson of Hustle House Gym in Bartlett.

“It took me a while to get the confidence at 47 to get into a competition suit.”

When Darla first signed up, she made a pact to not self-sabotage, putting her faith in the long-term results. She began seeing results after about two months.

As a Doctor of Pharmacy for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Darla advocates diet and exercise over prescriptions for patients experiencing hypertension, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Additionally, she recommends supplements such as glucosamine, fish oil, multivitamins, and herbal supplements like zinc and magnesium.

Darla is also ISSA Certified in Personal Training and Nutrition and trains clients out of Total Body Gym in Olive Branch. You can book a training session with Darla’s business, Body RX, by contacting her via email: darlabodyrx@gmail.com.

By Shlomit Ovadia
Photo by Tindall Stephens