ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Staff Sgt. Diamond R. Taylor, observer coach/trainer and behavioral health specialist assigned to Task Force Outlaw, 2nd Battalion, 346th Training Support Regiment, 5th Army Brigade, 1st Army Division West, competed and won in both the Battle Royale and Armed Forces National Championships here Oct. 1.

Taylor, a Keansburg, New Jersey native, won five awards: Battle Royale Overall for Figure; Armed Forces National Championship Overall for Figure; Armed Forced National Championship Open Class D First Place; Battle Royale Open Class C First Place; and Battle Royale First Responder First Place.

“I started my competition preparation July 13, which was a weekly adjustment to my diet and exercise based on my body composition,” said Taylor. “The end goal was to work on my conditioning to improve my overall body composition from my previous show in April. Training included six days a week of weightlifting and says days of cardio which varied from 60 to 120 minutes.”

The National Physique Committee, a worldwide physique organization since 1982, hosts annual competitions that require contestants to meet high standards and regulations.

“I’m very lucky to have a supportive group at work who held me accountable with my diet and motivation by reminding me that I was ‘almost there’ and that ‘it’ll be worth it,’ said Taylor. “When I returned to Fort Bliss, Texas, my section surprised me with balloons, flowers, and a celebration to express how proud they were of me. They were also very understanding and would allow time to train when needed. I’m especially thankful for 1st Lt. Alexis Grayson, my section leader, who was always there for me and created an environment that fostered growth and professional development.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Maranda McCorvey, 2-346th TSBN senior enlisted advisor, describes Taylor as a soldier who excels on and off duty.

“Staff Sgt. Taylor’s work performance is well above average,” said McCorvey. “Hearing that she won five medals and took overall winner ignited my emotions to a higher level. I was both surprised and not surprised because this was a national-level competition, and I knew she was competing with some great bodybuilders. However, I was not surprised because I saw the hard work she put into it. She stayed focus and committed to her diet and workouts. Her selfless service, skills, knowledge, and leadership abilities contributed directly to her many accomplishments. It is without doubt that she will continue to soar in her professional career and activities.”

Taylor applies her can-do attitude to leading members of her section.

“Staff Sgt. Taylor is an instrumental coach and mentor to many of the soldiers throughout TF Outlaw and other units,” said McCorvey. “She is the epitome of a noncommissioned officer and a leader who exemplifies the total soldier concept. Staff Sgt. Taylor is a professional soldier in every way at all times no matter the situation. She lives the Army values and goes above and beyond what is asked, without being told to do so. I’m proud to have her in our formation.”

Along with her Army team, Taylor attributes a lot of her discipline to her upbringing.

“I come from a single-mother household,” said Taylor. “My mother is my rock, my role model, and my everything. Mirroring her perseverance, work ethic, and dedication is what helped me train and accomplish my goals. There were hard times, but we got through it. She used to say, ‘pain is beauty,’ and that is something I carry with me. There will be hard times but stick it out and the beauty will be there.”

Taylor is a correction officer who joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 2008 and is currently mobilized as an OC/T with the 5th Armored Brigade.

“I joined the Army because I saw the positive impact it had on my older sister. I was unsure if I wanted to go to college at the time, so the Army allowed me to have options in addition to school.”

She drew inspiration to compete by overcoming past challenges.

“In 2012, I was 176 pounds and failed Army height and weight standards for my age group,” said Taylor. “My Army Physical Fitness Test run was at 22 minutes and that was with me trying. After being flagged, I worked to lose the weight. Since then, I have fallen in love with working out. I was introduced to bodybuilding through a few friends I met overseas while deployed. I adjusted my training and decided to compete as it required mental and physical dedication. I remember admiring Olympian winners thinking ‘I would kill to do that.’ From then, I was inspired and knew I had the ability to do it, I just had to train.”

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Taylor applied her training to her first competition this past April, taking home the titles of True Novice First Place, Novice First Place, and second place in Open Class but finetuned her regimen to win big this time around.

“I didn’t know what to expect at my first competition,” said Taylor. “The Armed Forces National Championship was a competition I always wanted to compete in as it combined my love for the military with my love for working out. When I received my stage shots from my first competition, I knew I could be better. We worked extra hard, tripled cardio, adjusted my nutrition, and with the help of my coach, Shane Heugly, we delivered a great package during the second competition.”

Taylor aspires to continue training and earn her Pro Card, as well as Personal Training Certification to help others achieve their fitness goals.

Taylor advises other to “stay flexible, expect setbacks, and remember your ‘why’,” when training.

“Too often soldiers create rigid plans but staying flexible allows them to adapt and not get too discouraged. Sometimes the setbacks humble us then allows us to reset. The ‘why’ is what will encourage and keep people motivated. But finding that why is up to each person. Also having a good support system is pivotal. I am lucky to have my military, civilian, and family support system.”