2017 where on earth have you been hiding? It seems the new year has crept up all of a sudden and that’s another 365 days gone in the blink of an eye. This year is going to be a pretty monumental milestone for me because I’ll be turning 30 in October 2017 and I’m either due a mid-life crisis or seriously failing at life, I can’t quite decide. I’ve been a single parent for four years now as the days tick past between working out, raising my two children – Millisent 9yrs and Gabriele 4yrs – writing, modelling and shooting TV shows. But this is the year I will officially become an adult, it’s time to kiss goodbye to my tender twenties and start that uphill walk towards forty. FML!
I always thought I’d have life sussed by thirty, married with kids, a token puppy and somewhat on my way to becoming a millionaire or at the very least contemplating early retirement from my third holiday home. Alas sometimes life doesn’t quite work out like they tell you in the movies, sometimes no matter how hard you try you don’t break ground or make the progress you deserve. Yes there have been spanners in the works – total understatement – but every mistake, obstacle and issue along the way has been a valuable lesson and life experience that has made me a far stronger, more patient and capable person which I am truly grateful of. I guess what I’m trying to say is when faced with opportunity in life we should seize the day and hold onto it with both hands.
Pure Elite is the fastest growing bikini, fitness and muscle model competition in Europe; a cross between beauty pageantry and traditional bodybuilding, the contest showcases athletes and models from across the world as they compete for prizes and the coveted titles and trophies for each category from bikini to tattoo, mum’s who lift and bodybuilding. It’s open to the public and any age and body type can enter as no experience is necessary so with it being my first time competing I hope that blogging my progress and journey will push me to transform my body and smash my fitness goals. At present I’m a size UK8 vegan, slim but not skinny and I love cardio, typically running between 5-20km 4-5 times a week at the gym as a warm up before my endurance workout of 3×15 pull-ups and 3×15 leg presses. My aim is to feel fit and have bags of energy because I lead a hectic lifestyle, am always on the go and like to play with my children, carry shopping bags and maintain my flexibility. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly muscular but I have firm thighs and my glutes are pretty peachy in leggings although I’ve got a bit of a bingo wing situation when I wave as my triceps have always hated me.
Being vegan I’m on iron tablets to combat anaemia and as I never liked dairy as a child due to turning vegetarian at the age of five I’ve suffered from weak bones for which I took medication but stopped in my teens. My elbows have always felt weak but my knees are pretty resilient, yet it’s never been my aim to lift weights or be butch or muscular, so for the show I need to flip my training on its head completely and push my body to the limits to become as strong and defined as possible. Food wise I eat a lot of calories as each cardio session can burn anywhere between 200-800kcal a time before I consider weights or the rest of the day that I spend running around so I typically eat between 2,000-3,000kcal a day as it is. I love food and although I eat my seven-a-day in fruit, vegetables, rice, nuts and seeds my portion sizes are ridiculously big and I’m always eating or thinking about eating. My meals satisfy me and I’d never starve myself because I’d be the moodiest person on the planet without food, I can’t focus or function properly when I’m hungry, I just enjoy taste, texture and experimenting with flavours so much that my appetite has no off-switch and even after my evening meal I can keep on snacking all night until I go to bed without feeling sick or bloated.
And speaking of sleep, or rather my lack of, I think the dark circles under my eyes sum up my sleep pattern nicely – I don’t have one! I rush around like a headless chicken all day whilst the children are at school and I’m working out, working, travelling or running errands. Yet with over 2million social media followers my phone rings constantly, my inboxes are flooded day and night, my email enquiries could easily reach China if printed off and laid end to end as there’s just one of me and no help or management so I find myself desperately playing catch up each evening when the children go to bed at 7pm yet I rarely break even by midnight before the next days enquiries and comments come through. As such I find it difficult to switch off, I’m an incredibly light sleeper with a small bladder so I’m up several times a night and that’s without checking on the children or tending to snotty noses, poorly tummies, school friends sleeping over or my elderly dog barking at 3am for yet another garden break or dog bone – I guess we all get cravings! Sometimes I wake up in the morning more tired than before I went to bed and other times I wake up like a newborn lamb. Despite what day of the week it is my schedule never lets up because nobody else can do it for me so I get on with it, put up with it and pride myself on keeping my days structured, efficient and everything in place because a clean and tidy home is the key to happy and well-behaved children.
My lack of sleep, vegan diet and busy lifestyle goes against my new fitness goals at the moment but I’m determined to work my way around it because if I’m training hard then I’m hopefully of a blissful sleep coma and muscle recovery each night when I throw myself into bed. I adore pea and hemp protein so I’m sure I can build enough muscle by upping my intake and I already take on 2litres of water a day thanks to my giant water bottle. I’m also looking into finding management which will hopefully filter out my social requests so that I can focus on working without distraction. Last year I qualified as a personal trainer completing my Level 2 and 3 exams but I’ve yet to begin instructing or taking on one-on-one clients because although I have the qualifications I don’t feel that I have enough experience yet to motivate Joe Bloggs, so in competing and enthusiastically pushing my body to its limits I’m hoping to see first hand what I’m capable of achieving for my own clients and putting into practise everything I’ve learned from books. I’m already driven, active and ready for an almighty challenge so why not be my own guinea pig to prove my worth and earn my stripes.
Here I will be documenting my progress from day one in the gym to stepping on stage in the hope of taking home a trophy and then returning to my everyday diet and fitness routine after and how my body changes. I’m incredibly excited to be taking part in something so life-changing, inspirational and motivational in such a pivotal year of my life and in turn I hope that my journey may encourage others to do the same and become more active day-to-day regardless of age or weight – it’s never too late to put your health first! I’ll be including details of everything involved here from meal prepping to coaching, learning choreography, sourcing a stage bikini and heels, makeup, tanning and obviously my training plans and progress. I think it’s also important to address my emotional changes as well as the physical stats and measurements because already I feel hungry at the thought of denying myself treats, sugar and the giant portions I’m accustomed to. Add to the mix mother nature and the hormonal rollercoaster I ride once a month, life events, accidents, illness and injuries and I’m not expecting it to be plain sailing but I know that I can do anything I put my mind to in life, it just takes dedication, consistency and willpower. At present I’m not dating so I don’t have a snuggle buddy to spoon feed me (vegan) ice-cream in bed or tempt me out for a Sunday roast with all of the trimmings and a cocktail or two, but that could all very well change in the blink of an eye – stranger things have happened! I often wonder how bodybuilders maintain a healthy relationship when their diet and lifestyle is so strict and gruelling but I guess the proof shall be in the pudding – or not as the case may be!
UPDATE: My Stage Bikini From Allure Couture
A few months ago I had a bespoke bikini made by the very talented Lucy Ashworth of Allure Couture when I was researching into fitness fashion and now very conveniently this would be perfect to wear for my show in April! Lucy specialises in fitness bikini creations and is a strong single mother turned bodybuilder and woman after my own heart! The very first moment I met her I had goosebumps because it felt as though I’d known her all of my life, our life experiences are so similar and just like me she’s found her strength through being tested.
Part of getting placed at a show filled with hundreds of deserving contestants is having marketability and standing out in the fitness industry as each persons physique, stage presence and individual style is taken into consideration just as it would be in a beauty pageant so having a suitable bikini is paramount. Lucy and I came up with the concept for this bikini based upon hope and faith which is why we decided upon clear Swarovski crystals that catch the light beautifully. There is so much attention to detail involved in this bikini that I can’t help but gaze at it in awe and Lucy is a true perfectionist with hundreds of beads, pearls, studs, feathers and sequins bringing my bikini breathlessly sparkling to life at every angle.
I’ve jotted it onto my To-Do list to source some heels to wear with it and then look into posing classes to know how to walk, stand and quarter turn on stage but having my bikini ready is a big weight off of my shoulders already much like a bride sourcing the perfect wedding dress – now I can relax and get back to my barbells!
UPDATE: 08/12/16 Team Superfox Training & Nutrition Plan
I’m 13 days out of hospital recovering from my Labiaplasty surgery and as such I still have stitches but I’m allowed to do low impact exercises and have been back at the gym for the past few days taking it easy. Earlier in the week I spoke on the phone with the very talented and inspiration Lucy Walton of Team Superfox who has herself competed before and realised the need for a safe and stable training and nutrition regime for bringing athletes in and out of competitions without risking their health. We talked about my lifestyle, diet, current fitness, supplementation and ability to commit time to workouts for which I can train five days per week. At present I take iron supplements to combat anaemia and Udo’s Oil for my omegas as well as pea and hemp protein for recovery with oat milk or unsweetened almond milk. I usually cycle between plenty of brown rice, broccoli, lentils, soy, nuts and quinoa across an average week, although I could certainly switch my Sunday roasties for sweet potatoes and lower my banana addiction!
Seeing as I’m having laser eye surgery next week on 15th December it means that just as my body has recovered from my labiaplasty I’ll be back healing again and have to take another week off of training which will take me up to 22nd December and a week of overeating festive food, my family coming to me for a Christmas day feast and no doubt a few well earned hangovers so the next couple of weeks are a bit of a write-off. As a result Lucy has provided me with an interim training plan and daily macro target as opposed to a complete breakdown per meal until my calendar evens out after Christmas.
For now Lucy has focused heavily on weight training four days per week with one cardio and core session which will change to five days of weights and targeted macros at the start of the New Year. I’m feeling really excited about beginning my training, it’s just annoying that my surgeries and Christmas are making me stop and start and I can’t jump straight into it and hit the ground running as I’d have liked. But maybe it’s for the best that I have this one final blow-out before the hard work begins, it’ll certainly make me appreciate my willpower a whole lot more and if anything my before and after transformation photos will look all the better for it! Yes, this is me totally justifying being a lazy, greedy pig for once!
UPDATE: 08/12/16 – Testing Legs At Bodyflex Gym
My friend Tony Montalbano is the owner of Bodyflex Gym in Aylesbury which has been open for 21yrs. A two time British champion and world champion he is a homage to natural bodybuilding and welcomes men and women of all ages to the three floors of free weights and machines in his superhero haven. I’ve walked past Tony’s gym for several years now and always admired the muscle-bound hunks and babes who breeze around making huge weights seem somehow effortless as I skip past with my ponytail swinging on my way to the commercial gym across town to go run on the treadmill or cross trainer for two hours. Polar opposite in physiques yet still a part of the bigger fitness picture, I never thought that one day I’d be stepping through the doors ready to change my water bottle and banana for dumbbells and protein shakes but here I am, a little Bambi ready to learn, absorb and try everything asked of me.
A massive bonus in having the guidance of a world champion is that Tony’s already been where I’m hoping to head, he knows what needs to be done and how to achieve it and has all of the equipment and expertise necessary to bring out the very best in me. I know full well if I’d have taken Lucy’s plan on my own to my everyday gym that I wouldn’t have pushed myself so hard because this type of training is entirely new to me, I certainly wouldn’t have lasted until failure nor had a spotter standing over me shouting words of encouragement to take me to my limits. When in Rome, as they say!
Today we trained legs as a way to break me in and test the water because I have no idea of the weights I’m capable of nor the sets and reps let alone the machines I’ve never used or even heard of before. As I’ve always trained for endurance I’ve haven’t needed to push myself to hypertrophy nor test my personal best as my fitness goals were to simply maintain my post-pregnancy figure as opposed to building muscle or losing body fat. So today we began with some leg extensions for quads, leg curls for hamstrings and barbell squats, leg press and reverse hacks for compound finishing with calf raises. Seeing as I’ve always carried my children on my left hip I’m already aware that I suffer from scoliosis which was shockingly apparent from my form today in the mirror during my barbell squats. Typically I’d use the leg press after my cardio at the gym which keeps my hips and knees perfectly in line and my form considerably more tidy but it’s highlighted my bad posture and the improvements I need to make.
My legs were literally trembling throughout and I realised just how much noise I make huffing and puffing as I screw up my face and dig deep. Comparing it to my early days training cardio I used to get hot and sweaty and out of breath, coughing as my lungs burned and sipping water gasping to break even but now I can easily maintain two hours of cardio whilst holding a full conversation and merely feeling warm as opposed to dripping in sweat so I know that with time and patience my strength will improve too and I’ll look back and laugh at how little my weights once were. The hardest time for anything is certainly the first time and everything from now on can only be an improvement, I’m already on my way!
UPDATE: Testing Bi’s, Tri’s & Abs At Bodyflex Gym
My legs feel surprisingly good this morning, I was expecting to be walking like John Wayne and get stranded at the top of my staircase, perhaps having to surf a dinner tray down to the lounge in order to spare my quads to do the school run. But I guess because I only did a taster workout I’m only a little tender this morning and the real pain will happen on my first proper session. My arms are by far the weakest part of my body and I’ve always struggled with press-ups and pull-ups because of my weak elbows and wrists. Even scrawny is an understatement for describing my arms right now. So we focused on bi’s, tri’s and a little abs working my way through bicep handle cable curls and preacher barbell EZ curls and then tricep handle push downs and cybex tricep extensions followed by the thera crunch and hanging leg raises for abs.
If only I’d have taped paintbrushes to my elbows I think I could have created the most amazing piece of abstract art today because my arms were all over the place and just as shockingly weak as I expected. It wasn’t long before I reached failure and the drop sets has me laughing as I trembled through the burn. I think I always see the worst in my own performance because I’m self critical when training and as soon as I start to lose form no amount of determination can bring me back which is frustrating because I want to progress but I have to have patience.
I’ve never attempted to progress my arms for my current fitness goals because I feel strong enough day-to-day from working out but I’m now starting to register on the scale of exactly where I am and where I have to be by April and it’s the polar opposite of my body right now. I’d say I’m a 2/10 on arms at the moment which will be my biggest area for improvement with my legs at about a 4/10 and my abs most unnoticeable at a 1/10. Being on my period with surgery stitches still in my private parts I wasn’t feeling my best during abs but I never allow it to stop me from working out. I suffer from very heavy periods, constant stomach cramps and lower backache which I grin and bare else I’d never do anything during my cycle if I let it get the better of me. Although I don’t devote specific time to ab work at present my active lifestyle means that I have pretty good core strength and flexibility as standard it’s just hiding under several layers of lentil curry, frozen bananas and peanut butter at the moment! Finishing with hanging leg raises it wasn’t my abs that burnt me out but the circulation in my arms as they tingled and burned and I hand to jump down and flop into a jellyfish on the floor and admit defeat!
I’m loving this challenge so far and know that if I can complete this then I can do anything. Filming my workouts with Facebook live each day as Tony puts me through my paces is so much fun, no only do we laugh our way through the mornings but I also get to play with his rottweiler Rocky in-between sets being on camera is a really good way to keep track of my visual progress and stay striving because I know that with my friends and family watching I want to give it my all because the banter is unreal!
UPDATE: 12/12/16 Training Back At Bodyflex
After being a tender tulip over the weekend following leg day I enjoyed a nice rest and recovery along with a Himalayan salt bath which made my muscles feel blissful along with a nice massage. It’s a total pleasure/pain moment when the quads and calves burn but a sensational feeling to notice my muscles firming up and my body tightening.
So today we trained back which felt like a super quick workout doing 3×10 for lat pull downs, machine handle bent over rows and hammer strength deadlifts. My form was a bit tidier today during deadlifts but my biceps were still burning from the other day when doing my lat pull downs. Overall I’m still feeling really positive about training, I have my eye surgery in three days time which means I have tomorrow and Wednesday left to train before taking a week off again but it’s been a pretty cool introduction into weight training and I’m confident that I’ll be able to progress when I’m healed and hit my goals. I just have to be conscious of not stuffing myself like a Christmas turkey with food over the next few weeks – let’s see how that goes! I finished up todays workout with 5km of cardio on the cross trainer just to stop myself from twitching because I love it so much, I’m going to keep it low though and stick to 30mins max.
UPDATE: 13/12/16 Training Chest & Shoulders At Bodyflex
Today we trained chest and shoulders and my biceps were still aching slightly from the other day. We started with some chest work on the pec deck at high reps followed by a triple drop then machine chest press for two normal sets, dumbbell incline press with a triple drop and then onto shoulders with high reps side lateral raises and a triple drop, dumbbell shoulder press and dumbbell rear deltoid raises and I was literally shaking like a leaf before, during and after.
My arms are naturally so scrawny and thin and I’m getting floppy bingo wings with every year that creeps past in my twenties, but already since I’ve been training I’m feeling much firmer and my biceps are actually noticeable. I know that I’ll get some pretty instant results from my arms but solid muscle and size will come with time and continued effort. Each time that I leave the gym I feel so pumped and motivated even though it kills me it’s true what they say – no pain no gain! I’m totally addicted, loving pushing my limits and laughing my way through the ache and burn; I have a feeling I’ll be using my feet to open my bedroom door in the morning!
UPDATE: 14/12/16 Training Legs At Bodyflex
Leg day again and today I got a 40kg squat which I’m super hyped about. I have a 20kg barbell at home that I usually squat with for endurance and have never upped my weight nor taken it to failure so to hit a personal best of 40 made me feel super proud today. As my legs burnt I began to lost form with my knees wanting to circle all over the place but already I’ve come on leaps and bounds since my first session and I kept the barbell straight with much better posture.
Starting out with squats to failure I moved onto the reverse hack, glute blaster, leg extensions and then standing and seated calf raises and couldn’t stop shaking like Bambi as I stood after catching my breath. Training legs makes me feel so hot and out of breath as I grit my teeth, hold on tight and really go for it and my quads are rock solid already. I’m starting to gradually up my weights and have more control but I know that I have a massive way to go and I’m still early days, it’s totally addictive to see my progress so far and I can’t imagine how good it will feel a month or two down the line.
I’m finding holding stretches and digging my knuckles into my legs helps to ease up the tenderness directly after a set and I’m going to use my muscle roller when I get home tonight in the hope that I’ll be able to walk down my stairs in the morning. I’m having laser eye surgery tomorrow which means I’ve now got a week out of training but I may just need that as recovery before I can walk again after smashing my legs today! Ouch!!
UPDATE: 15/12/16 My Laser Eye Surgery
I’m pleased to say that my laser eye surgery went spiffingly to plan this morning and I’m now an indoor-sunglasses wearer for the next two weeks as my eyes heal. As this is my second laser eye surgery my surgeon has advised my recovery will be longer and more painful than before – wonderful! As such I’m light sensitive and can’t lift anything for risk of putting pressure on my eyes which means that I’m two weeks out of action at the gym taking me up to the 29th December before I can have another session with Tony and I’m assuming around that time the gym will probably be closed or on half hours because of the holidays.
So aside from hiding away in the darkness like a hermit crab and doing precisely zero activities I’m trying my hardest not to overeat and my mother is tempting me with Christmas treats and delicious smells from the kitchen as she’s staying at mine to use her eyes to tend to my children whilst I rest mine. I’m seeing my optician again on Monday 19th to have the temporary lenses removed from my eyes so fingers crossed I’ll be able to see better and get the all clear for driving again.
I’m going to have to push my luck as always and see what exercise I can get away with, perhaps a little low impact cardio as of next week or some hanging ab crunches? Surely I’ll be allowed to do more than lay in bed with my eyes closed. Whilst i don’t want to risk damaging my eyes I do want to keep active and return to normal life because I can’t steal my mother away to do everything for me forever! We shall see…!
UPDATE: 29/12/16 Post Christmas, Labiaplasty, Eye Surgery & New Leg Tattoo
So Christmas was an absolute blow-out as expected. I had far too much food, naughty treats and alcohol but it’s the time of year to celebrate and be indulgent as my final cheat day for the next 4-5months now. As a teenager when I was a page 3 model I used to starve myself to lose weight because nobody ever really spoke about the importance of fitness a decade ago and the shift in health and nutrition is far more positive these days.
Naturally with my mother knowing how skinny and frail I was as a teen she still panics that I’ll regress as I frequently fainted, was anaemic, skeletal and very pale and weak. My periods stopped and my hip bones were always bruised from getting bumped or sitting down because there was very little body fat to protect me. When I became a mother at the age of 19 I very quickly realised that in order to have good health and energy you have to eat well and take exercise and I’d rather be strong than skinny. I’m around a stone to a stone and a half heavier than I was before children but I’ve never felt more better for it! Yet saying to my mum in the build up to Christmas “Please don’t cook too much, I just want a little of everything because I have to watch my diet” sets off alarm bells. I NEVER diet, I never deny myself food or say no to a second or even third helping of dinner but cleaning up a diet and managing portion control is just as important as educating friends and family on what to expect when prepping for a show.
I can’t be the glutton I was before, I can’t eat to bursting point and I can’t stuff my face with treats on the premise that I’ll up my cardio the next day. Abs are made in the kitchen and I need to be conscious of my diet in a healthy and positive way for the first time in my life, no starving, no bingeing just sensible consistent nutrition to suit my training plan and that’s by far the biggest mind game ever. I can work my myself, push my physical limits and laugh my way down the stairs after leg day but the thought of quashing my appetite and eating repetitively actually scares me. I have such a happy love affair with food, I eat whatever I like in huge portions and workout in order to break even but now I need to shift body fat and get lean – possibly the hardest challenge I’ve ever been faced with which is why I know that I’ll overcome it because there’s no such thing as failure so long as you never stop trying.
I had my seasonal inner-binger tell me there’s so much Christmas junk food left over in the cupboards, I may as well eat it all and then start a fresh in the new year rather than let it all go to waste. Although I didn’t eat it all I did have a binge and then I stopped myself and thought what on earth am I do? How will I ever get to where I’m going if I start off running in the opposite direction? Literally having two surgeries within a month, a Christmas blowout and a new leg tattoo has left me unmotivated and dare I say it lazy for the first time in years. Whilst the bed rest and treats started off as a nice break from the norm I soon felt tired, sluggish and bloated and realised how such an inactive unhealthy lifestyle had taken hold of me within 30days. I never want to feel that way again, the excess pounds have made my clothes feel tight, I make eye contact with my sofa and refuse to sit down and vegetate, I’ve finally got my mobility back now and it’s time to get out of my recovery rut!
Getting the all-clear to begin weight training again today was such a wonderful feeling. I’ve been craving the gym almost as much as I craved sugar in my Christmas food coma with the family but I believe you have to experience the lows to appreciate the highs and you can’t properly evaluate, judge or assess a situation unless you’re aware of both sides of the scales. I haven’t weighed myself over Christmas and still don’t know what my bodyweight is, I don’t actually want to know because it’s irrelevant to body composition – am I carry excess fat or extra water day to day to cause a weight change? Undigested food or pure muscle? The only time I shall chart my progress is with my before and after pictures and perhaps a body composition test when I reach my goal.
Getting back to the gym with Tony today was incredible. I’ve had two weeks out since my eye surgery and was so out of breath after doing 30kg barbell squats. I’ve done zero cardio, haven’t been allowed to lift my children or see daylight and it’s really shown on my body. I feel squishy, bloated and my arms and legs have turned to jelly from bedrest. Add to the fact that I had a leg tattoo two days ago I think I did pretty well to dig in and give my all in todays session to get me back on track. We began with barbell squats, pull downs, bench press, shoulder press, Thera crunch, cable curls, tricep push downs and side laterals and I feel ontop of the world. I can hear my heartbeat in my ear, my whole body is shaking and I’m hotter than a volcano with the craziest screw face and grunts with every rep but it was just what I needed. As it’s still the Christmas holidays I have no childcare for my two children which limits my availability to get back to the gym for the next week but I’ll be sharpening up my diet and doing what I can from home with my free weights as I focus on my core.
UPDATE: 30/12/16 Leg Day At Bodyflex
Tony absolutely kicked my butt for leg day! We started with 40kg barbell squats followed by reverse hacks, kick backs, leg extensions, leg curls and ended on calf raises. I’m so hyped to have hit 40kg for my squat and I’m looking to reach about 60kg at max in order to squat my bodyweight which is a goal I’ve set myself and it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes me. Already my legs feel like concrete after the lex extensions and using the same machine for kickbacks really set my glutes on fire.
I love how fast my legs respond to training and continue to go to failure before upping my weights and pushing for the final few extra reps that count in those dropsets. My children have less than a week left of the Christmas holidays which will free me back up for childcare again in the new year so that I can train daily but for now I’ll be getting early nights, avoiding alcohol and staying hydrated as I start the New Year as I mean to go on – I can party in the summer to make up for my fitness achievements once I’ve hit the stage of Pure Elite!
UPDATE: 01/01/17 Cardio & Core At Anytime Fitness (90 Days To Go)
Tony was closed today with it being the bank holiday so I utilised my gym membership at Anytime Fitness to go for a cardio and core session in a totally empty gym. I guess all of the members were still hungover from New Years and yet to begin their New-Year-New-Me resolutions which meant that I could enjoy a very peaceful and undisturbed 5km on the cross trainer, a few squats, situps and bit of bar work before rushing over to my parents for some vegan pasta and broccoli.
I keep telling myself that I’ll start ab rolling from home to work on tightening my stomach but I’ve yet to begin because all of my gym equipment is currently buried under bags of Christmas decorations, boxes and shopping in my cupboard but once I’ve taken the decorations down tomorrow I’ll be able to bring it all out again and get cracking. I’m doing my weekly food shop tomorrow too so I’ll stock up on lots of nutritious veggies, brown rice and pulses and meal prep a weeks worth of food to see me through which will make filming a documentary with a film crew for the next three days more healthy that eating processed or frozen convenience foods. My days fly by at a million miles an hour but if you fail to prepare then you’re preparing to fail! I’m here to make results not excuses!
UPDATE: 04/01/17 Training Arms At Bodyflex Gym (87 Days To Go)
Today is the final day of the Christmas holidays and I managed to sneak in a cheeky arm session with Tony by dropping my hyperactive son off to his grandparents and bringing my 9yr old daughter along. When the children go back to school tomorrow I have a full final day of filming for a Swedish documentary their doing about my lifestyle as a social influencer and then come Friday I’ll be back to a proper gym routine – no more surgeries or tattoos just clean eating and heavy lifting!
Today we trained arms and I was shocked at how weak I felt. We started with bicep cable curls, tricep push downs, preacher barbell curls, close grip Smith press and hanging leg raises which really tested me because I’m having the period from hell at the moment and my stomach is swollen and cramping but I never let it deter me from my workout. My triceps were literally shuddering and I pulled the craziest faces throughout but I feel so pumped and strong right now so it was well worth the blood sweat and tears. Moving forward Tony and I discussed my training regime for which we’ll be doing four weight sessions a week rotating between upper and lower body, push and pull techniques to allow each muscles group to be worked to maximum potential and recover after. So I’ll be weight training on a Monday and Tuesday and then Thursday and Friday after taking my children to school. I’ll still be doing my cardio at the gym down the road which I can do after each session or on my days off but Tony advised I wait around three hours after doing my weights before hitting cardio intervals in order to give my metabolism a kick which would mean working out from home on my exercise bike because by then my children would be home from school. I’m super hyped to be finally getting into a routine and building consistent results, the only way is up!
UPDATE: 06/01/17 Leg Day At Bodyflex Gym (85 Days To Go)
Today Tony decided we’d shake up leg day by doing 100 Smith squats for my workout because my hips and knees always fail me too soon when I’m doing barbell squats from my twisted posture (scoliosis) after years of always carrying my two children on my left hip. The Smith machine works by using a weighted barbell on runners which worked great for my arms the other day. 100 reps is the most I’ll have ever done and I wasn’t sure what I’d be capable of but I went into it with an open mind and determination and as always promised Tony my 100% commitment.
Today I also started using my training diary to keep a record of my reps, sets and weights to start charting my progress rather than randomly chatting throughout everything and only logging the exercises at the end. Shit just got serious! As always I found the barbell grinding on the back of my neck and shoulders which failed me far before my legs so Tony gave me a neck pad to put over the bar which made a massive difference and allowed me to hit my golden hundred reps. It wiped out my quads but I felt amazing for it and rather than ending my workout and taking my new personal best I realised I still had a little something left within me – whether it was the adrenaline of completing my first 100 reps or pure addiction to pain I accepted Tony’s challenge of hitting 100 leg curls too.
Aside from grunting, gritting my teeth, swearing and wailing I smashed my 100 leg curls and literally crawled across the floor to log my stats in my dairy with my hands shaking and handwriting resembling that of my delightful five year old son. Ever one to accept a challenge I just couldn’t stop my lips from answering “yes” when Tony raised his eyebrows and said “100 calf raises!?” I don’t know what came over me but my competitive streak totally set on fire and I felt on top of the world smashing out set after set of raises. In total I smashed my 100 squats out of the park with my 300+ reps (whilst half way through my period from hell) and my legs are as solid as concrete right now. Out of all of the training in all of my life today was the session that actually made me realise what I’m capable of, I hit the wall, felt the burn, shook off the blood sweat and tears and told myself that I could go hard and somehow my body listened to me, agreed with me and supported me through it. The mind is such a crazy powerful machine and I’m beyond ecstatic with todays session, even more so that it was all captured on my Facebook Live so that I can remember this moment forever as the turning point in my training. Today I grew from a kitten to a lioness.
I’ve just confirmed to film away for 2 weeks for a TV show at the end of January which means that my training regime will once again take a battering just as I’m finally getting into a good flow. Grr! But it shows that I live in the real world too and my life isn’t just about fitness, I work and raise my children like everybody else competing at Pure Elite – doctors, teachers, factory workers, single parents and store assistants, every walk of life and every age, weight and background. Yes I train 4-6 days per week but only because I make time in my busy schedule to put the effort in rather than lame arse excuses. So whilst I’m away I’m going to continue to train, unfortunately without Tony but I’ll be back when I’m done and ready to go harder than ever! I’ve got two weeks before I have to leave so I’m going to give it my all and find my stride. Again my diet will once again change because I don’t know what control I’ll have over how I’m catered for but my stipulations are to have access to a gym daily and I’m discussing the final details – a vegan meal prep would be ideal and 100% clean up my diet because I won’t have access to any other food or shops and restaurants as I’m locked away from the world. Watch this space! And please find me a skateboard to get around on tomorrow when I can no longer walk, drive or get down my stairs 🙂
UPDATE: 07/01/17 Cardio At Anytime Fitness (84 Days To Go)
Today was my day off of weight training so I took a cardio session and jumped on the cross trainer. It’s been a while since I’ve worked my lungs and I love keeping up a pace whilst maintaining my breathing. I covered 11.55km in 88mins burning 566calories at a pace of 7:36 whilst on Facebook Live answering questions from my fans and working up a sweat. I’ve had a hemp protein shake with oat milk for breakfast today, pea protein shake for post workout recovery and quinoa and vegetables for dinner as I await my meal plan.
I’m feeling so good in myself right now, less bloated, more toned and absolutely full of energy as my period subsides and I’m looking to improve on my cardio stats week by week. I walk to and from the gym as well as taking my children to school daily which amounts to about an hour of cardio a day which I use as my weight training warmup cardio. Naturally I’m also running about like a headless chicken all day working, cooking, cleaning and tending to the children so I’m very active but on my non weight training days I’ll be looking at doing between 5-20km per workout whilst playing about with the pace, incline and resistance so watch this space!
UPDATE: 08/01/17 Cardio At Anytime Fitness (83 Days To Go)
Today was going to be my dying-fly crying-over-legs day of rest but I woke up surprisingly nimble and not sore. I have no idea how I’m so mobile so I thought I’d take the opportunity to shake out my limbs and hit another day of cardio – albeit a lot shorter.
I took to Facebook Live for 7.08km on the cross trainer which I completed in 39mins whilst talking burning 275 calories and felt absolutely buzzing with energy and enthusiasm as I dripped in sweat. When I went for lunch at my parents after I cooked a Sunday roast with soya sausages, potatoes, carrots, broccoli and gravy and I weighed myself for the first time in forever coming in at 9st7lbs at 5ft8″ tall. I was guessing I’d be somewhere between 9-10 stone and am pretty happy with my body size and shape which makes my weight a bit irrelevant because I don’t know my body composition but I’ll keep track of my progress based on muscle size and definition. I already feel slimmer this week from eating more clean and when my meal plan comes through I can be even tighter on it. My naughty cravings are reducing with each day that passes and I’m excited each time I look in the mirror and see my stomach area reducing in size – there are abs under there somewhere!
UPDATE: 09/01/17 Back & Biceps At Bodyflex Gym (82 Days To Go)
Back and biceps today and Tony challenged me to do 100 FT handle pull downs which I instantly knew had to fall in line with my leg day smasher of 300 reps. I hit my 100 rep target in five sets before doing 100 bent over rows in another five sets and finished with 100 FT handle bicep curls in a rather embarrassing nine sets! Eek!
But like the story of the tortoise and the hare it doesn’t matter so much about how long it takes to run the race but the fact that you make it to the finish line and never give up. My final sets left my arms shaking and I’m utterly shocked at how weak my biceps are. I always thought my arms were pretty strong but I guess when it comes to lifting higher weights for more repetitions then it’s a case of softly softly catching a monkey and with each day that passes I’ll get better and stronger.
I’m over the moon to have completed 300 reps, my new personal best and something to rise above and improve on with time. My arms and legs both feel fine, I was expecting to feel sore or ache by now but I’m literally untouched. I know that I’ve pushed myself to my limits and done the absolute best I could possibly do today, I’m looking forward to seeing how far i can take it.
UPDATE: 10/01/17 Chest, Triceps & Abs At Bodyflex Gym (81 Days To Go)
Chest, tris and abs today and I’m well and truly getting my teeth into this whole 100 reps thing! I’m addicted to numbers and goals which makes it near on impossible for me to allow myself to even consider doing under 100 reps when I know that I’ve achieved it before, if anything I want to make it my minimum and continue to push the numbers higher week by week now.
So todays workout consisted of 100 dumbbell chest press, 100 handle tricep push downs and 100 Thera ab crunches and I feel amazingly human without so much as a hint of soreness or pain. I know that I’m pushing my body to my limits because I turn bright red, end up shaking and breathless with bags of funny faces, grunting and squealing as I force out the final rep yet as soon as I stop I feel absolutely fine and I wake up every morning feeling incredible rather than tender. Perhaps my body has adapted and my muscles will never ache again? Or maybe I need to get further into my training to make the weight even heavier in order to tear my muscles and get those golden gains.
So far I feel much stronger, tighter, firmer and full of energy. I feel as though I’ve lost some body fat from my hips and stomach but as I haven’t had a body composition test it’s hard to say how much. I’ll weigh myself again at the weekend in five days time and see if my weight has changed from 9st7lbs but naturally muscle weighs more than body fat – at least that’s what I’ll repeat to myself if my weight increases when I step onto the scales!
UPDATE: 12/01/17 Leg Day At Bodyflex Gym (79 Days To Go)
Yesterday was a total naughty cheat day – my first moment of weakness but something I was entitled to. I’ve been really strict on my diet and I’m expecting to lose weight from when I stepped on the scales four days ago. I wasn’t planning on having a cheat day nor drinking but yesterday I spent the day with a friend getting drunk on vodka and orange and eating chips and mushy peas! It’s a rarity and certainly not something I’ll be repeating, but I’ll recover, pay back the calories and continue on the straight and narrow with no more cheat days because the countdown to the show is rolling on at such a rapid pace now.
I usually really love legday because my leg muscles respond so well to weights and I feel so alive when I’m working my lower body but today I really felt the burn. My quads and calves felt like hot tight sausages ready to burst at any moment because they haven’t been pricked before going in the oven. It’s the feeling of lifting my maximum weight and pushing my body to its physical limits in every way possible. During my Smith squats today I felt a little pang in the muscle in my groin which made it a little tender to go low and not something that’s ever happened before. I wouldn’t say it was an injury but more a soreness that I was conscious not to make any worse, but despite this I still managed to lift my first full stack of 150 and I’m hyped on how we’re already driving the weights up towards my goal of squatting my body – today we hit 40kg when my most has been 30kg so far.
I’ve had a totally rubbish week for sleep getting about 5-6hrs per night because I’ve been working all evening, rushing around and starting early mornings because of my hectic diary. It’s never an option for me to skip the gym because it’s essential to my training but it means that my work gets pushed into the later hours of the day so that I can still keep my plates spinning and complete my commitments – the joys of being a single working parent! I’m feeling good on my hydration taking on at least 2litres of water a day and I’m getting prepped for my meal plan to start weighing out my food for my on and off training days.
I guess now it’s a case of remaining consistent, shedding some pounds of body fat which I’ll measure again in three days time and continue to monitor once each week for progress and building muscle and definition. My workout pictures will be my progress marker but as I’m leaving for filming in two weeks time and won’t have access to a gym I’ll have to be inventive with my workouts and try my best to maintain my gains even if I can’t progress.
UPDATE: 13/01/17 Filming Arm & Abs Day With Chris Robinson For Pure Elite At Bodyflex Gym (78 Days To Go)
Today was arm and abs day and I was joined by the very talented Chris Robinson who is a personal trainer and videographer for Pure Elite helping to document my journey to my first bikini contest. Today he shot a video of my training session as Tony totally destroyed me and left my scrawny chicken wings shaking like a leaf. It’s also the first injury I’ve had when I bent my nail back as I was picking up a dumbbell which caused my nail bed to bleed and finger to throb. Of all the things in all the world I never expected to have such a lame injury but very fortunately I didn’t need an ambulance!
We upped my abs session by adding a 5kg and 10kg weight to my hanging ab crunch and 20kg to my Thera crunch which really burnt me out and left me huffing and puffing. I tried my best not to pull crazy faces knowing my workout was being filmed but lets face it when you push yourself you’re going to be in pain and look like a puffer fish! I’m looking forward to seeing the final video when it’s ready and sharing my experience and progress with the world in the hope of inspiring others to enjoy the health and physical benefits of fitness. Speaking to Chris after our session it was lovely to hear how he and his wife Fiona have won so many bodybuilding trophies as a fitness couple and motivate one another to compete. Sometimes men prefer to be trained by a man and women by a woman for which it helps to build a database of local personal trainers and support so I’ll pop their details into the section at the bottom of this post if you want to get in touch with either of them!
UPDATE: 14/01/17 Cardio At Anytime Fitness (77 Days To Go)
I went to Anytime Fitness this morning for a 5km cross trainer cardio session today and ended up leaving with 20.29km and 995 calories in the bank! As I was on Facebook Live talking to my followers throughout I didn’t notice the machine beep and end my workout after an hour so I had to start over as I continued from scratch for stats but fortunately I took a photo at the end of each session to add up my total from my 2hr20min cardio workout.
I’m feeling really good in myself and noticing my stomach getting trimmer as my arms and legs firm up and my muscles grow. I weighed myself at my parents last Sunday which was 6 days ago and I was 9st7lbs but when I used the BMI scales at the gym after my cardio session I weighed in at 9st9lbs so I’ve either gained 2lbs of bodyfat/muscle this week, drank more water today not emptied my bowels or worn my trainers when I was bare foot before because that seems pretty extreme to gain 2lbs when I feel slimmer and firmer in myself. But I guess it’s not so much the numbers on the scale but the way that I look and feel that counts the most.
I just wanted to have an idea of where I’m at so that I can chart my progress weeks and months down the line in the lead up to my first time stepping on stage. Whilst the machine measures body fat it doesn’t show hydration or muscle mass so it’s not as accurate as it could be but it’s better than a standard weighing scales. I’m weighing in at 22.2% body fat for which my ideal is between 21.0%-29.3%, my BMI is 20.8 which I can be 18.5-25.0 and my ideal weight should be between 8st8lbs-11st9lbs but that doesn’t take into account the fact that I’m bodybuilding and my weight actually increases as I workout to firm up and build muscle as opposed to losing weight and looking skinny.
I’m hoping to get down to around 10-15% body fat by April but really it’s all down to how my body looks and responds to training. I’m also hearing a lot about stage presence and posing and how vital it is to have the entire package not to just be the most lean. I’m finding pea and hemp protein with oat milk between meals keeps me going and brown rice, chickpeas and vegetables is basically the staple of my meals along with plenty of broccoli, beansprouts, water and soy.
UPDATE: 15/01/17 Cardio At Anytime Fitness (76 Days To Go)
Today I ran my first marathon. I was due to be on a photoshoot all day but my photographer fell ill so instead I decided to go to the gym to smash out some cardio. I’ve only ever ran a half marathon before so this was by far the biggest and most physically demanding cardio session of my life. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me nor if I would actually get to the end of the 42km/26mile run but I gave it my best shot and Facebook Live’d the entire thing because I knew if the world was watching then I’d keep pushing myself forwards.
Thankfully I achieved my fitness goal and can very proudly tick ‘run a marathon’ off of my bucket list now which I’m really attacking this year seeing as I’m turning 30 in October. My marathon wasn’t without hiccups though as I had to combat the cross trainer with my dying phone battery and the fact that the gym machines only allow a maximum of 2hrs of cardio per session before forcing it to end.
I also had to stop for the toilet and to refill my water bottle but as you can see from the three consecutive sessions that I ran back-to-back my total time came in at 296.87 minutes which is about 5hrs, I ran a total of 42.34km and burned a whopping 1,937 calories! I’m certainly feeling the burn now, my legs are buzzing and I feel as though I could float off into the clouds. I set my pace between 6-7.5 so kept it steady, taking breaths between speaking and focusing my mind on not thinking about the distance or discomfort. It was lovely speaking to my Facebook fans to pass the time and keep me motivated and when I flopped onto the floor when I was done I had such a sense of achievement and self-belief that I wish I could bottle and share with everyone! So now I’ve had a nice salt bath soak to relax my muscles I’m taking a day off tomorrow because I was booked on another photoshoot which has also cancelled because the photographer has a sickness bug! Thank goodness it hasn’t hit my family yet because everybody around me seems to be dropping like flies – high five for a kickass immune system!
UPDATE: 17/01/17 Shoulders, Chest & Triceps At Bodyflex Gym (74 Days To Go)
Upper body grr! What a difference some old skool garage makes to a workout! Today we kicked my arms into the stratosphere and I’m feeling so pumped and alive. Yesterday was rest day and despite still running around after my children, doing housework and working I didn’t do any exercise just chores. I’m feeling really tight, hard and trim right now and loving my results which seem to grow by the day and I’m thankful for such a bubble of positivity that I’m floating around in – ask me if the bubble has burst in another 2 months of kicking butt and I may change my mind!
We took our workout into the basement today, or Tony’s torture chamber as I like to call it, and I tried out some machines I’ve never used before which was great fun as I could really feel the difference compared to free weights. It highlighted how much stronger my right arm is over my left as I’m right-handed and always expected there to be a difference but when you’re on a fixed machine you can see how quickly form drops the further you go which isn’t as easy to monitor on free weights because everything jiggles and wiggles a lot more. My triceps have always been my weak point but I’m happy with how we smashed them today and I’m very pleased with progress, I went on to do my weekly shop at the supermarket after my session and carried a sack of potatoes, tins of chick peas and a bag of dog food and vegetables home which really made me wince but was a nice way to finish off arms as I’m used to flexing and extending rather than maintaining a grip and keeping my muscles under constant tension.
We missed out close grip press because we added a few different sets in and changed machines as we went for the equipment that was available at the time, but with a few hundred reps I’m pretty confident we achieved a good amount for today and I’m looking forward to seeing what Tony has in store for me tomorrow.
UPDATE: 18/01/17 Legs At Bodyflex Gym & Pilates At Anytime Fitness (73 Days To Go)
Today was a glorious double-session leg day starting off with Tony at Bodyflex in the morning and finishing up with Paul at Anytime Fitness for lunch. This time we went for higher weights and lower reps across several machines to a tune of couple hundred reps and I smashed my personal best out of the park and twice around the Milky Way! I’m so buzzing right now I wish I could bottle this feeling and share it with the whole world because everyone deserves to feel their best!
First up we began with Smith squats and I was gutted to have a tenderness in the right side of my groin again. Although it’s not an injury it certainly affected my form and I felt that I put more weight onto the left hand side of my body because of it. I can take a lot of pain and pressure without giving in but I was conscious to not push myself too hard and cause an injury or jeopardise my training so I went slow and low and fortunately the tenderness didn’t increase, it’s just so annoying that I have no idea where, when or why it cropped up! But despite my cautiousness I managed to squat 55kg which is 15kg more than my personal best and it put me on such a high for the rest of my workout.
A new move we tried today was the hammer strength lunges which really made a difference to my workout by working each leg individually and my quads and glutes were on fire because of it, we worked up to 20kg for 10 reps and it’s a case of softly softly catch a monkey as my muscles progress. Switching prone leg curls for seated really upped my game and I was hyped to hit 110 for 10 reps and lifting a full 150 stack on the butt blaster somehow became a breeze so Tony took me a step further by adding on a 20kg free weight and getting me to hold my squeeze for two seconds at the top which literally left me growling with a smile on my face from ear to ear!
Lifting weights gets me so out of breath it’s insane, I did 5hrs straight of cardio just a couple of days ago when I completed my first marathon yet pacing myself meant that I could talk and breath my way through it, but when I lift heavy it knocks the wind out of me and leaves me gasping for breath between words on my Facebook Live – it’s mad how winded it gets me!
My legs always tremble after leg day as Tony pushes me to my limit and beyond and I love it, so today I took a stroll back to Anytime Fitness for a post-legday Pilates session with Paul Jennings and boy did he stretch me out, I feel as though I’ve been through a mangle in the nicest way possible, it was just what I needed to bliss me out and pull my body back together after going ape. We started off with some hip and hamstring stretches with some bands as I laid on my back, building up to core with alternate leg extensions, ab rolls, plank, downward dog and side reaches and I shuddered, sweated and huffed and puffed my way through every last minute until walking home feeling lighter than air. How beautiful it feels to work my muscles and get in tune with my body.
Seeing as I wanted to understand my muscle mass Paul also performed a body composition test on me which involved being measured for height and weight whilst gripping a handle to test my water, fat and muscle content which traditional scales don’t measure. My stats are pretty similar to the gym scales that I used the other day and I was secretly hoping that I’d drop some body fat after my marathon but my weight remains at a steady 9st7lbs with my body fat at 22.1% and 46kg of muscle mass. I’m 57.7% hydrated which is good, have a visceral fat level of 1 which is the lowest, an astonishing metabolic age of just 16yrs -oh how I’d love to be a teenager again- and I’m clocking in at DCI 2,250 (daily calorie intake) which I know I’m under at the moment by a few hundred as I’m tightening up my diet but it’s good to know that I’m on the right path and will continue to cut body fat as my training progresses and I keep my kitchen on lockdown. All in all an awesome day and I feel pumped and on top of the world, roll on tomorrow and my morning karaoke on the way to the gym 🙂
UPDATE: 19/01/17 Back & Biceps At Bodyflex Gym (72 Days To Go)
Back and biceps have come around again so quickly this week as Tony devilishly introduced me to some awesome new machines. We started with Cyber pull downs, seated rows, rope pull downs, preacher curls and then finished on Smith drag curls. We’re still going high weight low reps and I was pretty stoked to reach my new personal best of 110 for a set of 8 pull downs.
I found the rope pull downs the most unnatural today as my shoulders always have this weird way of feeling very alien as soon as I draw them backwards and Tony had to correct my elbows quite a few times as I dropped them too much but the more I got into it the better my posture and form became. I realised my grip on the ropes is pretty weak and even though my muscles supported me my hand strength was really lacking. And speaking of hand strength the callouses on my palms are pretty tough right now to the point that my children complain that it’s rough when I hold their delicate little hands. Mummy’s becoming a machine!!!
I had a moment of weakness last night when a friend tempted me into eating eight popadoms from the Indian takeaway -yes eight!- and I literally savoured every last greasy bite with drool running down my chin it was so good. I used to have boiled rice and a vegetable curry from the Indian with garlic naan bread and onion bhaji’s but since becoming vegan I just have haji’s, popadoms and salad so just having popadoms last night was my most well behaved version of a cheat meal. Aside from accidentally having vodka for breakfast last week -again I was tempted by a friend- I actually haven’t had any other cheat days or wobbly-wagon moments. Even when I’m training I’m allowed a cheat day a week which I don’t always take, and with my daily calorie intake being set at 2250kcal I’m still below it with my 500kcal popadom binge! Hoorah!
My goal is still to get lean, drop body fat and build muscle so I’ll be resisting the urge for another cheat day anytime soon yet won’t dwell on it if it happens because fitness isn’t about punishing yourself and being miserable it’s all about setting goals, enjoying the journey and getting the results which involves finding a balance and being consistent. Obviously I want to be in the best shape of my life for my first bikini contest but I’m going away for two weeks of work this weekend and it’s going to throw me once again so I’ll try my best to break even and then go hard on my diet the second week of February until show time!
UPDATE: 20/01/17 Abs At Bodyflex Gym & Cardio At Anytime Fitness (71 Days To Go)
It’s my final day of training before I go away for work for two weeks and I have no idea what food or equipment I’ll have access to, I just know I that I won’t have my phone, my laptop, my Rocky (the Rottweiler) or Tony! This is going to be a massively testing two weeks away from my children and cut off from the world but in the grand scheme of things I hope the time passes quickly and I’ll do my best to stay on track with my diet and focus on trimming up my abs with the sacrifice of losing muscle mass a loss I’ll have to take on the chin because I’ll thankfully have a few weeks once I’m back to carry on with progress.
Today Tony and I worked on my abs starting with the Thera crunch, hanging leg raises, boxing ball twists and decline then flat leg raises. My stomach is feeling rock solid at the moment it’s just annoyingly wrapped in a layer of fat which is hiding my abs away but I can certainly feel them under there somewhere! I’ve got to be seriously strict now and trim trim trim.
I then headed across to Anytime Fitness where I went for my 5km cardio but ended up doing 10km as I get so into it and know that I can go further. Now I can’t update my blog for the next two weeks as I’ll be cut off from the world working but I’m hoping I’ll be allowed to keep hold of my gym diary and train bodyweight exercises which I’ll update once I’m back but it’ll be more of a stats review than picture and post update. Fingers crossed the next couple of weeks fly by and I can get back to earning the burn at Bodyflex! I wish you all luck with your training and hope you’ll enjoy the gym on my behalf until I’m back on the 7th of February! I’m taking bets on whether I’ll gain weight and come back totally soft and squishy!!!!
UPDATE: 06/02/17 Chest, Shoulders & Triceps At Anytime Fitness (54 Days To Go)
Well that was certainly an experience! Two weeks of being constantly drunk, sleep deprived and living off of junk food and it’s safe to say that I well and truly pooped all over my training. I had no access to a gym, just a yoga mat and two dumbbells and was by far the unhealthiest I’ve been in all of my life – not the best way to prepare for my first contest! But shit happens and obstacles get in the way, I’m at a crossroads right now because I’m so far behind I don’t know if I can recover in time. Do I throw in the towel and accept that I won’t be at my best by April or do I stick at it and go for whatever I can get?
In my heart of hearts I don’t want to quit, nor fail but having had two surgeries in one month and worked away for half a month without training and overeating has really tested my body. I’m still crashing out on a lack of sleep and my children now have a sickness and diarrhoea bug which has lasted a week already and I woke up feeling rotten this morning. Is this my sink or swim moment? My mind says I should dig my heels in and fight on but my belly says wibble-wobble!
Not only have I put on weight and lost muscle but my stomach is bloated and I’m no way near as strong as I was two weeks ago. It goes to show how vital it is to ‘use it or lose it’ because results are very hard earned and far too easily undone. Lifting 12.5kg dumbbells today killed me and my elbows were all over the place which was so disappointing but in fairness what I expected for being so lazy and unhealthy. I never wanted to mess up my training but I have to work and support my family so it’s something I have to take on the chin, dust myself off and man up.
The way I see things now is that I can’t go into the contest now to win a place but I can try my best to get into the best shape possible to still enjoy the experience. If I’m too far off of my target by the time the show comes then worst case scenario I’ll have to pull out and try again next time which I really don’t want to do. So now I’m focusing on my nutrition, rebuilding my stamina and crossing my fingers that nothing else comes up to throw me off track because I’m literally hanging in by the skin of my teeth right now.
UPDATE: 07/02/17 Legs At Anytime Fitness (53 Days To Go)
Today was my first legday back after two weeks out of training, out of shape and totally messing up my diet and routine. I’m still majorly sleep deprived and my liver hates me after drinking vodka and champagne daily but if life has taught me one thing then it’s what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and in the darkest of times we grow the most. I’m a big girl, I know my own body and I know right from wrong, having two weeks out to film pays my bills so that I can support my children as a lone parent but it didn’t support my fitness goals – boo hoo, time to man up and move on and turn my excuses into results.
Having been introduced to the world of bodybuilding by the very talented Tony Montalbano I’m now ready, and finally able, to train by myself and I was apprehensively expecting my muscles to be deconditioned and weak but somehow my body totally surprised me today. Legday has always been my favourite day for training and I love pushing my limits but I never thought I could go straight back in at the deep end and pick up where I left off. The transition that shocked me when I started logging my sets and reps today was the difference in figures as most of Tony’s machines were in pounds instead of kilograms so I thought that I was failing terribly until I realised the conversion!
Not only did I bash out a whopping 320 leg reps today but I also completed an hour and a half of cardio burning 840 calories on the cross trainer and scored a new personal best on my leg curls of 65kg which is an increase of 15kg on my last set! I feel full of spirit and determination and realise how important it is to believe in myself and hold my fitness goal in sight. No doubt there will be highs and lows but we’re all human and can overcome anything we put our minds to. I’m also sticking to weighing my food and meal prepping thanks to a food plan from Lucy at Team Superfox as I’m determined to get this belly fat shifting! Progress pictures to follow 🙂
UPDATE: 08/02/17 Back & Biceps At Anytime Fitness (52 Days To Go)
Today I accidentally ended up doing a three hour workout as you do! I feel so pumped and alive right now I couldn’t recommend it more highly – I’ve never felt so energetic and alive. My morning started with an hour and a half of cardio on the cross trainer which clocked up 833 calories across a cool 15km, I then attended a spontaneous Pilates class with instructor Paul Jennings and a group of lovely ladies to unwind my muscles.
Despite us all being at different levels of fitness and age it was a wonderfully inclusive atmosphere as we giggled and panted our way through the routines, and dare I say it, it brought out the OCD competitive side in me as I was determined to hold each stance the longest and stretch the deepest. I’m not an aggressive competitor and certainly not a sore loser but something just sparks inside of me when I’m working out in a group or besides somebody else and my mind won’t allow me to give up or lose pace. I don’t know why!
So after my class I floated my way over to the weights sections for my back and biceps workout which consisted of cable curls, preacher curls, cable pull downs and bent over cable rows – can you tell I have a thing for resistance machines? In total I clocked up 411 reps with 50 incline crunches after just because! Again I’m adjusting to lifting in kg as the machines I previously used were either in pounds or numbered 1,2,3,4,5 etc. so it’s a case of finding my feet and then upping my weight and lowering my reps week by week from now on. Eek!
Looking at my body post-workout my arms, shoulders and legs are coming along nicely and my bloat from over-eating and drinking alcohol for the past two weeks is thankfully gradually shrinking away but I know that I have a very long way to go to be stage ready – if I ever get there! I take full responsibility for my actions and know that I only have myself to answer to and be disappointed in. Whilst I wish I didn’t take a two week break to work away I’m grateful for the insight into my body as I’d never been in a situation like that before where the only food I had to hand was convenience and my access to a gym was entirely denied. If anything it’s helped me to better understand the different lifestyles and obstacles that people face which I don’t have experience of on a daily basis. It’s easy to live in a bubble and expect others to do and feel the same but we’re all different. The more we understand ourselves and the outcome of our actions the faster we learn and grow – after all the best lessons in life are learnt from mistakes! Yes I fucked up but now I’m about to turn up and pay it all back!!!!!
UPDATE: 09/02/17 Cardio & Core At Anytime Fitness (51 Days To Go)
51 days to go and I’m feeling cray cray! Today was fasting cardio and core and I smashed a 2hr cross training session to the tune of 940 calories whilst chatting on Facebook Live – whoop for multitasking! I followed up my workout with a Reflex Nutrition pea protein shake, 250ml of water from the fountain and 20g of rolled porridge oats and feel so alive right now. Please excuse this gym toilet selfie where I pulled my leggings down to show my quads but I think it’s important to show a bit of skin to capture the true state that my body is in, and after all I’m going to be on stage in very little anyway to get judged.
My arms are gaining size which is always a positive but I need to sharpen up my legs and really get my quads popping which usually respond really well to barbell squats but as I’ve had 2 weeks out of training I’m still playing catchup. From the front I look very chunky and wide yet from the side I look slim so I guess the quarter turns on stage will be my saving grace. I’ve always had this really annoying kink in the tops of my thighs where my body goes in and then out again at my hips, if I sit my underwear in the kink it looks like I have a major muffin top but if I pull it up higher then it looks like my legs are stuck on sausages so I don’t know what’s the less of two evils really but I guess you can’t change bone structure.
I finished up todays two and a half hour morning session with 250 crunches on an incline bench and feel cheerful f**ked as my abs were on fire throughout. I’m going to really up my core game now and start using my ab wheel as well as tightening up my diet and lowering my carbs in favour of green veg and avocados for good fats. I’m taking on 2-3litres of water a day which I need to up to 4-5 ASAP but other than that I’m recovering well from my time out and gradually gaining back my progress. I’m getting more and more confident of my ability each and every day but I guess it could all change in the blink of an eye if something else goes wrong – which I won’t allow. It really is mind over matter!
UPDATE: 10/02/17 Shoulders, Chest & Triceps At Anytime Fitness (50 Days To Go)
Argh! Where is the time going!? It seems the days are just flying by and now that the children have broken up from school for half term it’s going to make it go even quickerer – yes, my daughter says it’s a real word so that she could conveniently get a triple word score at Scrabble so let’s allow it!
Another upper body workout and I’m pretty impressed to see that my biceps are now far bigger than my breasts ever naturally were. I feel thick and chunky as my body comes into shape with muscle mass in preparation to cut. Everywhere I look on social media I see progress pictures from people attending Pure Elite and I think FML they’re in such better shape than me and my muffin top but it’s ok because I’m not in competition with any of them, I’m simply in competition with myself and every rep and groan that I take is one step closer to being better than I’ve ever been.
I used all machines today for my workout and everything burned, especially after 2hrs of cardio and wide grip chin ups for a compound killer. I’ve had two people say to me that my face looks slimmer from last week when I was post-alcohol-binge bloated but I don’t really see any difference, still it’s nice to hear. I’ve switched my extra virgin olive oil for just a teaspoon of coconut oil instead when cooking as I clean up my good fats and have stocked my fridge with asparagus and beansprouts in preparation to kiss goodbye to carbs. I’ll try my best to stay away from any stressful situations for the next 50 days because everybody knows what an emotional rollercoaster it is leaving sunny Carbsville.
It seems that everybody I speak to have a different tip and trick to dealing with competition prep. Some guys sing about post-workout bananas and others don’t allow them at all. I’ve had people telling me to carb cycle and others saying cut them down to just 20g a day until a month out. My eyes are literally spinning in my head and it’s clear that there’s no one size fits all but it’s very much a case of listening to your own body and finding out what works best for you. It’s all part of the fun riding the highs and lows and I’m really enjoying my routine. Either way I’ll give it my all and do my best and if I don’t hit my goal this year when I step on stage then I’ll certainly be far better equipped and prepared to get it next year. Fifty days… Wow…
UPDATE: 11/02/17 Legs At Anytime Fitness (49 Days To Go)
Do you know what? I’m really into the swing of things now, I’ve got my nutrition on point, my training on point and I’m feeling absolutely amazing after having had a gorgeous salt bath to soak my muscles. Today was leg day and the gym was super busy being the weekend with most of the machines taken so I had to flip my session around and do my cardio main first and then my weights – which is what I do for upper body training but never legs. Usually on leg day I’d take my walk to the gym as my warm up, do my weights and smash my legs until I’m shaking and then finish it off with my cardio main for as long as I can manage to shake out my legs and unwind my muscles but starting today on fasting cardio for 10km on the cross trainer and then moving on to weights absolutely destroyed me!
Today I decided to hit all of my sets at 45kg because my previous sessions had cycled upwards in tens and I want to now keep a steady foundation for training in order to lift heavier week on week from here. I could have gone higher in weight for a handful of reps from each set but in working on my endurance it will give me the ability to hit hypertrophy as my body becomes more capable.
Today I channelled my inner Beetlejuice with my stripy leggings and for fear of my post workout pictures being super repetitive I decided not to raise an arm and have my leggings over my hips but instead pull them down today to show how my stomach is gradually deflating. Alas my hopes of attaining a six pack are still a very long way off right now but nonetheless there is certainly improvement – even if it isn’t obvious from my selfies – my body is feeling more tight and toned by the day.
Here’s an upper body progress snap from today and I’m slightly excited with how my back and shoulders are looking. I have absolutely no idea how to pose yet to bring out the best definition in muscle but that’s something I’m going to have to learn before the big day and a lot of people have said how stage presence and correct posing can totally turn a competitor around. Here’s to lifting heavy and getting shredded!
UPDATE: 12/02/17 Rest Day (48 Days To Go)
Rest day at last! Although it feels almost criminal to not go to the gym but I know that my muscles need to recover. After a glorious nights sleep the children and I woke up this morning and decided to go swimming – nothing too strenuous but a lovely way to play and unwind.
Considering I’m on a low carb diet at the moment it’s surprising how many vegan-friendly foods contain a high amount of carbs, I’ve stopped eating brown rice and sweet potatoes and sadly my snacks of frozen bananas must also go. I’m really feeling the burn of fasted cardio in the morning and by the afternoon I could certainly do with a nap but my body is looking and responding so much better for it. I still have such a long way to go to be stage ready and I’m constantly bloated with water but there’s a muscle suit of armour forming beneath the surface and I really can’t wait to unleash it!
UPDATE: 13/02/17 Back & Biceps At Anytime Fitness (47 Days To Go)
Today was back and biceps and I absolutely smashed my workout and feel on top of the world! I started at 7:30am because of it being the half term holidays and the children stayed in bed whilst a friend babysat so that I could get in and out early in order to return home in time to cook breakfast and get to the opticians and dentist after. I fast for my cardio having had my last meal yesterday evening and am dropping my distance down to 5km on the cross trainer for which I want to start switching to the rower and treadmill.
The first 5-10mins had me feeling so drained today but then my body sprung into life as I found my pace and I moved over to weights averaging out at 35kg for the majority of my sets. I’m super obsessed with my back and biceps at the moment and this routine is by far my most favourite because I’m getting such a great response from my body and instantly feel so pumped and strong.
Somehow I managed to tear my leggings at the inside of my thigh today which made me laugh as my legs are getting so muscular now but I love how they look – I just need to work on trimming down my muffin top and ditching my love handles. Fortunately I have some butterflies tattoo’d onto the insider of my thigh which helped to disguise the tear in my leggings, total fitness fail! I just hope I can arrange childcare for a few hours here and there for the rest of the week so that I can keep up with my routines whilst the children are on half term, just four more days to go and then it’s back to normal. It’s lovely having the children at home but I get zero work done because I’m chasing around after them, cooking, cleaning and busy keeping them entertained – on second thoughts perhaps my cardio hasn’t dropped as much as I expected, I’ll have to start wearing my apple watch again to keep a track.
UPDATE: 14/02/17 Shoulders, Chest & Triceps At Anytime Fitness (46 Days To Go)
Every girl deserves a Valentine’s Day workout and I celebrated my singledom today by smashing the shizz out of my triceps – boy were my arms shaking for fun! Arm day always gets me so instantly pumped and despite grunting and groaning my way through the reps I have the biggest smile on my face instantly afterwards, I guess it’s a lot like childbirth so far as something painful in exchange for something wonderful.
I realised today that my shoulders are pretty weak compared to my chest, back and arms as lifting above my head noticeably reduced my weights but this is my benchmark and there’ll only be progress from here on out. I focused heavily on triceps today because they’re one of my greatest weaknesses and something I’m keen to improve on. Working at sets of ten reps allowed me to push myself and build muscle endurance ready for when I up my weights gradually
I kept my cardio to 5km on the cross trainer again today as I turn my focus to weights and have stocked up on broccoli, asparagus and avocados as well as tofu which has always made me gag but for the purpose of nutrition I’m willing to give our love/hate relationship a second chance. I’m hitting four litres of water minimum per day which not only sends me running for the toilet every half hour or so but also makes me feel rather bloated and floaty so I’d like to think it’s preventing me from overeating, but let’s face it, I’m always going to have a big appetite regardless!
I’ve also booked in with Lucy Walton of Team Superfox for my stage posing on 25th February and need to find myself a pair of stage heels to wear so that I can practise the poses and turns ready for the big day. I’ve heard so many people say how tiring and stiff it makes you feel from arching the back and tensing muscles so I need to dedicate as much time as possible over the coming month to build up my resistance so that I’m not gurning or melting into a jelly heap on the floor if I can’t hold it. I also need to learn how not to walk like John Wayne in heels as I’m a comfort bunny and live in trainers. Gah!
UPDATE: 15/02/17 Leg Day At Anytime Fitness (45 Days To Go)
Leg day today and it’s the first time that I’ve ever skipped doing cardio, not because I was too tired – although it absolutely destroyed me – but I only had childcare for a very limited amount of time first thing in the morning so my weight session took preference, grr for half term! My entire body is firming up now and I feel so muscular, strong and in control of everything that I do.
I really got hooked on my Smith squats today and bashed out 150 reps at an average of 50kg which when teamed with the bar I think is actually 70kg in total but I write my weights as what I put onto the machine as a way to keep track. I’m really pleased to be chasing up my weights now but I’m careful not to lose form as I literally dragged myself across the gym floor today in order to final my final flute exercise which I had to turn into a drop set because my legs were like jelly.
Being the half term holidays still I rushed back from the gym at 7am, took my children shopping, bowling – my 5yr old totally kicked my butt – the park, home for lunch, out to visit the family and back home for dinner, housework and the laundry for which I’ve just sat down now and I’m utterly shattered. I’m keeping my low-carb diet on track with plenty of greens and made a beautiful asparagus, avocado and walnut salad for lunch along with a cup of lemon and ginger tea and plenty of water.
One thing I’ve noticed is how different my body looks from different angles. Front on I seem so wide and butch but from the side I look slim, my waist almost disappears and my ribs are visible. I guess as a woman, mother and newly vegan-bodybuilder I view myself with very critical eyes as I see every fault, flaw and weakness. Sometimes I think I’m doing great and well on track to being contest ready in time and other times when my stomach bloats and hips squish over my leggings I question if I should even embarrass myself by turning up. It’s a funny old thing scrutinising your body and I doubt that anyone is ever 100% happy with how they look, especially when going on stage in front of judges, cameras and spectators.
But regardless of how my body looks at different angles day to day I believe in myself and I’m dedicated to becoming the best that I can be. I’m really enjoying the journey so far and now that my diet is on track I’m feeling great. I’m half tempted to have another body composition test to see how I’m getting on but I think I’ll have only broken even on my two weeks out of training and partying so perhaps I’ll leave it another week or two until I check in for my progress. It’s an early night and plenty of sleep for me now because I’ve got back and biceps in the morning and I’m already buzzing at the thought of it!
UPDATE: 16/02/17 Back & Biceps At Anytime Fitness (44 Days To Go)
Oh how I love a good back session! My legs are a little tender after yesterdays squats but I get such a sense of satisfaction from feeling the burn and it only fuels me to push myself further. Seeing as I’m training on my own now I don’t have a spotter and can’t always check my form so I have to rely on how I feel and what my stats are saying.
My upper body strength has improved so much in the past week and I’m loving how my body looks when I’m relaxed, I’m pumped without looking manly and I know that’s a fear of many women when they workout – they want to look tight and toned without turning butch. It takes a hell of a lot of effort to build muscle, especially as a vegan, and I’m in no danger of turning into a gurning bodybuilder anytime soon, but it’s great to see gains and I’m thrilled to be sharing my daily workouts on social media because it’s always great fun hearing feedback and opinions from my followers. We all need something to keep us on track and striving towards our goals – why not let the world be the catalyst!
Whilst I only covered four exercises today I totalled 300 reps and absolutely destroyed my arms and had to drop my weights for cable pulls. Instead of doing my 5km cross trainer cardio I switched it up for the rower with sore arms and stiff legs to see how far I could get. I’ve never pushed myself to my limits on a rower before so I had no idea what I’d achieve or in what time but after just over 9mins of rowing I achieved 2015m and felt amazing – this could just be my new favourite machine!
UPDATE: 17/02/17 Shoulders, Chest & Triceps At Anytime Fitness (43 Days To Go)
Todays upper body session totally burned me into the ground and I really dragged my knuckles in the gym having fasted for my morning workout. I got about 5hrs sleep last night because a TV show I was on about my surgery at Christmas went to air in the evening and my phone, the press and social media were going off the hook and I just couldn’t switch off mentally from the buzz of it all. The show followed me throughout my labiaplasty and healing and informatively highlighted the importance of proper health and fitness when it comes to body image and taboos as each generation sadly feels less and less comfortable about seeking medical advice for fear of embarrassment.
My face muscles could barely smile as I packed my gym bag this morning yet alone yawn, but despite setting off on the back foot I was determined not to skip training because there’s no such thing as a bad workout, only the workout you didn’t do! My biceps and traps are really coming on a treat now I just need to focus on my diet and ultimate goal of getting my abs fine-tuned. I’m eating super clean, hitting around 1,500cals and drinking 4-5ltrs of water each day along with lemon and ginger tea and taking salt baths post-workout to soothe my muscles.
This probably sounds like torture for anyone who hasn’t already tried it, but oddly enough it isn’t too life-consuming and fits nicely into my day. My children and work take preference with my time and fitness has what is left of me which is sometimes a little and other times a lot. It’s certainly not a punishment what I’m doing, yes it takes an enormous amount of self discipline and adjusting my lifestyle but equally it’s making me a far stronger, understanding and patient person – even when I watch somebody consume a plate of carbs in front of me!
One thing I’m stumbling on is raising weight above my head for shoulder press, it just seems to be such a weak and natural movement that my arms aren’t capable of. I can push, I can pull, I can twist and do tricks but I just can’t seem to get any real weight to my shoulder press and as the rest of my weights have increased my press has remained low. It could possibly be down to the fact that I already exhausted my arms with 100 pec flys though so I’ll make a mental note to start my next upper body session with a shoulder press from fresh and see if it makes a difference.
The pec flys totally killed me today but I was adamant that I wanted to hit 100 because I’m a total number bunny and just got it into my head that I had to achieve it. I followed my workout with another session on the rower with the aim of beating yesterdays 2,000m and was pretty hyped to hit 2,500m on maximum resistance of level 10 – even though I turned into a jellyfish for the final 500m and lost my stroke a few times through fatigue!
Thus far my routine has recently lacked ab work as I’ve used up all of my limited low-carb energy to train arms and legs with compound exercises to hit as many muscles as possible but now that I’m dropping body fat and being meticulous with my meals I need to kick my stomach into shape. I feel bloated from drinking so much water, constantly need to pee and have an unsettling feeling that I’ll end up with my period come competition day and look like a puffy pregnant duck on stage. So many thoughts, so little time; woosah!
UPDATE: 18/02/17 Abs At Home (42 Days To Go)
I went to bed last night fully expecting to wake up early this morning and go to the gym first thing today, but after yet another night of no sleep I was absolutely destroyed when my son got me up at 6am – can you even calling it getting up though if I never actually got down to sleep? I dwelled on the thought of skipping the gym and taking an impromptu rest day but the idea made me twitch so I decided to do a little ab routine and heels practise instead.
My abs were just as squishy as I expected after neglecting them for too long and my ab wheel/roller left me shaking and sweating as I tried my best to keep form and move slowly but flopped onto the floor a few times when fully extended – still, onwards and upwards! I’d told myself that i would have an absolutely amazing session with hundreds of reps across several different exercises to target all of my core but in reality it’s quality over quantity and the several minutes of planking and wall sits did me over and I couldn’t take another rep. It was my body’s way of telling me I’d done enough and need to rest, recover and catch up on sleep.
I then moved onto my heels practise which is basically learning to walk with confidence for the stage to do the line up and turns without looking like Bambi or falling over. I spend my life in trainers and rarely wear heels because I have a painful bunion on my left foot, so it’s quite a struggle for me to stand naturally without teetering, wobbling or looking tense when placing my feet in a thin heel. I checked out the Pure Elite requirements for stage shoes to see if I could wear my red heels which hold on great with their ankle straps or if I need the strapless clear posing shoes that the majority of girls wear to compete and I was delighted to discover that these are suitable! Now I just have to prance around in them 24/7 to feel comfortable and avoid blisters on the day!
I’ll be meeting Lucy of Team Superfox this time next week to teach me how to pose and walk as how you conduct yourself and your body language on stage plays a very big part in the judging process. You could have the most incredible body but bad posture, beautiful muscle definition by awkwardness on stage, so it’s vital to get the balance of posing just right to come across as naturally as possible in order to show your results in their best light.
As you can see from this picture I’m still a little bloated on my stomach as I’m drinking 5ltrs of water each day, am expecting my period anytime now and have around 5% body fat left to shift. It feels like an eternity since I last trained my legs, which it isn’t, but I’m looking forward to kicking my butt tomorrow at the gym once I’m nicely rested and getting my quads, calves and glutes popping!
UPDATE: 19/02/17 Legs At Anytime Fitness (41 Days To Go)
Oh leg day how I love you! I feel super charged and upbeat today as I had a vanilla and pea protein shake with 250ml of oat milk and 20g of oats prior to my weights session which totally restored my batteries and gave me the guts to go hard. I then followed it up with a pea protein and water shake after and had seasoned broccoli and asparagus pan fried in coconut oil for lunch at 1pm when I got home from the gym.
I skipped cardio again today in favour of going all out on my legs as I realise my low-carb diet has been making a massive dent on my energy levels, I feel hungry, sleepy and weaker than usual but I know that it’s something I have to see through in order to cut back on my body fat. I haven’t quit carbs completely, but considering I’d typically have around 500-600g of carbs per day when maintaining my active lifestyle it’s quite a shock on my energy levels to drop down to just 20-100g a day now but I’m getting there and allowing myself a little extra if I feel that I’m burning out. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’m not looking to punish myself, I know my body and what feels right and it’s all about moderation and consistency.
It really made a difference skipping cardio, having a protein shake for breakfast and going straight to weights and I dropped my main squat workout into the middle of my workout so that I could get some extensions, curls and kickbacks in before burning out. I kept my weights above my maximum of my last leg session which really helped me to raise the bar and get closer to my goal of hitting my bodyweight for all of my reps at around 60kg which I’m not far off now. I covered 400reps in total and my legs feel like concrete! Just the motivation I needed 🙂
UPDATE: 20/02/17 Back & Biceps At Bodyflex Gym (40 Days To Go)
The children went back to school today and normality is restored! Hoorah for routine, structure and heavy weights sessions again as I caught up with Tony at Bodyflex for an epic back and biceps session for which I’m always so much more adventurous when I have him spotting me and pushing me to go harder. Today I smashed a personal best yet again with my 100kg deadlift of 4x20kg weights on a 20kg bar but I log it in my gym diary as the weights I add and not the total. I managed to hit 12 reps and literally couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear all day because of it.
Frustratingly I still have pain in the right hand side of my groin for which I was seen by a doctor when away for filming as it’s been a recurring problem for me when a small pea sized lump or two rises to the surface of the skin where my underwear sits and feels very tender when I walk or squat. I’d at first thought that I’d pulled a muscle but I was in fact told that I wasn’t injured and nothing was wrong as it was a lymph node for which there are various locations around the body – behind the ears, in the throat – these nodes swell when working as the bodies immune system to fight off illness, and so the fact that my groin nodes are swollen means that they’re successfully keeping me healthy from germs. But it makes me wince when I squat and it really feels like a strain to my muscle, there’s just nothing I can do to get rid of it because resting or working out makes absolutely no difference. I’ll take a look for some Vitamin C today.
Tony advised that rather than going straight from weights to cardio I should split my day in half and lift in the morning and do cardio after my evening meal had digested in order to keep my metabolism peaked. The only problem being that I have my children from school in the afternoon which means that I have no childcare to get back to the gym so I decided to use my home exercise bike whilst watching a film.
I didn’t know how long I’d cycle for, I just felt like watching a film to de-stress and clear my head when the children went to bed as my legs took on a rhythm of their own and the next thing I know I was looking down at the bike display and I’d clocked up 60km! I literally peddled my way up to the shower, dripping in sweat, my lungs alive and body pumping. I have to say I rather enjoyed my accidental exercise and being distracted certainly helped me to smash a goal as I’ve only ever done one 60km bike ride before and that was for a wheelchair charity two years ago!
UPDATE: 21/02/17 Chest, Shoulders & Triceps At Bodyflex Gym (39 Days To Go)
Today I got seriously hyped to see how big my shoulders look as I’m using the pec deck. I’ve always been a scrawny prawn and workout to put some meat on my bones and not look so childlike, seeing my upper body pop with each repetition was incredibly satisfying and motivational as all of my effort and hard work is finally starting to show on my body. Each rep is one step closer to my goal of hitting the stage of Pure Elite for the first time and I’m absolutely loving the journey of discovery and self-belief, even when I’m wincing through the burn!
Today I trained at Bodyflex in a class of three ladies and loved how welcoming and supportive it felt. Body flex is the home of champions and undoubtedly a very masculine, raw and industrial gym that you wouldn’t expect to find women in, but in fact anybody can train anywhere, we’re just put off or embarrassed by what society expects and how we perceive something we have no experience of. It’s refreshing to see more women getting into fitness, particularly weights as there’s a stigma around women not wanting to workout and look butch. As I’ve seen first-hand building muscle takes a great amount of effort, energy and consistency with a suitable diet that the average Joe couldn’t accidentally fall into the second they lift a dumbbell.
I’m bubbling over with enthusiasm for entering my first bikini contest and looking forward to seeing my body in a light that it’s never been in before. As I’m turning 30 this year it’s the pinnacle of self-belief for me to achieve this, and having had two children, various surgeries, illness and weak bones as a child it just goes to show that results are stronger than excuses and if I can do it then anybody can, you just have to want it badly enough.
I finished up todays session with an evening bike ride on my exercise bike in the lounge. As I hit 60km yesterday I wanted to match it again because of my competitive streak and I was thrilled to smash my goal and feel beautifully buzzing and ready for a cool shower after. It’s the most incredible way to end the day, I’m just wondering how on earth I’ll survive leg day at the gym tomorrow morning!
UPDATE: 22/02/17 Legs At Bodyflex Gym (38 Days To Go)
I’m shocked at how fast the days are passing now, it’ll soon be a month and under until the show and I have a very long way to go with you physique. Today I trained legs with Tony at Bodyflex and I still have this horrendous returning ache in my groin which pangs overtime that i squat. The doctor said it’s my lymph node swelling to the surface to keep my immune system active but because it’s been around for a month now I actually think it could be an injury or even a weakness to my muscle that I’d never discovered before because I’ve never had to push my body to its l;limits. All that I know is standing from a squat makes me want to scream and I’m cautious not to do myself any damage that may risk me competing.
It was great to train with the girls again in a class and I was thrilled to discover that one of the ladies working out with me is also Hungarian and not far from where my family grew up in Hungary, along with another who has three children at similar ages to my own. It’s amazing how you can spend months if not years passing strangers in the street or at the supermarket and never even exchange a hello, yet in the gym, over blood sweat and tears friendships are formed so much more easily. I guess fitness is part of a family, a group of positive people all striving forward for the same goal – to look and feel better whilst improving health. And that’s really hard for non-fitness addicts to understand because the more I build my muscles and sculpt my body the more people say to me “Please don’t get too big, you’re starting to look manly! It’s really not attractive!”
My aim isn’t to become a butch man, it’s to achieve my personal best mentally, physically and emotionally and I’ll be going to the show alone because my friends and family are either working, too busy or childminding for me to get there. But I don’t mind, I’m used to going at life alone and it’s never stopped me before so it won’t stop me now. Another thing that non-fitness bunnies don’t get is the emotional rollercoaster training and dieting puts you on. I have my period coming and I feel my bottom lip start to quiver when I see babies giggling in pushchairs or kittens on television because it hits home that I’m a single parent and fully expected my 6yr engagement from my teens to lead onto a happy marriage and more babies for the family I’d always dreamed of. My body is a bit of a slug to respond to training after having two babies and with my bloated period belly, aching muscles from training and flittering emotions it’s mentally an uphill challenge to stay focused, not overeat and not jeopardise my training.
In the morning I always feel positive as I’ve slept, been to the toilet and allowed my muscles to rest so my body looks firm, slim and strong. Yet after breakfast I instantly look chunky, after drinking 5litres of water my face puffs up and come the evening I’m almost chewing my finger nails off dreaming of eating chips, potatoes, bread, pasta or even fruit. But I know that every girl on the stage is going through the exact same feelings, the exact same steps, celebrations and self-doubts in a constant revolving circle, I just have to hang on and stay strong and fortunately that’s something I’m well experienced in. I’m loving my fitness journey and feel that it’s important to be honest and open all the way because nobody is perfect. A few weeks ago when I returned from working away I thought I’d ruined my training and would have to drop out, and now that I’ve tried on my bikini, heels and a choker I’ve never felt so good! Come hell or high water I’ll give Pure Elite my all because you can do anything you put your body, mind and soul to!
UPDATE: 24/02/17 Shoulders & Abs At Bodyflex Gym (36 Days To Go)
It’s been a bit of a tough few days as I took my mum to a hospital appointment yesterday where she was diagnosed with stage three cancer and it turned my entire world upside down. My mum has been ill for almost two years now and passed from pillar to post with medical professionals in and out of hospital but I always expected them to find a solution, a treatment or cure for her pain. I just never wanted to hear the word cancer even though it hovered at the back of my mind, yet now that it’s here it’s something I’m struggling to accept. My mum has always been such a strong and independent woman who never asked anything of anybody, but now she’s so frail, skeletal and fighting such a serious illness for which the outcome is so arduous and unknown.
I haven’t been able to think straight since standing in the surgeons office with her as she was given her diagnosis. I want to hug her and protect her and take her away from anything that could ever hurt her but I’m entirely helpless, we all are and it’s an impossible situation to be in. What will be will be and all I can do is hope and pray for her recovery. My mind constantly wanders to worst case scenarios, one minute I’ve completely lost my appetite and the next I’m craving comfort food, up all night thinking and then passing out from sheer exhaustion on the sofa. I cried my eyes out on the drive to the gym this morning at the thought of never seeing my mum again and the saddest moments hit me at the most random times, I think I’m trying to process it all.
But one thing my Mum has asked me to do is stay positive and strong as always and don’t let cancer ruin our lives. I haven’t shown or told my Mum how scared I’m feeling because I don’t want her to feel guilty or in some way to blame for everyone around her being so sad and helpless. She’s taken the news like an absolute trooper but I know that she’s frightened too, she just won’t ever show it to spare our feelings. So in return I’m brave too, upbeat and cheerful as we usually are in an attempt to hold onto the little normality we have left before her radiotherapy and chemotherapy start. My Mum is my inspiration in life, my role model and super hero for which nothing could ever stop her and to see her a shell of her former self and at the mercy of cancer is soul destroying. But we’ll get through this together, as a family and with love and positivity. So I dried my tears, got out of my car, walked to the gym and carried on with my shoulders and abs session as scheduled because Mum wants to see me do my best in the show and I’ve never let her down.
Todays session was a bittersweet distraction and I found solace in my weights making my goal to step not the stage all the more prominent. I’m channelling my emotion and fear into a positive by working out and keeping busy with the children, seeing Mum and working.
UPDATE: 25/02/17 Posing Practise With Team Superfox (35 Days To Go)
Today I took a rest day and met Lucy Walton of Team Superfox to have my first posing class. It’s something I’ve never tried before and I’m exceptionally bad at walking in heels because I spend my life in trainers or boots. I realised just how stiff and awkward I am in heels as not only do I find it hard to balance but I oddly tend to walk like John Wayne only more fast paced.
Lucy is such a natural and a wonderful coach, instantly putting me at ease, correcting my posture and giving me tips on how to hold myself. I was expecting to have to raise my arms, tense muscles or do some form of choreography which I’m horrendous at but it was a pleasant surprise to know that the T-walk and quarter turns are fairly straight-forward for the categories that I’m in. I just have to not look like Bambi on ice when I’m walking, take my time, keep my chin up, smile like I’m not a murderer and remember to look at the judges throughout. So I’ll be practising in my heels by walking around my house wearing them, doing the dishes and hoovering on tip-toe until it becomes a fluid motion, much like the bridal walk just in a super gorgeous twinkling bikini in front of loads of cameras and judges – eek
UPDATE: 26/02/17 Cardio At Home (34 Days To Go)
Seeing as it’s Sunday I’m training with Tony at Bodyflex throughout the week so I took a cardio session this morning at home, again sticking on a film and then cycling without realising I’m exercising. My legs are feeling so strong and muscular now, I’m conscious of sitting upright for good posture and draw my belly button back into my spine to see my stomach tightening.
The morning absolutely flew past and I hit 70km after three hours before I even noticed the time. My endurance is incredible right now, cycling naked certainly helps to keep me cool and refreshed so that I don’t get that moment when I overheat or hit the wall and have to stop. I always get so warm when I workout which is why I prefer wearing shorts and crop tops in the gym aside from leggings in the winter. If I could peel my skin off to get cool I literally would! That’s the beauty of having home fitness equipment – I can workout when my children are in bed and nobody can see what a sweaty mess I am!
UPDATE: 27/02/17 Back & Biceps At Bodyflex Gym (33 Days To Go)
I really adore working my back, I’m not sure if it sounds like a glamorous part of the body to most but I’m seeing some incredible results and teamed with hitting my biceps I get such an instant pump and size. Today Tony decided to hit me with a 100 rep challenge by working each exercise for 100 reps whilst also raising my weights and it totally destroyed me but I smiled my way through the burn and felt so hyped when I finished my final set.
By the time I got to the bicep curls my arms were like jelly and it was an effort just to fill out my gym diary. Seeing as we were hitting high reps I didn’t go to my maximum weight but found something I could maintain whilst still being challenging as I exhausted my muscles. Its nice to mix up my routines and try different training systems because it’s far too easy to get stuck in a rut with training and do the same thing over and over without shocking the muscles or keeping the results climbing.
We’re right at the end of February now which leaves just over a month until the contest and I feel like my body is really coming into shape now, I just need to focus on shifting my body fat still which is something I’m struggling with. I’ve never really had to diet before or lose weight as I’ve always been active and take frequent exercise but with my diet being low-carb vegan I feel constantly hungry and crave snacks seeing as my staple of brown rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes are off of the menu in favour of limiting carbs in my protein sources. To go beyond my natural size UK8 frame and slim down to the leanest I can possibly become is far more challenging than I ever expected but it’s something I’m striving for because the best things in life take effort and dedication!
UPDATE: 28/02/17 Chest & Triceps At Bodyflex Gym (32 Days To Go)
Todays session was chest and triceps and we went for another 100 rep challenge and upped my weights. It was a total burner and had my entire arms trembling as I grimaced through the chest press and fell short of my goal of hitting 100 reps in 4×25, however it’s not about how long it takes you to get there but the fact that you never give up and I was so hyped to hit my 300 reps today so that I could flop around like a jelly fish and treat myself to an avocado.
I started out my chest press on 12kg weights following my warmup and got out one set of 12 before my form failed. Rather than taking several hours to hit my 100 target we decided to lower my weight to 10kg and remain consistent with my sets and next time I do the challenge I’ll look to hit 12’s throughout.
The tricep pushdowns always get me and I have to literally bolt my elbows in place to stop them from doodling around from the cable resistance. Although we only did three different exercises today it blew me to pieces and I’m looking forward to leg day tomorrow to well and truly finish me off!
Today I really enjoyed my roasted peppers and salad for dinner following my pea protein shake and avocado post-workout. Sticking to a low carb diet is incredibly repetitive seeing as I’m vegan and I’m limited as to how many recipes I can create with green vegetables and salad leaves but it’s making a difference to my body and my abs are finally starting to make eye contact with me, I just have to keep on track with keeping my calories under 1,500 and making sure I clock up some cardio throughout the week.
Tonight I cycled another 40km from home which burned 600calories and is bringing tone to my legs beautifully. Seeing as I have legday tomorrow I didn’t want to go all out and exhaust my muscles but it’s just enough to up my metabolism and keep my fat loss on track. I’m having a really odd period this month which I was kind of expecting to stop if I dropped enough body fat, but instead it’s more of a half period for which I’m bleeding and lightly cramping but not as consistently as normal, it’s no way near as heavy and is taking far longer to come out so perhaps next month after the contest once I reach my peak I may not have a period at all. What a bonus that would be!
UPDATE: 01/03/17 Leg At Bodyflex Gym (31 Days To Go)
Today Tony taught me some poses to help show my muscles and it’s rather surprising how different I look when I flex and relax. I always thought muscles are muscles and appear a similar size but being able to display them properly makes all of the difference. I find when I take selfies I pull my shoulders back slightly and extend my elbow outwards for my biceps to pop up but bringing my hands inwards shows them in an entirely different light; sometimes they look huge and other times it looks as if I have no muscle at all!
We did the 100 rep leg challenge today and did Smith squats to help with the pain in the right hand side of my groin where I’m still tender and over-compensating with my leg leg to relieve some of the pressure. I spoke to my doctor today and she thinks my lymph nodes are inflamed because I’ve recently had antibiotics, but for it to have lasted several weeks it’s a bit out of the ordinary so they’ll be monitoring me and considering sending me a scan if the swelling doesn’t go down soon.
As always we upped my weights today and I felt like a shaky lamb walking home after our 40min leg session. I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can take my progress before the show and feel slightly excited yet freaked out that it’s 30 days tomorrow until the contest – how can it be March already!? This year is going crazy fast!
UPDATE: 02/03/17 Rest Day (30 Days To Go)
Today was my rest day and I really had to fight myself not to do a workout but I understand how important rest and recovery is so I kept myself busy with DIY, housework and taking my son to parents evening before flapping around to make dinner and do the laundry. I haven’t sat down all day and when the doorbell rang earlier I was hyped to see my Lara Croft outfit had arrived for my upcoming photoshoot so I had to try it on for size!
UPDATE: 03/03/17 Shoulders & Abs At Bodyflex Gym (29 Days To Go)
Shoulders and abs today and Tony put me through my paces in a way that I never could. Everytime I think I’ve hit the wall and reached my maximum he gives me the energy and aggression to drive myself forward another 2-3reps and I’m so grateful for his enthusiasm. Fitness is a fight between mind and body and when the two come together it’s incredible.
We hit another 100 rep challenge today for my sets and I was sweating and trembling just ten minutes in, it’s such a punisher but well worth the effort. Despite being on my period I wasn’t going to let my stomach cramps and backache beat me so I took my 200 reps target in Thera crunch and bench leg raises and bashed out 255 instead just because!
As I have a prolactin hormone imbalance I’ve always had very heavy random periods which sometimes last over a week long, sometimes don’t surface for 2-4months and sometimes surprise me in the middle of nowhere. After having abnormal CIN2 cervical cells removed last year and the copper coil fitted it’s again shaken my cycle and body up. I detest my period, bloat up and feel like somebody has drained every ounce of energy from my body but I continue to workout because it helps to speed up the process, it’s just a whole lot harder for me. I have this feeling of ever increasing dread that my period will come for the show date and I’ll be shaking, pale and weak with a pumped up Buddha belly to ruin my results, but it’s something I have to put to the back of my mind and not stress over. If it comes it comes and there’s nothing I can do to change that, it’s just the luck of the draw.
UPDATE: 04/03/17 Rest Day Cardio (28 Days To Go)
Because of my diary I’ve taken today as a rest day with my daily cardio continuing. I’m so hyped to have my ‘Come Watch Me Compete’ video back from Chris Robinson – I’ve popped his details in the notes below – and it’s a nice little tester tape of what I’ve been doing throughout my training as the contest creeps ever closer. I hope you enjoy it!
20km done and 300calories in the bank keeping my metabolism ticking over after dinner. I’m ditching salt now, eating plenty of salad, green vegetables, chickpeas, black beans, lentils, avocados and water water water!
Being vegan it can be hard to hit my protein levels to sustain and grow my muscle mass which is why I’m having 5-7 meals per day, mostly small meals and snacks to keep my metabolism ticking over and sugar levels balanced but this was todays lunch which was pretty epic with homemade hummus for protein, avocado for good fats and salad and seeds. I’m hitting 1800 calories on training days and 1700 on rest days and keeping up on pea and hemp protein shakes, cashew and almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds between meals. I’m a foodaholic!
UPDATE: 05/03/17 Rest Day Cardio & 100 Rep Challenge (27 Days To Go)
I find it super hard to not workout on a rest day but equally I know that my muscles need to recover and grow so now I’m taking three days of rest per week but keeping my cardio in place throughout. My training regime is split into four days per week for back & biceps, chest & triceps, legs, and shoulders & abs with cardio daily rather than a big block once a week.
I call this my rest day but I’m still cycling and hit 25km before my morning protein shake. Being the weekend I have no childcare so cycling from home in my lounge really helps me to hit my goals. I always get so hot working out and leggings and a sports bra in the gym still doesn’t cool me down so I appreciate being a total fashion-victim from home when I can pedal away in my pants and mismatching bra with the doors and windows open and a nice cool breeze to keep me going!
I was super hyped to jump on the scales today to discover I’ve dropped from 22% body fat to 19.9% as I creep closer to my 18% goal. Even though I’ve set myself percentage based goals it’s all down to the appearance of my body to see what is right for me. I’ve never attempted to achieve 18% body fat before and no doubt I’ve been even slimmer in the past but since having my two children and approaching turning 30yrs old I don’t know what my body is now capable of. It’s all about making small and consistent adjustments and knowing what is healthy. This may be the best I will ever look or I could totally smash it in three weeks time and drop another 2%, it’s all part of the journey and great fun finding out. I don’t want to get hung up on body fat and weight because it’s all about how a body looks rather than what’s on paper which is why I rarely weigh myself.
I’m 5ft8″ in height, a dress size UK8, weigh 9st9lbs and have 19.9% body fat and 37.9% muscle mass. Not bad for an old spinster!
UPDATE: 06/03/17 Back & Biceps At Bodyflex Gym (26 Days To Go)
Back and biceps today and we went for high reps followed by triple drops and it had me screwing up my face like a baby sucking on a lemon – I really pushed my muscles to their limit and I doubt I’ll be able to tie my shoe laces by tomorrow but it’s totally been worth it.
I love handle pulldowns for working my back and get a really good teeth grit and hiss going on as I burn myself out. To start with I’d be weak and scrawny with my arms shaking and palms sore from gripping the bars but now I realise how resistant I’ve become, how tough I am and how much more fire and adrenaline I have for my workout since I first started – I’ve gone from little lamb to fierce lion and I love it!
I seriously need to up my pull up game though, perhaps next time I’ll start on them rather than being a jelly fish from half a routine in.
UPDATE: 07/03/17 Chest & Triceps At Bodyflex Gym (25 Days To Go)
Chest chest chest!! I’m having so much fun with all of my routines there’s absolutely nothing that I dread or feel unenthusiastic about, but chest is certainly way up there on my favourites for excitement. I guess it’s the immediate sense of power that I feel and how my arms respond that keeps me hooked.
I love how my body is changing shape and everything is getting so tight and tone and pumped, I’ve never been so strong and in control of my physique as I am now and I can see why fitness is addictive. I’ve never pushed my body to my limits to discover the best that I can become but I wish I’d done this far sooner so that I could have enjoyed the results and journey time and time again by now. Still better late than never!
High reps triple drops and I’m pretty hyped about pressing 12.5kg, if I hadn’t have burnt my arms out first with 50reps I definitely think I could have hit 15kgs – another goal chalked up that I’m looking forward to achieving!
UPDATE: 08/03/17 Legs At Bodyflex Gym (24 Days To Go)
Even though it was leg day today I just can’t get over how my arms have changed so much hence todays progress picture. My groin isn’t as painful as it has been so it allowed me to workout without wincing too much and that meant I could smash my personal best for Smith squats by hitting 70kg whereas I was crying on 20kg the other day. I definitely think I’d injured a muscle which hadn’t had time to heal between routines properly but my doctor is still adamant that it’s an inflamed lymph node that will have to be scanned if it doesn’t disappear in the next week – watch this space! I just don’t want anything to jeopardise the show because it’s so close but I haven’t been able to work my legs as hard as I’d hoped to which is frustrating.
I did however set my glutes on fire by lifting a whole 150 stack for butt blaster – weighted hip raises and cranked my calf raises to 105 which had me walking out of the gym lighter than air and ready for the school run and an uphill stroll. It’s just over 3 weeks until show day and I’m feeling so positive and pumped, my diet is the cleanest it’s ever been, my body is responding incredibly and I’m losing the stubborn belly fat that my midlife waistline has refused to shift for the past few years. Hoorah!
UPDATE: 09/03/17 Shoulders & Abs At Bodyflex Gym (23 Days To Go)
Shoulders and abs is a tickler of a workout and I love how pumped it gets me as I always see such instant results in my upper body and core. I have a kookie fascination for seeing my neck tense up when I’m lifting and the triangular shape I’m getting between my shoulders and waist accentuates with every rep.
I’m trimming and toning and keeping struck on my diet now as the final few weeks approach until he contest. Adding weight to my Thera crunch today had me laughing through the burn and I was super hyped to hit 12.5kg for my shoulder press which I’d have struggled to lift one dumbbell with two hands just a few weeks ago. It’s proof that we all start from the beginning and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
As Mum has had her colostomy surgery for the start of her bowel cancer treatment I’m using the next few days as my rest day to ferret to and fro from the hospital and the family. Hopefully she’ll be coming home soon and will make a speedy recovery, but my son is feeling under the weather and I have a funny feeling he’s going to come down with a bug and throw my childcare and training. Fingers crossed my prayers and healing thoughts make their way through and my Mum and children will soon be fighting fit again – I’m burning the candle at both ends as it is and there’s no sign of my hectic life and heavy schedule letting up anytime soon, I’m just trying my best to work, workout and be there for my family in a million different places at once with not enough hours in the day and on a low carb calorie controlled diet – gah! No excuses!!! Suck it up princess!
UPDATE: 13/03/17 Back & Biceps At Bodyflex Gym (19 Days To Go)
Back and biceps today and again I’m smashing goals and upping my weights and reps, I really feel like I’m unstoppable now. Oddly enough I have the constant feeling of my period about to come but it isn’t due and shouldn’t do – I’m just tender with lower back ache and stomach cramps. I was half expecting my irregular periods to stop from bodybuilding but they’re just as crazy as always and do what they want when they want. If I’m not training and making my body tremble then I’m teetering around with swollen muscles and recovering – the life of a bodybuilder hey! But I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I’m loving the definition I’m getting to my upper body and back exercises always leave me grinning like the Cheshire Cat, it’s never a part of my body I’d ever paid attention to before but it’s fast becoming my personal favourite. I’ve never felt so strong and body confident as I do now and it’s a feeling that doesn’t only work extremely well for the condition of your body but also your outlook on life as positivity breeds positivity. I’m calm, cool, collected and at peace with my life and my results and goals are going from strength to strength.
Now if 1.9% of my body fat would kindly do a disappearing act I’ll be the happiest girl in the world for my contest – 19 days to go, can it be done? Only time will tell!
UPDATE: 14/03/17 Legs At Bodyflex Gym (18 Days To Go)
FML it’s only 18 days to go and my fabulous bikini designer Lucy Ashworth of Allure Couture asked me to try on my bikini to see what it looks like from behind so here I am flat foot not posing and I’m having doubts about the shape of my hips which dip inwards before bulking back out at my quads. I always wear my lingerie higher at a 45degree angle rather than straight as it sinks into my dip and looks like a muffin top which is just the shape of my body and there’s nothing I can do to change it. After a quick chat this morning we’re thinking of having longer straps so that I can pull them up over my hips towards my back tattoo to distract from my hip dents – oh the excitement of it all!
So today was leg day and it’s a routine I massively love but also dread for the fact that my groin is still giving me trouble and it comes and goes without warning. Today I really suffered on squats which we’d already moved from the barbell to the Smith machine to help me some weeks ago, but it’s the standing from the squat that makes me want to cry as the inside of my groin feels like it has a knife stuck in the crease and it twists and pulls like a stitch in the stomach and sends electricity shooting everywhere through me which isn’t pleasant. I’m still waiting to hear back from test results from my doctor to see if it’s a problem with my lymph nodes -which they seem to think it is- or if it’s a muscle injury, although Tony thinks due to the length of time that I’ve had it now, over two months, that it could be a hernia. Either way my doctor said I can continue to train and I’m being mindful to to make it worse or overexert myself, but I want to get the best results possible in the safest manner until the pain goes away.
I was so hyped despite my groin pain that I smashed six of my personal bests on legs today and I’m still buzzing from the adrenaline of it all! I literally screwed my face up like a baby sucking on a lemon, hissed my way through each rep and growled like a wild beast – what a difference it’s been transforming myself from lanky Mum to muscle babe! I feel as though nothing can stop me now because I’ve proven that it’s mind over matter and you can overcome anything you set your heart on in life so long as you believe in yourself and keep raising the bar.
Personally I think every gym should carry a little sticker book of gold stars for every time somebody smashes a personal best but I’ve settled for outlining my weights with a little bubble instead. Get in thereeeeeee!!!
UPDATE: 15/03/17 Chest & Triceps At Bodyflex Gym (17 Days To Go)
Chest and triceps today and I smashed another four of my personal bests which had me smiling through my shaky reps as I fought tooth and nail for every last one penned up in my gym diary. It fills me me with incredible enthusiasm to be able to raise the bar and up my weights but I couldn’t do it without the day-to-day groundwork of endurance, building my stamina until I can eventually push my muscles into hypertrophy and see growth and a size increase.
Every inch of my body is hard as rock and now showing definition I just really need to focus on cutting back that seriously stubborn belly fat which is proving more difficult the older I get. After having my two children I was able to ping back to my pre-pregnancy body aged nineteen and twenty-five but I guess these last three years I’ve become squishy around the edges, not gaining allover weight but more a spare tyre around my middle that I’ve never tried to shift. I didn’t need a washboard stomach before but now I do and I’m realising how hard it is to achieve it!
Diet wise I’m still focusing on low carb and no salt but literally everything veggie/vegan contains carbs which is frustrating! I’m no longer having brea, pasta, potatoes or rice which has made a big difference but there’s only so much broccoli, salad and chickpeas a girl can take and I’ve never restricted my diet so drastically as I have to now. I wouldn’t say I’ve lost my love of food because I still enjoy everything I eat, it’s just incredibly repetitive, similar and lacking in the contrasting tastes, textures and flavours that I always enjoy combining. What I wouldn’t give right now for some crispy roast potatoes, salted popcorn, vegan brownies and a Cosmopolitan! I’m having 4-5 protein shakes a day with and without oats to hit my protein quota between meals and I think I’m far too hung up on counting pounds and body fat percentages to see any real change soon.
Bodybuilding is certainly a waiting game, consistency, dedication and persistence and unlike weight loss you don’t get that dramatic change in results in a short period of time. In hindsight I probably needed a full 12 weeks to allow my body to adjust and stage out my diet to achieve the best results possible, but with work commitments I’ve had to do it in half the time. It’s the stubborn fat that takes the extra effort, excess body fat trims away so easily in comparison and losing weight when you’re not overweight is mentally challenging. I have no idea how my body can look at it’s best because this is my first time ever trying, yet it already looks the best it ever has with muscle mass, tone and strength that I’ve never experienced before. It’s not just about stepping on stage but appreciating the transformation, lessons, journey and every last step that gets you there.
UPDATE: 16/03/17 Shoulders & Abs At Bodyflex Gym (16 Days To Go)
Arghhhhh! Two weeks! Two tiny weeny weeks and I still only have a measly two-pack instead of a six-pack because of that annoying roll of stubborn vegan stuffing around my midriff. The closer the times gets to the show the more I fantasise about sugar, carbs and alcohol and I’m trying my hardest to stay strong and keep them all at bay. I think I’m done pretty well considering the short amount of time I’ve had to prep for the show, but equally I could’ve done so much better if I hadn’t worked away and thrown my diet and training!
Today’s session consisted of a good old 3×10 – three sets of ten and I didn’t hit my highest weights or break any personal bests but I did remain consistent until I got onto rear delts and thought my lungs would explode from lifting 30s so dropped it down by five and soldiered on! I would have totally smashed my personal bests if I went for low reps today but I’m happy to save my shoulder progress for next week to keep me ticking over.
Chucking 20kg onto my Thera crunch today made me huff and puff like the big bad wolf in the three little pigs and I don’t think anybody who hasn’t had children can ever fully understand what pregnancy does to your stomach muscles until it happens to you. As a teenager my stomach was as tight and firm as a drum, naturally pancake flat and pristine. Fast-forward two children and my stomach muscles are like old socks that have lost their elastic and can’t stay up. It takes a lot of hard work and consistency to break even on the bulge and the skin around my lower belly has remained thin and loose from being stretched ever since I had my first child at the age of 19. Yes exercise improves the texture and tension of my skin, but I’ll never have a pre-pregnancy body. I work hard for the body I have but my results will never be what they could have been if I didn’t have children.
Things change, our bodies age, suffer injuries and health complaints but fitness and nutrition allow us to make the best of what we have. Right here right now this may be the best my body ever looks after having two children, my pinnacle results as an individual whilst other women may have a six pack and some never see their toes again for body fat. Regardless of my results I will continue to try my best, train my best and achieve my best and if my effort is recognised on the stage with the hundreds of inspirational women also competing then I’ll be over the moon, but just to stand with them is victory enough for me. This has been the most incredible journey of self-understanding and worth and I wish you could all experience it too.
UPDATE: 17/03/17 Rest Day (15 Days To Go)
Rest day just whizzes by so fast and much like a glorious weekend seems to disappear in the blink of an eye. I’ve been super busy decorating at home, helping to paint Tony’s gym and visiting my Mum post-surgery in preparation for her cancer treatment to begin. It seems as though there aren’t enough hours in the day anymore but the one thong that’s remained a constant throughout is my training and for that I’m very thankful, I needed an escape from the stresses of life.
As my body changes so has my mindset to fitness and I’ve watched myself go from a prissy girl to a fierce lioness and I know that that can be surprising to others. I know that the media portray the image of slender, feminine ladies with tiny waists and frail bodies that are almost childlike, starved and gaunt as the most beautiful. But health is beautiful, strength is beautiful and beauty comes in any shape and size. For people to say strong women with muscles are unattractive it really makes my mind boggle because when I think of an ideal partner I think of a man who is positive minded, driven, adventurous and has his shit together so why can’t women be the same? I have a lot of my followers saying “Wow you look great but please don’t get too big!” Too big? Have you seen the absolute mountain I’ve climbed and the blood sweat and tears I’ve shed just to get where I am now? I doubt lifting a few more dumbbells will push me over the edge and I’ll suddenly wake up looking like a bull on steroids. I’m 100% natural, I love my new body and I think it suits my lifestyle, trim, toned and with a little muscle – by far the best I’ve ever looked even before children, but will it be good enough to place at the contest?
UPDATE: 16/03/17 Cardio At Home (14 Days To Go)
Two days of cardio coming up now as I train 4x per week with Tony to split up my muscle groups and stay active for six days with the seventh being my rest. So cycling from home works really well for me as I don’t have to worry about childcare and can split up my total throughout the day if required – only so far I’ve always finished each session in one hit rather than jumping off and on.
This evenings session was 30km and left me nicely unwound and ready for bed. I really want my legs to gain more definition and I know walking on stage in heels will help to show my quads and calves but sometimes when I’m standing it looks as though I have no muscles at all, yet other times my legs seem huge. I guess it’s all down to the angle and tension and when I see my posing coach Lucy next weekend I’ll learn the final tricks to show off my gains to the best of my ability.
UPDATE: 19/03/17 Cardio At Home (13 Days To Go)
I’m amazed at myself today and can’t quite believe that I’ve smashed my personal best for cycling – 70km!! Wow, it hardly felt like 40km, my legs are just in the zone and so much more capable with time and training. I popped on a film this evening and just kept going and going as I find zoning out and concentrating on something else makes the time pass without the voice inside my head saying “my legs are tired, I should stop!”
I burnt over 1,000 calories during my cycle and jumped onto the scales afterwards to see that I’d dropped down to 19.1% body fat which is 3% off since my last measurement! I really want to get inside 18% because it’s a goal that I’ve set myself but so long as my body looks how it should I’m not too hung up on the numbers. I’m feeling so positive and motivated right now and it’s not as much of a struggle as I was expecting. It’s all about consistency and baby steps, keeping a routine, making time and dropping excuses. So long as you raise the bar at manageable increments you’ll always get to where you’re going because the right direction is up!!
I have just under two weeks until the contest now and the reality of it all is really kicking in. I’m arranging childcare, getting my bag together and going the extra mile with my training. All of my training and prep is coming together for this one moment on stage and I hope I can do my results justice by holding my head high and not skidding over in heels!
UPDATE: 20/03/17 Back & Biceps At Bodyflex Gym (12 Days To Go)
Back and biceps whoop whoop! Today Tony hit me with a 100 rep challenge again for which I had to find a weight to challenge me but sustain high reps so I settled on 5×20 to reach my goal. So whilst I didn’t get to smash any personal bests for raising my maximum weights I did actually get a couple of personal bests for high-repping a higher weight.
I followed it up with some evening cycling and clocked up another 20km to the tune of 300 calories. Cycling is really helping to tone up my legs I just have to be mindful not to exhaust myself as leg day is coming up and I want to give it my all for my second to last session. I always put 100% into my training but if I don’t allow myself the rest and recovery I need then I’ll be going at it from the back foot and it will hinder my results. There’s a find line between training to be your best and over training and throwing away your results.
This has by far been the biggest learning curve of my life and I’ve grown so much in body, mind and soul because of it. I almost don’t want it to end yet I’m so eager to experience the event, I’m literally like a kid at Christmas and I love this feeling so much!
UPDATE: 21/03/17 Leg Day At Bodyflex Gym (11 Days To Go)
Another 100 rep challenge and Tony set me the task of sticking to the same weights again as my last 100 rep legs but to do my reps in 4×25 which I did with a great big smile on my face of course! I’m still getting some horrendous pain in my groin for which Tony thinks it could be a hernia and my doctor thinks it’s my lymph nodes inflamed but whatever it is isn’t getting better so I’m back at the GP tomorrow morning after training hopefully for some answers, to see if the condition has changed and perhaps a treatment plan to move forward – so long as it doesn’t get in the way of my training of course!
Despite the pain of rising from squats I completed my 100 rep challenge in just over 30mins this morning before racing off to take Mum shopping. As she had a bad day with pain because of her bowel cancer I was able to get her a wheelchair to take her shopping and spent 4hrs pushing, lifting, packing and transporting her and her shopping before packing it away at her house, doing a quick bit of housework and rushing off on the school run to pick up the children, make dinner and jump onto my exercise bike for 20km of evening cycling for cardio.
I’m absolutely shattered now, I keep losing blood randomly outside of my period, have stomach cramps and lower backache despite my period not being due and literally feel as though I could sleep for 1,000 years if only I had the time. I’m pushed to my absolute limits both mentally and physically with my training and also the responsibility of being a lone parent trying to look after my poorly Mum, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We grow most in life when we step out of our comfort zone and the more obstacles, aches and pains thrown into my path the higher, harder and faster I jump over them because nothing will stop me from reaching my goals in life, not even excuses!
UPDATE: 22/03/17 Chest & Triceps 100 Rep Challenge At Bodyflex Gym (10 Days To Go)
My 100 rep challenge literally makes training days whizz by in around 30-40mins per session depending on how long it takes me to huff and puff. My triceps were absolutely mashed after todays workout and I had to drop my final incline DB press into 5×20 instead of 4×25 but I’m just pleased I finished it because my arms were shaking like a leaf.
Straight after this mornings routine I had a checkup at my doctors to see about the pain in my groin and blood tests were taken as well as booking me in for a scan at the hospital. She confirmed that it’s not a hernia but three consistently swollen lymph nodes on my groin (two on the right and one on the left) which indicates my body is fighting something but the question being what!? It’s routine procedure to check for any STI/STD’s for which my results came back clear and she also confirmed bodybuilding wouldn’t be the cause of my pain. I’m also experiencing irregular bleeding outside of my period, constant stomach cramps and lower back ache which would signify cervical issues for which I had CIN2 precancerous cervical cells removed and was given the all clear 8months ago so it’s highly unlikely it could have returned so quickly as I’m not due my next routine smear test for another two and a half years.
So now I have to wait for my blood results in 10 days time and my hospital appointment when it arrives by post – both of which will happen AFTER Pure Elite is done and dusted, eek! With my health issues to the back of my mind for now I rushed home to finish writing up some features, collect the children from school, make the dinner, go to parents evening, baths, bedtime and then my 20km evening cycle and I’m absolutely shattered. Oh, and I booked a photoshoot for tomorrow at the gym to showcase my gains prior to the stage – no rest for the wicked!
UPDATE: 23/03/17 Shoulders & Abs At Bodyflex Gym (9 Days To Go)
I was super excited to receive my Pure Elite Angels tanning info by email today and it makes the nine days until the contest seem so much closer than they are! I’m pretty awful at being a girly girl and fail on the tips and tricks to tanning with two of the main pointers being to wax instead of shave (whoops), wear loose clothing and squat over the toilet instead of sitting so as not to rub a ring mark onto the back of your thighs – well one out of three isn’t too bad I guess! I really don’t want to be a streaky brown biscuit on stage so I’m brushing up on my pre-tan prep.
For anybody else attending the show or thinking of competing in future I thought it might be helpful to include some of the tanning and media info which I’ve copied and pasted from my email from the Pure Elite Angels:
Thank you for booking your tan with the Angels, the official tanning company for all Pure Elite Shows. The team and I are looking forward to meeting you all on Friday 31st March at Pure Elite Media day, for your first rounds of tan. You will come in and register (collect your badge), we will then interview you. After that you can remove your make up (please bring face wipes) then the Angels will tan you. You will be at the venue for up to 2hours. Please come to the interview smart causal, with a change of lose clothing for after your tan. You will then need to come back to the venue at 6pm for the athletes meeting, which will take around 1hour.
If you have not received your tanning kit please email us before the 24th March 1pm with your address. You do not use your kist until two days before the show. Now to make sure you glow on stage here are some top tips on prepping your skin ahead of show day:
(Yes we know it’s boring reading but this is important if you want your tan to look good)
– Make sure you exfoliate your skin often in the weeks leading up to the prep, this will help get rid of dry skin. Lots of high street stores and supermarkets sell good exfoliating scrubs.
– nourish your skin, after showering and especially after exfoliating, smother yourself in lots of moisturiser
The two steps above will give you smooth skin, perfect for tanning
– Sun beds stop using them 2-3 days before as you can hold water from them.
Waxing – We would suggest waxing, if you are new to waxing I would suggest getting a practice wax in as soon as you can, just so you know how your skin reacts to waxing and how long it takes for redness to go down. When it comes to show weekend you need to wax at least 5 days before so any ingrowing hairs or spots can be dealt with in advance
Creams – If you really don’t want to wax you can remove hair with hair removal cream, again practice with this to see how your skin reacts. Do be careful of agitating the skin especially as prep life can make your skin thinner
Shaving – Less than ideal, as the hair resurfaces quicker, if you don’t get all hairs, Tan can stick to it and it can look quite obvious. However if Shaving is your only option, Shave using conditioner and make the shave as close as possible.
Day Of Tan
No deodorant, perfumes or body sprays as this can turn the tan green. No moisturisers as this can stop your tan developing properly. No make-up girls you are already stunning. Nail polish clear for you boys as stops your nails staining. So just come natural girls and boys.
Tan time: Girlies naked. Boys bring your sock.
After Tan: Loose clothing dark colours just in case of transfer. Flip flops.
Bedtime: Dark sheets or loose clothing in bed ….. If u like to cuddle yourself at night SOCKS on hands …. Boys and girls you don’t want tanned hands or messed up tan. Also cling film around the toilet to stop any transfer of tan. Or pop a squat, no better time to practice. When using the toilet AIM, that goes for you too ladies.
Todays 100 rep shoulders and abs challenge went pretty well and I jumped onto Facebook live for the final few sets to show my followers just how hard I work. It’s easy to think that fitness is glamorous or easy, that muscles are built by posing in mirrors and drinking protein shakes but actually there’s a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into training and I want to give an open and honest perspective of my experience – no perfect smiles and brightly lit squat videos but instead shaking arms, trembling knees, my face all screwed up as I huff and puff and genuine exhaustion and appreciation for the art of bodybuilding. I’m not here to be pretty I’m here for results!
UPDATE: 25/03/17 Posing Practise & Peak Week Plan With Team Superfox (7 Days To Go)
Seeing as I have a few days of rest I booked in with Lucy of Team Superfox to have my second, and final, posing session in preparation for the show in just 7 days time! This time I was able to join in with a class and meet some girls who will be competing along with me in some of the same categories – yes we’re in competition with one another but amazingly supportive and respectful as there’s no claws here! Seeing as I’m always with my children, working, working out or tending to my poorly Mum I don’t get much girly time and being a tomboy I never learned to dance or feel sassy. Watching the other girls do the T-Walk showed me just how stiff and awkward I look in heels and posing in a mirror.
It was clear for me to see how beautiful, confident and fluid the girls were with their walking, quarter turns and waiting poses as they looked spectacular and really owned the stage. Whereas I felt almost apologetic in comparison which I’d imagine looks and sounds bizarre because I’m about to go on stage and pose in a bikini and I’m in the public eye and used to modelling on camera and shooting for TV shows, but walking to a rhythm in heels and watching my expressions and body shape in a mirror is a real sticking point for me. Lucy is an amazing coach and gave me such great pointers which has improved my posing no end but I’ve realised how important posing is now since seeing other girls doing it with me and I know they’re all miles ahead – they’re total naturals to it and I’m that awkward little duckling that I’ve always been. I guess it’s the geeky lanky shy-girl still inside of me that’s scared of being bullied again, I don’t have the confidence to hold my head high and strut like I’m something special, but I need to! I deserve to feel proud of my body just like all of the other girls, which I do, I just don’t show it or feel it in the same way. I don’t like making eye-contact with myself in a mirror or looking at myself as I walk or pose because it makes me cringe and I think what on earth am I doing – I look ridiculous. It’s so alien to me to be in this situation but it can make or break the show so I need to suck it up and put on a brave face, perhaps with a shot of vodka for confidence before I go on! Maybe when I’m out on stage it’ll be ok because I won’t see myself in a mirror and mentally criticise my body language. Lucy has given me some fantastic tips to correct my posture and transition between poses and I have all the tools I need, I just have to believe in myself and step out of my comfort zone.
With it being just 7 days until the show I have now officially entered peak week – the week to tighten and tone and bulk everything up to get into the best shape possible so I have my final training and meal prep plans through and I’m super excited to pull out all the stops for the best results possible. Annoyingly I’ve started sneezing and feel ridiculously tired and weak and all I want to do is sleep and blow my nose. I really hope I don’t get ill for the show because it would be my worst nightmare to be blowing my nose on stage or even worse having my nose run and not being able to wipe it! Where do you keep a stash of tissues in a bikini? Can you imagine!? Argh!
UPDATE: 27/03/17 Back & Biceps At Bodyflex Gym (5 Days To Go)
So it’s five days until the show and I am officially sick, I’ve been up all night sneezing and blowing my red raw nose and have to breathe through my mouth just to stop myself from drowning in snot. Yesterday was Mother’s Day and also my Dad’s birthday so I took the children to my parents first thing in the morning to cook everybody breakfast, do a little housework, tend to the children and then make a roast dinner as Mum’s still recovering from her colostomy surgery in preparation for her cancer treatment and can’t do anything around the house. I wanted it to be a happy day of celebrations and normality, for Mum not to have to worry about cooking or having a tidy house so I whizzed around like a headless chicken and by the afternoon after I’d loaded the dishwasher she asked me why I looked so white and I confessed to feeling like death. I’ve never felt so cold, weak and shaky in all of my life so I had a hot cup of Lemsip, a smudge of Vick’s vapour rub under my nose and a pillow and blanket on the sofa and literally passed out. I think I slept for about two hours before having to get the children home for bed and school and then slept all night shivering and waking up constantly to blow my nose.
Somehow I woke up this morning feeling almost human and despite my nose still running my breathing is much better and my eyes aren’t as heavy or my limbs weak. It’s my final week of training and I think my positivity to see this through took over with mind over matter and I smashed todays back and biceps workout at Bodyflex and feel so good for it.
Following dinner this evening I got the children bathed and ready for bed before hopping onto my exercise bike and cycling 46km which earned me 690 calories in the bank. Mum warned me not to burn the candle at both ends because my body won’t cope but there’s a fine line between bodybuilding and burning out. I have to push myself beyond tireless, beyond tenderness and my previous limits in order to progress and achieve my best. Equally I’m a single parent, I have two poorly children now who are coughing and sneezing all over me, I’m putting in so many extra hours to hit my fitness goals and limiting my diet to cut body fat whilst working and caring for my Mum who has cancer. Life is pretty hard right now but I won’t let it beat me, I won’t let it stop me from trying my best and achieving my dreams. It’s a giant tick on my bucket list to compete for my 30th birthday and to believe in myself as I take the first step into my fitness journey. I’m conscious of putting my health and wellbeing first and avoiding illness and injury but I can’t be a princess about it, I have to give it my all and that’s exactly what I’m doing. No pain, no gain – safely!
It’s been almost a year since I last had a cold as I usually have such a flawless immune system so it’s shocked me to see that so close to my show I’ve fallen ill now. In reality everyone around me is coughing and sneezing, the weather is cold and damp and I’m due my period any day now so the odds are entirely stacked against me. But I’m determined to hold my head high, dig deeper and remain as fit and healthy as possible as these last few months of training are all coming to an end shortly when I step on stage and I want to do my hard work justice.
UPDATE: 28/03/17 Legs At Bodyflex Gym (4 Days To Go)
The finish line is in sight and I can taste the sweet smell of sweat on the horizon. Today was my final leg session and whilst I was apprehensive about my groin pain rearing its ugly head again before the contest Tony reassured me we were doing a steady weight session of three sets without pushing for personal bests and switched my squats for a leg press to avoid injury.
Tomorrow will be my final training session as I need my body to rest and recover prior to the show but in my mind I want to lift heavy and bust out my sets to get the best results possible so it’s slightly alien trying to hold myself back and not push my goals further or try for that extra rep. Fortunately my cold is subsiding as I’ve found some natural remedies to boost my immune system before sickness properly took hold, now I just need to keep my period at bay or get it out of the way ASAP because wearing a white crystal bikini whilst menstruating isn’t the best idea in the world!
I finished up todays training with an evening 20km cycle after putting the children to bed and catching up on work. I kept my cardio slow and gentle and didn’t go all out or too far as Tony stressed it’s not about pushing myself now but easing my muscles into recovery for the contest.
My hotel is booked, my registration and categories confirmed, tan hair and makeup scheduled and bags almost packed. Now I just have to pose pose pose until the cows come home!
UPDATE: 29/03/17 Chest, Shoulders, Triceps & Abs At Bodyflex Gym (3 Days To Go)
I can’t believe it’s over – today was my final training session before the show and I’ve completed my time at Bodyflex with Tony and Rocky, how will my mornings ever be the same without them? I’ve become so used to waking up, getting pumped, frizzing up my hair from sweat -and far too many showers- and chapping my hands from lifting that I really won’t know what to do with myself of a morning now. Perhaps I’ll get to finally put my feet up and sip a lemon tea? Or maybe not as I still have to finish packing for the show, sort out my wardrobe for tomorrows photoshoot and leave for Margate the day after amongst writing several features for work, tending to the children and doing the school runs – d’oh!
Today we rolled my final two sessions into one because my muscles need time to recover before the show or I’ll risk looking swollen instead of defined. Usually I would’ve worked chest and trips today and shoulders and abs tomorrow but instead it became a superset central and we smashed out an entire upper body workout in just under an hour, boy oh boy does it burn but I wanted to do my final session justice.
Todays aim was to get a pump-up ready for the show by focusing on compound supersets at a medium weight which totally burnt me out. My cardio is now dropping to a gentle stroll which fits into the school run perfectly and I’ve upped my water intake to 5litres which has my bladder torturing me all day but I have to shock it before the show so that I can dehydrate on the day and reduce any bloating – fingers crossed it might combat my period bloat. Despite being physically exhausted I’m feeling incredibly positive, upbeat and ready for my show I just need to switch my mind off at night to make sure I’m getting those essential 8hrs of sleep as at 3am I find myself wide awake thinking about my T-walk and what best to wear for my tan.
UPDATE: 31/04/17 Pure Elite Media Day & Tan (1 Day To Go)
After dropping the children off for the school run I set of on the 2.5hr drive to Margate in preparation for the media day and tanning. Fortunately the roads were pretty clear and there wasn’t too much traffic so I was able to arrive just after lunchtime. The Winter Gardens theatre is located right on Margate’s seafront overlooking the beach and was absolutely alive with eager competitors who arrived in waves to register. There’s free parking directly outside the rear entrance of the theatre for around 30-40 cars but once it fills up the nearest pay and display carpark is a five minute walk towards the highstreet.
Dressed casually in black leggings an army vest, bomber jacket and trainers I felt completely at home amongst the other competitors despite not knowing anyone but it was a rare and wonderful moment to be entirely surrounded by people who love fitness as much as I do. We’d all put our heart and soul into training, meal prepping and finding the courage to enter Pure Elite which gave it such a family atmosphere because it was buzzing with positivity and we’d all already shared in the same experience to get to where we are. I didn’t know what to expect from the other amateur athletes and had prepared myself for the stares and glances you’d usually experience in a gym if you rock up in leggings and a bra top or wear anything that makes you stand out – there’s always those looks that could kill, snide remarks and jealousy between people who see themselves in competition with you regardless of where you are – but at Pure Elite there was no animosity at all and it really shocked me. I felt so pleasantly surprised to immediately fit in and be accepted by everyone around me and I wish I could bottle the confidence that it gave me.
After confirming my name and collecting my badge at the registration desk it touched my heart to discover my competitor number was 247 as my children and I always say I love you to the moon and back forever and always and 247 to me means 24/7 or twenty four hours a day seven days a week, aka forever and always! I was led in a group over to the media area where each competitor is interviewed on camera and asked a series of questions. Clutching the microphone and talking to the audience I was asked what I’d taken away from my training for the contest and I replied by acknowledging how tough we all are on our own results because we always think we’re failing when we compare ourselves to others. I think we see pictures on social media, watch other people in the gym and judge our bodies based on other peoples results rather than looking at our progress as a whole. For me, entering this contest isn’t about trying to be better than anybody else, it’s about being better than I was on my day one when I first started out. Progress is progress and everybody has worked incredibly hard for their results, some come quicker than others, some show better, some are more confident but the biggest change is from what you cannot see and that’s the self worth and self belief that fitness gives you. I’ve never been so strong, energetic and body confident as I am now but it by no means makes me the strongest, most energetic or most confident girl in the room; I’m judging myself on my own results and not others and we should all cut ourselves some slack with how we view ourselves.
After our interviews the group was shown up to the tanning area which was upstairs in a series of pods so that several girls could be tanned at a time because there are hundreds of people to get through and the men and women are kept separate. Queuing up we were asked to remove all makeup and have no deodorant or perfume on prior to arriving as any chemicals could turn the tan green. Once inside the screened off tanning area we were then asked to take all of our clothes off and leave them outside of the pods as we were given two coats of tan and advised that any touch-ups would take place tomorrow morning once we’ve slept and messed it up! I’m not often naked in front of other women, especially a room full of complete strangers and at first I found it rather alien as I shyly covered my breasts with my hands and turned sideways to hide my bottom. But everyone was in the same boat, like pale cattle we stood feeling awkward at first, avoiding eye contact and panicking over how best to bend over to pick up our flip flops without giving the tanners or other girls an unwanted eyeful but after the first coat of tan when the colour started to go on we all somehow found our confidence. Having a tan really brings out muscle definition, hides imperfections and makes you look so much healthier – especially when you haven’t slept, have been running around maniacally after children and haven’t brushed your hair since leaving the car! Within half an hour I stood laughing and smiling, entirely at ease with my elbows besides my ears rotating with several other naked women in front of a fan waiting for our tans to lose their stickiness so that we could get dressed.
I put on a loose tracksuit with no underwear and headed off to check into my hotel which was just down the road, grab some food and unpack ready for the athletes meeting in the evening. At the athletes meeting the entire room was packed with the hundreds of competitors who now looked beautifully bronzed and eager to compete. We’ve been advised to arrive by 11am tomorrow morning but as I have my hair and makeup booked at 9am I’ll be there earlier along with those who have appointments for beauty as the show will begin at 12 sharp and I think a lot of girls will be doing their own makeup in the toilets and backstage area and there’s only a few spare plugs for hair straighteners and phone chargers. We were also told to be sensible with our food and water intake and pace ourselves for a long day ahead to make sure we have energy without bloating so rice cakes with jam, salad, a cube of dark chocolate before going on stage and sips of water are best. The directors of the show answered all of the questions posed to them and we finished by 7pm before taking height and weight measurements for our relevant categories. I can’t believe this time tomorrow it’ll all be over with! It’s feels like it’s taken a lifetime and the blink of an eye all at once – I just really hope I can switch off and sleep properly tonight and don’t end up being the first ever person to fall over on stage!
UPDATE: 01/04/17 Pure Elite UK Championship 2017
I had such a fitful sleep last night which I partially blame on my period as it always makes feel feel hot and uncomfortable when I sleep but my nerves certainly didn’t help as I woke up way before my alarm at 6am and decided to pack up my bags early and get ready so that I could relax for a bit. My tan continued to develop overnight and I woke up even browner than yesterday which I didn’t think was humanly possible but I have to admit that I really love it! Thankfully it didn’t stain the hotel bedsheets and I only have two smudges to repair, one between my breasts where I’d spilt a drop of water when having a sip of my drink and one beside my eye where my eye has watered in my sleep but it can easily be covered with makeup.
I arrived at the venue for my hair and makeup at 9am and joined the rows of girls who were all lined up getting preened, pampered and sassified – yes it’s a word! I’d booked with the on-site makeup artist Davinia Ayala who was absolutely lovely and matched my new bronzed skin tone perfectly to my foundation. I’m really bad at doing my own makeup and still haven’t learned what works best on me or how to do it so having a professional get me stage ready really was the icing on the cake, mmm cake! As I have one red bikini and one white bikini with red heels she suggested I try a white glitter eyeshadow with a bold red lipstick and false eyelashes and I’ve never felt so glamourous. Due to time constraints I then moved across to the hair station next-door where Robbin Jones straightened and backcombed my hair for extra volume and attached my own clip in hair extensions for which I’d selected a honey blonde set online and it made my hair look beautifully thick and long. I literally felt like a princess!
I had just enough time to get my chest resprayed with tan to fix my smudge before we were all called to line up in height order ready for the opening parade. Seeing as I’m over 6ft tall in heels I was one of the first girls to walk onto the stage as each line fills up and the shortest end up at the front with the judges kneeling at the end for the group photo and the event to kick off. Even walking onto stage in a straight line amongst hundreds of other girls and guys made my heart jump into my throat. I was so excited to be there but so nervous about falling over in heels or walking the wrong way. It’s odd because I don’t normally feel so nervous about anything and I purposely go out of my way to attempt and overcome the things that scare or challenge me. I wanted to do a bikini contest to show other women that no matter your age or if you have children it’s never too late to take care of your health, look and feel good and embrace your body warts and all. I’ve done some pretty epic, crazy and gutsy things in my life but stepping onto that stage totally topped them all!
I love how sweet, thoughtful, kind and supportive all of the other athletes were as we queued backstage waiting to go on and shared words of encouragement and complimented one another on hair, makeup and bikinis. It was refreshing to see women of so many different ages, different backgrounds and body shapes all coming together to share a common love and passion for fitness. With stomach cramps, back ache and blisters on my feet from standing for hours in heels my stomach was bloated and I desperately wanted to pull on a onesie but Mother Nature isn’t always convenient and my already irregular periods have been even more ruthless and irregular recently. It wasn’t hard for me to keep calm and carry on though because the atmosphere was so electric and upbeat that I couldn’t help but smile and forget my discomfort. With the music pumping, the stage lights twinkling and audience cheering so loud the whole theatre came alive and I became lost in the moment entirely.
Thankfully I didn’t fall over doing my t-walk although I could’ve done with another 200hrs or so of practising walking in heels, I think it was my bad choice of shoes that made it more difficult and as a result I feel as though I teetered rather than glide. My legs were like jelly as I walked in front of the judges and for some reason my top lip started twitching as I smiled so I’m pretty sure I pulled a menacing murderer stare/grin throughout my posing as I fixed on hitting each stage marker in time and not holding up the other girls. Posing certainly doesn’t come naturally to me as I can’t dance to save my life, have no rhythm and have always been a tomboy so it was entirely out of my comfort zone but in watching the videos back I somehow didn’t look quite as awful or awkward as I felt I was. It’s odd how you always think the worst but in reality everybody else sees it in a totally different light – I need to get better acquainted with a mirror if I every do another show!
Between the intervals and other categories I was able to hang out backstage, go for a walk outside and meet all the other athletes who were eating, chatting, working out and having hair and makeup touched up. Despite it being several hours long it seemed to absolutely fly by and before I knew it we were all back on stage again awaiting the results. I lost my voice clapping and cheering for all of the names that were called as people beside me gasped and cried as their number was announced and they made their way to the front of the stage to accept their trophies. I’d already made peace with the notion that I wasn’t going to place as there were so many inspiring competitors who looked absolutely out of this world. Although I didn’t want to compare myself to others, on a personal level I acknowledged that I could have been leaner, could have gained more muscle, could have walked better and held eye contact for longer – all of the little notes to self that you make along the way. I was just so happy to be there and meet such amazing people and have so much fun that I totally forgot it was a competition and when my name was called for 2nd place in Female Tattooed Muscle it took a good few seconds for the words to actually sink in and then I couldn’t stop bouncing around and smiling from ear to ear, I hugged the judge and did a little running dance on the spot because I just couldn’t contain my inner geek.
I guess the word I would use to summarise my experience of competing is surreal because you can never fully understand it until you take that leap and just do it. You can never truly realise how supportive people are capable of being until you find yourself surrounded by likeminded individuals. In a world where others are so quick to judge, ridicule and criticise people for doing something different or daring to be bold I think we’d live in a far more accepting society if everybody understood how it felt to stand before others with their hopes and dreams laid bare because you finally realise how human and individual we all are.
My training for the show has transformed my body mind and soul, building muscle as I build self confidence. I didn’t set out to be perfect or freak out about pinching my excess hip skin after childbirth I set out to be healthy, better than I was when I started and to throw myself into the experience of being a beginner in the fitness industry. Never in a million years did I think I’d place at my first ever show nor get a Pure Elite PRO card to become a recognised professional fitness athlete for my effort but it goes to show that dreams can come true so long as you’re prepared to work hard enough to achieve them. Competing has not only filled me with wonderful memories, inspiring new friends and a shiny trophy to add to my greatest achievements in life but it has reminded me that we all start from the same place, the bottom, and gradually we work our way up, some further than others but nonetheless all beginners at one point. I’ve just taken my first step and I’m looking forward to many more that follow. I’m hoping to use this experience to better understand my training and nutrition and put it to good use to motivate, inspire and help others to get in shape. Dare I say it – I’m pretty sure I’ve added another event to my bucket list to come back and compete as a pro!
If you have any feedback, questions or thoughts for me then please feel free to leave them in the comments box below!
Tony Montalbano: 2 x British Champion & World Champion
Bodyflex Gym Aylesbury, 113 Cambridge Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP20 1BT
Lucy Walton: Team Superfox Online Coach & Personal Trainer
Lucy Ashworth: Allure Couture Bespoke Bikini Boutique