Social networking is a godsend. There is nothing I rely on more for motivation and inspiration. Whether it be tweeting fitness tips with my tweeps, sharing advice on forums or following the world’s top figure competitors on Facebook, I know my little online community is there for me through thick and thin.
I am very lucky to have formed strong bonds with so many inspiring people but no one has inspired me more than Charlotte, a 27 year old Sydney-sider who went on a dramatic total life transformation to change her life for the better.
Charlotte is currently 9 weeks out from competing in the World Natural BodyBuilding Federation (WNBF) NSW competition on the 4th September, International Natural BodyBuilding Association (INBA) VIC competition on the 11th September and possibly the INBA QLD competition on the 25th September. If she qualifies she will move on to the INBA Australia competition in VIC on the 9th October and the WNBF Asia Pacific competition in Adelaide on the 29th October.
Whilst I am not interested in competing in bodybuilding myself (I may be interested in doing some sort of “fitness model” competition in the future), I admire the dedication and sheer determination that bodybuilders possess when striving towards their goal. After you read Charlotte’s story below, I’m sure you will admire it too.
You weren’t always in the top-notch shape you are in today, what were you at your heaviest and what made you decide to change your shape?
I have always been a little heavier than the rest; being tall (5’10″) I managed to get away with it for the most part. At my heaviest I weighed in at 95kgs. I managed to get there by eating ridiculously large portions of everyday food. I wasn’t necessarily a huge junk food eater, so this made me think I wasn’t doing too badly. In reality the volume of food I was eating and the fact that it was primarily based around a high carbohydrate diet lead me to stack on the kilos at lightning pace. I was also a smoker and social drinker which only compounded the issue.
About 5 years ago, I was in the process of making some huge life changes. I had recently kicked some serious substance abuse issues and was getting my life back in order. This included enrolling in a Health Science/Natural Medicine course, purely out of interest in the human body.
This opened my eyes to what I had been doing, and what I was still doing to my body. Education was really the key that unlocked the door to greater understanding about the impact lifestyle choices had on not only my body, but also my mind and emotions.
I started understanding the role that processed high carbohydrate foods had in weight gain and obesity, I began to see the link between what you eat and how you look. Before this I had really not made the connection. Sure, I knew that eating too much made you fat but never really put two and two together in my own situation. Wholesome nutritious foods became staples in my diet.
I started going to the gym, seriously, for 15 minutes at a time. I would go in and only manage 10 minutes on the treadmill and 5 minutes on the rower. I’d be puffing and panting and sweating like I’d run a marathon. The smoking was holding me back, so pretty soon I had given that up.
Each week I pushed myself to do just a little bit more in the gym and I set goals for myself by participating in fundraising events such as the Mothers Day Classic fun run, The Sydney Bridge Run and the City2Surf. Having small goals and seeing progress spurred me on and I have not looked back since.
Why did you decide to compete in bodybuilding?
I had gotten great results with running and cardio based exercise. I had dabbled in strength training, lifting weights and working on the machines, but never followed a structured program.
I looked in the mirror and was reasonably satisfied with what I saw, but still had trouble buying jeans to fit; my butt just seemed to stay plump!
One day just over a year ago, I picked up UltraFit magazine with Raechelle Chase on the cover with an article titled ‘Why Women Bodybuild’. I looked at her body and though… “I want to look like that!!!”. The negative demons in my head said, “Pffft… you have got to be kidding, there is no way you can ever look like that!”. For about a second I believed them, and then I went about the task of investigating what this Bodybuilding for chicks was all about.
Pretty soon I realized that 99% of the women in fitness magazines (Oxygen, Muscle & Fitness Hers etc) do the photo shoots post competition or if not they spend a fair amount of time preparing for the photo shoot. They don’t look like that all the time!
So there I had it, a new goal! After a bit more investigation I realized that I would definitely need some professional help. Luckily I stumbled across an amazing trainer/coach/mentor who has been the true hero of my journey thus far.
How do you stay motivated and do you have a good support network?
Motivation comes easily for me. It amazes even me how I manage to keep pushing every day and not lose sight of the goal. I never think about giving up or giving in. I don’t think anything within reason is impossible; it just takes hard work.
I think I gained this ability from my experience in escaping addiction. Life was pretty shitty back then and getting away from that life was like turning a cruise ship around. But once I was on the right course and heading in the right direction each day that passed built up a momentum that is still pushing me forward today.
I have a great support network helping me along as well. Of course my family, particularly my Mum, has been a blessing and I take comfort in knowing that no matter how bad I stuff things up, they’re always going to love me! Secondly my trainer, Jasmin Higgs from MBS Gym. Without her knowledge and support it would not have been possible to make the changes in my body that have occurred over the last 10 months.
What’s your typical days food like at the moment?
My daily diet consists of lots of high quality protein like lean chicken breast, lean steaks and eggs. And, of course lots of vegetables and good quality carbohydrate sources like whole grain oats and sweet potato.
What’s your training regime currently like?
At the moment I train weights 4 times per week and do a mixture of low intensity cardio and interval sprints 5 times a week.
I have found that the interval sprints have done amazing things for dropping fat. I no longer adhere to notion that hours of long distance running/cardio delivers the best fat burning results.
All that running I did before training for my upcoming figure competition did a great job in reducing my overall size but what’s really done the trick in reshaping my body is the combination of HIIT and heavy weight training.
What advice would you give to women who want to get into shape?
Get good sound advice from someone in the know. There is a mountain of information available on the internet and in magazines which will give you an understanding of how to achieve your best possible shape, but nothing beats dedicated personal advice from a trusted source who understands what your goals are. Seek out people who have experience in whatever your chosen sport is, be it Bodybuilding, Cross Fit, Kettle Ball training… whatever.
And most of all, don’t expect results without hard work. Dedication and perseverance are the key; nothing happens overnight. But if you stay focused each day and know that what you did today is taking you one step closer to your goal, pretty soon you will look back and weeks, months, years have passed and you will be safe in the knowledge that you spent each one of those days doing everything you could do to achieve your goal.