What prompted you to start your health and fitness transformation, was there a particular moment or realisation?
Initially I began my weight loss journey when I realised how uncomfortable and self-conscious I felt after gaining weight during an abusive long term relationship. I wanted to get my confidence back and part of that was learning to prioritise my health and fitness and start taking care of myself!
What was the first change you made to your lifestyle?
I slowly integrated more fitness into my routine – walking to work, attending group fitness classes, social walks instead of catching up for Thai and wine!
What other changes did you initially make to your eating habits?
I focused on at least making my main meals healthy – there was a time I used to eat Pizza Shapes or KFC chips for lunch! So I started replacing my naughty meals for more lean meat and veggies, and still had small treats each day so that it didn't feel like a HUGE adjustment, and over time my diet became healthier as I learned more about nutrition and fuelling my body!
What other changes did you initially make to your exercise habits?
I started simple with more "incidental" exercise, and every few weeks I tried to add something extra or up the intensity. So 1-2 group fitness classes a week turned into 3-4, and once I felt like my fitness was improving I started learning about weight training, and that's when my entire body started to really change.
How did your weight loss/fitness progress?
It was definitely in stages over a period of a few years – it certainly wasn't fast or easy! I'd go through times where I was 100% focused, training really hard, eating clean and monitoring overall calories, and then there were other times I was more relaxed and just maintained my weight until I re-focused again. It's important not to try and achieve everything all at once, so although overall it took me a little longer than desired to achieve results, I am happy that I had a more balanced approach and didn't have to go from 0 to 100 overhauling my life at once!
How did you feel during the initial process?
When I first got started, it was overwhelming, I had no idea where to start! I didn't know about the nutritional value of foods, I thought more cardio meant more progress, but over time and with a lot of research I found what worked for me, which is weight training, and having a flexible diet based on tracking my macros. I certainly didn't get the hang of things straight away, so like most people, it was a gradual learning process!
You’ve spoken about being your leanest as you took part in a bikini comp, was that your ultimate goal when you started out?
My goals are constantly changing, but initially I never had any intention of getting on stage in a bikini, I didn't even know that was a thing! I just wanted to get my confidence back and get to a healthy, comfortable weight, but once I saw what my body was capable of, I thought it'd be a fun experience to find out what more I could achieve if I really put my mind to it!
What was that training process like?
INTENSE! The training programs are mostly strength based, 5-6 days a week of heavy weight training to build lean muscle mass and then retain shape while dieting down for a show. Towards the end of each contest prep there tends to be a lot of cardio involved, especially for me as my body was quite stubborn about shedding the last few kgs to get "stage lean". My last prep was the toughest, with 5-6 strength sessions per week plus 90 minutes of cardio each day, mostly on the stair master. It was honestly the most gruelling process and I was constantly exhausted!
Was it a sustainable lifestyle?
Definitely not. While the style of strength training is still what I am doing now, the heavy cardio towards the end was not sustainable or healthy, I was run down, my body ached, I was hungry and tired, and I looked so frail! The process is not exactly healthy, but competing in bikini/fitness shows is an elite sport that does take a lot of hard work if you want to do well!
How has your mindset changed throughout your fitness journey?
I've been overweight at 75kg (I'm 156cm) and underweight at 49.9kg (my last stage weight in March 2017) and the biggest thing I've learned is that leaner isn't necessarily better! I always thought I'd reach a point where I'd get the abs or the "fitness model" physique and suddenly feel confident and magically lose all my insecurities. But I quickly learned that it's not how you LOOK that determines those feelings, it's all about your mindset! I was still just as insecure at my tiniest weight, and it actually took GAINING 10-15kg post-comp to prove to myself that I have so much more to offer than just a bikini body, which really helped me appreciate myself in a whole new way!
What helps to keep you motivated day-to-day?
I genuinely LOVE training! For me, weights based workouts make me feel confident and strong, like I can take over the world! So focusing on strength goals and non-scale victories such as how my clothes fit help keep me working hard, and focusing less on a silly number on the scale.
What are your current short and long term goals?
Right now I'm focusing on non-aesthetic goals - after competing in bikini shows for 2+ years straight, I became very focused on looks. So over the past few months I've shifted my mindset to improve in ALL areas of my life - eating healthy to fuel me and increase energy, training hard because it makes me feel like a boss, and incorporating balance in my life! Long term, I plan to continue to focus less on scales and aesthetics, and more on general health and fitness as a FEELING of strength and confidence, and empowering women around the world to do the same!
What would a day on a plate look like for you now?
Fit girls eat more than you'd expect! I do still eat a lot of protein and vegetable based meals (I'm such a creature of habit!) but I get a lot more creative with sauces and extras, and I make sure that each day I finish with a small treat that fits within my macro targets, so I feel satisfied! Today looked a little like this:
Breakfast - 1 egg and 2 serves of egg whites on rye toast, with smashed avocado and dukkah
Lunch - Lemon and herb chicken breast with broccolini and mashed potato
Snack - Greek yogurt and berries, sprinkle of granola
Dinner - Peanut satay stir fry with beef, vegetables and white rice
Snack - 2 chocolate covered Oreos (BALANCE!)
What is your current exercise routine?
I currently train 5-6 times per week, all strength based, with little to no cardio unless I'm walking around the river with friends as a social catch up! I try and keep my weight training interesting by changing up rep ranges or including small circuits or supersets! My current training split:
Legs & Glutes
Shoulders & Chest
Back, Biceps & Triceps
Legs & Glutes
Optional 6th session of Back & Glutes, or an extra rest day if needed!
What achievement are you most proud of?
Overcoming my insecurities and setting a healthy, body-positive example to those who follow me on social media! It's so important to me to help others see that confidence comes from within, and you don't have to look like a fitness model to be fit!
What advice would you give to others wanting to overhaul their health and fitness?
Start small - don't try going from 0 to 100 in week 1! Implement tiny changes and continue improving each week, and make sure it's a process you enjoy! All the small changes will add up over time, and by taking it slow, you can ensure that you're creating positive, life-long habits that will help you sustain your results and educate you along the way!