Well, where do I even begin?… In May 2018 I began training in the gym. This was the first time in my life I had ever taken resistance training even a little bit seriously. I had a personal trainer (who is now a very good friend!) and I started to reap the rewards of a structured programme and improved nutrition. At this point I probably trained consistently around 3 times a week and was definitely only working really hard during my PT sessions… The rest of the time I was very much finding my feet.
I continued to train consistently, building a better routine and learning more about what my body was capable of. If you want to build a better body and increase your muscle mass you have to be willing to push yourself hard, and past the point that you think you can go. This isn’t about throwing the weight around and potentially injuring yourself, but it is about finding those last reps and taking yourself close to failure.
This is difficult at the start. Your tolerance level is low, and I personally didn’t understand the need for this intensity… but as the saying goes, nothing grows in your comfort zone! The more comfortable I got with pushing myself, and with being pushed (lower body PT sessions took my soul!), the more I improved. If you are currently trying to build muscle and you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere, then ask yourself how hard you are working. It takes a LOT of time to see growth but the harder you push the more optimal it will be. This partnered with decent nutrition and plenty of protein is how you get results.
Then in July 2019 I went to watch two of my friends compete in a fitness modelling competition called Pure Elite. I had actually been to watch this the previous year and sworn blind I would never be interested in it… Turns out your opinion can change! I went to watch with some of the other girls from the gym, lots of whom had competed previously, and I felt so, so inspired. I remember walking home with one of the girls and feeling like I was asking a million questions because I knew the fire was starting to burn.
I then made the mistake (or the best decision of my life?) of mentioning that I ‘might’ be interested in giving it a go to my coach. That was it then… the decision was made, and we started to talk more and more about what it would take and how to get the ball rolling. Once I have made a decision, I am very much a ‘let’s do this’ kind of person. I don’t like waiting and I was just desperate to step on stage and experience this whole new world. I decided to compete in the November of that same year and started my prep very soon after this.
The prep itself was like nothing I have ever experienced in any other scenario. It gives you complete tunnel vision focus, and I actually find it really difficult to explain the feeling to anyone that hasn’t experienced it themselves. You become so focussed on the end goal that everything else around you disappears – In hindsight I think it made me a little selfish (sorry Ged!), although I definitely did not recognise this at the time.
The fear, excitement and end goal all rolled into one was one of the best experiences I have ever been through. Both the prep and the day itself exceeded my expectations and I was very happy to walk away with third in both of my categories. With a fairly short training history and a spur of the moment decision to go ahead, I think I did really well in a line-up of around 30 girls (although the competitor in me definitely went for that first place!).
I then started a prep to compete again in April 2020, but this was cut short due to Covid and I then competed in a virtual comp with the WBFF which was really good fun and was a fab excuse to get dolled up at home and not feel like a troll for the day (lockdown vibes!).
So, the question now is, will I ever compete again? And honestly, I don’t know the answer to that. I absolutely LOVED every second of the experience for my November competition, but I feel like I am far more aware now of the considerations I need to take before embarking down that road again.
I was very blind to the places you have to push your body to (it is cold and uncomfortable being that lean), the pressure it puts on those around you and the damage it can do to your relationship with food and with your body if you are not already in a really good place.
I don’t think I struggled massively post comp in comparison to others, but it definitely changed the way I behaved around food for a while after and it definitely changes your perception of what being in good shape is. Although I look back at photos now and don’t actually like what I looked like when I was super shredded, it takes a long time to get to a place where anything other than stage lean feels good. Any amount of body fat feels a lot more than it is and that isn’t a great place to be mentally.
So yes, I loved it and I definitely haven’t ruled it out as something I would love to do again in the future but first, I need to make sure I am in the right place and doing it for all the right reasons! Who knows what the future holds!