There is always that one point in our lives where someone or something gets us going on our fitness journey. Often we don’t always know better and fall into the trap of believing it’s the only way to achieve a body we will love & the “happiness & confidence” that comes with it.
I started my fitness journey many years ago in a quiet little “aerobics” studio where I had little influence from the outside world. Looking back, it was the best influence and advice I learned during my 2 decades this industry. It took many trials & errors before I chose the fitness road less traveled.
The biggest change & challenge came in July 2010 when I was asked by someone to support a small town fitness and bodybuilding competition. This was the start of a 6-year competing career & one that would teach me more about myself than I ever would have believed.
For an entire year, I prepared myself. I researched the diet I needed to follow and the training I needed to do to get on stage in “peak condition”.
Very quickly I could see a common and repetitive pattern to what a diet & training schedule would need to be to get ready for a “bikini comp”.
The motivation was insane, something I had never experience before. I was driven every day to push as hard as I could. I would wake up at 04h30 for an hour of fasted cardio and then finish off the day with an intense weight training session which was normally up to 2 hours long.
My diet was narrowed down to dry tuna, steamed chicken, boiled rice, oats in water, egg whites and any veg that had a minimal amount of carbs possible. One day a week I could eat whatever I wanted or as many referred to it as a ‘cheat’ day!
Whey protein was my go-to meal replacer and I would have a concoction of about 16 different vitamin pills and fat-burners that I would take daily. What I also came to learn was that for many athletes, this would also include cycles of steroids and growth hormones. I was so ignorant at the time but quickly my eyes were wide open.
I would live for my cheat days over the weekend but come Sunday I was full of regret and disappointment. Powered by the mentality that “I will never do it again”, I would head into the new week with belittling self-talk of how I would “punish myself” to get back on track.
Monday would be the only “high” and a steady downhill slope of exhaustion and fatigue until the next rest and cheat day came around.
The truth is, this is how 90% of people train and prepare for the stage. There are variations, but it’s kind of what I would call the industry “norm”. In the collage about, from 2010 to the end of 2013, this was how I lived. It was exhausting. I was exhausted and my mindset was broken.
After the first year & a half, I began to HATE IT! I loved competing and being on stage, but I hated what I had to do to get where I needed to be. It didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t see myself being able to maintain it & I would wonder how the top athletes kept it up.
Nothing was fun anymore. It was all about punishment, manipulation & constant self-doubt & criticism. I felt a fraud. We were supposed to be athletes representing the perfect body of health….but in reality, it is the most messed up and unhealthy mental & physical relationship one can have with your body and life.
I get it, we all have the right to choose how we want to live & what works for us… but for me, it was a false representation and downright lie of what well-being should be.
There was nothing “healthy” about this obsessive way of living on a physical, mental or spiritual level. I kept telling myself that we weren’t made to “suffer” to feel and look good. It should be a process that is enjoyed & celebrated.
So in 2013, after 3 ½ years of grueling prep, I decided to take a different approach. This was the start of my “fitness” road less traveled. Little did I know it would take me on the biggest journey of my life. I would be forced to overcome my greatest fears & become the most vulnerable I have ever been. And it has been a 6-year journey!!! Nothing fast or “instant” like we see on social media….it’s a slow & long road but it is worth it.
I gently transitioned into a plant-based way of eating with loads of variety, flavour & more carbs. Dumping that “carbophobic” mentality was the best thing I could have done for myself. I also slowly moved away from those hours of cardio & machine-based training to a more functional, body-weight way of exercising.
I went back to keeping things simple and basic and that basically came down to just using my BODY! Not only has it been more fun but more effective as well! And I save about 2-3 hours in my day!!!
It didn’t come without some challenges. Embracing a plant-based way of eating was pretty unheard of 6 years ago in South Africa, especially in the competing arena. Along with an unconventional method of training, I was exposed to some judgment. I would often be bombarded with sarcasm, offensive jokes and pessimistic attitudes towards my journey.
There were times I questioned my own decisions… It’s hard to stick to a path when most of the people around you are doing things completely differently. Like many things, when you take the road less traveled it can be HARD, really HARD. However, it was during these moments where I learned what inner strength courage & faith was.
I never wanted to follow the herd, I wanted to lead my own way.
And that’s what I have been doing. Forging my own path to discover an incredible relationship with myself and my body.
One of my greatest accomplishments has been setting myself free. Free from restrictive diets, body breaking workouts, and destructive thought patterns. I call it BODY FREEDOM because for the first time in my life I truly feel FREE from within.
Before I made this transition & started my fitness road less traveled, I had come to believe that there was only one way to achieve a body & life you could love & be happy with.
I believed it required pain, punishment & struggle. If it wasn’t hard, I wasn’t working hard enough. If there was any pleasure, then I was “slacking off”. Unfortunately, many women believe this to be true. They think they need to kill themselves in the gym & starve themselves in the kitchen in order to achieve a healthy, fit & sexy body.
Maybe it works for some women, which in that case, I encourage you to continue doing what works for you and what you love. However, for many other women, it doesn’t. It really doesn’t. Having a family, career and/or business can be challenging enough & to try to keep up an “athletes” way of training and eating is nearly impossible. I am here it to tell you there are many other INCREDIBLE WAYS to achieve optimal health and a rocking hot body.
It’s not about achieving a ripped square midsection and it’s not about bench pressing and leg pressing crazy weight to get results. It’s not about starving & obsessing over every morsel of food that passes your lips
It’s about becoming conscious & in tune with what & who you are from the inside. Loving & understanding who are & healing the relationship you have with your body, is the first step to body freedom!
Women are more pressurized than ever to achieve so much in their lives that often important things suffer. Their health, their career or their family suffer and sadly sometimes all 3. I can reassure you that you can have and enjoy all 3 when you take a fresh perspective & a different approach.
So if you are someone who feels the pressure from the social media & the fitness industry to take a specific path to achieve the “body of your dreams”, I am here to tell you that there is another option. That option is the fitness road less traveled! This road can get a little bumpy sometimes, but what you will get in return is 1000x worth it!!!
- You DON’T have to conform to the crazy methods and expectations of the fitness industry and social media. Whoever claims it’s the only way to achieve a body you will love & accept, they are talking out their ass. Be inspired by those who are real & honest.
- My life is completely different from what it was & both roads I have traveled are neither “wrong” or “right”. They were necessary to become who I am TODAY. I still have ups and downs & I am still learning lessons because it’s a lifelong journey of growth & discovery.
- If you are prepping for a show & you want to go extreme, go for it but understand there are consequences on a physical & emotional level. It’s definitely not a “lifestyle” solution to achieve inner happiness & self-love.