I’ve always tried to eat well and exercise, but I lacked consistency. Whether it was the Whole30 diet, 75 Hard challenge, or a month-long bootcamp, everything always had a clear start and end date. I was quick to move on and, consequently, never saw lasting results.

In April 2021, I finally had enough. I realised doing the same thing over and over without results is scarier than trying something new, so I set up a meeting with a personal trainer at my local gym. I experimented with lifting weights in my early 20s here and there, but I was never consistent and didn't follow a programme. But I’m a lifelong learner who enjoys getting out of my comfort zone. My goals were simple, yet ambitious: I wanted to master the big lifts—bench press, squat, and deadlift—and I wanted to understand how to increase weight progressively (through progressive overload) to reach my full potential.

My first session was tough. Everything was hard, my form was all over the place, and the moves felt awkward. I was also nervous that people thought I didn’t belong in the gym. But instead of saying, 'This is hard I can’t do it,' I said, 'How can I improve?' Approaching this new challenge with curiosity, rather than fear, empowered me. I was determined to get stronger, and I was ready to put in the work.

I committed to training four times a week: two days with my trainer and two days on my own. I wanted to stay consistent, improve my form, and build muscle. I was excited for the challenge and motivated to get better.

After consistently working with my trainer for a year, I was craving more.

On Instagram, I came across a video of Michelle MacDonald bench pressing and was in awe of her form and heavy weight. I wanted to level up, so I applied to Michelle’s personal training community, The Wonder Women.

In August 2022, I started virtual training with The Wonder Women five days a week: three lower body days and two upper body days. I prioritised form and focused on progressive overload, but I also got curious about bodybuilding.

I decided to start training for my first bodybuilding competition in June 2023, but 12 weeks into prep, my competition was cancelled. The Wonder Women didn’t have spots available to transfer into the current bodybuilding training group, so I switched teams and joined Dynasty Training.

Now, I train four days a week—two for lower body and two for upper body.

I’m preparing for my first show at the end of 2024, so I recently started my "build phase", which consists of four days of weight training: two lower body days and two upper body days. My goal is to build muscle, but instead of only focusing on how much weight I can lift, I also prioritise tempo and increasing my reps and sets.

For lower-body workouts: I do a glutes and quads day and a posterior chain day. My workouts are typically an hour and a half, and I do seven to 10 moves per session. The number of reps and sets varies, but most of my current lower-body lifts are based on a ladder model: 12 reps, 10 reps, eight reps, and six reps of each move, increasing weight as the number of reps decreases.

For upper-body workouts: I do a shoulders and back day and a chest and arms day. These workouts are typically an hour, and I do seven to 10 moves per session, including bench press, pullups, man makers, lat pulldowns, and pushups.

I also do 35 minutes of cardio six days a week and have one day designated to core and high intensity intervals, and one day of stretching. Sunday is my day off.

Lower body is my favourite to train and I especially love deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats, and hip thrusts. Now, I can deadlift 195 pounds and thrust 300 pounds. I’m currently working on adding a pause at the top of each hip thrust and let me tell you… it adds a whole other level of intensity.

I learned to count macros and let go of the belief that I needed to restrict food.

I’ve tried every diet in the book, but nothing was ever sustainable or satisfying. Then, I learned to count macros and realised I could still eat my favourite foods when I paid attention to portion size and nutrition labels.

I eat four to five meals a day and focus on my protein, carb, and fat intake. I always prioritise protein, and chicken, turkey, and fish are my go-to sources. It’s also fun to try new macro-friendly recipes, and meal prepping on Sunday sets me up for success during the week.

That said, it took me a long time to get over the idea of restriction. I was so used to eliminating foods and eating as little as possible, but once I learned nothing is off limits and macros are about balance and variety, I felt better than ever. Instead of a month-long, restrictive, fad diet, I realised the most sustainable plan is listening to my body and eating the foods I love.

These three things were key to my strength transformation success.

1. I let go of the notion that my strength journey needs to be perfect.

When I started strength training in 2021, it wasn’t necessarily the "perfect time" to embark on a new journey. But I decided to stop waiting and took control of my situation. Is every workout perfect? Nope! But that’s okay. I realised if I keep trying and continue to show up it’s going to pay off in the long run.

2. I became more self-aware and understood the value of the mind-body connection.

It’s so easy to operate on autopilot, but I’ve learned to evaluate my *entire* lifestyle when something feels off. If my energy levels are low, I look at my diet and sleeping habits. When I'm stressed, I reflect on why instead of letting anxiety rule my day.

As a result, I’ve learned the importance of the mind-body connection. How I’m feeling physically and mentally can have a direct impact on each other and the overall sense of self-awareness has gotten me closer to my goals.

3. I gave myself the opportunity to be good at something and realised consistency is key.

Most of my life, I participated in diets and fitness programmes that had a clear start and end date. Once I understood that people become good at things by being consistent, a light bulb went off. I realised I had never given myself a chance (or the time) to get good. I always expected quick results and a long-term program seemed daunting, but when I challenged myself to start weight lifting without an end date in mind, my whole mindset changed.

Not only do I love that consistency brings me closer to my goals, but I found value and motivation in the process. Whether it’s perfecting my form or mastering a recipe, the sense of accomplishment after nailing a new skill keeps me determined to get better and stronger. It’s fun to show up for yourself and consistency in the gym has given me the opportunity to believe in myself.

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2024-04-02T11:18:21Z dg43tfdfdgfd