An Interview With ANOTHER Inspiration!

1 Nov

Just as I was lucky enough to meet the lovely Charlotte via the glorious interwebs (I love you interwebs, yes, I’m a closet dweeb), I also have met the amazing Amber.  Well, not in real life, just internetz chatz, you know?  But I have no doubt that we will eventually meet on the comp circuit next year!

Amber’s story was particularly inspirational to me as she has come from where I was and is currently at where I want to be.   Her approach to health and fitness is very similar to mine, I almost felt like I had wrote the interview myself (and she said she often thinks the same of my blog posts!).   Also, her amazing dedication and commitment is something you don’t often come across and what’s more wonderful is she has done it all with her loving partner by her side, literally, every step of the way.

Here is her story.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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 was never small – in fact I always considered myself to be heavy set and big boned – and at my heaviest I would have weighed in at around 80kgs (possibly a few more). I was never into sport (or very good at it) – I’m a professional musician, so during my younger years I was always practicing, rehearsing, having lessons. Physical activity was limited to PE at school, and stints at swimming clubs and ballet classes.

For years I had been trying/wanting/wishing to do something about my weight. Different diets and forms of exercise – you name it and I probably tried it! I’d usually lose a little bit of weight, or see some change in my body shape but never anything really significant. I’d often get discouraged by the lack of results, give up for a while and find myself back to where I started if not even heavier. As well as physically detrimental, it was also quite a negative emotional experience. While I ate quite well most of the time, I’d easily turn to food and comfort eating and my portion sizes were more than likely way too big!

After getting engaged in 2009, with our wedding booked for April 2011, I somehow got the drive and determination to get professional help to achieve my goals. I signed up for a 12 week “Get fit from within” program with Michelle Nazaroff and I had some sort of ‘light globe’ moment where sticking to my nutrition and training plans was easy. I was extremely dedicated and began to see results almost immediately – I’d grow in confidence every month as I saw my body change (as well as the number on the scales drop) and it would keep me motivated. Having to be accountable to Michelle every week also helped as I wasn’t only cheating myself if I swayed off the plan, but her as well!

Progress photos - from Aug 10 to Dec 10

Progress Photos - from Aug 10 to Dec 10

Why did you decide to compete in bodybuilding/sports model?

After seeing great results over my 12 week program, I still wasn’t at my goal – the program and lifestyle changes we’d made however meant we could still stick to it, and I continued to see results every month. I was losing fat, and was noticing massive changes in my muscular definition. I must admit, it’s slightly addictive to see such positive changes in your body!! By the time the wedding came around I had lost about 24kgs and was loving my new, lean look!

I had never intended to compete, but seeing how my body had reacted to the change in diet and training, and being someone who likes a challenge, I started to consider it. I did speak to lots of people about the positive/negative experiences they had had whilst preparing for competitions to work out if it was something I could do mentally as well as physically. Many people seem to go up and down like yoyos, emotionally during comp prep, and physically as well (especially afterwards) and that was something I didn’t think I could cope with. Michelle’s approach to nutrition and training means this isn’t likely to happen, and I was reassured that my experience would be a positive one.

We decided that initially I’d compete in the sports model category – I wasn’t quite big enough to compete in figure, and it would also allow me to gain some experience on stage. I did two competitions this year – NABBA/WFF and IFBB. While I didn’t place anywhere in either competition, I had a great time and really enjoyed it. It has motivated me even more, and made me excited about training harder, working on my physique and competing in novice figure this year.

On Stage - Courtesy FTL Photography

Lady in Red! Courtesy FTL Photography

How do you stay motivated and do you have a good support network?

Our diet and training is more just a way of life now and I enjoy the time spent in the gym – while I’m not 100% in to it every day, I know it’s just something I have to do! While I admit there are days I might not feel like it, ill put as much as I can in to training and will leave the gym happy that I actually did it! I think I’d feel worse if I didn’t.

I’m motivated when I see the changes in my body – more muscle definition etc, and having a 6 pack! I’d never have thought that possible! To have other bodybuilders compliment your physique is a huge buzz – especially considering where I came from.

In terms of food, there are times when I wish I could just eat mountains of junk… I don’t let myself though. I’d rather know I was maintaining what I’ve worked so hard for than filling myself up on rubbish – most of which ends up being completely unsatisfying! I’ve become really good at saying no when people offer me food. Unless I know it’s going to be absolutely amazing, I usually won’t touch it…

I have an amazing support network too – my husband, Gary, has stuck to the program with me since we started, eating the same kind of diet and doing the training with me. Without his support, it would have been a whole lot more difficult – especially in terms of food! He has been training at a gym for many years, and surfs and played cricket until recently, so was always in good shape – he’s in the best shape of his life now though and loves his 6 pack! We’ll both be competing next year.

The support I’ve received from Michelle has also been amazing – her and her husband David are so committed to their sport and lifestyle, and ensuring their clients are looked after. Their encouragement makes you want to do well and be dedicated to the food and training programs they’ve written for you.

Amber with her equally buff hubby Gary!

What’s your typical days food like at the moment?

We eat lots of fresh, unprocessed foods – fruit, vegies (especially green ones!), lean protein, good fats (nuts, chia oil etc) and some starchy carbs from oats, brown rice and sweet potato. We also have a protein powder to use for shakes.

My comp prep diet was fantastic -while I ate the same food every day, it was been incredibly tasty and I didn’t get bored of it. I was never hungry! We liked the food so much that we went back to it pretty much straight after the competitions. It is completely sustainable – it isn’t calorie restrictive, or lacking in certain food groups. I like knowing that I’ll be able to continue to see results while eating this way – it was designed to help me build muscle while keeping fat off, which it did! I need to continue to work on my muscle development if I’m going to compete in Figure next year so we may tweak my diet a little to ensure this happens. It’ll probably involve adding more food – it’ll be very clean food, incorporating lots of “RAW” food and “green” smoothies.

We stick to a clean eating plan 6 days a week and have a cheat day for one day a week. This is really beneficial – it makes the clean eating easier, and also gives your metabolism a boost with the extra calories. During my comp prep I was restricted to a cheat meal, but we still enjoyed great food – it would usually involve 3 courses at a nice restaurant!

What’s your training regime currently like?

My comp prep training wasn’t hugely different to what I was doing before. We started with a four day split, and changed to a five day split after a month. We had different workouts every week. This was different to how I’d trained previously – we usually stuck to a program for a month which allowed to see an increase in strength. By doing different workouts every week we were constantly giving our bodies a shock! I found I’d push myself as I knew I wouldn’t be doing the same workout again, so couldn’t “do it better” next time.

We’ve stuck to a five day split since finishing competitions, but will do each weeks program for a month so we can see our strength increase.

I was already quite lean when I started comp prep, so my cardio was quite limited – thank goodness! I did 30 minutes of cardio before breakfast every day, keeping my heart rate between 140-150bpm. We bought a spin bike to make this easier. I want to try and stay around this condition, so will keep doing cardio a few mornings a week.  I’d rather put the effort in continuously than have to work my arse off (literally) when I start preparing for next years comp!!

What advice would you give to women who want to get into shape?

Getting in to shape involves a couple of factors – diet is important. REALLY important! I found that knowing exactly what I was eating, when I was eating it, and having it pre prepared made sticking to my plan so much easier. I didn’t have to think about what to eat, and didn’t have the opportunity to eat off the plan as my food was ready to go. Our freezer is full of portion controlled meat, rice, meals – we prepare as much this way as possible. We also have a fridge full of the fruit and vegies we need so there’s no excuses for not having them! While it may seem hard initially, cutting out the sugar and processed food is so beneficial. It does get easier, and the cravings do go away – I promise! Learn to say “NO!” – you may want that piece of birthday cake in the office staff room, but do you really need it? No one will be offended if you don’t eat it…

Embrace the weights! Resistance work is really the best way to get in to shape, and change your body. Don’t be afraid of lifting heavy weights, your body will thank you for it 🙂 If you get to the end of a set and you could still do a few more repetitions, you need to go heavier – push yourself to your limits, you may surprise yourself!

Stop making excuses! I used to do it, and I’ve heard so many people give me reasons why they couldn’t do what I’ve done. You have to really want something, and be motivated to do it, but you CAN do it if you put your mind (and body) to it. You can make changes immediately – no matter how small – you don’t need to wait til Monday, or next year, or til you’re 30. The time is now!

Courtesy FTL Photography

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8 Responses to “An Interview With ANOTHER Inspiration!”

  1. Bronniebakes November 1, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Fantastic interview!! Only thing is I can’t see the competition photos?? can see the progress pics though

    • Amanda November 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

      Fixed now! 😀

  2. Jade November 1, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    What a champ and so inspiring 🙂 only prob is I can only see the first two pics and not the others 😦

    • Jade November 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

      YAY can see now, wowzer so buff!!! 🙂

  3. Cooper November 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Amazing 🙂 She looks so stunning. What an inspiration! x

  4. Turtle-speed Runner November 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    She looks really great! Definitely inspiring.

  5. Alice May 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    Love her transformation photos. What an inspiration! I wonder if she used a sugar substitute for her diet. I’m on my way to losing weight and this is one of the things I do. I’m currently using a natural sweetener called Natvia, which tastes great without the calories. And of course, I also have an endless supply of fruits. Yum!

    • Amber May 19, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

      Hi Alice!

      I use xylitol and stevia as sugar substitutes 🙂

      While I don’t agree with cutting out any food groups, if youre trying to lose weight i wouldn’t go nuts on fruit – when I was losing weight initially I have 2 serves a day. At the moment (on comp prep) I have 3….

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