Tag Archives: inspiration

The End… And the Beginning!

1 Aug

After an extremely long hiatus it is time to announce the closing of this blog (and chapter in my life) and birth of my new blog for my business, Daily Dose Fitness & Coaching.  Me Vs the Bulge will be kept live but no more posts will be added.

I wish to thank each and every one of you for following me over the last couple of years and being so supportive and encouraging.  Without you all I don’t know if I would be the person that I am today and I can’t express my gratitude enough.

So, this is not the end, but a new beginning!  A new life, a new vision, a new meaning and purpose.  A brand new me that I wish to share with you all in my true warts and all fashion. 🙂

Please come on over and read the new blog at Daily Dose Fitness & Coaching!  Can’t wait to see you over there!

Much love,

Amanda Marie


Your Questions Answered, Part 2

31 Jan

I’ve just launched myself into comp prep.  This is day two.   My friend asked me earlier, “How is the chickening coming along?” to which I responded, “So far, so chicken.  I mean so far, so good”.   Mmm chicken, vegetables and rice.  My new best mates.  They will be with me throughout this whole journey and they are with me right now as I type this post.

I wonder when I am going to get sick of eating this?  One week?  Two?  Will I be able to switch off that part of my brain entirely and just man up and eat it every day without complaint?  Time will tell, my pretties, time will tell.

So, onto the next instalment of Your Questions Answered.  I am still so surprised at all the questions that cropped up!  You know, it is so incredibly humbling to have so many people behind me throughout all of this.  The continued support I get from my online followers is nothing short of astounding.  I feel as if I know many of you personally now and have formed great bonds and friendships!  You guys rock!  And I won’t let you down.  🙂

12 weeks out from first comp!

@monstar1984 asked:

Any insights you can share on the positives will help my motivation!

The positives I have found from losing weight are endless.  It’s really not just about physicality – sure I get a kick out of looking better, wearing nice clothes, feeling more comfortable in a bikini and so on and so forth but it’s the absolute mental clarity that I have experienced that has been the biggest positive for me.

I think once you push yourself to succeed in anything in life you get an enormous sense of self-worth.  You begin to realise that you are actually worth something, that you can do anything you put your mind to.   And from that you gain a lot of respect for yourself and your inner-strength begins to shine through.

I now feel more positive, more focused and more at peace with myself.  There’s no more internal battles in my mind about feeling uncomfortable in my own skin.  Yes, I do have my moments with self-doubt but they are not hanging over me every waking moment of the day like they used to.

It has taken the better part of 2 years for me to get this far, but it has been worth it.  I am beginning to love who I am, which is not something that I have ever felt before.  It’s  a good thing.  🙂

@IndianaHolley asked:

Would love to know whether you struggled with PMT/hormones during this time and how you over came that?

I think pretty much the whole time I was losing weight I struggled with hormones due to my PCOS.  The weight loss was PAINFULLY slow and it was hard to envision the slender light at the end of the fat tunnel!

There was not much I could really do about that.  I could take the pills the Dr gave me that made me feel nauseous, I could whinge, cry and complain and insist that I’ll be fat forever OR I could basically put some belief into myself and tell myself that I can and WILL do it.  Which option do you think I went with?  😉

It was hard work (still is) and at times I felt like I had to work harder than anyone else to lose weight.  But I never gave up.  I visualised the end result – the healthier, fitter, smaller version of me and I never lost sight of that image.  It’s quite easy to re-route your thinking once you get in the habit of it!  Even if you don’t believe yourself at first, you eventually will.   The mind is a very tricky and powerful thing!

@jadegrrrl asked:

Was there a turning point diet wise when you started eating clean or was it gradual?  Did you have slip ups?  I’m struggling.

If you go back over my blog and through the recipes and meal plans, you can see my eating habits gradually change to be cleaner and cleaner.  I first started with just counting calories and not paying too much mind to being “clean” exactly, but rather just trying to be as healthy as possible.  Every time I would plateau, maybe every 4 – 6 weeks, I would change up the diet and make adjustments.

Eventually I found the most success with just being as clean as possible – no additives, no sugar, no artificial flavours or colourings – just fresh, whole, natural produce.  I actually LOVE eating this way.  It tastes so much better!

Yep, I’ve had slip ups – definitely!  I’m no saint, I guarantee you!  There have been times where I have found myself shovelling junk food into my face with careless abandon and I would fall into a deep depression after that, scolding myself for letting my resolve drop for those few moments.  But afterwards I would always simply dust myself off and start again.

Those moments then became few and far between as I noticed more and more changes within myself and the respect for myself grew.  I didn’t want to disappoint myself!  If I failed, I only had myself to blame.  And there was no way I was going to fail!  That’s how I feel to this day, especially as comp time draws near – failure is not an option!

I’m not saying that people need to eat like a body builder to get results.  But I do advocate eating a healthy, clean and balanced diet at least 90% of the time.  Don’t deprive yourself of a treat now and then!  You really appreciate them when you don’t have them so often.  Keep up your exercise, fuel your body with nutritious and whole foods, switch it up when results lag and just give it TIME.  It WILL happen if you work hard at it.

As they always say, “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it”.

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

An Interview with an Inspiration

5 Jul

Social networking is a godsend.  There is nothing I rely on more for motivation and inspiration. Whether it be tweeting fitness tips with my tweeps, sharing advice on forums or following the world’s top figure competitors on Facebook, I know my little online community is there for me through thick and thin.

I am very lucky to have formed strong bonds with so many inspiring people but no one has inspired me more than Charlotte, a 27 year old Sydney-sider who went on a dramatic total life transformation to change her life for the better.

Charlotte is currently 9 weeks out from competing in the World Natural BodyBuilding Federation (WNBF) NSW competition on the 4th September, International Natural BodyBuilding Association (INBA) VIC competition on the 11th September and possibly the INBA QLD competition on the 25th September.  If she qualifies she will move on to the INBA Australia competition in VIC on the 9th October and the WNBF Asia Pacific competition in Adelaide on the 29th October.

Whilst I am not interested in competing in bodybuilding myself (I may be interested in doing some sort of “fitness model” competition in the future), I admire the dedication and sheer determination that bodybuilders possess when striving towards their goal.  After you read Charlotte’s story below, I’m sure you will admire it too.

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 have always been a little heavier than the rest; being tall (5’10”) I managed to get away with it for the most part. At my heaviest I weighed in at 95kgs. I managed to get there by eating ridiculously large portions of everyday food.  I wasn’t necessarily a huge junk food eater, so this made me think I wasn’t doing too badly. In reality the volume of food I was eating and the fact that it was primarily based around a high carbohydrate diet lead me to stack on the kilos at lightning pace. I was also a smoker and social drinker which only compounded the issue.

About 5 years ago, I was in the process of making some huge life changes. I had recently kicked some serious substance abuse issues and was getting my life back in order. This included enrolling in a Health Science/Natural Medicine course, purely out of interest in the human body.

This opened my eyes to what I had been doing, and what I was still doing to my body. Education was really the key that unlocked the door to greater understanding about the impact lifestyle choices had on not only my body, but also my mind and emotions.

I started understanding the role that processed high carbohydrate foods had in weight gain and obesity, I began to see the link between what you eat and how you look.  Before this I had really not made the connection. Sure, I knew that eating too much made you fat but never really put two and two together in my own situation. Wholesome nutritious foods became staples in my diet.

I started going to the gym, seriously, for 15 minutes at a time. I would go in and only manage 10 minutes on the treadmill and 5 minutes on the rower. I’d be puffing and panting and sweating like I’d run a marathon. The smoking was holding me back, so pretty soon I had given that up.

Each week I pushed myself to do just a little bit more in the gym and I set goals for myself by participating in fundraising events such as the Mothers Day Classic fun run, The Sydney Bridge Run and the City2Surf. Having small goals and seeing progress spurred me on and I have not looked back since.

Charlotte at her heaviest - 95kg

Charlotte at her heaviest - 95kg

Why did you decide to compete in bodybuilding?

I had gotten great results with running and cardio based exercise. I had dabbled in strength training, lifting weights and working on the machines, but never followed a structured program.

I looked in the mirror and was reasonably satisfied with what I saw, but still had trouble buying jeans to fit; my butt just seemed to stay plump!

One day just over a year ago, I picked up UltraFit magazine with Raechelle Chase on the cover with an article titled ‘Why Women Bodybuild’. I looked at her body and though… “I want to look like that!!!”. The negative demons in my head said, “Pffft… you have got to be kidding, there is no way you can ever look like that!”. For about a second I believed them, and then I went about the task of investigating what this Bodybuilding for chicks was all about.

Pretty soon I realized that 99% of the women in fitness magazines (Oxygen, Muscle & Fitness Hers etc) do the photo shoots post competition or if not they spend a fair amount of time preparing for the photo shoot. They don’t look like that all the time!

So there I had it, a new goal! After a bit more investigation I realized that I would definitely need some professional help. Luckily I stumbled across an amazing trainer/coach/mentor who has been the true hero of my journey thus far.

October 2010

October 2010

April 2011 - before cutting for competition

April 2011 - before cutting for competition

Back pose April 2011

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

Motivation comes easily for me. It amazes even me how I manage to keep pushing every day and not lose sight of the goal. I never think about giving up or giving in. I don’t think anything within reason is impossible; it just takes hard work.

I think I gained this ability from my experience in escaping addiction. Life was pretty shitty back then and getting away from that life was like turning a cruise ship around. But once I was on the right course and heading in the right direction each day that passed built up a momentum that is still pushing me forward today.

I have a great support network helping me along as well. Of course my family, particularly my Mum, has been a blessing and I take comfort in knowing that no matter how bad I stuff things up, they’re always going to love me! Secondly my trainer, Jasmin Higgs from MBS Gym. Without her knowledge and support it would not have been possible to make the changes in my body that have occurred over the last 10 months.

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

My daily diet consists of lots of high quality protein like lean chicken breast, lean steaks and eggs. And, of course lots of vegetables and good quality carbohydrate sources like whole grain oats and sweet potato.

What’s your training regime currently like?

At the moment I train weights 4 times per week and do a mixture of low intensity cardio and interval sprints 5 times a week.

I have found that the interval sprints have done amazing things for dropping fat. I no longer adhere to notion that hours of long distance running/cardio delivers the best fat burning results.

All that running I did before training for my upcoming figure competition did a great job in reducing my overall size but what’s really done the trick in reshaping my body is the combination of HIIT and heavy weight training.

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

Get good sound advice from someone in the know. There is a mountain of information available on the internet and in magazines which will give you an understanding of how to achieve your best possible shape, but nothing beats dedicated personal advice from a trusted source who understands what your goals are. Seek out people who have experience in whatever your chosen sport is, be it Bodybuilding, Cross Fit, Kettle Ball training… whatever.

And most of all, don’t expect results without hard work. Dedication and perseverance are the key; nothing happens overnight. But if you stay focused each day and know that what you did today is taking you one step closer to your goal, pretty soon you will look back and weeks, months, years have passed and you will be safe in the knowledge that you spent each one of those days doing everything you could do to achieve your goal.

June 2011 - during cutting for competition

June 2011 - during cutting for competition

July 2011 - 9 weeks out from competing - with bunny face - approx 65kg