I don’t think I have ever shared my transformation story on my blog before, which is very strange, as my blog was birthed from it. I celebrated my 8 years of lifting in January 2021 and it’s so weird to look back and see how much I have grown and changed. It’s also a blessing to see that no matter how many times I restarted my journey, I never gave up on myself but kept on going. I still feel like I am at the beginning of my journey and that there is so much more for me to learn and so many places and spaces for me to grow into…but I thought that it is time to share my story with all of you. Those of you who are at the beginning of your journey or you feel stuck, you’re not alone. I’ve been there before countless times and I want to say keep on doing what you are doing, enjoy the process, trust in yourself and the results will come.
Why Did I Start?
I wasn’t really confident in myself, I had very, very low self-esteem which got progressively worse from my time in secondary school. I needed to find an outlet where I could grow into myself, I could learn to be my authentic self whilst working on something new. I was scared to start because I thought I would do it wrong, I thought I would feel out of place or I would injure myself so I kept on putting it off. It took a lot of courage to start but eventually I did it. I started my fitness journey on 28th January 2013 and I remember standing outside the weight room for a long time, giving myself a pep talk to take that first step. I had a pad of paper, a pen and YouTube ready on my phone. When I finished that first workout, I felt great like a weight had been lifted off my shoulder.
Bodybuilding and Health complications
I spent my first year of lifting building up my foundation with compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench, OHPs (overhead press), pull ups, push ups etc. My training was great but I noticed that I wasn’t developing as much muscle as I expected as I still rather small. I switched to a programme (Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training) to help me understand the science behind the exercises I was doing, to help learn how to structure my workouts correctly, and to understand the nutritional side of health and fitness. Through this programme, I saw growth and ran the programme a second time and used it as a blueprint until 2015.
At the same time I was doing all this, I had stumbled on the world of Instagram fitness and its glam. At the time, bodybuilding competitions were the highlight of fitness and it seemed that it was the next step in my fitness journey. I threw myself into it and switched from focusing on strength and performance to a purely aesthetic-based vision. Unfortunately, that switch brought a lot of health complications. I developed a bad relationship with food due to cutting for the competition incorrectly, I developed temperature-induced urticaria, I felt very uncomfortable in my skin and didn’t like what I saw in the mirror as comparing myself to other girls online, and started negative self-talk and I didn’t love myself anymore.
It got to a point where I was in a dark place by the end of 2015 and I knew that I had to get myself healthier state. I made a promise to myself in January 2016 that I would get to a point where I will feel confident again and learn to love all of me. I spent the first 14 weeks of the year reverse dieting back to a healthier weight and my urticaria condition improved. I wasn’t completely there but I felt more confident in my skin and I learnt a big lesson that labelling someone as “body goals” was problematic for physical and mental health.
In 2016, it was necessary for me to change my mindset. I worked on myself and learnt to stop comparing myself to other people, I stopped seeking validation from others and to stop the negative self-talk. When I look back, the negative self-talk was so damaging. I don’t think there was a moment where I even looked in the mirror and said something positive about myself. I had to wake up each morning and say something positive to myself whether that was ‘You are blessed’, or ‘You are beautiful’…I know it can seem that these things may not matter but it made a difference to my mindset. As I consciously worked on these things, I felt more free. I felt independent from the opinions of others and more rooted in who I was.
I knew that one year wasn’t going to miraculously change everything for me but I needed to continuously work on myself and grow into my confidence. I was willing to take all the time I needed and be patient with my growth.
Once I realised that health and fitness were part of my lifestyle and not my entire lifestyle, I saw growth in every area of my life. In 2017, I started powerbuilding (a mixture of powerlifting and bodybuilding) to build both muscle and strength. Once I gave my training purpose by focusing on what my body could do for me, instead of what it looked like, my outlook on my fitness changed. In 2018, I decided that I wanted to train as a powerlifter and become a powerlifter. I chose powerlifting as it matched my outlook on my fitness which was strength and performance goals. I signed up with a coach, chose my meet date (competition) and I started to transform.
Up to today, I have competed in two powerlifting meets and I have achieved so much more than I expected when I first started lifting. I learnt that:
- I am my biggest investment
- Old keys don’t open new doors and I needed to leave my comfort zone
- Taking risks might be scary but that’s where growth happens
- You can always rise from defeat and learn from failure
- To always be committed to your journey.
My overall goal from the beginning was to build up my confidence and to be strong, physically stronger, mentally stronger and strong enough to stand by my decisions. Fitness, in particular, powerlifting gave me the avenue to develop my confidence again. I felt like I was accomplishing something each day, my energy levels were higher and I felt stronger. It gave me the confidence to decide who I wanted to be and how I wanted to sculpt myself as I grew older. That meant no longer giving other the power to dictate how my life should play out and not giving them room to bring me down. That confidence led me to solo travel, it led to navigate what independence was to me, to redefine what health and fitness meant for my life. It showed me who I was and no one could ever make me question that.
I found my confidence. I found my power and I feel free. By sharing my journey as I continue, I want to help other women build their confidence to powerlift because it changed me.