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From fat to fit
1:37pm Friday 6th September 2013 in News
MISS Galaxy Universe contestant Victoria Craig wasn’t always so body confident.
Here, in the first of her monthly blogs, the 31-year-old reveals how she lost the fat to compete on stage in her bikini for the contests.
I read so many articles in magazines and on the web about quick fix dieting and fat loss, drop your calories low, reduce carbohydrates, drink diet shakes, take weight loss pills and it drives me CRAZY. There is no quick fix to weight loss, well not if you want to keep the fat off. If you have spent years leading an unhealthy lifestyle, bingeing on junk food, alcohol and not exercising you can’t expect it come off in a matter of weeks.
I have been overweight. In my early to mid 20s I tipped the scales at 10stone 9 and that was pure fat, no muscle and for someone only 5ft 3 with a very small frame that is not attractive. I let myself go, I not only ate too much but what I was eating was junk, processed food, pizza, pasta, ice cream, cheese, chocolate and lots of wine... basically anything high in fat, sugar and alcohol I loved. When I hit my heaviest it was around six months after I had quit smoking, I replaced the habit with food and the weight piled on very quickly. I wouldn’t have said I was overweight before then but I was not looking after my body and I was nowhere near the shape I am in today. My average day would go something like this...
Wake up around 7am, shower, go to work and instead of breakfast I would have a cigarette and an energy drink laced with sugar. Mid morning would be my first meal, usually a sausage roll or two from the local bakery. As I worked in catering l wouldn’t usually get my next meal in until mid afternoon which was nearly always a four cheese pizza with dough balls covered in garlic butter. After lunch I would feel a massive drop in energy so I’d get another energy drink down me and a few more cigarettes. In the evening I would almost always crack open a bottle of wine and most nights get through three to four glasses, a large portion of pasta, steak and chips or a large stir fry with white rice, followed by lazing on the sofa with a tub of Häagen-Dazs.
It wasn’t until my boyfriend at the time turned around to me one evening and told me I was fat that I decided to do something about it. After crying and sobbing my way through the night I decided it was time to get rid of some of the extra padding I was carrying. He was right, I was FAT and had let myself go. Deep down I knew all of this and I didn’t feel attractive in any way.
That weekend we joined the gym together and made a conscious effort to cut out the junk and follow a healthy diet. Slowly but surely the weight dropped off, my confidence lifted and I started to feel good about myself again.
Over the next couple of years my weight yo-yo’d, I tried every crash diet around, I tried diet shakes, little or no carbs and filled my shopping basket with food labelled Low Fat or Diet (not knowing most of these have a high sugar content) . The food Industry is very clever with their marketing so be aware when you shop. Read the labels and see exactly what is in the food that you are putting into your body.
I would go to the gym for three months solidly and then not go for the next three months so I never maintained a happy and healthy weight which I’m sure this is something many of you can relate to. On top of this my knowledge in the gym was pretty poor so I tried out group exercise classes. It was a great atmosphere, good music and someone there to motivate me and guide me through my workout. I loved it and started to wonder if I could ever be that person up at the front with the microphone, great body, full of confidence guiding people through their work out.
There was one particular instructor who caught my attention, I found her so inspiring. She was beautiful with a body to die for, so much confidence and enthusiasm and she made it look easy. I got chatting to her one day at the end of a class and she said to me “go ahead and do it, train to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer” and offered her help. I went away, researched fitness courses and enrolled on my first course with Drummond Education in Maidenhead to become a gym instructor. Hara, the Instructor that inspired me all those years ago came to be one my closest friends and now couldn’t imagine my life without her.
I got the bug for teaching classes and ended up doing a massive 30 high impact classes a week in London. As much as I loved it this was doing my body no good at all. As well as teaching so much, over training and rarely taking rest days, I also wasn’t feeding my body the right nutrition. I was having around five to six hours of broken sleep a night and living the London party lifestyle at weekends. Eventually this hectic and unhealthy lifestyle was going to hit me and it did, it hit me hard. I slipped a disc, twisted my pelvis and gave myself a shoulder injury and at this point I thought my career in fitness was over.
This all happened around the time my Mum became very ill and it gave me a massive wake up call. You only have one chance at life, one body and you need to take care of it. My next step was to train as a Pilates instructor and I reduced the number of high impact, high energy classes I was teaching and started strength training.
After seeing what the correct training and nutrition could do for my body I decided to take it to the next level and compete in a Bikini and Fitness Competition. A close friend of mine, who is now my coach is a WBFF Pro Athlete and Fitness model. I have followed her journey and been hugely inspired by everything she has achieved and loved the idea of getting on stage in a bikini showing the world what you can achieve if you stay focused and work hard. I hit the stage for my first competition in June this and it was without a doubt one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.
My life now is far from what it was when I was overweight and unfit. I am now in training for my next competition Miss Galaxy Universe on October 26 this year. I eat six meals a day, my diet changes depending on what stage I am in with my competition prep. My meals consist of a mix of carbs, healthy fats and proteins. I drink herbal tea, very little alcohol and four to five litres of water a day. My diet is wheat free, diary free, gluten free, sugar free and no alcohol eight weeks before the show. This seems to baffle some people and they don’t understand how I manage to do it but it really doesn’t faze me. I have no cravings, I am never hungry and I allow myself a cheat meal each week where I indulge a little. You’ll find once you cut something out for long enough your body no longer craves it. I eat real food and I love every mouthful.
I train up to twice a day, five days a week with a mix of strength training, cardio, plyometrics, stretching and Pilates. I also factor into my training posing and stage practice. This I love as it gives me an excuse to get my heels on and prance around the studio with music blaring in the background. I try to practice my walking and stage presence four to five times a week as it is so important to be able to walk in a pair of heels and learn how to stand and hold yourself to show off your best parts.
I am now 31 and in the best shape of my life, the strongest and fittest I have ever been, happy, positive, healthy and confident. Along with feeling body confident I am full of energy, my hair and nails are in good condition and skin is great too. I am my own advertisement, the proof that following a healthy and nutritious diet coupled with a varied training and exercise programme you really can achieve the body you want.
Now that I have waffled on about myself for so long here are a few nutrition and training tips and pointers for you:
1) EAT REAL FOOD... Cut out processed foods. Prepare your meals from scratch and cut out anything high in sugar, salt and saturated fat. Diet is the key factor behind weight loss and reducing body fat.
2) GET YOUR CARBS IN – Carbohydrates are our body’s main source for energy. Just make the right choices, pick foods such as sweet potato, brown rice, oats and plenty of fresh vegetables.
3) SUGAR IS THE DEVIL... Sugar can be harmful to your organs, lowers your energy, rots your teeth and makes you gain weight when it is present in your food on a regular basis.
4) STOP EATING WHEN YOU ARE FULL! Learn to listen to your body. Meal time is not a race, there is no need to shovel your food down, slow the eating process down and enjoy every mouthful.
5) INCLUDE HEALTHY FATS, (EFA’s) Essential fatty acids are crucial for your body’s growth and development. Fats such as nuts, olive oil and fish oils, coconut and coconut oils, oily fish and avocado.
6) DRINK PLENTY OF WATER to ensure your body is well hydrated. If you don’t drink enough water your urine will become concentrated and turn orange or dark yellow.
7) KEEP THE BODY GUESSING by mixing up your training, Doing the same thing over and over not only gets incredibly boring but your body will get to used it and you will stop seeing improvements in your fitness and physique. Change your training programme every four to six weeks, include a mix of strength work,, steady state and interval cardio and core training. Try something different, join in a group exercise class or boot camp, lift some weights, get outside and do some sprints or try a new piece of equipment in your gym. Mixing things up will not only boost your enthusiasm and engagement, but it will also give you a more effective session.
8) REST & RECOVER - Ensure you are getting plenty of sleep and schedule rest days into your training plan. Muscles repair while you are sleeping.
9) STRETCH YOUR MUSCLES, after each training session. If a muscle group has been continually contracted throughout a workout stretches should be performed to allow the muscle to return to its normal length. Stretching will reduce muscle tension, make you feel more relaxed and reduce risk of injury.
10) YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE. Take care of it, it is the only place you have to live it.
The final thing I would like to say to you before signing off till next month is enjoy the journey. If you are just starting out enjoy every step, enjoy seeing the small changes in not only your body but your mind. Be patient, you can do anything you put your mind too, have confidence and believe in yourself. Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you can go and remember you are BEAUTIFUL.
For further information and advice email firstname.lastname@example.org