Lifestyle Prior To Change
I had always been interested in health and fitness but I had never really given 100% to keeping myself healthy. I completed a personal training qualification a few years back and had worked at various gyms and studios but was never in the right shape and didn’t feel I was good enough to be telling people how to make themselves fitter when I wasn’t the best example. After moving into the city I got into the lifestyle of being good Monday to Friday, then come the weekend I’d blow it all out with alcohol and pub food. My weight increased and increased.
After re-finding a bodybuilding website I found my motivation. After reading through a bunch of the transformations as well as various profiles, I became addicted to making a change. After reading the transformation of Tiffany Forni who made amazing progress, her story gave me the motivation and inspiration to start my own transformation.
I wanted something to help motivate me to get to my goals. I looked around for a competition later in the year to enter and found one locally in 3 and a half months time. Eek. I wasn’t giving myself a lot of time to get into competition form but I believed that I could do it. I had my date set and on June 22nd I started my transformation. I took my first progress pictures and planned my journey with a training and diet program I put together using the information on the bodybuilding website.
Throughout the next 3 and a half months, I was addicted. I never missed a session and pushed harder and harder each session at the gym. It was hard and I had to sacrifice a lot, but it was well worth it. On September 27th I competed as a Sports Model at the INBA Vics placing equal 4th, and on October 10th I competed in the ANB's Vics, placing 5th.. For me I had made it. At the ANB competition, I won an award for most inspirational competitor for my impressive transformation story. It was so awesome to be noticed and thanked everyone for their support. I can't wait till the next round of competitions next year!
How Did You Turn Your Life Around?
It took a lot of hard work and determination. I was at the gym every single morning at 6am for my cardio session and then again after work. I knew it was going to be a tough journey as I had a lot of weight to lose but I had set my goal and wasn’t going to fail. I had the support of my friends and family as well as all the people on the website that I chatted to regularly for help and ideas. The whole process I did on my own. Having undertaken the qualification to be a personal trainer I knew a fair amount in regards to training programs already and was able to set up one on my own.
My diet plan was tough. I pretty much cut out all dairy and fruit. I cut out all alcohol, junk and processed foods. It was hard to begin with, but I managed to stick to it. This meant no more Friday night after work drinks, instead I was slogging away in the gym. I didn’t allow myself any cheat meals at all as I’m someone that needs the cold turkey approach and with a small amount of time to get show ready, I needed to be as strict as possible. However during the 16 or so weeks I did allow myself 2 refeed meals, where I just upped the amount of carbs I was allowed for the day. These 2 days were a life savor. I indulged in crunchy white bread and low fat cereals. I kept my calories in control during these meals and dropped my protein and fat intake for the day as I upped the carbs. I believed these helped me through the long hard weeks of low carb.
After my first show it felt awesome having people come up to me as well as post fantastic messages on the website about my amazing transformation. The complements made me feel fantastic. All my hard work was paying off and I was feeling so much better for it. I now need to buy a whole new wardrobe as none of my clothes fit me anymore. Even some clothes I bought just on a month ago are now to big.
My next step is to help others reach their goals. I have decided to get back into the personal training business and work with as many people as I can to get to their goals.
What Did Your Training Look Like?
With training I lift as heavy as possible failing at around the 10 rep range. Although as I get closer to the competition and my diet gets changed up, I’m lifting a little lighter.
|Day 1 - Shoulders & Legs|
|Front Dumbbell Raise (Superset w/Side Laterals)||3||8 to 10|
|Side Lateral||3||8 to 10|
|Step Ups (Superset w/Lunges)||3||50|
|Shoulder Press||3||8 to 10|
|Upright Row||3||8 to 10|
|Leg Press||3||10 to 15|
|Seated Leg Curl||3||10 to 15|
|Leg Curl||3||10 to 15|
|Glute Machine||3||10 to 15|
|Calf Raise||3||10 to 15|
|Day 2 - Chest & Triceps|
|Incline Bench Press||3||8 to 10|
|Chest Press||3||8 to 10|
|Dumbbell Flyes||3||8 to 10|
|Dumbbell Tricep Kickback||3||10 to 12|
|Dumbbell Tricep Extension||3||10 to 12|
|Tricep Dip||3||10 to 15|
|Push Up||3||10 to 15|
|Tricep Pushdown||3||10 to 12|
Day 3 - Rest and Cardio
|Day 4 - Back & Biceps|
|Hammer Curls (Superset w/Barbell Curls)||3||8 to 12|
|Barbell Curls||3||8 to 12|
|Concentration Curls||3||8 to 12|
|Dumbbell Rows||3||8 to 12|
|Reverse Bent Over Flyes||3||8 to 12|
|Lat Pull Down||3||8 to 12|
|Seated Cable Row||3||8 to 12|
Repeat the cycle...
- Day 5: Shoulders & Legs
- Day 6: Chest & Triceps
- Day 7: Back & Biceps
Cardio - I do cardio every morning before breakfast for an hour and then again after each weight session. I make sure I have a water bottle at each session with some BCAAs. As I got closer to competition, I upped my evening cardio to an hour so I was doing 2 hours of cardio a day.
What Did Your Diet look Like?
I followed pretty much the low carb, high protein and moderate fat diet. Which changed as I got closer to competition. My basic diet at the beginning is as follows:
- Meal 1: 1 whole egg, 4 whites, ¼ cup oatmeal with cinnamon
- Meal 2: Protein shake
- Meal 3: ¼ cup rice, 1 cup green beans/peppers, 4oz chicken
- Meal 4: ¼ cup sweet potato, 4oz chicken
- Meal 5: (Post workout) Protein shake
- Meal 6: 4oz fish, ¼ cup rice, 1-2 cups green salad, 2 tsp fat free mayo
- Meal 7: (if still hungry) Protein shake, 1oz lean meat
What Supplements Did You Use?
- Multivitamin: BSC - Take one in the morning.
- CLA: BSC - Take one in the morning, one at lunch and one at night.
- Creatine Ethyl Easter: BSC - Take one in the morning, one at lunch and one at night.
- Lipo-6 - Take 2 before AM Cardio, take 1 at lunch.
- 7-Keto - Take ½ teaspoon before weights and ½ teaspoon before bed.
- Glutamine - Take 1 teaspoon upon waking, 1 teaspoon before and after weights, and take one teaspoon before bed.
- BCAAs - Drink during each training and cardio session.
- Fish Oil - Take two in the morning and two at night.
- Vitamin C - With every meal.
Advice For Others
Plan your meals in advance. Cooking up all your meals on the weekend saves so much time and stress during the week. Go out and buy a bunch of Tupperware containers and label exactly what is in them and what days they are for.
Make sure you write down everything. Keeping a food log of everything you eat everyday shows you exactly what you are putting into your body and helps you work out the correct macros for your needs. I used www.fitday.com to track my food log.
Take progress pictures and measurements every 2 weeks. These are fantastic to look back on and see the changes you are making. Nothing is more motivational than seeing the changes in yourself through your pictures.
Believe in yourself.
More From Mercia Howard
After a short off season over summer where I introduced foods back into my diet and relaxed a bit, I put on a few kgs. I am now in contest prep mode again (thankfully this time I only have about 5kgs to loose not 23kg!) thank god! I plan on competing in LA at the end of May. So I'm back on the contest diet (although I'm taking a different route this time and incorporating fruits and carbs at controlled levels) and I'm back kicking butt in the gym. I have also just started my own personal training business where I offer; 1-on-1 training, group training, corporate sector training, special group training and online support, so check it out http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/group.php?gid=362283164402. Web site to come soon.