Lifestyle Prior To Change
Rather depressed. I knew I had great muscle under all the excess, as I was lifting some decent weight in the gym, but just wasn’t able to stick to the diet to reveal all my efforts, for whatever reason. It was as shocking pre-transformation to look in the mirror and not recognize myself as it is now for the opposite reason. I didn’t feel fat inside, I felt strong, but then the mirror would remind me, and an extra portion of pasta would be devoured to comfort myself, further compounding the problems.
What was your low point or turning point?
Attending a female bodybuilding seminar and feeling strong but sooooo out of condition! A past champion told me she saw a lot of herself in me and that I had great potential. She offered to prep me for free! That opportunity and accountability just seemed to make everything fall into place.
Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?
Haha, the fact that as a female I was trying to lose 24lbs+ in 16 weeks. That’s a tough target. Combined with a daily commute of 1.5 hours each way, it was intense. But I figured there were/are mothers also doing this who get up earlier than me to do their workout/cardio before the kids get up and got to bed later than me, having to do their workout/cardio after they put the kids to bed. At least I only had a tired and grumpy dieted self to contend with and a husband who can look after himself!
- Transformation Start: Janurary 4th, 2010.
- Milestone: For us Brits using the stones and pounds, rather than just pounds, it was getting into single figure stone weight end of June (under 140lb).
- Milestone: Bypassing all my skinny UK size 12 clothes I’d been hoarding! It was quite overwhelming to try on my skinny clothes and for them to be too big. For years I’d been trying to get back into them, knowing that however dysmorphic my brain was being, if I was able to get into them I must be doing ok! For me to be smaller than that was weird, an amazing weird though! I can still vividly remember being in a clothing store, pre-transformation, trying on a size 12 and not being able to get the skirt/trousers past my knees!
- Milestone: Finally 10 years after seeing that first picture of Monica Brant, I was there on that stage! I still wouldn’t believe I belonged there until I saw the pictures. I could hardly believe it was me, all the hard work was so worth while.
- Milestone: Not only did I make it onto the stage, but I didn’t come last in my category!
- Transformation End: I’m still self conscious about my stomach. I lost a lot of weight very quickly to be able to stand on stage this year, and my lack of midriff condition was/is a real concern of mine. Yet emailing work colleagues and friends my transformation pictures, the one comment that keeps getting made is “I want a stomach like yours”!
Fiona's Training And Cardio Approach
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
4 day split, each body part trained once per week (3 days cardio only):
- Monday – Legs.
- Tuesday - Chest and biceps.
- Wednesday - Back and triceps.
- Thursday – Shoulders.
- Abs every workout except legs.
Please add a workout that worked best for you (including days, exercises, sets, reps etc):
My Monday leg workout:
- Leg Press - 3 sets of 12, 10, and 8 reps. High point pressing 200kg (450lb!)
- Barbell Lunge - 3 sets of 12, 10, and 8 reps.
- Dumbbell Sumo Squat - 3 sets of 12, 10, and 8 reps.
- Dumbbell Still Leg Deadlift - 3 sets x 15 reps.
- Calf Raise - 3 sets x 20 reps.
Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?
Hardcore! For the 16 weeks prior to the competition I did 2x one hour cardio sessions 6 days post-workout with a one hour session on a Sunday. Monday-Friday the morning sessions were fasted and on Sat/Sun I got a treat of a brief lie in and meal one before morning cardio. This increased to 7 days, two 2 hour sessions 8 weeks out. My cardio machine of choice is the Stairmill - LOVE it! All though during the summer and with earlier, lighter mornings, I very much enjoyed power walking with a 9kg weighted vest. Initially I didn’t have the vest but as weight loss progressed I wasn’t as heavy and was getting fitter, and the power walking just wasn’t intense enough! Hence the introduction of the weighted vest.
Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- CONSISTENCY! DOH! It really does work, no matter how much or how little you are doing, you must be consistent. I am an addictive personality and prone to bouts of intense obsessive behavior.
- How weight bearing exercise positively affects my body and fat loss.
- How to ‘zone out’! An hour is a long time on a stepmill!
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
Weight training split remains the same, but I have decreased my cardio to 2 sessions of 40 minutes p/day.
Fiona's Diet And Nutrition Approach
What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?
High protein, moderate-low clean carbs, and LOTS of veggies. Once the cardio was at it’s peak, the calories/carbs were progressively cut over the weeks. Once they could safely go no lower I had to ensure the cardio was plenty intense, in order to maintain progression of the program.
Can you provide us with a sample daily eating plan (please be specific):
- Meal 1: 20g oats in a whey shake to give 22g protein (on train commute to work).
- Meal 2: Unlimited salad leaves and any green veg plus 70g chicken/turkey (cooked weight) with balsamic and dry herbs and spices to dress.
- Meal 3: As meal 2.
- Meal 4: As meal 2.
- Meal 5: As meal 1.
- Meal 6: 250ml egg whites (including one whole egg) scrambled plus 20g oats made as porridge with water (with a pinch of Splenda, salt, cinnamon and mixed spice).
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?
I had great advice/guidance. Previously I hadn’t appreciated how clean and consistent a contest prep diet is, but it really does work!
Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- I LOVE scrambled egg whites.
- How little calories our bodies actually require to maintain their mass, whilst the supermarkets push excess calories at you from every conceivable angle.
- That consistency really is the key. An extra 20 calories p/meal combined with 10 minutes missed cardio each workout easily combines to negate your planned deficit and loss.
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
Yes, one per week. Usually a Saturday evening relaxing with my husband, anything I wanted including moderate alcohol.
What supplements did you use during your transformation?
- Glutamine – 5g post workout.
- Vitamin C – 1g post workout.
- ALCAR (Acetyl L-Carnitine) – 5g pre-workout.
- Yohimbine – 1 tab pre-workout.
- Espresso – 1 dble pre-workout.
- Whey protein.
Advice For Others
What are your best 3 tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
- No one plans to fail, they only fail to plan. Serious planning is required! On a Sunday I weigh and pre-prepare EVERY meal ready for the week. If I’m hungry I’ll grab the first thing at hand, and that’ll be a portion of protein and carbs from the fridge ready in a Tupperware container, IF it’s there. If not then it’ll be toast with butter! Whilst not diabetic I do suffer with low blood sugar and once my blood sugar levels drop I NEED to eat! And then boy am I VERY glad I prepared and didn’t compromise my diet, I would have been so pissed with myself!
- Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Weeeelll...It does and it doesn’t. Those treats, chips and French fries do taste great! BUT after a little bit of hardship to get where you want to be, you really can have your cake and eat it...and in your size 10 jeans too! Now THAT feels good!
- “Only a madman does the same thing over and again and expects to get different results.” I truly thought I could do this on my own, but after 3 years of going backwards, when the offer of help was there I took it, and never looked back. Get a support structure in place, away from family and any possible negativity and set backs.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?
Do take before and after pictures, and look at them everyday. As soon as you feel your waistband of your size 10 jeans getting a little snug, you know it’s time to go back to a cheat meal rather than cheat weekends for a little while!
More From Fiona Mackenzie
What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?
Happier, more confident *whispers* and with an improved sex life!
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
I amazed myself at what I did, now I want to see what I can do next year, leaner, harder, bring it on!
Anything else you would like to share?
Make your shakes with chocolate and vanilla whey, and filter coffee, YUM!
How can people contact you?
I have just read your story and it is very motivating!
I have been saying for years and years that I wanted to do a physique competition. I was always into the ym in my twenties...used to eat very clean and try to stay nice and lean...then, when I was 29 i got pregnant with my son. I had the idea that it would be fine to eat everything in sight! Boy was I wrong! I am now 33 and still battle back and forth with my weight. I took a long hiatus from the gym, simply put, due to lack of self esteem due to weight gain and in turn, lack of motivation. 1 month ago i decided that enough was enough! I started going back to the gym 4 days a week and eating clean 6 days a week and allowing myself 1 cheat day! I must say, it has paid off so far...i have lost 12 pounds so far! I am now determined to compete! I registered for for first show, June 21, 2013. THIS IS WHERE I GET SCARED!!! I am so afraid that I will not be able to lean out enough, in time! I started out at 30% body fat 1 month ago...
If anyone can give me any advice or input, I would love to hear!
wonderful story.. good work.
You are an inspiration! GREAT work! Do you mind sharing your age! Congrats!!
Just goes to show how much can be done with dedication and hard work. Proud to be a small part of making you who you are today. x
Nice work, you look great,keep up the good work. "Health is Wealth"