What’s your age, where do you come from and what is your day job?

I’m 25 and currently studying Occupational Therapy full time at Plymouth uni, I’m originally from West Cornwall. I work as a barista part time.

What was your lifestyle like before starting TEG?

I started TEG in January 2015, by signing up for the CC2015. I had been working out for 2 years or so previously, so already had some knowledge of weight training. I had lost around 50lbs from a mixture of home workouts and free weights in the gym, but I felt in a bit of a rut- my strength had plateaued and I couldn’t seem to drop the last few inches I wanted.

I was training 5-6x a week in a ‘classic’ bodybuilding split e.g chest / triceps, back / biceps, legs etc. but didn’t really have a structure as such, I was always looking for that ‘best’ way to train to lose fat and didn’t really have any goals, just to lose more weight, which is why the cutting challenge appealed to me. Nutrition wise, I’ve always had the same attitude that everything is ok in moderation, but I would feel immense guilt after eating something ‘bad’.

Having completed the CC2015, I am now following the Bikini Muscle plan. I am really giving it my all, consistency with following a set plan is something I struggled with before and even throughout CC2015, so I’m really pushing myself to stay on track with Bikini Muscle and follow it to a tee- and it’s working.

How did you get into fitness and begin your transformation?

I suffered from depression and anxiety since my early teens, which escalated when I was made homeless at 16. I was living on my own and nutrition wasn’t a high priority to me, and I was drinking heavily and I had no direction, no goals and no motivation to do anything. My weight crept up slowly, I was constantly tired, miserable and felt pretty lost.

I started to lose weight in June 2012- I looked in the mirror one day, cried, took some photos and decided there and then that I had to change. I haven’t looked back since. I started out by cycling lots- West Cornwall has the most beautiful scenery to ride around- and I would also go on 45min powerwalks a few times a week.

I stumbled across some home workout channels which introduced me to weight training- I started out using baked bean cans, heavy books and bodyweight exercises! This progressed on to using lighter dumbells and kettlebells, which I’m thankful for because this really helped me to nail form before I progressed to heavier weights. As my weight started to decrease my confidence in myself increased, I ran a 5k race for life, signed up to college, completed an access course and landed myself a university place to study Occupational Therapy.

How long did it take to start seeing changes?

Physically, changes happened within a month of me starting to work out. I’ve always gone by measurements and progress pictures, but the scale going down was a bonus. I had a weightloss tracker widget with a weight loss goal set on it, so seeing myself getting closer to it kept me motivated.

Mentally, the changes started to happen as I started seeing physical results. My confidence grew and although I still had bad days I found myself able to deal with them better and ‘snap’ myself out of them- exercise became my coping mechanism.

How has the way you feel about yourself and your body changed?

I’m so proud of myself for overcoming so many obstacles and barriers. I feel energetic (most of the time!) and my mindset is clearer. I have a much more positive outlook on life and rarely suffer from depression now. Although I feel like my body is constantly a work in progress, I’m happy with it. I have worked with many people who are not as fortunate, so I don’t take my health for granted. I am amazed by what my body can achieve and I just strive to make it stronger and push myself to see what I am capable of.

Since starting with TEG my mindset has changed, from wanting to be thin and “toned” – constantly thinking I had to lose weight to achieve this, to building muscle and increasing my strength. The number on the scale no longer matters, as long as the numbers on the weights are going up.

What is your diet like now and what’s your relationship with food like?

Since starting with Train Eat Gain, I have adopted the IIFYM or flexible dieting approach. I now allow myself ‘treats’ every so often as long as they fit my calories or macros- but don’t stress if they go over it. I know I put in the hard work the rest of the time so falling off track once in a while doesn’t make any difference as long as you remain consistent and put in the work.

Since starting the cutting challenge in January I have cut down my drinking significantly, I now know that a night of drinking will affect my body for the rest of the week and also affects my mindset. I drink occasionally with friends but try to avoid going over the top every week like I was before! I find other ways to unwind now in the evenings, like a hot bath or just watching a movie. Or maybe I have just got too old for partying!

Did you get any positive comments from friends and family?

I have probably bored my friends and family to death with all my fitness posts- but it is my lifestyle now and I think a lot of them respect this. Most have asked me for help or advice and I am more than happy to point them in the right direction for starting their journey. My boyfriend has been supportive throughout the whole journey, he has little interest in weight lifting himself but I think he is proud of how far I have come.

What was the biggest lesson you learned by going through this process?

Be patient. Results don’t happen overnight and no one is going to wave a magic wand and do it for you. You can have the best training plan in the world and the best equipment but unless you remain consistent and focussed on your smaller goals then you won’t progress.

Also to never compare yourself to others- everyone is on their own journey with their own goals. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, we all fall off the wagon and have bad days. Just focus on being better than the person you were yesterday!

What three things were the most helpful for helping you stay on track?

Being part of the TeamTEG community has helped massively. We keep each other accountable, have progress check ins and lift each other up on bad days- this is a ‘safe’ place away from friends and family to chat to like-minded people with similar goals and stories.

On a practical note, I use myfitnesspal for tracking my calories and macros. I don’t track every single day, sometimes just a few days a week to check I’m on the right path. Meal prepping and planning also helps me to stay on track- I find the weeks where I don’t plan ahead or do a proper grocery shop are the weeks I tend to fall off track and eat more junk.

What advice would you give someone thinking about joining TeamTEG?

Even if you think you have lots of knowledge already about fitness, there is always something new to learn. Follow the plans- even if you think you don’t need to or think you know better- and follow the nutrition targets.

It may seem scary at first having to eat so much more than you are used to and cutting out cardio but TRUST me, it works! Keep up to date with and join in on the TeamTEG Facebook group, and never be afraid to ask anything- we are a friendly bunch!

What is your next fitness goal?

At the moment I am concentrating on completing the Bikini Muscle plan and building as much strength and muscle mass as I can. In 2016 I am hoping to enter some powerlifting competitions and I’m considering entering the MASS Student Physique Contest. I just need to learn to walk in heels first!