How did bodybuilding change me?
Oh my. Where do I begin? Bodybuilding did not happen by chance. However, my journey to bodybuilding is probably more intentional than I thought. I tried a million and one type of training regime such as CrossFit, yoga, sprints, long distance running, powerlifting, HIIT the list goes on and they were all great fun and during that period of my life it was the best type of training for me. However, I did not see real changes until I found bodybuilding, meal prepping and understanding macros and micros and the biggest taboo, counting calories.
My Fitness Journey
I started running when I was in school about the age of 15 however, I started running for all the wrong reasons. I was super skinny, could not play any ball games for the life of me. I tried. I promise I tried. However, I just suck at it. But I was good at running. I had the best 2.4km run timing in my final year in school.
However, I was unhealthy. I would only eat an apple and a few pieces of saltines a day and run at dinner time because I wanted to avoid eating with my family as much as I can, and if I were to have dinner with the family. I would pick on my food, skip the rice and only eat veggies. I would go to bed hungry and feel proud of it. I felt like I was one step closer to being super skinny like one of those supermodels I see in magazines. I tried every type of fad diet but nothing ever stuck. This went on for a long time until I started CrossFit when I was 21 years old.
By 21, I got my diploma in sports and exercise science in school. I got a little bit healthier, started understanding proteins, carbohydrates and fats but still thought that eating ice-cream over rice for dinner is healthier. What on earth was I thinking?! But here we are.
I was teaching at a gymnastic school for children, ages 18 months and up. I love kids and I will always love children but there is soo much you can learn, and I left after 3 years to pursue my bachelor’s degree. At that time, I was still following fad diets, such as the Atkins diet. The high protein, low carbohydrates life, not sustainable at all. I would not recommend anyone to try it but it was also a time where I started getting into CrossFit 4-5 times a week and going on runs when I’m not at the gym. I was super skinny, and my strength was at level 0 but hey we all start somewhere.
Things started changing again when I went back to school. Yes, I’m a late bloomer. I only went to university at the tender age of 24. Hah. By that time, I was soo busy. During the day I was working in a boutique gym and at 7pm I was a student. Night classes was hard, classes would end around 9:30pm or 10:00pm and I would only sleep at midnight.
The weekend was a struggle as well. Some weekends I work, some weekends I had classes, some weekends were just doing assignments and exams. When I went out for brunch, I would order eggs benedict because everyone else was eating it but I hated the yolk and would leave it on the side of the plate which really defeats the whole point of ordering eggs benedict if you ask me.
During this period, I started going to the gym more regularly. It was a balance of HIIT and CrossFit training. I started to research more about the type of food to eat to fill me up and not tire me out because I needed my engine to run from 6am to 10pm 5 days a week. It was the first time I heard the words, flax seeds, chia seeds, quinoa, psyllium fiber, goji berries, non-diary milk etc. it was not something I recognise in the supermarket while growing up at home. At home we ate a lot of tofu, soy sauce, chilli, fish, pork and broth. Both have its benefit and there’s nothing wrong with either of it. But I was looking for something lesser in calories, doesn’t hurt my digestion and fill me up longer without making me bloat. I quickly learnt that I am slightly lactose intolerant and too much almonds can make you bloat too.
And I am still learning every other day because life is all about balance and there is no perfect solution. Our body will ask for it needs when the time comes. That will be another entry for another blog.
I also majored in sports and physical education in university, so it helped a lot when it came to learning about the body.
At 27, I graduated and then came a new ball of life challenges. I got married the following year. At this point, my fitness journey has not changed much but I definitely did more yoga then, than I am now. I was HIIT training 3-4 times a week, running 20 minutes a day 3-4 times a week and yoga 3 times a week minimum. I would even sometimes CrossFit because I really enjoyed lifting barbells. Sounds pretty fit right? Yeh… but my nutrition was not great. I was kind of lean. Kind of. But not really because I was still skinny fat. My diet was atrocious. I would skip complex carbohydrates and give in to my cravings for salty chips and count that as my carbohydrates. Like what on earth!? Not healthy at all.
By 28, I found bikini competitions. I saw pictures of girls in sparkling bikinis and strappy heels and my jaw just dropped. There was no way this was part of a bodybuilding federation. The bodybuilding world I knew were men with huge muscles, striations, veinny and back muscles that cannot close. And even if there was a female category, the females were super muscular just like the men.
My training is still constantly evolving and changing today but after I did a 21-day vegan only, whole foods, no processed food cleanse in 2018. I came back with better understanding about nutrition, diets, macronutrient, micronutrient, counting calories. Why females need more fats during certain time of the month. When you should eat carbohydrates to give you energy for training and the importance of protein. My life took a 180 degree turn for the better when I found bodybuilding.
The bikini division in the bodybuilding world is still fairly new. It was only created in 2012 that bikini girls had a division to compete in and even then, it looked vastly different than it does right now. Back then, if a girl had a little bit of muscles, tiny waist, and a nice bottom, they could enter in a bikini division. 9 years later, it is not that easy anymore.
In my next post, I will talk a little bit more about my bikini- body-building journey. So stay tune!