Transformation Tuesday with Bella
Bella's weight issues kicked in after her wedding and having her first baby. As a typical busy mum and an entrepreneur, she could hardly squeeze any time to hit the gym. But when you make your mind up, you immediately start making goals and then determination kicks in which means a success story. Today I welcome beautiful Bella....
How old are you and please can you share your health and fitness journey to date?
Hiya!! The short story? I'm 32, a mum of two, a young entrepreneur who retired from traditional business at 30, a bodybuilding competitor, a personal trainer and a passionate advocate for children's health and wellness in a disadvantaged area of my beloved home state Tasmania, Australia. Other than 'mum of two' all of that other cool stuff has happened since 2012 when I decided to take control of my weight and health and lost 45kg (50kg to if you count my on-stage weight) through good nutrition and exercise.
The long story? I’ve struggled with body image my whole life. Feeling too fat was a constant thought, even when it wasn’t true. But as an adult it certainly did become a reality. After my wedding the weight started creeping up. When we had our first son the ‘baby weight’ came off but was quickly replaced by the ‘sitting on the couch all day eating biscuits’ weight from being so inactive. With business partners, I started a new small business that required a lot of attention, both at home, in the office and after hours. I simply felt I was too busy to exercise. And our diet was almost exclusively convenience and pre-packaged foods. I just wasn’t prioritising my health or fitness at all. While pregnant with our second son, I felt really unwell. Being significantly overweight and pregnant certainly contributed to a less than enjoyable pregnancy. I barely moved at all for the whole nine months. I craved sugar in crazy amounts and would eat boxes of ice-creams while justifying with the thought that I would just lose the weight after the baby was born. I didn’t.
Six months after the baby was born, I still looked heavily pregnant and was bingeing terribly. I decided to brave the scales. When I saw 112kg, I sobbed. It seemed hopeless. In desperation mode I spoke to my GP and was prescribed a weight loss medication. The side effects were so extreme and scary that I lasted less than a week. I researched weight loss surgery options but struggled to come to terms with the drastic nature of it and was afraid. The only solution that stacked up was that I was going to need to do this the hard way. I would need to change my diet and maybe even exercise! I researched and joined an online challenge (Michelle Bridges 12WBT) that provided nutrition and exercise plans suitable for beginners and committed myself to it. I had to take my before photo. Again, I saw the image and cried. Six months after the birth of our youngest and I was bigger than ever. My online program ran in twelve week blocks and by the end of the first one I had lost over 15kg!
By late 2012 I had lost around 35kg. I felt amazing, my health was fantastic but I felt a bit stuck with my physique. I was clearly smaller in dimension than I was at 112kg but still had lumps and bumps that I wasn’t happy with. I felt like I was just a smaller version of the obese woman I had been.
I engaged a personal trainer and from the first session I was hooked. Training with weights I saw immediate changes to my body composition and really began sculpting the body I’ve wanted all along. After just 5 weeks training with heavy weights I had reached my initial goal weight and was thrilled at the tone and strength I had achieved. It was this experience that has led to the next great change in my life. I went on to compete in win in the INBA State Championships in Bikini and Bikini Mumma divisions. I qualified as a personal trainer and have continued my work as an fitness ambassador and returned to 'work' as a children's health and fitness advisor in a struggling area to help families in making better choices.
What types of foods did you used to eat as a kid and young adult? What's changed since then?
As a kid I was heavily rewarded with food. My Mum dieted a lot and would have 'break-out' and reward food and as a flow-on we had those too. 'Good' and 'Bad' foods were heavily ingrained in my mind as well as the need to be slim as a virtue. As a tween, teen and right into my early twenties I struggled with disordered eating and had a lot of quirks that kept me functioning but never entirely well. As soon as I met the love of my life (affectionately known on my blog as 'The Captain') a lot of my crazy fell away, which was great. Except that while I did stop a lot of my behaviours, I hadn't addressed the underlying issues properly and they soon appeared in the form of binge-eating.
Do you play any sports or what sports do you like watching?
I'm totally not a sports player or watcher! I sometimes wish I was! I tend to enjoy and therefore do a lot more solitary pursuits so am absolutely passionate about my strength-training in the gym, getting out for walks and sneaking in some yoga or pilates when I can.
What are your interests, passion and what makes you smile?
I'm a mum of two boys and every time the little monkeys cross my mind I grin like an idiot. They are the most joyous, funny, loving children I could have asked for and I feel crazily blessed to have them, That doesn't mean I don't scream like a banshee when I tread on Lego for the thousandth time in a day or am cleaning yoghurt off the floor AGAIN - but they make my life great.
I'm really passionate about making fitness for EVERY ONE. I think one of the many things that held me back (and still makes me pause sometimes) is the perfection that we see from the fitness industry. Perfectly chiselled and symmetrical abs, long lean limbs and crazy intense sessions without sweat and misplaced hair. I found/find it intimidating. I was 100% convinced that I would never look like that, so continuing to try felt futile. I still see it written on facebook feeds that I follow that "I'll never be below a size ---". I'm passionate about being a poster child for fitness after obesity. That your body is capable of far more than you give it credit for. I like being the girl who kicked obesity right in the face.
What was the catalyst that sparked your lifestyle change?
I couldn't imagine a life with my beautiful husband and gorgeous children looking and feeling the way I did at 112kg and crazily unfit. I felt like I didn't belong. I was so sure that my life should have been MORE. But I didn't know what. Or how. And I was terrified to find out.
What are some of your dreams/goals you hope to achieve over the next 12 months?
Life really heavy things! I'm training in a more power-lifting style at the moment and loving it! I'm setting huge goals and would love to get a 130kg back squat this year (I'm at 112.5kg at the moment) so there's a lot of work to do :) I love the work I'm doing with 12WBT encouraging men and women to start their own weight loss adventures. I don't mind if it's through this program, another program or just on your own - just get started :)
What tips would you like to share with my readers about your transformation?
Set big-a$$ scary goals! Honestly, when I first started losing weight, my goal was "be less fat" because I couldn't get my mind to stretch to ever not being fat, but only to being less conspicuously overweight. AS I got stronger I learned to dream bigger and always move towards those goals. Things that sounded ridiculous when I first dreamed them up are now my every day reality.
Drink water. I'm not even kidding. Just drink it. All of it. All of the time.
Celebrate every day. You get one life. Practise gratitude and relaxation. You'll be a happier, better and more attractive person for it.
List your social media if you would like people to follow you;
Do you want to encourage men and women to start their own weight loss adventures the way Bella did? Please share your amazing story here. Thank you so much Bella for sharing your inspiring journey.