body building

The surprising way bodybuilding changed my life

Recreational Bodybuilding

I am not a professional bodybuilder or bikini model and I don’t aspire to compete on stage in a bikini anytime soon or –  ever! In the bodybuilding industry, I’m what you call recreational bodybuilder.

Over the past 20 years I’ve had countless personal trainers and been a member of many different programs and gyms but I lacked commitment and motivation and more often than not I had no clear plan and my results weren’t measured which led to even more apathy on my part.

When I was first introduced to bodybuilding I was your average 30 something mum looking to lose weight and improve my appearance. My local training studio promised I didn’t need to do any cardio and that I could still lose weight as long as I followed an eating plan and lifted some weights twice a week.   It sounded too good to be true!  I decided to give it a go.

Bodybuilding Life

Bodybuilding is a multi-million dollar industry and while there are many professional competitors and aspiring bikini models and title holders, there is also a growing number of everyday people enjoying the benefits that the training provides.

I’ve been “lifting heavy” as they call it in the industry now for over two years and it is a really different lifestyle, one that I had never been exposed to before and to be honest would never have appealed to me in my younger days.

In order to achieve their goals, bodybuilders aim to improve their performance each week by pushing their body to extremes to lift heavier and heavier weights. They are religious about their food by weighing every morsel and are extremely committed to their healthy lifestyle. The people I have met in this industry are incredibly inspiring and so disciplined that it makes you look at your own lifestyle choices with a new perspective.

Creating new habits

Over the years as I have become more and more committed and I have incorporated many of the bodybuilding habits into my own life in order to achieve my lifting goals.

Adopting some of these habits has meant that I have had to get used to certain stereotypes and jibes from those who don’t lift or even go to a gym. Some people think that I’m weird because I eat the same meals every day and prepare my food, days in advance. And there is also the real and perceived pressure to drink alcohol when I go out.  Then there are those who love to tell you that you’ll get bulky or assume you want to look like a man which is not true! Perhaps the most frustrating though is my loving but over-anxious parents who tell me I will break my back and blame my weight training for even the smallest ailments.  Having said that, all the negative and crazy comments are worth putting up with for the benefits I’ve received.

As I’ve said, I am not a professional or even close to feeling comfortable in a bikini but what I’ve gained from recreational bodybuilding is surprisingly far more important to me. It has changed my life in ways I never thought possible.

Here’s what I have learned

1. That it’s ok to put my needs first when it matters. I used to worry that I would upset my mum if I didn’t eat her meals when she invited me over for dinner or that if I invited guests to my house, even family, that I’d somehow offended them if I ate my diet meal but cooked them something different. Yes, the first few times were uncomfortable but now I’m ok with it.  My goals are more important than other peoples feelings.

2. The importance of consistency, not only with healthy eating but also with my life goals. If I miss a week of training or eat poorly or drink too much, it means I go backwards in how much I can lift, so it’s a physical reminder of how important it is to be consistent. With my other goals, it’s taught me to consistently take action every day, regardless of how small that action is.

3, That I can live without alcohol. If I hadn’t started weight training I would never have figured this out. There is really no worse feeling than recovering from a boozy weekend and trying to lift a weight you have never done before. It’s enough to turn you off alcohol for good. I do still enjoy a drink just not the day before a gym session.

4, That I’m stronger than I could ever imagine and my body is capable of amazing things. If you told me I could deadlift 110 kilos, squat 85 kilos or benchpress 50 kilos for reps 5 years ago, I would have thought you were mad, but now that’s what I do and it feels great.

5. Your mind decides everything! How you think and what you say to yourself determines the results you get.  I’ve learned to focus my mind on achieving my goals and reduce the negative chatter.

6. To be disciplined around the things that matter because it’s the discipline that creates freedom. When you are intentional about what you want to achieve and you have enough self-discipline to practise or follow through even when you don’t feel like it, you get results.

Which of the above resonates most with you? 

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Sarah x


  1. Katie

    What a wonderfully insightful piece Sarah, I agree with all of your comments. I’ll recommend all of my clients read this!

  2. I think a lot of people will appreciate this blogg, it’s a great read, Thankyou Sarah. Keep doing what you’re doing

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