My Journey To The Stage With Gemma Andrews!

I started my journey in June 2011. A large aspect of my life changed and I decided to compete in a 10k race. I started training and the PT I used at Fitness First was a bodybuilder and didn’t, surprisingly to me at the time put me straight on a treadmill. His plan consisted of lifting weights with short rest periods combined with minimal continuous cardio on the treadmill. I only ever ran a 10k as a practice on the treadmill once and my time wasn’t too bad, I felt fit and healthy and although difficult the preparation with weights had been enough. I came second in my race with a time of 51.6s, which I was pleased with.

Following this I struggled to find motivation and a goal in the gym. I knew I didn’t want to go back to running I wanted to do something different and whilst I still went to the gym the intensity of my workouts had gone and I started to turn in to one of those individuals that I now look at with a little bit of disappointment where by I was standing around talking, checking Face book and spending upwards of two hours in there. Don’t get me wrong I loved being there and I loved the environment, however I made a conscious choice at this point to transform my body in to what I wanted and to work hard for it! I needed to have a goal and that’s what I was missing, there was nothing for me to work towards. I looked at numerous pictures on the internet of bikini models and fitness models and one that stood out to me was Ana Delia De Itturrondo – Bikini Athlete. I looked at her physique and thought that’s what I wanted my body to be like and then my thought process took me to the point where I thought that if I had a body like that and she competes then why would I not compete and get some recognition for all of the hard work I put in and also inspire those around me. So I did the first thing that I thought I should do and dropped my calories from maintenance to 1300….first mistake.

I had initial drops in body weight and unfortunately I lost a lot of muscle. I then hit a sticking point and so decided that fat burners would be a good idea so I started taking them, again I had initial drops in weight and started to lean out, thermogenesis was at a maximum and I’d leave the gym a sweaty mess, this had to be good right?

Wrong, physiologically I was gradually destroying my metabolism and with all the caffeine I drank and pre-workouts I was exhausting my adrenal glands too, which regulate hormones within the body essential for fat loss and mobilisation of Proteins and Carbohydrates. Looking back I can’t believe that I treated my body in this way, I should have researched more and asked people around me what the best approach was. The fact is I didn’t and I’m positive that a lot of women hoping to lose weight do exactly what I did and drop calories, maximise the cardio and wonder why they don’t get to where they want to be!

Despite all of that my journey from that point on had been a positive one. My boyfriend suggested that I get in touch with a transformation specialist, Adam Gethin and see what he suggested. I spoke to Adam and he was incredibly positive about what I wanted to achieve. The first thing he did was increase my calories and guess what I started to drop weight. It wasn’t overnight and it wasn’t even in the first week. It took about 4 weeks for my body to stabilise and then another 3 for me to really start to notice a difference. I went from 63kg down to 56kg in an 8 week period with no cardio what so ever. It was gradual and more importantly I felt healthy and I had the body I wanted.

It wasn’t easy I was very strict with myself in terms of my diet and I think what people don’t mention about these extreme competition diets are the mood swings that come with it. It’s a struggle to not snap at everyone, you’re tired, hungry and your body is really being put through its paces. This is where you have to surround yourself with people that are positive, that can lift you up when you’re feeling awful, motivate and support you through the hard parts and understand what you’re going through. Make sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep (this is something I’m really guilty of not doing!) and give your body and mind the best opportunity to be at its best, that’s your responsibility in my eyes.

Being prepared is key, which involves all my meals being prepped and carried around with me in my Six Pack Bag, fitting in all my workouts and posing practice around work (even in the lift where there’s a huge mirror!), ordering my bikini and sending measurements every few weeks, creating my theme wear costume and working in partnership with a local seamstress to make it, having posing lessons in London with the marvellous Audrey Kaipio, seeking out the best to train with so my body is at its peak, making contact with other competitors and attending competition camps.

Hair, makeup and tanning is all a really important part of competition prep and I’ve opted to get someone to do all of this for me to reduce my stress levels on the final few days before competition. I’ve created a log for myself to help me remember what I need to do and when! Without it I’d be a mess.

Another aspect is the mental strength required to carry out such a rigid regime. You have to be prepared for the cravings and to put them to one side, it’s easier said than done and I’m not saying that I’ve been perfect along the way because I haven’t!

There have been days when I’ve felt so low that I have caved in and I’m ok to admit that because it is ok, being strong all of time wasn’t an option for me but being consistent was so I stuck to that. If you want to compete sacrifices have to be made, you have to be prepared for that. You have to be prepared to eat more than you’ve ever eaten before at regular times when going through a bulking phase. If you’re not prepared to do that then you’re wasting your time. If you’re not prepared to follow the diet and workout plans that your trainer sets you then don’t bother wasting their time or yours. If you want it that badly then the desire to be who and what you want to be will overcome the cravings for sweets and junk food.

I’m now 4 days out from competition at the Miami pro on 7th April – Fitness Model category and I feel fit, healthy and full of vitality. My body is responding how I want and my posing is pretty much nailed. If I were to offer any advice to anyone out there wishing to compete for the first time make sure it’s something that you absolutely want to do and are prepared to make the sacrifices at all costs! I have wanted to give up on numerous occasions and have really struggled with cravings, stress, lack of sleep and personal issues. Find a good trainer that has a proven track record of getting results and is reputable within the industry, do your research and work with them to get the best out of your body. Be as prepared as you can be mentally and physically, eat all of your meals and work with intensity in all of your workouts and most importantly be consistent and enjoy it and the rewards will be great!

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