When I walked into the gym at first, I felt terrified. I was wise to start with exercises that did not require gear. At 33, I’d done some Zumba classes or fitness classes, but that was about it.
In the gym, I felt self-conscious as other people used weight machines, also what appeared to be expertise. I didn’t know what to do and felt completely lost. If I hadn’t already paid for personal training, I would have turned and run.
“I want to tone up and get fitter,” I admitted to my new trainer.
It was 2019 and my marriage had recently ended. I was a single mother to my four-year-old daughter Angelina, and I’d been feeling quite low. My confidence had also taken a knock.
I felt constantly exhausted, frustrated, and angry. I began to recognize the need for my self-esteem, which was related to feeling able to cope in those areas.
I was running out of options after I failed to exercise consistently, which is when going to the gym was my final option.
What did Natalie do before she started working out?
Natalie in her training gear
At first, I found it unique and awkward how my trainer challenged me with squats and deadlift bar workouts. Eventually, I became confident and enjoyed the routine, too.
When I felt so great, I started to amp up my workouts twice a week because of how great I was feeling. I had not expected to have an uptick on my workout routines, but I did.
What helped me achieve this in a matter of months.
A forearm workout can be strenuous if you don’t learn the proper technique. You must use all your weight, take short but quick movements, and avoid weighing yourself on the wrist or palms to prevent injury.
I noticed I wasn’t only toning up and getting fitter, but my mental health improved. I had bags of more energy and life was busy with all the work I had to do, given I was a single mother.
However, I realized how important my workouts were to my mental and physical health, so I ensured that I made the time. Soon, I was going to the gym five times a week.
In eight months, I had increased my deadlift to 120 kg–a feat that I never thought possible.
How Natalie has achieved her goals.
At the age of thirty-four, I knew that there was a higher level of discipline to bodybuilding when you hadn’t enjoyed the same types of rewards at that point in your life.
In 2021, when I was 35 years old, my trainer asked me if I’d ever considered competing as a bodybuilder. This came from my momAndy’s blog of the week.
How could I be in my mid-thirties and never train to be a bodybuilder? Well, months ago an aspiring bodybuilder was writing to me on Instagram and suggesting that I compete. That very same day, I decided to make a workout schedule consisting of plyometrics, weighted resistance training, and planks. It’s no wonder I could lift more than before!
Because muscle mass and strength require a lot of focus and discipline as you age, the older you get, it gets harder to build a lean body.
Though I am old, I still do things that many people my age might find too hard.
Plus, I already work out for at least an hour five days a week, so I figured it would be no big deal to try keeping up with the pace of these workouts. So I decided to give them a go just to see if it could work for me.
I had to increase my workouts to two hours per day, five days a week.
My diet needed an overhaul to meet the goals of building muscle. I had to eat up to 3,000 calories each day – chicken and rice or protein shake mostly – to help me bulk up for my boxing workouts. There was one cheat meal allowed every week, but that was it.
Within a year of following a fitness plan, I achieved the body I wanted. I felt strong, powerful, and sexy.
Natalie is wearing angel wings
Even my friends and family were supportive, with some people making a few snide remarks about my transformation. One day, I wore a sleeveless top and one person made an off-handed comment about wanting to be able to see my arms.
I was shocked – it’s outrageous that some people think they can openly comment on my body. What’s not OK is comparing one person to another who looks much different from them. It’s a double standard.
Critics might not seem to take compliments, even though hard work was put into my appearance. It could be presumptuous of other people, considering I have worked hard for this look.
After losing 53lbs in just 12 months, this May, I entered my first ever bodybuilding competition.
I had to wear a bikini and do pre-planned poses in front of everyone, which is serious business. I had to do posing lessons over Zoom with a specialist coach.
The older I got, the more Angelina enjoyed being a part of my practices.
I also had to order a bikini that would highlight and define my muscles, have specialist fake tan applied, and be ready for use before trip day.
On that day, I was so nervous. In my category, Athletic Figure, there were women with more experience – which made me not believe it when I came second in the contest. I was ecstatic, and it gave me such a confidence boost.
I entered a Fit X competition in Birmingham. My performance had to be done in 60 seconds and I came first in my category. I was thrilled and so proud