I’ve always struggled with body image. My weight has constantly fluctuated, as has my self esteem. I struggle with motivation and consistency. Some weeks I will be super excited to make a change and go to the gym 5 days, and then other weeks I’ll be a couch potato, eat and sleep.
I was scrolling through Instagram one night, when I saw a photo of a girl I used to go to school with, and I thought “she looks great!”. Some time and a little stalking later, I found her fitness Instagram @Claudiasfitdiary and holy moly was I inspired AF! I felt like I had to reach out to her and ask her about her journey and how far she has come. And maybe, just maybe, I’d find some inspiration within myself too.
23, vegan, and motivated to succeed
Claudia started body building when she was around 20 years old and although she looks amazing in her before and after photos it has not always been smooth sailing for her – mentally or physically.
Like many other women, Claudia has struggled with self image issues, comparing herself to unrealistic body standards online.
“After returning from a Europe trip with my fiancé in 2015, I felt miserable and had put on 5-6kg during the 5-week holiday. Prior to leaving for Europe, I had tried to complete Kayla Itsines BBG numerous times and had developed some pretty unhealthy body image thoughts.
After my trip to Europe, I signed up to a gym for the first time ever. I had a personal trainer who worked out of the gym. I saw him twice a week and he had me on some ridiculous low-calorie meal plan (around 1400-1500). After 8 weeks of being with him, I had only lost 2kgs and I wasn’t following my meal plan at all. At this stage I was binge eating and vomiting my food up afterwards. I saw a psychologist for this after my fiancé told my mum what was going on.”
During the beginning of Claudia’s journey, she recalls numerous times where she felt discouraged and wanted to give up because she didn’t see results “I would go days without getting to the gym or tracking my macros properly. This resulted in me feeling discouraged when I didn’t see results. It was a viscous cycle!”
Eating disorders and disordered eating, together are estimated to affect over 16% of the Australian population. It is no surprise that self images issues are on the rise, with the increase of young people on social media comparing themselves to photoshopped mages of beautiful men and women.
“Social media also played a huge role. There were times during my prep when I would scroll for hours on Instagram comparing myself to other girls who had competed. Many times I felt disheartened and almost gave up. In the end I pulled myself together got on with it.”
“A few months later I moved to Melbourne and signed up with an online coach who focused on creating strong-minded women. This was when I really got into body building. I was following a 12-week program that focused on the three main lifts: squats, deadlifts and bench press. I was also following a flexible dieting approach to eating, and I still follow this to this day. Despite being with this coach, I barely lost any weight and I wasn’t tracking my macronutrients properly, eating sneaky spoons of peanut butter at night time. I was also occasionally vomiting my food up after eating too much.
In November 2016 everything changed. I found my current coach on Instagram after following her for ages. I completed an 8-week program with her, and admittedly I wasn’t compliant at all. It wasn’t until I signed up to her 12-week transformation challenge in January 2017, that it clicked. I stuck to the program to a T and I can honestly say I fell in love with health and fitness.
After attending the Arnold Classic Sports Festival in 2017, I decided I wanted to compete in a body building competition. I spent the rest of 2017 preparing for my first competition that was in March this year. My 12-20 week prep for the competition was hard to say the least. My first show left me feeling lost and defeated when I didn’t get a place, after giving my all in the gym and being so strict with my diet. After my second competition gone, I can say I am completely in love with the sport! The absolute joy of achieving a goal I set over a year ago.”
“My second competition was just recently at the end of April. I flew up to Brisbane for this one and stayed with my coach. It was with the Australian Women’s Natural Body Sculpting (AWNBS) federation. I placed in all three of my divisions, 2x second place, and 1x third! So stoked!”
Although Claudia’s workout and food regime has toned down in intensity now that she is not prepping for a show, she’s still in the gym 5 days a week trying to gain some more muscle.
“Now that I’m not prepping for a show, I’m trying to gain some muscle. This means I’ll be eating in a calorie surplus. I essentially eat the same foods as I do when I’m prepping, but in larger quantities! I’m also able to eat more of the foods I love. I’m also a big fan of baking! So, I’ll be trying lots of vegan recipes as my calories increase.
My training will definitely tone down. I’ll still be in the gym about 5 days a week, and I won’t be doing prescribed cardio (unless I feel like it). I’ll be enjoying my training and will be trying to hit some PB’s.”
Claudia’s advice to those wanting to start body building, or just wanting to get fitter in general is be selfish and set goals!
“Not all progress is linear and don’t expect results ASAP. I went through a lot of trial and error in terms of training and nutrition, and it took me years to find my balance. Also, don’t let other people determine your happiness or affect your goals. If going to bed early and missing out on a crazy night of drinking so that you can get up early for the gym is important to you, then do it! Put yourself first and be selfish in your pursuit to reach your goals.
Find a trainer or coach, someone to keep you accountable every week. Another thing that has helped me tremendously, is to set goals. Set daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals! There is no better motivator than achieving something you set your mind too. It could be as simple as: ‘this week I will bring a prepared meal to work every day rather than buying my lunch’, or; ‘tomorrow I will set my alarm for 6am and get to the gym’.”
I think the most important part of Claudia’s journey is not the physical transformation, but the mental transformation.
Follow her in Instagram for some inspiring, motivating and yummy vegan content at Claudia’s Fit Diary.
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