Anna Rhodes Personal Training - Anna Rhodes Personal Training

IMG_5830My initial interest in fitness began in my first year at university. This was not because I had gained the dreaded ‘freshers 15lb’ or because I was particularly unhappy with my appearance, but because I was suddenly surrounded by people who were interested in it. The boys in my flat had always been going to the gym, eating lots of protein, spooning peanut butter out the jar and all that, and then one time they showed me some plan they had found on Bodybuilding.com. Having never seen stuff like this before, or really any women who had great bodies because they were toned and muscular rather than stick thin, all of a sudden I had a burning desire to look like them. It was around the same time Jodie Marsh became a bodybuilder, and I seemed to be the only one who thought her body looked great. I quickly joined the gym, having never actually stepped into one before, and began lifting some weights. The rest was history…

I WISH!

Initial Weight Loss

That was about 4 years ago, and I can honestly say I still haven’t achieved that body I set out for and I probably never will. As with most fitness journeys, it was not plain sailing from that point. I started lifting for several months, started incorporating HIIT into my training, and even started following one of the diet plans. I remember I used to make digs at my flatmates for their excessive amounts of chicken taking up the freezer, and before I knew it I was begging my mum to get a Costco card so I could also bulk buy ‘protein’ sources. I experimented with cottage cheese pancakes, I bought Splenda instead of chocolates, and porridge oats became my staple breakfast instead of my beloved Coco Pops. After about a year and a half of on/off doing this, seeing hardly any difference to my body, I decided to really go for it before my third year abroad. I dieted pretty hard, following macros I had found using an online macro calculator, lost about 4kgs, and I felt great.

Travelling Abroad and the discovery of incredible food

Dr Layne Norton, in his podcast ‘physique science radio’, states “if you never want to gain weight, don’t diet in the first place.” Something I wish I knew before I ever tried to diet, and I will definitely talk about in future posts. Like most newbie dieters, I had unintentionally gone too extreme. I often ate less than 1200 calories a day – based on what a calculator had worked out for someone of my size and weight to be in a deficit. But this was not sustainable and most likely damaged my pretty good metabolism. I went to Australia, continued training and eating well but going out A LOT. Drinking A LOT. Not the relatively low calorie Sainsbury’s basics vodka and sugar free squash I had been used to in England, but the dreaded goon (for those that don’t know, its boxed wine, and its deadly. Not to mention its also hugely calorific.) I went round to my friends houses and ate cake whilst watching the Great British Bake off, a weekly little taste of being ‘back home’. Or just an excuse to pig out on cakes, but it was great. I went for froyo everyday. Everyday, without fail. I regularly ate Mexican, huge gourmet burgers, sushi, Thai, the list goes on. I smile thinking about it because those days were goooood. I had been relatively fussy before I went to uni, and so it was like discovering all this amazing food for the first time. But it was also really bad. I gained about 4/5kgs by Christmas and I was starting to notice my clothes weren’t fitting.

After the first semester, I had planned to go travelling around Australia and Thailand for our Christmas break, and I wanted to lose the excess weight fast. I opted for a shake diet. Oh I wish I knew now the damage this would cause. I started the first two weeks of travelling basically starving myself, with a shake meal replacement once a day. When I finished taking these shakes, my metabolism had taken another blow and was not used to eating large quantities of food. By the time I got back from Thailand, where I had been eating Thai Green curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner (with a couple of 7/11 toasties and pad thai’s thrown in throughout the day and not even mentioning the buckets in the evenings) I was about 8kg heavier than the six months previously. I also broke my foot, so I couldn’t even train if I wanted to.

But it didn’t stop here. I then spent another whole semester eating buffet food in my student accommodation (dangerous if your prone to eating like a pig at every given opportunity), before going away again to New Zealand. There, I spent hours on buses which stopped at the yummiest cafes along the way, and when they weighed me before my sky dive, I was shocked to see I had gained nearly 12kg in a year. 12 kilos. Two stone. Im 5”1. That’s a hell of a lot.

The ‘Keto’ Days

So when I arrived home, by this point literally hating myself, I was determined to change my appearance. This is when I decided to try out a ‘keto’ diet. It was extreme, but I lost a fair chunk of the weight I gained. I have a lot of experience with “ketogenic” diets, and have done my fair amount of research on them, so I will definitely go into more detail about them in future posts. Although it did work mostly, of course this diet was again too extreme, and I gained back a lot in a very quick period. 5kg in 2 weeks, to be precise. I was well and truly what they call a ‘yoyo’ dieter.

The decision to become a Bikini Competitor

I had often aspired to do Bikini competitions, as I thought it was a great challenge people put themselves through, and the bodies people achieved at the end were fantastic. I had never wanted to commit to this as I thought I didn’t have the time, didn’t want to miss out on social events, and thought I would never look good enough on stage. But mostly, I was too scared of people might say, people making fun of me, people thinking I was weird, etc, etc. But after mentioning it to a few of my closest friends and boyfriend, they emphasised that ‘what people think’ should never stop you from doing what you want to do, and if you really want something, then go for it. So I did. I dabbled with a couple of coaches, one of which was absolutely terrible but I won’t bore you with the details, and then eventually decided to join Showgirl Fitness, coached by Michelle Brannan. I have absolutely loved being part of the team, and after 22 gruelling weeks of endless cardio, on top of six gym sessions a week, and another stint at a Keto diet, I did it. I stepped on stage at Miami Pro in October and went on to win my height class, come second in Juniors, and win overall best stage Presentation. It was an amazing day. I had managed to lose a grand total of 15kg from my heaviest weight to my smallest weight.

And now today…

I have been travelling for the past three months since that point and attempted to find a good balance out here, where I don’t compromise my goals for competing, but I also don’t base my whole life around it. My love for travel is just as great as my love for fitness, but sometimes the two just don’t go hand in hand. It’s hard to say whether I really got the balance right, as I have to be honest that there has been times that this conflict of interests has been tough for me to deal with.  However, during a lot of my spare time out here I have been researching more and more around different fitness techniques, diet ideas, and just general stuff about health. I have learnt so much I felt it was a great time to set up a blog and share with you some of the information I have found, help others potentially not go through the dramas I have done in the past, and hopefully inspire some people to start their own fitness journey!

So there you go, a bit of a long winded explanation of how I ended up starting this blog, but I hope you enjoy reading my posts!

Anna xxx

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