From nerd to fitness model

Updated: Aug 21, 2020


'It's easy for you, because you're thin'. 'I don't have time to cook or exercise'.

First thing's first. I have not always been fit, lean or healthy. I hated sport as a kid, and I was a typical nerd during high school. I am notoriously bad at 'picking' (ie, eating food because it's there, and I can) and I was not one of those people who could eat anything I liked and burn it off. I didn't realise it at the time, but by 18 years old I had put on quite a bit of body fat, I didn't exercise enough and I certainly didn't think about the foods I put into my mouth.

It wasn't like I was a complete couch potato. I started dance classes when I was a little kid in fairy ballet and continued to take classes each week until I was in my mid teens. As a 15 year old at an all girls school, I started to feel more conscious of my body shape and wanted to look thinner and be 'skinny' like the girls in the magazines my friends and I read. My brilliant plan was to simply eat less in a day - a 'good' day might look like cereal for breakfast, a plain bread roll and a bottle of juice at lunch, maybe a piece of fruit in the afternoon, and spaghetti for dinner. No treats, and not a lot of food - so pretty good, right? Add to that countless hours of exercises on my lounge room floor that I found in glossy magazines promising toned legs and a flat stomach. Obviously - as a female - I would stick to high repetitions of body weight exercises like crunches and planks etc. I didn't have any interest in lifting weights because I didn't want to put on bulky muscles.


Less food, and more exercise seemed to make sense. So, I would try to go that extra hour without eating, and make myself spend ten minutes doing crunches every day. I'd do that on and off, not particularly interested in my body but self-conscious enough that I'd inevitably return to the eat less, exercise more habits. It's funny - even though I can clearly recall putting all of this energy into fretting about my body and diet, I don't remember ever actually feeling fit or healthy.


Years later, I realise that I wasn't eating enough, I wasn't eating the right foods, and I was too obsessed with repetitive body weight exercises for the sake of 'burning calories'. All this did was make me feel bad and resolve to do better the next week. Now, I can see that for every time I skipped a meal or a snack, I just ate twice the amount (of pasta) later.


I firmly believe that it's about small, smart steps to achieve big results. I can see that there are no generic rules to follow to reach your goals - it depends on you and your unique body.

I can admit that I was not happy in my body, I tried not to think about it and I didn't prioritise my health. When it all seemed too hard, my tendency was to take the easy way out and just believe that it was easy for thin girls because they just looked like that naturally, and besides, I didn't have any time to exercise because I had to study to get into University and chase my dream job. I'd been looking at it all wrong. Each and every person has the ability to create change and build a stronger, healthier and happier mind and body.


Often, this requires eating more food, more often. Not less. Foods that will make you feel fantastic and have the energy to perform at your best in all aspects of your life.

And it's not about lots of mindless exercise routines. Lifting weights certainly won't make you 'bulk up' (these, days, I wish it did!), but it will get you lean and make you look and feel 10 x better.


Often, this requires eating more food, more often. Not less. Foods that will make you feel fantastic and have the energy to perform at your best in all aspects of your life.

And it is entirely possible to lean up, feel fantastic and perform at your best in all aspects of life. I used to spend most of my day in a cubicle in a busy office. I balanced deadlines, an unpredictable schedule, food prep, 8 hours of sleep, training, hobbies and a social life. I prioritised all of the little things to made sure that each day I still protected my time to relax and reset. I trained smart to maximise my results and recovery. And if you do it right, it really should be pretty simple and sustainable. The funny part is that all the things I would have put ahead of my health - study, a career, personal and professional duties - all become better if your body is functioning as it should. I completely transformed my body and my health while at the same time completing a law degree and vying for a graduate job. Sure, there's sometimes obstacles in the road, but that's life. For the most part, health and fitness shouldn't be a burden, and you shouldn't have to sacrifice the things (including the foods!) you love to prioritise it.

I firmly believe that it's about small, smart steps to achieve big results. I can see that there are no generic rules to follow to reach your goals - it depends on you and your unique body. The fitness industry constantly bombards us with ideas of '12 week challenges', strict protocols and extreme restriction. It'd be pretty reasonable to think that it's an arduous process, and there's no room for slip ups. But if you apply an intelligent approach, listen to your body and practice patience, that's just not the case.

Take home message


So, my before and after lesson? It's far more than just a physical transformation. It's cultivating the right attitude to your health, body and performance.