Sarah-Louise Hawkins - Figure Competitor, MP Pro

I started when I actually felt really bad about myself and what I looked like due to previous relationships etc. I began training and a member of the gym I was at suggested I work towards something and enter a competition. I thought, this could not be any further than what I was, I was 12st 8, 28% ish body-fat and so uncomfortable in my own skin. I spent forever looking at fitness girls, having them on my phone background everything and wished I could be them, so I thought why not me? Why couldn't I do that? So I recruited a coach and began training for it. My first show I trained for around 12-14 months for and official prep was 17 weeks long.

During contest prep I find that cycling my carbs works really well for me. Using high carbs on the days I need a lot more fuel and low carbs on the days I'll be in work and just doing my cardio. Towards the end I'll really lower my carbs and Calories. They have been known to be as low as 10g a day and on 1,100 calories near a show which was awful. But my body has some extremely stubborn fat stores and I had made mistakes a long the way in my prep.

Sarah-Louise Hawkins

During off season I will try to higher my calories and carbs slowly and see what my 'ceiling' is to maintain a comfortable weight. I like to train a lot heavier and drop my cardio a bit lower during off season and really utilise higher carbs in order to grow. I'll use a lot of Potato, white and sweet ones and rice in my off season.

One show I prepped for 2 years ago I ended up dropping out of after 10 weeks of dieting as my coach had my carbs and calories way too higher still, I'm really quite sensitive to carbs so knew for me this was just too high and I wouldn't get my body fat low enough in time. This was upsetting after already dieting for 10 weeks with 6 more weeks to go. However, I wasn't at all happy with how I was coming in and wasn't going to go on the stage for the sake of it.

Training: I'm going to be honest, HIIT works fantastically but I HATE it. I would rather walk for an hour than do HIIT for 10 minutes. Steady State cardio works so well for me, it reduces my body-fat slowly and effectively and it's nice to get out of the gym sometimes and have a walk first thing in the morning. I weight train 6 days a week and really just mix it up. At the moment I have no set plan. I write out my diary for the week what I will train that day and I'll go into the gym and work with supersets and drop sets on whatever I tend to fancy that day. I balance it by separating the two. I like to do my cardio on its own either first thing in the morning or before bed. I like to have a few meals on board before I train weights.

A photo posted by Sarah-Louise | Fitness Model (@sarahlouiseff) on

I read Arnold Schwarzenegger book. It's REALLY inspiring even if you're not into Bodybuilding. He has an extremely unique Mind Set that I urge anyone to read that would like to step on stage. I condition my mind to thinking I am on only one on the stage and I deserve the placing I am awarded. I also think that after weeks and weeks of dieting and seeing your body change, that in itself gives you such confidence because you are in charge of how you look and how determined you are to succeed and that reflects in your physique when you're on stage.

During my last contest prep I did NOT feel confident throughout. I doubted myself the whole time and considered dropping out numerous times due to fact I was constantly listening to outsider opinions saying I wouldn't be lean enough, I wouldn't get enough fat off. etc. But I carried on and worked hard and by the time it came to my peak week I was happy. I could have done NO MORE or worked any harder. I really found having that 2-3 people around you that genuinely 'Believe' in you is what gets you through, even when you don't believe in yourself. The night before I was incredibly nervous and apprehensive of how I would wake up, flat, watery, etc. I woke up and thought YES - I've got it exactly right this time. I felt so happy with how I looked and I felt GOOD. I went on stage for prejudging and very very nervous. But after the initial walk on was over I just felt ready to show my hard work. By the time it came to the Final Show, I felt confident, happy and got 3rd placing with the Miami Pro Federation and was awarded my Pro Card.

A photo posted by Sarah-Louise | Fitness Model (@sarahlouiseff) on

Future plans are to continuing building my new YouTube and Facebook Channel - SarahLouiseFF.
I am to create a page to advise people, share tips, inspire others etc.
I also have a Documentary coming out on Female Bodybuilding by ThFree Reign Productions which will be out soon so that's very exciting.
Finally, I start my Prep for my next show which is a Pro Show in March so prep for that starts 27th November and I will be documenting that via my YouTube.
I can be found on all social media platforms; Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube at SarahLouiseFF or via my website

Student ditches her quest to be skinny and bulks up bodybuilding,, 25 June 2014

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