Sarah Hunter - Figure Competitor

It all started with the opportunity to give out prizes at Pure Elite Fitness Model Competition last April with Bio-Synergy who were one of the main sponsors of the event. How did I get invited? I'd taken part in their 12 week Body Transformation challenge back in October 2014 and I'd won the competition. I was invited to become an Ambassador on the back of this win which I gladly accepted but felt I was in the shadow of many finer athletes than myself. This was to have a profound effect on me and it inspired me to be one of those athletes.

At Pure Elite I'd had a conversation with one of the Bio-Synergy Team and he'd said to me "I'm sure you could get up there on stage and be one of those competitors in the Transformation Class", I jokingly said "No way would I dare get up on stage, wearing practically nothing staggering round in 5" heels". I came away that evening with this little seed planted in my head, it started to grow and then it became a reality. Before I could change my mind I'd entered 3 categories for the following April which was taking place in Margate.

A photo posted by Sarah Hunter (@sarahlh1964) on

My style of training suddenly became more focused, with discussion after discussion with my coach. He built a programme of building before the 'cut' which was to start in February. My training schedule consisted of a 3 day split, with a rest day on day 4, I was now focusing on separate muscle groups rather than all over body workouts. I took to this style of training quickly and began to see results, I became stronger and definition was appearing this in its self spurred me on. It was hard and it became all consuming meaning I had to give up social events in flavor of my training plan but I had my eyes on the goal and the only way I was going to reach it was if I gave the whole process 100%. My family and friends were very supportive and sort of understood why I couldn't just go out for fish & chips or an impromptu meal.

My food consumption also changed to a more detailed programme, I was now in the family of macros & calorie counting, weighing out all my portions and meal prep. Again this difficult to fit round my family which was probably one of the hardest parts but it became the norm and I prepped my own food and fed them separately again this was only, in my eyes, for a fairly short period of time and I needed to focus on the goal.

I was able to keep my calories high as I'd reached a plateau beforehand which meant I was able to reduce by very little and see significant changes. My calorie count to begin the 12 week process was 2000 and they gradually reduced week by week until I was down to 1600 the 2 weeks before the competition. I was fortunate that I did not find I got hungry because I was still eating fairly high calories, I also function better on a high fat/low carb diet so my training used that to an advantage. I suppose you could say this was a suck it and see process as it was the first time I and my coach had prepped for a competition, which meant he was learning along the way, he is a very experienced coach and I wholly respected his decisions with regard to my diet and training. I did weekly check in's with him, told him how I felt, what hurt, what didn't and generally anything that I felt effect my programme, warts and all!

At the time I was following several other athletes on social media who were also competing in the same competition as me. This had 2 scenarios for me, it made me question what they were doing as well as spurring me on. Several times I'd question why certain things were being discussed on the forum with my coach and his reply would always be ' you are you and I've given you a programme to follow which suits you and you alone, trust the process'. These words still ring true in my head and I often repeat them to others now, it is a personal process and what works for one will not necessary work for another, it's very easy to be drawn into others theories and then it disrupts your own process.

A photo posted by Sarah Hunter (@sarahlh1964) on

Shoes purchased, bikini purchased, tan booked, hotel booked, make up & hair sorted it was now up to me to get myself on that stage. I think the single hardest part of this who competition prep is the posing and it can win or lose you a placing. Swallowing my pride I blagged some studio time at my local gym and pranced up and down filming myself from every angle. It wasn't pretty and it took me plenty of guts to do it, this was on my own, what and earth was I going to be like in front of hundreds of people all staring at me?

As the weeks ticked by I became more confident in my body shape, my posing and my food prep was becoming the norm. Prep, for me, was becoming easier and I was surprised that I didn't fall into any traps of binge eating, I'd have a referee meal once a week to boost my metabolism and satisfy my cravings but apart from that I stuck to the plan and enjoyed it! Some of my fellow competitors were really struggling and I couldn't understand why but on reflection there were taking advice from several sources and I think that was messing with their plans and they were never going to succeed.

Competition day was here, I was tanned, made up, clad in a bikini and now it was time to put all this hard work into practice. Back stage everyone was nervous but it was such a community feeling supporting each other. My name was called and this was it, off I went, big smile on my face and all the butterflies contained and turned into adrenalin. As I reached the Centre of the stage I heard the sound of an air horn and shouting 'come on number 12' that came from my friends and family and instantly relaxed me and I enjoyed every single minute of my stage time, I can't describe how important it was having them there and how much of a buzz I got.

I'd entered 3 categories so I was able to experience that feeling again and again then finally taking 3rd place in the Masters category. Chuffed is an understatement all I wanted to achieve was to get on stage and placing was furthest from my mind but was a definite bonus.

I'm now hooked and looking to compete next year when I've built some more muscle and improved my overall appearance. I'd like to better myself and now feel I have the tools and support to do so. Building phase includes upping the calories to a point where I'm not putting any weight on but maintaining it, again a slow process but the more I can eat the better off my prep will be next time around. Training is now totally focused on building lean muscle and so I'm lifting heavy, low reps. I only do cardio for pleasure it's not strictly part of my programme, I tend to leave it to the Boot Camp I attend and as an extra.

This whole process has been a tremendous experience it has taught me so much about how you can manipulate your diet to change your body, how different types of training help or hinder and has also increased my self confidence. I still practice posing when the gym is quiet but I will leave that until nearer the time and I will get some professional help next time around too, in order to prefect my style.

I would advice any athlete wanting to experience the thrill of being on stage to do it, embrace the process and find a good coach and stick with them, trust them and believe you can do it. By all means follow others on social media but only use their information as a guide and don't try to implement it all into your own plan, it just won't work.

I'm a 52 year old Mum of 2 and if I can do it I'm sure anyone can!


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