I joined Atrium Fitness about 2 years ago after deciding to retire from competitive cheer leading. I started going to the gym 5 times a week where I used to do about 30 to 45-minute workouts with weights. Mondays and Fridays, I attended the morning HIIT and Insanity classes.
Somehow along the way I started to lose motivation. I ate super clean during the week and when the weekend arrived I just ate all the junk food possible (starting with a big Chinese takeaway on Friday nights).
I didn’t have anything that would make me push hard in every workout or that would stop me from eating the whole supermarket during the weekend. I didn’t think I looked bad, or I was fat or anything like that, so I just didn’t put in that much effort.
One night during a holiday in Prague I started thinking that if I wanted to achieve the physique I always dreamed off, I had to make a change and stop sabotaging myself on the weekends. That is when I decided that I needed to do something out of my comfort zone that would actually make me stick to a meal and training plan 100%.
At the time I had created an Instagram account (@rayrayhudson) so I could post pictures to slowly track my progress, follow people in the fitness industry that would motivate me to work out and give me workout ideas, etc. Many of the girls I followed were bikini competitors, and after seeing their before and after pictures that night, that’s when I realised what I needed to do: Register for a bikini competition.
The thought of having to step onto a stage in a tiny bikini in front of hundreds of people would really help me stay away from foods I shouldn’t eat and work my butt off at the gym in every session.
Then it came the part where I had to find a federation that had a competition super late in the year (I needed enough time to prepare because my physique was miles away from a bikini competitor) and I had to find a coach. Yes, you can prepare for a competition by yourself, but as you have read already I was not great at sticking to a plan. My main goal was to be disciplined with my nutrition and training, and for that I needed a coach that was there pushing me in every workout, and that could teach me all I needed to know about nutrition (what to eat, when to eat, etc)
I was doing a self-defence course at Atrium Fitness and Matt Nice was the instructor. I asked him if any of the PT’s at Atrium Fitness had ever prepared anyone for a bikini competition as I needed a coach. He offered to be the one who could prepare me for that. I didn’t know then, but I was super lucky he decided to take me in.
March 30th, 2017 marks the beginning of my fitness journey towards my first ever bikini competition. Looking at the before pictures makes me super proud of what I have achieved!
It is said that abs are made in the kitchen, and I have to tell you, that is soooooo true. You can train super hard at the gym and do all the cardio, but if you go to McDonalds afterwards or eat a tub of ice cream, then all that previous hard work is for nothing.
You need to have in mind that the success of your progress depends 80% on your nutrition and 20% on your training. It is a hard reality to process, because we all LOVE food, and having to learn to eat clean is difficult. Unless you have studied nutrition, you won´t necessarily know what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it to achieve your goal. Each goal has special nutritional needs. What someone eats to build lean muscle is very different to what someone eats that wants to lose body fat. That is why it’s super important to book a couple of PT sessions at the beginning of your “New You” Journey to get a training and nutritional plan that suits your goal. Your PT will help you learn to perform exercises correctly in order not to injure yourself and to work the correct muscles.
It is not easy to start a new nutrition plan and stop eating things you love, but once you learn how to eat healthy, it’s pretty easy to stick to it. There are many different approaches that you can follow – Keto, Intermittent Fasting, IIFYM, Paleo, etc – and the key is to find the one that suits you best, as that will make it easier to follow.
In my case we did IFFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), where Matt gave me the number of calories a day and per meal. I could choose any food that would fit those macros. IMPORTANT: Anything that fits the macros, but choosing the foods that have a better nutritional value, for example: Complex Carbs over Simple carbs. Simple carbs are like quick-burning fuels (White bread, sweets, regular pasta). They break down fast into sugar in your system. Complex carbs are usually a better choice. It takes your body longer to break them down (whole-wheat bread, pasta and oats, etc).
While embarking yourself in a fitness journey, one of the most important things is being mentally strong. Not only do you need to fight the urge to have some ice cream or popcorn while watching Netflix, but you need to accept that changes don´t happen overnight.
It was hard for me not seeing my body fat going down at the beginning (I was bulking to build muscle and having 2500 calories a day) and not seeing it going down fast enough a few weeks before the show (cutting to shred and having 1200 calories – total Keto diet – and 2 hours cardio a day). However, it is very, very important that you trust the process and your coach.
I am living proof that even though you might not see the results as quickly as you like, the results come if you are disciplined. Please also remember to take progress pictures every now and then. You don´t see the changes because you look at yourself in the mirror every day, but when you compare pictures you will then be able to see, and it will motivate you to work harder!
If you are thinking of competing, you also need to know that the last week before show day (Peak Week), will be the hardest as you will be trying to lose all the extra water in your body and your carbs will go down even more. It sucks but you will love it as it´s in those last few days when you will see your body drastically change and all those muscles pop.
I am super proud of what I have accomplished this season. What was going to be a one-off competition, whose goal was just to get onto a stage and show off the six months of hard work and discipline, became three shows in a month. Three shows where I placed top 3 in everyone, received 2 pro cards and came first place at the Pro Championships receiving the title of World Professional Model Champion!!!
It’s a great reward, for me and my coach, to have 2 bronze trophies, a silver and a gold medal to back you up.
I would like to thank Matt for all the effort he has put into every session we had leading to this amazing competition season. He has been training me since day one, making me look the best I have ever looked. He has been there supporting me in every step of the way and shouting my number in every single show. I owe you the world and wish you all the best in your future PT journey training more and more bikini girls. Bring it on! More champions coming your way.
And last but not least, I would like to thank Atrium Fitness for believing in me, and being my sponsor for the British Finals and Pro Show. Thanks to their support I was able to achieve more that I could have dreamed of.