WOW | Body Focus

So You Want To Be A Bodybuilder?

It’s day 15. Bodybuilding 1. Rachael 0.

Having crossed the line from being a person who goes to the gym to a person who lives at the gym- it did not take much convincing to get me to agree to a stint of bodybuilding.

Don’t get me wrong- I had a lot of reservations about this. It has taken me years to learn carbs are not the enemy and counting calories is not a solution. I knew this plan would involve dropping body fat, and I was feeling pretty comfortable where I was.

However, as someone in the food industry and the life coaching business, I quickly realised it didn’t have to be so dramatic. At least, to begin with, a few tightening up of healthy habits would go a long way. Plus, I know myself. I had already decided it was a good challenge. Me? Bodybuilding? I was laughing inside. But ready to leap straight into another fitness venture — a chance to learn about myself and how to be a better coach.

Month 1

Training: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 1.5-2 hours, including warmup, stretching and lying on the floor hoping to regain my thoughts before continuing with the day.

Cardio: Every day is a cardio day. Minimum 30 minutes- preferably more.

Here is what I have learned:

1. Bodybuilding is challenging on the body.

I know, I know. This should be obvious. But as someone who has spent hour upon hour lifting heavy weights, I am always surprised how taxing even light weights can be, not to mention the detail needed to move each muscle in its entirety. I am sure if you are standing anywhere near me, you can hear my inner voice yelling at my muscles, ‘Why don’t you work?’

2. Bodybuilding is challenging on the mind.

Each exercise requires concentration; moving the whole muscle, and not just one way- both ways, and this takes more mental work that you think. I am amazed that for years, I have managed to achieve so much at the gym without using my muscles effectively. I find myself willing my muscles to move. And sometimes they just don’t. There are days where it takes me hours to ‘get my mind working again’. I joke that I am waiting for my mind to settle back into my head, I am no longer sure it’s a joke.

3. To train well, you need to eat well.

Again, this is obvious, but when you are trying to gain muscle and lose fat; this is imperative. I am still not counting calories, nor have a reduced my diet to boiled chicken. I have instead chosen to note down portions of carbohydrates, protein and fat. I don’t track vegetables, but I eat six portions a day, this is a non-negotiable in my diet. I still eat out; but I focus on ordering lean protein, lots of veggies and in the evening, I don’t eat carbs (If I remember! I admit there have been a few days I have entirely forgotten until mid-bite). Each week when we review my training, and I adapt my food intake.

 4. To train well, you need to sleep well.

Eight hours a night is a non-negotiable; sometimes more. This means going home from dinners early, not binge-watching TV shows, and sometimes a power nap. Not to say this is what I have done the last couple of weeks- will call this life experience; Six hours sleep and bodybuilding do not go hand in hand.

You have to wonder if the training is so challenging and takes so much out of you; is it worth the work?

Two weeks in, although I am tired- I feel good. I feel strong and confident. It’s going to be a fun six months.

Rachael is a local entrepreneur and the founder of Fit Food Migration, food and lifestyle coaching celebrating food, movement and mind. Find her on