My journey from depressed and obese to fit and fantastic.
BY RACHEL BOND
Name: Rachel Bond
City: Townsville, QLD
Occupation: Secondary Teacher (Chemistry)
Two years ago, at the age of 38, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and was obese, weighing 115kg, with a 52 per cent body fat reading. I was burnt-out from work and felt powerless in just about every aspect of my life.
I was not really living, just existing — working full-time and caring for two children, but not really caring properly for myself. I was not exercising regularly, felt lethargic and unfit, lacked confidence and was full of negative self-talk.
I knew something had to change, so I dropped some responsibilities at work and started to concentrate on improving myself. I was so nervous to enter the gym the first time. I thought the gym was only for skinny, young girls and not older, overweight mums like me.
A Bod Pod challenge was offered at my local gym, where the target was to use the Bod Pod to monitor body fat percentage and see who could lose the highest percentage in a 90-day time frame. Initially, I went to some boot camp and circuit classes, which was excellent in building some confidence and good habits. I lost 19kg in the Bod Pod challenge, but the winner was someone who had been using weights and not just doing cardio. It was at that point, and with my sister’s encouragement, that I thought I might try a weights program at the gym.
With the help of my sister, Renee Jezard, and trainer, Paula Pool, I managed to shed more than 50kg and competed in my first ever bodybuilding season in 2015.
My results exceeded all expectations:
- Townsville ANB Season B 2015: 1st in Over 35 Physique, Open Physique and Overall Physique,
- Queensland ANB State Championships 2015: 1st in Over 35 Physique, Open Physique and Overall Physique, and
- ANB Australian Titles: 3rd in Over 35 Physique and Open Physique.
One of my strategies in achieving these results was visualising where I wanted to end up, in terms of aesthetics. I searched online, found some images of physiques that I wanted to look like and put them above my desk at work. The daily reminder helped me to keep going.
Leading up to competing, like a true teacher, I made myself a star chart and gave myself a star for every day that I stayed 100 per cent committed to the nutrition and training plans. This helped me to get real with the little ‘cheats’ that were beginning to sneak in here and there. I taped this chart to the front of the pantry to remind myself of my goals.
I was extremely lucky to have supportive colleagues who took an active interest in my training and diet every day. They even stopped complaining about the smell of broccoli first thing in the morning if I was eating my breakfast at work. A large group of them came along to watch me compete for the first time, and I am so grateful for that.
The students also helped me stay motivated. I received so many well wishes and ‘I’m proud of you’ comments at work. I would run these positives in my mind when things got tough, and it really helped me through.
The highlight for me was definitely my very first competition. I had trained for two years and lost more than 50kg to be able to make it to the stage. My comp bikini was the very first bikini that I had ever owned. It was the first time that I had ever worn a bikini in public.
There I was, at 40, in my sparkly little number in front of hundreds of people, friends and family! Talk about conquering some body confidence issues! I have never felt so beautiful. Once I left the stage, I cried on my trainer’s shoulder and it felt like that cry came from my very soul. I conquered a few demons that day, and it was amazing!
I feel that bodybuilding has not only strengthened me physically, but also within. I had to change my mindset, which is probably one of the more difficult things to overcome. For the longest time, I thought of myself as fat and unfit. You become what you believe; your mind is your strongest ally, but can also be your biggest adversity.
I have finally learnt to love my body and what it can do, which is something I had not previously achieved in my 40 years of life. At 40, I am in the best shape of my life. I have managed to turn myself around from someone who was depressed and obese into a successful physique bodybuilder in the space of two years of hard work and dedication.
I hope to be a positive role model for my two daughters and that they learn to love the body they have been blessed with and to realise that with a bit of hard work, achieving your dreams is possible.