For scuba diving instructor Emma Ascher, having a healthy mind and body was vital to her everyday self-confidence out on the water. After letting her diet and exercise habits slip and feeling less than comfortable in her denim cut-offs, she rekindled her love of the weights room and is back looking taught, toned and terrific.
Three months ago I was living and working on a tiny island in Thailand, which meant I spent a lot of time in a bikini. I had never been overweight but in the preceding months, I had gotten out of shape and I decided something needed to be done. Around the same time, my friend gave me a copy of WH&F and I read it cover to cover! I was hooked and decided the BodyBlitz challenge was exactly what I was looking for.
After registering, I joined the only gym on the island. It was tiny and dominated by men. I felt really intimidated at first and just bumbled around trying out different machines. But then I did some research and put together some fitness plans with the help of WH&F, bodybuilding.com and YouTube. Within a couple of weeks I felt much more confident and I developed a passion for lifting.
This challenge has given me everything I could have ever wished for. It provided focus and an end date to aim for. I have seen big changes in my body and overhauled my attitude and mindset. My confidence and passion for life has been reignited and I have no intention of stopping my fitness journey anytime soon.
Read on for her thoughts on overcoming challenges, workout motivation, treats and goals.
On overcoming challenges:
The biggest obstacles I faced were the after-work drinks and the treats my boyfriend would bring home for me. Convincing other people that I was serious about a lifestyle change was the most difficult thing.
The first week was the hardest in adapting to the healthy eating and exercise. Getting up early to work out, and eating vegies instead of pizza, is tough to start off with. But after just one week I could see and feel the changes and that spurred me on. After the first month, I was in a groove and it became more of a habit. My body clock adjusted to the early mornings and exercise made me feel accomplished for the rest of the day. My taste buds changed and I craved fruit and vegies instead of processed, high-salt carbs.
On workout motivation:
Exercise was initiated because I wanted to lean down and muscle up, but it goes way deeper than that now. It improves my mood and confidence, which reflects back in my career, relationships and ambitions.
On food swaps:
My attitude to food changed a lot. I now view food as fuel for my body and not just a pleasurable pastime! I still enjoy food but now my body craves clean protein and vegetables.
I moved country right in the middle of my challenge, which meant living with my parents for a few weeks. They were incredibly supportive and my mum had a fridge stocked with fresh foods. After a couple of weeks, they were noticing the weight loss too.
I did occasionally indulge myself but I would try and be smart about it. If I knew I was going out for dinner, I would eat really clean for breakfast and lunch so I could enjoy a full meal without feeling too much guilt. I would combine my family events with cheat meals and I would make sure I trained legs the day after to put the extra calories and energy to good use. This prevented me from any guilty feelings the day after that were sure to derail me from my end goal.
The ‘before’ pictures are a necessary evil. They were depressing to take because I didn’t like what I saw but they definitely helped motivate me to change. The ‘after’ pictures are much more fun and are an even bigger motivation to continue. My after picture will one day be my new before picture!
‘Before’ and ‘after’ measurements work the same way. The before measurements can be demoralising, but it’s also the first area you see changes. I think documenting pictures and measurements are vitally important to showing progress and maintaining motivation.
Having an end goal date really helped me stay on track through the challenge. And knowing that I had submitted those awful ‘before’ pictures made me determined to see as big of a change as I could manage in the time allowed. I never want to look like that again.
My new goal is to live a happy, full and balanced life. My diet and exercise is always a top priority for me but I realise that sometimes you just have to live. I love my active and clean lifestyle, but if I fancy a drink and dinner with my man, then I’m going to go for it. I hope to inspire other women out there and make them realise that it’s never too late to start a healthy lifestyle and to regain control of your body and mind
What she did
Monday: 30 minutes on Stairmaster and weight training (glutes and hamstrings)
Tuesday: 20 minutes on Stairmaster, 20 minutes on treadmill walking on an incline and weight training (shoulders and arms)
Wednesday: Yoga class and weight training (legs)
Thursday: 30 minutes on Stairmaster and weight training (back, chest and abs)
Friday: 20 minutes on Stairmaster, 20 minutes on treadmill walking on an incline and weight training (glutes and hamstrings)
Saturday: Functional fitness class and foam rolling
Sunday: Rest day