Posted by on Aug 13, 2013

Member Spotlight

This week we feature a woman who is truly indomitable. If you have a member you’d like to nominate for a Weekly Member Spotlight, send an email to!

Username: chemicalika
Level: 33

How did you get started in fitness and training? 
I’ve actually always been into various fitness type activities. When I was a child I was an avid gymnast and slightly less avid ballerina. As I grew up, I joined various classes and a few gyms. I found San Chia Chuan Kung Fu when I moved to my current city and loved it. I joined a gym and spent £50 and upwards per month becoming that person that goes to the gym three times a week for years and makes absolutely no progress. I spent a long time feeling like I was destined to be fat – I was doing everything right, surely?

In late August 2011, I stepped onto the scales in the gym and it felt like I’d been hit by a truck. How could I weigh 15stone (210lbs)? I knew I was a size 18 UK, and I knew I was miserable with how I looked, but for some reason it hadn’t hit me before that things had got to that point. A few minutes later a personal trainer approached me (I guess he must have seen me on the scales) and offered me a deal – so much for so many sessions. I decided it was time to bite the bullet, forget the cost and invest in me, so I went for it. He taught me the basics of nutrition, which (looking back now should have been entirely obviously) was my main problem. I had about four sessions with him before he moved away, but by then I felt pretty confident I could handle things myself.

How did you find the site? How has it changed your workouts? 
I found the site because someone I knew on twitter kept tweeting how many points she’d earned, so I thought I’d have a look.

It’s changed my workouts hugely. When I joined, although I was on my way with my weight loss, I was still doing the same thing at the gym and starting to feel bored – 40 minutes of cardio and then various machines. Through reading the forums, I learned that weight lifting was going to be better for me than what I was currently doing. I went to my gym and told the instructor I wanted to start strength training. He gave me a programme that focused on the suspension trainer. Don’t get me wrong, I think it can be a fantastic tool, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for and I wondered if it was because I was a girl. It didn’t take long to realise that it was because my gym only had a smith machine and some fixed barbells. So I quit that one, went to one with a proper rack and haven’t looked back. I started on Starting Strength in November 2012 and have just moved on to Wendlers 531.

Do you have any long term goals or direction you plan to take your training? 
At the moment I’m still looking to lose weight. I got down close to my goal, but fell off the wagon food-wise (my job has been super stressful this year and I gave myself permission to comfort eat as a result – I’m now trying to undo the damage). Also trying to get as strong as possible. I’d like to get my black belt in Kung Fu sometime soon. But mostly right now I’m concentrating on passing my qualification to become a personal trainer. If there’s one thing Fitocracy has taught me, it’s how much I love fitness and healthy eating. I found myself wanting to talk about it with everyone. People who said ‘wow, you’ve lost some weight’ to me would end up with me talking at them for half an hour or more about it. So when I realised how much I wanted to get out of the field I’m currently working in, it seemed like personal training was the natural way to go. I hope to qualify in November this year.

What are things you’ve learned through trial and error? What areas do you hope to learn more about? 
Food has been the biggest thing I’ve had to learn through trial and error. It’s taught me a lot about myself. I’ve found that I’m definitely an all-or-nothing girl. I have to be super strict with myself, because as soon as I give myself permission to have something once, I find it difficult to stop again. If I buy a pack of cookies, I’m eating a pack of cookies, not just one. With regards to what I want to learn more about, that’s nice and simple. I want to learn everything. I want to try out all kinds of exercise because you never know what’s going to click with you.

Currently, where would you say your weakness lies? Where do you excel? 
I’m seriously impatient. Sensible, grown up head knows that training takes time and effort, but it doesn’t seem to stop the other voice in my head having a tantrum when I step on the scales – ‘but I’ve been really good ALL WEEK, why have I only lost a pound?’. I suppose the flip side is that I have the dedication to just keep pushing through. Or I hope so – and I guess it’s why people who aren’t so into fitness keep looking at me like I’m crazy…

What motivates you? 
Remembering how I used to feel and how I used to look. My physical metamorphosis hasn’t just been in my weight loss. Losing the weight gave me the confidence to change other things as well. I made the change to wearing only contacts and also got my teeth fixed about a year ago. Neither of these were things other people necessarily noticed about me, but I feel so much better about my appearance having made the changes.

Are you using any supplements or special dietary changes to achieve your goals? 
Supplements wise, I only use whey protein. I have two scoops in the morning with water for my breakfast and then a scoop with Greek yogurt and sometimes a mashed up banana and/or peanut butter as a pre bedtime snack. For diet, I try and eat as much protein as possible (normally just under a gram per pound of lean body weight) and track my calories. I know right now that keeping my calories low will be interfering with my lifting, but right now weight loss is more important to me and as I said, if I allow myself more leniency when it comes to calorie consumption, I quickly let it get out of control.

If you could give advice to someone starting off, what would you tell them? 
I cannot overemphasise how helpful it was for me to have those first few training sessions and someone to talk through with me what I was doing right and what I needed to work on. Seek out advice, try out new things and find out what works for you!

What’s your ‘secret weapon,’ the thing that pushes you or you feel gives you an edge? 
Although I’m looking to leave, probably the job that I have now. I work in pastoral care in a very challenging high school. Some of the students I work with come from appalling backgrounds and have been through things I can’t even imagine and you can see the difference in the ones who have just given up and accepted that this is their lot in life, and the ones who are fighting to make things better for themselves. I’ve been one of the former, but now I want to fight.

What has the overall impact of Fitocracy been in your life? 
Honestly, the overall impact has been huge. I’ve been able to learn so much, I’ve been inspired to try and start a whole new career for myself and build a whole new life. Most importantly I’ve been part of an amazing community. I’ve never known something like this where people are so eager to support and help each other out. It’s an incredible place and I’m so grateful I joined.

One thing I want people to take away from my story is… 
Whatever it is you want to do, you can do it!

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