Sam May Full comp prep Miss Galaxy Universe May 2016

I broke my foot three weeks out of the biggest challenge of my life. An ironman. I was gutted. Having spent three years of my life constantly doing cardio training for various triathlons and half ironman the full was the next big challenge. If I was honest with myself I was also suffering with a massive binge/ emotional eating cycle. Although I trained like a beast I never actually lost any weight. I was in the classic triathlon mindset of workout/calorie maths where I'd justify filling my face with junk because I'd been on the bike for hours. I was tired, always hungry. I'd then often skip meals and substitute them for shakes and protein bars. If I'm completely honest with myself my diet was a mess.

When I broke my foot I realised I needed to change my training and eating behaviours because I was unable to continue with the high volumes of training. If I carried on the way I was binge and yo yo dieting without the exercise I would have lost control and become even chunkier. I'd witnessed a friend go through a transformation in body shape through diet and weight training and was keen to get similar results. Enter Livia Francis.

I searched online for local trainers and read Eli's story on Liv's page. She was so similar with food struggles and I was in awe of her transformation. I arranged to meet up with both inspirational ladies and that was probably one of my smartest life decisions to date. Liv and I met and she filled me with such confidence saying I had the perfect shape for competing (at the time I wasn't in it for that I just wanted to be happy with my body – my 35th birthday was rapidly approaching and I was so sick of the self loathing, I just wanted to make a change and get results). Liv encouraged me that with the right foods and diet plans she could help me get a body I was finally proud of in time for my January birthday.

I met her end of August 2015 and by Jan with food plan and a training plan I was actually at a stage where I was comfortable and looking good. I'd dropped 2 dress sizes and my shape had completely changed. The regular meals and eating had regulated my urges to binge and I was full of energy. A new me was emerging and instead of hiding away at home for my 35th I wanted to celebrate my new body confidence - and did this with a pole party staged by Liv which was brilliant fun.

By this time Liv had become not only a great trainer but a lovely friend, she actively encouraged me to enter a competition to give me a focus and I began to believe that perhaps I could get on stage and finally be comfortable in my own skin. Enter posing! This was something so out of my comfort zone initially. I never ever wore heals after also breaking my ankle in 2013 and then more recently my foot - I didn't feel comfortable or balanced and was paranoid about falling over and twisting or breaking something else. Believe me I'm that clumsy! Think Bridget Jones and fireman pole! Bless Liv she was so patient with me and really helped me to not only learn to walk again with heels but to let my inner poser out. At first I found it weird and awkward but Liv made it so much fun and it came so naturally to her. I began to love it and found myself posing in the shower and in hotel rooms while away and felt my confidence grow. It was such a journey for me to like my body and then learn to express myself. Liv really helped me to believe in myself when at times my inner bitch took over and tried to convince me I didn't have what it takes to compete. She also believed in me - which was an amazing feeling.

I entered Galaxy to mark the end of my road to self love ... And finally getting to like my body. I had no other goal other than to get up there and do the best I could. A group of us met for group posing sessions and we all bonded and connected and shared the journey together. We all entered the show together and it was so empowering to not only have the support of Liv, but of the other girls as well. Half way through the comp prep I had a major wobble after a combination of bad news and tiredness and self doubt but Liv and everyone picked me up and encouraged me to keep going when I had felt like a complete failure after slipping back into old binging patterns. Emotions consume me and food had been a coping mechanism in the past. But I was determined it wasn't going to wreck all the hard work we'd achieved in cleaning up my diet, sharpening my training and not to mention the new found confidence through posing. So I got back on track with the help of Liv and her strong ladies.

Show day soon arrived and it was great to share the experience together. Liv guided us through the whole peak weak and when it came to the day we were all raring to go. I stepped out on that stage feeling confident and knowing if done my best in the last final weeks. The sensation of being on stage was incredible I loved every minute and know it was down to all the support from Liv and the girls. I never expected to feel so confident. It was overwhelming. When they called my name for second place I was in complete shock. What an amazing day and I cannot thank Liv enough for getting me to this point in my life. Thank you for believing in me when I didn't myself and for all your coaching, food plans and posing sessions! We did it!

20th June 2016

Competition Training

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