Power mum’s 45kg weight loss
TOWNSVILLE mum Angela Atkinson weighed 106kg when a trek up Castle Hill set her on a path that would take her to first place on a bodybuilding competition stage.
"I walked up to the top and felt like I could do absolutely anything. You could see Magnetic Island and it was such an overwhelming feeling I wanted to cry because I accomplished something," says Angela, who has lost 45kg over the past three years.
"When you're suffering from severe depression you always feel like you'll never do anything, so about 12 months after that day, I signed up to a gym.
"I've gone down from 106 kilos to 61, a size 22 to a size 6."
Today, on her 41st birthday, the Bluewater woman is competing in the Australasian Natural Bodybuilding Coral Coast Classic.
"I'm very scared because I'm putting myself out there," she says.
"I have scars, I've had babies, my body's not perfect, but it shows that I had a journey."
Last weekend in Mackay, Angela won the ANB Over 35 Figure International title and placed second in the Figure Masters.
She likens walking out on the stage in a bikini to having a portrait painted while naked in front of a hundred people, and says she's no less scared after being the first competitor to walk out on stage at last weekend's Mackay contest.
The first-time competitor's win brought tears of pride to the eyes of her trainer, Denise Deliseo.
"My coach was crying. I wasn't. I was going, 'Can I get into a pair of tracksuit pants now?' You just want to get some clothes on," she says.
Angela says seeing other women in the gym inspired her to work towards the challenge of competing.
"In 2015 when I joined Muscle and Fitness Gym there were all these ladies that would get on the step-up machine to prepare for a bodybuilding contest," she said.
"I could do 10 minutes, but they would be on there for a full hour … I got to see a contest in 2015 with them on stage.
"I remember looking at them and thinking, 'I want to look like those girls in the bikinis on stage.'
"It wasn't about building muscles, it was standing there feeling beautiful, it's all I wanted."
These days she's pumping out unassisted pull-ups at the gym and training seven days a week.
"Some people are there because they've had an injury, others want to be strong … there are a thousand and one reasons why people are at a gym," she said.
"I find being at the gym increases your mental health and wellbeing.
"It's nice to be able to shut the whole world out. Everyone has a different journey and works out in a way that makes them happy."
The gym was her happy place as she battled depression, and remains so even now that she has recovered her mental health through healthy eating and exercise.
Her bodybuilding diet consists of fish, chicken, vegetables, rice and sweet potatoes, and she eats five times a day instead of three.
"I went from never eating breakfast to waking up wanting to eat," she says.
Angela says it took great effort to find the motivation initially.
She juggles her fitness regimen with managing a household and being a busy mum to her two children, Kiera, 16, and Caleb, 10.
"I was lying in bed debating whether my life was worth living, now I've got longevity," she says.
"When you finish that workout, it helps with your mental health, and knowing that, nothing will stop me.
"Of course there have been some obstacles along the way, but I want to thank my trainer Denise Deliseo for being such a fabulous, caring trainer."
Angela wakes at 3.30am to train in the gym and by 8.30am her kids are at school and she's at the pound rescuing animals in her role as the director of Townsville Fostering and Rehoming Animals.
She derives a great deal of comfort from working with animals.
"It's when you take something in and it can't speak to you, but you know they need help," she says.
"They're hurt or suffering or injured and have come from a bad home and all they're looking for is love and food and attention.
"Animals can't talk for themselves or move out of a bad house they're living in. It's a really overwhelming feeling when you've spent months trying to rehabilitate them, and you just see an animal running around your yard wagging its tail with happiness.
ANGELA'S TOP 5 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
1 Find people who support you.
2 Put the right thing in your mouth.
3 Go for one long walk a week to clear your mind.
4 Make sure you make small goals, not big ones.
5 Find the thing you enjoy. It may not be the gym, it may be pilates or aerial yoga. Find what makes you happy.
The Australasian Natural Bodybuilding Coral Coast Classic is on today from 2pm at Edmund Rice Hall. Tickets $39 from Muscle and Fitness (4721 1511) or at the door on the day. Entry for children under 12 is free. The International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness Australia North Queensland Classic is on Sunday, September 23, at The Ville Resort-Casino from 11am. Tickets $53.84 at eventbrite.com