MarianneI am Marianne, from France, but currently located in Japan. I have been here for more than 3 years now and I have just started to work as a wine sales executive.
Why did you start working out AND how long have you been working out ?
I’ve been playing basketball since I was 6 and the first time I went to a gym was when I was 15. At that time it was mainly to improve my physical performance and stamina, then at the age of 17 I got irritable bowel syndrome. I lost 15kgs in less than 3 months and I had to stop playing basketball. It was the worst period of my life. For approximately 3 years I was stuck between 40 and 45kgs (I am 162cm) and lost all my muscles. I was the perfect example of “skinny fat”. My friends thought I was anorexic. Then at the age of 21, I came to Japan and I decided to start a new life and get my body back! It took me a looooot of time. For the first year and a half I just did cardio and very light weight training and there wasn’t much change.  In August 2014, I started strength training and in just 4 months I made the best progress of my life! I managed to gain 3 more kilos and my body shape completely changed! I look (and feel) stronger than ever, now. When I think that 4 months before I was not even able to do one rep at 50kgs on the leg press machine and now I am doing 3 complete sets at 130kgs… it shows me how far I have come! Of course I still have a long way to go but I am already happy with what working out is bringing me!

How do you stay motivated
Bodybuilding is my passion, so to be honest, I don’t really need any motivation. I feel good when I’m at the gym; so much so, that it’s hard for me to have a rest day! Of course, there are days where I feel fatigued, but looking at my progress pictures reminds me how far I have come and motivates me to push even harder. I really think that taking progress pictures is a good way to stay motivated.
Have you noticed any physical changes?
In 4 months of intensive weight training (and bulking) I have gained 3kgs of lean mass.  In only 5 weeks, I managed to gain 1cm on my arms, 1cm on my legs, 0.5cm on my hips and I lost 1cm around my waist. I also feel stronger and healthier than before. I have more energy and I don’t have problems focusing on my work, as was the case before I started working out. I would say that I have noticed both physical and mental changes..

What are people’s reactions?
My family is over the moon that I’ve gained weight and that my appetite and energy are back. A lot of my friends say I look healthier and happier than before.
However, there are some people who don’t understand why a girl lifts and wants to gain weight like I do. I often hear “You’ll get bulky” or “Bodybuilding is for men,” but I don’t care! Working out has changed my life.  If I hadn’t started training I would still be stuck at 40kgs with unhealthy habits. I have felt depressed for years about my body so whatever people may think about my choices, I will just keep on doing what I love and what is good for my body and health!

If you could only choose 4 exercises, what would they be?
First I would choose two fundamental compounded exercises, squats and deadlifts.  These two exercises enhance growth hormones and allow you to train many parts of the body at once. Next, I would choose barbell bicep curls and the dumbbell shoulders press because they give me the best pump ever. I always feel very strong doing those two exercises and I love to look at the pump when I’m finished. It may sound weird but the more it burns the more I feel like it works and motivates me to go harder!

What’s your routine like?
I train 6 days a week and I generally split my workouts between legs, biceps/chest, back/triceps and shoulders/abs. I always challenge myself with the heavy weights (with a minimum of 8 reps). Depending on the exercise, I usually do supersets or drop sets. Also, when I feel like I’m not making progress, compared with the week before, I try to change my workout routine (add new exercises, change my rest period during sets etc). My workout is generally quite flexible but I always decide what I am going to do, the day before my workout.
Since I am training for a competition I am currently focusing on gaining as much weight and muscle as possible, so I don’t do any cardio. I will do cardio again about 4 months before my competition starts. Before I started my “bulking season” I was generally doing 30min of HIIT cardio on the stairsmaster or treadmill after my workouts.
A lot of women are reluctant to lift weights. What do you have to say about this?

A lot of ladies are scared to lift weights for fear of looking like a bodybuilder
I would just say stop being scared and start now!!! Once you start you’ll wish you had started earlier, trust me! Lifting weights will make your body look toned, not bulky! And I don’t think any woman has ever regretted getting sexy curves from squatting. Just try it and if you don’t like it, you can stop. You will never now until you try. I would really recommend every women to lift weights (even light weights of course!). Not only for your physical appearance, but for your health, too. It has changed my life, so why not yours?

What’s your diet like?
To put it bluntly, I eat A LOT, but it’s quite healthy and balanced! 60% of my diet comes from carbs, the rest is protein and healthy fat such as avocados and seeds.
My main meals are breakfast/pre workout and post workout. Generally chicken or beef, eggs, with rice and veggies, and also a protein shake with supplements (vitamins, amino acids etc). I am currently focusing on gaining lean mass so I don’t really care about having too much carbs.  I am even trying to eat carbs even when I don’t feel like it, just to feed my muscles. When I start my cutting phase, I’ll reduce my carb intake, but I’m happy with my diet as it is.

What advice would you give to those who are just starting out?
I would say do it for you and not to show off to others. If you don’t do it for you and don’t enjoy the time spent at the gym then it will be hard to keep it up. If you enjoy working out and have clear goals to achieve then it will be easier to give your best at the gym and also to follow your diet. Do it with passion! Of course there will be days you feel tired and powerless but never forget why you started and learn from your failures. If you keep at it there’s no reason why you can’t achieve your goals! It will take some time, yes, but it’ll be worth it. 🙂

What are your goals?
I will be competing for the first time in June 2015 (bikini fitness) so I am currently focusing on gaining muscle mass. Then I will focus on reducing my body fat. As it will be my first time on stage my current goal is “just” to be contest ready. Ideally, I want a lean and well-balanced body; to look strong yet feminine. I think that after my first show my goals will get a little bit clearer since the pro judges will tell me what I should focus on etc. For the moment I am enjoying my time at the gym, doing my best and if I can motivate people to start working out and adopt a healthy lifestyle by sharing my own experiences, then I will be more than happy!


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