Louise’s 12WBT Story

Community // Sarah Link // 27 March 2013

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Louise with Michelle Bridges at the Round 4 2012 finale party in Brisbane.
As a busy wife and mother of two, Louise’s story was a common one: she struggled to find time to exercise and constantly put her family’s needs before her own. Determined to explore her conviction that she could be a better mother if she took some time to herself, she signed up to the 12 Week Body Transformation.

Louise is now a weightlifting, strength-training powerhouse whose transformation in 12 weeks has been nothing short of phenomenal. Here, Louise tells her story in her own words.

I have just completed my first 12 Week Body Transformation. Oh my hat, did I transform!

So the picture below basically sums up where I was at pre-12WBT. I was still breastfeeding my second child who was 12 months old, and I was desperate to do something for myself. It was October 2012.

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Louise in October 2012, top, three months later in week 11 of her first 12 Week Body Transformation.
At that point, if I was given the gift of a few hours – no kids, no housework, no husband, no pets, nothing other than me and the spare time – I didn’t know what to do with it. I felt like my existence has been defined by my kids. Alarm bells were ringing for me – there seemed to be an increasingly blurry line between where I ended and they began.

Making a Change

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Louise with her son John John in March 2012.
We were visiting Durban, South Africa (my homeland), and I had planned to join a friend’s kettle bell class twice a week for the four weeks while I was on holiday. I had never done kettle bells before, but I thought if I could get an exercise routine established while I had a family support system around me, it would be enough to give me the momentum to take back to Australia where my day-to-day support system was my husband.

Then my son John John fell ill with rota-virus. My first session at the kettle bell gym was the day after his first night of illness. I was determined not to miss out on my first ‘me time’ since I could remember. Even though I had very little rest and was not feeling too great, I still went to the class. To my surprise and delight, once I started the class, I forgot about how unwell I felt and also forgot about the chaos that was waiting for me at home. When I went home an hour later, I saw my family had coped without me.

For the next four weeks, I got up at 5:45am twice a week. I went to my kettle bell class regardless of what the previous 24 hours had been like. I was learning a life lesson. If I made the effort I could conjure an hour just for myself. Even if I felt I was sacrificing something else, like an hour of precious sleep, I could do it. I was also learning to deal with the guilt I felt by putting my ‘luxurious needs’ first.

A Challenge

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Louise with her husband Hugo and two children.
After I got back to Australia I got a kettle bell but I didn’t know how to use it. What I had learned in eight group lessons was not enough to send me swinging my way to super-strong-and-healthy and training all by myself in the garage. I needed a training routine. I looked on the internet. I looked some more, but I could not find what I was looking for.

One evening, I walked into the study where my husband Hugo was on the computer. On the screen was Michelle Bridges and an advert for her 12 Week Body Transformation. I knew I had to go to the link and check it out.

I went to the website and I signed up.

I was a late starter. Week one of 12WBT had just started so I had to do all the Pre-Season tasks in super quick time to get the most out of the program. I chose to do the Lean and Strong (Advanced) exercise plan because it had the most weight training. The training program was exactly what I was looking for, I could just print it off and follow it.

A Long Road

Initially, I was shocked there were six days of training a week. I realised if I was going to do 12WBT properly I’d need my husband to help me by watching the kids while I trained. He agreed.

So I began. Surprisingly, I never felt sore after a workout. I did feel defeated at times though! Polymetric lunges totally and utterly beat me. Burpees blew my lungs out my throat.

After the first four weeks – the muscle building phase – there were noticeable changes. I could see definition in my arms and my strength and stamina were improving.

I weighed in each week and the number moved up and down – but not by much. I had the good sense not to freak out because my focus was to get strong, not to lose weight.

The specificity phase of the program was hardwork. This is where the focus is working intensively on specific muscles each training session. But I did each workout as it was set out for me, I knew the program had been designed by the pros, so who was I to question it?

There was a lot of hype in the 12WBT Forums about the final phase – getting ripped. I kept my head down and just did each work out as usual. One evening I saw a bump just under my bra. I thought “Ahh, look at this weird lump of fat,” I touched it and it was firm-ish. I pulled my tummy muscles and it got bigger and more defined – OMG, it was the beginning of a six-pack. I was totally blown away!

A Huge Surprise

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These photos were taken in week 11 of Louise’s 12WBT and show the amazing transformation she achieved in just three months!
 

On Thursday of week 12 of my 12 Week Body Transformation, I got home, checked my emails and saw an extra special one from the 12WBT crew. It said I had made into the Top 20. I had achieved one of the top transformations for the Round!

I had not booked to go to the finale party in Brisbane, it had worked out to be too expensive for me. But as soon as my husband heard me shouting and jumping up and down in the kitchen, he immediately said “Go to Brisbane!”

I was so nervous – it would be the first time I would be away from my kids since they were born. I rollercoastered from being super excited to energised to nauseous. So I booked a last minute flight arrived in Brisbane just in time on the day of the finale.

A Big Night

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Louise on stage with some of the Top 20 Transformation finalists at the Round 4 2012 finale party.
Arriving at the finale, I had to keep pinching myself – I could hardly believe how many people were there. I met up with the other Top 20 finalists – what inspirational people. I was so proud to be associated with them.

Suddenly I was on stage with the other finalists. When Michelle started to describe the third place winner for the Lean and Strong (Advanced) Top Transformation Award, I just knew it had to be me. Elation came washing over me and I couldn’t believe it – I was so proud and humbled to be a winner.

Round42012FinaleLouise does a victory lap and meets Michelle Bridges.
I also remember doing an arm pump when I realised I’d won a Master Trainer Scholarship with the Australian Institute of Fitness. I was going to be a personal trainer! Wild dreams, which had been slumbering in the back of my mind for so long, had been evoked and were in the early stages of motion! Words cannot explain how appreciative I am of this awesome gift.

A Mindset Change

I honestly believe that I would not have even considered committing to the 12WBT workouts six days a week if I had not experienced the testing time in South Africa. I had proved to myself back then that I could make time for myself. It showed me that it was me putting limitations on my own needs. It also showed me how determined I could be if I had made something a priority.

I had learned that I could separate my needs from my children’s. I hope this illustrates the way our lives today can affect the tomorrows of our future, it is up to us to make connections and to learn from our experiences. Perhaps I could even take it a bit further and say, if we strive for positive things today, we are setting ourselves up for more positive things later.

The 12 Week Body Transformation has given me so much. I organise my day to ensure that my workout is never compromised. I also feel my management of housework is more efficient due to my new regime. My children have not missed a beat with my new approach to how I divide up our day.

I do feel as though my days are fuller and I fit more into my waking hours, and that is because I really, really do.

This is an edited version of a post on Louise’s blog.

Louise’s Top 3 12WBT Tips

1. Trust the 12WBT Plans
Follow the program and do what is asked of you, it has been formulated by pros!

2. Be Kind to Yourself
Don’t punish yourself, you need to listen to your body to avoid injury. Stay in tune with what your body can cope with. Give yourself hugs from the inside when you achieve things!

3. Run Your Own Race
There are lots of people who can inspire you and encourage you on the 12WBT Forums, however you need keep things in perspective and focus on your own progress and transformation. Everyone is different which means everyones body changes at different rates and in different places. The most important changes and improvements are the ones you accomplish for yourself, so benchmark against yourself, not anyone else.

If you want to take time for yourself and work on your strength and muscle definition, sign up for the 12 Week Body Transformation.

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