When Coleraine woman Lesley-Ann Armstrong finished university she set herself a challenge - to compete in a body building show.
A few years on and the 30-year-old, who is a fully trained physiotherapist has been crowned Miss Northern Ireland and Miss World, and now she is hoping to share her fitness and nutrition knowledge with others.
The former Coleraine High School pupil spoke exclusively to Times Sport this week about her hectic lifestyle and why she’s putting competing in the body building game on hold for a while.
“I started body building as I really wanted to change my shape.
“Like any girl, I wanted to look better in my clothes.
“A friend of mine joked about training for a show, and to be honest it just escalated from there.
“I put myself forward for my first show in 2010.
“At this show I won Miss Northern Ireland. I then placed in the top four at the British finals and qualified for the Worlds and Miss Universe.
“I won the overall Miss World ‘trained figure’ class 2012 and was runner up in the Miss Universe competition.”
Lesley Ann was blasted into the spotlight after her success, in what she described as a very male-dominated sport.
“At the height of her training, Lesley-Ann admitted that she would only sleep for about an hour and a half at a time: “It was a high protein low carb diet - so basically I ate chicken or fish and vegetables up to six times per day.
“I was training a few times a day seven days a week.
“It was a big commitment.
“I really had no life outside of exercise and eating. It was a never-ending circle of exercise, eat and sleep, I didn’t have a social life.
“Because of the over training and lack of food I found that I couldn’t sleep, it sounds crazy but I was up doing cardio exercises at 2.30 in the morning.”
Lesley Ann’s body fat was down to less than two percent during competition, the average is around 25 percent, she herself admits it wasn’t healthy, and now she is hoping to educate others on how to transform their bodies just as she has.
“Ninety percent of the work in changing your shape is about diet.
“Exercise only plays a small part of it.
“You also have to set yourself a challenge and stick to it. Will power is a great thing!”
Lesley Ann admitted she never thought about ‘vegging out’ on junk food in the height of her training: “Eating junk food really never crossed my mind. I am quite a determined person, when I put my mind to something there is no stopping me.”
Commenting on the sport of weight lifting, Lesley-Ann explained: “Weight lifting is a good all over exercise. So many people think that they will gain weight, but that’s not the case - you may gain muscle, but the most important thing is that you will loose fat.”
Working as a personal trainer in Coleraine and Londonderry, Lesley-Ann describes her job as ‘very rewarding’.
“In Londonderry I work and train at Xtreme Fitness, there we do an eight week transformation programme.
“This is an intense programme, it’s a shred programme, but the results at the end are breathtaking. That’s why I enjoy what I do. It’s soo rewarding to see how someone has changed in shape and in mind.
In the coming weeks, Lesley-Ann will be taking a seminar at Energie Fitness, formerly Fitness First, here in Coleraine on diet, nutrition and exercise.
She hopes to pass on some of her knowledge in a bid to help others.
The seminar is also open to non members, it will take place on Saturday, November 23 at 2.30.
For more information visit Lesley-Ann’s facebook page.