Auashdyuashduyawshuaushuawuhdwqi – JUST YES!
Forget what I said yesterday, I want Alexandra Wilson for Christmas. Just look at her; she’s living proof of why women SHOULD lift weights – absolutely stunning.
Besides the obvious, there are a couple of reasons why I love this woman. Firstly, she’s Irish and if there are three things that go well together, they are women, weight-training, and Irish accents – she ticks all three! Secondly, she lives in London – as do I! Oh, and I almost forgot, she’s a pretty big deal too; a sponsorship with Gaspari is just one of her many accolades.
Unsurprisingly, in next to no time, I invited her over for a chat. She told me I could call her Alex – so I guess that means I’m in her good books then. Haha, just kidding! I will say this though, with over 10 years of experience under her belt, she knows her sh*t! Interview after the cut.
Well funnily enough I can sum it up in a few words, and they’re the words that you used as the title of one of your blogs a few weeks back: from scrawny to brawny. I’ve always been petite – it’s just the way I’m built, but when I was in my early 20s, I was small for all the wrong reasons.
I was working like a maniac in the food industry and cardio-training obsessively. I wasn’t looking after myself mentally and physically, and I started suffering from anorexia and later on bulimia.
I think people often assume that those of us in the industry are super-human but the fact is that most of us have our ups and downs, and have to battle personal demons like everyone else. So another way of looking at it is that my journey has been about – and still is – getting past those hurdles, and helping others to do the same.
My fitness industry journey really began when I took a decision to change direction in my career and my life: I trained to become a personal trainer. But the biggest change happened when I discovered competitive body-building, just three years ago.
I was facing some more personal challenges in my life (you can read the whole story here). I wanted to find some way of directing my energy in a positive way, and I’d always been curious about competing. So I set myself a challenge: to compete in Fitness America in Miami. With just six months to go I needed to gain a lot of muscle and transform my body shape – and I did it. I came in the top ten in bikini, and third in my height division. I realised that I had found my element: I loved the challenge and I loved the people and their attitude. I returned home with a renewed passion, wanting to share that energy and spark with other people, to help them look, feel and be their best.
Since then I’ve been really fortunate to have made some great contacts who’ve continued to help and inspire me – people like Jennifer Nicole-Lee, Cathy Savage and my fellow competitors; I’ve written for and modelled in lots of magazines; become associated with a number of brands (such as Gaspari Nutrition, Biondi Couture, Mark Anthony), and I feel that my journey is only really beginning: I’ve just launched a free e-book, and published my first calendar, which are both available at my website www.alexandrawilson.com and there’s a lot more to come in 2012.
If I was to sum it up I guess I’d say I’ve achieved my physique as a result of determination, simplicity, fun and variety. And I guess genetics – but those muscles definitely aren’t the result of biology!
In terms of determination, it’s about being DCFP – disciplined, consistent, focused and persistent. You hear those words a lot in fitness, but you have to really be serious about each one of them. I’ve always trained frequently and consistently – I don’t do a couple of sessions one week, and then make up for it by training every day the following week.
With simplicity, I’ve always focused on getting the basics right, rather than getting caught up in the latest training fads and diets. For me it’s all about fad-free fitness.
And as for fun … I think that’s really important, for me and for my clients. Personally, I find fitness addictive because it makes me feel good, it really lifts me – and as you’ll read from my personal story, it’s essential for me to maintain good mental health and don’t revert to old habits. Also, I take a really pragmatic approach – if I’m finding things tough, I tend to do a bit more yoga or will be easier on myself e.g. jump on a cross-trainer and cruise along.
I make sure I introduce plenty of variety in my training and my nutrition. My physique is quite lean, and to enhance this I do yoga to lengthen my muscles and counter-balance my weight training. I do boxing for sheer enjoyment and for speed and agility – you can’t think that much when you’re doing boxing so you get a mental break too.
I naturally eat a low-fat – but not fat-free – diet (even before all this I’ve always taken my dressing on the side!) but I make sure that it’s interesting. It probably helps that I have a background in nutrition and I spent many years creating food for a major food manufacturer.
The bottom line is that I look at this as a lifestyle choice: it’s totally integrated into my life and I’m in it for the long-term.
I would say it’s a limiting belief, and that’s why I want to help people to find their own journey to look, feel and be their best. It’s really important to realise that no-one’s perfect, and to choose your role-models carefully. Research the types of people who might inspire you and find someone you can relate to. If they’re true role models, they should motivate you to feel ‘I can do that’ rather than ‘I’ll never be like that’. You have a personal responsibility too, to be careful about the words and thoughts you use: use positive self-talk and make sure to notice, and then ditch, negative thoughts and words. Don’t self sabotage !
One of my role models, Ava Cowan, posted some pictures last month of how she’s went off-track. She had personal problems and was honest about it: and I think it’s our duty to be honest with ourselves and with each other about the fact that none of us are perfect. We’re all real people with our own weaknesses, just trying to do our best. That isn’t an excuse to be slack: what I mean is, we should all help each other and show each other what’s possible, as well as what’s real.
In a typical month I’ll probably do some travelling – either back home to Ireland, perhaps a short break for a holiday, or for work travelling to a competition, a photoshoot or perhaps to see people like Jennifer Nicole-Lee for some coaching.
I do a lot of writing for magazines and websites, and I’m having a few more requests for interviews lately. From time-to-time I’ll also do a bit of modelling – recently I modelled for the launch of Mark Anthony’s new ‘Body Trainer’ exercise device.
I’m also writing a series of e-books, so that takes up a lot of time and it’s time when I have to ‘sit still’, which is unheard of for me. And of course I’ll do personal training – that’s now more online/on the phone than in person.
And then there’s all the work that goes into running a business – keeping in touch with clients through Facebook, Twitter, and by phone and email; updating my website; writing my blog; recording videos; and the rest …
As for work-life balance – well you could say I suck at this! But I’ve always found it a strange question, because I LOVE what I do. It’s not just work, it’s a lifestyle choice: so I don’t draw an artificial line between work and life. I do make sure I take at least a day off at the weekend, and I always do things like going out for dinner, meeting up with friends, visiting art galleries or the theatre. I also love travelling so this year I’ve been to Croatia, Uganda, France, the USA and Canada, so I always make sure I plan trips away which aren’t just about work.
I train a minimum four times a week, or up to six running up to a competition. I tend to maintain a similar training routine all year round – even when I’m not training for a competition – simply because I wish to retain muscle. I do chop and change though the content of my programme so my body never gets complacent. I will also spice things up with drop sets, pyramids, and altering the tempo.
A typical week would be: Day 1: Back & Biceps / HIIT Cardio; Day 2: Chest, Triceps & Core; Day 3: Legs; Day 4: Shoulders & Core / HIIT Cardio; Day 5: Legs & Back; Day 6: Shoulders, Arms & Core; Day 7: Rest.
I eat around six meals a day – little and often. Like most people in this industry I eat a high amount of protein (this forms the building block for muscular growth), healthy veg, carbs, and a small amount of healthy fats. I make sure to drink 3 to 4 litres of water per day and always have a pre and post workout shake on training days. As a Gaspari-sponsored athlete, you won’t be surprised to know I use their supplements. I take Gaspari SuperPump 250 before a workout, and MyoFusion afterwards, plus Anavite and BCAA 6000.
And yes, I feel the winter cravings that everyone does – you naturally crave warm, hearty things and you need to go with that. Porridge oats are really good for this as they release energy slowly so you feel fuller for longer (but plain, not sugared or salted); hearty, warm, stews are really filling and nourishing – I use vegetables, pearl barley, lentils (any pulses really), because again they’re good for slow energy release, and full of fibre and protein as well.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson
If I told you I’d have to shoot you! But seriously, I can’t tell you everything I have planned because there’s some exciting stuff coming up that involves other people – including a celebrity – but your readers will know about it once it happens! As for other stuff, well there will be the usual photoshoots, competitions and writing – and you’ll also see a lot more of me on YouTube – but next year’s very much about launching new products and services to help people achieve their goals. I’m really looking forward to working more directly with more people – so if your readers want to keep in touch and find out what’s in it for them, they can sign up at my website at www.alexandrawilson.com – and receive my free e-book ‘I will make you lean’ as a thank you.
It’s been a real pleasure being interviewed by you: thanks for some great questions, and thanks for inviting me to talk with you.
You can find more information on Alexandra Wilson at the following places: