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"How Gaining Muscle Changed My Life"

24th January 2017

Speaking to Karolina from our Darlington club, she tells us her training progress and how she keeps herself motivated as well as what her aims are in the future. Proving that it isn't always about losing weight and that every fitness journey is different! She shows us that gaining muscle isn't just for men and how she transformed her life with the gym...

What first inspired you to get into fitness?
About two years ago I had watched a few videos from various fitness models and bloggers, they showed how to train properly, I have thought to myself that I want to look like them. Aside from that my boyfriend was already going to the gym regularly so he introduced me to everything, showing me how to train safely etc. I was motivated and happened to have somebody close to me that was willing to show me the way.

How important has training become to your life?
To be honest now I can't imagine my life without gym. It's like an addiction but in a good way of course. This lifestyle isn't only great for my body but for my general attitude too. I’m a more positive person as well as being more self-confident in comparison to how I was before I started my fitness journey.

How do you keep yourself motivated?
When you start then it's not that hard because all your progress keeps yourself motivated. But sometimes I just watch my old photos to find more inspiration as well as power to do my next training as it helps me to realise that doing all these things is for my own good. However, seeing pictures of fitness models help me motivate myself to continue training, they show me what sort of body I can get to and what sort of a person I can become.

Do you mix up your workouts or do you stick to weight training?
I love to mix up my workouts it makes my training more interesting. Sometimes I prefer to do more jumping like in typical fitness workouts and sometimes I only lift weights. It is also better for your body to mix them up and do something different from time to time. Now I’m in love with training using resistance bands (I have my own set of them at home) so I usually add exercise using these between standards squats or deadlifts. In the future I want to try crossfit workout as well because it fascinated me for a long time now.

How often do you set yourself goals?
Every month I set the bar higher when it comes to weights, I try to lift as much as possible and progress as much as possible. From time to time I change the workout that I do and what part of my body I want to focus on the most. As of now I need to focus on my arms as well as my chest as in comparison to my lower body, they’re pretty weak.

What is your favourite exercise and why?
I never thought which exercise is my favourite, I have only thought about which one is the worst. Maybe it's not surprising but the best exercise for me (like for a lot of women) is squatting. It's amazing; you can diversify them (deep, normal, sumo, with dumbells and more)

Do you find training alone helps or do you prefer training with someone?
I’m the type of person who likes to train on my own, with earphones on and very loud music. I can stay more focused on my exercises without anyone disturbing me. It makes me train harder and be 

Through the winter, how do you keep motivated?
I find training with my brother very helpful as he often motivates me to go for my training, It is much easier to train and stick to your workout routine of you have a gym buddy with you, especially when its pouring down outside and you’d rather treat yourself to some comfort food and sit covered with blanket. I also try to do my training in the morning, as that’s the time of day where I have the most energy and I’m motivated the most.

How do you track your fitness journey?
In my opinion, one of the best ways of tracking your progress is to take pictures of yourself, after a training etc. then you can look back and see your progress and how it all happened. Aside from that, it is important to measure certain parts of your body such as your waist or your biceps and writing them down somewhere, that way you can see how your body changes more precisely as it would be hard to see 1cm difference in your biceps looking at a picture, this can demotivate you and that’s not how it is supposed to work.

Do you find tracking your fitness helps your progression?
When you track your fitness journey it is much easier to notice the smallest differences in the way you look, which can motivate you to continue on putting in the hard work it takes to workout and live the athletic lifestyle, by doing this you will start to see your progress more and more and it motivates you further.

What tips would you give someone who is looking to start their own fitness journey?
Just don't be afraid to start. It's easier to begin when you have a workout buddy. Maybe your siblings, friends or roomates want to join and start their fitness journey with you. Its really helpful when you going to new place full of strangers. However if you don't have knowledge about exercising and you are scared about training wrong and hurting yourself then ask about a personal trainer.  It's nice to have someone who can show you how easy it can be whilst not hurting yourself. 

What tips would you give to women who are afraid to start lifting weights?
Not only cardio machines are for women. Dumbells, weights or barbells are for us - girls too. They make your booty and breasts bigger and more feminine. You shouldn't be afraid that you can look like a man after lifting weights because women have a diffrent body type than men so it's impossible. However when you mix up cardio and lifting weights you can burn fat faster and more of it and you need to remember - you are stronger than you think.

How do you control your diet?
The only thing I need to control in my diet is the amount of meals per day. Sometimes it's hard to control when you have a busy day and you don't have enough time. This is why I prepare my meals for work the day before. I eat 5-6 meals (each day) but I have smaller portion sizes instead.

Do you still allow yourself to indulge or are you quite strict on what you eat/drink?
Fortunately I can eat a lot of things (including: chocolate, cookies, pizza and more) because all my life, even before I began working out I was skinny and I don't need to burn fat. However, I don't eat fast food (maybe once a fortnight) and I eat a lot of veggies and fruit on daily basis.

Do you meal prep? If so, do you find this beneficial?
I always try to prepare the meals that I eat as they’re a vital part of my diet, even if you’re at work it is better to eat a healthy, warm meal rather than snacking on crisps or chocolate bars. It is not only healthier but beneficial to building up more muscle and bulking up. Aside from that, you can save a fair bit of money by preparing your own food the way you like it rather than relying on takeaways or frozen meals. I can’t imagine eating garbage and feeling good about myself, it would not only stop me from enjoying my food but also impact my progress at the gym.