Brutal daily gym sessions are the enjoyable part of body building for Queenstown competitor Liz O’Sullivan.
But sticking to a strict diet when faced with the smell of freshly baked croissants every morning is another matter.
The rookie body building mum, who is in her 40s, qualified for Sunday’s New Zealand national amateur finals in Auckland at her first competition – despite taking up the sport just three months earlier.
O’Sullivan won the ‘novice figure tall’ category at the National Amateur Body Builders’ Association South Island regionals in Dunedin last month.
“I set myself a mammoth personal challenge,” she says.
“I paid my fee and thought ‘there’s no copping out of this’. But I’m a mature person and I wasn’t sure I could tone down in time.”
O’Sullivan has been a three-times-a-week regular at the Alpine Health and Fitness gym for years but had to drastically reduce body fat to compete, dropping from 62kg to less than 55kg.
“About 90 per cent of it is nutrition. Some do extreme diets – just potatoes, apples, broccoli and boiled chicken for a year.
“I couldn’t cope with that. I work at Queenstown Mediterranean Market and every day is an assault on my senses. Suddenly things like nuts call out to you. I come in and they’re baking croissants or making fabulous dishes for the deli counter.
“But at the end of the day I can have a dessert of diabetic jelly with protein powder. It’s actually quite yummy. You look forward to that.”
Daily 45-minute ‘superset’ weights, mixed with cardio, have been routine during the last month, as well as the protein-intense six-meals-a-day diet.
“It’s my R&R. You can leave all the garbage of the day behind. It’s cleansing really and the endorphins help.
“It’s quite exciting to see the body change – people come up to me and say ‘one day my arms are going to be like that’.
“Originally I was worried about going on stage in a bikini, but didn’t even think about it before the competition itself. It’s such a friendly environment.
“You need the fake tan of course – it goes on like Nutella and comes off with baby oil like car grease – but it does come off,” O’Sullivan says.