Name: Courtney Parker
Favorite Healthy Meal: Crispy chilli and garlic salmon with stir fried Asian greens
Current Goal: INBA SA September 29th Fitness Model, INBA Nationals October 6th Fitness Model or ANB SA October Fitness Model 6th, WNBF October 20th Best Body and potentially USA Figure
Biggest Achievement in life: Apart from having my babies!! I would have to say the last two years continually developing physically and mentally. I hope by the end of October I can say the biggest achievement is competing and knowing I did everything I could to put the best version of me up on stage.
Biggest motivator to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle: Leading by example for my children and those around me and feeling like I can achieve anything I set my mind to.
Favorite workout song: My favorite current song is Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo but my all time favourite workout song is Black Betty by Spiderbait – totally gets me pumped!
My Story by Courtney Parker
Fitness has always been a passion of mine. I joined the gym at eighteen and loved going to all the different classes or using the cardio equipment. I was a long distance runner for a number of years and participated in around six half marathons including the McLaren Vale half marathon in 2012 where I placed 6th in the women’s division. My longest distance was the 30km Hills to Henley in 2010. I was in training for the Adelaide marathon at the time, which was only a month later, but I fell pregnant with my second child and decided not to compete in it. However, food has always been a struggle for me. I love processed food. I love sugar and, more than anything, I LOVE chocolate and I mean I totally adore chocolate! I never could understand the importance of good nutrition when it came to weight loss. Don’t get me wrong, I understood the calories in / calories out concept but I thought that running 40kms a week and going to the gym meant I could eat whatever I wanted, but I would constantly wonder why I wasn’t losing weight.
In late 2008, I fell pregnant with my son and looked after myself well. I continued running, did pregnancy Pilates and a pregnancy DVD throughout the 9 months so I was able to get back in shape relatively quickly after he was born. During my second pregnancy in 2010/11 I let myself go. Working, looking after a toddler and being pregnant was all I could manage so I didn’t exercise and I ate whatever was convenient. In late August 2011, when I was five months postnatal, I was overweight and extremely unfit. As I hadn’t exercised at all during the pregnancy, I had no muscle tone and was left looking like a deflated balloon. I also had a 4 finger diastasis recti (abdominal separation) and a weak pelvic floor. I decided that I’d had enough of being fat and frumpy and that something had to change. I signed up to do a 12 week challenge and I lost 14kgs. I lost a further 4 kilos in the 4 weeks after – making it an 18kgs loss. I was so happy! I was skinny and could fit into a size 8 – I had never been a size 8 before! Unfortunately, because I was now ‘skinny’, I relaxed my eating and gained 4 kilos from Christmas to Easter 2012 and went back to feeling unhappy with myself, not only because I had put on the weight but also because I had lost sight of what I was trying to achieve, which was a healthy and maintainable lifestyle.
I did a bit of research and discovered clean eating and weight lifting was a more sustainable version of what I had been doing. I managed to lose six kilos by eating better and training smarter. The only problem was, I was now too lean and starting to look unwell. My friends and family were very concerned and they had every right to be. I developed bulimia as I was completely obsessed with the number on the scales and not with my health. I would weigh myself up to three times a day and freak out if the scales went up too much. I tried using different types of diet pills to suppress my appetite or burn fat and did more cardio than was necessary. Basically, I was a mess.
In February 2013, when I was at my leanest, I met my inspirational coach and sponsor, Sarah O’Connor, and her team. They recommended that I put on weight, a thought which distressed me as I had tried so hard to lose it. Sarah explained the damage that I was doing to my body, not to mention to my mind. Through the new approach to my eating and training I put on weight, most of which was in muscle but also some much needed body fat – but I have never felt or looked better! The next step was coaching me towards my first Fitness Model Competition and I could not be more thrilled with the support and encouragement I’ve received.
It has been two years since starting this journey and it has been a process where I am continually learning about nutrition and training. I have learnt so much about my body and what it is capable of. I am constantly challenging myself to eat better or lift heavier, and learn new exercises or better technique. I have also learnt about my limits and when I need to take a step back and have a break, which is very hard when all you can think about is training!! I have learnt a lot about myself and who I want to be. I don’t want to be the person that others look at and aspire to look like, then hide behind closed doors and do the opposite of what I preach. Not many people know that I suffered from bulimia. It makes me feel embarrassed and ashamed but I decided to write about it in that hope that my experience will help other women who may be going through something similar. It is not a healthy way to achieve your goals, in fact it does more damage to you than the blocks of chocolate you used to eat.
I am slowly learning to control myself with food. On my ‘cheat’ nights, I remind myself of what I am trying to achieve and how I can undo all my hard work by gorging on too much food. Like I said, I am constantly learning. I spend hours every day training, cooking and prepping food and I don’t want that to go to waste because I want something that tastes nice and only lasts a few minutes.
I am passionate about health and fitness and want to be a good role model, especially for my own children. I want to promote good body image and show how good nutrition and the right training can complement that. I still struggle day-to-day with food and I constantly want to eat things that I know I should not. I have self doubt that I need to get rid of so I guess I’m still a work in progress!! This isn’t just about how I look but how I feel physically and mentally. The aesthetics are an awesome bonus! In a couple of weeks I will be a qualified Personal Trainer and I want to able to help people the way Sarah and her team have helped me, not to mention the amazing women whom I have met along the way who have encouraged and supported me – some of whom I have never physically met! I know how hard it is to get fit after having babies and I know how hard it is to overcome the psychological struggles but I also know how fantastic it feels to be so fit and healthy, and I choose not to give that up just for some chocolate!
I have big dreams for my future in the fitness world. Sarah O’Connor’s my coach to become a WNBF Figure Pro and I want to follow in her very impressive footsteps. I know with her pushing me, encouraging me and training me, I will get there. Sarah is the reason I am happy and healthy today and want her to be the one alongside me as I reach my goals because I trust her completely – a trust she has earned and deserves.
So watch this space as I plan to dominate!
This article is published by Sarah O’Connor …