The visible results of bodybuilding are a direct extension of what’s going on in your mind. For Monika Malkowska too, the biggest transformation had to happen in her head first. “I’m much stronger, more independent, confident and, for the first time, I truly believe in myself and my capabilities,” she says.
Occupation: Teacher, sports coach, personal trainer and nutritional advisor
Weight Before: 47kg
Weight After: 70kg
Time Required To Reach Current Weight: 4 years
Secret Weapon: Determination, perseverance and a strong will
How Monika Became A Bodybuilder
Monika had relocated to South Africa, her family was miles away, she was homesick and desperately trying to fit in and find a home in a country she didn’t know. During this time, depression hit her – hard. “I thought I’d be happy if I lost weight, which I did, and ended up obsessing over it,” she says. The result? “Even after the weight loss, I still wasn’t happy,” she admits.
The turning point? She was approached by a man, who said she had great potential and should look into doing fitness competitions – but she’d have to pick up some weight first. “I went home and started doing research because I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. I loved every single physique I found online. I loved the toned legs and arms. It hit me that I’d been trying to lose weight to fit into society, and here someone was actually telling me to gain weight,” she adds. That’s when Monika made the conscious decision to build her body into what she really wanted it to be.
So, What Does A Bodybuilder Eat?
With the new challenge, she had to start eating properly and training with a coach. “I love food and the bodybuilding diet required me to eat about 10 460kJ of healthy food a day. Right now, I’m eating an oat, whey, banana and peanut butter smoothie for breakfast. The rest of the day’s meals will consist of jasmine rice or sweet potatoes, chicken or ostrich, and veggies.”
This is in stark contrast to how she’d lived before. “I’d eat nothing for the whole day, or two days even – I’d just live on coffee or water. But that led to binge eating everything and anything. I wasn’t watching what went into my mouth when I had a bad day. I could finish an entire loaf of bread at once, then feel guilty and not eat anything for a day,” she ‘fesses.
The Transformation Continued…
Her coach at the time gave her a personally designed diet and training programme. “I started eating six regular meals a day and training five to six days a week. My training consisted of strength training only to start with – no cardio. I focused on gaining weight; on looking and feeling healthy again.” Monika had to face her biggest challenge, which was eating regular meals – a critical part of bodybuilding. And she did it.
How Her Life Has Changed
“I can’t stress the mental changes enough. I think differently. I’m calmer. I don’t worry about little things that we don’t have control over. I’m very positive. I’m a happy person now,” she says. She feel s whole lot healthier – not to mention strong. In fact, a year after she started on her journey, she competed for the first time – and won!
“I don’t believe in rewarding yourself. I believe in balance. This was more about recognising the hard work and dedication I’d put into my goal,” she says. People started noticing the transformation within three months, and she’s just enjoying the ride…
Get a coach. “Especially if you’re new to the sport.”
Be dedicated. “If you want to do it, never forget that you are doing it for yourself.”
Persevere. “Rome wasn’t build in a day. It’s not as easy for women as it is for men to build lean muscles due to the lower level of testosterone in our bodies. It takes time.”