Fit, Fab and Forty-something: Kids, Jobs and Getting Fit

Jo and Fi

The secrets of two, busy mums in their 40’s who hit the fitness model competition circuit and won!

This week I had the absolute pleasure of cooking some high protein dishes for Fiona Reed (Bikini Competitor and Pure Elite Pro) and Jo Prosser (Online Body Transformation Coach and Fitness Model Competitor).  I also got to have a good old chat about what it’s like being a fitness competitor, how they do it, what they eat, how they train and the trials and tribulations of combining this with being a mum in your 40’s.

Now I am not saying that we should all be bikini competitors or fitness models.  I am saying that it is possible to find health and fitness when you have children or you are incredibly busy. The girls talk about setting goals, believing in yourself, finding support and motivation and most importantly finding something that you enjoy.

If you are looking at this thinking:

  • I would love to have a go – do it!
  • I could never look like that –  you can!
  • I really wouldn’t want to do that – don’t!
  • I’m not sure I agree with the whole concept –  read on!

Fi Bio Pic

Fiona is not only a busy mum to two boys, a Clinical Fertility Reflexologist, a Ballet Teacher and ex Dancer, she is also the Pure Elite Over 45 Bikini World Champion.  Flying the flag for the 40 something mums, Fiona is passionate that fitness and competing is not just something for the younger generation and that being a mum is not the only thing that defines who you are.

Fiona has also won:

  • 3rd Miami Pro Over 35 Bikini 2015
  • 1st three times in Pure Elite competitions last year
  • 1st Over 35 Glifting 2015
  • 2nd Mums that Lift Glifting 2015
  • 3rd Miss Galaxy Universe Over 40s Bikini Diva

Jo Bio pic

Jo is a busy mum to her daughter Jade and Charlie her pup! Not only is Jo the Owner & Founder of JoPro Fitness, a brand new Online Coaching and Fitness Business specializing in Body transformations and Show Prep, Marketing Manager for Glifting Girls an all-girl model & fashion glamour show and PROTiME Ambassador, she has also achieved the following personal awards:

  • 4th Place Fitness Model over 35’s Miss Galaxy Universe June 2014
  • 2nd Place Fitness Model over 35’s Miss Galaxy Universe Nov 2014
  • 1st Place Fitness Model over 35’s Pure Elite Sept 2015
  • 2nd Place over 35 Muscle Model Sept Pure Elite 2015
  • 3rd Place Fitness Model Tall Pure Elite Sept 2015
  • 5th Place Female Muscle Model Pure Elite Sept 2015
  • 4th Place Muscle Model Miami Pro Universe Championships 2015
  • 5th Place Mums That Lift – Pure Elite World Champions Nov 2015
  • 5th Place Muscle Model – Pure Elite World Champions Nov 2015

Jo is one of the very best show prep coaches in Bristol and she has created a team of male and female athletes all over the UK who compete in various shows during the year.  Last year Jo’s team won a total of 41 trophies. But Jo doesn’t just coach competitors and athletes.  She has such passion & enthusiasm for health and fitness that she is dedicated to helping people of all levels no matter how big or small their goal.

I’m not going to lie, coming into this interview I had mixed feelings about these competitions. Did they contribute to the objectification of women?  Was it healthy both physically and mentally? What did it do for us normo’s who are not as glamorous?

What I found was none of it really matters. These girls are hard-working, dedicated and inspirational and whatever your thoughts about women being judged on how they look, you have to admire these attributes. The competitions are not about how pretty or how sexy you are.  They are about definition and symmetry and it struck me that they almost de-sexualise the female figure because the body is broken down into muscle groups not body parts. It just so happens that on the day these girls get tanned up, hair and make-up done, wear a sparkly bikini and a pair of heels.

I know myself that training hard is not glamorous.  These girls are not tottering around in heels and bikinis 24/7. Most of the time they are just like you and me, running around in jeans and converse, hair scraped back, getting frazzled. I spend a lot of my time, covered in sweat, snot and dribble with my hair plastered to my head, not a scrap of make-up on and looking like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards. The opportunity to get glammed up once in a blue moon would be very appealing and if I could do a triathlon with bounce in my hair, mascara that didn’t run and in a pair of heels then hell, I probably would!

The positivity, the camaraderie, the desire to lift other women and to encourage health and fitness for all was inspiring. Even if you have no intention of competing you should read this interview. It’s not about bikinis, it’s about positive adjustments to life.

On the Menu:

Taste Test Table

Drinks:

  • Purple Power Protein Smoothie
  • Green Zinger Recovery Drink
  • ChocoPro Protein Smoothie
  • Water infused with Cucumber, strawberry and mint

Food:

  • A selection of Meat Balls served with Eat Clean Ketchup:
    • Pork and Apricot with Smoked Paprika
    • Spicy Lamb and Goji Berry
    • Turkey, Blueberry and Fennel
  • Grain Free Scotch Eggs (baked not fried) with Sage and Onion
  • Grain Free Tuna and Courgette Fritters with Creamy Avocado Dip
  • Fatoush Salad
  • Grain Free, Raw Cacao Brownies with Carrot, Courgette and Beetroot

All the recipes will be appearing on cleanleanbean over the next couple of weeks.  To receive an email alert when they are posted, click on the follow button or sign up to email alerts on this blog.  You can also follow my Facebook page cleanleanbeanblog and follow me on Twitter @cleanleanbeanie

Jo Fi Table 3

(Photography by Ann Owen)

How did you get into competing?

Fiona: I was going to Jo’s classes and was inspired by both Jo and another friend who also competed. I had been through a tough time in my personal life and wanted something positive to focus on and to move forward with a personal challenge and a new goal.

Going on a beach in a bikini is bad enough for me, what’s it like stepping on a stage in front of hundreds of people?

Fiona:  As an ex-dancer I love the stage and competing is just like a performance. I was worried about body confidence and comparing myself to the other athletes but it’s not about the other girls, it’s about training my body to a standard that I can even enter the competition and it’s about being proud of what I’ve achieved.

How would you describe your body confidence?

Fiona:  When I was younger I suffered from an eating disorder so I was never happy with the way I looked, but having a training plan and an eating plan as actually helped me to gain control of the condition.  The tan and the makeup help me to feel confident under the harsh lights and I do look at my competition pictures and think I look good overall. But I must stress that the way that we look in competition is not sustainable all year round and we don’t look like that all the time. We go through a specific 12 week prep phase to achieve it.

As you can’t look show ready 100% of the time, mentally how do you deal with the less conditioned phases?

Fiona: This is actually the first time that I’ve had a period of bulking up and eating surplus calories to gain muscle mass and weight. It doesn’t sit well with me and I don’t feel comfortable putting the weight on, but it’s a process I have to follow.   I’m trusting my coach, trusting that this is what I need to do to improve my package, ready for the Pure Elite World Championships, Pro Division in November at the O2 Arena.  It’s a journey as well, It’s all new to me and I am curious to see what improvements I can make. This is a positive journey, It has changed the way I look at food and training. Competing is making me fitter, healthier and stronger.

So what do you actually eat to look like this?

Jo: A 12 week cut consists of very high protein, lower carbs and fats, depending on what stage you are at and your current condition, so this is individual to each client.  For every competitor the macros (carbs, fat and protein) will be adjusted. We don’t look at it in terms of what you can and can’t eat, its more about carb and fat manipulation. Protein always remains high to ensure the body retains muscle mass.

Fiona: Typically for me its grilled chicken, fish and lean meat. Lots of green veg, some healthy carbs such as sweet potato, oats, rice and good fats such as nuts, avocados and nut butters. I also drink about 4 litres of fluid per day, mainly water but we are allowed black coffee and  green tea.

How many times a week do you train and for how long?

Fiona: I train 6 days per week for about an hour to an hour and a half at a time. My training sessions are weight lifting and I also teach up to 12 dance classes a week which helps to keep me fit.  When I am training for a competition the meal prep is quite time consuming too.

How do you fit your training and eating regimes in with normal family life?

Jo and Fiona: We try very, very hard not to let it affect family life.  Like any mother, our children are our priority and our time with them is precious. So we either train very early in the morning before everyone gets up or after we have dropped the children at school and before we start work. Or we train late in the evening after they have gone to bed.

How do you manage to resist all the foods you can’t have, what are your coping strategies?

Fiona: It’s is just a mind-set. You have to focus on the goal.  I still cook the meals that the kids enjoy such as bangers and mash, fish fingers, lasagna etc. and I still make a point of sitting and eating a meal with them, I just eat something different.

Are there any disadvantages to competing in your 40s compared to the 20 somethings?

JO: As you get older your body doesn’t respond as quickly to diet and exercise. Your hormones are changing, you have wear and tear in your joints, your health changes plus you are having to juggle training and nutrition with your job and your family.  I think that competing in your 40’s is much tougher than when you are young! Your energy levels can be lower if you over-train, recovery can take longer and ideally you need unbroken sleep.

Fiona: I agree!  I’ve had 2 caesareans so my stomach muscles are ravaged and I find it a lot harder to get definition. For younger women without children the competing can be the most important thing in their life but for us mums, our kids come first. It seems that in your 40’s you are not considered as marketable as the younger girls so sponsorship and recognition are not as easy to achieve, which is a shame, because there is a huge market out there of women our age.

What are the 3 most important things that you have learnt through your competition journey?

Fiona: To not take yourself too seriously, to love your body and to enjoy the process regardless of the result.

How was the food today?

Jo and Fiona: OMG delicious!! We’ve been in heaven.  It’s nutritious, tasty and our kind of food! When you are counting your macros you tend to just eat the same food all the time because it makes it easier to calculate. But it just goes to show what you can do when you know how and that prep food does not have to be boring. We have had things today that even our kids would enjoy eating.

What was your favourite?

Jo and Fiona: The Tuna and Courgette Fritters, the Brownies and the Scotch Eggs were all amazing

Are they any recipes that you are going to try at home?

Jo and Fiona: The Tuna and Courgette Fritters, all the meatballs, Scotch Eggs, the salad as it was so tasty and fresh and the Protein Shakes.  The kids would really like the meatballs and the Scotch Eggs and it’s the sort of thing that you could make with them.

What mantra do you live your life by?

Jo: Go hard or Go home! But by that I mean do your best whatever that is.  Not that you have to be the best, just as long as you have done your best that’s all you can ask for.

What’s the most important piece of advice you can give my readers?

Jo: Believe in yourself, you are capable of more than you realise.

Fiona:  Being a mum shouldn’t be the sole definer of who you are. You can get fit and regain a healthy body after having a baby. We are just two hard-working, busy mums in our 40’s:  If we can do it, so can you!

What are the best things about competing?

Fiona: Great memories, amazing friendships and a fitter, healthier lifestyle.

Jo: Agree! I felt a bit intimidated when I first came into the industry.  I was worried that it would be a very judgemental environment but I found it was full of like-minded people who supported each other. There is so much positivity and motivation amongst everyone.  And at the end of the day everyone has their own insecurities. No matter how good we look we are always striving to make further improvements

Jo how does it differ, training a competitor to training someone who just wants to get fit and lose a bit of weight?

Jo: With a competitor I will look at their physique to see what we need to improve for the category that they are entering and then I structure their training around that.  I’m looking to see how I can push them further and get the best out of them. 

With non-competitors I take into consideration their availability and goals so that I can tailor the programme to fit in with their life. It’s also my job help them to find the confidence to go to the gym by themselves and to teach good technique for when I am not there.  I break down the end goal into smaller short-term goals to keep them motivated and then we continuously progress from there. But at the end of the day whether they are a competitor or a non-competitor, they are both training to achieve a personal goal, whether that’s to place first in a competition or to lose some body fat and tone up to gain some body confidence.

What would you say to someone who felt a bit intimidated to train with you?

JO: I would say please don’t be worried!  I would devise a training plan that suits you, not me or anyone else.  A lot of people get really down on themselves and are very self-conscious in the gym.  I say “look you are going to be fine, I’m going to show you how to do things correctly and safely and you have as much right to be in this gym as anyone else has”.  I want to give people the confidence and belief that they can do this.  And that they can do this on their own when I am not there. It’s all about positivity and knowledge.  But clients have to want to make it happen and be dedicated to the goal, whatever that is.

As well as personal training what other services do you offer and how do they benefit people?

Jo: I offer online training plans and online food and nutrition plans for everyone, competitor or non-competitor. I am currently training people all over the country! Competitors do need to come to see me so that I can calculate their body composition statistics and talk about goals and timelines. I make sure that the food and nutrition plans compliment what a person wants to achieve and that it will fit in with work and family life. I also take into consideration any food preferences because I want people to enjoy their food and not make them eat things they don’t like.

Online training plans are based around goals. I take into consideration what that person is currently doing training wise and add in what needs to be done to achieve the desired result. What I require from my client is regular feedback on how they are finding the programme so that I can adjust it every 4-6 weeks to maintain progression and keep it interesting. This is also a good motivator as the client is then accountable for their training!  If the client is happy to do so (and I appreciate this is not for everyone) I ask for progress pictures so I can see how they are developing and how I can improve things for them.

Is it really possible for the ordinary working mum to regain their figure after childbirth?

JO: Definitely! That was a driving force for me.  I had my daughter in my 30’s and my body shape changed a lot. I gained a stone and a half in weight post birth and I wasn’t happy with how I looked.  I also felt tired, sluggish and quite unhealthy.  I was so focussed on my baby, I was forgetting to eat the right foods at the right time.  It’s hard looking after a baby and trying to exercise but with the right support around you, the determination to achieve a goal and some good time management it can be done. It’s about setting short-term, manageable goals, celebrating your achievements week by week and taking each day as it comes.  You also need to be patient as not everything comes quickly. It’s important to find a type of  exercise that you enjoy doing and that you can involve the kids in wherever possible.

Jo Fi Smiley Selfie

You can follow Fiona on Instagram @reederworld or Facebook as Fiona Reed

You can follow Jo on:

  • Instagram JoProFitness_onlinecoach
  • Twitter @joprofitness
  • Facebook JoPro Fitness
  • http://www.joprofitness.co.uk.
  • Email info@joprofitness.co.uk
  • Mobile 07795 073388
  • For an exclusive Protime discount quote code PTA – JoPro180175

To find out about an all girl fitness and fashion model event  www.glifting.co.uk

I would personally like to thank Jo and Fiona for this interview and wish them the very best of luck in their forthcoming competitions!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this interview and what your goals are.  Please leave comments below.

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12 thoughts on “Fit, Fab and Forty-something: Kids, Jobs and Getting Fit

  1. I know both these working mum’s and ladies so well.They are both amazing women in so many different ways.Jo in particular who i know closely is the hardest working person i know,a machine that does not know when or how to stop,either in the gym training or in business.On a day to day basis there is no way on this earth as a man that i could do what these two ladies do.They are modern,current and role models for mums all over the UK.They have both had fabulous results so far in the fitness/glamour shows in 2015,and they have hardly tapped their full potential,with so much more still to come from these modern business,fitness mums.All of us that know them are lucky to have them in our lives in any way as they bring a strength of life with core family values we should all live by.x.Andy

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