Winning trophies and my health back

I won my first world championship and pro card in 2015 with the UK fitness federation called Miami Pro. A couple of weeks later I won the same title and pro card with another UK federation, the Pure Elite. Soon after I started to prep for my 3rd show, The Worlds in Las Vegas held by WBFF which is one of the biggest fitness federations in the world. The preparation was torture; I was weak and looked anorexic, my hormones were out of balance and it had been 6 months since I’d had my period. I was puzzled. My mind was restless and kept pushing through the diet and training but truly my body resisted.

That was when my second fitness model interview (click here to read the first one) happened – 2 weeks before that competition which turned out to be my worst show ever and the lowest point in my competitive bikini model career.

Hi Bella, welcome to Sachi Hola TV! You are a bikini model world champion. Please tell us what that means and how the competitions work.

I won two world championships recently with two UK federations, Miami Pro and Pure Elite, and I won two pro cards. There are lots of competitions throughout the year but not all of them give you pro status: the pro card. A pro card means that you become a professional athlete. When you compete with a federation you start in the amateur division. If you place 1st or in some cases 2nd, depending on the standard of the show, you may qualifiy for a pro card. Some federations require you to win more shows in order to get pro status. From that point on as a pro you cannot compete in the amateur division. There are far fewer pro shows than amateur ones. Federations hold many qualifying competitions throughout the year in order to “make” enough pros to be able to fill the pro division shows.

However amateur shows sometimes have extremely high standards so competing in the pro division means a much higher level. You’ll be on stage with athletes who have been competing for a while, who are confident on stage and seriously work on their figure. Sooner or later you get to know the other athletes… so when you see the competitors list you can guess what the show’s standard will be.

I’ve seen how you train. You are so professional and focused, your workout is amazing. Please explain one day in Bella’s life…

I have a competition in 2 weeks so obviously I have a very different lifestyle now than when I live normally. The diet is super strict…

Well you cannot get a body like yours if your diet is not super strict…

I always have to emphasize this… people are constantly asking me for my meal plan… they want to eat like me and I always say “believe me you don’t want that!” A competition diet is an extreme, short-term diet. You cannot live with it for long and it is not designed for a normal lifestyle. It is not healthy! It is created to achieve a very low bodyfat percentage and it can mess up your hormones and cause health issues in the long run. What you see on stage or on the cover of a fitness magazine (great fitness photos are often taken a few days before or after a show) might be confusing. Everybody thinks that is a super healthy body but it actually is not. When your body looks incredibly lean, you’re probably starving and eating foods that you would never eat normally. The body you have for a photoshoot or for a competition is amazing but it’s not a healthy state, talking about women especially, and you cannot maintain it for the whole year. After a show you start gaining back a few pounds straight away. It’s a really twisted condition – you sacrifice everything for that dream body yet you lose it very fast, and it is really hard to accept that. But you have to lose it because it is not a normal state.

So the dream body is the real reason you’re doing this? Or is there anything else that drives you?

I have been competing all my life. I used to be a gymnast, competing with the aerobic national team of Hungary. When I stopped doing gymnastics I didn’t know how ‘normal’ people spend their time. I always had short term goals, preparing myself for something and every day had a special purpose. I traveled around the world for competitions and once I didn’t have that I missed the feeling. I grew up this way… I am not a competitive person because I don’t compete with others but I compete with myself. I need short term goals. I don’t let myself sit back and live a ‘normal’ life. So I just need this. I love being in competitions and when I achieve these goals I feel good.

It’s a mind game. Competition prep time is a really hard time. You have to be super disciplined. Your whole life revolves around workouts and fueling your workouts by eating food that is meticulously selected gram by gram. You train in the morning and in the afternoon, and in between you just try to get through the day with the least energy expenditure possible – in the end you really don’t have any energy. Every single morning I prepare my food and all day I eat from boxes. It is a massive mental and physical challenge. Sometimes, especially a few weeks before a show, it is more of a mental than a physical challenge for me. The first competition I did was physically really hard because I had fatigue… I was so weak that I stayed in bed for 3 days. My carbs and actually my overall calorie intake were cut too low and the training was too hard. Basically my muscles and my body just gave up (it was because of a badly calculated meal plan).

Are you consulting doctors?

You need to have a nutritionist or a bodybuilder who is experienced and knowledgable enough to create a meal plan for you. At this level when the diet is so strict, it is important how your macronutrients are set. You have to calculate fat-protein-carb ratio… everybody says “oh yeah, it’s a low-carb diet” but it is much more complex than that.

So what is your advice to girls who want to achieve that level? Should they just go to the gym or consult a nutritionist?

The gym represents maybe 20-30 percent and the diet 70-80 percent of your success. If you don’t have the right diet the dream body just won’t happen. So yes, until you’re experienced enough you need someone who can help to set your diet.

Is it true that bodybuilders have to stop drinking water?

I cut water for the last 24 hours but you can still sip some water. And before that you actually drink a lot, like a gallon a day (4-5 liters)… you need to have some water in your body to have full muscles. Competition day has a choreography of sorts. Depending on your body condition you start to carb up (you deplete carbs before the show) and may add more water. Also, meal timing. At that point meal timing is crucial.

What happens after the competition? I’ve seen you in magazines… do you enjoy that kind of attention?

Absolutely. I’m super proud of what I achieved and I want to show my best shape to the world! To be honest after my first competition I thought maybe I wouldn’t compete again if I didn’t win… but because I won, for about a month and a half I was probably the happiest girl in the world. So I keep doing it. I want to capture that feeling again.

Because of all the attention you got…

I’ve always loved modeling. I did lots of TV commercials, photoshoots… but it’s not just the attention. It is the feeling of winning; of “I did it!” Also, it is very overhelming when people congratulate you or look at you as a role model. I never thought that someone would feel like that about me but when I get comments like that I’m so flattered and appreciative.

Being in the spotlight comes with responsibility… What do you think about that?

I enjoy it. I love talking about my experience and if someone asks questions I’m happy to help as best I can.

I love your honesty about the cons of having that dream body. You tell people that this might not be for them, it can be unhealthy…

You have to be sensible and find your own balance where you feel good and you look good. If you are a foodie and the happiest moments of your life are eating pizza and cake don’t take that away from yourself. If food makes you happy it would probably be too great a sacrifice to put yourself on a strict diet to achieve a magazine body… not everyone wants to look like a fitness model and that’s perfectly fine.

I work in fashion and it’s been an issue for a long time that the image the media pursues is not healthy, that it is false with heavily photoshopped pictures… I want to look like you but I don’t think I can be like that… I don’t want to follow a strict meal plan and I don’t even have the knowledge to do it…

I look very lean right now because my competition is coming up soon. But I’m not going look like this 2 weeks after it. I’ll always look after my body because being fit is part of my life. Never say never but I really can’t imagine completely losing my disciple one day and becoming unhealthily overweight. But when I’m done with a show I do gain weight. I do my workouts but I love my social life and having fun, having drinks… but that’s only after a competition is over.

I placed 4th at the WBFF World Championship in Las Vegas.

I had an eating disorder and I gained weight extremely fast. I needed a couple of months to recover physically and mentally after the show. The bad experience encouraged me to do one more competition that year. I did my own workout and meal plan. I never again aimed to be extremely lean and skinny. I stepped on stage in November of 2015 at the Pure Elite Pro World Championship with a much fuller and healthier body. I won. I pushed through that last competition and then I had a long rest. The following year I competed only once – at the Miss World Classic 2016 which was a small, invitation only show. I became the overall winner. It wasn’t about the trophy I won. It was about winning my health back and learning to accept my non-competition body and be happy with it.

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