4:00 PM September 14, 2022
A mum of six from Marlesford hopes to encourage other women to be proud of what they have got, after her own weight-loss journey led to competing as a natural bodybuilder.
Fran Smith’s journey to the bodybuilding podium started ten years ago when she saw “a horrific photo” of herself.
After losing nine and a half stone, Ms Smith was motivated by her personal trainer, Karen Thomas, to take part in a natural bodybuilding competition that excludes using steroids or any enhancements.
The 56-year-old said: “Karen is an ex-bodybuilder, and once I jokingly said that I’d love to do that one day.
“When I lost enough weight, it gave me the confidence to go to the gym.
“Karen got me on diet with more calories. It was a huge change for my body. Then I started the preparation for the bodybuilding show.
“I still ate carbs and had plenty of protein, just in much smaller amounts. I went on stage weighing nine stone six.”
During the 18 months of preparations for the show that took place two weeks ago, Ms Smith had to learn how to pose.
She said: “During posing, I have to engage certain muscle groups, which is sometimes really challenging, especially when you’re very exposed in a bikini and high heels.”
Ms Smith, who won third place in the novice category, said: “I was competing with ladies that were an awful lot younger than me.
“After menopause woman’s body dramatically changes. Women usually give up on those competitions after childbirth.
“I strongly believe in women’s health and being proud of what you’ve got. Sometimes I still struggle. My weight problem hasn’t gone away completely.
“I would like to say that I’m controlling the food rather than the food is controlling me.
“If my journey and my story can inspire women to try the gym or even go for a walk, I want to give them this confidence.”
Ms Smith said that she always struggled with her weight.
She said: “I would find any excuse to eat something, whether I was happy or sad or whatever.
“I started losing weight on my own because I was too embarrassed to ask for help.
“But losing weight is the easy part of it. Maintaining the weight is more difficult.”
The mum of two and step-mum of four said that losing the nine and half stone in weight was “a physical and mental battle with herself”.
Ms Thomas, the personal trainer, said: “Fran has exceeded all expectations. She had a real challenge on her hands, but did not let anything stop her.
“She showed true determination and perseverance. She’s proof that with the right mindset anything is possible and that women have opportunities open to them no matter what their age or history.
“I think she’s a real inspiration to women in general.”