Name: Laura Carson
Location: Nashua, NH
Why I decided to transform
My journey started a little over one year ago.
I struggled with weight my whole life. In my teen years, I was sickly thin, as I suffered from anorexia. After a brief marriage at 21, I met my current husband, Chip. He helped me overcome my issues with food and taught me how to work out with weights. After we married and we had our child, I started to struggle with my weight as it slowly started to pile on.
I shifted my workouts to more and more cardio and tried every diet out there, even exercising myself to death. However, if I lost weight, it was only temporary. I got caught up in the "fat-free" and "sugar-free" dieting. I worked out six days per week for more than an hour a day, primarily focusing on cardio. I had also been an aerobics instructor and ran many races including a half-marathon.
I usually rewarded myself with food because of the time I put in at the gym. I was never happy with my body, considering myself a "big girl," but I desperately wanted to be lean.
In July 2013, I decided to break the cycle. I was surrounded by females at the gym that were going through their own transformations and competing in fitness competitions. Having reached my breaking point, I was inspired by them to make a change.
I started my journey on July 8, 2013, weighing 160 pounds and wearing a size 10 with my body fat at approximately 30 percent.
How I accomplished my goals
Three months into my journey, I watched friends compete in a local fitness competition. Again, I was inspired, so I decided I was going to compete as well. I set a goal to compete in a regional competition in May 2014. I signed with an online coach who introduced me to macro-based nutrition and a monthly workout rotation that included a five-day split routine, one full-body day and a rest day.
And so it began. I had a lot of work to do.
My workouts always took place in the early morning. I worked out for 90-120 minutes a day, including 30 minutes of cardio six days a week. I did some meal prep on Sundays and then supplemented with additional preparation each night. As a software executive, I often had to travel for work, which presented several challenges. However, I developed a "travel approach," which included using local gyms via day passes and bringing my own food with me.
I also learned how to request cleaner food at restaurants—even when they were not on the menu—or work with event chefs to meet my dietary needs. Slowly but surely the weight started to come off. I was very committed to both the nutrition and the exercises.
Ten months after I started, I stepped on the stage at Fitness America 2014 in Hartford, Connecticut, in the Masters Bikini and Model divisions. The day of the show I weighed 122 pounds—37 pounds lighter than where I started! My body fat was around 10 percent. It was a great experience, but it also provided me an opportunity to rethink my goals.
Two weeks after the show, I decided I really wanted to compete in the Figure division and in a different federation. I signed with a new, local coach (Bodies by Megan–Megan Provencher) and started phase two of my journey. I am now in the building phase and planning to compete in the Figure division in the summer of 2015.
The transformation on the inside was actually much greater than the transformation on the outside. I have gained a lot of self-confidence due to the transformation, which has affected both my personal and professional life.
In my career, I am much more confident when presenting in front of people and engaging with new people. The transformation definitely helped this extreme introvert evolve into an extrovert.
What aspect challenged me the most
I have always been athletic, but when I got control of my nutrition and started really lifting properly it all clicked for me. Of course, seeing results helped fuel my passion as well.
Now I actually look forward to going to the gym—at 4:30am, mind you—and making gains. I learned so many tips and tricks along the way that I decided to create a "blog" on Facebook via a page called 40SomethingFitness. I hope to inspire others as I was inspired.
One of the catalysts for change was another woman at my gym. Cindi went through her own transformation, and as I saw her transform, I wanted the same for myself. Once I committed to the change, I motivated myself. I am very driven in all aspects of my life.
As soon as I decided to do the competition, I started telling people so I would not be able to change my mind. Knowing I was getting up on a stage drove me every day. There was no way I was going to stand on that stage and not look like I'd earned the right to be there.
I also experienced injury during my training. I tore my meniscus on top of an already-torn ACL. I sought out physical therapy to strengthen the supporting muscles. I do need to practice caution when doing deep squats, and ultimately, will need meniscus surgery.
Until then, I continue to push through and make sure I get the rest I need when I am feeling the pain. The moral of the story is to work with what you've got and realize there is always a way if you want something bad enough.
What are your future fitness plans
I plan to compete in the Figure division in the summer of 2015.
Suggestions for aspiring transformers
Actually, two tips:
The visual diary I kept was a critical part of my program. I kept two: one with my starting picture and then my new weekly check-in picture so I could see progress from the start. The second one was a comparison from week-to-week.
My second tip is to be patient. There were so many times I got frustrated that I was not seeing progress fast enough. But I learned to be patient and trust the process. I also learned to not rely on the scale.
I would go 3-4 weeks without stepping on a scale and inevitably, I would feel amazing when I did step on it because there was progress.
How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals
As I started to learn about bodybuilding, I relied on Bodybuilding.com to educate myself. The articles on the site provide endless information, and I use it to find new exercises—particularly abdominal exercises, which are my favorite.
I looked at Bodybuilding.com and other sites for images of female physiques that I aspired to look like. I kept those pictures on my laptop and iPhone. I also kept a running visual portfolio of my before and current pictures so I could see my progress, which I found very inspiring.
Laura's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "O.P.P" by Naughty by Nature
- "I Feel Free" by Bliss n Esso
- "Am I Wrong" by Nico and Vinz
- "Sweet Nothing" by Calvin Harris
- "Waves" by Mr. Probz
- Chip Carson—my husband, best friend, chef and workout partner. I could not have done it without him. He was instrumental in my journey–supporting me every way possible but especially with my food prep.
- HotFitChicks—a group we formed at the gym filled with amazing women that inspire and support each other.
- Megan Provencher/Bodies by Megan—My current coach and someone that truly gets me. She has spent a lot of time educating me on how to build muscle. Her patience and support post-competition and starting the building phase has been amazing.
- Janelle Nicolo/BodyAmbition—Thank you for getting me started and competition-ready, including nutrition, posing, and workouts.
- Best Fitness Nashua NH—I love this gym—6 days a week—and all the people in it, especially the early A.M. crew.
- Eric Snyder/EAS Photography—For taking amazing pre-competition pictures that gave me the boost I needed to believe in.