I have always been a gym-bunny. I HAD to be with the amount of food I eat. I was a strictly ‘cardio-only’ girl though – the men in the weights section were such pervs. Monday’s were my best day, I would do a 45minute spinning class followed by a 30minute ab class then to finish it off an hour-long “shape” class which involved body weight exercises. I was burning 1200 calories every Monday. It was fantastic.

I always admired the fitness model look and thought that with enough cardio I would get there. This was not so. Enter my fellow gym-bunny blonde friend Samantha Hunter. She convinced me to try out the weights section… I was excited to try something new so we gave it a bash…It’s like a drug. That burn you get from lifting a heavy weight and feeling the ache in your muscles is amazing. You want more. Slowly but surely, I started to notice some changes and I was hooked.

Sam then decided to take it a step further. “Let’s compete,” she said. “It will be fun,” she said. Challenge accepted. Find a competition. Date set. 12 weeks to do this thing called “prep”. Sam then introduced me to Craig. I was a bit sceptical considering she hadn’t met the guy and only spoke to him online/via Whatsapp but I threw caution to the wind and signed up. Having Sam around to ride that roller coaster with me made the entire experience better. We would talk to each other all day every day and having someone around who could relate to your emotions and symptoms made the world of difference as we prepped together.

Those 12 weeks were a complete game-changer. Craig talked me through every issue or query; he dealt with my constant nagging for other food and accommodated my social plans. I would send him progress pics and get constructive feedback and the poor man was even privy to hormonal issues which he would pick up before I did! Two weeks before show day I still had not met him. I could have walked straight past him at the shops and not batted an eyelid.

Show day arrived and I finally got to meet my coach. I had my oreo caramel cupcakes ready for the binge afterwards. I was so excited to get up on stage and have my time in the spotlight – terrified, but excited to show off my hard work. The moment arrived. I got up on stage and couldn’t see a damn thing because of the lights. I just smiled. I posed. I flicked my hair. My heart was pounding and my cheeks were hurting from smiling but I kept it up. All 27 of us girls in my bikini division stood and waited to hear who would be named Top 3.

Third place called. Keep smiling. Clap. Second place called. Keep smiling. Clap. First place called. Keep smiling. Clap.

All of a sudden, I noticed 27 pairs of eyes (and more) staring at me. “Tasha! It’s you! You won!” someone shouted. My heart stopped. I started shaking. My legs carried me down the stairs and onto the podium, I ducked for my crown and sash and held up my trophy for my photo. When I stepped off stage I was almost knocked off my feet by my Sammy. She was so excited and happy for me! We jumped and screamed like the girls we are. I hugged and kissed my boyfriend and friends but I was on a hunt for Craig. And then I spotted him. Those 12 weeks of broccoli, cardio and tears suddenly seemed all worth it. I couldn’t thank him enough, but ever so humble he kept telling me he did nothing.

It’s been almost 6 months since I competed, and to this day I still keep in contact with Craig. He will guide me through any maintenance issues I experience and will still humour me with my theories. Signing up with him was the best thing I could have ever done for my goals because you constantly have someone by your side to pick you up when you are down. He has now been dubbed “Oracle” because the man is just a damn genius.