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With the right attitude, information and determination you can make big changes to your fitness and our May Body Leader of the Month and founder of Intensity Personal Training, Belinda is proof. In the past three years, Belinda has made significant changes to her nutrition and approach to training. She has changed her body shape, competed in five figure competitions and one fitness model competition, changed her attitude towards food and training and most important changed her attitude towards her body. Body Leadership Australia Principal Physiotherapist, Paul Trevethan, recently caught up with Belinda to discuss what she does as a body leader.

Q1. What inspired you to initially start looking after your body?

I've always been active and have always looked after myself but like many women, I made cardio the focus of my exercise regime. In my late 30s, through education and the help of a personal trainer, I realised that I could achieve so much more if I started training with weights. At the time I was working with a female trainer in her early 40s. She had a strong, athletic physique and had successfully competed in a number of figure competitions. This inspired me to start looking after my body better, particularly as I approached 40 years old myself.

Q2. What do you currently do to look after your body?

Even though I am a qualified personal trainer, I have my own trainer who challenges and motivates me. It's important for me to continue to learn and to try new things - not just from a professional perspective, but for personal satisfaction as well.

Apart from keeping up a regular training program, nutrition is very important to me. The focus is on eating clear. This means eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, and minimising the amount of processed foods I eat.

Even though I have always exercised in some way, I neglected to look after my body in terms of warming up sufficiently, stretching and use self-help techniques to prevent injuries and minimise pain. These days I am more aware of the benefits of these techniques and am more willing to put them to use.

Q3. What motivates you to continue being proactive with your body?

Well, I'm not getting any younger...apart from wanting to look my best as I get older, I'm also motivated by how good it feels to be strong, healthy and to be functioning as well as I can. That's what keeps me turning up to training, eating a healthy diet and making sure I get enough sleep.

Over the years, treatment from Paul and the advice he provides during treatment and via his videos has made me realise how much better I can perform during training (and in life) if I take proactive approach to my body, rather than just treating pain as it arises.

Q4. What is your favourite form of exercise?

For the past six weeks I've been doing a modified strongman (woman!) training program, and I absolutely love it. Other than that, any sort of training with weights.

Q5. What is your top health tip?

This one is for the ladies in particular - if you want to change the shape of your body, you need to include weight training in your weekly program. And, if you're lifting weights, you need to use Paul's mobility tips and techniques to ensure you get the best from your body and your training.

Q6. How do you know when your body is asking for help?

It's always asking for help, but in the past, I worked through pain and didn't pay much attention to what my body was telling me. Often I would feel tension or tightness building, but did nothing to address it - and eventually I'd be immobile through injury or pain.

These days, I pay more attention to the signals - a niggle, some pain or tightness/stiffness - and am more inclined to do something about it.

Q7. What strategies do you find work best for you?

Prevention is better than the cure. Paul's approach is very good - ie. treating the cause vs the symptom. I've learned a lot from treatment I've received from Paul over the years, but also from the treatment and advice he's given to my clients.

For me personally, the type of training I'm doing now (more resistance training, more integrated and functional training), and the effort I'm putting in with the foam roller and pre-workout mobility exercises will be really beneficial in minimising injuries and pain in the future.

Q8. What is your greatest physical achievement?

In 2009 (age 37), I completely changed my body shape. That year, I competed in my first figure competition and placed 3rd amongst 14 competitors and went on to successfully compete another five times between 2009 and 2011.

Apart from the physical achievement, the experience gave me a lot of confidence and taught me a lot about my mental strength and determination.

Q9. What is your goal for the future of your body?

Even though I feel better now at 40 than I did in my 20s, I am also conscious of the old saying 'use it or lose it.' So, I'll continue with the weight training, but I'll continue to try different training styles - like the strongman training. This will keep me motivated and challenged, but will also help me stay strong, lean and healthy.

Q10. What is your definition of a Body Leader?

To me, a body leader takes a holistic approach to their health and wellbeing. They live a lifestyle that supports and promotes a healthy body and mind.

We'd like to thank Belinda for her time and insights into what she does as a body leader. We are all very proud of what she has achieved and look forward to hearing about all her future results!