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Live Your Dreams - by Lesley Maxwell

Visualisation is the use of mental imagery to imagine and create visions of how we want our lives to be, and it's a fantastic tool for achieving your best life. But it's the action we take that brings these visions into reality.

My own story began with having an interest in fitness and health and a thirst for knowledge, training hard, and then going on to compete in bodybuilding contests. After seeing our own Lindy Olsen in a TV documentary, I knew immediately that that was what I wanted to do — and so I did. I was 49 years old when I started competing.

It wasn't long before I realised that you need more than muscle on your body — you need muscle in your mind!

It's challenging in many ways to step on stage and put yourself out there. There will always be naysayers and sometimes self-doubt, but overcoming these thoughts and believing in yourself and pushing through the barriers will get you there. It's called mental toughness — believing in yourself above all else.

How use visualisalion:

1. Set your goals, bearing in mind that others may discourage you without even meaning to. Sometimes even those dear to us won't give us the support we need. So it's good-old mental toughness and determination that gets us over the line.

2. Use visualisation in your training. See yourself in your mind's eye performing the exercises, being consistent with your training, and completing all your training days without missing a single session for a week — and then another week. Before you know it, a whole month will have passed and you'll be feeling very pleased with yourself. Every day counts and leads to achieving your goals.

3. See yourself eating clean, delicious meals every day. Preparation is the key when it comes to clean eating. Cook once and eat twice — or thrice! You'll notice that if you keep your body fuelled with nourishing food you'll find it easy to stick to the plan.

4. Practise your posing on a regular basis. Visualise yourself on stage or in front of the camera. Work out your best angles and practise poses in front of a mirror and with your eyes closed as you hold the pose. Getting a mental feeling for your poses really helps, as there is no mirror on stage or in front of a photographer.

I call this my 'mental toughness muscle'. Like the physical muscles of your body, it can also be developed over time through the small daily wins such as doing your 'extras' at the gym and working on your weak areas after your regular training routine.

We often associate mental toughness with how we will respond to extreme situations, such as on competition days. Surprisingly, though, it's all the days leading up to the competition — or Oxygen magazine photoshoot day — that require the mental toughness. Mental toughness is part of your everyday journey to achieve your dreams!

You need to see yourself how you want to be — after all, the power of visualisation is available to everybody. Visualisation is the first step, the idea, and then you need to make a plan and work toward your goal.

Get into a routine with your training and never miss a session. When you do this every day it becomes part of your life. Of course, on some days you'll train really strongly at 100 per cent and feel on top of the world. It feels easy.

On other days, though, you might have only 75 per cent to give — but it's still your best on the day, and that's okay too. This is still your 100 per cent on that day. Give yourself a pat on the back when you have these days and still train.

Your friends and family will accept (or learn to if you stay strong) you turning up with your container of comp food and having your coffee black with coconut oil (or however you like it). A true friend will always accept you no matter what. And you'll develop new friendships along the way with like-minded people.

Take it all a day at a time with your training and super-clean eating. Plan your meals every day. One day leads into another day, which leads into a week. Well done! And, yes, you can work around family and social occasions. I always find it easier not to make a formal announcement that I'm competing as for some reason even the most well-meaning friends or family members may try to tempt you or throw you off course.

If you ever fall off the wagon with your training or super-clean eating, just get straight back on and don't dwell on it. Guilt has no place in your dreams and will throw you off course.


Feeling unmotivated to train? Just turn up at the gym and start your first set and you'll be on your way. This will ensure you stick to your plan and strengthen your mental toughness muscle.

Preparation gives me confidence on the day. If I know I have given it my best with my training and eating, there's nothing else I can ask for. I put my blinkers on, run my own race, and try not to be distracted by others.

Can you be a cover girl at 50 or even 60? I say 'yes'! Have no regrets and make the changes you need to now. Don't be afraid to break the barriers — that's what they're there for!

(Click here to download article part 1)

(Click here to download article part 2)