Full name: Larisa De Swardt
Lives: Pretoria, South Africa
Profession: Personal Assistant for a Civil Engineering Company
Training for: 2 years
Competing Since: Started in April 2013
Competition weight: 58 Kg
Off-season weight: 60 Kg
Tell us a bit about how you got started with training and following a ‘healthy’ lifestyle?
I’ve always been active whether it was ballet, gymnastics, kick boxing or athletics. Before I had kids my husband and I competed in marathons on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, it was great fun as we could do it together. I love to enjoy life to the fullest!! I try to focus on the positive instead of all the negative things around us.
“I believe that a positive mindset attracts positive outcomes in your life. Being active in sports is like food for my soul, I cannot live without it!”
How did you get involved in competing?
It actually started out with an old friend of mine who started training at Body Guru a few years ago. She had such good results and I was fascinated and inspired by it!! After having my 3rd baby I decided to train with Hennie Kotze just to get my body weight “normal” again. I never even thought of competing at that stage, to be honest!
“I did the 12 week challenge of fitness maniacs and lost about 14 kilo’s and 15 % body fat. Being able to have the power to change my physique to that level was a huge personal accomplishment.”
In January 2013 a very close friend of mine started nagging me to participate in a fitness show. I told her she was absolutely crazy because I couldn’t see myself able to even stand on a stage in front of a huge audience, yet alone in a bikini! After constant nagging from my friend and 10 weeks before the novice show, I told my trainer that I want to compete. He immediately changed my diet and training program to be suitable for the competition physique that was required for my body type.
What do you love about it?
Each and every show is a huge adrenalin rush and I love to see how my body can change with hard work and dedication. I love being on stage and to be in the best shape possible.
What competitions have you competed in and your placings?
- IFBB Gauteng North Novice | 1st
- Miss SA Xtreme | 3rd
- H & H Bodybuilding Classic | 1st & Ladies Overall o/163
- IFBB Gauteng Provincials | 1st
- IFBB South African Championships | 2nd
- Prague EVL’S Pro show (my first international show) | Made it to top 10 (7th Place)
Proudest competitive achievement:
The whole year was a huge blessing and every show was a proud moment for me! But the moment when I heard that I was chosen to represent South Africa at EVL’s Prague Pro show in Czech Republic I was ecstatic!! This was my first international show and you can imagine the excitement I felt. It was an honour to meet the Pro’s in the industry at such a prestige event and I was humbled by it all. It definitely was a highlight in my career and an event I will never forget!!
What are your future plans?
My ultimate goal is to become a fitness model, and to inspire people around me is very high on my priority list, whether it is personal, fitness or diet! I always set high standards for myself and love taking on new challenges.
“I want to improve on all aspects of my career and personal life, and become the best version of me!”
I want to study nutrition with regards to young children that have learning deficiencies like ADD/ADHD. This is a passion for me as I want to understand the human body (especially children) and how your daily food intake can improve learning abilities. The foods these kids eat have a huge impact on their brain functions. This will assist the parents of these children to understand the importance of a healthy balanced lifestyle.
Have you encountered any setbacks in your life which forced you to change the way you did things and how did you overcome them?
“We struggled for 3 years to fall pregnant and we lost 5 babies over this period, it was a very hard time for us and emotionally I was absolutely devastated.”
During these 3 years I wasn’t allowed to do any form of training. Weight gain was inevitable with all the medication I had to use just to conceive. After losing our baby twins, I realised that my weight was totally getting out of hand, and I had to do something about it. I started to eat healthy meals on a more regular basis and stop drinking all the medication that was prescribed by my gynaecologist.
After 2 months I dropped a few kilo’s and felt healthy again, and in that time I became pregnant again which was a total surprise as the Doctor said we wouldn’t be able to conceive ever again! We are now blessed with 3 healthy boys. My kids are the most important aspect of my life, and I will strive to be the best mom possible. I learned a huge lesson through all this; that no matter how hard the trails may be set on your path there is always something better waiting for you!!
Take us through an average day of yours:
Being a mom to 3 small boys really keeps my day pretty busy.
- I get up at 05:00 am to start preparing breakfast for the family and myself.
- Between 5 and 6:40 in the morning it’s chaos in my house as everybody needs to get up and ready for the day ahead.
- I get to gym 07:30 am and try do my cardio before weight training.
- Then at 9:30 am I’m back at the office to catch up on some work.
- Afternoons are hectic as the kids have to be at specific places for their sport practices etc.
- Back home at 5/6 o’clock in the evening; I have to help with homework and prepare dinner.
- When everything is settled and the kids are in bed at 8 pm I will hit the treadmill or bicycle to do my last session of cardio for the day.
Time is of essence to me so I have to train hard to reach my goals.
Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your diet, pre contest and during the off season.
It took a while to see what diet works best for my body. My diet differs from time to time as my trainer evaluates what needs to be changed or not with regards to my diet and training according to my physique at the time. I know I have the best trainer to help me, so I just follow his eating plan diligently. With competition time it’s a huge challenge for me as I still have to prepare my family’s meals and that truly tests a person’s will power!
Off-season: That is the most difficult part! I still make healthy food options and limit my sugar intake.
How do you manage to keep a balance in your life between everything?
It’s important for me to have a balance between gym, work and my family and that can be a challenge at times. But thankfully, I’m blessed with a wonderful husband that supports me in my sport and he always tries to make things easier for me.
Which are your favorite supplements?
I currently drink Cipla Sports Nutrition Products which consists of the following:
- 1 scoop whey powder mixed with my oats in the morning, and at night with my yoghurt
- Cipla Nutrition Lipo Blast fat burner
- Cipla Nutrition CLA
- Multivitamins, and Vitamin C powder to boost my immune system
Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your training:
In competition season I train 6 days a week. My weekly training looks like this:
Back, triceps, abs and calves
Shoulders, biceps & abs
A total full body workout (much like boot camp)
HIT cardio for 60 minutes
How often do you measure your progress?
My trainer is very strict in-season, he measures my progress weekly. This really helps a lot, so he knows when to make changes on my diet or training program if need be.
Do you do a lot of cardio? What’s your favorite form of cardio?
Every day I do 40 minutes of cardio in the morning and 40 min in the afternoon (depending on my physique). I like to do different types of cardio as I get boarded easily. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I do kickboxing in the evening and this is a cardio blast on its own. On those 2 days I won’t do any other cardio in the evening.
What is your favorite leg exercise?
The leg press is my absolute favorite and of course calf raises.
What are your top nutrition tips?
- Plan, Plan, Plan!
- Always have your food prepared in advance and with you!!
- Your diet is Number 1!
- You can live in the gym but if you don’t eat clean your wasting your time.
What are some of your strategies for the final week before a photo shoot or a competition?
I’m a control freak and like to finalise everything a week prior in advance so that I can relax a focus on the upcoming show. I absolutely hate changes at the last minute.
Favorite female fitness icon(s):
I have the highest admiration for each and every athlete as I know now what it takes to compete. It’s not always nice or easy with the diets we have to follow, but it is so worth it at the end!!
My personal favourites:
- Local: Angelique van der Linde
- International: Jen Jewell
These ladies have stunning physiques and awesome stage presence combined with classiness.
“The harder you work for something, the greater you’ll feel when you achieve it!”
Advice for someone wanting to change their lifestyle and achieve their ideal physique?
I see the perfect female physique as being healthy not skinny. A nice toned physique with womanly curves and mixed with humbleness and self confidence is a deadly combination.
- Set yourself a goal and stick to it
- Get help from a professional if needs be.
- Be patient and consistent.
- If you have a setback, get up and move forward again. Giving up is never an option!!
- If you’re going to dream, dream big!! No one wants this more than you
- Believe in yourself, you’re worth it!!
Where can people get hold of you?
- Email: deswardtl[at]yahoo.com
- Facebook: Larisa De Swart
- Twitter etc to follow soon!!