Name: Kirstin Jade Nel
Height: 1.69 m
Competition weight: 60 – 61 Kgs
Current weight: 65 Kgs
Current city: Johannesburg, South Africa
Occupation: Completed degree in Strategic management last year. Currently doing my exercise science and personal training course
Have you always lived a fit lifestyle? How did you get started?
Most of my childhood I was chubby, and embarrassed of my appearance.
I was extremely shy and also felt uncomfortable in tight fitting clothes.
At the age of 16 I started attending aerobic classes with my mom and then we started weight training together. I was a typical teenager in thinking I would be able to train and eat whatever I wanted to. So I would work hard in the gym, but then straight afterwards go to KFC or Steers for a meal. As I was not seeing any results, I started doing a lot of research about dieting and training.
Only once I started to eat healthy did I see results and I then came to realise that what I was putting into my body was actually more important that what I had first thought. What you eat has most of the impact on how you will look and feel.
What drives you to be motivated and consistent throughout your training and eating right?
I am very goal orientated so I enjoy working towards a deadline, in this case, it’s working towards a show.
I entered my first bikini competition in 2012 and I learnt a lot from being on stage. I took everything I experienced and continued to work hard in the gym and eat right so I could improve on my physique and on my weak areas. I enjoy looking back at old photos to see how much my body has changed, it keeps me motivated.
I also keep A LOT of international men and women’s pictures on my phone as I know very well that genetically I will probably never ever look like them, but looking at their photos definitely keeps me on track and keeps me motivated.
Everyone draws motivation and inspiration from different sources.
How important is it to be surrounded by people who support your lifestyle? Who is your biggest inspiration and support system?
I feel it affects your mind a great deal who you surround yourself with. I have lost a few “friends” due to my lifestyle as not many people can understand the reasons for competing or simply wanting to change the way you live.
People are under the impression it’s all superficial, when in fact it has got to do with how you feel about yourself. When I was chubby and overweight I didn’t want to talk to anyone as I didn’t feel adequate enough.
Once I started feeling better with how my body was looking, I then started to change inside as well and started to gain a lot more confidence. Surrounding yourself with people who lift you up and encourage you is crucial in your fitness journey as positive thoughts manifest a positive life.
If you are constantly around negativity, how on earth can you manifest positivity?
I will never be able to fully thank the people I am surrounded by. My family are the reason I am able to peruse my passion in fitness. They always have positive things to say and when I am down they always make me laugh it off.
How did you get started with competing? What made you enter?
I watched my first show at the age of 16, and I got inspired at the way the girls looked on stage. At the time, I was told that I was too young to compete so I was a little demotivated but I decided that I would just keep on training until “I was old enough”.
I entered my first show when I was 18 years old. I was extremely inexperienced but I fell in love with being on stage. I love to challenge myself and that’s exactly what entering competitions does.
Through competing you learn a lot about yourself. Such as discipline, determination, never giving up, sacrifice and how much the mind plays a crucial role in reaching your goals.
Anyone who has competed before knows how ‘stressful’ it can become, how do you manage to do a number of competitions in a year so close together? How do you keep it from really draining you?
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love food :p so when I start my competition prep my mind becomes my strongest tool.
Throughout the years I have learnt how to deal with being around amazing food constantly, and I mean CONSTANTLY as I have a Portuguese family so everything we do needs to include delicious food haha.
When you do a number of shows close together your mind seems to love playing tricks on you. Between each show I would often cry to my family and coach (Julian Naidoo) as I would want to give up.
Sometimes having a cupcake seems a lot more satisfying than reaching your goals. That’s when having a strong support structure around you is crucial.
They would help me get my mind right and focus on my goals. Your body definitely takes a toll with competing as being so incredibly lean isn’t always healthy. So you need to listen to your body. When I was feeling extremely drained at times I would message my coach and he would change up my diet and training program or a simple motivational message from him would “reboot my system” haha.
When you want to achieve your goals so badly, sometimes you will let nothing get in the way. But I always express how important it is to do it in a healthy manner.
What are your future plans?
My fitness goal is to keep on pushing myself daily and try to be the best me that I can achieve. Who knows what the future holds ;)
I just know that I will be working my booty off everyday and learning more about myself whilst doing it.
I am currently doing my exercise science and personal training course so I am aiming to make my passion my career and eventually help girls step on stage as well.
Take us through an average day of yours:
- I wake up at 4.30am every morning, I then eat my breakfast and get dressed for gym.
- I leave home no later than 5.30 to get to the Virgin Active in Morningside as I live in Alberton so it’s quite a far drive.
- I proceed with my cardio/weight training then leave for lectures.
- After lectures I drive home then either make my food or warm it up, revise my work I learnt for the day and then do my second gym session in the afternoon.
- After my second gym session I have my dinner and pack my meals for the following day.
I am a creature of habit so I enjoy doing the same thing everyday.
Have you encountered any major setbacks in life? How did you overcome them?
I was bullied throughout my childhood as I stutter and I was overweight.
Children battled to understand why I spoke the way I did and therefore I got teased a lot.
The group of friends I had throughout primary and high school were my rock of support as without them I probably would never want to go to school.
I would say that what I experienced as a child has definitely followed me to adulthood. That’s why I feel so strongly for children I see being bullied as I have experienced it and it’s something no one can understand unless you have been in it. It has taken me a while to understand that I am now dealing with adults, and I no longer have to deal with being ridiculed by children.
I still have the fear of speaking to someone and they laugh at me if I get stuck on a word or look at me funny. I have definitely come out my shell more in terms of speaking to people and just accepting me the way I am.
Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your diet, pre contest and during the off season:
Everyones body is different, what works for one person may not work for another. It takes time to learn your body and understand what works best for YOU.
Nothing changes drastically between my in season and the off season. In the off season I enjoy eating “like a human” as I call it. So I have milk, yoghurt, salt, spices, sauces and a few more cheat meals.
When I am in season unfortunately I don’t have much dairy, and my body holds a lot of water from spices and salt so I cut it all out. My coach incorporates a lot of food I enjoy and actually want to eat, so I never feel deprived. I think that’s the key, once you feel deprived you want to rebel the system and eat whatever you can get your hands on.
All these fad diets (only eat soup, only drink fruit juice, and don’t eat after 7pm) is all nonsense. Your body needs all food groups, never cut anything out of your lifestyle.
What are your top Nutrition tips?
- Definitely eat breakfast as early as possible. I know many people who don’t eat breakfast and all I think is “Doesn’t your tummy wake you up naturally” Haha. I am just playing, but breakfast is crucial to speed up your metabolism.
- Eat good clean foods throughout the day (Try for 6-8 meals a day).
- Supplementation is crucial to maintaining an anabolic state which increases fat loss and lean muscle gains.
Would you recommend using supplements? If so what are your top tips (or beginners guide) to using supplements?
I would definitely suggest using supplements as our bodies are just not capable of replenishing these adequately through diet alone. Also, why eat 10 tins of tuna when you can have a delicious tasting chocolate, or strawberry shake instead?
As food is not always available when you need to have a meal, and if you are working or out of the house and away from the kitchen you should still never skip a meal, the best way to maintain your eating plan then is through supplementation. I also believe that a good pre and post supplement are vital to the success of your training session.
Minerals and vitamins are also very important to keep the body functioning at its optimum.
What do you think are some of the biggest mistakes or myths that many girls fall prey to when entering their first competitions?
I definitely see a trend with new girls as they feel it is like modelling. The skinnier you are the better. And that’s fortunately not the case at all!
I fell prey to this myself with my first competition, Fitness bikini competitions are looking for curves and muscle tone. Ladies need to start lifting heavy weights before deciding to enter a competition.
I have seen many girls decide to do a show within 5 – 6 weeks prior to the event, then go on crazy diets to be “ready”. In the interim you are messing up your body and hormones terribly.
No competition will ever be more important than your health. Rather choose a show further away so it gives you enough time to prepare.
Give us a brief description of your philosophy on your training and on average how long do you workout for:
I love to challenge myself, therefore I try to go as heavy as possible. I really don’t enjoy reps, but that’s just my personal preference.
Everyone is different therefore I never advocate just one training style.
Obviously closer to competition I have to start training lighter as my calories decrease a bit, but definitely when I have no shows I try go as heavy as I can. It’s just what I enjoy :) you shouldn’t do the same repetitive training routine as the body gets used to it.
I train with my mom everyday, and we have a rule where we aren’t allowed to talk during our gym session.
So we train right through for a maximum of 1 hour and 30 minutes. I would advise girls starting out at the gym to get a training partner (providing no talking goes on). It helps push you when needed.
Do you do much cardio with your training?
I unfortunately don’t enjoy cardio at all. I’d rather watch grass grow haha, so thankfully my mom teaches so I do her step and kick classes for my cardio requirements.
When it comes closer to my shows I start doing 40 minutes of either the stepper or the elliptical machine.
What are your 3 favourite exercises?
- I really enjoy training Glutes. It is definitely my favourite muscle to work. I love CABLE KICKBACKS and the GLUTE BRIDGE.
- I absolutely love SHOULDER PRESSES and LATERAL RAISES.
- For back I enjoy ONE ARM DUMBBELL ROWS and BARBELL ROWS.
Fitness models or bodybuilders?
Favourite female fitness icon(s)
Jen Jewell, Jenadine Havenga, Angie Snyman, Justine Munro, Yarishna Nicole, Janet Layug, and goodness the list goes on and on hehe.
“Never stop dreaming.”
What are some of the weirdest/annoying things you have seen people do in the gym?
Shame I wouldn’t say annoying but definitely weird. When people train in jeans, a smart top and smart shoes, it is pretty weird. I often see men oiling themselves up in the gym with baby oil, it confuses my brain hehe.
Best piece of advice you ever received?
Listen to your coach and only your coach. Too many people’s opinions will confuse you.
What competitions have you competed in and your placings?
- Miss SA extreme | Beach bikini division under 23 | 1st
- H&H Classic | Beach bikini division tall class | 1st
- Boksburg classic | Beach bikini division under 23 | 1st and overall bikini winner
- Nabba Pretoria Classic | Junior under 23 bikini | 4th
- Miss SA extreme | Beach bikini division under 23 | 3rd
- Miss SA extreme | Beach bikini division under 23 | 4th