I lost 83lbs & became a competitive bodybuilder, I'm a mom & an 'older athlete' at 38, but I don't mind some sacrifices | The Sun

WHEN this 224-pound mom first hired a fitness coach, her goal was to simply slim down.

But now she's a competitive bodybuilder, showing off her impressive muscles in a glitzy bikini at 141 pounds.

Sherolyne France (@sherolyne_j_fitness) boasts over 1,000 followers on Instagram, where she documents the process of sculpting her enviable figure.

The 38-year-old, from Northampton, England, has competed in eight shows since she first hired an online coach back in 2020, with the goal of shedding her excess pounds. 

Speaking exclusively to The U.S. Sun, Sherolyne said: “I initially started on the journey just to lose weight.

"I had always admired bodybuilders over the years, but never thought I could do it. 

“When I'd lost about 10 pounds, I was feeling really confident and actually being consistent I was seeing the changes. 

“I spoke to my coach at the time and floated the idea with her that I want to be a bodybuilder.

"She said ‘OK’ and I was like ‘OK we’re doing this’, and that’s literally how it started.

“She was previously an IFBB Pro competitor in the figure category, but she had stopped competing.

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“I used to follow her on Instagram and admired her journey. When I found out she was taking on lifestyle clients, I reached out.”

Sherolyne revealed that from a young age, she has been active but her diet was always “horrendous.”

She tried a variety of fad diets which would help her to lose a few pounds, but found that she was unable to keep the weight off. 

Among the eating plans she tried were The Special K diet, Slimming World, The 5:2 diet, and OMAD [one meal a day].

She said Weight Watchers was the closest to how she eats now as an athlete, because it involves macro counting.

Sherolyne said: “Fitness-wise, I’ve always done some sort of exercise. When I was very young I used to do gymnastics and sprinting. 

“As I got older I went to the gym, I always lifted weights and did classes but I was never consistent. So for me it was mainly the diet that was really bad.

“I tried every diet going, I was that typical yo-yo dieter. 

“I’ve never been the person to eat out a lot, but it was eating too much of the wrong types of food frequently and all the snacking in between – biscuits, crisps, pick'n'mix. 

“Working in an office, there is always a cake or biscuit going around. So it was all of that on top of the fad diets.”

Sherolyne went from 224 pounds to 141 pounds for her first show, and was surprisingly able to eat similar foods throughout her weight loss journey. 

She admits her family was surprised by her decision to pursue bodybuilding but says they have been supportive throughout.

She said: “As a family, our meals are quite balanced. We might say we will have a takeaway or pizza.

“I can still do that with bodybuilding, it’s just knowing when in the phase I can do that and when I have to say no for a few weeks. 

“If we’re going out for food and I can’t eat, they are really understanding. Sometimes I say I can’t come, I’ll come later or I will come and just have a coffee or water. 

“They are always checking on me and supporting me. They are really understanding.

“Off-season and during prep, I eat the same thing but the quantities change. Oats, potatoes, rice, chicken, salmon, bagels, peanut butter, dark chocolate. 

“There’s not a lot that I don’t eat, but it’s just cleaner food sources and I increase or decrease the quantities. 

“Even when I can be more relaxed, I automatically go to those foods because I find them filling. 

“I find they digest well and are satiating. I can mix them up with sauces and seasonings if I’m not having to be too strict.”

For her first show, Sherolyne competed as a trained bikini athlete at PCA in Birmingham in 2021.

She noticed that her physique was more muscular than the other girls in the category and sought feedback from the judges after coming in fourth place. 

Having her legs be the main topic of discussion and highly complimented, she made a decision to swap to the wellness category. 

Wellness is one of the newest categories in the IFBB league which means there are still a lot of misconceptions about what it takes to have a winning physique.

The International Fitness and Bodybuilding Federation (IFBB), which was founded in 1946, is the most prestigious global bodybuilding federation.

Sherolyne said people often underestimate how much muscle is needed to be competitive and assume they can do the sport by simply being a less conditioned bikini athlete. 

She explained that her training split in the gym is designed with a focus on having muscularity and shape in her top half, while keeping the lower half of her body more dominant. 

She said: “I do a lot of legs. I do quads, glutes, and hamstring workouts. 

“I do upper one day, then lower, and then I rest. Then I have cardio a lot but that varies depending on where I am in the season. 

“At the moment I have cardio five times a week and in the off-season it will probably go down to zero or just one or two days a week.

“Before I started bodybuilding my exercise was whatever, I did a lot of classes or I was that typical 'I must do cardio every day to lose weight' person.

"There was no structure to it. It was just what I felt like doing.

“At the beginning of prep, I was doing 15 minutes, three to four times a week. 

“Now it’s 40 minutes and that’s five times a week. It’s not awful compared to my very first year, when I had a lot more body fat. 

“My cardio went up to an hour every single day and that was on the stairmaster. 

“Some days I’d have an hour of fasted cardio when I woke up in the morning. 

“My steps went up to 20,000 a day in my first year and I’d do an hour of cardio after my workout. 

“I had to mentally zone out to get through that, so 40 minutes feels like a breeze.”

Sherolyne was working full-time in HR and studying for her master's degree when she started bodybuilding.

She would go on walks during her lunch break to get all of her daily steps and wake up early even on the weekend while prioritizing her goals. 

She said: “I have to be super organized and strict with my time but sometimes I will double up on stuff, like if I’ve had a busy day and I haven’t seen my partner he will say 'shall I come on a walk with you?'

“We walk and have quality time together while I’m ticking my boxes. 

“Same with friends, if they say 'do you want to meet up?', we will go to the park and have a coffee because that’s what I can drink.

"That’s how I balance the two.

“When you’re in the gym and you are tired, it’s a case of do the session or go home.

“My coach tells me what I should be eating and how much cardio to do, but I have to push myself in the gym. I don’t have a PT and I don’t train with anybody. 

“Mentally it makes me feel relaxed, it clears my head, and I get so much enjoyment out of it that I couldn’t imagine ever not doing it.”

Sherolyne said her first show was a “pinch me” moment because of all the hard work she had put in to achieve her physique.

She decided to get a new coach in 2021, with whom she has worked for the past two years.

Bodybuilding is an expensive sport with the cost of a prep coach, posing coach, gym membership, food, supplements, and all of the glamour.

Sherolyne said: “Doing one competition you have a monthly coaching fee, gym membership, supplements, whey protein and food, bikini – my first one was over £400 [$486], shoes can be about £80 [$97], hair, makeup, tan. 

“In the NPC you have to pay for your membership for the year which is £55 [$67] and you pay to enter the show, each category is about £115 [$140].

“When you’re doing the Arnolds or a pro qualifier show, it’s like double the price so one category is like £200+ [$240+] and your tan is more expensive about £120 [$146]. It’s not cheap.

“The show I’ve got coming up is a pro qualifier, it would be amazing to get a pro card but I have to remember that I haven’t been doing this that long in the grand scheme of things.

“I don’t think of myself as old but I am an older athlete and there is a lifespan in it."

Sherolyne is currently training for a pro-qualifier show in Milan, Italy.

If she wins her category, she will receive a highly coveted IFBB pro card. 

But she almost quit training when her younger sister tragically passed away in July.

Sherolyne said: “Milan is just to see where I fit in and that self-achievement to say 'I did that, little old me from Northampton I flew to Milan and stood on stage in a sparkly bikini showing off my physique.'

“I was in the middle of prep and my sister passed away really suddenly on the 7th July. 

“I woke up on Saturday morning like ‘what do I do’ and my coach said ‘just keep talking to me. Check in with me every day, go to the gym just eat mindfully’. 

“Twelve weeks later I’m still here and I look at the progress I’ve made.

"Had I given up, I would still be here 12 weeks later but I wouldn’t be able to say I’m going to go to Milan. 

“I think whatever happens in Milan, I’ll have a little bit of downtime and just spend quality time with my daughter. 

“Not having to think about what meals I’ve got and cardio. In the middle of next year, I’ll think am I going to prep or wait until 2025.”

Sherolyne is now taking on clients of her own to coach and hopes to inspire others to accomplish their goals.

She said: “Looking at me in 2020, I was probably the last person that you would think ‘oh yeah I can see her stepping on stage and being a bodybuilder.’

“When I look back at all the things I was juggling, I still managed to graduate, get promoted at work, step on stage, and maintain my household. 

“I had so many ladies reaching out with positive words and asking 'how do you do it?'

"I was consistently giving advice and enjoying it so I just started researching and studying it myself. 

“If I can help just one person feel an inch of how I feel, that would make me smile.

“It’s just one foot in front of the other and take each day as it comes. 

“They say sometimes the things you want in life don’t come easy but when you do get it the way it makes you feel is incredible.

“Don’t just think about how you’re going to look in that dress on that night out, think about longevity your health, and your family. 

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