Prepping up for modeling

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At the beach at 5.30am on a Saturday. Photo: Mike Knott.

I cancelled my Spanish lesson on Saturday. And I haven’t booked again, although I should. I went to the beach at 5.30am that day for a fashion shoot, because I needed pics for an application.

There’s a modelling comp on the Gold Coast in two weeks.

I entered a comp two years ago, the same one really, and afterwards I vowed to tone up and change my diet. But that was about six weeks before I flew to Peru until further notice, and for a while I stuck to some exercise and protein foods. But the alcohol was too much, and by the time I had a full time job as a teacher, I gave up the gym.

I’m back, and have been for seven months, and I’d say I’ve been in a stable environment in my own unit for four months, and three months going to the gym. When I found out about the modelling comp two weeks ago I decided to ditch the alcohol, the dairy, the processed carbs and sugar, and increase my protein.

It’s been difficult but I’ve gained more from gym sessions. But sometimes it’s hard to know if I’ve replaced one obsession (Peru, and then spanish learning), with another one. I probably have, and this time, I tend to get drained easily and exhausted because of a low sugar level. And so, I really had nothing left to give with a successful Spanish lesson.

On Sunday I saw the pictures. And I was unhappy. The photos of posing in the water weren’t me. I had no abs, and there wasn’t much tone on my chest either. I was skinny, but not muscular. I’m okay, but I felt this discouragement as I laid in my bed that night, thinking, “what’s the point? Why am I doing this when I really won’t be ready, there won’t be much of a difference by the time of the competition”.

I went to work the next day, and then I cleaned the house, swept and mopped because I had a house inspection the next day (today). I waited in a chair because I’d mopped the floor and was trapped. And when it was dry I took off for the gym and went another round.

And suddenly, it happened, although it wasn’t really sudden because it had been happening for a few weeks. The program my once-off personal trainer made for me was actually doable. I would have to spend extra time on some exercises, and stop halfway through sets, but there I was, getting through them. And there was a difference in my strength compared to a month ago, and according to what I had written down.

And this in itself, the gaining this strength, was an accomplishment. I walked out of the gym feeling proud, and feeling like a muscleman in my mind, and even seeing myself as one. It didn’t matter then, at that moment, as to how I would look to others in two weeks time.

What ‘Despacito’ means to me

The song Despacito is a source of inspiration to me, and the other night I heard it played on a pan flute.

Last year I entered a modelling competition. The competitors had to practice how we would arrive on the stage and in what order, and with which movements. This is how I knew the song Despacito. It was the song being played during our routine.

The moments walking on the catwalk to a full room of supporters was one of those powerful moments I will always remember. I was the least toned among the competitors and it felt embarrassing competing among them for four days in Cairns, and when I returned home I promised myself I would work hard so I could compete in the future.


For months I ate a strict protein based diet, quit alcohol, and trained at the PCYC gym six days a week. It seems to be mandatory for V-Hits to be played in any gym and Despacito seemed to be airing the most.

When I would hear the familiar “Sí, sabes que ya llevo un rato mirándote
Tengo que bailar contigo hoy” while lacking motivation, or struggling with weights, I would flash back to the catwalk. I remembered what I needed to do.

The gym was important to me because it helped me focus mentally, and it reminded me I could care for myself. When I moved to Trujillo, Peru, I joined a gym and it’s one of the best things I’ve done here. It gave me a sense of control that I really didn’t have with many other things.

Despacito has become a siren to me when I’m in a foreign country surrounded by different music and language. Sometimes it plays in a taxi, or at a shopping centre, or on a friend’s phone. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not my favourite song. I don’t listen to it frequently. For example, I’m listening to Amy Shark and Dope Lemon on repeat (and tried The Wombat’s new album that just came out but I’m just not a fan). But Despacito is about hearing something familiar tied to my past memories. It’s an encouragement. It reminds me that I have a wonderful future, and that I have to take care of it.

The other night a busker visited the hostel my friends and I were drinking at, and he played the song on a pan flute. My phone was dead so I’m using Lutie’s video that he’s been kind enough to share.


I hope you have a song that encourages you as well.