Raising three kids, Louise Smith put herself on the backburner. But after taking the BodyBlitz challenge, the lifelong exercise-hater has fallen in love with surfing and the gym.

After having my gorgeous twin boys and hitting my 30s, my body changed. I found that running a household and caring for my three-year-old and newborn baby boys took every ounce of my energy.

I started eating at weird times and not very well, as I quickly grabbed something running out the door or ate yet another piece of toast after a night feed. People would tell me that breastfeeding helps you drop the baby weight, but I never found that. In fact, it was the opposite; with two babies to feed, it made me hungrier.

With the stress and sleepless nights, I had neither the time nor the willpower to take care of myself properly. I was really stuck in a cycle of caring for my family but nothing else! I was so sick of feeling tired and fat, I felt like it was time to start living my life as an active participant rather than as a passenger. I wanted to feel like the younger, healthier, more energetic version of me.

I challenged myself to get healthy in time for my 13th wedding anniversary, so I started doing bootcamp. After about five or six weeks of that, I joined a gym. The gym was open 24 hours, so when the kids were being difficult or were sick, I could still train after they went to sleep.

On overcoming challenges:
At first it was a complete mission. Everything hurt, I could hardly do a push-up and it took so long to recover after training; I was sore for days! Even getting there was hard. Having three kids under four and a husband who works full time doesn’t leave much room for training. But I made a goal to get to at least five training sessions a week – even if the kids were sick. That was really tiring, but I could usually find an hour, even if I didn’t feel like it at all. My husband was able to stay home and get the kids breakfast two mornings and their dinner three nights a week while I trained; I would get all the boys their dinner and then dash out to the gym and be back to help put them to bed. I couldn’t have done it without my husband’s help! I stayed motivated by looking at photos of myself before I had kids. Talking to friends and family about the new things I was doing really helped too.

On workout motivation:
It took a good four weeks of going hard before I started to enjoy it. Then I actually looked forward to training and felt excited as my fitness improved and I could keep up with everyone. As time went by I found that I was looking for new ways to exercise; I tried new classes at the gym, running, yoga, dancing and surfing. Some of my friends would work out with me down at the beach, which was a lot of fun. I have never exercised my whole life; I used to make excuses or perform in the school musical to get out of phys ed. Now I’m organising bootcamp for my friends, learning to surf and skate and looking for new sports to try because it’s fun! From experience, I think the biggest part of succeeding in fitness is just showing up! Even if you’re tired and don’t want to, just get dressed and go. You need to commit to make changes.

On food swaps:
When it came to food, I didn’t cut calories but just avoided processed foods and alcohol. I just had to eat well and I was fine. I’m a vegan, so I eat a lot of fruit and veg, but I didn’t starve myself – especially after training! I didn’t particularly up my protein, but just made sure I ate a big variety of foods and enough food. You can throw together a great meal of mixed salad leaves, a tin of beans, an avocado and fresh tomato and herbs with some olive oil and vinegar in about three minutes. It takes the same time you’d spend getting yourself a cup of tea and a biscuit.

On treat meals:
On the weekends I would have some treats; chocolate or some wine and maybe some takeaway Thai…Whatever I felt like. Balance is really important to me.

On measurements:
The BodyBlitz challenge has totally changed my attitude towards diet and exercise. During the challenge I didn’t drop a lot on the scale, but I put on muscle; measuring with a tape showed my progress far better. I think it’s important to remember to take measurements and, if you have to, stay away from the scale. I also think I’ve been so successful because I eat real food and eat well; if you don’t, you won’t have enough energy to train properly.

On goals:
I’ve started doing weights and working on my surfing skills. Hopefully next year I’ll be surfing like a pro! I’d also like to train for an amateur women’s bodybuilding comp next year. I have so much energy and feel so fit and healthy. I’m a far better version of me; I’m hoping my boys see my eating and active lifestyle as just a normal part of our life. Bring it on!

Sample diet plan

Pre workout: Banana, water
Breakky: Peanut butter on rye toast, peach, soy flat white
Snack: Mandarin, 10 almonds, water
Lunch: Strawberry, banana, orange and pea protein smoothie; falafel and salad in a wholemeal wrap with hummus or tahini; water
Dinner: Beans and brown rice in a tortilla with coriander, salsa and guacamole; strawberries

Sample workout

Monday: 6pm bootcamp boxing
Tuesday: 6am bootcamp kettlebell and circuit training
Wednesday: 6pm bootcamp cardio and interval training
Thursday: 6am bootcamp on the beach
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: 6.30am bootcamp on the beach
Sun: 7.30pm weights at the gym