Viviana Ochoa is one single mum to draw inspiration from, not because she now features on the front covers of some fitness magazines, but because of the way she overcame her own financial challenges to achieve great success.
Her desire to be fit, turned into something way more competitive after some kind words from friends inspired her to try bodybuilding, despite knowing it would cost her thousands of dollars that she didn’t have.
Vivi says she turned to natural bodybuilding, that’s no drugs or steroids, after hitting a low point in her life following a marriage separation, and feeling overwhelmed financially.
“I didn’t know what to expect from that challenge as my son was 2 years old at that time, plus working full time in an office 8am-6pm without any family help, but I needed to focus on something that could help my self-steam as I didn’t feel attractive to my ex-husband and neither my body was the one I had before had my son,” she says.
“Anyway I had the balls of determination and took the challenge and started the journey.
“Competing in bodybuilding is an expensive sport. First there’s the gym fees, competition charges, personal training costs – that all adds up to around $2,500 a month, says Vivi.
Next there’s the supplements such as protein, multivitamins and minerals, they can be $500 a month.
Grocery bills are also pricey, adding about $200-$250 to the average shop including at least daily 500g of cooked lean meat, 500g of good carbs and a lot of fibrous veggies.
And don’t forget the bikinis at around $250 each, high heals $100, full body massage before events at $150, infrared sauna sessions before competition day $100, 2 sessions of bodybuilding spray tan $90, makeup and hair artist $250, dream tan to touch up the day of the comp $40.
So in total, that’s around $8,500 for three months work leading up to one competition!
“Obviously financially I was struggling as I didn’t have that husband support like before.”
Thankfully her trainer Stephanie Parsons, suggested a few ways to help Vivi out financially.
“I got supplements sponsorship from “Nutrition Warehouse” and “Health Nuts” that also gives me a massive discount in all my products.”
As part of Vivi’s sponsorship, she posts regularly on social media, and over the past few months her following on Instagram has grown to over 1000 followers.
Admittedly Viviana didn’t realise the sport would be so expensive when she started out, but thankfully her determination is what helped her attract supporters and sponsors.
“My personal trainer was the biggest supporter. She understood that I was a mum who was working full time and my marriage had broken down.
“I have never cried in a training session like I did the few days before my first competition. I knew I had done all the work but I didn’t want to compete, I was touching my limits, but I just had to be strong to get through.
“Finally the big day came and I competed in the International Natural Bodybuilding Australia (INBA) Fitness competition, and came 4th (novice tall only category) with some good feedback from judges.
“Then this year in January, finally my marriage separation was done. I remember feeling I had failed as a women and as mum. But that’s what inspired me to compete again, and it kept me away from eating or drinking disorders.
The added financial help allowed Vivi to focus on competing, allowing her to eventually enter the INBA Australian titles, where she came 3rd (novice tall and open tall finals).
While she hasn’t been able to afford some competitions, such as joining the Australian team in the World Championships in Dubai, some free online personal coaching from her trainer and family financial support, have helped to keep Vivi competing at home.
“I had two more opportunities to get into the pro qualifier the NSW championship and the Muscle and Model show.
I didn’t have the money, or the energy to try both, so I decided to focus and go for the last chance, then early this October I competed in the INBA Muscle and model show were I got my first gold medal placing first in 30 years-plus division, and I got also my first silver medal in the open tall category.”
While Vivi’s wins weren’t enough to help her qualify for the professional finals, she says she’s fine with that and is determined to keep going.
“Sadly the girl who beat me, already had the spot in the pro qualifier, which meant that I missed out, but I am happy to know she won the INBA fitness pro qualifier and I’m proud of my achievements.”
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