Jasmine George (Ngāti Kurī) who has been a member of Whai Rawa since 2006, would like to share her story with whānau.

My journey began in 2012 after the birth my son. I suffered postnatal depression and had major body issues. It wasn’t just the appearance side, it was also how tired I felt. My body ached and I felt weak. I did not feel the way a person of my age should feel.

I turned to exercise to not only get out of the house but to rebuild my body, so that daily movements weren’t so challenging. This journey would not have been possible if it weren’t for my mum. She would get up at five o’clock in the morning, to come over and look after my son while I went into town for my early morning boot-camp sessions.

The exercise and interaction with people truly helped. When I introduced my son to solid foods and noticed his intolerances to certain animal products, I began to research and follow plant-based organic living and it was then that I started my healthy plant-based eating. I started to notice my body changing and I began to feel really happy.

I then found a plant-built and evolved generation vegan bodybuilding team on Facebook. I was so inspired by all of the athletes, I decided that was where I wanted to be with my health. I knew nothing about bodybuilding but I began researching and planning how I was going to do it. My main goal was to be able to just get up on stage and to regain the confidence I had lost after pregnancy – I feel strong now.

It’s not a challenge to pick my son up or run around with him. I love that the weakness in my left hip has strengthened and my back doesn’t ache anymore. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome when I was 21 and I never followed up any type of treatment but now I have no symptoms.

The exercise and nutrition has healed me physically and emotionally and now I feel amazing.

I knew nothing about bodybuilding when I started. The trainer at the boot-camp sessions suggested I look into it and I helped out backstage at the International Natural Bodybuilding Association competition in Queenstown in 2013. A year later I stood on that same stage.

I won first place at that competition and was then invited to represent New Zealand at the International Natural Olympia Competition in San Diego. It was very exciting and a dream come true. There were eight competitors in the New Zealand team and 1000 registered athletes. From the competition we took home eight medals. I placed first in my bikini mama class, which is where you have to have had a child within five years of competing. I also placed fifth in the bikini diva novice class. I was very nervous, as this was my first international competition, however it was a lot of fun, as there were so many amazing athletes from all over the world.

I would love to inspire woman who are in similar situations. Sometimes all you need is to see someone who has walked in your shoes to know that you can do it too. At times it’s not easy; it hasn’t been all plain sailing. There have been ups and down along the way. However, life’s unexpected hiccups have helped me grow and have made me stronger. I want to share with people that this took two years of healing. I used to get caught up on not getting the results I wanted in a few months but now I realise it does take time; and it has been worth it.

Thank you Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu for your support through the Pūtea Manaaki Sport Recognition Grant.

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Jasmine George.

Jasmine George.