My Story | Viviane Djiadeu, female bodybuilder

Keeping fit, training, lifting, whatever the term used – there are many reasons for doing bodybuilding. My reason is that I love it!

I’ve been in England for around seven years, after moving here from Paris in 2007. Right now, I’m living in Peckham, South London. It’s not too far out and it’s a cool area, with lots of different food and characters, so I’m happy there.

The only problem is that it’s a bit of a trek to my work, Waxy’s in Soho, I’ve been a bartender for four years. Because of all the commuting, I’m currently a member of three different gyms – to make my training more convenient. One gym is near my house, one is near work and one is open 24/7.

People often admire that I have the time to fit it all in, but working out gives me so much energy and I enjoy it so much, that I wouldn’t really have it any other way.

VIVIANE'S DAILY ROUTINE FOR COMPETITION


  • 5:45am Wake up to take protein supplements
  • 6am First trip to the gym with an hour of high intensity interval training
  • 7:45am Time for breakfast, which is usually eggs or oats
  • 9am Get dressed and ready, then second meal of the day
  • 10.30am By then I’ve had my third meal – diet is incredibly important during training. You have to be really strict with what you eat. This involves measuring meals, especially carbohydrates
  • Have the fourth meal (chicken or fish) 4 hours after bartending  and then weight training in the gym until 4.30pm during a break
  • 5pm Go back to work
  • Try to squeeze in my fifth meal during my break between 8 and 9pm. It’s always a bit difficult and you really have to plan your days to have a successful diet, otherwise you’ll end up being hungry and buying junk food
  • Usually finish work around 1am or sometimes a bit later, get home at 3am and have a bedtime snack, which is usually a fruit smoothie

I’ve always enjoyed working out, even before I started training as a bodybuilder three years ago. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t active. I try to train 4-5 times a week. When I’m training for my competition, I have to train seven days a week.

My trainer prefers that I use a cross trainer for cardio because it works the whole body, but in my own time I love training my back.

I’m 32 years old now and I’ve decided to focus my life around my training. I want to train people, model, do fitness classes – there’s so much that I want to do. I want to run the world.

I’ve almost got my signed certificate saying that I can be a personal trainer as there’s only so far that I’m willing to go with bodybuilding. I won’t take steroids and I don’t want to ruin or damage my body.

At some point I’ll want to have children with my boyfriend. As supportive as he is of my bodybuilding (he’s going to train me for my next competition), we’ve both agreed that if it gets dangerous – if I get an injury, I’ll slow it down or quit.

Bodybuilding is a weird and amazing environment to be in. There’s a lot of jealousy though, from girls that both train and those who don’t. I’ve never really minded and I’m not being cocky but I do enjoy how my body looks.

I also want to spread my own happiness to others with healthy messages, healthy thoughts and healthy attitude. Of course, no one can tell you how to live and if you don’t want my kind of lifestyle then that’s fine – but I think people should know the benefits before they decide against it.

Fitness can be used for better body image, but fitness models and bodybuilders’ reasons are rarely for aesthetic appreciation, their reason is for personal growth and that’s why I’m doing it. Some like the power that their bodies are capable of.

Some do it for obvious health reasons: keeping fit increases your energy, decreases your risk of catching colds and flus. The NHS recommends muscle and strength exercises because they reduce the risk of osteoporosis, arthritis and type 2 diabetes. Overall, it increases your life expectancy.

My last competition was in September. I don’t think I’ll be able to train until next year because you have to pay for your own travel, competitions and everything until you become a sponsored pro.

I’m still an amateur until I win a competition and that’s my goal. The competitions are just so much fun. It’s basically showing off on stage – wearing different outfits and parading your assets and muscles.

Speaking of muscles, I will always remember one shift I did – I was wearing a vest top. Now, I do get looked at quite a bit because of my muscles, but one male customer was genuinely scared of me.

I was laughing inside, although I do find it a shame that there’s a certain prejudice against women bodybuilders and misrepresentation of them in the media. Both sexes are intimidated by the level of physical fitness.

I think women are afraid of looking too manly, they’re told that if they work out like that, then they’re going to look like a man – in actual fact only steroids have that effect on women.

In the ’80s or ’90s female models were so beautiful, now they’re mostly ‘skinny’ or ‘plus-sized’. Bodybuilding isn’t about being skinny – it’s about strength. I love doing bodybuilding because I feel better at the end of a good work out.

I’ve never felt self-conscious about my competition body, because it’s my own. If people don’t like it then it’s really none of their business. What I do is to please myself, not others.

 

Photography by Mariah Miranda