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Oh What a Difference One Year Can Make

By June 9, 2012September 14th, 2016Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth), Interviews

Today’s blog is a very special one. – it’s devoted to my good friend Ruth Naidoo. I met Ruth and her husband Strini last year when I was in New Zealand and they quickly became two of my favorite people. Ruth is one of the most spectacular individuals I know, but last year at around this time she wasn’t quite herself. Like many adults, she had gradually gotten out of shape to the point where it started affecting her self-confidence and mood. Let me reiterate – this was exactly one year ago.

At this point in time she decided to do something about it. She took the bull by the horns and decided to change her reality. And change is what she did! In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an incredible transformation in a natural lifter in my entire life. See for yourself!

Within just a few months, Ruth looked like a completely different person. She eventually decided to enter a contest, and to make a long story short, she won her first competition (she won both her novice class and the overall) and is now the current, all-natural, drug-tested INBA physique champ. All this in under one year. And the transformation in her mindset and confidence is on par with her physique transformation – Ruth is booming with pride and zeal.

If you buckle down and get serious, you can achieve incredible results. Here’s how Ruth did it.

1. Hi Ruth, holy shit! Do you still recognize the “Ruth” from 12 months ago?

OMG no! I have a staff ID card at work for photocopying and every time I see the photo on it I’m like: “who is that person!”

2. What made you want to change? Was there a straw that broke the camel’s back?

The fact that my misery (caused by being out of shape and not myself) was affecting my marriage. Please understand my husband is not a terrible person who just wants a skinny wife – but me being unhappy and depressed was not the wife he married and was not good for either of us.

3. What were your initial steps in this body transformation of yours?

I needed help; I’d had enough of trying to do it myself and failing. First step was asking for help (I do not like asking for help).

I went to see a nutritionist, Tarren McCall and told her I desperately needed help to lose weight. She worked out a food plan and I’ll never forget she was so confident and just said “you watch, the weight will fall off”. At first I thought she was nuts; I’d tried and it didn’t work! But her belief in me was so powerful, it is truly what made me do it.

Next thing I did was call Bret, “I need your help with a training programme,” I said.

“I’ll be there in 10 minutes,” he said.

Now, I have a Masters Degree in Sport and Exercise Science, so I have the tools, the knowledge to lose weight; but having some finite prescription from other people and just following it to the letter was exactly what I needed.

* I want to stress that I simply helped Ruth with her initial programming…my man Strini took it from there and adapted her workouts, tinkered with the variables, continued to push her to the limits, and changed things up to prevent boredom, which I feel played a huge role in her transformation.

4. Tell me how your strength has progressed from day 1 to day 365 in terms of your favorite lifts (for example hip thrusts, squats, RDL’s, chins, db incline).

I’ve never really tested my 1 rep max but every workout and every weight lifted is recorded and graphed and tracked, so I’m always trying to lift heavier or get better ROM (i.e. deeper squat etc) and I believe this is fundamental to success.

Exercise Day 1 A year later
Back Squat 50kg for 10reps 75kg for 10reps
Hack Squat 60kg for 10reps 100kg for 10reps
Deadlift 50kg for 10reps 84kg for 8reps
Barbell Bench Press 25kg for 10reps 50kg for 4reps
Hip Thrust 50kg for 10reps 164kg for 10reps
Glute Bridge 50kg for 10reps 164kg for 10reps
BB Clean & Press 20kg for 5 reps 37.5kg for 8 reps
BB Seat Shoulder Press 25kg for 10reps 37.5kg for 4reps

* Simply multiply by 2.2 to convert kgs to lbs

5. What about your bodyweight and bodyfat percentages?

So I started with Tarren in 16 June 2011 at 75kg and 25% bodyfat and the last measurement before the comp 30 May 2012 (before water deletion) was 55kg and 6.5% bodyfat. Over this entire period my lean muscle mass only dropped 5kg (and most of that happened in the first 3 months). From Sept 2011 to now my lean muscle mass has stayed pretty much the same.

6. What have you done along the way to prevent boredom and spice things up in terms of training and dieting?

I passionately believe that the diet does not have to be boring and I constantly test new ideas and flavours. I’ve read, requested, adapted and made-up recipes for everything from protein pancakes, protein muffins and balls, egg white and veggie pies (I call them pies but its nothing like a normal pie), different protein puddings/ jellys – I work out the calories, photograph and record them. I really love food so its super important to me that it looks and tastes good and with a little effort this is possible. My hubby loves the clean food I make and on multiple occasions we’ve looked at each other mid-way through a meal and gone “OMG this is amazing, who would want to go out if we can eat like this at home!”

7. How has your transformation impacted your outlook, professional life, and marriage?

It’s not about aesthetics or vanity or arrogance, it’s about feeling good in your own body. So obviously first up is a pair of tight jeans and I don’t care what you say but nothing beats feeling hot in a pair of jeans! But there are other things like improved energy for the day; being stronger means I can lift and carry stuff if I need to; being fitter means I am more functional at general daily living. I’m excited to get up in the morning and take on the challenges of a new day, I’m more productive at work and a happier person to be around. I lecture anatomy to prospective personal trainers and the difference in my teaching from last year to this year is huge because my confidence improved so much because I FELT good. Lastly, but most importantly because I got off my lazy butt and put some effort into myself I showed I loved myself, and this was so good for my marriage. I don’t think you can love anyone fully if you don’t love yourself first. And if you’re miserable with yourself you certainty ain’t gonna make anyone else happy. Our sex life has improved and (because that’s really all men need LOL) I’ve got a very happy hubby. Seriously we’re such a good team and both just loving life!

8. Tell me about your gluteal awareness over the past year – were you using the glutes from day one or did it take you a while to really learn to fire them during glute exercises?

It took a while to learn how to get my glutes going, especially with the hip thrust. There were certain exercises that from the beginning I could really focus and squeeze them, like the squat or hyperextension, and I just improved on these all the time. But the first time I really felt my glutes while doing a hip thrust was probably after 2 months of doing the exercise and it was a brilliant AH-HA moment! One of the comments I got at the show was “best ass on stage” and that is totally attributable to my new arsenal of exercises passed on from the GLUTE GUY (Cheers BC!).

9. How important is it to have a supportive spouse?

PARAMOUNT! Strini, my husband is my ultimate fan, he is constantly supporting me. He wakes me up in the morning with a glass of hot lemon water, and even lifts me up to drink it! (yes I’m freaking spoilt). He helps me with the cooking, the gym work (with me crying through it at times!) and he is always telling me I’m a champ. He was also really good at helping me keep perspective and was never scared to tell me off when I got bitchy.

10. Any words of wisdom or encouragement for my readers?

There are so many lessons I learnt on this journey and it has been incredible, I feel like I’ve taken a course in “loving oneself” and should have a degree in “Getting THE formula right”, although these names don’t do it justice. My key words of wisdom would have to be:

  • Measure, assess, set goals, work hard….repeat….regularly! Being accountable to the calipers every 2 weeks has been imperative for me. Photos are great too.
  • Work hard some more. There is so much media out there telling us we can get abs in five minutes a day or lose 10kg in 2 weeks and its complete rubbish. Its hard, sweaty, sore, consistent, never miss a day – work.
  • Make time for preparation of meals, and general planning around training, eating etc. I spend a few hours every Sunday on ‘the cookup” and it’s the only way I made it to eat properly all through the week. If you don’t have time, make time (i.e get off the couch).
  • If you like cake don’t go into a cake shop (unless it’s a planned cheat meal).
  • Don’t focus on the negatives, focus on the positives. There’s more positives to being fit, strong, and lean (even if a little cake deprived) than there are to being overweight, lethargic and miserable!


  • Trish says:

    Does she have a website? I want those recipes!!!

  • Marie says:

    Absolutely amazing! Congratulations on your success!! I’d like some recipes too please!

  • gracepmc says:

    What fabulous rewards for all your hard work. Great job.

  • Michelle says:

    You mean she didn’t eat homemade ginger cookies while reading fitness blogs? I think I need to go workout now…

  • Alexandra says:

    LOL Trish! I was thinking the same thing!

    Bret, thanks for posting this. What a fabulous transformation.

    Ruth, Beautiful body! Very inspiring!

  • John says:

    Holy smokes Bret, Ruth looks fantastic. If you had told me this was her without the before photo, I don’t know if would’ve believed you!

  • Miriam says:

    What an amazing transformation! Awesome! Ruth, you are an inspiration!

  • manu says:


  • Cass says:

    I agree! I want to see those recipes! Also, I am totally wanting those shoulders and that development. The list of exercises all are good solid compound moves, but did she add in any isolations for delts (lateral raises, etc), or for any other body parts?

    So freaking impressive! Congrats!


  • Krista says:

    wow, this was a bit of a wake up call for me. I’m lifting at about the same level as her afters, but I look like her before. And, like her, I’m working on my masters in exercise science, so I certainly have the knowledge and tools. I guess I’m missing motivation, accountability, and support. I’m finally realizing what an important role those play. Thanks for sharing Ruth’s story!

  • Truet says:

    She succeeded because she sought out the right help from the right people, had faith in their advice, and most importantly remained consistent for the long haul. She’s a shining light of inspiration and her hubby is a lucky dude!

  • Way cool!

    I’m curious about the diet component — what were the macro breakdowns, and how did calories change (compared to pre-diet, and during the weight loss phase).

  • V says:

    Hi. I was wondering if Ruth`s Husband would like to write a little article about “How to train your partner”. It is very hard for me ad most times my girfriend walks out of the gym sometimes crying.Apparently I`m mean, when in fact I am really patient. I started her really slow with easy routines, few sets, little cardio so the volume, intensity, variety are not a problem. It`s all about how I talk to her. When she walks in to the gym she is a totally diffrent person, even if the gym is not busy and it`s just me there. It`s motivational techniques that I want to learn. Any little tips like that would be great.She is in good shape but quite unfit, lacks energy so her fitness goals don`t have to do with weight.
    I`d also love to hear from Ruth if she could tell us what a partner`s should and shouldn`t say to his girfriend/spouse. Thanks Ruth, Bret, Strini

    • Strini says:

      Hi V with Bretts approval i can share a few things that help. I love my wife dearly but there is no husband and wife when it comes to training. That happens after the session is over. Having your trainers hat on and being honest is the best way forward. Tell your wife its all worth it in the end.

  • Kennet Waale says:

    Wow, Great work there!

    Keep it up.

  • Kellie says:

    Ruth, Bret has always spoken so highly of you and Strini. You are truly an inspiration and I love your story! I just shared this with one of my clients who is on the same road to success as you right now. I know she can do it and you are living proof.

  • allie says:

    I too am interested in having her website or blog if she has one! What an INCREDIBLE and inspiring transformation. This also goes against the whole “you can’t lose fat and gain muscle/strength at the same time” doesn’t it?? Fantastic!

  • Gina Marie says:

    Wow! I am on a transformation journey myself. This is truly inspirational… Would love to know if Ruth has a blog and would love to have those recipes! The food looks delicious!

  • Trina says:

    Amazing! What an inspiration! I have 70lbs to lose. Now I may not get to exactly where I want to be in a year, but perhaps I can expect big changes too. (I already lost 50 lbs). Gotta go and work those glutes! Thanks for posting.

  • Laurie says:

    Amazing!!! Does she have a web site or blog?

  • Super inspiring! Thanks for posting this. So much I can relate to there.

  • Melly Testa says:

    Wow. Thank you. I am new in my journey with fitness, I love this web site and all of its information and inspiration. Ruth’s story is great, I needed to see it. Thanks too for posting the bikini photos, seeing her body in normal mode is of interest too.

  • amy gray says:

    Great job trish! Your transformation is inspiring!

  • Lily says:

    Amazing transformation!!! Is Ruth’s transformation natural (steroid free)?

    • Lily says:

      Never mind – I see “current, all-natural, drug-tested INBA physique champ”. WOW! Congratulations! Very inspiring!

  • Alli says:

    Bret- did she do much cardio!? Amazing job!!

  • EO says:

    I’m curious. How old is she?

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