Two years’ ago Hamil­ton­based Stephanie Larivee was chubby and had never seen the in­sides of a gym. To­day she is the proud win­ner of the NZ Fit­ness Model Search fe­male ti­tle, an award she picked up at the re­cent NZ Fit­ness Expo.

New Zealand Fitness - - FRONT PAGE - LOR­RAINE THOM­SON is suit­ably im­pressed.

It was a spur of the no­tice thing to do. “I en­tered the fit­ness model com­pe­ti­tion on the Wed­nes­day night be­fore the week­end com­pe­ti­tion,” says Stephanie, who had lost 10kg over the pre­ced­ing 12 months, go­ing from 63kg to 53kg.

“I am the strong­est I have ever been with much more mus­cle,” she says. “It was my first com­pe­ti­tion en­tered and most likely, only com­pe­ti­tion.”

Born in Canada, Stephanie ar­rived in New Zealand at the age of three. She has lived in Welling­ton, Auck­land and Hamil­ton. The shift­ing around had a lot to do with her mum, a mu­seum cu­ra­tor. Stephanie, now aged 26, first got into fit­ness just two years ago.

“I was get­ting on the chubby side be­cause I had a desk job and I re­al­ized I should do some­thing about it.”

She joined the Any­time Fit­ness gym, but didn’t start to see the af­fects un­til she re­al­ized she had to take food se­ri­ously.

“I saw a nu­tri­tion­ist [Jake Cam­pus] and got good ad­vice. That ad­vice was sim­ply to be con­sis­tent with healthy eating and ex­er­cise. Re­ally it comes down to the eating mainly – learn­ing that you have to have things in mod­er­a­tion. You can still have car­bo­hy­drates, but por­tion con­trol is im­por­tant.”

Stephanie slowly eased into work­ing out at the gym and then started to en­joy train­ing, as it was the only part of the day she got to her­self. She goes to the gym five times a week. The day starts at 5am when she gets up, aim­ing to be at the gym from 5.30am to 6.50am. She then gets ready at work be­fore start­ing her day job.

“Do­ing the work­out at the gym in the morn­ing, feels like get­ting up to spend time on my­self. It is like my church,” she says. Stephanie, does how­ever, have strong views about some peo­ple she sees work­ing out.

“I am con­cerned about young kids get­ting pushed into the gym – get­ting big for guys and smaller for girls. I would en­cour­age them to get good ad­vice. There is a dark un­der­ground at the gym, with guys think­ing they have to take sup­ple­ments to get big­ger.”

Stephanie put her own trust in weights trainer David Wei Lee who pro­vided her with train­ing pro­grammes.

When not work­ing as an in­sol­vency ac­coun­tant for Price­wa­ter­house Coop­ers in Hamil­ton, or work­ing out, Stephanie de­votes time to char­ity work and is deputy chair of the Foun­da­tion for Youth De­vel­op­ment in Waikato.

The foun­da­tion pro­vides pro­grammes to help young peo­ple who need it the most, to find their fit in the world and to help guide them through var­i­ous chal­leng­ing stages in their lives.

“I’m on the board as deputy chair to help steer the strate­gic di­rec­tion for our re­gion. I do it as I’ve been through, seen and caused a sig­nif­i­cant amount of ad­ver­sity, as well as hav­ing the re­quired pro­fes­sional skills to help pro­vide a valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to our mis­sion.”

She also de­votes time to her two dogs, red nose pit bulls – both res­cue dogs.

She takes them to the dog park to roam free or for walks around the neigh­bour­hood.

There is one body fact about Stephanie you may not see in these pho­tos – she has a tat­too down her right side. Asked about the rea­sons be­hind the tat­too, she says: “I just like it.”

She had a se­ries of flow­ers tat­tooed seven years ago and another ad­di­tion to this one year ago.

Asked about her long-term fit­ness plans, Stephanie says: “To main­tain a bal­anced life style and know it’s ok to treat your­self, just not in ex­cess.”

Win­ner of the NZ Fit­ness Model Search fe­male ti­tle, Stephanie Larivee.

Pho­tog­ra­phy: Car­men Bird. Hair: Kim Ha­zle­ton. Makeup and tan: Monique Tay­lor, Stu­dio M. Cloth­ing: Fitwear (be­low) and Zeenya (right).

Stephanie uses a weights trainer for her train­ing pro­grammes.

Stephanie spar­ing with the NZ Fit­ness Model Search male win­ner Chris Ol­wage.

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