I became a bodybuilder… and found love!

I became a bodybuilder… and found love!

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From chunky to hunky! I was bullied at school for being overweight, but now my former classmates are asking me for tips…
By Jordan Saunders, 21, from Basildon in Essex

 

Jordan Saunders, 21, tipped the scales at 11 stone at just 11 years old, making her the perfect target for cruel school bullies.

Determined to shape up she hit the gym and shed three stone in just a few months, shrinking to a slinky eight stone.

She has now beat the bullies to sculpt an incredible buff body – and bagged a fitness model fiance to boot, Ray Bath, 26.

The couple, of Basildon, Essex, started dating and soon Mr Bath confessed to Miss Saunders that he had been bullied as a child as well.

Miss Saunders said: “Both me and Ray have beat the bullies to bag our buff bodies – and each other.

“When the pictures of us posing on stage in a bodybuilding contest came out I had people who had teased me at school asking for weight loss tips.

“Suddenly all these people who had called me names when we were teenagers came out of the woodwork and were asking how they could get in great shape.

“The tables really have turned – I always try and help even though part of me is surprised.”

Jordan as an overweight child
Jordan as a child

Miss Saunders struggled with her weight as a child and ate a fatty diet consisting of chicken nuggets, chips and calorie-laden ready-meals.

Aged 11 Miss Saunders weighed in at 11 stone and she found her chubby frame often attracted taunts from cruel school bullies.

She said: “Not only did I weigh a lot, but I also had braces, glasses and ginger hair – the perfect target for cruel school bullies.

“I stopped going to dancing classes because someone said I looked like an elephant. My sister used to call me ‘dustbin’.

“Despite this, fitness was still hugely important to me and I swam for 20 hours a week. But my diet meant I couldn’t shed the pounds.

“My parents tried to feed me healthy meals but I was very fussy and I would only eat rubbish.”

Desperate to change Miss Saunders started dieting aged 15 before a school trip abroad.

She lost a staggering three stone – but admits she was not eating sensibly.

She said: “We were going on a trip to Egypt with school and I knew I would have to wear a bikini in front of boys from my class.

“I used to eat breakfast, but then I would starve myself throughout the day. I even told my mum I was eating at friends’ houses.

“I lost three stone but I felt weak and my periods stopped. I realised I was damaging my body even though I was losing weight.”

Eager to learn more about fitness and nutrition Miss Saunders studied physical education at A-level and went on to study sport science at university.

While at university she started working as a personal trainer at a gym, where she met fellow fitness fanatic Mr Bath.

Ray as a child
Ray as an overweight child

Hunky Mr Bath confided in Miss Saunders he had once been overweight and bullied at school too.

She said: “Ray was gorgeous, so I couldn’t believe it when he told me he’d been teased at school because of his podgy puppy fat.

“Immediately we shared a special connection and we started training together, setting each other goals and working out together.

“Ray got me into weight training more – before I met him I was a cardio queen. He used to help me train every Sunday and soon it blossomed into a relationship.”

Soon the pair decided step up to the next level and compete in bodybuilding competitions.

The athletic couple started on a calorie-controlled diet plan and began training intensively seven times a week.
Miss Saunders used to live on a diet of sugary cereals for breakfast, cheesy pasta for lunch and breaded chicken and chips for dinner. She would snack on chocolate and sweets throughout the day.

Now she eats porridge and a banana for breakfast, chicken and rice with vegetables for another three meals throughout the day and rice cakes and oats for dinner. She snacks on Greek yoghurt and fruit throughout the day.

Miss Saunders said: “I always had thought of myself as a bigger girl and never thought I would be in shape.

“When I started to feel confident about my figure for the first time in my life I decided it would be worth doing something to prove to others what I had achieved.

“Ray was in really good shape and had great definition. I thought he looked better than most bodybuilders so I convinced him to take part in the competition as well.”

In October 2014 the couple competed in the Miami Pro UK Championships – where Mr Bath placed 5th in his category.

Jordan and Ray at a bodybuilding competition
Jordan and Ray at a bodybuilding competition

In April this year the muscular pair took part in the Miami Pro World Championships – Miss Saunders placed 6th in the beachbody category and 7th in the fitness category.

On Christmas Eve last year Mr Bath got down on one knee and proposed while the pair were in Mexico.

Miss Saunders said the pair plan to get married in September 2016 in Cyprus.

She said: “Ray ordered Champagne for our hotel room. I was fussing around trying to get a picture of the bubbly next to the pool and then I saw the ring.

“I said ‘yes’ immediately – I cannot wait to tie the knot.”

The shredded couple have now started their own personal training business called Body by JR to help others get into shape.

Miss Saunders said: “Customers can see the journey me and Ray have gone on, so they know we understand what they are going through and can help.”

Mr Bath said: “I was teased a few times and was self-conscious when we did swimming at school.

“I remember being at a football game and hearing a spectator shouting, ‘look at that fat number 9’. That fat number 9 was me.

“I tried not to let it bother me but I managed to lose the weight in the school holidays, before I went up to secondary school. Nobody knew me there and I could start again.”

As he got older Mr Bath became more interested in weightlifting and started training at the gym.

He said: “I started weight training at school and soon convinced my parents to buy me a gym membership aged 17.

“I started training really hard when I was 19. I met Jordan when I was 24, and she pushed me to qualify as a personal trainer. I quit my job as an accountant and got my qualification.

“It is overwhelming to find someone who shares your passion, who you get along with and who you think highly of to be next to you throughout your journey. I feel like we are creating something together.”

As told to Helen O’Brien Google

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