Muscling Your Way to the Top

By Yana Vella, Company Accountant

Woman lifting weights

Working a full-time job, training for bodybuilding competitions while running a cake-baking business and studying for accountancy exams, is a lot for anyone to juggle.

I’m often asked how I manage to find time to do everything while still being able to progress in my career at Blexr. So I’m going to share with you my routine and tips for success.

Don’t waste time

My number one rule is to not waste time. Every minute counts. So I find list-making very useful.

We have objectives and key results (OKRs) at Blexr and I like to discuss mine in detail with my manager. Sometimes you think there’s only five steps to completing a task, but there’s actually ten. And then you can have a dependency on someone else, which can hold you up even more. So be clear from the start of a task about what you’ll need to do.

I also don’t waste time sitting in traffic. I don’t come to work at 8am because the traffic is too bad and a 20-minute journey takes 90 minutes.

Now, I’m lucky that Blexr offers flexible working, so I can spend the first hour at home, checking emails and Slack messages. Then I go in once the traffic has calmed down. Not everyone has the option of flexible working, but why not ask your boss if you can tweak your starting times if you’re getting stuck in the morning traffic?

Woman lifting dumbbells

Start your day the right way

I hate Mondays, so much so that I used to avoid training on that day and would come to work feeling a bit depressed. But then I started doing a heavy workout for an hour, early on a Monday, and it actually made me come to work feeling energetic, in a good mood and be more productive in my job. It makes me feel like it’s a Friday.

I’m not a morning person at all – believe me, it’s a fight against myself to get up every morning and work out, but I highly recommend training before work. It gives me a boost of positivity for the day ahead, and a feeling of accomplishment, as it’s the first thing you check off your to-do-list for the day.

My ACCA accountancy studies are extremely important, but I don’t give up my training during my exams. Quite the opposite, I actually train more and I think more people should follow suit as it’s extremely beneficial to the other areas of your life.

Preparation is key

I have six workouts prepared and I mix them up every week. That way I’m mentally prepared for them when I wake up, as I already know what I’m doing.

This actually benefits my job, as being mentally prepared before I start work is key for me.

Woman on chest fly machine

Whenever I’m asked to do something new at Blexr I spend time researching, just like I research my diet and training regimes. I approach all of these areas the same way – I do Google searches, ask questions and draw ideas out on paper.

My evenings are kept busy meal prepping for the next day, as I need to monitor my daily calorie intake, especially when I compete in a contest like IFBB Bikini, where nutrition is everything.

A lot of people give up their training when they’re studying, whereas I make it a point not to miss a session as it helps me de-stress, focus more and study better.

When juggling a bodybuilding competition and my exams outside of work time, I find meal prepping three days’ worth of meals and freezing them on a Sunday really helpful. This way, I have more time to study during the week.

No Nana naps

One thing I stopped doing is taking naps. Napping takes up a lot of time and because of that I couldn’t keep up with my schedule. I used to sleep every day after work, and now that I’ve broken the habit, I feel a lot better.

I used to wake up in a bad mood after my naps, and it took too much time and energy to get back into my stride and finish the day. I would also train afterwards, but I would be completely unmotivated for it.

Woman using kettlebell

Eye of the tiger

I always create a target so that I keep my motivation high and have something to aim for. I put targets into my daily work – for example, if I haven’t posted invoices for a while, can I start doing 100 a day?

I employ the same principle with my training – I create targets there too. It can be the size of the weights, or that I agreed to take part in a photoshoot so I have to keep in good shape for it.

Manage your commitments

I also need extra time to bake cakes to order, which is a side project of mine. I have baked cakes right until the day before my bodybuilding competitions – don’t ask me how I manage not to lick the spoon!

Again, as with work, I do as much preparation in advance as possible, so that it helps me stick to my deadlines. And when it comes to clients wanting their cakes, there’s no extensions, you have to deliver on time.

Nowadays, I’ve reduced my orders to one cake a week to manage my time better. The trick in work, study and exercise is to not bite off more than you can chew.