An inspirational journey from being six stone overweight to success as a bodybuilder could have a fairytale ending for a Darley Dale mum this weekend.
Competing on the bodybuilding stage was a fanciful pipedream for Scarlett Williams when she ballooned to 14 stone soon after the birth of her son, Alfie, five years ago.
But on Sunday, as a lean and toned athlete, weighing little more than seven stone, she steps out at the British Championships of the Natural Physique Association (NPA) in Manchester, and has a live chance of glory after victory at the regional qualifiers.
Now, 32-year-old Scarlett is being held up by the Parkside Fitness gym in Matlock, where she is a member, as a shining example of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication, rather than performance-enhancing drugs or stimulants.
“She deserves all the praise she gets,” said personal trainer Ian Thompson. “It is something quite special to get to proper athlete standard, and all thanks to quality training.”
Single mum Scarlett, who works as a mental-health lead nurse, joined Parkside to improve her health, fitness and lifestyle.
With the help of Thompson and then fellow personal trainer and coach, Beth Wilson, she made remarkable progress through weight-training and a meticulously planned diet. Such was her transformatioon that she was advised to take up bodybulding.
Scarlett said: “The gym also provided me with a release from stress. I felt fitter and healthier, and my self-esteem and confidence grew.
“I found time to train at the gym four times a week, and I lost five stone. I was in the best shape of my life.
“Never in a million years did I expect to achieve what I have. The whole challenge has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I feel immensely proud.”
Scarlett also hopes she is able to inspire other women in Matlock who might be facing the same anxieties and frustrations she had to bear five years ago.
She added: “I want other mums out there to see that just because you have children does not mean that you are not capable of competing in a bodybuilding show.
“I want to be a good role model for my son so that, when he’s older, he can look back at photos of me on stage and feel proud.”