When Carmen Morse first decided to try competing as a fitness model, she put in a gruelling six hours of training morning and night and ate six times a day, exclusively out of pre-prepared Tupperware boxes.
She loved every minute of it.
Carmen was immersed in the fitness world. She’d post about her “journey” to her 12,000 followers, was sponsored as an athlete by multiple companies, and worked for a supplement and nutrition company. She couldn’t have predicted that eventually, this lifestyle would leave her unable to walk down stairs or wake up in the morning, let alone lift a barbell in the gym.
If you’ve scrolled through Instagram or browsed #ProgressPic or #TransformationTuesday tags online, you’ve probably seen a fitness model or 12.
Their sculpted, tanned bodies, immaculately prepared meals and protein shakes have become standard viewing across thousands of feeds. However, what the pictures often don't show is the darker side of an extreme and elite sport that pushes athletes to their limits as they train for often unattainable physical perfection.
Carmen Morse is an ex-organised sports junkie who admits she's a little bit “extreme and excessive” when it comes to training. Whether it was waking up at 4am for swimming training or touring America as part of an elite basketball program, Carmen has always thrived under pressure.
When she eventually started going to the gym, she found the idea of competing as a fitness model very attractive.
“I started going to the gym because I was insecure within myself and what I looked like. It became very addictive and I saw lots of fitness models on social media," Morse tells Mamamia.
"Training gave me purpose and a goal to work towards.”
Fitness modelling is more than just posing for the perfect gym selfie; it is as psychologically demanding as it is physical. Preparing for a competition takes around 20 weeks, with most competitors reducing their calories and increasing their exercise day by day until the competition. Carmen reduced her healthy 1900-calories-per-day diet to one comprising mostly of vegetables, nuts and some meat.