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Real Lifters: International Women's Day 2020
This International Women's Day, we're celebrating the women in our lives who lift us to our goals, to our potential and to our truest selves.
We stand by each for equal, and the ideal that every single person - no matter their race, views or upbringing - should be entitled to the same opportunities as the person next to them. This being said, none of that would be possible without the selflessness, loyalty and courage of the women who support us in everything we do.
So, in order to support the females in our lives that lift us to fight for glory; realise our potential; push boundaries and break misconceptions, we're bringing you six days of incredible and inspiring stories from six amazing women.
Beginning today, an article will be uploaded every day, until the 7th of March. We hope their stories truly inspire you.
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Once you've watched the film footage below, we'd encourage you to keep scrolling to delve further into the story of Malik and Ya'Lisha. Note, this is not a mushy love tale filled with "I'd be nothing without her" quotes.
Know that you are more than enough on your own. But, understand that when someone has the capability to come into your life with a positive impact, they can truly lift you higher than you ever thought possible.
To a stranger, their day-to-day routine may seem like it's nothing out of the ordinary...
Wake up. Train. Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
But, behind the 9-5 is an unseen world that comes with its own set of rules and regulations. Competitive bodybuilding is a discipline that looks to combine specific dieting, weight training and cardio with posing and presentation on stage. They're then to be scrutinised by a panel of judges on their physique.
It's a gruelling lifestyle that requires months of prep, consistency and commitment, all for one small moment of glory... or in some cases, heartbreak.
But for what is unanimously seen as an individual sport Malik and Ya'Lisha tackle it as a team.
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So, why do they compete? Why do they put their body and their minds through the trials and tribulations of such rigid diets and extra training?
In short, the sacrifices are always outweighed by the prospect of winning. At the time, it all seems manageable, part of the stress of being a competitive bodybuilder, and of life in general.
We "compete to achieve, and aspire to inspire" says Malik when asked why both he and Ya'Lisha partake in such arduous competitions. It was all down to finding something that would push them beyond what they were ordinarily used to. But, being pushed past your limits isn't always easy to accept in the moment.
"It's tough finding balance for the relationship" Malik explains as he reels off the list of activities that go into bodybuilding prep... you've got cardio, workouts, posing sessions and meal prep. You've got to make time for friends and family. And then there's the demands that an ordinary 9-5 lifestyle brings.
But, as Malik chases another title opportunity, it's Ya'Lisha's determination for him to succeed that sets them apart from the rest of the competition. "I'm good on my own - but - through the highs and lows, she always pushes me to be the best version of myself... she won't allow me to quit or give up just because things get hard."
Lifted by his girlfriend.
"We're a team. Without each other we're good, together, we're great."
"Support is all about being there for someone through the good and bad, letting them know that you are there every step of the way..."
Never has that been more true for Malik than during prep season, a time when Ya'Lisha encourages Malik to give his all, every single day.
"When prep starts to get tough, whether it be with our training, the food that we have to eat on a daily basis, or just life itself, we always remember why we started and what we are out to accomplish." Malik tells us.
But, Ya'Lisha's impact on Malik spans much further than workouts and meal preps. Her fast-paced lifestyle is a reflection of her ambitious personality, something that Malik can't help but mirror in his own life.
A news producer and exercise physiology student respectively, Ya'Lisha and Malik aren't always privileged with the time to balance work, training and personal life, but nevertheless despite their busy schedules, it's their balance of independency and interdependency that prevails above the challenges they face.