This interview is part of the Real Talk Real Women interview series, where we bring you the life-changing, heart-warming and inspirational stories behind the most successful women in health and fitness. Make sure to follow us on Instagram for the latest interviews! For this installment, we are joined by Le Che' Hendry.
Let’s start off with a general introduction. How would you describe yourself, what are you all about and how did you get involved in health and fitness?
I am an extremely driven and passionate individual with the greatest love for dance and fitness. I am a professional dancer and a WBFF Bikini Diva PRO. I started dancing at the age of 9 years old and turned my passion for dance into my career. I started doing fitness competitions in 2014 and my love for healthy living has grown so much so that I am now writing my own books regarding health and my experiences in both my dance and fitness career. I have found my purpose in life and I will continue to enrich people’s lives through my passion.
Where does your motivation come from?
I have always been a person who likes to help others and motivate them. I remember even from a young age I would always help my friends pick the best outfits when going out and do their hair perfectly. I’ve always wanted to help people look and feel better. What motivates me is the satisfaction of people who have achieved something or feel good about themselves. It pushes me to be a better person and be a role model for other women. My brother recently told me that I was his biggest motivation to keep pushing and to change his lifestyle. It’s those moments that get me going.
As you decided to make a career out of your passion - what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?
I started dancing at the age of 9. Dancing is my first passion and fitness my second. I did extremely well in my competitive dance period, I hold 13 South African championship titles and also represented South Africa in Germany. I have my South African dancer colours and have also gone into teaching dance.
I have been a professional dancer for the past 8 years and the biggest challenges I have faced is working with all types of people. Not everyone is passionate about what they do, or driven. It is extremely difficult being in the same space as people who only do this for money. It’s a constant struggle to stay positive and keep pushing to achieve your goals when others around do not share or understand them.
I have always been a pretty healthy individual, but my passion for fitness and leading a healthy lifestyle started about 6 years ago. With my dance shows you constantly have to look your best as you have an image and reputation to uphold. My love for food and looking good has definitely pushed me to test the limits of my own body. I started competing in 2014 and did 3 fitness bikini competitions. I qualified for the Arnolds twice, and in 2015 I was awarded my WBFF Pro card.
The biggest stumbling blocks I came across in the Fitness industry was never finding a coach who made me their priority. It was merely a money making game for them. I started working on my own prep diets and training regimes and have never been happier with my progress.
Being a natural athlete has been a big goal of mine. I want to prove to myself and to others who don’t know better that your goals can be achieved through hard work and knowledge of food. So far so good.
What’s your perspective on the importance of self-care?
I am BIG on self-care. Not only do you look great but you feel great too. It is a crucial element in staying happy, staying motivated and positive. The minute you feel good on the outside, you automatically feel secure and confident, and both are key to a successful YOU.
I always strive to look after myself and look good. Once again it’s an image you need to uphold.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?
I love this one. The first thing you will hear from a client’s mouth is, “I don’t want to get bulky and look like a man”. I find this troubling. Not only do people have the wrong perspective on women and fitness but there clearly isn’t enough material to educate women on facts, or it’s just not easily accessible.
Women automatically assume that lifting weights will turn them into buff men, but the truth is training alone will never have those kind of results. Too often people think that eating whatever they want and then killing themselves in the gym is the way to go. Fact is no fitness goal is possible without a good eating plan.You are what you eat.
Many young women who want to lose weight believe that not eating is the way to do it, without realising the consequences of that kind of behavior.
Why do you think this is and what’s your perspective on educating society on healthy nutrition habits?
Speaking from experience, it is very easy to fall into the trap of not eating in order to keep the weight off or to lose weight. Society have this crazy mindset that if they don’t eat they cannot gain weight, but have zero knowledge on the facts.
I suffered from an eating disorder about a year ago due to pressure from peers and constant negative influence from people who didn’t understand my journey. The best way forward is to surround yourself with positive and uplifting people, family and close friends. Being around the right people is a great way forward.
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health and fitness journey this far?
My biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that not everybody will understand and support your journey. But that’s okay, you don’t need them. You need to focus on YOU, your goals and how you plan on achieving them. If you rely on others to push you and advise you, you are bound to fail. Stay strong, and stay driven. A strong mindset is the only way forward.
How important have the people around you been when it comes to your success?
My parents have been my rock. They have supported every decision I have made from dancing to fitness. They’ve always wanted the best for me and have pushed me in the right directions. My family are big on passion and using your talents for the purposes intended. We never head into a direction if it is not driven by passion.
What do you do to maintain balance in your life?
Balancing work, family, and social life is very difficult as I lead a busy lifestyle. I am always on the go and don’t get much time to unwind. Time management has helped a great deal over the past two years. I find that if I manage my time it makes it much easier to arrange my life.
I also prioritize everything. Family comes first. I make time for those who have helped me on my journey and have supported me in decisions I’ve made. I know that because of what I do today I will reap the rewards tomorrow.
How do you stay productive?
I am very much goal and passion driven and strongly believe in following my passions and working hard for the things I want in life. I set deadlines for myself in all the areas of my life which keeps me positive and motivated. I hate failure, so it is never an option. Goal setting keeps me going.
Can you give a breakdown of your current diet, training and supplementation regimen and the thinking behind it?
I am not a seasoned athlete. I do not believe in letting go and living that ‘off season’ lifestyle.
Good food is key. I eat very healthily all year round while still enjoying some hearty non diet meals. I set goals for myself which makes maintenance that much easier as well as my competition preps.
I am an NPL sponsored athlete, and I absolutely love their products. I currently use, NPL Whey, Thermo fuel by NPL which is their fat burner, I also take NPL CLA , as well as BCAA. When I get into my hectic training regimes I up my supplement intake and introduce a pre and post workout.
My current eating plan;
- 45g oats, scoop of NPL whey and a lean gourmet pancake sauce
- 5 egg whites, 4 rice cakes with no added sugar peanut butter and lean gourmet pancake sauce and a half grapefruit
- 100g grilled chicken breast, 120g mixed vegetables and 80g roasted butternut
- 100g ostrich mince, 120g marrow spaghetti or stir fry vegetables and 100g cucumber
My post workout meals;
- NPL whey and 3 rice cakes
- 100g chicken salad or breast, 150g mixed greens vegetables and 100g cucumber
When it comes to training I only implement fasted cardio when I need it before a fitness competition. I currently train 6 times a week, all weight training and no cardio.
- Mondays - legs
- Tuesdays - shoulders
- Wednesdays - back
- Thursdays - arms
- Fridays - shoulders
- Saturdays - legs
I don’t do abs as often at all as I believe my diet is key. I do calves three times a week as they are my weakest body part.
Name 3 things people don’t know about you.
- I hate losing – I am an extremely competitive person.
- I don’t like being the centre of attention – I am not one to boast about my achievements in my dance and fitness career and always choose to keep it private unless I’ve been asked about it.
- I am a real softy – this is something people never expect as I have a very strong personality. When I do open up to people and show that softer side people are always taken by surprise.
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
Find your purpose. Life makes so much more sense when you find your purpose. If you are ever unsure, focus on your passion, the things that take your breath away, things you would do without wanting money in exchange. Once you discover your passion it makes working towards something more meaningful.
What are your biggest goals for the rest of the year?
I plan on bringing out the first of my 3 books. I am big on educating and motivating people and if I am able to do that through written material I will be in my element. I am extremely excited about my books that I am working on. Each one dives into the different parts of my life and all the learning lessons along the way.
I also plan on competing in the WBFF World Championships in August which are to be held in London. 2017 is going to be an amazing year. I cannot wait.
Where can people go to learn more about you online?
Stay tuned for the next interview of Real Talk Real Women!