A woman with cerebral palsy is unrecognisable after dropping four stone and getting ripped by becoming a bodybuilder.
Leanne Stephen, 33, is a former lingerie model who piled on the pounds after getting “too comfortable” in life.
The Grimsby lass is now in powerful shape and is relentlessly preparing for her first bodybuilding competition in May.
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And she hopes by doing so she will inspire other wheelchair users to have greater self-belief.
Speaking with Daily Star, Leanne, who was bullied in school for being different, said: “It is weird because I look back at the old photo and I think 'oh my god who is that girl'?
“I do look back and think I’m proud of myself for how much I have achieved and how different my life is now because of bodybuilding.
“I started to see the changes in my body and started to believe that just because I was a wheelchair user there was no reason why I couldn’t be in shape and look good like an able bodied person would.
“For me what I am doing is massive because there’s not any, or any that I know of, wheelchair women in the UK that have competed yet.
“For me I am not too bothered about placings or trophies, it is more about giving myself the extreme challenge and completing it and raising the awareness for others to believe it is possible.
“Maybe they won’t go to those extremes in their life but to inspire just one person to believe in themselves, make positive changes and achieve something is important to me.
And as for why she started her transformation, she added: “I bought a house, got comfortable and put on weight as people sometimes do.
“The weight I allowed myself to put on was very unusual for me because I have always been sporty and active. I didn’t like it, it didn’t feel like me.
“So I randomly decided to do something about it. I wanted to lose weight and this is how it all started.”
Leanne spent 10 years representing Team GB in table tennis and she also spent a decade as a lingerie model to prove that disabled people can be “sexy and beautiful too”.
She has often been doubted and bodybuilding is just the latest example of proving naysayers wrong.
But despite preparing for her first competition since New Year’s Day, she is wary of labelling herself a bodybuilder.
She explained: “I always say bodybuilder in inverted commas because I would never class myself as a bodybuilder at all.
“I just say I am someone who goes to the gym and enjoys fitness but I do live a more extreme lifestyle than the average gym goer.
“It is to the extreme on the bodybuilding side, it has to be but I still never call myself a bodybuilder.”
Leanne trains seven days a week and has dedicated her time to fitness for the past four years.
Despite her fierce commitment to the sport, her ultimate goal has stayed consistent from her modelling days, and that is to encourage those with disabilities.
She said: “For me I want to raise more awareness of disability within fitness and disability in general. I think a lot of people with disabilities often feel they can only look a certain way.
“I am saying this is a broad statement but I think if you ask people to describe how they think a wheelchair user would look, a lot would say they would be overweight because they are sat down all the time and not as active. That’s not the case at all.
“It is nothing to do with your disability and more to do with yourself, your mind and how much you want to challenge your limits. If you push yourself you might even surprise yourself.”
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