At 4.30am, the struggle is real. Fourty-five minutes of interval training on an empty tummy, combined with lots and lots of weights is not most people’s idea of a good time. But Wagga’s Angela Robbins is proof that determination and hard work pays off, managing to win one gold and two silver medals&nbsp;at a recent bodybuilding competition. It all started, as most good stories do, around a table with some friends. The women from Empire Gym were out for dinner when someone suggested entering the ICN Victoria Rising Star and Rookie Championships. They all had a laugh, but two weeks later, the training began in earnest. While most competitors take six months to get ready for a competition, Angela and her friends had given themselves just 10 weeks to prepare, which makes the result even more incredible. “I didn’t want to be Arnie,” Angela laughed. “I had a background modelling but it was never something I really wanted to do, I just kind of fell into it.” Fitness was nothing new to the 35-year-old, who had previously worked as a personal trainer. But training for a competition was on another level. “My coach, Vicki Keogh, gave me my diet and training and an ‘off you go princess’!” Angela said. “It&nbsp;was mainly high protein, low fat and very low carbohydrates –&nbsp;so lots of chicken, eggs, tuna and rice cakes.” After the intensive morning training, Angela would go to work and often nap at lunchtime before heading back to the gym for more cardio after work. After just two weeks, the results were starting to show. “It was intense and the change was dramatic, then after three or four weeks your glycogen levels are so low it effects your mood and concentration, so you get brain fog,” she said. “A couple of days before Christmas I was so foggy and lethargic I just had to lay in bed I was so tired.” With the hard work paying off and the fat dropping away, it was clear Angela would compete in the bikini or fitness divisions, which meant it was time to learn how to pose.&nbsp;While most people think of bodybuilders as spray-tanned, muscle-bound hulks, the bikini division is about having an overall look and the way you walk is incredibly important. Being a former model, it was a chance to dust of the old catwalk skills, but it was also a step back into “the danger zone”. “I worry about women in a culture where they’re physically compared,” she said.&nbsp;“Weight and body image and fitness has always been something that’s affected me my entire life (and) having my life experience is the only reason I let myself go back there because I knew I was strong enough to handle it.” There was also the small matter of parading around wearing next to nothing. A committed Christian, Angela was worried about the sexualised nature of the event. “I felt conflicted about the journey, whether I was doing the right thing…&nbsp;I want to do God justice and represent Him but I was very intentional about what I put on social media, I didn’t want it to be overly sexual,” she said.&nbsp;“I think it’s sad that a lot of women, in order to get&nbsp;‘likes’, feel they need to expose themselves and I don’t condemn them for it, but I wanted to do this differently and show you can do a competition and still be classy.” The culture of striving to achieve a “perfect look” was something Angela had a lot of experience with. In her 20’s she spent three years modelling in Brazil but despite her outward beauty she still struggled with her self-image and memories of being “a larger kid”.&nbsp; Many women find themselves constantly comparing the way they look to others, not just actors and models, but the women in their day-to-day life. Social media has poured fuel on the fire, with photos of celebrities setting almost impossible standards that women hold themselves to. But there’s also an ugly side to beauty, as singer Selena Gomez discovered recently, when she&nbsp;was “body shamed” for posting photos to Instagram that showed a scar from a kidney transplant.&nbsp;In response, Gomez wrote&nbsp;that the beauty myth was “an obsession with physical perfection that traps modern women in an endless cycle of hopelessness, self consciousness and self-hatred.” It’s a message that resonates with Angela, who’s conscious of the way she portrays herself on social media and wants to help break down those feelings of jealousy and insecurity that are so common. “I think we have to be real and accept the fact that feelings of insecurity, jealousy and envy towards other women will always exist – but it’s how we manage them that’s important,” she said. “We don’t have to be a slave to our emotions or let them control us and instead of adding fuel to the fire, we can choose to love and encourage women who might be ‘prettier’ than us or ‘better’ than us in some way. Because as women we are all facing the same battles with image and self-worth – and from what I’ve discovered it’s quite often those ‘pretty’&nbsp;girls that struggle the most with insecurity as they try to live up to society’s impossible definition of beauty.” So instead of looking at her fellow competitors as enemies to be beaten, Angela decided to extend an olive branch. “Your mess is your message, your struggles can serve to help other people,” she said. “There was one girl who made me feel insecure, but I forced myself to have a friendship with her and the closer I got, those more those feelings went away.” Despite doing so well in her first competition –&nbsp;first in the over-30’s bikini division, second in the rookie open division and second in the rising star division –&nbsp;Angela’s not champing at the bit to compete again. “It was an amazing experience and a valuable life lesson, but I’m just happy living the Wagga dream,” she said.