Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Be sure to follow my new blog here 


Ive grown up and so has my new website, just launched in September. Ill be sharing everything from Fitness, health, lifestyle, travel to fashion. 

You can also find me here

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Twitter / Itskellydonegan
Facebook / Kelly Donegan


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Student and the Gym with Gillian Burke

Been exceedingly busy the last few weeks but at last I'm settling down to write again! So for the second time, hello Bikini Brawn readers!!

The last 2months has been an absolutely blur! A cycle of training, eating, laughing, crying, good days, bad days, doing my college work (and then other days hiding from it!), late nights, early morning, bad moods, snappy comments, hysterical giggling, vibrating with excitement, crippling fear and at long last relief! 

I walked in the valley of broccoli and turkey and came out on the other side! I have to say that was one of the hardest things I have ever done to see that prep through; but it was immensely rewarding! I competed in my first competition on Saturday the 26th of April in the 2014 RIBBF Spring Classic, Waterford. The standard was the highest it’s ever been! Such incredible women, was so happy to meet them and make some new friends. Somehow I managed to place in the top 10, placing 9th out of 20 girls in my height class! 

The week leading up to comp was really exciting, just couldn't wait to get to the day and just do it! But when the big day arrived I was suddenly hit in the face with a truck-load of nerves. Waiting just off stage my heart was in my throat, palms were clammy, couldn't hear over the blood pounding in my ears, thought I was going to be sick! But there was no going back then. 1, 2, 3 girls went out, suddenly there was only one person in front of me. I started shaking head to toe, wasn't sure I could move! "Number 73, Gillian Burke", and I was up. I didn't feeling my feet go forward up the steps, didn't hear the friends and family cheering my name, I was deaf and blind moving forward! "Smile, just smile! Look at the judges and no one else, that's if you don't want to trip..." inner monologue the entire way. Hit the first pose, foot caught and stumbled a little, "SHIT! Keep smiling". The stage was carpeted and the soles of my shoe rubber, "doesn't matter, keep walking". Tan was smudged and I felt self-conscious, "fake it 'til you make it, act like you don't care!”. Panicking a little I raced through my T-walk and settled back into line. I was 5th out of the 20 to go out, so by the time all the girls had come out, performed their T-walk and then comparisons (6 girls called out at a time to do mandatory poses), I had been on stage over an hour, constantly smiling and posing; you are under constant scrutiny so can't relax for a second. I was exhausted, smile was borderline a grimace, must have looked demented by the end! Wide eyed baring my teeth ha ha ha. 

Coming off stage I was still shaking, adrenaline pumping and kicking myself for all the stumbles and slips ups. I felt a little defeated if I'm honest. "You can do better than that," was all I could think. Let the nerves get the better of me! But a proud coach came to meet and he couldn't understand my mood. I was disappointed in myself because I had set personal standards quite high and hadn't given the performance I felt I was capable of. It took about an hour for the mood to leave me, and for the reality of what I had done to take over. I had done it, start to finish, prep to stage, cellulite to striations, I had done my first comp! 

Suddenly I was hungry (and not just for pizza); hungry for stage I wanted to do it again, and again, to prove myself. The rush and reality that I was hooked on competition was an incredible feeling. You run the risk of going through all the crushing pressure and strict preparation and finding that being on stage isn't for you; the physical act of competing isn't suited to you. I've learned three elements make up a competitor: a love of weight training, to be highly competitive (everything is a race in your head, even if the other person isn't aware of it! “Dear stranger on the treadmill beside me, yes we are racing, and yes, you are losing”), and a natural born show off (Mom claims I was one from a very young age ha ha!). 

Within a week I went from Fitness Newbie to having two competitions completed: now what? It’s off-season baby!! Also known as “improvement season”; general feedback form judges was that I need to put on a bit of size, general symmetry was good it’s just a case of maturing my physique, which I knew going into the competition; that’s something that only comes with time (which only being 22 I have a lot of!). I was nearly immediately back in the gym doing heavier sessions with lower reps trying to grow, grow, grow, but stay within the criteria of Bikini. My calories and carb intake have gone up (which I am enjoying immensely!!). I’ve also just finished up a rest week, just to regroup (essential, you can’t go ALL the time), and now the countdown starts and prep begins! I made good use of the “rebound” period post-comp, which is when you can make your most gains and improvements (according to more experienced bodybuilders I talked to that is: it does makes sense though, after being depleted for so long to increase your carbs and calories and switch training styles it should shock the muscle into growing). I also had bloods run to check my liver and kidney functions, along with a few other things, and I am delighted to have confirmed that everything is in perfect working order! Pristine is what the doctor said!

So with a rested body and mind, a clean bill of health, I begin again feeling happy, healthy and strong! Nationals I’m coming for you!!

Thanks for reading!
Gill :D

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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Massage, selfish or necessity ??

Is it right to consider a massage treatment, a selfish luxury, ? If you are like me your mind is programmed to think massages are a special treat, certainly not a necessity. To be honest i tend to overload myself with every day life, and prioritize everything except relaxation. I think it is human to consider anything outside of your normal routine an extra. For me that includes going to the doctor, socializing and massage treatments. Training, college, diet, dreams and work seem to be my only priorities, when all of the other things are in fact life necessities ''well maybe except the doctor, but that's another story for another day'' . Sore muscles, stiff neck, back and tight calves were the outcome of a grueling sixteen week program . Although my body looked better than ever before , my insides were definitely feeling battered and exhausted. There are three main elements to changing and developing your physique, A tailored training plan, a clean diet and rest. Each of these factors are crucial and are just as important as each other. Without relaxation, recovery and sleep the body cannot repair, therefor it cannot grow. I think its easy to presume light exercise will need a light amount of rest, but for me who was undergoing an intense body overhaul, a more intense treatment would be necessary. I had experienced massage before, but i always considered it an unnecessary luxury. As amazing and relaxing as it was, i just didn't rate it as important. Hidden in the bustling shopping district of dundrum shopping center i found myself relaxed and changing my opinion on the importance of massage. A relaxing deep muscle massage to be more specific. Ill be very honest and say it was intense and a little bit sore, but short term discomfort for long term benefits. 
It was only during my hour muscle massage at the amazing 'Pink beauty emporium spa' did i even realize how over worked, tense and knotted my body was. Each lump and bump being worked could be felt so intensely, it really was a moment of realization. My body was tired and it needed that essential factor that i mentioned above, RELAX & REPAIR. After my hour massage with the lovely therapist, i felt loose, uplifted, light, mentally relaxed and revitalized. The benefits of the treatment actually only came into play throughout the following week. I had more energy, i could train harder, lift heavier, my muscles looked fuller and my skin tighter. Dont just take my word for the benefits , read the facts below.

Why to consider deep tissue massages ??

1 ) Repair and grow : The benefits of massage in bodybuilding may increase your competitiveness by enhancing your performance and helping you reach your physical potential. The effects of hard training and injuries can impair your bodybuilding development. Massage can combat the negative effects of bodybuilding and might even help you gain greater muscle mass, develop a more proportional and symmetrical physique, and improve your stage presence for competition. It also improves your range of motion, recovery, muscle tone and physiological. 

2) Recover scar tissue : Over time, deep-tissue massage therapy can help break up and eventually erase scar tissue in the body. It does this by improving lymphatic circulation and drainage to improve flexibility and range of motion in the affected area. Scar tissue is often associated with ongoing pain and stiffness, so deep-tissue massage can improve these symptoms. Massage therapy is often recommended for people who are recovering from surgery.
3 ) Improve blood pressure : Yes its a given, massage reduces stress. The body produces higher levels of serotonin through deep tissue massage which see's diastolic pressure drop. 

4) Reduce chronic pain : It has been proven that deep tissue massage is not only a more effective way to relieve chronic pain but it is also a more affordable option. It helps reduce inflammation and increases blood flow which in turn reduces pain. The continuous pressure loosens tight clusters that are directly linked with chronic pain and tension.  

After my amazing experience at the Pink beauty emporium spa and all the benefits i have mentioned above, i am going to factor deep tissue sports massage as an essential part of my transformation programs in future. I am going to kick the habit of considering massage therapy a luxury, and rewire my thinking. A deep tissue sports massage is going to be on the cards for me once a month from now on, and i highly recommend experiencing the benefits for yourself. 

Check out the Pink beauty emporium in Dundrum town center and experience the physical and mental benefits of a sports relaxing massage. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

Preparing for your first Bikini show

The bikini class in the bodybuilding scene has exploded Internationally, its a topic i cover very often here on Bikinibrawn. It is something i find very interesting, it seems to be the perfect balance between sexy, feminine and bad ass. You can see social media has exploded with women of this category who are the new body role models, they train hard, eat clean and still looking feminine. Of course some people find the tan and stage makeup very over powering, but of course that is an essential part of the sport. I have been reading a lot of pieces and watching a lot of videos on the correct protocol for preparing for the bikini stage. Of course all the weeks of intense training and diet come into play, but you may fall when it comes to presentation. It is a fundamental part of the sport. You may not be a pro athlete but that doesn't mean you cant present yourself to the same standard. 

To do list / What i need list 

Registration fee and application
Accommodation and travel 
The Bikini
The correct shoes
Makeup & Hair
Bikini glue or spray
Loose tracksuit or clothing

On the day check list

Bring a bag ( Gym bag or wheely ) 

A robe
Flip flops
Baby wipes and cotton wool pads
Bikini glue or spray
Body oil or sheen 
Hairspray and brush
A camera 


The Bikini : 

The bikini will be two-piece in style
The bikini will be of any color and pattern

The bikini must be in good taste. 
The bikini bottom will cover a minimum of 1/3 of the gluteus maximus and bottom part of the frontal area. 
Strings are strictly prohibited. 

- Pick a colour that will compliment your hair colour and skin tone. 
  Here are some rough guidelines to follow, 
  again everyone is individual. 
  You want to stand out for all of the right reasons 
  Blonde hair : Blue or turquoise bikini
  Dark hair : Red, green and Pink bikini
  Red hair : Green and turquoise 
  Latino or Dark skin : Yellow 

 - Stay clear of any pale or muted colours, there are a couple of reasons why including the strong lighting at bodybuilding events. Pale shades tend to wash out, so stay clear of any baby pinks, blues, whites etc. You are also at major risk of tan stains both streaks and sweat marks, these can look very unprofessional and sloppy. The dark tan that is associated with these shows can also be very overpowering, so a strong classy colour will compliment this. 

Below really illustrates the difference with a professional look and an amateur. 
The colour on the right really compliments the athlete, looks elegant and sophisticated. The red suits both the complexion of her skin and hair, and also really pops . On the left you can see the suit doesn't suit the skin or hair colour and is not as impressive as the photo on the right. 

It is well known bodybuilding is an expensive sport to be involved in, this is also true when it comes to getting on stage. Between tan, makeup, jewellery, bikini and all the extra bits and bobs the bill can become very large. It doesn't mean however you cant be clever, look professional and look expensive. A company i highly recommend is Ravish sands, they are an amazing Bikini company from florida that specialize in custom made suits. One of the main reasons i think they are the best, is due to their quality range of suits for EVERY budget. Check out their link below as well as two Ravish sands athletes Margaret Gnarr and Paige Hathaway


The shoes :

High heels of any style or colour are acceptable and high heels with platforms are STRICTLY prohibited. Heel height can be a max of five inches.

Maximize your look and invest in the correct heels, as you will have them for a long time. All major Bikini athletes and couches promote wearing the clear heel, it is the most flattering shoe for the sport. 

Wearing shoes with colour can be distracting and take away from your body, which is the most important factor. Also it is against regulation to wear giant platform heels, this is a sport so leave them to the strippers ladies !


The Makeup, hair and tanning 

Tanning is one of the most important factors in getting on stage, a great tan will highlight and define your assets and show of all of your hard work. Most athletes will recommend getting a spray as your are going to get an even, professional finish. Doing it yourself can be a risk, unless its something you a very comfortable with.
Also it is CRUCIAL to start the exfoliation process anywhere from three weeks out. Your skin needs to be in perfect condition for the stage. The tan will only catch on bad skin, so dont let that happen.

I recommend an exfoliater brush and glove, Soap & glory bodyscrub or the bodyshop bodyscrub

Three brands to look at either for spray or self tanning include as follows ( Check out the athletes which  highlight the colours )

Jan Tana

Pro tan 

Liquid sun rayz

If you are based in Ireland than i highly recommend checking out Glam and Tan. Give yourself as little stress as possible, and go for the spray rather than self tanning.

Body oil, glaze and sheen :

It is important to highlight your best features but also important not to over do the oils. You want to use these type of products strategically. There can be a tendency to over use them and then can look greasy, again taking away from the professional look.  

Makeup and Hair :

With all of these extra factors it is important to remember you are there to show off your body, the rest of the package such just be complimenting extra. Keep it natural, keep it sexy but keep it soft. Don't let ANYTHING distract from the weeks of intense diet and training. 

Hair :

Hair should be soft and natural. styled but not over styled. Only use hairspray to hold the look, do not go over board with it. You are in danger of loosing the natural movement of hair. Solid, overly backcombed hair is not a good look. Also a good idea is to add some hair extensions, a nice way to enhance your hair, in a natural way of course. 

If you are considering hair extensions check out my own sponsor Great Lengths by Ceira Lambert. They are natural long lasting and the best brand out there.

Makeup :

Makeup is something that can go very wrong. You need to achieve two things when doing competition makeup full coverage for stage as well as a natural finished. These two things are conflicting but totally achievable. Dont be afraid to hire a skilled makeup artist if your skills are not up to par. The most important thing to do is practice practice practice. 

Brushes : If you plan on doing your own makeup then good brushes are essential. It is well known good brushes can take your makeup and look to a new level. Once you use good brushes, you literally wont be able to look back. If you plan on entering a lot of competitions, it is well worth investing in a palette 

Here is one i highly recommend by crownbrush

Foundation : Foundation should be free from SPF ( Spf is light reflecting, will make your face shiny ) Your foundation should be as close to your stage tan colour as possible ( Rather a shade lighter than darker ) Always try and use a high quality makeup brand, this will help you achieve the most professional look. Both full coverage and natural. 

Two brands i recommend include Makeup forever HD & Smashbox high definition 

Powder : It is important to also use loose powder. The warm lights on stage will have a negative impact on your foundation, if you don't user powder. 

Two brands i recommend include Makeup forever HD powder and Rimmel's loose powder ( which is way more affordable )

 Lips, blush, eyebrows and eyes :

  Lips : Think classy and elegant. The tan is very rich , so a dark or colourful lip is needed. Stick with rich reds, Natural rich pinks and soft colours that will pop. Stay away from neon and bright lips that, you want the lips to pop but not over power.

Blush : The same again , you want to highlight the cheekbones in a natural way. Pinks, peaches etc

Eyes and eyebrows : With eyes its important to not over work. Stay away from black eyeshadows and eyeliners. Stage lighting can be different from competition to competition, some lights can come directly from above which can leave a big shadow under your eyes. Just in case stay clear of black, keep it semi natural. Stick with a natural palette, i recommend browns. Don't be afraid of adding some lashes for an added ooomf. Eyebrows can change the whole structure of the face, so keep them natural but do enough work on them that they will pop from the tan. 

Setting sprays :

Its a product i have never heard anyone discuss. It is so important especially when doing a show to keep your makeup in tact. Bodybuilding shoes can be long and hot events. Makeup setting sprays can hold your makeup in place for up to 16 hours. They work by regulating the face temperature which prevents sweating. 

Two brands i recommend include Mac and Urban Decay 


 My conclusion :

Be sexy, be confident, be proud and be ready. All of all your hard work has come down to this one day. Show of your body to the best of your ability. Compliment in a professional way. Sometimes being natural is the best way to be sexy, you are in a bikini after all. Follow the rules and guidelines. Don't be afraid to ask for help or practice as much as you can. Have your camera at the ready and have as much fun as possible. Every girl will have had the toughest couple of weeks, be a good sport and enjoy each others company. The bikini category is a sport, so always have that in the back of your mind when getting glam. 

I am going to do a Makeup tutorial in the next couple of days, where i will go though the full procedure for stage makeup. 

Leave a comment below
Kelly D xx

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The focus group review

The Bikinibrawn focus group was a bigger success than i could have ever imagined. Not only were the group of women involved dynamic, positive, friendly and engaging but also hugely vocal about the products on offer at the event. A Blog would be nothing without the readers behind it, and with that in mind i organized the group get together. During our focus group we chatted all things health and fitness. We really delved into all elements from our own struggles and desires and of course we heavily discussed the products. There are so many exciting brands out there that people are not aware of from  health food brands , sports nutrition goods, supplements, organic foods, health drinks and everything in between. Obviously as a health & fitness blogger i am constantly looking and trying new products. I thought it was such a good idea to share that with my readers and give them a chance to try out contemporary and exciting brands, and also to FINALLY get hands on with the blog they read. In reality everyone's opinions are different, and what i like doesn't necessarily mean you will like it. This group review will really be a new dynamic way of reviewing products on Bikinibrawn. I hope you enjoy all of the opinions and would love to hear YOUR thoughts on some of the products. If you interested in taking part in a Bikinibrawn focus group please leave a message below 

Here are some lovely reviews from some of our guests : 

''I thought the focus group was a good laugh but it was also very informative and enjoyable. As it was nice to met people with a similar mind frame , that it means a lot to them to to live a healthy life style while still looking good lol. i thought you gave the information out well and explained yourself well too. But most important you made us all feel welcome as if we had all known each other for a while which made the atmosphere comfortable and friendly.''

'' I really enjoyed the focus group and found it really helpful, meeting so many like minded women and talking about a topic were all so passionate about. Id definitely be interested in another one. I thought you were a brilliant speaker, very clear, friendly and enthusiastic. I think its great how you write for what your readers want and really include them in your blog, social media sites etc''

'' I thought the group was great. I really it. I was nervous at first, because i'd be shy enough, but felt as ease once i got there. I really enjoyed all the products that you got for us to test, it was great to try them. I'm a fussy eater as well so i probably wouldn't have tried most of them off my own back. You spoke well and felt you shared information you learned along the way. You also gave us a little background info on the products which was nice( The ladies dropping up the spelt bread ) sticks in my head. So cute its the personal; touch that stands out ''

A huge welcome to Gillian and her new feature ( Student & the gym )

Hello hello guys and dolls!

Let me introduce myself; my name is Gillian, and I am a 22yr old full-time student and training to be a bikini competitor. 

I have a small blog on and will expand on it here, welcome to Student & the Gym!

So a little about my fitness history; I was into sports when I was younger, I enjoyed most things I tried, swimming, athletics and so on. But in my teenage years rowing was my sport of sport! I started out in Tribesmen Rowing Club when I was thirteen and trained and competed there for three years, achieving several national championships. I loved rowing but had to quit due to injury. I stopped all training and acted a bit wild for a few years… I had sporadic bouts of fitness, intentions of losing weight and getting “fit and healthy”, but always fell back into bad habits and never stuck with anything for more than a month of two.

But last spring when I took a good look at myself after yet another relapse into the bottom of the pack of cookies I finally had enough. I had had a good spurt of “well-being” that November and lost a little weight only to put on twice the amount I lost only month or two later! I was browsing online when I saw photos of fitness models, and Bikini Pros, Ana Delia and Nathalia Melo. I just thought to myself “I want that!”, now how do I get it?
So the research started, I was on every fitness website I could find looking up proper diet and nutrition and training. was extremely important in my building knowledge, endless workouts, advice, diets, and supplementation. I built up a little notebook off information and when I returned to Galway in May of 2013 for the summer I started to work in Galway City Gym.

Using that gym in itself was a huge aid, there’s no-where like it in Ireland! There’s a real sense of community there, so many competitors under one roof, or just people living a fit life! I learned so much from the people in there, whether it was advice with training or even writing you up a diet. I really appreciate all the help I got from the people I met there, there’s one or two in particular, who I won’t embarrass by naming (but they know who they are) who I owe an extra big thank you to Going to the right gym makes all the difference, I know from talking to people that when they start getting into training their friends and family mightn’t be hugely supportive all the time, “you’re making us feel bad” is a big one I hear! Which is fair enough, I’ve felt it too, someone you used to share the pizza with has left you hanging to be fit and you feel bad having it on your own or that you’re not up running too… So it’s good to have people doing the same thing you do that you can talk to about it all so you yourself don’t feel so alone in it all, and your friends and family don’t have to hear about your new endeavours!

Now for the bodybuilding part… I was busy as a bee training away (kind of aimlessly really, I knew I wanted a 6-pack but that’s about it), and people kept asking me if I was going to compete, so after a while enough kept asking so I decided to look into it and about 10weeks out from Nationals in October started to prep. I didn’t know much about what was needed to get ready for competition but I sure got a crash course coming up to RIBBF! I was 4weeks out when I decided to step away from competition. There were a lot of factors contributing to my stepping back, I was still adjusting to the whole lifestyle, had moved back to Dublin for college, had a new job, trying to level the ground with friends who weren’t used to this new me, but then when my friend who had been a missing for a week was found dead I had enough. It was the right decision for me and I have no regrets. Gave me time to gather my thoughts, regroup and look forward to spring. I put on quite a bit of weight (after eating my feelings for 5weeks) and had some damage control to do… But I put the extra weight to work during my off season to make solids gains and fill out my physique.

And now here I am, 5weeks out from competition, feeling strong, healthy, and happy I’m currently juggling college (5days a week), my job (4days a week) and competition prep (7days a week), not to mention friends, family and a relationship. I’m not a personal trainer, I didn’t do a nutrition course, my course has nothing to do with health and fitness and my job most certainly does not either. I am a normal girl making time for something I feel very passionate about, if I can do it, really anybody can you won’t find the time, you just have to make it!
Thanks for reading!
Gil :D


Why not follow Gill online ? Join her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

We would love to hear your thoughts on Gills feature, Are there any students out there who are loving this ? Let us know

Do we have to become fitness machines ??

I have been feeling beyond guilty the past couple of weeks, that my own mission has taken me away from my readers. Which makes me think about how mechanical we can become when we set ourselves a serious fitness goal. Have i become a fitness obsessed machine, a person that cant make time for her usual duties? is this the norm ? Should you feel guilty ?. I am not entirely sure of the correct answer to these questions. None the less my desire for success burns stronger than ever, my body goals well within my grasp. To think ten weeks has passed since my last cheeky snack, a luxurious bingefest and a night on the tiles, filled with cocktails and of course the inevitable next day hangover. There are moments when i sit at home and all i can think about is chocolate or pizza, but when i wake up the next day i realize the chocolate would have only given me instant satisfaction, i would have had nothing to show for it the following day. My sixteen week transformation is in its last phase, and to think i have passed up hundreds of those cravings is mind blowing. I feel empowered to know i have the ability to fight that demon on my shoulder. Even though my transformation is specifically focused on my body and health, i have no doubts this strength is going to have a huge effect on the rest of my life. So maybe i have become mechanical and a little distracted, but i think from time to time we have to be a little selfish and achieve new goals. I have become a stronger person a more determined person and of course a healthier person. I guess in some ways i have answered the question. That sometimes we can become obsessive but that doesn't mean we are machines, if anything our emotions are heightened. Would love to hear what your opinions are, do you become selfish when you are trying to get in shape, do you feel guilty ??

Leave a comment below