Cutting gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol from her life has helped make Megan Whitehead a world champion.
The Tokanui shearer was part of a four-woman syndicate which set the world shearing record of 2066 lambs in nine hours last week.
Being the youngest in the syndicate among Sarah Higgins, Natalya Rangiwha and Amy Silcock did not faze her.
Whitehead (23) led the group, shearing 608 lambs, averaging 53.3sec, during the five runs on the day.
It was her second 600 in a month and increased her personal best by nearly 50% in the past two months.
“I’ve been preparing for four months,” Whitehead said.
“I’ve never been to a gym in my life and I joined, got a personal trainer for my nutrition and the training really paid off.
“I started swimming, too, which is great for the muscles.
“I’ve cut out alcohol, dairy, bread, sugar and it’s made a huge difference not having it.
“It’s helped keep my mind focused.”
Being part of a world record at Waihi-Pukawa Station, in Turangi, was surreal.
“It really hasn’t set in that’s it’s actually happened.
“It’s pretty cool for us four girls to achieve that.”
Shearing took an obvious physical toll but she relied on her mental strength to get her through.
“We had to work for that 400 in the morning and the mind is going 100 miles an hour.
“You’ve got to have a strong mental game and just try to stay positive.”
Nearing the end of the day was when the fatigue set in.
“The last half hour . . . you start shaking, your mind’s shaking, your back’s sore and you can’t feel it but you’ve just got to keep going and get there,” she said.
Whitehead’s support system, including her father, former shearer Quentin Whitehead, were instrumental.
“Dad encouraged me a lot throughout, going into it and staying in the mindset.”
She was delighted to have been chosen for the record by former world record holder Jill Angus Burney.
“I’ve always loved the idea of doing a record.
“I would love to try the eight-hour and nine-hour women’s record.”
Former world champion Sir David Fagan has tipped Whitehead as a contender to take Emily Welch’s solo women’s record of 648, set in 2007.
”Wouldn’t that be a great day – I wouldn’t miss that one,” Sir David said.