Every morning I set several alarms to go off within minutes of each other. I sleep hard and I wake even harder. Zombie-like, I crawl out of bed, pull on lycra pants and a tank-top I wouldn't normally be caught dead in, and stumble to the gym. It's occupies several floors of a glassy, mid-city tower. It's almost always full of people with 'ripped' bodies and well-defined muscles slicked with sweat. I don't look at their faces. If it's dark outside, I watch the ceiling-mounted TVs while I work out. Otherwise, I stare out the vast windows to a clichéd Sydney skyline: the coat-hanger silhouette of the Harbour Bridge, the blue waters of the harbour, the shell-like arches of the Opera House. During the first few weeks there, I improvised my work-out based on an old exercise program. Now I employ a trainer, a stern Eastern European who coaches professional athletes and competes for his country. He is military-like, tough – in manner as well as appearance– and technically proficient. He uses the term maximum efficiency a lot. He is skeptical about the height of my goals and the commitment required. I don't blame him. The majority of his clients tell him what they want, then drop out because it demands too much of them. I told him that I knew it was a matter of proving my commitment through action, not words. That's when he agreed to take me on.I've become soft and weak over the past few years. I felt it most acutely just before my breakdown at the beginning of this year. During my stay in hospital, my body became bloated – and my mind like sludge – thanks to several different cocktails of drugs prescribed as 'experiments', none of which did much apart from make me even weaker.I started working out as soon as I was discharged from hospital. I didn't want just to regain my stamina and lose weight. I wanted to transform my whole being – to become as formidable, energetic and uncompromising as the women I so often paint. Already, the visible changes to my body are proof of my consistency and discipline. And as my body grows stronger, so does my mind. I didn't bother explaining this somewhat metaphysical perspective to the trainer. I told him what I wanted to look like – noting specific metrics like weight, body fat ratio and chest, waist and hip measurements – and he told me how to achieve it. The rest is up to me.As it is in everything.