It's not just the sense of achievement that is giving Wanganui champion body builder Alison Richards a buzz ...
Earning her collection of medals and trophies has given the 50-year-old a rewarding spinoff.
"I feel fantastic," said Richards who is enjoying the physical benefits of a strict training and dietary regime.
On Saturday, she won her first overall title after nearly four years in the sport when she was named top woman at the NABBA championships in Palmerston North - "Ms Manawatu Physique 2012" is the full title.
That followed her success in Auckland at the start of the month where she claimed the Asia-Pacific crown and Auckland championship in the senior physique grade (over-50).
But reaching the top inevitably involves some sacrifices ...
"I love chocolate, but that's out ... I love ice cream, but I can't have that."
Sugar is clearly off the radar, and even milk in coffee is dumped in the lead-up to competition.
"The aim is to be really lean and get rid of body fat. So I eat an awful lot of chicken ... chicken and salad; and vegetables and egg whites are good. I eat plenty but it is small helpings and often."
Doing without the sweet stuff doesn't bother Richards now and the strict diet complements her seven-day-a-week routine at the Club Fitness gym which mixes cardio work to get the body fat down and weights to develop the muscles.
The result is a great sense of wellbeing and a far cry from the early days of her career. In 2009, shortly after competing at her first national championship, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She won that battle and was back competing within 12 months.
A keen member of the Wanganui Cycling Club, she was also a top indoor rower, making the world championships before heading to the gym to build up her core strength. It was there that the appeal of body-building started to take hold.
Her first competition was in Wanganui in 2009 and she admits to being a bundle of nerves as she made her debut on stage.
As well as having the physique, the pose is also an important part of the sport and Richards does posing practice sessions - "the judges can only see what you show them."
Her Auckland success was particularly sweet as her brother Warrick was in the audience.
"He is also a competitive body-builder and a personal trainer, so he coaches me long-distance," said Richards whose next competition will be in Napier in six weeks.
There was another Wanganui success at the championship with Maureen Thomas winning the senior figure title.