Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Verse for the Year

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13

How fitting that this become my verse for 2009 as I started reading the book of Jeremiah this morning. This is but a simple reminder for me to reflect on this verse over the next 365 days.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I can hardly believe I’m intentionally gaining weight. Never in a million years did I ever think I would find myself in this position. Why and who would do this? A bodybuilder in training. I don’t see myself as a bodybuilder, but I’m certainly eating and training like one. In the world of bodybuilding bulking is standard practice. If you want to put on muscle mass you have to eat.

Last winter I did what I would consider a mini-bulk. I wasn’t all that comfortable with the weight gain and wasn’t ready to accept the compromise of extra weight and fat with more muscle. This time, I am heeding the weight gain no attention. When I made the decision to bulk in the late autumn, I told my coach I wanted to bulk for 8-10 weeks. Well I’m four weeks in now and I’m ready to go full throttle and see how much muscle mass I can build.

I would love to have that “perfect” body and to be lean and ripped every day of the year. Unfortunately, I have to make a compromise and be willing to accept that for me to have that body, I have to work for it. Both inside and outside the gym. Sure I might get a little uncomfortable with the weight gain, but in a few months time, I’ll strip away the layers to reveal just what I’ve been working on. I absolutely can't wait!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Struggles & Triumphs

This week I have been struggling. After eight weeks of the Get Shredded Diet I’m now back on maintenance. As I get further and further away from the weight loss phase of my life change I look back wistfully at how easy that was. Keeping the weight off hasn’t been too much of a struggle for me, as the fear of regaining is so prevalent. Finding balance is something I admittedly struggle with and the incessant need to be 100% clean with my eating and training prevails. Transitioning off this extreme diet has proven to be more demanding than the actual diet.
I have had this overwhelming compulsion to dive into a pile of brownies/cookies/bag of baked cinnamon chips (sweet poison those are!) all week. Now that I’m transitioning off, it has taken some serious discipline and willpower to restrain myself from not eating a bag of cookies.

I know that while I was in the thick of dieting, desperate to see the pounds melt away it didn’t seem easy. But it is compared to life after a significant loss. Overall, I do well in following the nutrition guidelines and my training is on. This is what really counts. The mental and emotional stuff -- it takes time and is more hard work. There is never a moment when you lunge across the finish line and are awarded a medal (a fit body for life and no cravings for junk food). Because it never ends and the work never stops. I have resigned to the fact that I will never NOT obsess about my weight, eating and exercise. With my long and colourful past relationship with food I think a certain watchfulness is definitely required. It’s a constant, daily process of calibration, negotiation, and monitoring. As daunting as it sounds, at the end of the day it is so worthwhile, that I keep fighting. The alternative really is no longer an option.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Developing a Healthy Relationship with Food

I was listening to a radio program on my drive to work this morning and the speaker was Constance Rhodes, author of the book “Life Inside the ‘Thin’ Cage”. A book I’m putting on my must read list. She went on to say that according to a study in a popular woman’s magazine, three out of four women say they think and behave abnormally when it comes to food. I always find it amazing how they need studies to prove what for me seems to be common knowledge. Now these women don’t have what one would view as a “traditional” eating disorder, i.e., bulimia or anorexia, but they struggle with what is known as disordered eating. Disordered eating can be loosely defined as an unhealthy perspective on dieting, weight change and body image. This struggle often has a negative effect on the physical body, emotions and on relationships.

Developing a healthy relationship with food is something I strive for and have come to accept that it is a constant work in progress. I’m keenly aware that my relationship with food is very much damaged from a long history of being overweight since adolescence. Months ago I wrote out what a healthy relationship with food meant for me:
• It is not setting some impossible-to-achieve goal of dietary perfection for myself, which is a recipe for failure.
• It is realizing there is place for "unclean" foods in moderation in my diet, even when following the fitness lifestyle.
• Not feeling guilty when I eat "unclean" foods.
• Leaving room for "unclean" foods in my macros. (10% meals/snacks)
• If I do sometimes overindulge to not beat myself up for it and spiral downwards into an all-out binge fest, but instead get back on track with the next meal.
• Not letting food have power over you.
• Not indulging in compensatory behaviours. (endless cardio)

A few of the highlights of the program were around our thought processes and how they center on food and our weight. Do you ever find yourself thinking that if you could just lose a few pounds, everything in life would be better? Do you ever get tired of worrying about food and your weight? Do you frequently look in the mirror and judge your body against the ideal you have in your mind? Does a small amount of weight gain cause you to binge or significantly limit your eating for days? Do you believe your weight and the size of your body directly affect the respect you get at work and from peers?

My own response to many of those questions would be yes, yes and yes. They also spoke about eating behaviours/patterns, some of which I don’t think are necessarily all that off base and can be necessary for someone who has struggled with being overweight. For instance, do you find that instead of eating a "real" meal, do you eat empty calories such as candy or chips (especially if they're fat free). (This is something I often did when I was overweight). When eating out, do you always ask for foods to be specially prepared (without butter, oils, or cheese, etc.). This is something I do now and totally agree with! Do you only eat something if you know the amount of calories and /or fat grams that are in it? I think while dieting this is very important, but am trying to be so strict about this now. Do your friends tell you your eating habits are weird? You bet they do, and I don’t mind. Do you skip out on social functions because you don't want to have to eat what is being served. Guilty. Even though you don't let yourself eat what you want to, do you actually love to eat? Guilty. If I did eat what I wanted all the time, I’d still be overweight. Do you every get tired of thinking about eating (and being thin) all the time? Most definitely yes. How can I not wish that I were naturally thin and never had a weight problem and could eat whatever I wanted without thinking about it. I can’t, and this is a fact I have accepted. For me nothing tastes as good as being thin and fit feels. Food will always be there. Always. It’s just a matter of continuing to develop and grow a healthy attitude towards it. I lost my weight nearly three years ago, so technically I’m still in only in the toddler stage of thinking. Lots of growing yet to do.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Staying the Course

“People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit. Most people succeed because they are determined to.” G.E. Allen

Dieting is something I’m all too familiar with. Starting a diet is always the easy part. It’s staying the course of the diet that is the true test. In days past, I’ve started on countless diets, all with good intentions to lose 10-20-30 pounds, only to quit days or weeks later.

Currently, I am in week three of the Get Shredded Diet. This has got to be by far the most difficult diet I’ve ever been on. There has been many a moment when I have asked myself why I am doing this? After all, I’m not planning to compete any time soon, if ever and finally after many, many years of dieting, I’m at a point where I don’t need to lose weight. In fact I would like to gain some muscle mass. But, when I was asked if I wanted to try the GSD to see what sort of results I could achieve, I was intrigued. After all, it’s not a diet about weight loss, but fat loss. It has not been easy, but I’m driven to succeed and see the final outcome of this diet. These next couple of weeks will be the truest test of my determination and will power. After all, the newness of the diet has long worn off and the end is still weeks away. What drives me to continue when the goal is supremely to be in the best shape of my life? It’s that refusal to quit and give up. I have to finish what I started. I am not accountable to anyone but myself. I report weekly to my coach, but in the end, I still only have myself to answer to.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Inspiration from the track

Last evening I set out to do sprints at the track. Upon arrival I noted a small group of people congregating outside the gate. A little dismayed as I would now have an audience, I wasn’t going to let my insecurities or the hot, humid weather deter me from doing HIIT. I proceeded to do my warm-up and set out to do my sprints and noted that the small group was now growing larger and amongst them was a group of mentally challenged individuals. Exhausted, I finished 12 sprints and spent a few minutes watching these individuals conquer the odds as they partook in laps, sprints and hurdles. They all had this contagious energy and faces that were aglow with smiles. After my last sprint, the father of one of the boys said his boy had wanted to race me. I laughed and said he should have and he would have probably beat me. I inquired about their events and was told it was track and field night for a group of mentally challenged individuals.

They were lined up – three young men. Prepping to race down the track. His boy (the one that wanted to race me) was the middle one with the red shirt. Each one ran as fast as they could giving everything they had in them. The boy with the red shirt ran back to his father announcing his time. It wasn’t his best he said, but nonetheless he was pleased and ran off to his next event. In the words of Olympics founder Baaron Pierre de Coubertin, “The important thing is not to win, but to take part. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.” And fought well I’m certain they all did. I was told they race against themselves and the next time he races, the goal will be to beat his own time. Not that of another. This for me is so humbling. How often do I yearn for what others have and compare myself to them. How often have I wished for bigger shoulders, tighter thighs and defined abs only because this is what I see on someone else and I covet it for myself. In that short time on the track I learned a lesson. My efforts to improve my body composition are an ongoing pursuit. I set goals and I reach for them. Rather than try to reach for someone else’s ideal, I need to focus on what my gifts and positive attributes are and work with them and not let my desires be my handicaps. I believe that no matter what I set forth to do, regardless of how it turns out, I must give it my best effort. From these words evolved the Special Olympics' athletes oath... "Let me win, But if I cannot win, Let me brave in the attempt."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Went for my run tonight. Not sure of the distance...but it must have been at least 5k. Running against the wind should be considered resistance training.

Believing in Yourself

“If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won't, you most assuredly won't. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad.” Denis Waitley

It’s not a feeling I have to often in the gym and it’s certainly one I am not comfortable with. Disappointment with my workout. Now it’s not for a lack of trying, but when circumstances in life become overwhelming, your body seemingly deals with daily stressors however it chooses and for me, its fatigue and a lack of energy. Regardless of how motivated I was to do well in my workout, my body failed me. In my attempt to do overhead reverse/forward lunges, I was fatigued by the 3rd set and my quads started to burn and tingle in pain. Regardless of how my body felt, I pushed through that workout and today I feel all the better for it. But I left the gym feeling defeated and disappointed. But I didn't give up.

Giving up is something I know a bit about. How many diets did I try only to give up and resign to “normal” eating again. I think many of us who carry extra weight don’t believe that we can lose it. We hang on to this belief like that of a moldy old sofa, so familiar that it has an imprint of your arse on it. Rather than extracting it to find something better (healthier), we hang on to it for its familiarity. There’s an old saying I tell myself, “We remain the same until the pain of remaining the same exceeds the pain of change.” (author unknown).

Changing my thinking and eating habits was the only way I finally succeeded. Back in 2005 when I first embarked on this diet, I didn’t know this was it. I knew I was fed up with the weight being a barrier for me and I was determined to lose it, but I didn’t know how successful I would be at this attempt. Something clicked this time and it felt right and it worked. Eating healthy is no longer optional. It’s a given. It’s the cheating/deviating from plan that I struggle with. The guilt feelings associated with this are still difficult to overcome, but it’s getting better.

What I am learning is that I have a choice, either I can let my thoughts dictate my emotions or not. So, back to my disappointing workout...I believed in myself to see it to the end, regardless of how crappy I was feeling through it. Today I’ll go for a run and tomorrow I’ll be back at the gym because there is no giving up.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Like a child anticipating the opening of a birthday gift, I approach a new program with similar eager anticipation...that is until today.

Today I started Day 1 of my new program for the next four weeks. Upon receipt of today’s workout, I opened my email excited to see what my dear coach had gifted me with.

Single-Arm Cable Pulldown ("D" handle), Burpee + Chin-up, Iron Cross, Hanging Leg Raises (straight leg). I mentally go through each exercise, in mock preparation for what I’m about to put my body through. My eyes glance across the words again…burpee & chin-ups. Sequenced together. Is he for real? After watching on YouTube (see video below) to see how this remarkable new exercise should look, I head to the gym, keyed up to do my workout. Well if that wasn't a big kick in the pants. I left the gym completely depleted...making a mental note to email my coach asking him what I did to deserve this sort of torture.

They say this exercise will develop strength, explosive power, and anaerobic endurance. It's also good for losing extra fat and increasing stamina. Let’s hope they are right, because after today's attempt at this, I'm afraid dreading Monday's will have a whole new meaning.

Burpee/ Chin Up Combo

Sunday, May 18, 2008


We live in an age of instant gratification…we want it all yesterday and we do not like working for it. We search in cavernous spaces for that quick fix only to be disappointed when society’s promises of losing 7 pounds in 7 days goes unfulfilled.

We blame the ease and convenience of fast food for our poor diet, and our busy work schedules and family life for living a sedentary lifestyle. We make excuses for not working out…and that’s all they are - excuses. Nothing worth achieving ever comes easy. I have spent countless hours in the gym, whether on the treadmill or in the weight room, but I’m busting my butt to fight against some not so great genetics and a past life of poor decision making when it came to nutrition.

These changes weren't easy in the beginning and the results weren’t instantaneous. It's been about developing habits and a mindset of staying focused and reminding myself of my goal.

Add to that perseverance, time and patience and the results will follow. It really is about making the right choices daily. You bet there are days where I wake up and wish I didn’t have to start my day by preparing a day’s worth of meals to lug to work with me. Why can’t I be just like other people and buy my lunch and that afternoon snack from the vending machine? Because I keep the bigger picture in mind and after muttering my complaints I remind myself of my goals and carry on. I once read a quote that said something along the lines…if you want the body that 90% of people don’t have then you have to do what 90% of people don’t do. Ouch. Better lace on those sneakers and head to the gym.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I sat on the bench in the weight room, breathing deeply. Physically exhausted from another grueling leg workout. Overhead squats. Need I say more? I shut my eyes tightly for a moment, a flood of emotions overcome me. “What am I doing all of this for?” I muttered deep within the recesses of my mind. Only to remind myself of that triumph I had achieved last week. 205lb deadlift. There were no records set today. So what motivates me day in and day out to push myself to get through another workout?

Rampant reminders of the past life of an overweight woman motivate me to push through when the idea of quitting invades my mind. There is no turning back. Now, I don't utilize these thoughts as a form of punishment, because that would only be negative reinforcement. Rather, it motivates me to excel. To run that extra mile. To lift heavier.

So, I ask myself again: what am I doing all of this for? Me. Just me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Body Image

I’m sure you’ve seen the picture of the thin woman looking into a full length mirror with the image of an overweight woman staring back at her. This seemingly distorted view is how many women see themselves, and I must admit there have been days where this is how I see myself. Unfortunately, many women have poor body image; even those who have thin, fit bodies can look in a mirror and criticize themselves for their imperfections (which are often out of proportion to how they really look), rather than focus on their strengths.

Body image is the picture we have of our physical body - an inner view of our outer self. Our body image is strongly influenced by messages we receive from the media (fashion magazines, television, movies, music). Our body image can be so fragile that it can change after eating a cookie, seeing a number on the scale that we aren’t happy or comparing ourselves to someone else who we see has having a “perfect body”.

The types of messages we tell ourselves through our inner thoughts will directly influence how we perceive our outer self. Increasing the positive self-image messages and decreasing the negative thoughts will enhance a positive body image.

A healthy body image is focusing on your strengths and positive qualities. It is about gaining confidence in your appearance and dwelling on your strengths. What are your dreams, passions and goals with your physique? Building a healthy, positive body image is about being confident no matter the number on the scale because I am fit, strong, and healthy.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Morals of Food

For me personally, before losing the weight, food played a very emotional role. Whether I was happy or sad I ate. Goodness for me was measured by what I ate. As a child, I like many children was rewarded with food. As an obese adult I continued to reward myself with food. The message changed the older I got and the more I desired to lose weight. The message I was now telling myself and the message society was telling me was far different than that of my childhood. If I were “good”, I ate the salad. If I was “bad” or indulgent, I would eat the cake. As a fit, healthy adult, the pendulum continues to swing and I am learning to view food entirely differently again. Food is not to be seen as “good” or “bad” but merely as fuel to my body. After the weight loss, food was my enemy. I was afraid to eat anything that was labeled as “bad” and adhered strictly to safe “good” food. Clearly cake, cookies and pizza were out of the question because after all those were “bad” foods that got me into trouble in the first place.

When I look at the message and language attached to food in advertising, it conveys to me that some foods are “bad”, “sinful” and “naughty” while other foods are labeled as “pure”, “good”, “virtuous”. I’m not entirely convinced that attaching labels to food is necessarily always a bad thing. But I can see how we (I) translate this message to our own self worth when eating these foods. I am spending my adult life unlearning these messages.

Today I am developing a healthy relationship towards food and nutrition in general. I've learned the importance of nutrient timing and know that there is a time and place for all foods that enjoy. In my attempt to foster this relationship, I hold myself to the following:

A healthy relationship with food:
· Is not setting some impossible-to-achieve goal of dietary perfection for myself, which is a
recipe for failure
· It is realizing there is place for "unclean" foods in moderation in my diet, even when
following the fitness lifestyle
· Not feeling guilty when I eat "unclean" foods
· Leaving room for "unclean" foods in my macros (10% meals/snacks)
· Not letting food have power over you
· Not indulging in compensatory behaviours when I've eaten something "unclean"
(endless cardio)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Yesterday was my lower body workout. Loved it! Overhead squats were first on the agenda. Thanks to my wonderful coach for giving me pointers in learning how to nail these, I was able to do them with much less struggle than the previous week. It is quite a challenging exercise for someone who is used to more conventional, bodybuilding-style training, and so acts as a good introduction to the rigours of Olympic weightlifting, or so this is what I've read.
Okay…so there a few exercises I find most humbling and this one ranks right up there with pull-ups and T-push ups. Maintaining strict form and squatting deep whilst holding a 45 pound bar above your head is no easy feat let me tell you. But I did it. Now if I could only add weight to the bar, it would be grand.

Today was upper body (heavy back day) and all I can say is that persistence has finally paid off. When doing single DB bench press I FINALLY was able to use the 35lb DB's without any difficulty! This was definitely a personal best for me. I'm finally feeling stronger and I'm loving it!

So all that said, whatever your goal, whether it be to lose 5 or 100 pounds, be able to walk/run a mile...the reality is if you want it bad enough and you work hard for will achieve success. Persistence pays off.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I am the seed.
Weight training is preparing the soil.
Drinking is watering.
Eating is Miracle Gro.
Resting is the sun.

You need all of them to have an achieve the desired results ~ a lean muscular body.
Not to mention the patience to tend your crop day in and day out and God's will not to destroy your efforts.