Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My 54th Birthday Weekend

I turned 54 on August 23. I like to do special things for myself for a few days, sometimes a week. When I turned 50, it was my birthday month! 
I never wait for anyone to do things for me, I'm single right now and I like celebrating my self.
In my family birthdays were always celebrated. My mom would make my favourite cake, it was homemade angel food with brown sugar icing, yum! My birthday flower is the gladiola and my mom would always pick one from her garden and place it in the middle.
Being gluten free, angel food is out of the picture now, I still love thinking about the memories.
When I really think about being 54, it's hard for me to fathom, time has gone by so quickly! I know my birth certificate says 54 and so does my drivers license, inside I feel 30 something.
I've had my challenges in life, as we all have, and I always refocus on the positive and having a great attitude. I don't allow myself to stay in a negative space for long, although I have had times of depression which I have shared here on my blog.
I feel blessed to be 54 and reflect on my life, I feel blessed to have lived a beautiful, amazing life to this point. I'm grateful for every experience and person I have shared time with.

Gracefully embracing the aging process can be difficult for some. 
I decided to let my hair return to it's natural colour this year, and I now see the grey. I look at my grey hair and the lines on my face as a privilege. They are a gift of a life lived. They reflect some of what I have experienced.
I used Botox for about two years when I was 45. I dated a man who always wanted me to look younger. At one point he suggested a face lift and breast implants, suggesting, I could look 35 and really beautiful. At 5'4" and 112 pounds he felt I should have better abs and hired a personal trainer to work with me. 
Needless to say, the relationship was stressful and when I ended it, I decided to be me and not listen to anyone about how I should look or things I could do to slow down the aging process. 
When I see women who's lips are distorted because of fillers, puffy cheeks, and faces that barely show expression, I feel sad for them. Or, women with a lot of makeup on, in my opinion it makes them look older.
I wish they could see their real beauty. I wish they could learn to love the woman in the mirror. Most of all, I wish they could love the woman they are inside. When you love your own beautiful heart, it glows from the inside out.
Perhaps I'm fortunate in the aging process and blessed with good family genes. 
I believe a large part of it is attitude, being optimistic and being grateful for the life I have lived to this point. Smile, laugh, learn, love. Life is amazing, if you let it be...
Friday August 21

Saturday August 22

Just woke up August 23

Sunday, May 24, 2015

It's been a long road since May 18 2013

May 18th 2015 was the two year mark since I competed in my first bodybuilding competition.
While preparing for the competition, nothing was going to stop me. I followed my diet to a T, except for the brussels sprouts, just couldn't eat two cups at a meal, especially for breakfast.

Whenever I felt myself losing focus or starting to doubt myself, I turned to one of the people in my circle to get me back on track mentally.
When my body presented me with a health or mechanical challenge, I worked with either my naturopath, Dr. Seema Kanwal or my rolfer, Vernon Marshall of Skillful Touch to limit my down time. 

I don't remember ever being so focused on a goal in my life. By the time I stepped on stage I knew I had done everything I possibly could and it showed, I won third place; one of the proudest moments of my life.

Here's my reality of the last two years! I have not shared this with many people other than those very close to me.

I had good intentions of getting back in the gym and preparing for provincials in June 2014.
After completing the bodybuilding competition my body crashed. I woke up one morning two weeks after my competition with pain in both of my hands. Some days I needed two hands to hold a glass, I felt like I had arthritis. I tried to work out, go for a hike or a run and when I did I was exhausted for days after.

My gut was completely messed up, I had no idea how to eat or what to eat to make it happy, my stomach had been affected by the limited diet. Anything I ate caused my stomach to bloat, I felt awful. I didn't want to go out because after I ate I had such bad stomach gas or diarrhea, I was in pain.
I had fierce sugar/simple carb cravings, my body was so fatigued, it needed carbs to replenish the energy stores. 
Everyone who I relied on during my competition prep told me, this was normal and my body would adjust.

Then my blood tests revealed my kidneys and liver were struggling. In fact I had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. What had I done? Would I recover? Have I now affected my health for the rest of my life? I was scared, terrified actually.

How could I be in the best shape of my life and looking twenty years younger and feel worse than I had ever felt in my life?
Reality is my body needed time to heal. I pushed my body hard because I was so determined to reach my goal.
After the competition, I faced the realization that the body I presented on stage was just for that day. I needed to be realistic about my day to day body going forward. 
As the weeks went on I had no choice but to slow down and rest and return to a more normal pace, I felt the fatigue and pain set in more each day. 
I started going through periods of depression. I knew that not being able to work out I would lose my muscle and that really bothered me. I worked so hard to gain the muscle and did it all naturally. My body was swollen and inflamed. No matter what I did, my weight continued to climb. Last summer was the worst, I had now gained 20 pounds. I knew in all logic I had everything to be thankful for, yet all I wanted to do was die. It scared the hell out of me! I was also too scared to reach out to anyone, I was embarrassed I felt that way. Everyone perceived me as being so strong, I could get through anything, how could I let them down. I was afraid I would be judged or people would say "just decide to be happy." Honestly when someone told me that, I just wanted to slap them!

The only thing I focused on was my mom. I fought through every day of deep scary sadness for her. I could not end my life in selfishness and break her heart.

My depression caused me to seclude myself. I only went for walks after dark. I spent a lot of time alone and journaled to try and get the awful thoughts out of my head.

I was angry! Why did this happen to me? I worked so hard! I ate what I was told to eat during my competition prep! I did all of the workouts I was supposed to do! Wasn't I supposed to be healthier?

What I didn't realize was, through the whole process I was actually on a journey. A journey that gave me the confidence to make some major changes in my life. While preparing for my competition I realized I had a passion for nutrition and left the corporate world in August 2013 to return to school.

After my competition I also connected with Ingrid Barclay of Body Conquest in Geelong Australia. I had found Ingrid's Facebook site, Figure It Out-An Honest Insight Into Sports Model and Figure In Australia, one night about 12 weeks before my competition date. I sent her a note as I was very interested in her posts and how she worked with her athletes, something resonated with me.

A year after my competition I hired Ingrid to help me get back in shape. Little did I know it wasn't just physical, I now had some huge mental blocks. In the end getting my body back in shape wasn't going to happen until my mental state changed. The smallest set backs threw me further into depression and increased my lack of ambition.

One of the best things Ingrid asked me to do was to have my body write a letter to me. You are probably thinking "WHAT?? That's crazy!" Actually, no it's not. Ingrid said, "do you think your body would stay with you if it had a choice?"

Sitting down to write the letter at first seemed weird, but after a few sentences I was amazed at the words I was writing down. My body had a lot to say! The tears flowed as my body wrote the letter. My heart broke because I hadn't been listening to my body for so many years. It continued to support me no matter what I did or ate but it had finally reached it's breaking point. I will be forever grateful for Ingrid and the guidance she gave me during such a difficult time. She is an amazing person with so much wisdom.

Since September 2014, at the age of 53, I have been following my passion and attending the Institute of Holistic Nutrition.

Following my passion gave me new hope, it gave me purpose.

When I started school the very first course was causing lightbulbs go off. With each course I attended, pieces of the puzzle where slowly coming together. Years of stressful relationships and stressful jobs started to affect my health, the competition was the last straw. I now realize I was in adrenal fatigue even before starting my competition, and after the competition probably very close to adrenal collapse. My quest began to start to heal my body. I wanted my health back and I was willing to do whatever I had to do to get it back.

So where is my body at today? I'm happy to say for the first time in two years the pain in my hands is starting to subside. I have more energy and my gut is so much better. I still have healing to do, it is a process. 

I can say with all of my heart and soul I now realize how important our gut is to our health, not just physically but also mentally. I no longer fall into periods of deep depression because of focusing on healing my gut.

I believe everything I have been through was for a reason. I truly understand and listen with compassion when my clients share their health challenges. What I do know, is if they are willing to make some changes, food can help to heal them as well.

I feel privileged and honoured whenever a client gives me their trust to help them heal their body.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Today's Superfood Is...

It feels like every day I read about a new superfood or food source we should include in our eating habits or lifestyle. If we do we can live a healthy, happy and energetic life hopefully free of major diseases.
Here's the issue, if we don't take time to research this new food source or even common food source and how it should be eaten we could be causing ourselves more harm than good.
How many of us take the time or even have the time to do the research?
We might catch a portion of a conversation on television or the radio. Reading an article while waiting somewhere but didn't get to the end of the article where it covers the precautions. Perhaps a friend shared information they heard from another source, they didn't catch all the details but what they did catch is it is the next cure for__________; you fill in the blank.
We've all been told kale is very healthy for us to eat. I agree completely, kale is very good for us to eat along with all the other veggies in the cruciferous or brassica family. Kale, broccoli, cabbage, rutabaga, turnips, kohlrabi, cabbage, collard greens, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are all part of the family.
Did you know if you have issues with your thyroid you should not eat these veggies raw? They should be lightly steamed or sautéed even if you are including them in a smoothie.
Another superfood which should also be avoided if you have thyroid issues is Maca. It originated in Peru and comes from the same family. 
This article is not meant to detail foods that should or should not be consumed if you have a thyroid issue.
My concern is, we are more connected than ever before and are constantly bombarded with information.
If you are thinking of making some food changes in your life I recommend you spend time doing some research. 
If you have certain health conditions a simple Google search with your condition and the new food you want to incorporate is a good start. For example, raw kale and thyroid; will return pages of sites to read.
The same goes for medications; research a supplement or herb to see if there is a contraindication or check with your pharmacist.
Before I provide any advice or even something as simple as a recipe I need to make sure it won’t further complicate an existing condition.
As a nutritional consultant my due diligence and obligation is to understand my client’s current state of health through a detailed questionnaire.

Food is to be enjoyed, I recommend everything in moderation.
In this age of information make sure you have yours.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

If you have been following me for a while you know last May I competed in the Masters Figure Class of the Western Canadian Bodybuilding Show and won Third Place. It was an incredible day filled with pride, happiness, laughter and a moment I shared with close friends and my mom.
Since that day, I watched my extreme fit body transform to a "normal" body. I put normal in quotations because what is normal, who decides what is normal. Is there one all knowing person on this earth or a governing panel of what normal is?
Today I saw a quote on Pinterest which said "You are so used to seeing your features, you don't know how beautiful you look to a stranger".
The quote made me stop and think for a moment, I thought "how true!"
For eight months I watched my body transform; first into the bulking body which is a process of gaining muscle and fat. Then leaning down to a body with around 10% fat, which for a woman is not healthy to maintain for any period of time.
I have also shared how exhausted I was; body, mind and soul and needed time to rebuild my overall health.
What I haven't shared is the body issues I have had over the last year.
As I saw my competition body disappear each day I became more disappointed in myself for letting all my hard work go and I became very self-conscious of my body in general. I didn't like looking at my naked body in the mirror. Most mornings I get up, I look at my abs with regret.
Prior to deciding to prepare for the competition I was happy with my body. It took many years to become comfortable with the naked body I saw in the mirror.
When I was younger I was small in size and as I started to mature, let's just say I did not have the curves other girls did. I always compared myself to them and rated myself second best amongst my friends when it came to physical appearance.
It took until my mid forties to embrace and love my body.
I think part of it comes from what I see in magazines or on the various social media feeds of the fit women. I say to myself, "I was there; why didn't I do the right things to keep the body I worked so hard for?"
Perhaps for me that isn't the body I should have, I'm naturally lean. I need to figure out the right balance in my life and my workouts to have a body I can sustain for the balance of my life.
Maybe deep down my body knows what it needs and it has been trying to tell me but I haven't been listening. All I've been doing is looking at it in disappointment and regret.
The first thing I need to do is to start loving what I see in the mirror everyday. I need to stop taking what I see for granted. I need to also remember who I am as a person, as a woman. I need to stop comparing myself to other women's bodies.
What I achieved in eight short months at the age of 51 was truly amazing and something I will always be proud of. Winning third place at the Western Canadian Bodybuilding Show was a moment of time in my life and my life journey carries on.
The sooner I love every state of my body the sooner I will be happy with the woman I see in the mirror everyday.
Whether you are a man or a woman; Love Yourself, That's Beautiful!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Face Your Fear or Get Your Ass Kicked!

Those of you that followed my journey to compete in my first figure competition last year at the age of 51, know how often I was in the gym. I was with my trainer at least three times a week and added in another two days on my own. The last twelve weeks of preparation I was in the gym almost 3 hours a day, six days a week, it was almost my second home. I kept that schedule for 8 months. Prior to preparing for my competition I would be in the gym maybe three days a week for an hour. 
People at Club 16 knew me, they saw the transformation, all the staff greeted me when I walked in the door! Those of you that are old enough, it felt like walking into Cheers, except no alcohol.
After my competition, my body was tired, I went to the gym a couple of times but my body was not able to handle the workouts. I started to see my physique change but I knew I needed to heal my body.
As time went on and I started to put on some weight, suddenly I had a fear inside of me; how could I return to the gym with the extra pounds! As each day went on the fear grew and so did my waistline, I was losing my muscle tone and my confidence.
I worked on healing my body from the hard workouts and acclimating my gut back to a more regular diet.
As the months went on I knew my body was healing and my diet was normal, it was time to start working out again. What I saw in the mirror was holding me back, there was no way I would be sporting my spray tan body, toned abs and cute booty shorts.
I remember the first time I went to the gym; about 7 years ago a friend showed me how to use the weight machines and helped me with exercises using the free weights. My fear made me feel like I was starting all over and walking into the gym for the first time.
The silly things is this time I know how to do the exercises, I had a workout routine, I was on track with the right nutrition but just couldn't get myself to put on my gym clothes and go.
I stopped by to visit a good friend at her office, we both competed in figure on the same day and she was the best flatmate ever. 
As we talked she eventually pried out of me what was going on, I told her I was afraid to go workout, I was afraid to walk in the door. 
Shared with her I had gained 17 pounds since the competition, showed her the sad state of my abs and we both giggled a little and she said "so what, who cares!"
Then she asked me what I was doing for the rest of the day; I replied "nothing, just going home".
She said okay then you can go home, find your workout gear in the back of your closet. Her next question was do you have a program; I said yes.
Her next statement was "you have until 7:00pm to send me a selfie of you in the gym. If you don't send me a selfie I am going to kick your ass!"
I knew she wouldn't really kick my ass but I knew she wanted me to face my fear and get back to what made me feel good. She was also holding me accountable to her and myself.
I left her office, went home, put my gear together, wrote my exercises in my training diary and headed to Club 16. I didn't want to break my promise to her; she knew by making me promise I would go and she knew I would face my fear and feel better overall.
It had been almost 11 months since my last workout. I sent her the before workout selfie and the after workout selfie. She asked me how I felt; I said I was proud of myself and I felt great! She told me she was proud of me as well. I'm so grateful for her, I'm blessed to have such wonderful caring friends.
I'm sharing all of this to let you know that regardless of what I have achieved in the past doesn't mean a fear or insecurity won't pop up again in the future.
The other silly thing is there wasn't a person in the gym I knew, they could have cared less about what my abs looked like or any other part of my body for that matter. But to be clear, my abs were hidden and the cute booty shorts are still in the closet.
If making a change means being accountable to someone else to get you started then do it...you have nothing to lose and so much to gain.
In my case I regained my confidence as to what I can do and how I feel after a good workout. I will be sore tomorrow but this will be a good muscle soreness.
Next workout on Monday!
I think this story pertains to life in general, it is okay to have fears but we don't have to go it alone, its okay to ask for support.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I won! Now what?

It has been a while since my last post. Even though I took a leave from work, I found myself very busy and took more time to rest, which was a good thing. 
I won third place in my category at the Western Canadian Bodybuilding Competition in Kelowna BC on May 18 2013. My category was Master Figure Class B. 
The day was surreal! I was so excited that I didn't sleep well the night before. I was envisioning the next day and accepting my trophy. 
The day started early, 6 am, as the hairstylist would be there at 6:45. Once my hair was done had to take pictures for my nutrition coach so she could tell me what to eat. Lucky me, 4 ounces of chicken and only small sips of water. Next was makeup and then dawning my competition suit. 
Once everything was done and I looked in the mirror I was amazed what I saw, eight months of hard work and dedication had all come together. My roommate and fellow competitor in another Figure category, Valerie Proust, stated it best, she said she was emotionless. Yes, that's exactly how I felt! We giggled at our dramatic makeup, looked at each other and said alright let's get over to the theater, it was show time!
Once we arrived at the venue there were the last minute checks on our tans, then the glazing so our bodies would shine under the lights and gluing our suits into place, talk about up close and personal with strangers. 
Then you wait. It was an hour and a half before my category was called to check in and line up. Next is the pump up room. My nutrition coach Nicki Pimm told me to have an once of red wine right before the pump up, it gets your blood moving which makes your muscles bigger. 
I wasn't sure how I would feel while pumping up, would I be comparing myself to others?
Not at all, I was in a zone. I didn't care what anyone else looked like or what their suit was like, I was there to present "me" and my hard work. 
While waiting behind the curtain to go on stage I was calm, focused and asked the universe to channel my posing coach Steely Springham
The moment came! I stepped out and it seemed as if I was on auto pilot. I presented everything I had practiced for months, it was like a virtual check list was in front of me. 
We first present ourselves, then we are brought out in groups and then we are called out once more so the judges can do their final comparison. I knew that if I was in the first call out it would be a very good sign. 
I was called first! When I heard my number, inside I was jumping up and down and saying "f#%k yeah!" On the outside I was confident and continued to hold my composure. 
Once the judges were happy, that was it, we were done for the pre-judging and could go for lunch and have some water, yay!
We had about five hours to relax, snooze and then freshen ourselves up for the trophy presentation. 
My trainer/coach Nico De Feo was confident I had made the top three. 
The atmosphere was far more relaxed for the evening show. The nervous butterflies had calmed down and everybody feels better once they have had a bit of food and water.
It was time for my category to go out on stage again. We presented our hard work one last time, now they will call out the top five competitors. Yes, I am in the top five! Finally my number is called for the third place trophy. I can't stop smiling, oh wait I haven't stopped smiling since I first stepped on stage that morning.
Someone asked me if I cried or had tears when I was given the trophy? I said no way, I worked hard for that recognition, tears weren't necessary.
The one thing I was so glad about was that my mom was there to see me receive my trophy, she said she was so proud of me! 
We all went out for a celebratory meal which included dessert. We were all tired, it had been a long day.
Sunday morning came and now life is different. No menu provided by our nutrition coach for the day. No need to take pictures to send to her. No scheduling of workouts for the week. No scheduling of posing practice. 
I could now eat what I wanted and felt lost, what should I eat? How do I eat clean again, I had been told for 6 months what to eat everyday.
There is also the urge to get back in the gym, but the last few weeks are hard on the body and it needs a break.
Every morning after that I woke up and the first thing I did was look in the mirror to make sure my muscles were still there. I was still eating the same way but slowly incorporating some new foods.
I had a week to relax and then get ready to go back to work. I found myself craving chocolate and sweets. Chocolate I can't resist. But I was feeling guilty for my indulgence. I could feel there was something on my mind troubling me but couldn't put my finger on it.
Finally it came to me yesterday morning! I was putting pressure on myself to maintain as close to my competition body as I could. After all many people told me I was an inspiration to them, how could I now suddenly start to put on weight. Also I would be visiting my old home town in a few weeks and all my friends want to see me and I felt they wanted to see my amazing toned body. I talked to a friend of mine and told her what was troubling me and she quickly set me straight. She said it was not the fact I had this amazing body that inspired people it was the fact that I set my goal and did not let anything stop me. With all the challenges I had faced, I kept going and in the end won! She said that is what inspired everyone. She said you are human and you are allowed to satisfy your cravings, no one will fault you for that.
I think one of the most amazing things on this journey is all of the people that have been there for me when I needed to talk through emotional hurdles. I am truly blessed.

Me and my beautiful mom who at 82 years of age still goes to the gym 3 days a week.
My final moment on stage. Thank you David Aboody for the photo.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pushing through limitations

My trainer Nico De Feo is awesome! I truly would not be in the shape I am today and 31 days to the competition with out his guidance and his belief in me.
My workout with him today was interesting. I was tired and decided to take a nap before the workout. When I woke up I needed to eat, change and get going. There wasn't enough time to eat my whole meal so I had part of it to give me some energy.
I am now at the point of carb cycling which means I can have certain carbs every other day, for example my sweet potato, therefore my energy levels and memory can be challenged at times.
The workout started with a warm up using the TRX straps. I was doing a combination of moves and was having a hard time with the sequence partially due to less carbs. The low fat diet also effects the brain, some days it is pretty funny.
Once I mastered the sequence and was warmed up we moved on to doing some plyometric moves.
I need to build my endurance as well as burn fat. These moves also make the muscles work differently from weight lifting.
Nico wanted me to jump and at the same time bring my knees in as close to my chest as possible.
I was having a hard time doing it but he won't let me give up. I actually started to cry because I wasn't sure I had the energy. He told me to work through it, don't let this stop you.
I stood there in front of the mirror for a few minutes, tears streaming down my face, trying to refocus on why I was there and what needed to be done.
I did it, partially out of anger and partially because I'm not a quitter. I was mad at him for pushing me and mad at myself that I was letting this get to me. I told him that I can love him and hate him at the same time, he smiled and said "thank you, it is my pleasure".
Looking back at the workout now I'm glad he did push me and didn't mollycoddle me.
Almost all of the exercises we did today were all new to me so you feel awkward. Try kneeling with your back against the wall and shoulder pressing an empty beer keg above your head, I conquered that b#%h. I conquered all of the exercises and I'm proud of myself for not quitting.
If he had let me quit I would have been very disappointed in myself.
There have been many times during my journey I have faced pain, illness, slight depression and postural issues.I look back at those issues now and I realize how strong physically and emotionally I have become.
The next 31 days will be the most exciting and at times will be the most challenging.But I will stand on that stage and know no matter what, the moment I step from behind the curtain I have won.
"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." ~Henry Ford