The Blog

Diets Shouldn’t Have Finish Lines

This past week I got asked by a coworker if I had heard of a certain nutrition plan (I won’t name names of programs here). I genuinely hadn’t, and then proceeded to ask her what was entailed. She mentioned something about so many shakes, and a meal service. She said it was an 8 week plan, and she just really wanted to get her weight down quickly- even though she admitted she understood losing weight slower was better in the long term. I could tell by the look on her face she knew I wasn’t going to be on board with her plan. I simply responded: “Could you maintain this ‘program’ for the next 20 years?” Her answer: “Well, no…”

People ask me questions about fad diets/quick fix nutrition plans almost as often as they ask me how they can spot-reduce fat (how do I get rid of my underarm fat; how do I tone my legs; I just want a six-pack, etc.). The only painful part for me is that I know they know the answer. It’s like they’re hoping their bogus weight loss plan might be ‘it’- the one diet program that will actually work! But here’s the ugly truth: there ARE NO quick fixes. Sorry, but you know it, I sure as hell know it, and unless you can maintain whatever program realistically FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE that weight is only going to come back and then some. I have not met one single person who lost a ton of weight at a quick rate (without surgery) and didn’t gain it all back.

Competition diets are very similar. Most people lose a significant amount of weight (most of it being body fat) at a fairly acute rate. Many many competitors, usually female, then strive to achieve that same leanness year-round. First of all, we as women are not meant function with body fat so low we have striations in our shoulders and veins in our lower abs. I mean, you could try- but I will say long term it’s not possible ‘naturally.’ Many of these competitors forget all that they gave up nutrition-wise to get in that condition. This is a huge part of the problem. Any diet that restricts entire food groups (unless you’re celiac/lactose intolerant) WILL NOT WORK in the long term. Our bodies need macro and micronutrients from various sources of food to achieve optimal health- but that is a whole other lengthy blog 😉

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A quick selfie before shooting with BodyRock TV last spring. I did a series of shoots over the course of 3 months which I was able to maintain shoot-shape for.

It’s taken me a long time to come to this. By ‘this’ I mean coming off 6 years of competing in fitness- all of which involved yo-yoing between 20-30 lbs (which is better than most), going from a super-restrictive competition diet to free-for-all ‘off-seasons’, I feel I have FINALLY arrived at knowing very well what my body needs to maintain itself. And herein lies my point: all of this takes time. I’m sorry, but I really wish I could say I had the magic ticket to get everyone lean, right away, and maintain it forever. It’s just not like that. If you truly are passionate about a fit lifestyle, about bettering yourself, living your BEST possible life then you have to be willing to put in the effort. I’m not talking effort for 8, 12, or 16 weeks- I’m talking for ALWAYS. If I sound preachy, it’s because I live and breath this. It is a huge compliment to be told by someone they want a body like mine, but make no mistake- I work for it EVERY single day. I am not lucky, and it’s not genetics. It is a testament of my passion and willingness to live this lifestyle, and my work ethic. If you want it bad enough, you’ll get there 🙂

Win, Love, or Draw

This past week and weekend was challenging, yet successful. Those of you that know me personally or follow via social media may have seen My Champ honouring his namesake, as he won his Muay Thai fight that he headlined in Calgary. I am so incredibly proud, though I was very confident he would take it. I succeeded in my own personal goals with my triathlon training as well. This was my ‘peak volume’ week where I pushed myself beyond my own perceived limits. While we were out celebrating My Champ’s win, I was inspired to write this piece on what it is to truly love and support an elite athlete.

When My Champ and I began dating he knew what he was getting into. We were friends first, and he was well aware that I was heavy into my sport of Figure at a National level. He never once questioned the amount I had to train, the time I spent on my meal prep, the attention I may have received from both men and women, and never mind the mood swings! He not only accepted, but understood all of that.  He too had dreams of his own. He was finishing his kinesiology degree, working as a trainer on top of that, and was just kicking off his Muay Thai career. If there was any common ground we shared at all, it was that we were ambitious as hell and would do whatever it takes to get what/where we wanted. Nothing has changed.

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A rare site: all dressed up and out of our fitness attire at My Champ’s Christmas party this past December

In recent times, my goals have shifted. I decided to walk away from the figure stage, and was happy to slow down- to a point. Even My Champ knew that would only go on for so long. I needed a new goal, a new challenge as I am happiest when I’m working towards something. This man is a far cry from past suitors. Most would have given anything for me to slow down, and be ecstatic at my decision to do so. But since he has my best interests at heart, he knows the busier I am, the happier I am.

So now since he has me figured out (to a degree 😉 ) I am now learning what it means to support him. Friday was the 4th fight I have been present for, but probably the 7th or 8th training camp I’ve experienced with him. Support means different things for people. For me, it’s being there for everything. I do need praise and encouragement. I need a shoulder to cry on and the odd pep talk every now and then. For My Champ, support means SPACE. Training camps involve 5 if not 6 nights a week at home alone when he’s still at training. When he gets home, he just wants to eat and go to bed. Fridays or Sundays are when I see him the most, but he’s still training on those days. He has something going on every single day of the week. He works long hours, and trains with more dedication than anyone I know. When he has a fight coming up, nothing keeps him from training.

The day before and the day of his fight, I actually keep my communication with him to a minimum. This is not easy. Even if I see him at the venue, I only come to him if he waves me over. All of me wants to text/talk to him every hour on the hour, but that’s not of use to him. That’s just it: it’s about HIM. This is his time. When I was competing it was about what I wanted- that’s why I get it. I need to not be an extra distraction for the head space he needs to be in to execute the best possible performance. I respect that, and I respect him.

I am by no stretch an expert on relationships, though I have experienced plenty of trial and errors. If there’s anything I can take away from what I have with My Champ is the tremendous amount of mutual respect we have for one another. That is so key- I now realize that was lacking in my past. I’m not here to throw ex-boyfriends under the bus, it definitely goes both ways: it’s give and take. There were times that I was either too proud or didn’t actually respect the person I was dating; there were times where I felt like I was being put down so I couldn’t continue to grow.

In love, there should be no competition as there is no ‘winner’. You are on the same team, in my eyes. You are there to challenge one another, to make each other better. Believe in their dreams as much as they do themselves. If that’s hard to accept or wrap your head around, take a look inside as to why that is. It may have nothing to do with them; maybe it’s some reservations you have on your own. Being able to look at your significant other with a sense of pride is the ultimate. You’re as good as the company you keep.

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Proud as can be xo

 

Know When It’s Time to Walk Away

“…after a while you learn that even the sunshine burns if you get too much.” – Veronica A. Shoffstall, After a while

July 5th, 2014: my last figure competition. My hometown of Edmonton, Alberta was the host city of the CBBF Figure Nationals (an IFBB pro card qualifier) and I could not be more pumped to be on stage in front of so many familiar faces. This would be my 9th show in 5 years, and my 5th national-level competition. With all the excitement and expectations leading up to it, I had no idea it would be my last.

It had been a difficult prep, as I had developed bronchitis about 7 weeks out forcing me to put everything to a halt for several days. Nevertheless I pulled through, and was coming in my best condition to date. I had never been so lean; I had never felt so calm; I never felt more confident in all my life. Even with hiccups like my suit being denied at height-ins, I was totally unfazed. I didn’t care if they wanted me in a garbage bag: I knew my physique was 100% my very best.

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My girlfriend and fellow competitor Paije and I on our way to prejudging

The day of the competition I was as calm as pond water. The entire day I was so chill. I knew it was going to be a very long day, with 400+ competitors registered, it was the largest national show the CBBF had ever seen (at that point). I laid up backstage for 8 some- odd hours before going on stage for prejudging, still totally unfazed. My coach said I had done well- the one critique was to get another layer of spray tan before the night show as I looked a lot lighter next to the other girls. Because I don’t tan my skin with sun/sun beds (for health reasons) I have a trickier time achieving that desired competition-dark look. I took my coach’s advice, and was ready to rock the night show.

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Showcasing my front post at the night show

The night show is where they announce how the judges placed the athletes from prejudging: the awards ceremony, if you will. I felt the expectations on me were pretty high: I had placed 3rd in 2011; 2nd in 2012; and 2nd in 2013. So naturally, one would feel since they are coming in as their best ever, first place would be the next step. I did not feel this was a cocky or arrogant way to be- I EARNED this belief. I worked myself (literally) to the bone for this. They had me up on stage in the night show as one of the top 5. Then they called the top 3. My name wasn’t called. You know how on sitcoms when unexpected moments occur, they play that record-scratch sound?? Well that’s what I’d heard in my head. I actually felt like I heard dead silence after that. I heard nothing. I kept smiling (though in hindsight it was probably the fakest smile ever) and walked off stage. Some of my close friends who were also competing then saw me, shocked. I said nothing. I knew, as hot-tempered as I can be, I needed to say absolutely nothing until I saw my family. And actually, that’s all I do remember saying- over and over: “I just need to find my family.”

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My brother, my Mom, Me, and my Dad- the dinner the day after my last show: July 6th, 2014

I have competed all over Canada, and my family has been there for each and every show. Toronto, Saskatoon, Vancouver (twice)- they were there. This is rare in the bodybuilding world. I am aware I had tremendous support as a fitness competitor- in a sport where many family and friends do not understand (or want to). My heart instantly went to them. It was 12:50 am when I got off stage. I know, because I remember looking at my phone. Once I finally found all of them, seeing their tired, weary, forced smiles on their faces- I said ENOUGH. I sank inside. My coach was there too- and gave me the advice to just take a break, to “reset” I believe he said, and just enjoy life for a little bit.

And so I did. I vowed I would take at least a whole year off from competing and then see how I feel. In that time I did some deep soul-searching. Was competing actually making me happy, or was it just about having a goal? It was becoming apparent after the last few shows I had always had this ’empty’ feeling post-show. I was actually my happiest just training, preparing for something. The sport of figure was also beginning to change. The girls were getting bigger, harder, almost (forgive me) harsher looking- the ones that were placing high. To each their own, I did not want to have to resort to this type of look just to win a trophy. After much introspection, I knew this was no long my path.

About mid-way through my fitness career I often got asked: “how long do you plan on doing this for?” I would always answer “until I stop enjoying it.” And that’s exactly what happened. Each season I was becoming more and more consumed with how I would place, and I was no longer enjoying the process. If I didn’t get the placing/outcome I wanted, I would go through a period of private bitterness and self-pity before picking myself up and thinking about the next show. It was a perpetual cycle. And although I’m flattered that others see me as this fitness competitor, I wanted to show so badly that I am so much more.

Fast-forward to present day 2016 and I am now at peace with my transition. My boyfriend is a top-ranked Muay Thai fighter, and I love that the spotlight gets to be on him. We bought a house last May, and I am so proud to be a homeowner. I am now preparing for a full Olympic-distance Triathlon May 29th, and the new training I have to implement is new, exciting, and challenging! It truly brings out my inner athlete.

Don’t ever let something define you. I say this because I believe each and every person should be so much more than one thing. If you’re following your passion and your dream, and it fulfills your life and your soul- hell yes, keep going! But consider the ‘why’- why are you doing it. If you can’t think of the answer, and you’re just plugging away and going through the motions- that is NOT joy.  So what IS your why? Give it some thought. Learn, grow, and know when it’s time to move on.