How diet is more than just “will power”

Lately, a lot of my clients have been asking me about what it takes to be successful. Especially when it comes to their diet. When it comes to improving your fitness, the diet is always the hardest part, and for some reason, a lot of my clients assume that it has something to do with their “lack of will power.” However, it is much more complicated than that. Believe it or not, there are a lot of social, psychological, and emotional attachments to food, and to eating in general. These all play a big role in how successful you are at dieting. Here are a few things that I have come to understand about dieting, and how to lose weight successfully through my own personal experiences:

First of all, you need to decide whether or not you really want to lose weight. How serious are you about this goal? Has this goal changed from a want to a need? For example, generally when someone really wants something like a job, a new car, or shoes, they start to convince themselves that they “need it.” When someone really wants something, they will talk to themselves, and to others about how much they “need” this particular thing. Example: “Oh my God, I need these new shoes!”  Whether or not they may actually need the new pair of shoes, is besides the point. The point is, they convinced themselves that they do, and therefore have justified the purchase to themselves. Now they’re happy, or at least for the moment, because they had achieved the goal of buying new shoes. They had gotten themselves something that they really wanted, and they now feel more accomplished, and happy. It is the same with weight loss. How unhappy are you in your current situation? How uncomfortable do you feel in your own skin? Enough to make a permanent and lasting change? If so, then we can actually start to set up a game plan to help you be successful. Permanent and lasting weight loss only works if you are committed to it. It is something that you have to work on everyday, it is all the choices that you make through out each and everyday that impact your weight loss success or failure.

At the very basic level, you need to put yourself, your health, and your body first. It must be a priority. If it is a priority, if being healthy and feeling good is so important to you, then you will choose better foods for your body, and you will find activities and exercise for your body and so on. If your health isn’t a priority, if you’re not unhappy with your weight, or at least not enough to really do anything about it, then why do you keep punishing yourself for the choices you make? Why do you keep calling yourself fat? And treating yourself like shit?  If you are not willing to make any changes with your current lifestyle, then you must find a way to be happy with the person you are right now, because putting yourself through this emotional and psychological trauma just isn’t worth it. No one deserves that sort of abuse. It is not positive, and it is certainly not productive. Being mean to yourself isn’t going to change your life, and it isn’t going to change who you are. If anything, you become a victim of your own life, and the circumstances that you put yourself in. This only perpetuates the problem, and keeps you fat, unhealthy, and unhappy.

Being healthy, or feeling good about yourself in general, is a constant battle. It doesn’t just magically happen, and once you have found your happy place, you need to work to keep yourself there.  The second you think you’re fine, and you don’t need to be as “strict” with your health goals, is the second you start to fall down your priority list. Before you know it, your back to square one, or worse. Your health and happiness is the most important thing in your life. In fact, YOU are the most IMPORTANT person in YOUR life. Without you, and your body, you would not be able to experience life. If you want to be successful at anything it is more than “will power,” or discipline. It starts with you putting yourself, your happiness, your needs, and your goals first! Everything else is secondary. Once you know what you need in your life to be happy, you will do anything to get it, but only if your happiness is of the utmost importance!

Your happiness only becomes important to you, if you think you deserve it. You have to accept who you are now, flaws and all, before you can truly be happy. Once you believe that you deserve better, that you can have better, and that you are better than the way you are treating yourself, that is when you can really be happy. Failure happens, mistakes happen. You will never be perfect, and you may fall off your diet, but tomorrow is a new day. The only way you can truly be successful at anything you do including your diet, is through consistent, committed, hard work. You need to be 100% committed to consistent hard work, no matter how hard it gets, or if you’ve made a mistake, you need to be willing to get right back up on that horse and keep going. As they say, slow and steady always wins the race, and that could not be more true when it comes to long lasting weight loss. Being healthy and feeling good is a life long battle. If it is important to you, then you must be committed to consistently making the best food choices for you and your body every single day! Sometimes we may not make the best choices, but that is no reason to let it snowball, let it go, and get right back on track tomorrow. If anything happiness, and healthiness are both a life-long battle. I’m not saying that consistently looking a certain way will guarantee happiness, however, I am saying that consistently feeding your body healthy foods, and keeping yourself active does foster happiness. So if you want to be healthy and happy, then you MUST make the choice everyday to be healthy and happy.


How to Diet on the Go? My top three tips for sticking to your diet when time is an issue!

I’ve recently decided to move downtown, actually the very first Wednesday of the month I decided to sell my car, and move myself and my business downtown. Ever since then, I’ve had to switch gears, and I’ve been working tirelessly to make this dream a reality. However, because I’ve been so busy putting my car up for sale, looking at apartments, looking for work, and commuting via transit all the time, it really got me thinking about how difficult it is to stay committed to a diet when you’re away from home a lot. So, I decided to write a piece with some helpful tips on how to stay on track with your diet when you have a very busy life, and you’re always on the go. These past two weeks have been extremely difficult for me, and I will not say that I was perfect with my nutrition. However, that does not mean that I am willing to give up on my goals just because it has suddenly become a little more difficult for me, and neither should you! So here are my top 3 tips for successful weight loss with an extremely busy schedule:

  1. Make sure that you have a good lunch box. One that is big enough to hold more than one meal, and that is easy to carry.

There are plenty of lunch boxes out there that are stylish, and convenient. For example Six Pack Fitness has several different styles of lunch boxes that look like backpacks, purses, and even duffel bags. They can fit up to five meals, and all your personal belongings. These bags keep your meals cool, and your belonging (including electronics) safe. So, if you’re spending the whole day away from home, there is no need to resort to fast food if you have a good lunch box to keep all your food for the day. If the Six Pack Fitness bags are out of your budget, there are other lunch bags or small coolers that you can buy that are less expensive but still do the same job.

2. Plan ahead!!

Now you have the lunch box, and you know that you have a busy day, and/or week ahead of you, where you will not have a lot of time to prepare your meals, what do you do? Well, if that’s the case, then you need to spend a day, like a Sunday before your work week, or the night before to prep and pack all your meals. You can use the left overs from dinner, for your lunch the next day, or you can prep a whole bunch of meals for the next two to three days. For example, since the weather is nice, you can BBQ a pack of chicken breast on a Sunday, steam a bunch of veggies, make some rice, and then divide these things into 4-5 meals depending on your macro nutrients for the next couple of days. Put your prepared food into the fridge, put labels on it, so people know it’s yours, and then throw your meals into your lunch bag in the morning on your way out. And if you’re super lazy, you can literally make several salads for yourself with pre-washed and pre-cut vegetables! All you have to do is throw them into containers, cook and measure your protein, and BAM you have lunch! There really is no excuse as to why you can’t pack your own lunch on a regular basis. Even if you don’t cook, there are several meal services out there that will cook and measure all your food for you based on your macro-nutrient goals and dietary restrictions.

3. What do you do if you don’t have access to a microwave? Or it’s just not convenient to eat chicken and veggies?

Personally, I have literally eaten chicken and asparagus out of a Ziploc bag this past week because I didn’t have time to find a lid for a container, so I threw my meal in a plastic bag and ate it on the go. It was a little awkward eating chicken like that in the middle of Yorkville before a meeting, but hey! Better than eating something unhealthy, overpriced, and/or disappointing. So, I did what I had to do! But, if you don’t consider that an option, and sometimes it is really inconvenient to eat chicken and veggies, then you must be prepared with other forms of nutrients that you can store in your car, purse, or gym bag without running the risk of it going bad. Some things that I like to always have on hand in case of meal emergencies where you had absolutely no time to prepare lunch, or a short errand turned out to take way longer than expected, are as follows:

  • Protein powder. I sometimes have extra protein powder measured and put into little Ziploc bags or small containers, and I leave them in my gym bag or purse just in case I get stuck without food somewhere and I really need something to eat. (Bottled water can literally be found anywhere so there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to mix your powder…)
  • Raw, natural, unsalted nuts. Again a handful of nuts is a great snack to help you in between meals when you’re stuck. You can keep these in your car, or bag for meal emergencies.
  • Protein bars. Again a good meal alternative when you’re stuck in a bind! Make sure you have a quality protein bar that is low in carbohydrates! You want your protein bar to be high in protein with at least 20 grams of protein and very little sugar/carbohydrates. Ideally, your protein bar should be sweetened with stevia. If you’re vegetarian, again make sure that the total amount of protein in the bar is higher than the carbohydrates. Protein bars are not something I would consume all the time. There are better and more nutritious ways to eat, however, if you’re stuck and you’re hungry, it is better to eat a protein bar than to cheat horribly on your diet.

None of these food items will go bad right away, so they are safe to store in your car, or bag for any emergency food situation.

And there you have it guys! My top three tips for dieting on the run. The main thing is, is that you need to always be prepared. You need to have the right tools, and you need to plan ahead, if you want to be successful. It’s not really a question of time when it comes to dieting, it’s really a question of will. Are you willing to plan ahead, and prepare yourself so that you are successful with your diet? Or, are you going to throw caution to the wind, and hope that it will all somehow works out for you? At the end of the day, it is your choice.

Cookie Monster meme


How often should I be working out?

I get this question a lot, and the simple answer to this question is that you should be working out or doing some sort of activity everyday. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be doing some sort of exercise everyday. You can walk, run, bike, dance, do yoga, or any other activity everyday. When it comes to weight training? You could weight train everyday, however, I personally like to take at least one day of rest from weight training a week. So normally, I weight training six times a week, and I do some sort of cardio everyday. This does not include some of the group fitness classes that I teach where I participate with the class. Obviously, during these classes I’m not pushing myself as I would be for my own personal workouts, but it is exercise nonetheless.

Personally, I don’t know where the fear of “doing too much” comes from? Especially when most of us barely exercise at all! Over training is really difficult for the average person to achieve, in fact, the average person tends to avoid working out on a regular basis. However, if you do plan on seeing results, well you need to be hitting the gym more than twice a week. Two hours a week of exercise is simply not enough exercise to change your body in a significant way. It’s a good start, but you will need to raise the frequency of your training, whether you are training for muscle growth, or weight loss, the frequency of your workouts are very important. For example, if you want larger glutes, or bigger arms, then you should be training those areas at least twice a week. However, that does not mean you should be avoiding the rest of your body. You still need to look proportionate, and therefore, the rest of your week should be dedicated to training the rest of your body. This means that there is no way that only training twice a week will help you get a better looking butt. You need to train your butt at least twice a week, but you still need to do your cardio, and train the rest of your body too so that your butt, legs and body all look proportionate. Especially if weight loss is your goal, you need to do some sort of cardio everyday. Either fasted cardio, or post workout cardio, but you need to do your cardio! I don’t love cardio but it is necessary for weight loss and your overall health!

In conclusion, there simply is no avoiding it. If you want to make a lasting change to your body. If you want to make a significant change to how you look, and feel, then you MUST train more than twice a week! You MUST do some sort of activity everyday if you want to make a significant change in your lifestyle, and your body. Working out, two to three times a week is a good start, don’t get me wrong! But it is not enough in the long term. If you work with a trainer two to three times a week, great! But you should be doing workouts and activities on your own to speed up the change in your body, and to get you on the right path to a healthier lifestyle.

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My sister and I enjoying some coconut water at the Toronto Yoga Show! 

 


My First week of Prep, on the road to Provincials!

I know that I’ve been a little MIA from my blog that last little bit.Things have been crazy for me lately, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to sit and pound out a new piece, so here it is! I have officially started prep this past Monday for my upcoming show on August 6th 2016. I will be doing the 2016 GNC Allmax Ontario Natural Championships, and I’m really excited about it!

I’ve done two shows in the past, my first show was a bikini show on November 8th 2014, where I placed 8th. Eleven months later, I did my second show this past October 2015, where I placed 2nd in figure. Now, I am getting ready to do my third show at the Provincial level! I’m really proud of the work that I’ve put in the past almost year and a half, and I cannot wait to show the package that I’ve built this coming summer! Right now, at the beginning of this prep, this is the best conditioning that I have ever started prepping for a show with. Now that I will be 15 weeks out on Saturday, I am sitting at the leanest that I have ever been this far away from a show. This is because I really stuck to my reverse diet, if I didn’t hold strong those 6 weeks post show, I would not be in the condition that I am today, and I probably wouldn’t have made as many lean gains. I did however, lose a bit of my discipline in the new year, but all in all, I stayed fairly lean, and I’m so happy about that!

For those of you who are just joining me on my blog, you can check out my bodybuilding journey so far by clicking the following links. These blog posts will give you a good idea about why I started bodybuilding, and my journey since  then. The first post is my why. It is a piece that explains why I bodybuild, and why I love the sport so much. Why Do you do Bodybuilding? The next piece talks about the very beginning of my bodybuilding journey leading up to the prep of my second show. My Bodybuilding Journey So Far Then, this next piece talks about my final peak week ( the final week before my last show). The Final Home Stretch! Peak Week!! Next, is a piece I wrote following my second show. It talks about how my show went, and my plans for provincials. My Bodybuilding Journey so far PART TWO! And lastly, this final piece talks about reverse dieting, and what I did to come back from my latest show without rebounding. Reverse Dieting, what does that mean? How do you come back from doing a Bodybuilding show? All of these blog posts will get you up to speed pretty much to where I am at now. Happy reading! I will keep all of you updated on how my prep for this show will be going. Even though I may be in a stronger position out of the gate, I have a bunch of social obligations this summer that I simply can’t back out of, and well frankly, I would never dream of doing so. I am my best friend’s Maid of Honor!! So I have her bachelorette, and bridal shower to plan, and obviously attend before I step on stage this August. But if you know me at all, I like to have my cake and eat it too (so to speak), and I never take no for an answer when it comes to my passions. So, here I am #15weeksout and ready to kill this show, and be the best Maid of Honor a friend can have! Let’s get it!

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The top photo is me at 15 weeks out from my first Bikini show, and the bottom photos are of me 6 weeks out from the same show. My first bikini show was back in November 2014. 

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This is from my last show prep back in June 2015 where I rebounded from my bikini show pretty badly in my opinion. The left is 16 weeks out and the right is 15 weeks out from my first Figure show, that I did this past October 2015.

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This is me from this morning, #15weeksout from provincials. There is no filter on this photo because non of them really helped! And I’m not turning my knees out properly in the first pose, but you get the picture. This is the most muscular, and the leanest that I’ve ever been at 15 weeks! Let’s get shredded and win some hardware this August!

I’m excited to share the rest of my bodybuilding journey with you all this summer. I will keep you all posted through both my blog and my Instagram account. Thank you to all who have been following me, and watching me grow. There is so much more to learn, to grow, and to come in the future! Stay tuned, because I have plenty to share 🙂


Spring is Here! Summer is around the corner! Are you beach body ready?

Spring has officially arrived! This means that fitness competition season is in full effect, and everyone has the summer on their brains! That being said, are you beach body ready? Every time spring comes around, and the weather starts getting warmer, everybody starts to come out of hibernation mode, and they start getting excited to wear shorts! But when we start thinking of summer clothes, we know this means we will be more exposed. This is why there is a sudden influx of people in the gym. Those New Years Resolutioners that have fallen off, get a painful reminder that summer is fast approaching, and therefore, march to the gym to try and get back on track with their fitness goals. Hey! I’m not complaining! It’s great for my business! And I get excited when I see people motivated to improve their health.

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of women on my Facebook News Feed, posting videos about beauty and body image. These videos are very female focused but I think body image, and self-esteem effect men as well, more so now than ever before. Obviously not to the same degree as women, but nonetheless the pressure to “look good” is strong for both sexes. This has got me thinking, with summer coming along, and the pressure to look good, how many people are terrified to hit the beach this summer? I’m sure that many of us feel this way, or at least you’re devising a plan to get you to a place where you feel comfortable wearing next to nothing this summer. And this is where I come in. I plan on giving you some solid advice to help you get closer to your beach body goals! However, before I do, this is a disclaimer: don’t think that loosing weight is going to help you love yourself because it won’t. In addition, don’t think that by doing a bikini show it’s going to do the same, because it won’t. First of all you need to accept yourself as you are, you need to understand that your weight has nothing to do with who you are as a person. The number on the scale only describes your relationship with gravity, not your worth. Whether you are 100 lbs or 200 lbs, your values, personality, intelligence, etc. Are much more valuable to society than the size and shape of your ass. Beauty is fleeting, and your body is a vessel to take you through life. It must be nurtured, and respected. Not tortured, and mocked. Workout, and eat well because your body deserves the best. The healthier and stronger your body is, the better your quality of life. So, if you plan on improving your fitness, it should be because you plan on improving your quality of life, not to fit a “beauty standard.”

That being said, here are my top 5 Nutritional types to help you achieve your summer fitness goals:

  1. DRINK TONS OF WATER!! HOT WATER TOO! – Staying hydrated is extremely important as the temperatures rise, however, it is also very important to help you get through your workouts safely. In addition, many times when you’re “feeling hungry” you may actually just be thirsty. This is very true when you’re watching your favorite series on Netflix after a long day of work, when we get the urge to snack, you should grab for water instead. For me? When I was preparing for both of my bodybuilding shows, herbal teas were my savior! Hot water helps you feel full. Herbal teas are not caffeinated, so they hydrate you, and I found it very relaxing. This helped me not feel so hungry before bed, and it relaxed me so that I could have a good deep sleep.
  2. MAKE SURE YOU GET PLENTY OF REST!! – When you’re trying to loose weight, you are generally restricting calories, meaning you are consuming less energy than you would normally. So, in order to conserve energy you must get plenty of rest. This will also help to minimize your stress levels, and the stress you are putting on your body. With ample rest, your body is able to recover properly so that you can workout, and complete your daily tasks.
  3. MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE EXERCISING REGULARLY!! – It is very important that you exercise, especially WEIGHT TRAIN while trying to loose weight. Anytime, no matter how safe the diet, you will inevitably loose muscle mass along with fat and excess water. In order to minimize the amount of muscle you loose, you must weight train on a regular and consistent basis!
  4. EAT PLENTY OF PROTEIN!!! – This is very important when you’re trying to slim down! You will inevitably loose muscle mass, so you want to keep as much of it as possible, this is why you must eat a sufficient amount of protein. Also, because you will be weight training, you must eat enough protein to feed and protect your muscles. Lastly, protein is the most difficult energy source for your body to breakdown, this will help you feel fuller for longer. The amount of protein you should be eating, or the amount of calories you should be consuming to reach your fitness goals, should be determined by an experienced and trained professional.
  5. EAT PLENTY OF GREENS!!! – Sometimes, no matter how much water you drink, or herbal tea, you will still feel super hungry! Trust me, I know! I’ve been there! This is why I say to you that veggies, especially green veggies, are unlimited when dieting. They are high fiber, high water, and low carb. They will help keep you full, and they are full of essential nutrients to help keep you HEALTHY!!! That is the most important thing, you want to maintain your health over a certain “body image.” If you are using a calorie counter app, I would not include my vegetables, but I would include all of my fruits! Avocado is a fruit so please log it! So are tomatoes! Log those too! But veggies? Eat all the veggies, so to speak.

BEST OF LUCK ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS GOALS! ALWAYS SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP WHENEVER TRYING TO ACHIEVE YOUR FITNESS GOALS! ESPECIALLY IF YOU DON’T HAVE MUCH ATHLETIC EXPERIENCE! THIS WILL HELP TO ENSURE THAT YOU REACH YOUR GOALS IN THE SAFEST AND MOST EFFECTIVE WAY POSSIBLE.


How Exercise can help to slow down the aging process

This past Friday was my 27th Birthday! And I had the best time this weekend celebrating it with friends and family. I love my Birthday to be honest, it’s second only to Christmas as my favorite time of year. A lot of people once they past 25 stop loving their birthdays and start to get scared of their birthdays. This is mostly because they’re scared of aging. I think we’ve all been told at some point that turning 30 is so scary! And as I creep closer and closer to the dirty thirty, I am less and less afraid of it. I’m not afraid of getting older, because to be honest I don’t feel very old at all! I feel amazing! I mean every year I get more and more athletic, and I’ve become stronger as well. I strive to improve every year, and because of this my confidence grows. I feel way better about who I am now than I did when I was 19. And fitness had a lot to do with it! So many of my clients, especially my female clients are afraid of getting older. Mostly because they are afraid of loosing their looks, their youth, and their vitality. They always ask me, “how do you look so good?” As if somehow my answer would change, and there is some sort of magical pill that will keep them young and beautiful forever. However, I always tell them that the fountain of youth lies within a balanced diet and regular exercise! This article is basically going to talk about how regular exercise can slow down the hands of time, and will help you age much more gracefully than if you didn’t exercise at all.

Me and some of my closest friends at my 27th birthday party ❤

First of all, your age is just a number. It really doesn’t mean that much, and you should never let your age define who you are. You are capable of being whoever you want, you don’t have to be a feeble, sick, weak, or fat person if you don’t want to be. And you sure as hell don’t have to feel old either! In my mind, you are only as old as you feel, and for the most part this works out pretty well for me, except for the fact that there are social expectations for you as you age… Other than that, I am convinced that I’m not a day over 21 😛 But let’s get down to brass tacks, how exactly can exercises slow down the aging process?

How aging effects your health vs. Exercise:

Heart and Circulation Effect of Aging Effect of Exercise
Resting heart rate Increase Decrease
Maximum heart rate Decrease Slows Decrease
Maximum pumping capacity Decrease Increase
Heart muscle stiffness Increase Decrease
Blood vessel stiffness Increase Decrease
Blood pressure Increase Decrease
Blood
Number of red blood cells Decrease No change
Blood viscosity (blood thickness) Increase Decrease
Lungs
Maximum oxygen uptake Decrease No change
Intestines
Speed of emptying Decrease Increase
Bones
Calcium content and strength Decrease Increase
Muscles
Muscle mass and strength Decrease Increase
Metabolism
Metabolic rate Decrease Increase
Body fat Increase Decrease
Blood sugar Increase Decrease
Insulin levels Increase Decrease
LDL (“bad”) cholesterol Increase Decrease
HDL (“good”) cholesterol Decrease Increase
Sex hormone levels Decrease Slight Decrease
Nervous System
Nerve conduction and reflexes Slower Decrease
Quality of sleep Decrease Increase
Risk of depression Increase Decrease
Memory lapses Increase Decrease

As you can see, exercise has a positive effect on your major organs and regulatory systems. Obviously the process of aging is inevitable, but exercise can either decrease or slow down a lot of the effects that aging has on our vital organs, and regulatory systems. Not only does exercise effect our physical health in a positive way, but our mental and emotional health as well. Aging can have a very negative effect on a person’s self-esteem. However, regular exercise can have a very positive effect on a person’s self-esteem. Exercise along with a balanced diet can improve your overall body composition, making you leaner, and stronger. The strength and empowerment you gain in the gym will also give you an increased sense of self-worth and confidence. Aging however, weakens your body. If you don’t exercise, as you age you will loose muscle mass and bone density. This will make you weaker, frail, and more prone to injury. You will loose your independence much more quickly as you age if you don’t exercise, than if you did. As the saying goes, “if you don’t use it, you loose it.” This is very true, as you can see in the chart above, if you don’t keep your body active, your body’s ability to perform will decrease much more quickly than it would with regular exercise.

Exercise is great for the body, mind, and spirit. Regular exercise and activity helps to keep all of these areas youthful. However, if you do decide to improve your physical fitness, and engage in an exercise program, please do so with caution! Especially if you are a beginner! There is no use in injuring yourself and setting yourself further back than when you started. Start off small, choose activities you enjoy, and ask for help! Always consult a professional when it comes to your health! Speak to a doctor, a nutritionist, and a well known coach/personal trainer to get you to a healthier, and longer lasting life! What is the point of living to 100 if you aren’t able to do anything when you get there? Eat well, workout, and you will have a more youthful and fulfilling life as you age.

My younger sister, me, and our friend Morgan celebrating my birthday this past weekend ❤


Invest more than $ into yourself

I haven’t been as consistent with my blogging this month as I would like, and I have been brewing this idea in my head for a little while now, but I have only recently found the angle that I would like to approach “investing” in oneself. My coach uses the line “invest in yourself” many times on all of his social media posts, especially the progress photos of his competitors and clients. Ever since the New Year, I’ve been thinking about what it means to invest in yourself. Most of the time when we think of investments, or investing, we think about money. This is the most obvious form of investing, but my plan is to tell you that it isn’t the only form of investment, especially when it comes to your fitness and health.

First of all, I would be lying if I said that absolutely no monetary investment is required to improve your fitness, health, and lifestyle. Money has a huge impact on your ability to live a fit and healthy lifestyle. However, what I am trying to say with this article is that you cannot just keep throwing money at a problem and hope that it goes away. If you really want to make a change in your life for the better, you must invest more than just money. For example, if you bought the fanciest gym clothes, went to the most upscale gym, and bought an expensive personal trainer, that doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to reach your goals. Your chances of reaching your goals definitely increase, because now you have a means to reach your goals, but that’s about it. There are a lot of people who think that now that they’ve paid for a gym membership they are going to loose weight, or now that they have a personal trainer, they are going to reach their goals. These things definitely help, especially having an educated trainer, but they are not a guarantee. Why? Well that’s mostly because of you. You need to be fully committed and invested in your goals. Not only financially, but mentally, emotionally, and physically. You literally need to invest your ENTIRE self into any goal that you set for yourself if you truly want to be successful. Investing in gym clothes, a gym membership, and a personal trainer, are all very superficial, and they mean absolutely nothing if you’re not fully committed to making a change in your life.

I was having lunch with a friend about two weeks ago, and we were talking about our businesses, and how most people like the idea of change, but they are not actually committed to making a change. This is why so many people make these superficial, financial investments like new gear, a fancy gym membership, and so on, but they don’t invest anything else into making a change. Just because you went to the gym, trained with your coach for an hour does not mean that you’re going to get ripped in no time, it almost means nothing at all… Now some of you may be asking yourself why that is? And well, sure you went to the gym, and sure you trained for an hour, but were you mentally present and focused for the entire hour? Did you put forth all your energy and effort? Even if you did all of that, that still doesn’t mean you’ll be getting ripped.Why? Well that’s because you only invested in just the one hour, there are 23 hours left in the day for you to mess it up! Some of you may be laughing at this point, and yes it is funny, but it is also true. If you don’t want that hour spent in the gym to be in vain, then you must invest the rest of your day towards your fitness goals. In fact, if being fit and healthy is important to you, then really you need to be centering your entire life around it. Like I’ve mentioned before, if you want to be successful at anything you must invest your entire self to it.

Now a lot of you may be thinking woah, wait… What is this girl talking about? What does she mean, center my life around being healthy? Or investing my entire self into being fit? I’m not a gym rat, I’m not that vain, I don’t need a six pack. And this is where my point is proved once again. A lot of people say, “I don’t want to diet, I want to be healthy, I want to make a lifestyle change…” However, a lot people don’t realize the amount of things they need to change and/or give up if they really do want a “healthy lifestyle.” Most people do not lead a healthy lifestyle, and most people don’t realize how unhealthy their lifestyle really is until it’s almost too late. This is why there is so much obesity, mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and disease plaguing our population! Now I don’t expect everyone to have the discipline it takes to train, and eat like a bodybuilder. Especially when it comes to getting ready for shows. I do believe in balance, and for each individual that means something different. But let me make this clear, you need to be very realistic with the goals that you set for yourself. You really can’t have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. Don’t ever expect to have abs if you don’t plan on drastically changing how you eat and how you train. If however, you would like to reduce your body fat to a healthy level, and improve your overall fitness, you won’t necessarily have to drastically change your entire life to the complete opposite of the spectrum. Meaning, you don’t have to start training twice a day, and eating 6 meals a day right away, if being completely ripped isn’t your goal.

If you do want to make a lifestyle change for the better, start off small. Be realistic!! Make your goals manageable! Do not set yourself an impossible goal of going to the gym 5 days a week if you’ve never set foot in there before. Start at maybe twice a week, and increase it from there. You will stay much more motivated, and you will be much more successful if you can set attainable goals for yourself right at the start. After you feel successful at going twice a week, then add in a third day. After you’ve been doing that consistently, you will then have the confidence to make other lifestyle changes to further help you reach your fitness goals. This takes time, an essential investment that needs to be made when you decide to commit to a fitness goal. There is no magical pill, or invention that will do the work for you. Like I’ve said before, being fit and healthy is work. It is a labor of love, a love for yourself and your well being that is. It is also an investment that requires you to be mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially locked in. You can’t eat well for five days of the week and then every weekend you get completely derailed. You will never get any further in your pursuit for fitness and health. You need to be consistent with your diet and your workouts. You can’t diet during the week, fall off on the weekend, and then punish yourself Monday by dieting really hard again. Set manageable goals for your diet just like your workouts, AND STICK TO THEM!! Change requires COMMITMENT!!! You need to be fully committed aka fully invested in all your pursuits, fitness or not because money unfortunately doesn’t solve all of life’s problems.


Swallow your Daily Frog… Best and most recent advice that I’ve been given

Don’t you hate it when your friends are right?! I know I do! Especially when you have a best friend like mine! Love her to death, and she always has your best interests at heart but damn! This girl LOVES to be right, and she LOVES to gloat! She is a terrible winner let’s just say that… I lie sometimes when she’s right just so that she wouldn’t be right, but let’s be real she knows I’m lying… Man, I wish I could blame a bunch of my life choices on being drunk, just saying. But putting that all aside, the biggest lesson that I’ve learned this weekend, is that you have to “swallow your frogs” if you ever hope to move forward positively in your life.

Now you may be wondering, what does she mean? Swallow your frogs? I’m sure most of us know that we need to get uncomfortable first before we make any real change. This is true with diet, exercise, anything really. Anything new and scary will be uncomfortable, and challenging, like a new diet plan, or workout routine. However, the more you do it, the easier it gets, for the most part that is… But that’s not exactly what I’m talking about. Swallowing your frogs, basically means that you need to start tackling the things that you know you have to do, but you’ve been avoiding to do. We all do this! I know that I have recently been a culprit of this BIG TIME! We all get caught up in our daily lives, and our own bad habits. We tend to do the things we enjoy the most, and we avoid all the things we don’t enjoy. However, just because we’re not doing the tasks that we don’t want to do, doesn’t mean that they suddenly disappear. If anything these tasks, or frogs, just keeping growing and getting worse, making them less and less appealing, and harder to swallow. Sucks right? I know, trust me!

That is why it is so important for you to at least swallow one frog a day. You can pick the frog, because I know from experience, the more someone nags me to do something, the less likely I’m going to do it. I HATE SO MUCH being told what to do, especially when I’m being told repeatedly! I will maybe do it begrudgingly, or it just won’t ever get done… So, to avoid this issue, and because most of us reading this blog are capable adults, we can decide for ourselves which uncomfortable task we are willing to tackle first. If, for example one of your frogs is to go to the gym? Then get it done first thing in the morning! It is much easier to swallow a frog first thing in the morning. You are much more motivated to tackle the day in the morning. Plus, once you’ve got the worst part of your day done first, well the rest of the day should be smooth sailing! Or, if your frog is to loose weight/stick to your diet, well then plan and pack your meals right before you go to bed. That way when you get up in the morning, you don’t have to think about what you’re supposed to be eating for the day, because it was already planned out for you. It will then be much easier to stick to your diet, because all the hard work was done ahead of time.

These are just a couple examples of some of the frogs in your life that are piling up behind you, constantly making ribbit sounds in the background. Some louder than others, but the more often you do these uncomfortable tasks, the better you will be at getting through it, and the smaller the pile of frogs! Whatever your frogs may be, you will not get any closer to where you want to be if you don’t deal with these things first. Unfortunately, our problems don’t just disappear, but the better you become at managing these difficult tasks, the better your quality of life will be. Also, side-note, the more successful you become the bigger your problems. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you really want to move further in life you need to be able to handle the frogs you have now. I know I’m committed to a frog a day, are you?

GOD!!! These things are so GROSS!!!! BLAH! And I’m sure some of the uncomfy tasks in your life look a bit like this guy! 


How Fitness Continues to be a Beacon of Hope for Me

I was inspired to write this next blog piece by the Bell #letstalk campaign that ended last week. For those of you who don’t know what that is about, it is a campaign run by Bell Media to help breakdown the stigmas surrounding mental illness. A lot of the ads in the campaign dealt with depression. I for one, am so glad that we can speak about the subject of depression more freely now than ever before. This can only help those who are suffering from depression, feel a lot less alone. This is because, depression is a very isolating illness, and the stigmas that surround mental illness only make it worse. I know plenty of people personally who have, and are currently suffering from some form of depression. Even myself, I have gotten into slumps, and I’ve experienced high amounts of stress too. I don’t know if I would go as far as to say I was depressed, but I have definitely felt overwhelmed, and low. The only thing that keeps my head on straight during these times is fitness.

I have always been a strong advocate for fitness, especially when it comes to combating mental illness. Even when I was back at Laurier and I was the Group Fitness Coordinator, I partnered with Michael Onabolu on his Presidential Campaign for WLUSU Student President, and we did an Aerob-a-thon (like a dance-a-thon but with aerobic classes) to help raise awareness about the benefits of fitness when you’re battling stress and mental illness. Michael had a strong campaign advocating for student’s mental health, and I felt very passionate towards this as well, so we joined forces. Fitness is so much more than trying to look good, it also helps you feel good. My goal with this piece is to explain to you how fitness is my anchor, and how it helps me stay motivated and focused with the rest of my life.

First of all, the main benefits of fitness when it comes to your mental health are that for one, it helps you better manage physical and mental stress. It also boosts “happy” chemicals in the brain called endorphins. Studies have shown that regular exercise can help alleviate symptoms of depression. This is why many doctors tell their patients to regularly exercise to help boost their mood. In some cases, exercise can be as powerful as taking an anti-depressant! Regular exercise also helps to slow down cognitive decline, by preventing the degeneration of the hippocampus (the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning). In addition, doing cardio like interval training can really help alleviate anxiety sensitivity. So if you’re feeling really stressed out or anxious? Do a spin class, or some intervals on the treadmill for 20 minutes! You will feel a million times better! Exercise can boost brain power, and increase memory. Exercise helps boost energy levels, as well as getting you a really good night sleep! And trust me, I can sleep like a rock! Also, people who regularly exercise tend to get more things done, than those who are more sedentary. And those are just some of the benefits of exercise! To be honest, I can talk all day about the benefits of exercise for your overall health, but I’ll spare you the rant…

Now that you have the Coles notes on how exercise can help you with your mental health, I’m going to tell you how exercise helps me personally with my own mental battles. Like I’ve said before, I wouldn’t say I was ever clinically depressed, but I have dealt with high stress, some anxiety, and well just feeling down in the dumps… It happens to everyone at some point. Life in general is definitely a roller coaster with it’s highs and lows. For me personally, in the last little while after finishing university, I’ve found myself a little lost. I had the time of my life while I was at Laurier, and I was for a moment so sure of myself. I thought I knew exactly who I was. I felt independent, and happy. I was in a job that I loved, and in a field that I loved (I was Group Fitness Coordinator for Laurier). Then I had to leave all of that behind and move back home into my parent’s house. Now you can imagine the adjustment that had to be made there! Not only did I loose my independence, I had to start all over again, and build a career for myself. I knew where my passions were, and that was in fitness, so I went with that.

To make a long story shorter, I ended up being a personal trainer, who then went on to become a Fitness Manager for a big box gym and I absolutely HATED my job!!! How could this be? How could I love fitness so much but HATE my job?! Well the truth is, I still loved fitness, but the gym I was working for did not represent my values as a trainer, and I no longer felt like I was helping people, but instead I became a salesperson. I would be stuck in an office on boring conference calls, talking about sales, and stats, and all the stuff that never really mattered to me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate business, but I would rather be worked to the bone for my own business, than the business of a corporate gym… But hey! To each their own I guess? Even though I was deeply unhappy with my job as a Fitness Manager, around the same time I became a Fitness Manager, I started bodybuilding. I may not be a Fitness Manager for a corporate gym anymore, but I do still train heavily as a bodybuilder, and I absolutely LOVE IT!!!! And now that I have been venturing off and creating my own fitness business, bodybuilding, and training on a daily basis is what keeps me from completely loosing it when things get rough! Here’s why…

First of all, breaking off from working for another gym, whether it be a big box corporate gym, or a small private gym, it is some scary shit!! Suddenly, it is all up to you to make it happen. You are completely responsible for your services, and well for your own paycheck. If you don’t hustle, and bust your butt, you better believe you’re not eating. It can all be so overwhelming, and there are days where you feel like your entire world is on fire, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it!

No it’s not fine! I mean this is what we tell ourselves, but really we are FREAKING OUT!!!! This is terrifying! I know at some point we have felt this overwhelmed, but for me, when I feel like my world is on fire, or spinning out of control, the one thing that always remains constant is my workout. When I feel like I can’t seem to accomplish anything, or nothing seems to go right, I know that I at least got my training in. Bodybuilding gives my life structure and purpose. When life can get out of hand, I always know what comes next in my training program. When things seem to be getting really rough, and it’s hard to get out of bed, I know that if I go to the gym that day and get my legs done, I’ll feel that much more accomplished. And that feeling of accomplishment, motivates me to accomplish other things in my life. I know I can’t just workout all day, I’m not a paid athlete… At least not yet 😛 So, if I know that I’ll be training shoulders for example that day, I will plan out where is the best place to train my shoulders, what time makes the most sense for me, and so on. My training, and even my diet, because even in the off-season I split all my meals up into 6, forces me to plan my days out accordingly. This makes me a more productive, and efficient person.

You don’t need to bodybuild to give your life purpose, or to help battle your stress. Bodybuilding just happens to be the sport, and the style of training that really resonates with me. It gives me a reason to workout everyday, and to eat well. Working out everyday, and eating well helps me both physically and mentally. I’m the type of person that does very well when given a plan to follow. If you give me a little bit of structure and guidance, and if I know what you’re asking of me, I can deliver tenfold. This is why I do so well with having a coach and a very structured plan. I can work independently, just as long as I know what I should be doing, I’ll do it well. Life, or running your own business does not work that way unfortunately. There is no set plan to follow, but you can apply the principles of bodybuilding to your life, and that’s what I do on a daily basis. I create a structure for running my business and my life around my bodybuilding. This gives me a sense of direction and a sense of purpose. Plus, as mentioned above, every time I work out I reap in the mental health benefits. This helps me achieve balance in my life. Without working out everyday, and being so mindful of what I put in my body, there is no way in HELL I would be able to deal with the stress that comes with trying to start your own business. I would probably be rocking myself in a corner hoping someone would come and save me! But that’s not me. No, I’m a fighter and bodybuilding keeps me fighting everyday. Even a half hour of some sort of physical activity will help keep you mentally ready for battle each and everyday. However, you must keep at it, and make it a priority. It is always hard to start, but once you start, and you really get going, you will never look back.

Below is a comparison photo that I made today. The top of the photo is me from this morning, Friday, February 5th 2016, and the picture below is me back in June 2015 when I first started prepping for my last show. Right now, or in the top of the photo, I am around 160 lbs and I have followed my reverse diet, and plan to a tee. At the bottom of the photo I was 180 lbs. Last year when I was in off-season, it was my first ever off-season, and it was a learning curve for sure. I didn’t realize how mentally challenging it would be to reverse diet! Plus I was a Fitness Manager and HATED my job. Combine the lack of experience and mental stress, no matter how much I worked out, I definitely did rebound from my first show. Now that I am much more experienced as a bodybuilder, plus I’ve learned how to better take care of myself and my stress, I’ve gained the mental strength to really stick to my reverse plan. I am much more conscious of how I eat nowadays. Combine that with training everyday like I always do, you see from the photo below how successful my off-season this year has been so far! And that’s how I get through the stresses of life. I always make sure to take care of myself first. I eat well, and I workout every single day so that I can be the best and strongest version of myself. That way I can feel strong enough to battle life everyday.

The top photo is me in my off-season after my second show, and the bottom photo is me in my off-season after my first show. I’m so proud of how much better I’ve been able to take care of myself this time around! 

 


Why do I need a trainer?

I’ve been a personal trainer now for over 3 years, and one question that I’ve been asked many times has been, “Why would a personal trainer need a trainer?” This is a very tricky question because I know why most people are asking this question. It’s mostly because they believe that if you are a personal trainer you should walk the talk, and should be able to motivate themselves to workout on their own. This is true. I definitely believe that if you claim to be a personal trainer, your own personal fitness speaks volumes about your business, and how you are as a trainer. This is because most people who are looking for a trainer or a coach, are looking for someone who they aspire to be like. If you are a personal trainer or coach, you are a leader in the gym, and people expect you to act as such. Members are always watching you because they are looking to you as an example. So, if you are not working out regularly and eating properly yourself, then I don’t think you have any right trying to tell other people what they should be doing to reach their fitness goals. Do not claim to be a fitness expert if you never apply it to yourself. That being said, I do honestly believe that everyone, and this includes personal trainers, could benefit from receiving training or coaching from someone else.

Why? Well first of all, most trainers have an expertise or a niche within the fitness industry. It takes years of experience and practice to learn the various training techniques that exists. And even still, there is still plenty that trainers can learn from their peers. I have a coach, and I’ve been working with him for over a year and a half. Not only has my own personal fitness improved greatly, but I’ve learned so much about bodybuilding, dieting, and growing my own business. I think everyone can benefit from a coach or a trainer, I mean professional athletes have several different trainers, why would you think that you don’t need one? Do you know everything there is to know about weight training? Are you a Guru in the gym? Probably not… Especially if you do want to learn about a particular style of training, or a particular sport like Olympic Weight Lifting or Bodybuilding for example. It is a good idea to get a coach, that way you can learn from someone who has experience in the sport, and if you want to compete you will have a much better chance then if you tried to do it on your own. Plus it’s an excellent opportunity for you to find yourself a mentor within the industry. Someone who you look up to and aspire to be like.

Even if you weren’t trying out a new sport, or competing in anything. It is still a good idea to get a trainer to teach you the basics. You would be surprised how much your fitness will improve once you learn how to properly engage the right muscles. I’ve seen way too many people attempt exercises with horrible form. This will only lead to injury. Why not get some helpful advice from an experienced trainer? No matter who you think you are, I’m sure you would learn something from the experience. Plus your fitness can only improve with the help of an experienced trainer, and your commitment. Even on the flip side, I’ve seen people (mostly ladies) out of fear, they reach for very low weights, or they do not even attempt to get full range of motion in the exercise. Now their fear may come from various places, like a fear of injury, a fear of becoming too masculine, gaining too much muscle and looking bulky. There are so many myths and fears surrounding the gym. The gym can be a very intimidating place for someone who has very little experience weight training. This is why a trainer is so important! They can help to relieve some of your fears, and give you confidence in the gym. Their main job is to teach you how to properly exercise, and to help you reach your fitness goals.

Most people HATE working out, but it’s mostly because they have no idea what they’re doing. It is very demotivating to try and do something that you’re not very good at, or that you don’t know very much about. This is why having a trainer is so important. So many people flock to the gym in January with their new years resolutions, and that’s great! However, the problem is, is that many of these people have goals, but they have absolutely no real plan on how to reach these goals. So they go to the gym, highly motivated at first, and they do whatever they think they should do to get the body they want and then they leave. After a few weeks, they aren’t really seeing any results, and by the end of January more than half of these resolutioners have given up… Why?!? I know that training is not always affordable, but it is so worth the money. I’m obviously biased because I am a trainer. However, why do you keep wasting money on gym memberships if you have no idea what you’re supposed to do while you’re there? Personal training is a worthy investment because ultimately you are investing in yourself. You are your greatest asset in life, and if you want to prosper in your life you need to positively invest in yourself. You need to educate yourself, nourish yourself, and you need to exercise. Personal training does more than help you in the gym, just like sports for kids, there are many transferable skills that you can learn from your coach in the weight room. Personal training is an investment that literally anyone can benefit from. We all have so much potential for personal growth, but we are more likely to reach our fullest potential through the guidance of someone else.