Vb6: The start and the finish

Greetings Blogville.

Apologies for my absence. I’m certain it went completely unnoticed. LOL

In case anyone has forgotten (since it has been FOREVER) when I last wrote, I was still using the summer to play around with various styles of eating to see what works – and doesn’t work – for me. I had finished up my experimentation with Intermittent Fasting (which you can read about in the last couple of posts) and began the transition into Vb6, or “Vegan before 6”.

One of the valuable lessons I have learned over the course of the summer is that it’s really important to experiment to find out what works best for you. I also learned that there are plans that work for your schedule, plans that work for your body and plans that work for your goals. You may think that the last two are synonymous, but they’re not.

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IF: The Finale

I will start this post with a disclaimer – every person is individual and what works and doesn’t work for one person may not be the same for the next.

I see a lot of posts on social media these days relating to the way that people diet and train, making it out as though their way is the only way that works and the only thing you can do to achieve your goals. It’s just wrong. There’s plenty of scientific evidence to support a variety of different ways you can eat whether your goal is to lose weight, gain weight or stay the same (and the same goes for fitness.) Ultimately, you have to go by trial and error to find out what works best for you and when you find it don’t be afraid to stick with it even if someone else says their way is better.

That’s part of the reason I have dedicated this summer to experimenting with different meal plans, different styles of eating because I don’t feel as though I’ve found the diet that best suits me. Yes, some of them have been effective but I wasn’t happy on them so it wasn’t something I wanted to stick with for the rest of my life. Regardless of what my goals are for this year or the next, I want to be fit and healthy for years to come and that means finding something that I can stick with both now and 25 years from now.

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The one with a fond farewell…

It is with great sadness that I announce the retirement of my favourite Nikes.

So long, old friend

So long, old friend

Admittedly, I allowed these runners to extend well past their prime. I loved them though – both aesthetically and for comfort reasons.

I have a hard time finding running shoes because I have an odd shoe size – 10.5 – and most companies either only go up to a 10 or only have half sizes up to 9.5. Nike is one of the few companies that makes running shoes that fit me perfectly.

I got these in the fall of 2012 and I have put well beyond the recommended 500 miles on them. They’ve gotten me through multiple races and everyday cardio but as I was training for the Bluenose Marathon these past couple of months I really started to notice that they were near the end of their life. The tread looks good from the surface, but below it, the midsole has worn down considerably, leading to a fairly noticeable underpronation.

For a brief moment, in the days leading up to the Bluenose, I considered running in my trainers (gasp!) because I didn’t think I would have a good run if I wore these and it was just too close to the race to get a new pair of shoes and break them in. I knew deep down though, that they could come through for me one more time. So I strapped them on, relishing in the comfort that comes with a pair of shoes that has, over time, conformed to the exact shape of my foot and I ran the best race of my life.

Finished the 2013 Bluenose Marathon 10K a full 10 minutes faster than last year!

Finished the 2013 Bluenose Marathon 10k a full 10 minutes faster than last year and 2 minutes faster than all of my training runs!

Now it’s time to say goodbye to my faithful friends and send them off to running shoe heaven. Hopefully I will be able to find a pair of Nikes that I love half as much as my Lunarglide 2’s (they’re actually on the Lunarglide 4 now!) and if they could be pink… well that would just be the perfect way to pay homage to the shoes that took me from out-of-breath-after-30-seconds to 10k’s.

The one where reality bites…

I haven’t blogged much lately, sorry about that. I’ve been working pretty hard though, spending a lot of time training, posing, eating and training some more. I’ve been struggling with a cold the last week-and-a-half but despite that I have been having some amazing workouts and really felt as though I was starting to see significant differences in my physique.

It’s hard to look at yourself and remember how you got to where you are. A lot of my focus has been on where I need to be and I forgot about the places I had to go to get here. I took the opportunity to remind myself of just how hard I’ve worked and how far I’ve come the other day when I put these photos side-by-side:

Progress

I’ve worked really hard to get from the picture on the left to the picture on the right and when I was putting that little collage together I thought wow, I can do this, nothing is going to stand in my way. Life has a funny way of throwing you curve balls when you least expect them, though.

I went to work on Wednesday and found out I no longer have a job due to restructuring. At first I thought it’s fine, I’ll just have a bunch of free time to spend at the gym, I’m going to be in awesome shape for my show in just six short weeks. Then the harsh reality set in and I realized that despite my free time, I am now without an income. Fitness is an expensive hobby and competing is not a small investment. I have been saving money for a year just for this show and I had a little bit put away to pay for things like my bikini, evening gown, registration fees, posing classes, hair/makeup, etc but that money now needs to go to things like food, rent, bills and getting my life back on track.

I made a tough decision yesterday that I won’t be stepping on stage next month. My priorities have to change. It doesn’t mean I never will. Heck, who knows, maybe I’ll be in a better position to do a show later this year – anything could happen. I’m still going to be at the WBFF Atlantic Championships on May 25th, cheering on every single beautiful lady from my Fit Starts Here team who I am happy to call my friends and fitfam. I can’t wait to watch you all compete. Look out though, next year I’ll be coming for ya… 😛

I need to thank all the people who have supported me up until this point. Please don’t stop because I’m probably going to need you now more than ever. I’m going to use this time as I reorganize my world to keep eating clean, keep training and come out of this a better me than I was when I went into it. I guess I just wasn’t ready to stop calling myself Fatty quite yet… <3

The one about the numbers…

I’ve mentioned on this blog countless times that a lot of what happens when you walk into the gym is not mental, but rather psychological. It’s all a game of numbers and how your mind interprets them.

For example, my workout this morning was triple sets (three exercises done in succession followed by a break). I do six sets of 15 reps per exercise.

You might think that the first set is the easiest and the last the hardest. After all, that would be reasonable given the physical demand on your body. It’s not really the case though. At least, not for me.

Set one: the ‘oh-this-might-actually-be-hard’ set. You feel fresh going into it but your muscles don’t really know what to expect and you quickly realize that things will not be as fun as you had originally expected.

Set two: the ‘I-can-do-this’ set. Now your muscles are warmed up after the first set and you know what to expect so the second set is often one of the easier ones. You’re getting into the swing of it now and feeling pretty strong.

Set three: the ‘this-is-getting-hard’ set, also known as the ‘am-I-really-only-half-way?’ set. Mentally, the third set is my most challenging. At this point it’s starting to get physically tasking, your muscles are getting tired and, even though you know you have to push past the discomfort, it’s damn HARD. At the same time you’re doing the mental math and realizing that after this set there’s still three more JUST LIKE IT still to come.

Set four: the ‘only-two-more-after-this’ set. The third set is out of the way and now the finish line is within view. You’re tired but you have a sudden motivation to power through and get the job done.

Set five: the ‘am-I-done-yet’ set. You used up way too much motivation on set four, now you’re just exhausted. There’s only one more set after this one though so you might as well just get it done.

Set six: the ‘is-that-all?’ set, otherwise known as the ‘I-could-do-another’ set. The sixth set often times feels very similar to the second set. The boost of adrenaline that comes with knowing that you’re almost done, coupled with the fact that you probably didn’t give it 110% in set five, comes with enough power to destroy the final set – like a boss. This set is usually accompanied by overconfidence, luring you into thinking that you could do a seventh set if you wanted to. You can’t though. Really. Just don’t try it. It’s painful.

Ultimately, the lesson to be learned from the numbers game is that we all feel really uncomfortable at times but it’s about pushing past the mental discomfort to find the spot where you start to feel like you’re in total control. In other words, don’t let set three break you because set six feels awesome.

The one about gym folk…

My favourite time to go to the gym is early in the morning. Sure, it means getting up at 4:45 a.m. but it means that by the time I go to work I’ve already got my strength training and half of my cardio for the day completed. The other reason I like to go early (I’d go earlier if the gym was open, to be honest) is because of the gym folk.

Getting to the gym that early requires a certain amount of dedication and planning. Most people need to be at work so they don’t have time to mess around in the gym. They get in, they get out and they don’t get in my way. That’s the way I like it.

Recently though, I’ve been going to the gym at odd times (for me) and I’ve encountered people that are very different from my regular early morning crew. I’ll preface by saying I know it’s not nice to judge but there’s less than 13 weeks until I (hopefully) hit the WBFF stage and I just don’t have time to waste when I get into the gym. The following types of people have found their way onto my list of pet peeves:

The Meathead : Okay, you have huge muscles. Good for you. That doesn’t mean you get to hog the mirror while you check yourself out. Also, lifting super heavy while sacrificing any semblance of form does not make you look cool … quite the opposite, in fact. The worst habit that I notice with The Meathead? They pile plates onto bars then walk away from them and leave someone else to clean up their mess. Thanks, guys.

The Barbie-Weight Aficionado : The female opposite of The Meathead. A good example would be on Saturday when a woman expressed to me that she found it frustrating that all the mirrors are in the “men’s section”. I asked what she meant and she explained that the “men’s weights” (i.e. dumbbells over 10-pounds) were all over by the mirror, while the “women’s weights” (i.e. dumbbells under 10-pounds) were not. Surely, the reason for this couldn’t be that the smaller weights are more mobile and therefore easier to carry over to the mirror/benches? Women are not restricted to the Barbie weights, ladies.

The Chatters : There are a few different types of Chatters, all of them are equally as annoying. There seems to be a trend for young people to go to the gym, sit down on some mats (in the most inconvenient spot possible), play with their phones and chat. These people also come in a middle-aged variety and will typically be found standing in front of machines or dumbbell racks catching up.

The Crowders : There’s 25-feet of available space, why do you have to be 2-feet away from me? It seems that every time I find a nice, quiet, open space and set up my stuff in it other people get jealous of my super cool area and want to be in it, too. My gym has windows that overlook the pool area and quite often people will just stand and look out the windows. Tonight I found my little area, a cozy little corner to myself, and suddenly a guy walked over, stood ON my mat (where my head had just been) so he could lean against the window and watch his kids in swimming lessons. Why you gotta be in my space, bro?

The Creeper : If any man wonders why women’s gyms exist – it’s this guy. There’s a fellow at my gym (for the sake of this story let’s call him Ben) who latches on to every woman in decent shape. Ben lurks around while you’re doing squats to give you “tips” about form, stands next to the glute kickback machine to tell you about how much he lifts, goes to great lengths to convince you to go down to the sauna with him, whines if you don’t do cardio on the machine next to him and just makes everyone feel uncomfortable. Ben once came up behind me while I was doing deadlifts and tried to rest his water bottle on my ass because he “thought it was a shelf”. I’m not laughing, Ben. You’re 15 years older than me and I wouldn’t be caught dead in the sauna with you. Go away.

I could most definitely add to this list, but these encompass my most loathed gym folk. I’m sure they’re all great people when they’re at home (except for Ben maybe…) but they’re not the most courteous when they step into the gym. I have a plan when I walk in those doors and no one is going to slow me down! (Sorry.)

The one about carbs and the countdown…

There are a few choice phrases that I have thrown around a couple of times a week for the past month or so:

“Ugh, I feel awful.”

“I have zero energy.”

“I need a nap.”

“I want to eat all of the things.”

One thing all those phrases have in common? High-carb day.

Wait, what?! HIGH carb day?!

Typically, those would be the sentiments of fitness competitors in the midst of cutting back on their carbohydrates, longingly watching as their precious oats, sweet potatoes, quinoa and brown rice are diminished by yet another 1/4 cup.

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past couple of months is that I am a person that functions better on very few carbs. This wasn’t a complete surprise to me, to be honest.

Years ago (high school-era) I had a lot of issues with allergies. I was checked over by an allergist who found that I have a slew of environmental allergies but although digestion issues continued to plague me, I was not having an allergic reaction to any foods so we couldn’t quite pinpoint what the issue was.

Based on the recommendation of the allergist, my parents then took me to a Naturopath to test for sensitivities that a traditional scratch test wouldn’t pick up. The process was somewhat tedious – beginning with an elimination diet that left me restricted to mostly rice and oranges for weeks.

Both my parents have severe food allergies (citrus fruits on one side, shellfish on the other) but the more common foods were quickly ruled out. Through the process of eating different things and monitoring my reaction to them the Naturopath determined that one of the major foods that I am sensitive to is yeast.

For years I experienced extreme lethargy, low energy and difficulty concentrating through the day. As it turned out, the culprit was bread (I wasn’t much of a beer drinker as a teen :P). Cutting foods with yeast out of my diet was life-changing. My head was suddenly less cloudy, my grades improved and I finished my last year of high school with honours for the first time since I started. All because I stopped having toast, sandwiches, pizza, etc.

Other foods that I am sensitive to include apples, olives (I have a reputation in my family for always throwing up after holiday dinners – olives, we later discovered, were behind it), lactose and most forms of alcohol. Removing these elements from my diet was somewhat easy and once they were gone I was amazed by how much better I felt. In some ways, I hadn’t even realized I didn’t feel well until I felt better.

That is the same experience I’m having with carbs right now. My previous meal plans have always included the brown rice, quinoas and sweet potatoes of the world and I always assumed that the way I felt after I ate them was just the way I was supposed to feel -I was just digesting, it was from my intense amount of training or even all in my head. I wasn’t losing weight or body fat, I felt bloated and too-full all the time and above all, I felt HUNGRY. Ravenously hungry. All the time. That lead to the half dozen times (which I’ve mentioned on here) that I found myself “off the wagon” and shoving my face full of whatever I could find.

Since the end of January my meal plan has changed and my only carbs are a 1/4 cup of oats right after my morning workout. I never realized how terrible I felt before until now because I feel great. I won’t deny craving junk food, or even having had slip ups out of boredom and over-accessibility, but my physical cravings are non-existent. I don’t spend all day thinking about eating, I’m satiated until my next meal.

Leg days are supposed to be my “high-carb” days where I incorporate those foods back into my diet and if I were to make a confession… I’ve only actually had one in four weeks. I feel like crap every time so I’d just rather not. I guess that makes me one of the few people that will happily clean their plate of vegetables and meat then ask if someone wants their potatoes.

Ultimately it comes down to how I feel – if I don’t feel good then I’m not going to do it. It’s a pretty simple way of looking at most “diets” that are marketed these days. If they make you feel bad then stop doing it. Just don’t take that advice when you’re in the gym, otherwise no one would ever do another burpie ever again… 😛

PS: Tomorrow marks 13 weeks until I hit the WBFF stage and I still have a lot of improvements left to make. Here’s hoping that being the anti-carb ends up being the best thing my stomach ever decided for me.

The one where fatty had a birthday…

I can’t believe I forgot about the blog’s birthday! Shame on me.

New Years resolutions aren’t really my thing (I don’t feel compelled to wait for a certain date to set a goal) but in 2011 I decided that I was going to start up a blog and write about the things that interest me the most – fitness, nutrition, health, bodybuilding and my personal journey from keen observer to active participant.

I feel like I’ve come a long way since this blog started. I’ve gone through a lot of changes in my personal life and just as many changes in my “fitness life”. As far as body composition, I’m actually not too far off from where I was last year but I have learned more than I ever expected I would. I’m so much more knowledgeable about my own health, the way I eat, the things I do when I walk into the gym. I feel stronger and more empowered overall. I also made a tough decision last year to switch trainers. I left a trainer that I had been with since I was 21 years old, which wasn’t easy. I miss seeing Cathy but I have loved my experience with Krissy so far and can see sticking with her for a long time to come (so long as she’ll have me.)

Time for a little reflection…

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The one in 2013…


It’s January! It only took me three weeks to blog about it! I blame my hectic schedule for my sporadic blogging. It’s pretty easy to lay the blame elsewhere because my daytimer isn’t here to defend itself.

After a December-to-remember as far as falling off and climbing back onto the wagon on a near weekly basis, I somehow managed to get through the holidays having lost both weight, inches and body fat.

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The one about a do-over…

I would like a Mulligan, please!

Take me back to last Monday and let me start again.

This past week I’ve experienced some very high-highs and very low-lows. I’ll get the good news out of the way first so you can all do a little mental pom-pom shake for me before I tell you how I managed to take what should have been an exciting moment and let my mind ruin it.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, Wednesday was my official check-in day. It went great (could have gone better) and I was mostly happy with my results. Down 5 pounds, 5 inches and 1% body fat. That means that my little slip up two weekends ago did make an impact but it didn’t destroy everything.

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