1st place Knight of Champions, Grandmasters Bikini September 2016 (my 1st show)
3rd place BC Provincial Championships, Grandmasters Bikini July 2017 (my 2nd show)
***Next, Nationals in 2018***
I HAVE HAD SEVERE CROHN’S DISEASE FOR OVER 25 YEARS.
Are you a trainer?
No, I am not a certified personal trainer. However, anyone that has ever asked me for help with their workouts, I happily oblige and have even made nutrition plans for them as well.
What is your training philosophy?
My training philosophy is simple … exercise does everybody good.
What sorts of physical hurdles have you had to overcome?
I have had many obstacles to overcome and am still working daily to keep them at bay. I have had severe Crohn’s disease for over 25 years, two bowel resection surgeries, ultimately resulting in the additional complication of short bowel syndrome. Aside from these issues, I’ve had to learn to find my own ways to cope with the struggles and pain, as I have had severe allergic reactions to the many different types of medications used to treat this autoimmune disease.
I AM VERY GRATEFUL TO HAVE SUCH A SUPPORTIVE, ENCOURAGING, AND HELPFUL HUSBAND.
Who is your trainer?
My trainer has been all of the information I learn from various health and fitness magazines, along with some helpful insights from my husband. He is not a personal trainer, just very wise and helpful.
I’m a homemaker.
Happily married to my high school sweetheart, David, for 24 years.
How has your partner supported you in your competition journey?
I am very grateful to have such a supportive, encouraging, and helpful husband. He is my coach. Giving advice and truth about necessary improvements can be a very difficult job. He has to live with me even when I don’t always like what he may have to say. With a hired personal trainer or coach, if I don’t like what they have to say, I can fire them and hire a new one. However, my husband invests a lot to help me be the best I can be, not just in fitness, but in all aspects of our life together. After all, happy wife, happy life!
AS WE AGE, WE CAN BECOME STRONGER, HEALTHIER, AND WISER.
The main fitness goal for me is to be as healthy as I possibly can, at every age and every stage of life while continually making improvements. As I age, I want to be one of those amazing people that can inspire and motivate my generation, as well as younger generations, that life does is not all downhill as we get older. As we age, we can become stronger, healthier, and wiser. Aging well as possible, and is something to look forward to. Some other goals are to keep moving up to the next levels of bikini competitions. I’ll go as far as God wants to take me and I hope it’s all the way to the top. It would be amazing if I could be able to do well enough to win an overall title against those beautiful younger ladies. Maybe an older gal like me could be a formidable contender.
I do my best to work out six days a week. I follow a day one, day two plan. Day one is the cardio day (sometimes I’ll add legs, glutes, and abs). Day two is light cardio with a full-body, weight resistance training day. I follow this for 6 days (alternating day one/day two, with day 7 as an active rest day). I have far too much energy not to do anything on my rest day. I’ll go for trail walks, or around the seawall at our beautiful Stanley Park with my husband and make it a date day too!
Thoughts on HIIT, Powerlifting, TRX, Yoga, bodybuilding, other:
HIIT- High-Intensity Interval Training is a fabulous way to train. I incorporate this method into my cardio training, especially on the treadmill and sometimes with weights. With weight training, I like to do supersets that mimic the same HIIT principle. I have never done powerlifting, but enjoy watching these feats of strength by other athletes. I’ve done very little TRX Training, although, I do have one resistance band which is used occasionally, and it does get packed in our luggage when we travel. It’s a great way to train when a gym may not be an available option. I have also done Bikram Hot Yoga. I love the feeling and the stretch the muscles get in the heat. Unfortunately, the smell and puddles of sweat are not very pleasant, but that’s when a Savasana is helpful. As for bodybuilding, training to extreme levels of muscularity is not what I want for my body, but those athletes are incredible in their dedication to building so much muscle! For myself, I prefer to body-sculpt: melting away the fat and chiseling the lean muscles, allowing them to delicately shine their way through to the surface. I try to accomplish this through mind/body focus during weight resistance training, cardio training, and nutrition. I use my own formulation of HIFD: High Intensity Focused Determination.
I WAS HONOURED TO BE ADDED AS AN ATHLETE AMBASSADOR FOR POPEYE’S SUPPLEMENTS…
Nutritional & Supplements:
After winning my first competition, I was honoured to be added as an Athlete Ambassador for Popeye’s Supplements (Coquitlam/Burnaby). When I began training for my first competition, I always purchased my supplements from them. Having Crohn’s disease and short bowel syndrome, I decided it would be a good idea to get some insights on better nutrition, so I became a certified nutritionist. I eat a good balance of foods, including lean meats, poultry, and fish; a variety of complex carbohydrates; healthy fats; and even some treat foods, like potato chips and doughnuts to satisfy my body, mind, and soul. There is a specific list of supplements that I use as well, especially since I’m missing a large portion of my intestines, which absorb the nutrients into the body. My list consists of:
– Whey Isolate Protein Shakes
– Antioxidant supplements
– BCAA’s (during workouts)
– L-Glutamine (when my stomach acts up)
– B-12 injections once every 2 weeks (every 10 days during competition training)
– Multi-vitamins (twice a day)
– Calcium, magnesium, and zinc
– Vitamins B6, C, & A
– Coenzyme Q10
– Glucosamine & Chondroitin (for healthy joints)
I don’t think I have any “special” skills. When I’m interested in doing something, I learn how to do it and then keep working at it until I get better. Many skills can be learned and nurtured into abilities.
I HAD BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO BEING IDENTIFIED AS A SICK PERSON.
What do your parents mean to you?
I miss my dad; he passed away over three years ago at the age of 68 from lung cancer. He was a hard man but could have a soft heart at times too. My mom is a friendly lady who loves to chat with everyone. I am grateful for both of my parents. Life has blessed me with an amazing family of my own, and the opportunity to do so many wonderful and beautiful things.
What did they teach you?
By observing my parents and how they acted within their daily lives, I learned to appreciate and emulate the things I saw in them that I loved, such as my mother’s helpfulness towards people, and my father’s appreciation of philosophy. More poignantly, I learned how to change the qualities in them that I did not care for, and do some things differently than they had done in their lives. For example, my father smoked heavily for many years, which ultimately took his life. This made me avoid smoking, seeing the harm it caused him. My mother has never been one to do much exercise and has suffered from many health issues related to being overweight for most of her life, which fueled my desire to attain a healthier fitness lifestyle. We learn not only by who and what we love, but also what we do not like, allowing us to create a life that is more suitable to our own individuality.
What separates Status from other fitness magazines?
The main strength of Status Fitness Magazine is its eclectic orientation, catering to many different athletic interests and stages of fitness, including different gender and age groups. Many fitness magazines only appeal to a certain demographic or isolated fitness interests.
What would it mean to you to become the next Status Fitness Cover model?
To be a Status Fitness Cover-model would be an honour. At my age, with severe Crohn’s disease, and all of the issues that have accompanied it, to be called athletic is already a weird and wonderful thing to hear. I had become accustomed to being identified as a sick person. Then at 45, entering my first bikini competition, and a second one at an even higher level at 46, to actually finish 1st and 3rd respectively was a fabulous feeling. To possibly be chosen as a cover model for such an amazing fitness magazine would indeed elevate my joy, a far cry from the many days I spent in doctor’s offices and hospitals only reading about other people in health and fitness magazines, while I waited. It would be a great transformation from a fitness dreamer into a fitness dream coming true!
If you could ask Status Editor-In-Chief, Rodney Jang one question what would that be?
Everyone has their very own, unique story of what made them begin their love affair with health and fitness. What were the first thing and main reasons you began your true love for fitness?
WARREN GIVES GREAT DIRECTIONS AND HAS WONDERFUL IDEAS. IT WAS A PLEASURE WORKING WITH HIM.
What was it like working with Warren from Healthy Vision Photography?
Warren has a very welcoming and friendly presence. He made me feel comfortable and beautiful while he did my photoshoot. As he gets an idea for the shoot, he sets it up quickly and efficiently, then starts clicking away. While capturing his creative genius through his camera, his joy is evident as a smile grows across his face. Warren gives great directions and has wonderful ideas. It was a pleasure working with him.
6 things people would not know about you:
1. I have Crohn’s disease, short bowel syndrome, and have had two major bowel resection surgeries.
2. Both of my kids are in their twenties.
3. I love to sing as loud as possible and dance around the kitchen when I’m cooking.
4. I’ve actually helped my husband change the brakes on our cars.
5. I am something of a “DIY Diva,” having installed toilets, carpets, and hardwood floors in our home.
6. A few years ago I was 170 lbs., had very high blood pressure, was borderline depressed, and very anxious.
Who inspires you?
My husband inspires me greatly. When I was quite ill, he took care of me, in addition to taking care of our children, all while working full time and attending night school to complete his first university degree. Later, as a working teacher, he returned to school and finished his Master’s degree. Currently, he is working on a Ph.D. He is the one who persuaded me to sign up at a gym, start working out, and helped me get involved in different aspects of health and fitness. He guides and supports me through all the ups and downs. Within the fitness industry, I have always admired the beautiful Monica Brant who has been in the industry for many years. I saw her grace the pages and covers of many fitness magazines, as well as write many helpful articles too. I am extremely grateful to have met her and am thankful to have her as a friend!
Who do you wish to inspire?
To be able to inspire my own children is something that motivates me to be the best and healthiest version of myself that I can possibly be every day. I would also be honoured to inspire people who are ill, or whoever thinks that a healthy and fitness lifestyle is an impossible feat for them. I want them to know that it is possible and it may even be better than imagined. Being fit and healthy starts with our attitude, and by doing the actions necessary to achieve desired goals. Every healthful step, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. Good health is attainable, we just have to keep moving towards it.
… TO BE THE BEST AND HEALTHIEST VERSION OF MYSELF THAT I CAN POSSIBLY BE EVERY DAY.
As a child, I was told by my father that sports and athletics were for boys, and my mother had no interest in exercise or fitness. I grew up playing outside with my siblings, the kids in the neighborhood, and working in my grandparents’ store; this was my exercise. I was such an un-athletic teenager, that when my boyfriend David (now husband) threw me a Frisbee, I refused to play unless it came right to me. I definitely would not run to get it!
In my late teens and early twenties, I began my journey of dealing with Crohn’s disease. My first surgery prompted my surgeon to inform me that it would be a good idea to be as healthy as I possibly could be since it would help me in the recovery process. This got David to maneuver me towards the fitness lifestyle. He started teaching me some things I could do at the gym since he was athletic, playing hockey, lifting weights, and doing additional cardio, and always reading up on it too. He bought me some fitness magazines, which became an integral part of my interest in fitness. I saw all of these amazing women who were in the beautiful physical condition and they were sharing some of their secrets of how they got fit. I headed into my surgery as healthy as a sick person could be, and although my recovery was difficult, it went well. I felt strong and I was hooked on working out. I thought it was the key to my healing, and with the proper nutrition and medications, my Crohn’s disease would go into remission. Unfortunately, that did not happen. I ended up being allergic and had some severe reactions to many of the medications that were supposed to aid in this type of autoimmune disorder. However, I kept exercising because regardless of my illness, it made me feel stronger and healthier than when I didn’t exercise. In my late twenties, with two kids, I had to have yet another bowel resection surgery, and still, there were no medications that worked for me. I kept going, trying new and different experimental medications that my specialists thought might help, and I continued exercising right through the pain. I had a specialist who once told me that maybe by the time I turned 35, the disease would burn itself out. I held on to that hope and kept going. By the time I turned 38, the Crohn’s had still not burned itself out as I had hoped. To make matters worse, I had short bowel syndrome from the surgeries, and still, no medications worked for me. I began to break down and wanted to give up. I quit exercising, didn’t care what I ate, and became depressed. It didn’t matter what I did, so I didn’t care to try anymore.
At 43, I went to a friend’s wedding, and later on, saw a photo of myself. I was horrified! I had gained a tremendous amount of weight. Hovering at 170 pounds, I had high blood pressure, was very anxious, and was borderline depressed, all of this on top of still having severe Crohn’s disease, short bowel syndrome, and all the issues that came with it. Upon seeing what I had allowed myself to sink down to, I cried a lot and reached a point of emotional despair. Then I took control, wiped away the tears, told myself to stop crying, and DO something about it. The very next day I started back at the gym, changed my poor eating habits into good healthy ones, and began setting hard but attainable goals. I told my husband I was going to lose 50 pounds by my 44th birthday, buy myself a bikini, and go kayaking for his birthday. Although there were lots of ups and downs, a few tears, and tantrums along the way, I did lose the weight, and as a bonus, my blood pressure went down to normal levels. Shortly after that, I blurted out to my family that I was going to enter a fitness bikini competition before I turned 45. At around this time, Oxygen Magazine Australia put out a request for people to send in their 2016 New Year’s Resolutions. I took a photo, along with preparing a write-up of my wild idea of entering my first competition, and hit send. To my utter amazement, they published it in their January issue. Now I had to be accountable and do the competition, but how was I going to put on a bikini and pose on stage in front of people when I could barely get over my anxiety enough to go into a coffee shop fully clothed! I had declared it, and now the evidence was in print. I had no choice but to do it! I got to work, training hard, and eating well every day. I got a posing coach and signed up for the 2016 Knight of Champions show, a name which at the time I thought was quite ironic given my trepidation about the whole process. Nine days before my 46th birthday, I got up on the stage and was filled with extreme joy as I won 1st place in my category (grandmaster’s bikini). I sent Oxygen Magazine Australia a thank you letter (and a photo) for helping to keep me accountable. Subsequently, they printed it on a full page in their next issue. Shortly after, I was honoured to be featured in Oxygen Magazine’s (North American edition) “Future of Fitness” section of their March/April 2017 issue. With this win from the Knight of Champions, I qualified for the Vancouver Pro-Am show recently held in July 2017. I entered and placed 3rd, qualifying me for the future opportunity to participate in the 2018 Nationals. All of these events paved the way for a photoshoot with Warren of HVP and has given me this incredible opportunity of possibly being a cover model with Status Fitness Magazine.
This one very important decision of taking back control has catapulted my life in a new direction of good health, fitness, and happiness. I still have Crohn’s disease and short bowel syndrome, however, I also have a health and fitness lifestyle that has provided me with new opportunities I never before thought possible.
I have way too many life goals to list that I’d like to achieve, but one of them is to go to the Nationals and have lots of fun!
5 lessons you have learned:
1. You never know if you can until you try, so go for it.
2. Work wiser, not harder.
3. Discipline, dedication, and determination are important key factors for success.
4. Be thankful, as well as give and accept helpful advice and insights.
5. Love and passion are good leaders.
THIS ONE VERY IMPORTANT DECISION OF TAKING BACK CONTROL HAS CATAPULTED MY LIFE IN A NEW DIRECTION OF GOOD HEALTH, FITNESS, AND HAPPINESS.
Music and artist you listen to while training:
I don’t listen to music when I’m training. I like to have a very strong focus on the mind/muscle connection with no additional distractions. However, I love all different types of music from top 40, rock, pop, country, jazz, soul, R & B, and anything that makes me feel good.
Favorite actors/ movies:
I love superhero movies like Spiderman and always enjoy the cameos of the amazing Mr. Stan Lee. I also love movies like The Rundown and Walking Tall with the handsome, buff, and charismatic Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.
Favorite books and authors:
One of my favorite books is the novel, The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is a story of many people helping heal one another from different types of illness, pain, and suffering. It is a heartwarming tale!
5 most important attributes you see in a person?
Advice you can give to children who want to start training?
Train with your goal in mind, work smart and hard, but above all else, always have fun.
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Walt Disney
“Where hope grows, miracles blossom.” Elna Rae
“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther.” J.P. Morgan