Growing up a tomboy, I was always engaging in one sport or another and it was pretty much a given that sports would be my life. Starting at the age of 4, my goal was always the same – beat the boys! I was a good athlete but never a serious stand-out. Though sports allowed me to grow up strong and tough, I never felt sexy or feminine in my athletic body.
I finally tried weights in High School and was able to out-squat a football player! So I decided, this was the sport for me! I didn’t have to be coordinated or graceful, just determined and hardworking, this I could do. Unfortunately, I was strongly discouraged from continuing because it was believed at the time that it would make me “bulky and masculine”, so I was not supported in this endeavour, and moved on to other sports, but I knew in my heart that I would get back to lifting one day!
That day was 3 years ago, at 44 and after having 3 children, I finally followed my dream as a natural figure competitor. I finally graced the stage with muscles and beauty, and for the first time, I felt sexy in my strong body!
I don’t lift just for the stage though. Lifting and competing as a natural athlete has allowed me to discover so much about myself, my drive, my passion, my breaking point (which I constantly push) and what I want my voice in this life to mean. I am constantly in awe of what the human body can endure and how it can be manipulated and sculpted. Fitness isn’t just a way of staying fit or even self-discovery, it is my way of enjoying life as much as I can.
Through all my years of sports and on into lifting, I have gained confidence in who I am and all I do. I have a belief in myself that allows me to see my dreams as attainable and worth chasing after. Because of this, I am now a certified personal trainer/nutrition coach as well as a life coach, in order to fulfill this deep desire of helping others become strong, not only physically, but mentally as well.
Personal Trainer ( NASM), Nutrition Coach, Life Coach, Fitness Model, mom!
In your opinion, is weight loss more of a fitness issue or a health issue and why?
Wow, that is tough, Honestly, I see it as both, 50/50. I think that losing weight in order to be healthy is going to take being fit. I also think that there is a healthy and unhealthy ways to lose weight. I go with the slow and sustainable way of losing weight, which actually only works by incorporating resistance training which in turn builds muscle and thus creates a more fit body. Losing weight just for the sake of losing fat will never be able to compete with losing weight while putting on muscle, in terms of the overall look that one is hoping to achieve. The term “skinny fat” is applicable here. There are many (because the fashion world pushes it), who feel being runway skinny is the way to go, so they lose weight in order to fulfil that look. But this is not healthy in the least. So I feel the best way to lose weight is to not just see it as a number on the scale going down but instead clothes fitting better, which oftentimes happens while the scale goes up because muscle weighs more than fat! And muscle creates nice curves that we all want. So the 2 really go hand in hand since losing weight, if done correctly, will cause our health to only get better!
If you have 100 tokens in total and you could apply them to the following categories, how many would you apply to each?
- Fitness level: 50
- Health level:50
Honestly, until this year I would have had to put more into my fitness level and less into my health level because as a natural figure competitor being stage lean is far from healthy, it looks freaking amazing but it is not healthy. But now that I am focusing on modelling and trying to show the world that a fit strong body is a sexy one, I am more focused on maintaining a healthy physique as well as a fit one. And though it looks like I have things figured out because it’s 50/50, every athlete knows there is always progress to be made in each category so I am daily adjusting my goals for gains and progress!
Thoughts on HIIT, Powerlifting, TRX, Yoga, bodybuilding, and others?
These are all amazing!!! I have done 4 of the 5, as I have never done powerlifting, and to be honest, I only did yoga for a month before I got bored, but I hear it would really help me to relax so I may need to revisit that! But honestly, these are all incredible, and as I tell my clients if something gets you up and moving then, by all means, continue it, if it adds to your sanity, and enjoyment of life, as well as keeps you fit then you have discovered your fountain of youth! There are always going to be positives and negatives to any and all fitness regimes, and some will fit into many people’s lifestyles while others would die if they had to do it. I think that is the beauty of fitness, there really are so many ways to be fit and healthy. And usually, if we are honest with ourselves and do what is truly best for our bodies, we will all progress through many different fitness regimens in our lifetimes. So do what works for you, when it works, and let others do the same!
How did your passion for fitness start? And what was the biggest challenge you have faced on your journey?
I honestly don’t even remember a time when sports and fitness were not in my life, but I believe it changed from something I did into a passion of mine when I hit 30 and had my last daughter. I realized I needed to teach them all how to be fit and healthy and that meant that I needed to learn more about what it meant, not just how to play the sports I loved. It became even more of a passion when I went through a major medical issue which doctors wanted to shove drugs at and I chose to say no, I want to learn nutrition instead, which in the end cured my medical issue! Going through that only made me want to learn more so that I would be able to teach others so that they would not be left to fend for themselves when doctors only prescribe drugs.
Share your unique training/coaching methods?
I don’t know that any of us have truly unique methods, let’s be honest, we all use pieces and parts of what we learned either the easy way or the hard way. So in all honesty, I coach old school, in that I don’t want to hear excuses or reasons why something is not working for you. I want to see the effort and hard work because I know in the long run those will pay off every time. So with me, you won’t get pampered, but you will get real scientific information, an individualized sustainable plan and the best cheerleader ever, or as I like to call it “Communication and Commitment.”
I believe these are what most people are lacking and why most quit on themselves. So I guess if I have anything that is unique to my coaching it’s that I rely on solid communication via teaching, not telling, my clients basic scientific facts. As a long-time teacher, I don’t want my clients to need me forever, I want to teach them so that they can leave me and continue on their own, and that starts by having basic conversations weekly with them. Through those weekly calls and emails, I am able to offer them a truly individualized plan which changes their life and gives them a toolbox filled with many different tools to put into play during their life. When crap hits that fan, we talk real facts, brainstorm ideas, and come up with ways that will allow them to continue to succeed. This is real communication!
Commitment is my other tier, in that I offer a serious support system. Again, I am able to accomplish all of this through weekly long phone calls, emails and open communication via apps. The weekly calls allow me to hear straight from their mouths what is going on. It’s harder to make excuses when you actually have to verbalize them and not just type them on the computer, thus I get to hear the frustration and cry for help from a client which allows me to be a better coach in their time of need. And by being available every day, clients have the freedom to ask questions when they need answers instead of holding on to them in hopes of remembering why they needed them answered in the first place. I am there not to enable excuses but to give all the encouragement I can as the support all of them need but don’t have elsewhere.
I expect 100% out of myself as well as my client.
There is no one size fits all plan, I make sure that I individualize each plan to each client every week. Because life changes and our plans should be able to change with us.
The best diet is the sustainable one, end of the story.
Protein powder, and a good multi-vitamin! Until you get your training and nutrition to a sustainable daily occurrence, there is no need to do anything else because it causes people to focus on minor things like pre-workout, treating them as a magic pill, when in reality the magic pill is hard work and consistency. Once someone is consistent on the major things, like hitting the gym 4 days a week and getting in their macros, then I explore the minor things like pre and post-workout etc.
Do you prefer to take and recommend all-natural (no sugar, no artificial colours/flavours/sweeteners) supplements or supplements with artificial flavours and sweeteners? And Why?
I do yes, I use Legion Athletic supplements because I trust that the ingredients are real and the servings are accurate and scientifically proven to do what they say, instead of containing fillers and flavours. I also want to make sure that what I am putting in my body is natural, plain and simple. That being said, if a client wants to go with an artificially sweetened anything I don’t discourage them because there are plenty of studies that show that Artificially sweetened foods/drinks help a person sustain their diet, and in the long run that is what I am looking for, sustainability, so if it helps them achieve it I am all for it.
Please describe the importance of mental health?
Well, This is HUGE! It is actually one main reason I push my clients to get in the gym and start lifting because I have yet to see anyone fully embrace lifting and not come away from a stronger person mentally.
To describe a person as healthy we must make sure they are mentally healthy as well as physically healthy. Having one without the other causes me to have to honestly say to a person that they are not healthy. It is why I try so hard to tell clients that all of us insane bodybuilders are not healthy when we are on stage. On stage, we are all literally dying physically and mentally, yet the world thinks that we are the picture of health because our muscles ripple. But so many of us will come off stage suffering from body dysmorphia and depression as well as totally unhealthy relationships with food. If you ask most competitors when they feel the healthiest it is most certainly not when we are on stage. And this realization has stayed with me in all that I do and how I treat my clients. I always make sure that no matter what the outside looks like I dig into their brain and heart to see how they are doing there as well. My goal as a coach is to not just get a person to physical health but to mental health.
In fact, if I had to pick only one, I’d choose mental health any day, and that is coming from a lifelong athlete. Because to be honest if we are dealing with depression what good is a strong body, if we don’t have the mental capacity to go use it, then it serves no purpose. As a coach, I try to tackle the mental demons along with the physical ones because often times the mental ones do more damage. Knowing this and teaching people how to deal with life mentally is truly more important than teaching them how to deal with life physically, and it’s why so much of my first few months of coaching are centred on a correct mindset. Without a strong mindset, I know the client will never achieve the physical goals they aspire for. But if they have a strong mindset at the start I know I have a client who I can take anywhere to reach any goal!
Take us through a typical day in your life for you?
With 3 teenage daughters, homeschooling, 2 home businesses and training myself thrown into every day there is never a “typical day”! But let’s see if I can give a general snapshot!
I begin my day early with a cup of black coffee and my cell phone in the kitchen working on my social media that needs to get done that day. This generally takes 2 hours (because again my goal is to be an inspiration to others so I take the time to respond to comments and questions, as well as put up new posts and information on multiple social media sites). I also eat my protein pancakes or homemade scone during this time.
Then I head to my computer to get work done for my other business (modelling), this entails connecting with photographers for shoots, locating shoot sites and outfits to shoot in as well as booking anything I need to make a shoot happen. I also get magazine work done, whether it be for photos or articles it all happens now. Snack one of my favourite salted Carmel protein powder and apples occurs during this time!
Next, it’s time for client work, so I respond to emails and also get workout and nutrition plans to clients or just basic work related to this business done. Lunch of something healthy like a slice of deli meat and avocado sandwich gets enjoyed now!
By 3 pm, I am starting in on mom duties (ok let’s be honest, they get put amidst all of the previous hours as well!), but I try to focus on them alone till 4 or 4:30 when I head for the gym. My pre-workout meal of Protein powder and blueberries along with oatmeal gets hurriedly eaten here.
6 – 6:30 comes all too fast and dinner needs to be made, which thankfully with 3 teen daughters I get help with! Dinner is enjoyed with whoever is home that night and then I head into my office for client calls (some nights this is earlier and then the whole day is moved around)
The night gets filled up with client calls or working on one of my 2 businesses or being a mom, or honestly all of the above. Finally at around 11 after forcing myself to stop, I head to bed, to rest and recover so that I can do it all again.
Now the fun comes when I get to throw that schedule to the dogs and head out for an all-day photo shoot! That is my adventure time and I love it. I am also learning to take one day off a week to focus on life other than my business. And I also take 2 days rest from the gym which allows me time to run errands etc. Oh, and yes on Saturday, I do enjoy a nice glass of deep red Malbec!
What separates Status from other fitness magazines?
Honestly, that is summed up in the words of coach Mc Ginty from “The Replacements” when asked by a reporter what they needed to win, his response was “We need a heart” – Status Fitness has heart!
If you could ask Status Fitness Magazine Editor-in-Chief Rodney Jang any industry question, what would that be?
I don’t think this is really an industry question but it’s the one that makes the most sense to ask. What motivates you to do what you do every day, in other words, what is your “Why?”
Status Fitness Magazine runs model searches across North America including the largest one at the Arnold Classic for the Status cover. As part of the Status family, you will receive a special participation invite. How excited are you about this opportunity?
Wow, I did not know this, but that would be such an incredible honour, to show women that being strong is sexy, is my entire reason for modelling and coaching.
Describe your coaches and the impact they have on you?
I actually don’t have a coach right now, as I am not actively competing this year. However, the coach I had for 2 years was beyond amazing, Jonathan Ledesma is an amazing compassionate soul who is more than a coach. He listened, truly listened, and made sure that my goals, not his, were his priority. He was always willing to teach, not just order. His heart has no limits. And his knowledge was astounding. He continued to fan the flame in me for my love of coaching which is why I now coach. As for coaches in my past as an athlete, one stood out among them all. My martial arts teacher was also my advanced Eng. teacher. He was this small 5’9 skinny man who could break 10 boards with one swift flick of his hand. He taught me that it is a discipline which makes one an athlete instead of just a participant in a sport. He also taught me in English class to dig deep into anything you love and find all the hidden gems. He has remained with me forever because he was so much more than a coach, he was a friend and a true teacher.
Can you share with us your goals for fitness and life?
Live life to its fullest! This is why I lift and workout, not to look good (though that is a nice side effect) but to be able to move and play and enjoy life. When I was a young mom I made obstacle courses out of the playground equipment and ran the obstacle with my kids because I wanted to enjoy time with them in a meaningful way and show them that being fit is a way of life, not a hobby. When I am 80, I want to be teaching my grandkids how to cliff jump because I want to pass on the joy of living to them as well. So my goals for both are to just continue to be fit enough to live life to its fullest and never have to say “no I can’t do that”
5 things people don’t know about you?
- I have 3 daughters.
- I love to ride horses (barrel race and jump bareback)
- I am a total tomboy (and yes I love to compete and will probably beat you in one thing or another)
- My guilty pleasure is my homemade cheesecake
- My favorite way to relax is at a beach or camping.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
That a quote on my H.S. gym wall upon entering the weight room was so very true and a principle I live by – “Attitude is Everything” I could go on and on about this, and I do in my posts on social media, but for now, just take that in and try to absorb the fact that we can make our life what we want it to be with and through our attitude.
5 most important attributes you see in a person?
Honesty, Loyalty, Hard work, Discipline, Perseverance, Courage. ( yes I know that is 6 but as a trainer, I always ask for one more!)
If you could inspire one person, who would that be? And why?
That young girl, or grown woman, who is abused, and thinks she is nothing because she is constantly told that. Why? Because that was me, and I know it is the story of so many little girls and grown women. But we are the Phoenixes, we don’t die with the ashes that burn us, we rise from them.
Who inspires you? And why?
Anyone who has risen above a situation where all was against them but pushed forward never accepting that failure was an option. The reasoning for the why is 2 fold; they allow me to see I was not alone in all I have endured and they give me hope that there are still fighters out there who will rise above their situation to become a shining example and inspiration for all. Also, many times seeing others rise gives us the strength to continue doing so as well.
What is your number one tip for people on their fitness journey?
I guess it would be to keep progressing on your fitness journey, don’t be scared to change it up or do something you never thought you’d do, and do whatever it takes to keep it interesting and fresh. The fitness journey is like any other, the more we step out of our comfort zone the more fun, productive, and worthwhile the journey will be.
What does success look like for you?
Success comes when we attain our goals and sit back to enjoy them, only to realize we have more goals ahead of us to reach for! It means that although I may have achieved one goal, I am still motivated to reach for more because to me that is living and success looks like living to the fullest!
What is your favourite quote to live by?
I have 2 that have gotten me through all the crap life has thrown me “Become better, not bitter”, and “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” yes, cliché I know, but true.
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