Welcome to my blog, all about inspirational people with amazing stories to share and who have fought their way to their goals and dreams.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sheri's Story

Thank you for doing this interview and inspiring others to get fit and healthy!
Q. Where are you from?
A. I was born and raised in Ohio.  I never left, my Dad is still living close by to me and my Mom isn't far away. 
Q. What do you do?
A. I am a iSeries Programmer, I develop software for a wholesale company.
Q. You had weight issues as a child, what do you think are the reasons that this happened?
A. I did, from the time I started to walk.  All I remember is I wanted to eat all the time.  My Mom would try to put the cookies in a cupboard way high, but I would always find them and get into them.  I remember when we had mashed potatoes I use to tell my Dad “don't eat lots”.  He still brings that up to this day.  Its quite embarrassing now that I look back at it.  I wish I knew why, my parents were never overweight nor was my brother. 
Q. Do you feel that you were raised in an unhealthy environment?
A. Absolutely not.  Mom lead a clean and well managed house hold.  We had breakfasts, lunch and dinner made for us every day.  The problem was there was so much food, that I never knew when to stop.  Back then it was always said “don't leave anything on your plate”.  I did not except for the vegetables, but what kid didn't right?
I was sick a lot though and the doctors never knew why. They diagnosed me with many things but they never  tested me for Diabetes.  Back then you just never heard about it. 
Q. What was the heaviest you ever weighed?
A. My heaviest I will never forget, 255lbs.  That was when I was getting extremely sick not knowing I had diabetes. 
Q. You had health problems that the doctors could not pin point for a very long time. What were the symptoms? Did you feel as if you were going crazy?
A. Oh my yes!  The problem was it was not symptomatic.  In my early 20's I had signs I didn't know were signs of diabetes.  I drank a lot of water, my husband use to ask me why I was so thirsty and I had no idea.  I developed skin disease called Excema and I felt fatigue, sluggish, foggy-headed and just plain miserable most of my days.
In 1995 I had terrible digestive issues, I had terrible pain in my colon and I got a ultra sound done the doctor (who never diagnosed me correctly) said it was IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).  So, once again I have to live with it no getting better, just take this pill.
It wasn't until 1999 when I tried my hand at running with my husband to try to lose weight.  I developed terrible, crippling feet pain.  The doctors looked at it as a running injury, but couldn't find nothing!  I went to 5 different doctors in 9 months.
I had 12 inch needles go into my spinal column to put Lidocaine in my Sympathetic Nervous System because they thought I had RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy).  To rule it out I had to get this done.  The Neurological doctor that did it said that is was not what I had, and that was all he said. He didn't send me for a EMG (Electromyography) which would have shown it was diabetes neuropathy!
Q. You ended up in a wheelchair for a while. Did you ever feel like giving up?
A. Oh I did give up so many times!  I thought I was destined to be a slave to diabetes neuropathy for the rest of my life.  I had no hope for it to get better.  My first Endocrinologist (specializes in Diabetes) and he told me and my husband was sitting next to me.  “You need to look like your stick man here”, my husband weighs 149 – 151 and is 6'3”.  He's an Ultra Marathoner and never been overweight a day in his life.  I said “I can't get that thin!”, the doctor said “you've got to try Sheri or your neuropathy will never get better nor will your blood sugar”.
So, from that day on I tried and tried, I lost about 30 pounds on my own and it started coming back after I was diagnosed with Hypo-Thyroid disease and to be honest I gave up and went back to poor eating.
Q. What made you think of checking yourself for diabetes?
A. Because of all the research I did during the 9 months of agony going from doctor to doctor, I found that peripheral neuropathy was exactly how my feet felt.  If you look at these definitions, you will see Diabetes connected to it.  When I first saw it I was in denial, I couldn't have Diabetes....so I thought. 
Q. When you finally found out what was really wrong with you, how did you feel?
A. I felt so relieved!!!!!  Even though Diabetes is not something I want, I had an answer and now I can work on improving.
Q. Can you describe what type of diabetes you have, and what has happened to your body?
A. Hmm, well I kind of answered this throughout the above questions on what happened to my body, but the Type of Diabetes I had once again was a fight to get an answer.  At first, the General Practitioner who I saw at the time diagnosed me with Type 2 diabetes,  he was also the one who diagnosed me with IBS in 1995.  He put me on Metaformin (brand name Glucophage) Extended-Release Tablets used in the management of Type 2.
My blood sugar was still very high even on these drugs.  I tested my blood sugar about 8 – 10 times during a course of the day.  I knew something wasn't right, I did some more research and decided he is not the doctor for me.  So, I went to a Endocrinologist and I loved him, he was so knowledgeable!  He did blood work my GP never did and found that I had Type 1 diabetes with Type 2!! 
Type 1 diabetes is known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes.  The body's white blood cells mistakenly attack the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells.  We don't know when I actually got Type 1, it could had been when I was younger they say a person doesn't get Neuropathy except when the blood sugar has been out of control for many, many years. 
Type 2 diabetes is known as insulin resistance, unlike people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes produce insulin; however, the insulin their pancreas secretes is either not enough or the body is unable to recognize the insulin and use it properly.
Type 2 diabetes can occur in anyone, but the top reasons its running so rampant in America today is due to obesity and lack of physical activity.
Q. How did you start losing weight?
A. It wasn't until 2008 when I saw the scale moving up, I was now weighing in at 231.  I pretty much sat at 222 for 8 years.  I could only walk my dog down the street and back due to my feet pain and during those walks I would dream about being thin about being healthy.  The Autonomic Neuropathy that I was diagnosed with in 2006 was wreaking havoc on my digestive system.  Remember when I said I was misdiagnosed with IBS?  This is what I truly had and it had now turned into chronic constipation to the point laxatives weren't enough.  I did not want to lose my bowel function something had to change!!!
One night July 22nd, was the date I was talking to my husband and said “I have got to try something, or I am going to die at a very young age”.  He agreed and supported me 100%.  I made a call to Nutrisystems because I was lazy and did not want to cook. 
I lost 60 pounds in 6 months my goal was 190, but I kept going until I hit 171.  That was too hard to maintain especially once I could start exercising again.
I no longer had Type 2 diabetes, my Insulin intake went from 40 units a day down to 4 to 11 a day!  Truly amazing!  My body is no longer insulin resistant!

Best Day Ever!
Q. Now you are quite athletic, how did you feel when you did your first run?
A. Oh my gosh!!!!!!!!!  I was in serious heaven!  I wrote about it on my blog, check it out here: Motivation for Health and Fitness ~ My Inspiration.
Q. What do you do for physical activity now?
A. I run 4 times a week and I am into lifting weights every day except taking off 1 day a week.  It wasn't until about 4 weeks ago did I take weight lifting seriously. 
My struggles with this left over skin makes me do a lot of research online.  I came across a few inspiring women who lift and found that lifting heavy is the key to burning the fat off, not cardio!
I downloaded a fellow blogger's workout that she has on her blog and modified it for me cause I workout at home, not the gym.  I really dislike it there, the men are selfish with the weights and I don't like it.
Anyways, since doing this for 2 weeks now I have noticed a HUGE improvement in my body.  I have already shaved off ½ inch around my mid-section.  I feel strong, I feel tighter and I am so confident!
Q. What sort of foods do you shop for now?
A. I only eat 6 times a day, and I try to eat whole grains, tons of veggies, fruits for filler food. 
Breakfast usually consists of 1 TB. Of honey, 1 TB. Of Flaxseed Meal (this is my way of taking care of chronic constipation, it truly works!), 1 Zone Bar and ½ cup of Fiber One Cottage Cheese.
Morning Snack is Greek Yogurt with 1 small box of raisins
Lunch can be lots of things, but mostly I will come home from work and make a yummy salad, with a handful of nuts, and grilled chicken.  I always have a Dark Chocolate Vitatop!  These are a life saver for me cause I need chocolate and they are only 100 calories and have protein and fiber!
Afternoon Snack is usually a small Apple.
Dinner well, sometime we go out, but when we don't I will eat Healthy Choice Steamers or Nutrisystem dinners; sometimes I will cook steamed veggies and chicken or fish with sweet potato fries.
Evening Snack is usually Fat Free Hot Chocolate with whip cream and Weight Watcher desert.
I find as long as I stick with these set meals I am good, if I eat outside of this then the weight starts to creep up.
Q. How do you feel overall right this moment?
A. I feel GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!  I've never in my entire life felt as good as I do now at age 42!  My life truly began at 40!  I would never go back!
Q. What sort of advice do you have for our readers who feel like giving up?
A. Never give up!  The answer to life's questions come down to taking care of yourself!  If you eat right, and you exercise you WILL feel better and you WILL lose weight.
Don't ever think your too old to start something either, its never too late to make your life the best as it can be!
You can find me on Twitter and Facebook or at my website Motivation for Health and Fitness!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Jason Adams: 1 year later

This is Jason's second interview on this blog. I wanted to interview him because he is a great example of someone who has lost a lot of weight, and he also proved it can be done and it can be kept off.

Q. You have lost a lot of weight in the last year, what is the total so far?

A: Well depending on what day you ask me, this changes. I started at 292 pounds. Now I seem to hover between 175 and 182. But I have really kind of gotten to the point where I don't care. What I mean is, to me, weight is just a number. I am now at the point where I focus on the look. If I add more muscle, or look better, than that's what I care about. If you get to caught up in what the scale says, I think it can have a negative affect on you.

Q. How are you feeling about this dramatic change in your body?

A: Well obviously their is a lot of pride. I am proud of the work I have done. Some people have accused me of doing it in certain ways, but the reality is I did it through hard work and listening to my amazing trainer Danny-J. The hardest part is finding clothes that fit lol. Danny gets on me because I still wear baggy shirts, but really there is a reason. I still have a good deal of loose skin on my stomach. I am self conscious about it. We need surgery to remove it so I can compete. I have worked so hard to get on stage and can't let some skin stop me. Surgery will cost about $8,000. We are trying to raise money A very special woman named Tameka made a website to get donations and I am surprised, but people are donating. So cheap shameless plug here, if you want to help me achieve my goal please donate to this site http://helpjasonadams.bbnow.org/index.php and there is info on how you can also mail donations on there.

Q. What is the next step for your body?

A: Kind of addressed this in the last question. But the next step is find a way to get the surgery and get on stage. I am lucky and seem to grow pretty fast. In one year I think my arms and quads are really good for such a short time, and the rest is improving daily. I have said a million times, and will say it again. Competing for me isn't about winning some trophy or anything like that. People get to caught up in winning and forget to have fun. I would be happy to finish last place. If I can be on stage and look out and see Danny being proud, that's all I care about. Her pride is better than some trophy. So
I guess the goal is get as big as I can, get surgery and get on stage and show the world what a Danny-J client can do.

Q. You just recently went to the Arnold's, how was the experience?

A: Amazing. It was great to see people I had not seen in a year and get some very nice compliments on my transformation. To finally see Danny again and also meet her very cool husband Nate. Also to meet some friends I had not met in person yet. Last year I felt out
of place, this year I felt....actually I knew, I belonged.

Q. What was your favourite moment at this year’s Arnold's?

A: There were some great ones. Spending time with Sandy Wiedmeyer and Debbie Fowler. Finally meeting people I had talked to but not met like Brea Sharron, Stacy Wright, Jillian Reville and Kat Ramirez. But really there is no contest. Best moment was seeing Danny and showing her what WE accomplished in the past year. Got to spend a lot of time
with her and her husband as well as Aubrie Richeson, Matt Faxon and Tiffany and Nate Oertel. All special people and was so much fun to hang out with them.

Q. You have had a lot of success this past year in the fitness industry, with new jobs and new connections. Tell us about it.

A: You know my blog (http://www.promotingwomen.blogspot.com/) was just meant as something where I could thank the women who have helped me. Then I included female MMA fighters to, as that sport is my passion. Never imagined I would have a fan page with over 7,000 followers. I have said, I wanted to be part of the fitness and MMA industry. I didn't wait for my chance, I made my chance. Now I get to cover MMA shows, mainly my favorite promotion, the NAAFS. I am part of the industry I love. And I even think I have built up some respect. I have had people ask me for opinions on their progress and come to me for advice. That means something to me. I am working on my blog becoming a site and eventually plan to do an online radio show. I have so many goals and things I want to do, but my own competing goal comes first. Also, while I am normally the guy complaining about people who are not certified to train, training others, I have two girls, Kala and Lee who I am helping in their own journey to get in shape. I care about them and want them to do well. Also I am helping Rachel Dovidio, an MMA fighter get ready for her fight on April 16th. If you follow the sport, check Rachel out, she is going to be a star (and guys, she is really cute too). So I love the industry and hope to be part of it forever. And I must thank siouxcountry (http://www.siouxcountry.com/) and Fit Gems nation (http://www.fitgemsnation.net/). They helped advertise my blog when I started and to be recognized on their amazing sites really gave me credibility.

Q. Besides bodybuilding, is there any other goal you would like to achieve in the fitness industry?

A: I have this habit of answering each question in the prior question. As mentioned I want an online radio show. I would like to promote shows to one day. I really want to get certified soon and take on more clients. I don't want to be some d-bag trainer though. One who sees clients as nothing more than clients. I want to be like Danny and you Ang, someone who cares about his clients. Every day it seems I have a new goal, and I think with hard work i can accomplish them all.

Q. Is there any foods on your recent diet you can go without? Is there any that you are surprised that you enjoy?

A: Go without? Well I hate fish, but with chili powder I can at least digest it. I refuse to eat oatmeal and cottage cheese. I wouldn't say that there is one I am surprised I enjoy. I think it's more a case of I am surprised I like eating so healthy. To some, the diet we do seems strange, and to me, it probably would have seemed strange to if I was on the outside. But I enjoy eating healthy. I am o.k. eating the same food day after day.

Q. What is your favourite exercise at the gym?

A: Well biceps are my favorite part to train. Everyone knows that, and its my best part. While most would say one of the cooler sounding ones, for me it's just dumbell curls. I get a great pump from them and just love doing them.

Q. Besides bodybuilding, Is there anything athletically you would like to achieve?

A: I would love to fight and am considering it. But the problem is this. People in fitness might not like this, but there is no harder training than MMA training. That is the hardest sport to train for. Harder than bodybuilding. So where do I find the time? Bodybuilding and competing has to be number one for me. So where do i find the time to do both?

Q. Which male bodybuilder in the industry do you look up to?

A: Male? Well you know I follow women more. But there are four I will mention. First, to me Flex Wheeler is the best ever followed by Lee Haney. I am also a huge Branch Warren fan. But my absolute favorite male bodybuilder is P.J. Braun. Pro card or no pro card, if I could pick one person and say I want that physique, it would be P.J.. Plus he is a great guy on top of that.

Q. Who in the industry would you love to meet?

A: Aahhhh, I knew there was going to be that one question where after I send this back to you, I would forget a name or two. This is that question. Really there are many. People I have yet to meet who I consider friends, like yourself, Belinda Hope, Michelle Beck, Genie Sammons, Jill Crean, Victoria Larvie, and there are many more, and please forgive me if I didn't mention your names. It is really hard people.

Q. People recently started asking for your autograph, how does that make you feel?

A: Awkward lol. I mean I am just a guy who lost weight. I don't see why anyone would want it, but yes a few people have asked me to send them a signed photo. It is flattering and I am humbled by it. People seem to latch on to me. People who are battling their own adversities. Danny once said it's because I put myself out there. I admit by bad days. What you see is what you get with me. If you are a jerk, I will tell you you are a jerk. If you are a good person I will tell you you are a good person. But I think my openness and things is something people can relate to. Too many people are eager to say the good, but hide the bad. I don't hide the bad. I put the bad out there for you to see. And I think people like that, they see it isn't always going to be easy, it isn't always sunshine. So I guess if anyone wants one, just hit me up lol.

Q. When you think about how different your body looks right now compared to 1 year ago, what thoughts go through your mind?

A: "Thank God for Danny-J". She is the reason I was able to do it. Yes, I did the work, but I couldn't have done it without her showing me how and believing in me. That's why I got her name and No Excuses as a tattoo. Some people think it's some creepy infatuation type deal. But that is so far from the truth. It's respect. It's appreciation, it's a tribute to my role model. I have John Elway's last name and jersey number on my arm to. Am I infatuated with him? No! He is my favorite athlete and it's my tribute. Same here. Danny is my role model, and it's my tribute.

Q. When are you hoping to get on that stage?

A: I said all along 2012. For that to happen I need the surgery soon. So hopefully that happens. But rest assured, when Danny says I am ready, I will be on stage.

Q. With all the weight loss, what sort of advice do you have for people out there that think they cannot lose all their weight?

A: If my broken down body can do it, anyone can do it. First step, is believe in yourself. It's your body, you can do anything you want with it. Get a trainer, a good trainer, who will help you. Don't settle for someone who just calls them self one. Do your research and find one that fits your needs. Learn about proper nutrition. People said I can't do it, and I did. For so long I wanted to prove them wrong, but really it took time, but I learned it was about proving myself right. Believe in yourself, know you can do it, and do it. Don't expect overnight results and give up when it doesn't happen. It is a process. Anyone can go to the gym pick up some weight and put it back down. But are the doing it right? Not always. Learn proper form, learn everything. Research, go on websites and learn. But go to good sites and read good books. So many of them are not going to always tell you what's right, there are going to try and advance their own agenda. But before you train your body, train your mind. Basically go by what I call BASE. Believers Always Succeed Eventually. There are great trainers out there, and I recommend Danny. You can find her at www.dannyjfitness.com.

Q. Do you have any other advice to help motivate others?

A: I think I covered this last question. I think motivation comes from within. Just know you can do it. If you know you can do it, then you can do it. Pick someone out. Find someone who motivates you. I my case, it's Danny-J. Don't listen to doubters or haters. It's your body, make it whatever you want it to be.

Before I go, I want to truly thank everyone who has supported and believed in me. I do it because you made me think I can do. Specifically Danny-J, Zoa Linsey, Eryn Strickland,  Belinda Hope, Genie Sammons, Heather Kilgore, Sandy Wiedmeyer, Michelle Beck, Trisha Barr, Nichole Long Brea Sharron, Rebecca Gruitza and of course you Angelique. Love you all

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fitness Model Jacqueline Curl's Story

Jacqueline's story is very unique. She went through a lot of hard times until she finally found out what was really wrong with her. If you have any of these symptoms, please do not be afraid to speak up to your doctor and ask to see a therapist so they can investigate your symptoms further.
Thank you Jacqueline for sharing your story.
Q. Where do you live?
I live in Calgary, Alberta. I Just moved here 2 months ago and i love it. Im originally from Montreal, Quebec
Q. What is your current occupation?
I work in a physio clinic as an assistant/aide
Q. You started competing recently, how many shows have you done?
To date I've done 4 total with many more to come!
Q. You won a fitness model competition, which show was it and when?
I won the fcpaq CHAMPIONNAT QUÉBEC DE L'OUEST on May 29th 2010, Best day of my life! I won First place Fitness model and overall fitness model.
Q. Have you always been active?
Nope! I have always liked the gym but never committed myself. I never participated in sports, but have always be drawn to it. I always wanted to be an athlete.
Q. How was your childhood? Did your family have healthy options?
I was an only child until i was 13 when i gained 2 step brothers. But i spent a lot of time playing alone. My mom was a single mother and spent a lot of time working so i made a lot of my own meals which usually consisted of hot dogs or fast things that were not very healthy. I was kinda chubby as a child. Definitely not active. But dont get me wrong i had a very happy childhood :)
Q. Were you ever over weight?
YES! I was over weight this time last year. After being sick i let myself go and i knew i had gained weight but i thought maybe 10 or 15 pounds. When i weighed myself one day and saw i had gained close to 50 pounds I freaked out and knew it was time to do something.
Q. You went through some pretty hard times, and the doctors did not know what was wrong with you. Tell us about it.
My mom was very sick at the time and i had to have her admitted to the hospital, it was a very hard time, i was the only one there and had no one helping me out. This happen twice and at the same time i had just met my father for the first time in my life, i was going to school full time, working full time and partying full time. Hardly sleeping and not dealing or talking to anyone about what was going on!

It started with not being able to focus when someone was having a
conversation, I couldn't keep track of what they were saying, then my foot
went numb and it spread to half my body. I would have crying break downs at
work and finally went to see the doctor and they told me I was having a burn
out and gave me time off work. But then it just got worse. I couldn't write,
or sign my name it was just scribble, I couldn't tie my shoes, type on the
computer, talk properly, think straight, I walked funny, I would faint, have
panic attacks, black out, have seizures on a daily basis! I would have
episodes where I'd black out and do crazy things that I wouldn't remember. It
was totally insane! They did every test you could think of, I've had the
works.. MRI, EGG, cat scan, spinal tap over 100 blood tests..etc they did
all that because I was showing all the signs of a neurological disorder.
everything came up negative!!

Q. How tough was dealing with doctors and nurses that did not understand what you were going through?
It was extremely hard! i would go to a different doctor and have a different test and different hospital stays and no one would have an answer and every test would be come up negative! You dont realize how strong you are until your only choice is to be as strong as you can. It was months and months of not knowing what was happening to my body. Everyday something new would happen and to have no answers was so difficult. After a while i think people just stopped believing me, that was hard.
Q. How long did it take for the doctors to finally figure out what was happening to your body?
They never did!!! Months had gone by and one day i just broke from reality and blacked out and did things i dont remember doing and was rushed to the hospital. In the middle of my black out i actually ran away from the hospital and when i finally came to and let them take me back I was admitted immediately and put on protective watch for a whole week because in their eyes i was this crazy person. After being in the emergency pysch ward for a couple weeks i was moved to an actual pysch hospital for 5 weeks which was the most awful, terrible experience of my life. They did nothing for me in there! no therapy, no compassion no comfort no nothing. I was treated like i was in jail. Wasn't allowed outside, wasn't allowed visitors until 5pm...was told when to take a shower, when to eat, when to sleep, when i could use the phone. They would drug me and leave me! No therapy at all! If it wasn't for my family and friends i would have never gotten through it.
Q. When did you finally take control of your life and how?
After 5 weeks, i was getting a little better on my own none the less and i was released but had to attend a day hospital. There was my saving grace, i had lots of therapy, and FINALLY was told what i had. Its called conversion disorder. Conversion disorder is a condition where a patient displays neurological symptoms such as numbness, paralysis, or fits, even though no neurological explanation is found and it is determined that the symptoms are due to the patient's psychological response to stress. Conversion is a psychiatric diagnosis.
Conversion disorder symptoms may occur because of emotional distress or psychological problems. Symptoms usually begin suddenly after a stressful experience.
Some doctors falsely believe that conversion disorder and similar disorders are not real conditions, and may tell patients that the problem is "all in your head." However, these conditions are real. They cause distress and cannot be turned on and off at will. Research on the mind-body connection may eventually increase understanding of these disorders.

The only way to cure this is therapy, once you find out what caused it (i.e.: what caused you to get so stressed) and you deal with the stress then you deal with the conversion disorder and it will get cured!
So therapy is what helped in the beginning. and like i said i was on all kinds of meds and because of them i gained so much weight. I must have gained 50 pounds! i also used to smoke a lot to get the edge off. i slowly started to get better, and then i started to work out to get rid of my stress and clear my head and that's when i got addicted to it and started training so much and quit smoking and started feeling soooo much better, better then i ever had. I started walking in my area, every morning. I would power walk to my favorite tunes on my iPod and just walk. It was so nice to be outside with the fresh air. I finally felt alive again. I was a new person better then the old person i used to be!
Q. How do you feel that fitness and healthy living saved your life?
Oh my god, i dont know where to begin! It has changed me in every way, and im actually getting emotional as i type this. It has given me a reason to wake up each morning and something to look forward to. The people i have met along the way and friendships ive made have saved my life like you wouldnt believe! Im proud to say i have not had to take meds for over a year now or had to go see a doctor. When i feel a little stress coming on i ride it out at the gym and i think how far ive come and i always leave feeling alive and new. I have a joke with my dad that when im at the gym im at therapy lol I will often say gotta go i got therapy! And thats what it is. Competition is the same price as a therapist and all those crazy meds so i choose fitness!
Q. How long have you been training for now?
Its been just over a year!
Q. How does it feel to be a role model for others out there?
Its really weird especially when people say i inspire them or they look up to me because to me im just a regular person, i dont think it has hit me yet what ive been through and what a huge deal it was. But im working on it and trying to accept it. I love to motivate people and inspire them so i hope im doing a good job.
Q. Do you get a lot of questions or advice at the gym?
I get everything from how do i do what you did, to how do i build muscle, how do i motivate myself, whats the best exercise to get abs. I get it all. I try an answer everything but im just learning myself so i usually direct them to someone i know can better answer their questions.
Q. What does your typical eating day look like for you?
Right now im carb cycling so i have 1 day with 3 carbs, then 1 day with 2 carbs and then the last day with 1 carb and i repeat. I always have 5 oz of protein, green veggies and love to snack on mixed nuts. For carbs I like yams and brown rice oh and of course steel cut oats with mixed berries.
Q. Do you have a favorite cheat meal?
CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!! i love chocolate!!!
Q. How much do you love life now?
I love life A LOT! A lot more then i ever have. Theres always room for improvement haha! If i could just find someone special that would be amazing! LOL but i do love life a lot and dont take it for granted anymore. I try and live every day like its my last
Q. Do you have any advice for our readers who think that there is no way out and want to give up?
 Theres always a light at the end of the tunnel, ALWAYS. No matter how low or how dead you feel it will get better i promise. You need to  find something to turn to. Something to be passionate about something that makes life worth living. For me it was fitness and for you it may be something else. Find something you love and pursue it! YOU CAN DO IT!
Q. Any other words or advice?
Don't be ashamed to admit you feel a certain way. I'm not ashamed i spent 5 weeks in a mental ward. Not in the least. You could do anything you set your mind to and don't let anyone hold you back! You are your biggest fan, you are the one that controls your destiny! You are in the drivers seat of YOUR life, make it a good ride, because you only get one shot!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mitchie's Story: A Future Bikini Model in the Making

This is Mitchie's story. She went through the sudden loss of her mother, heartbreak and depression, but never forgot her goal to compete in Bikini.

Q. Where are you from?

 I'm from Long Beach, Cali.

Q. Did you play any sports in school?

In high school, I played basketball for 2 years. I tore my ligament in my left knee during a game and didn't    play since my injury.

Q. Did you always have a weight problem?

I didn't always have a weight problem. I was an active kid and in high school, loved playing sports and being outdoors. After my sports injury, I was less active. During my college years was when the weight began to pile on.

Q. What started your emotional eating in your 20's?

My emotional eating began as a coping mechanism from stress. I had a hard time managing my time at work, plus going to school full time and maintaining a long distance relationship. Ultimately, I neglected myself for the sake of others. I was oblivious to the damage I was doing to my body and mental health.

Q. Did you realize you had a problem that you needed to overcome?

Yes. I realized I had a problem with my weight in 2001 when I saw my pictures from my vacation to Hawaii. My friends and family told me I gained weight but I brushed their comments off. Then one day as I was looking at my pictures, a light bulb came on and I saw what everyone else saw in me. An overweight girl.
                                                                     Hawaii Trip

Q. When did you decide enough was enough and started losing weight?

I decided in the winter of 2001. I realized I didn't know how to eat healthy, what proper portion control looked like, how to eat physically vs' emotionally, how to read my body's hunger needs and how to work out. I began by going to Weight Watchers and learned portion control. Which was the best education I ever received. From there I began to educate myself and learn along the way.

Q. What were the tools you used to help you with your weight loss?

My tools were my armor. Weight Watchers, a gym membership I invested in, new sneakers and accountability by journaling my foods I ate and my workouts.

Q. You started losing motivation until the tragic loss of your mother. How did her passing open your eyes to how important healthy eating and exercising is?

I was able to keep my weight between 140-150 from 2002-2007. But the summer of 2007 when my mom passed away and the few months after, I weighed in at 160 and stayed at that weight until 2009. In dealing with her death, the grief and the many emotions I had during this time, my eyes opened because I began to see her death as something that could have been preventable. My mom passed away when she was 60 years old. She had a minor heart attack 3 months before her passing. And when she passed away, she suffered 2 major heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes and pneumonia. I remember the doctor always talking to her about proper nutrition and exercise. My mom didn't follow any of the doctors advice. I realized then that I didn't want to have those same illnesses that I was headed towards at my weight. Even being at 162, July 2009 I turned a new leaf, and committed to having a fit lifestyle. Not a temporary weight loss, not a goal to be fit for a wedding or event. I decided to invest in my life and love myself completely. Today I weight 133 and 23% body fat. I want to get down to 10-15% body fat, compete in figure and bikini competitions and continue to challenge my body.

Q. When did you start working out?

Although I began working out in 2002, it was cardio and light weights. I didn't have a strict regimen. I would say that in 2009 when I committed to being serious about my physique, I began my journey.

Q. What do you love most about working out?

First of all, I love the sense of satisfaction of seeing the sweat after an intense cardio session or heavy lifting day. It's satisfying! I love challenging myself to think mind over matter and push harder on my last set or run another 5 more minutes. Ultimately, I love that by each workout, I have bettered myself physically.

Q. You went through more tough times with a recent divorce, how did you stay on track?

I must admit, while going through the divorce, being at the gym was my sanity. It was my therapy. There have been MANY cardio sessions where while I was running I literally cried because as I ran, I processed my thoughts. And in my thoughts, I came to realize certain realities. I ran and thought through my personal failures and disappointments. Little did I realize, while I spent time at the gym, I found self acceptance for myself.  I learned to love myself completely. So in going to the gym, the workouts helped me stay on track mentally for me first. It's quite the opposite in that I didn't go to the gym to stay on track during a tough time..rather the gym saved me to stay on track. :) I hope that makes sense. I depended on the gym to help me with my tough time.

Q. What are your goals in the future?

My personal goal is to get to 10-15% body fat and face the stage. I want to compete in figure and bikini. I'm not the type of girl to be front and center. I'm putting myself outside the box, out of my comfort zone and going for it! Another goal of mine is to understand how to diet better and to ultimately inspire others to a fitter lifestyle both mentally and physically.

Q. How is your motivation today?

My motivation is stronger than ever! I keep in touch with many fitminded people and within the community it helps me to stay motivated. I really want to achieve a physique i've never had. One day when I see my six pack, it will be a milestone!

Q. What words of encouragement do you have for those out there that are willing to give up so easily?

Don't give up! YOU are worth the investment. Go to the gym and workout because you value yourself and not because you don't like what you see in the mirror.

Q. Any other words?

Aside from the description I gave before, I want to also say that from what I've learned, patience and consistency are very important in reaching our weight loss goal. It takes time and not overnight results. And the mind is more powerful than you think. Let your mind tell your body what to do. Don't let your body tell your mind! Louisa May Alcott once said, "I'm not afraid of the storms for I'm learning how to sail my ship."  In your weight loss goals, don't be discouraged or dismayed at the hurdles that may come your way.  You are learning along the way and will be able to navigate your way in time.

Thank you!

Mitchie Sarmiento

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Colleen's Inspirational Story

This is Colleen's story, from very unhealthy and on medication for so many problems to happy and medication free! This can be done for everyone, if you think otherwise please read this story.
Q. Where are you from?
I am from Boston, Mass. I have lived here all of my 27 years :)
Q. Where you active in school?
 Not really. As a child I played basketball in middle school I did not do anything. in high school I did color guard with the marching band. I never really played any sports or was really physically active.
Q. What was your favorite sport?
Q. Did you always have trouble with your weight?
Not until about 11th grade. I began to just stop taking care of myself and not pay attention to what I was eating. In college I gained about 10-20 lbs a year and it just never ended. Growing up I was pretty healthy because my mother cooked all of our meals and we ate healthy. After I moved out it was just a free for all and the more I worked the more I let my health slip.
Q. You have a few health problems, tell our readers about it.
I always had health problems growing up. This is why I was never motivated to work out. I was always told "you can't do this and that". I had asthma, hypogammaglobulinemia, rheumatoid arthritis, atrial flutter, and celiac disease. I was on IV treatments until I was 19 years old for the immune disorder but since then I have gotten it under control. My arthritis is so much better since losing 64 pounds but it still is painful some days so I do take glucosamine and fish oil supplements. I have come off all of my other medications now and I feel better than I have ever felt in my life! I was taking 5-6 medicines a day.
Q. When did you decide that you needed to take control of your health?
What 25 year old has a pill box to keep their AM and PM pills? It was when I became a mom that I realized that I had needed to get healthy to take care of my daughter. I started looking at the statistics of obesity especially in children and made her healthy habits a top priority. I knew I had to be healthy right along side her to make sure to set the good example. I hope one day we will be running marathons together!
Q. You had a slip up in your weight loss battle, how did you motivate yourself to keep going?
I have been trying to lose weight for 3 years. I always would start something and never finish. I would lose 10-20lbs feel good and slack off and gain it all back and more. This time I just told myself that I have to commit to get healthy and make a lifestyle change. I do not talk about it as a diet because for me diet is a short term solution and sounds restricting causing you to be tempted to treat or make you feel as if you are depriving yourself. Committing to getting healthy and staying that way will allow it to last a lifetime. My daughter keeps me going I am always reminding myself she needs me. Also looking at progress pictures makes me want to keep pushing and reminds me of how far I have come.
Q. How has weight watchers helped you?
Weight watchers opened my eyes to portion control and calorie counting but more importantly that you can eat whatever you want just in a healthier way. There are no special foods you need to buy, no yucky shakes or anything. It just teaches you how to eat healthy and maintain it for life. It also gives you a live support group at meetings every week. Interacting with people who are going through the same challenges as you is really motivating and keeps you determined to keep going.

Q. How are you feeling today?
Great! I got in a good workout tonight and weigh in day is tomorrow and I did well with my eating and work outs this week so I should be getting good news!
Q. How is it like to currently be on no medications for your health?
AWESOME!!! First of all it saves me $50 a month! Secondly I am more energized and feel healthier than I did when I was on them!
Q. How are your eating habits now?
Diligent. I eat mainly fruits and vegetables and lean protein. I try to avoid carbohydrates and sugar. I have learned what my body responds well to and what it does not. Having Celiac disease has forced me to make better choices but also poses a challenge because many gluten free prepared foods are high in calories and fat. I cook everyday and we only eat out 2x a month. This has helped a lot.
Q. How do you stay a positive role model for your child?
I just keep reminding myself that she needs me. When I look at her it makes it all worth it. I know one day she will be working out beside me and I cannot wait till we turn it into family fun to be fit!
Q. What is your favorite work out now? Kettle bells!
I discovered these recently when Jillian Michaels released her new Shred It With Weights dvd. I never knew much about them but I love it so far and plan to keep incorporating them into my weekly workout routine.
Q. Do you have any words of advice for those out there that want to give up?
When you think you want to quit just look back at the reasons why you began and ask yourself if any of it has changed. Know that when you stick with it and push through the challenges you WILL succeed and you can do this. There are tons of people and resources out there all for free just waiting to help! No matter how many times you have a setback and no matter how large or small it is, ALWAYS get back up and keep going. The new day always comes and it is never to late to begin.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cancer to Buff: Jill Tellefsen-Crean's Amazing Story

My Friend Jason Adams who also did an interview on my blog told me about Jill. She truly has an amazing story about surviving cancer.  Jill also just completed the NPC East Coast Oct 2nd and placed 2nd in Figure C open, and 5th place in Masters Figure 35+

Q. Where are you from?
I am from Bergen County NJ!  I grew up in Old Tappan...I am currently living in Pearl River, NY which is only about 10 min from where I grew up.  I guess I didn't get very far!  LOL!

Q. Do you have any children?
I do not have any children.  I have 2 cats and 2 hampsters that I call my children.
Q. How long have you been physically active for?
 I had always be physically active, from basketball in elementary school to track in high school.  I ran 100m, 200m. Did high jump and long jump.

Q. Were you always into working out?
No. Actually I wasn't.  My sister tried to rope me in a couple times, but I was more into hanging out with my friends and shopping. Working out didn't come into the picture until I turned 30!  I was out of shape, eating horribly, and overweight...I wasn't happy with myself any longer.  I decided its my 30th and its time for change...and Change I did!  I am 5'7". And when I started I was 168lbs and 32% BMI and I wore a size 10/12. I ate taco bell and boston market and mcdonalds!  UGH...thinking about it now makes me sick...I completely turned my life and physique around!  People must realiz you can't just "diet". Its about life style change. Making the proper choices and sticking with it. There is no quick easy solution..if there was everyone would be fit.  Its a journey...and a very fulfilling one if you choose to follow it!

 Q. How long have you been competing for and how many competitions have you done?

I starting competing about 5 years ago!  I was prepping for my wedding and my trainer at that time told me I looked great and should give figure a try.  I never thought I could get up there, much less belong on that stage. But I got excited. It lit something inside me, so I did one. 2 weeks before my wedding no less and I got 3rd place..and that was that :).  I have done 4 shows. My 5th one is coming up this Saturday October 2nd. I am doing the NPC East Coast. I will be in Figure Open- C class, and Masters Figure-C class.

Q. What is your favorite cheat meal?
ANYTHING chocolate!!! LOL. But I also enjoy a really good burger and french fries and my husband's homemade pizza and chocolate chip pancakes!!!

Q. What do you do for a living?
I am a 911 operator/police dispatcher for a police dept in Suffern, NY.  I have been a dispatcher for the past 23 years.

Q. How do you balance your high stress job, family and keeping a strict work out schedule?
Balance is key!!  I am very obessive compulsive, and very strict and stick to my schedule.  I work the 3x11 tour, so my workouts are done first thing, followed by food shopping and food prep. I then shower and head to work.  After work I hang with the hubby and play with my pets. On my days off I do my chores, hang with my family and friends, and just relax!

Q. You are a 2x cancer survivor. When did you have this disease?
I was 22 years old when I was first diagnosed with cancer. That time, I had Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. I had a 6 inch tumor between my heart and my lungs.  I had to go through 6 months of chemo and 6 weeks of radiation..and knock wood..have been in remission from it since!

I was 39 when I was diagnosed with cancer yet again. Apparently cancer likes my genes...lol. This time Ovarian Cancer.  I had Borderline Serus Tumor.  So this time there was no chemo and no radiation..I did have to have a complete hysterectomy but my surgeon got all the cancer, and once again I am in remission.  I thank God everyday when I wake up to be here and be living a healthy active life.

Q. How did fitness help you through these tough times?
The first time I was diagnosed I was not into fitness.  I tried to join a gym, but the gym would not sign me up because my doctor said my heart rate could not get up too high and because I could go into heart failure so they kind of freaked out and turned me away.  The second time I had cancer I firmly believe if I wasn't in as good a shape as I was I never could have bounced back so quickly.  I was back at work 3 weeks after my hysterectomy, and back in the gym on the treadmill about 2 weeks after as well :)

Q. Who are the people that helped you through all of this?
My husband Michael, my family and my friends have helped me through all of this. I am grateful for everyone in my life. I am very blessed to have such a great support system.

Q. How do you think fitness and a healthy lifestyle changed your life?
I think it changed my life style for the better.  I am in the best shape of my life. Both physically and mentally I am better at 42 then I was at 22!! 

Q. How important do you think physical activity and healthy eating is for everyone out there?
I think its very important.  Too many people are sedentary as are children now a days. Sitting in front of the tv or computer rather then outside playing ball or riding bikes with their friends.  Everyone looks at the size of things and they supersize everything instead of eating a normal portion of food.  Most people don't even realize what it is they are putting in their mouths!  They should read labels and eat healthy meals. Make smarter choices.  We are an obese nation and if you look around at all the fast foods and processed foods and gigantic portions you will see what I am talking about. And not just with foods but drinks as well! All those sugary coffee drinks, or smoothies.  And certain protein bars, people are eating these thinking they are healthy but a snickers bar would be a better choice then to certain bars out there. Ok...I will stop with my food rant for now :)

Q. Does your story help inspire people in your life?
You know that's a good question..I'm not quite sure! LOL. Though my sister Lynn tells me she is inspired by me, as does my husband Michael, and my girlfriend Grace and Beth, and Jillian....so I guess I would have to say yes!!

Q. What advice do you have for our readers who give up when something horrible happens?
That life is unpredictable and ANYTHING can happen. Both good and bad.  Just think about your goals and how badly you want something.  Gripe. Complain get it out. Then pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get right back up!!  Its sounds easy but its not. But from someone who has been there numerous times, believe me. If you want it bad enough you can and will do it!  The human spirit and will is amazing!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Alli G's Amazing Story

Alli's story is truly amazing. Going from back problems to near death and coming back stronger and healthier than ever before. If this is not inspirational, I don't know what is! Read on.

Q. Where are you from?

G'day mate! You should have a good idea by now. Haha. I was born in N.S.W., Australia and have lived here all my life. Aussie through and through.

Q. How many kids do you have?

I have two children. A boy who has just turned 7 and a girl (an indoor tornado) who is 3 and a half years old. Busy times.

Q. When did you get into fitness and working out?

I grew up being encouraged to play and exercise outside as a youngster. I was Swimming Age Champion 6 years running in high school, played soccer during my teens to early 20's and first began using a gym during high school sport activities one year. I enjoyed the challenge of lifting weights and was so interested in the science behind human movement, that I decided to go to University to study Exercise Science.

Q. You went through hard times with your health, tell us about it.

I began developing lower back pain during repetitive bending and twisting movements at work with heavy loads. Over the years, the pain gradually worsened and acute bouts of back pain became more frequent and would last for weeks, leaving me in agony. I was unable to function. It got so bad, that I had to ask my Husband to help me wipe myself on the toilet, dress me, help me into and out of bed and even feed me. Ongoing tests finally revealed I had ruptured 2 discs, which required surgery. In the next couple of years, I also developed severe, ongoing episodes of neck pain. Tests showed that I had ruptured 3 discs in my neck, one of which also required surgical removal and replacement. So I now sport 3 titanium discs in my spine. I also suffered a brain haemorrhage, 3 months prior to the lower back surgery. An aneurysm ruptured suddenly which required emergency brain surgery. I'll never forget the excruciating pain, the feeling of dread and wanting to die to escape the pain. I'm very lucky. Not only to survive it, but to be left with no long-term complications. And grateful, for such amazing Neurosurgeons.

Q. How did fitness help you through all of the hard times?

I have no doubt that my fitness level helped my ability to recover from such traumatic events. I think that exercise can also teach you a lot about yourself. You learn how to push yourself. You learn self-discipline. And willpower. You learn how to find motivation and feel inspired. You need all of these things to help you through the hard times.

Q. Who are the people in your life that helped you through this?

I am very fortunate to have had such amazing support from my husband. Not only physical assistance, but emotional support. These times were most difficult and often overwhelming, not only for me, but for him too. Challenging. My emotional state suffered. He was always there, to pick me up when I was down, to lift my chin up and help me see the sunshine. To know that life moved on. That I would move on. And that things would get better. He was right. Things did get better.

Q. How did you get yourself back in the gym?

I remember going back to the gym about 7 months after my brain surgery and at this stage it had also been about 4 months since my lower back operation. I felt very fragile and my confidence was at an all time low. It was daunting. I felt like I was learning to move again. I was scared I would hurt myself. The scar from my forehead to ear was still evident. I'd put on weight too.I felt like everyone was staring at me. It wasn't easy. Everything I had been able to do before seemed so distant. Those things now seemed unattainable. I didn't think I'd ever be able to do those things again. Fear was a major factor. I took a very slow and steady approach. I started swimming again. And I kept going to the gym. At first just to ride a bike & get some condition back. I eventually felt confident enough to use the machines to do my weights. It took some time before I began using free weights. But slowly, my fear subsided and my confidence returned. And now, there is no looking back!

Q. What kind of activities do you have your children participate in?

My children have both learned to swim & my daughter still participates in weekly swimming lessons. She also loves gymnastics. My son has just finished his very first year of soccer and loves to go indoor rock-climbing. Both love to ride their bikes, trampoline, throw a frisbee, play in the park and climb on equipment and run around being silly. I wish I had their energy!

Q. What is the typical eating habits your family has?

I like to think our eating habits are reasonably good. My children eat a healthy variety of foods. But like most children, they often object to fruit & vegetables, especially my son! My daughter is far better at trying and accepting new tastes and textures. I do most of the food preparation, so I try to incorporate 'hidden' veggies into most meals. So long as it's finely diced, they barely notice! Of course, we're not horribly strict parents and we allow the children to have some treats if they have eaten well throughout the day. And we have treats too! Moderation is key.

Q. How do you normally eat?

I'm not always well behaved. Like most people, I have weaknesses! I'm normal! Saying that I love my food is a massive understatement. Food glorious food. Mmmmmm ~dreaming~ again. Haha. Personally, I like to try and eat a good amount of protein throughout the day, from lean meats, egg whites, low-fat cottage cheese, tuna, protein shakes & occasionally protein bars. I tend to avoid starchy carbohydrates and prefer to eat more fruit & vegetables. Summer is much easier than winter, however. Less comfort food and loads of salad instead! I still enjoy red wine when I'm not being too strict. If I'm really focused, I will only allow red wine once a week.

Q. Do you and your family have any treats you like to share together?

We generally order take-away once a week. The kids like to order a Hungry Jack's Cheeseburger (and I eat the pickles! Mmmmm). My husband and I are creatures of habit and we tend to order a gourmet thin crust pizza and wedges as our weekly treat. And we all love chocolate. I mean, who doesn't? We allow our kids to have ice-cream a few times a week if they have eaten well through the day and finished their dinner.

Q. How do you find time to stay in shape with your busy life?

Finding time can often be difficult and I'd say is probably the biggest excuse people use to avoid exercise. The associated guilt with leaving the family for purely selfish reasons is not easy either. But I have learned that it's ok for me to go and workout. That I should make that time for myself. I deserve that time away, to stay fit and have a breather from home duties. To be my own person for a short while. I'm also lucky that I can schedule in a few workouts whilst the gym child-minding facilities are open. My Daughter has a play there with other kids while I workout. And by making time to stay in shape, I'm also a happier Mum and Wife. Bonus!

Q. What is your favorite exercise?

Oh, now that's a difficult question to answer! Where do I start? There are so many things I love doing. I can safely say at the moment, that my favourite exercise is NOT pushups! I'm in the middle of a '3000 pushups in 30 days' challenge, so you may understand my dislike for them. Lol. I probably favour suitcase deadlifts, overhead presses and have recently attempted single arm snatches using a barbell and have fallen in love with them! A wickedly challenging exercise.

Q. Do you have any advice for our readers out there that think that life is over when something terrible happens?

Staying positive is never easy when you're suffering acute or chronic pain or have endured a life-threatening event. Don't bottle up the way you're feeling. Talk to someone. What you're feeling is normal. Surround yourself with positive people. People that will encourage you to keep fighting, to never give up. Read some amazing autobiographies and feel inspired! Try and keep a sense of humour. Think about people that are suffering worse than you. And don't let fear get in the way. Life will get better. Look to the future and try not dwell on the past. Practice smiling again and be happy!

Thanks very much Angelique for the opportunity to be a part of your great blog. I'm honoured that you asked me to answer some questions for you. It means a lot. And thank you very much to everyone for reading. Much appreciated.