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, 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.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Interview with Marinda Carr

Marinda's weight loss story is truly inspirational since she lost 100 pounds all on her own with no help from a trainer. If you are struggling and ready to give up on losing 10 pounds, read this story.

Marinda's Story

Q. Where are you from?

A: I was born and raised in Northern California (Calaveras County) but have lived in Minnesota with my husband and son for the last 5 years.

Q. How long have you been married?

A: Michael and I have been married for 6 years and together for 9 years.

Q. Do you and your husband exercise together?

A: Now that we are living our new, healthy lifestyle, yes my husband and I work out together on the weekends. During the week being busy with work and juggling our son’s schedule, we work out on our own.

Q. Were you athletic in your teens?

A: No. I played soccer a few years when I was in middle school and high school but by no means was I athletic. I always had to play defender or goalie because I wasn’t able to do all the running that the other positions required.

Q. You lost a dramatic amount of weight without a help of a trainer, how did you do it?

A: Once I realized that it had to be a lifestyle change and not a “diet” and that weight loss was really just simple math. Calories in versus calories out. I figured I should write down everything I ate and kept a log. My husband once told me (and I am not sure where he got it or if he made it up on his own) but he told me, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” That is so true. I dropped my calorie intake down to 1,200 calories a day and started doing a lot of cardio work 4-5 days a week.

Marinda now!

Q. Where there times that you didn't think you could make it to your goal?

A: There were times that I wished my progress was further along but never did I think I couldn’t do it.

Q. What helped you stay motivated?

A: There were a couple things that kept me motivated….the first being my family and most of all, my son. We went on vacation in 2005 and I was having such a hard time keeping up with him. I was only 23 years old and I couldn't even keep up with my 3 year old son. It was then I realized that I wanted to be the fun, healthy and hip mom for my son. I did not want to be the fat and frumpy mom that is inactive and doesn’t have the energy to go out and play with their child.

The second was all my small victories along the way. Small victories like the first time I dropped a pant size, the first time I went from doing the elliptical machine because I couldn’t run to getting on the treadmill and starting to jog, to being able to run a mile and so on…I continue to have those small victories to this day and know that I will never lose my motivation again.

Q. Did you always have a battle with your weight?

A: Yes, once I hit 5th-6th grade I began to get “chubby” and it all went downhill from there. Middle school and high school, I just got heavier.

Q. What was the hardest thing to give up during your weight loss journey?

A: All my sweets! I am a huge brownie lover but had told myself that when I was initially trying to drop the weight, I could not cheat or eat any of that stuff at all. I told myself that once I dropped the weight and got my new lifestyle under control, then I could have those treats from time to time but that it had to be just that…..a treat! Not something I ate on a daily basis as I had previously.

Q. Who has been at your side from day one through all of this?

A: My husband has been a huge support for me. It is so hard to try and live a healthy lifestyle when you don’t have the support at home. You want your partner to be willing to support the healthy eating so that it makes the journey easier and he has definitely been my support throughout.

Q. What does your exercise schedule look like now?

A: I work out typically 5 to 6 days a week. I like to do quick, intense cardio session by doing speed intervals and then on to weight training. I try to focus on certain muscle group

Q. What is your favorite cheat meal?

A: That’s hard….I don’t have a cheat meal so to speak….but I do love a great brownie every now and again. If I had to choose one type of meal that isn’t the best to eat but I do love, I’d have to go with any kind of pasta dishes! I love Olive Garden! 

Q. Do people turn to you for weight loss advice? What do you tell them?

A: People close to me know my story and know how I did it. People that find out I was heavy and then lost weight, do tend to ask how I did it but I wouldn’t say they are asking for advice. Although I would love to go into personal training/nutrition some day so I could help those individuals struggling like I did for so many years.

Q. What do you think is one of the biggest contributors to the obesity crisis in North America?

A: I think there are a few things that do it. The lack of nutrition taught to kid along with the lack of exercise that a lot of kids don’t get due to watching TV, playing video games, etc. also the portion sizes that people receive and consume when they go out to eat. It seems like portions keep getting larger and larger along with our society.

Q. What advice do you have for our readers who are struggling with their weight loss?

A: I would tell them that they have to be ready to make the change for themselves and not anyone else. I would also tell them that they have to realize that it is a lifestyle change and not a diet. If you watch what you eat, lose the weight and then go right back to your old habits, you will gain your weight back and nothing will change. Another important thing is to realize it is just simple math, the calories in versus calories out and needing to burn more than you consume to lose weight. There is no miracle pill or diet out there that will just take the weight off for you. It takes hard work and determination and most of all, commitment. If you can commit to making the change, you will be successful.

Great words of advice Marinda! This is the thing that people need to realize, it is not a diet, it is a lifestyle change that has to remain with you forever, not just until the weight is gone. Congrats on your success! ~Angelique

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fitness Model Chady Dunmore's Story

I had the pleasure of interviewing Fitness Model and Cover Girl Chady Dunmore. She landed the cover for Fitness RX Magazine June 2010. Chady lives in Sacramento California and goes to Los Angeles for work. Here is her story.

Q. How long have you been working out?

- I have been athletic my whole life but training in the gym I would say 3years

Q. How many kids do you have?

-1 beautiful 4year old girl

Q. How did you start up as a fitness and bikini model?

- I have modeled since I was 13yrs old but as fitness/bikini model that happened almost 2years ago. I got discovered by Photographer Mike Byerly who highly suggested FMI (Fitness Model International) conference and said I had what it takes to be a Cover Model. Went to the conference last year and Viola!!!

Q. How many shows have you competed in and what was your best placing?

-7 shows total

-Best placing & highlight would have to be winning the Amateur Arnold Bikini Championships in the Tall Class & Overall:-)

Q. Do you still compete now?

-Yes. I just got my pro card as a bikini competitor and will compete in the WBFF Bikini Pro Diva Championships this Sept18 in Toronto, Canada

Q. You are on the recent cover of "Fitness RX", how does this make you feel?

-On Top of the World.... I still am pinching myself!!! LOL

Q. Have you landed covers of any other magazines?

- I have, but not a national magazine with a 10 page spread on ME!!!

Q. What is your family's favorite activity to do as a group?

-EAT !!! I'm Puerto Rican so a home cooked meal is where we are happiest I think!!

Q. How important do you think it is for parents to keep their kids active?

--EXTREMELY!! My mom had my twin brother and I in sports all through grade school so having a schedule/ playing with a team builds character and goals throughout your life.

Q. What is your family's favorite treat?


Q. You went through a hard time with your pregnancy, tell our readers more about this.

-I was diagnosed with a kidney disease when I was 4 yrs old, so becoming pregnant put me at a high risk. My activity level was limited and I gained a TON of weight....70lbs to be exact!

Q. How did fitness change your life?

-As funny as this sounds, you learn so much about yourself on a diet!! Its a mental game and you teach yourself so much discipline!

My health has improved since I am more conscious of my eating and fluid intake which is so important living with a kidney disease.

Q. Who are the people that stuck by your side and helped you through the tough times?

-black coffee!!! What would I do without him? LOL

-My family!!! AND this amazing man named SID :-)

Q. How long did it take to lose the weight?

-4-5 LONG months I was hardcore though and went through post partum depression, so I was a machine. Building muscle was a much harder...

Q. Where there times that you felt like giving up? How did you get through it?

-YES YES YES!!!! I'm human and there was countless times I would wake up SO sore asking myself...why? Just go back to sleep and be a normal mom....BUT I couldnt. I want to set an example to my daughter that if you believe in yourself, you can make anything happen.

Q. Do you have any advice for our readers out there that have gone or going through the same thing?

-Discipline is remembering what you want. If you can survive the hell...the payoff is HUGE!!! Being healthy and living an active lifestyle is SO important. Setting a goal will inspire another person to... keep the ball rolling:-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kris Fulford's Story

This is Kris Fulford's story. His story very important to me because cancer runs in my family as well, and just like Kris, I find it very important to keep fit and healthy to battle this terrible disease. Please read on.

Interview with Kris Fulford, Birmingham, Alabama

Q. Where are you from?

A. I was born in Selma, Alabama but now live in Birmingham Alabama with my Wife, Jennifer, and Daughter, Mckinley.

Q. You have a family history of cancer which started you on your weight loss journey, tell us about it in detail.

A. Yes, I have had a pretty long history of cancer in my close family starting with one of my Aunts who passed away when she was young, way before my time. Next was my Grandfather on my Mom's side who passed when I was about 5. There were quite a few years until this horrible disease crept back into my life but next was my Grandmother on my dads side. They did not catch her cancer until it was in a very late stage and she ended up passing away from it. Next not to long after that, and just a few years ago, was my other grandmother, from my Mom's side. She had fought the cancer for years but ultimately she lost the battle in Feb 14 2008. Then Lastly, even though not blood relation, my Step dad had cancer as well and he ended up loosing his battle exactly 1 year to the day from my Grandmother's death on Feb 14 2009. Around the end of the year in 2008 I was really upset with myself and the way I had let myself get out of shape. I had ballooned up to an all time high of 242 pounds at my heaviest, I did not feel good and I had no energy. Knowing the history of cancer as well as other medical problems such as High Cholesterol and High Blood pressure in my family, I decided enough was enough and I got to work Feb 8 2009 to make a better, happier, healthier version of me.

Q. Were you always battling with your weight?

A. No, I was always playing sports from the age of about 5 through High School. Then in college I continued hitting the gym pretty hard, eating pretty much anything I wanted the entire time. After I met my wife in College and started dating her more and getting serious I was not getting to the gym as much, then eventually not at all. After we were married and I would get on a kick and workout for a couple of weeks here and there, but nothing steady. Right after we got married I started a new job and I was sitting at a desk 8 hours a day so after that my activity level was cut by about 75% but my calories were not. So the pounds started piling on. I started dating my wife in 1998 and was 165 pounds, then as I mentioned before in 2009 I was up to 242. Granted I was caring around more muscle, it was not even close to being all muscle that I had gained.

Q. How tough was it to lose all the weight?

A. It was tough making the sacrifices in food choices and getting over that first few weeks was hard. The place where I work was not much of a help either, it is a software company and there is always someone bringing in donuts or it is someones birthday so they would have cake or something like that. So my will power was tested all the time. I will not lie and tell you that I was good all the time, there were many times when I gave in and pigged out. I made myself pay for it in the next workout though!! There were a couple of sayings that really helped me through though. "Nothing tastes as good as being Fit Feels" which is so true and "Do not ask for this to be easy, ask for it to be worth it". I knew that if I paid the price and sacrificed now it would be so worth it in the end and I was right!!

Q. What was the hardest thing to give up while you were shedding the pounds?

A. Being from the south I absolutely Love BBQ, and still do. So backing off from the Ribs, Pulled Pork and other forms of BBQ I love was hard. Not to mention the Pizza, Mexican and so many others that were so good and I have a sweet tooth that does not quit. Luckily I found a Protein Shake that helped with these sweet cravings. My workouts were not that hard to adapt into my life because I have always enjoyed lifting weights so that transition was not that hard. The hard thing for me was incorporating vegetables into my diet. I hated veggies and was always a meat and potatoes kind of guy. After weeks of forcing them down I have grown to like a bunch of them now.

Q. Your journey hit another major bump with the sudden loss of your father. Tell us about it.

A. Yes, In June of this year, I received a phone call from my Step Mom who was crying saying that my dad had had a sudden heart attack and I needed to get down there as fast as possible. My dad was an overweight man who was on medication for High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol and was a smoker, so I knew that this would be a possibility one day but that is always one of those it will never happen to me kind of things. Well it did happen!! I live about 2 hours from where my dad and Step Mom do and I made it that day in about an hour and a half, and that included stopping for gas. (Sorry Mr Police Man). The emergency personnel and doctors were able to get his heart back beating for a little bit and he fought for a while. I did not make it in time though, by the time I got there it was too late and I did not get to see him alive one more time. Understandable this was very hard for me seeing as he was still young being only 55 years old and it being so sudden. I turned to food to help me through this time but luckily I had been in fit mode for over a year and had made drastic changes in my lifestyle and habits. I did eat things that I know I should not have but I did not eat as much or as many thing as I know I would have before I started on my change. I did gain weight and most of it was fat I know it was not as much as it would have been before I made the change in my life.

Kris and his Father and Daughter

Q. What made you decide that enough was enough to go further with your weight loss goals?

A. Before my Dad Passed I was thinking of doing an adventure race that was down in his area, so that he and the rest of my family could come out and see me race and hopefully inspire them to get out and be more active as well. Well after this happened to my Dad I wanted to make sure and do everything that I could to make sure I was a fit as I could be so that the history of Cancer, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol and now a heart attack would not be something that my wife and little girl would have to worry about. So I decide it is something I would do and I am now entered in that race that takes place on Oct 2. You can enter the race as a team or do it solo, so I decided to enter the race solo and race in the memory and honor of my dad. My wife and I are also running in an 8k Sept 4, it will help with my training for my adventure race but it is also keeping with this goal. One last thing is ever since I was in high school I have wanted that ever so coveted 6 pack. I was never serious enough about my nutrition to have them though. A few weeks after my dad was gone I made a promise to him that I was going to see this through and I was going to get to that 6% Body Fat that I have always wanted then maintain a single digit body fat for the rest of my life. That is one promise that I intend to keep!!!

Q. Did you ever feel like giving up?

A. Seeing as my reasons for getting started was health related and being disgusted with the way I looked, I never really had the desire to quit. Now there were a lot of times when I wanted to eat everything in the house or take on a whole gallon of Ice cream, large pizza or a pound of BBQ all by myself. I kept my goals in mind and stood strong, most of the time any way. :-)

Q. How often do you work out and what does your work out schedule look like?

A. For the first 6 months I followed a 2 day split and repeated it 2X a week. So I would do Chest, Shoulders and Tris On Monday, then Legs, Back and Biceps on Tuesday. Take Wednesday off then Shoulders and Tris again on Thursday and Legs, Back and Biceps again on Friday. Then have the weekend off as well. My exercises were usually 3 sets of 2 exercise super set with 1 minute of cardio (usually on the treadmill) between sets instead of a rest. Then 3 more sets of a single exercise to finish off that body part with the same cardio between sets. The workouts typically lasted 45 - 80 minutes long and always had me dripping with sweat. I started very light with the weights and worked my way up to where I could lift heavy again. I was super proud the last week of my 1st 12 week challenge because I had worked back up to squatting over 300 pounds for my full 3 sets of 8 again, something I had not done since I was 19. I am now following a 5 day split with 1 body part on each day still going with the supersets and cardio between sets instead of rest. Once I hit my goal of 6% I will probably back off the cardio between sets and just do some extra cardio during the week on my bike or running in the great outdoors.

Q. What other fitness related goals did you achieve?

A. After I made up my mind that I was sick and tired of the way I looked and felt and wanted to make a change, I received a notification that a new fitness website called FastTrackToFatloss.com was opening that offered to provide nutrition and workout plans as well as your own personal trainer. So I signed up the day it opened. I started my weight loss journey with the idea of just getting back in shape and loosing weight so my health and energy was better. I was looking for about 20 pounds or so, I lost half of that in the first 2 weeks and ended up loosing 29 pounds in the first 12 week challenge I entered. I did not win that round but was a runner up. So I decided to try again and really work hard and see what I could do. By the end of the 2nd round I was down a total of 50 pounds of fat and had dropped from 27% body fat to just under 10%. This time I was the Co-Winner of the 12 week Challenge with another lady.

I have started running and entering in a few races here and there. I ran in the Camp Pendleton Mud Run in June (Before everything happened with my Dad) with a bunch of friends from the FastTrack site. If we would have changed our team from being an all male team to a coed team (We had a member drop out and a girl joined in with us) we would have taken 3rd in the coed division. That was my first race over a 5k and I only did one 5k before that and that was when I was 18. I have several races planed now, an 8k Sept 4th, an Adventure Race (4 mile trail run, 8 mile Mountain bike, 8 mile Kayak) Oct 2 and I am thinking of doing the Tough Mudder in Atlanta Ga in 2011.

Q. Who has had your back from day one?

A. My Wife and Daughter first and foremost, but my entire family and all of our friends are all very supportive. My little girl, who is 5, would come down in my "Man Room/ Gym" in the basement while I was working out and "Help" me with my workouts. :-) My wife was always very understanding with me getting up at 5am to workout or making my own food when they were having something that was not in my nutrition plan and all the extra sweaty clothes from me working out 4+ times a week some times 2x a day. Not to mention all the times with me chasing her around the house all sweaty from working out and her yelling ewwww trying to get away. She has been great and even would take foods away from me when I was about to eat something bad and tell me that is not on your plan!! Love you Babe!!

Q. How do you educate others to stay fit and healthy?

A. After I finished my first 12 week round I knew I wanted to help others do the same thing, then after I finished the second round, I knew I had to help others feel the way I felt. So I started studying to take my Personal Trainer Certification test. So in March I took my ACE Certified Personal Trainer test and passed. So I now try to help everyone I can both on the FastTrackToFatLoss.com site as well as in everyday life. This started as just a way to get myself in better shape but it has turned into a passion of mine and I am loving every minute of it!!

June Mud Run Finish!

Q. Does your state have an obesity problem? If so, what are the reasons that caused this problem?

A. The CDC did a study on obesity trends a few months ago and Alabama was one of the few states in the country with over 30% of the population being considered obese. I think a lot of it has to do with the abundance of fried foods in the south not to mention all of the other foods that are no good for you. There are cities and suburbs in the state where there are a lot of fitness activities that go on but I would say it is the exception and not the norm unfortunately.

Q. Do you have weekly cheat meals? If so, what do you eat?

A. I do I usually allow myself 1 maybe 2 "Treat" Meals a week. I like to call them treat meals because when I say Cheat meal I feel like I have done something wrong, when in fact it is just the opposite. I am treating myself, within reason, for doing a good job with my nutrition and workouts the rest of the week. I will have a variety of foods on my Treat meals it could be, Mexican, Pizza, BBQ, or a nice desert. I do not limit my foods in my Treat meals, I will however watch the portions and will increase my workout and add a little extra cardio on that day to help take care of the extra calories.

Q. Do you have any advice for our readers out there who think there is no way out?

A. First and foremost there is always a way out, it is never too late!! You just have to make up your mind that there is not anything in this world that is going to keep you from reaching your goal!! No matter what anyone says, what you have read, what you have seen, if you want it, it is yours for the taking. Work hard and take it. All you have to do is get on a Nutrition and Workout Plan and stay on it consistently. You may stumble from time to time, I know I did, but you keep going. Next, forget about the scale, judge your progress by the way your clothes fit, your body measurements and if you have access your Body Fat %. That number on the scale means nothing and can drive you crazy. Besides if you are on the beach with ripped abs would you care what the number on the scale was? I know I will not!!

I will be straight with you it is not always easy but back to my previous quote "Do not ask for this to be easy, ask for it to be worth it" Getting fit, knowing you are healthy for your family and reaching your goals is so very much worth it!!!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Peter Haenga Interview

Peter added me as a friend on facebook and I came across his bio and I really wanted his story out there for people to read. So amazing.

Peter Haenga Interview,  Gisborne, New Zealand

Q: when did i start working out ?

A: I started back training way back in November 5th 2008

Q: You have had amazing life journey tell us about that ?

A: Back in 2003 I was diagnose with cancer, but there is more to this story as well. I was brutally assaulted too. I guess I should thank the guy that assault me because without the assault, the doctors would have not found the cancer growth just below the left side of my face .

I also suffered serious head & brain injuries as well from the assault . But toughest moment was when my beloved was diagnose with breast cancer about a year later in 2004 & passed away in 2006 .

After my beloved mum had died from 2006 to 2008 I went from 187 lbs to 264 lbs because i suffered from depression after losing my mum to breast cancer and my only source of comfort was food .

Q: When you look at yourself now how do you feel ?

A: When i look at myself now its a totally change to how I was like back in 2003 having been diagnose with cancer & having to deal with a brain injury & then the sudden lose of my beloved mum .

Today I am  a lot stronger mentally and now physically too . I did carry some blame to for awhile though when my beloved mum had passed away. I thought "why didnt God just take me instead of my mum?"

But over time I learned to let that go and that my beloved mum's journey had come to and end and mine had just begun. Now I serve a purpose, to share my story with others and maybe help others now who maybe have a similar situation to me, and you can come out the other side and give them some hope as well .

Q: When you found out you had cancer how did you get through it ?

A: When i first found out I had cancer, Iwas so scared and I didnt know what to do. What got me through all this was my parents, especially my mum she knew that I needed to come home. Mothers know when their children are in trouble. Also the belief in God that got me through the cancer and having that faith which my mum and dad installed in me and my brothers & sister .

Q: Who are the most important people /person through all this ?

A: The first person would be my faith in God . My beloved mother and my dad & family. Another important person is my online trainer Elise Firestone we met on bodybuilding.com, a social bodybuilding website . Elise has trained me for the last two years. And then there is my nephew, my inspiration. He was the one that turned it all around for me. After seeing me become overweight like straight out of childs mouth saying I was fat, I decided I had to make a change for the better. Then there are countless others: Sam cairns & Gerald Ingram my best friends. Elise Firestone trainer, Tammy Renee world physique magazine . Rebecca Hahn , Candace Howell Stupek , Steve Poytner, Mindy Kurek, Gina Ostarly these people have been greatest supporters .

Q: How long have been in remission?

A: Its been almost 7 years now ive been in remission

Q: How has training hard helped you through all the tough times?

A: Training hard must definitely has helped me through the tough times. Just helped me focused more on feeling good about myself and taking all my frustrations and stress out on the iron and weights. A real good stress reliever for sure.

Q: How often do you train during the week ?

A: Usually 4 -5 days a week I make sure I get a few days to rest but sometimes thats harder to do during competition time though.

Q: Whats my favourite excerise ?

A; Its got to be wide grip chin ups i love doing my back exercises .

Q: Whats does your diet consist of ?

A: Chicken, red meat, fish, eggs, veggies, sweet potatoes, green beans, broccoli , raw almonds , raw cashew nuts, fish oils, omega 3.

Q: W is your favourite cheat meal

A: Pizza Hut and KFC

Q: Do you have any advice for our readers

Just never give up or never stop trying even when things seem tough. Set yourself goals and go after them and always try to surround yourself with positive and like minded people.

To fail is not failure.Failure is when you give up.

Thanks Angelique for giving me a chance to share my story and God bless you and your readers as well


Interview with Jason Adams

Let me just start off by saying that Jason has worked so hard this year and has come a long way, fighting through pain, 2x per day work outs and has helped so many people like myself in the bodybuilding industry, getting our names out there and promoting us with his blog. Thank you so much, you deserve the best.

Interview with Jason Adams, Lakewood, Ohio

Jason and Sara Schumann

Q: When and why did you decide to start working out?

A: I really don't think there is one specific single answer to this. It is a collection of things. When I was young I always wanted to be like the huge bodybuilders but was in a weird way embarrassed to workout. Can't explain why. Then I got really out of shape and was even more embarrassed by that. I decided to change it a few years ago and joined a gym, but was clueless about how to properly train and gave up quick. Then I started my blog interviewing female competitors and got inspired. And said now is the time. I learned the right way to do it, and now I am on my way. I have a degenerative hip condition and been in pain basically my whole life. So another reason is to prove to anyone that it can be done.

Q: You have recently lost a lot of weight, tell us about that.

A: When I started my "journey" I was 292 pounds. Started trying to learn the diet and got some help with moderate success and dropped about 20 pounds. Then about 14 weeks ago I hired Danny J Johnson to do my diet and it took off. In about 14 weeks with her I have lost over 60 more pounds. As of today I currently weight 210 pounds. So I am down 82 pounds now. It is a combination of dieting and training. I have more to go and still consider myself overweight, but I know I will get there.

Q: How has all this strict working out and strict eating affected your social life?

A: Honestly I never really had much of a social life. But that was by choice. I am not a party person. If I go out, it is just to see a movie. I have more fun alone watching a sporting event or something than going out. That being said, it has changed some things. Really where it affects me is I am currently not working and instead of looking for a job I go to the gym. A friend gets fast food, I have to wait for my chicken in the microwave. But I like the affects it has had. The gym is where I am comfortable, it is where I like to be. So I really feel all effects it has had have been for the positive. Some people may be confused by that, but it is what works for me.

Q: How has this lifestyle change been on you?

A: 100% positive. Obviously I am much more healthy now. But I am mentally healthy as well. It has allowed me to learn a passion. I actually believe in myself, and that is something I struggled a long time with. I am going to tell you something very few know. I will tell you this because Danny J (my trainer) had the courage to reveal her story so I feel I can do the same. I was for a very long time what you would call suicidal. I thought daily about ending my life. Mainly because I considered myself a failure. I saw no way anything good could come of my life. But this new lifestyle has taught me that things to come of your life, you make things happen in your life. I am happy with who I am, I like the person I am, and the gym and what I am doing have been a big help in that.

Danny J

Q: What has been the hardest thing to give up?

A: Most people would say the food or something like that. For me the hardest thing to give up has been negativity. I was just so used to being negative. You spend so much time being down on yourself and thinking you are nothing, then suddenly all this people are calling you inspiring and looking to you for inspiration. It is just weird. You feel you have to be positive. You have to because if someone actually does look up to you or is inspired by you, you feel you have to be positive for them. But even more you have to do it for yourself. Even a month ago if I had a day when my weight was up one pound I would get so upset. Now I can just say "that's fine, it will come back off" and I know it will. Yes I still have bad days, and yes I will still have them, but that are few and far between. I am positive now. So negativity and being down on myself was the hardest thing to give up.

Q: What is your favorite cheat meal?

A: This is the easiest question there is to answer. Meatball sub from Subway. I could live on those. Also my mom's potato salad is right up there to.

Q: How did you used to eat?

A: If I was hungry I ate. And usually it wasn't food that was good for me. If I was at the store buy some ice cream or chips. I worked at pizza shops for a long time and was always eating a lot of that food. I ate some healthy foods but that was in addition to eating a lot more unhealthy food.

Q: What does your diet consist of now.

A: Danny J designs my entire diet. I do not eat a thing without her approval. Right now I am eating 8 meals a day, three of which are protein shakes. Each meal has my protein, veggies, etc. Lots of chicken and veggies. Some people think it sounds boring, but you get used to it. I am going to let everyone in on a really big secret HEALTHY FOOD IS ACTUALLY GOOD TASTING. O.K., so that's not a big secret, but alot of people don't know that. They think healthy food means lots of salads, ad maybe some twigs.

Q: What has been the best thing to come out of this?

A: The answer everyone wants is that I am healthy. Well I have to disappoint everyone. That isn't the best thing that has come out of this. The best thing that has come out of this is my Hero Danny J Johnson. She is what I call the light at the end of the dark tunnel that has been my life. She is the most amazing and inspiring person I know. Having her in my life has made me a better person. I could not do what I am doing without her. As a guy I admit when I first saw her she was just some beautiful woman. But now everyone tells me she is beautiful, or hot, as they say. I simply say that I do not look at her like that. She has gone from some beautiful woman in the fitness industry to being everything to me. I look up to her, I admire her, I am inspired by her, and I am a better person because of her. Sh doesn't train me in just fitness, she trains me in life.

Jason and Jamie Eason

Q: You have a long term goal of competing in bodybuilding. When and where do you think that will be?

A: Actually me and Danny just decided to do the Emerald Cup in April 2012. That is a very big show and I have a long way to go to be ready for that. But I would rather do a big show and finish last than do Bob's Bodybuilding Championship in front of 16 fans and win the whole thing. This isn't about winning for me. It is about proving something. I am planning to at some point next year move to Las Vegas and train there and I know I will be ready. Several people have said that when I compete it will be this huge fitness industry all-star get together for people to support me. I don't know if that is true, but that would mean more to me than some trophy.

Q: You have had a lot of guidance along the way. Who has been the most important people to help you through all the hard work?

A: I want to point out a couple people:

Elise Firestone: Always been so encouraging. YOu are for sure doing my tan when I am on stage

Kayte Steenberg: Just an icnreidbly inspiring woman destined for great things

Terri Chadwick Edwards: Never allows me to get upset always has my back.

Mascha Tieken: Always a huge help to me

Gail Auerbach: Also so encouraging to me

Tisha Rodrigues: Twafy, you are the best and I owe you so much

Lisa Zisa: A great woman always encourages me. Lisa you rock

Ali Dies: Such an amazing woman and an honor to know her

Heather Kilgore: Someone I admire and respect so much

Zoa Linsey: Zoa told me if you act like a bodybuilder and train like you are a
bodybuilder, than you are a bodybuilder. Zoa I am a bodybuilder and thanks for making me
know that.

Tiffany Forni: Tiffany did what I am trying to do and has supported me the whole way.

Michelle Russell: The owner of my favorite arms in the sport. Always supports me. Love

Nicole Gray: Nicole has been so supportive of me, and reading her Facebook posts about
going to the gym always fires me up.

Kala Moak: We met under strange circumstances but she has become so important to me and
my BFF (inside joke). Nicest woman you will ever meet.

Shirley Madera: Just a class woman and so supportive of and helpful to me

Belinda Hope: When I am in need of a quick pick me up, I got to Belinda. She believes in
me as much as anyone.

Jill Crean: Amazing woman with an amazing story. I always say that when I grow up I want
to be Jill Crean. Just an incredible woman.

Sarah Kinney: My studdette. She offered to help me before anyone else and I will never
ever forget her for it.

Kortney Olson: Kortney has a special place in my heart and she knows why. Love ya K.O.

Allison Moyer: Allison is amazing. What I love most is she talked to me for awhile about
my own low self esteem before she even knew me and made me feel better. The world needs
more Allison Moyer's.

Sue Scheppele: Simply put, the reason I fell in love with bodybuilding.

Tonia Moore: Battling her disease and fighting hard to get back. Tonia, luv ya.

LeslieRae Newton: Always been behind me, and supporting me

Tonia Goodman: as inspiring a woman as you will ever meet.

Megan Melone: My pitbull. Always has my back and defends me

Colleen Tanner: A special friend and I hope she knows how good she can be.

Erika Shingary: Erika made me feel accepted and god about myself. Forever in debt.

Macey Leigh: Macey, you know I love you to death.

Vanessa Prebyl: Vanessa is amazing and I owe her more than she knows.

Angelique Kronebusch: Angelique you have supported me from the day we met and you are a
blessing to me.

Sara Schumann: My newest trainer and a special special woman. I have learned so much
from her. Sara thank you.

JT Wood: One of my trainers. JT is a bodybuilder, and didn't look at me as the fat guy
saying he wanted to be a bodybuilder. He saw me as the guy that can be one and made me
feel comfortable. Owe him a ton.

Danny J Johnson: Said so much about her already, but I hope she knows how important she
is to me. Danny when I am 80 years old I still want you handling my diet.

Please if I forgot you accept my apology. So hard to remember everyone. I know I forgot
a few.

Q: Do you think the obesity epidemic is out of control in your country?

A: Sure is. And it is easy to understand why. Every year there is a new amazing video game. Kids are not encouraged to play outside. They grow up on video games and therefore at a young age it starts with the lack of exercise, and like I said about my negativity, you get used to it. So these young people are growing up out of shape. It isn't the kids fault. They are doing what they are shown to do. Parents need to get their kids outside playing sports, eating better. Do I see it changing? Not at all. Because no one is out there trying to educate. That is why I felt I as hard as it is for me to accept it when someone calls me inspiring, I need to embrace it, and so do others because there are so many inspiring people. I asked one girl one simple diet question and she asked me to pay her for it. That scares people away. Let's get a Government funded program where they hire the Danny Johnson's, the Jaime Eason's, the Tiffany Forni's, formulate a plan with those great minds and see how we can better educate the country. Every street you see a McDonald's or a Taco Bell and that makes it hard to pass up food that does taste good and is easier than going home to make it. You have politicians trying to get rid of strip clubs and adult book stores because they pollute the mind or whatever, well why the hell aren't they doing anything to get rid of some of the fast food joints that pollute the body?

Q: Do you feel your story can help others reach their weight loss goals?

A: I struggled with this. For some reason people latch on to me and use me as inspiration. It feels weird and I feel I don't deserve it and there are better choices. But I think it is because I am so open about everything. Yeah, I guess it can help others and if it does, I am flattered and honored. This was always supposed to be my journey, my goal, all about me. It isn't anymore. I was never looking to inspire anyone, but apparently I do. And that's great because all those people who email me and ask for my help and tell me their amazing stories also inspire me.

Q: When you look at yourself, how do you feel:

A: Sometimes I look at myself and feel great about how far I have come and sometimes I feel I have so far to go. But Either way it is a good feeling because as far as I have to go, I will get there. I really feel so much better about the person I am becoming, mentally and physically. Wearing clothes that haven't fit for years is a tremendous feeling.

Q: Do you have any advice for our readers?

A: This journey for me is to get on stage. To have my moment. My moment on stage where I can say "I did this. I did what people said I couldn't do" That's what it is all about, my moment. Everyone deserves their moment. But it doesn't just happen. Make it happen. If someone says you cant do it, don't get upset, embrace it. Welcome those haters. Because those are the people who are going to look stupid when you prove them wrong. Don't expect changes overnight. It takes time, but that time it takes is what will make it so rewarding. There is a line in a song that I think of everyday it goes " I am stronger than they think, they can push me to the brink again, cause now I know I'll win". Let people tell you you can't do it, but NEVER let them actually convince you cant do it. You deserve your moment, you want it, go get it. And If you need someone to talk to someone to ask advice, or someone just to convince you you can do it, I am always an email away elway78@netzero.com.

Angelique, thank you for interviewing me, it is an honor, and thank you for being a friend, you are a special and important part of my life.