I am a mother of two children and have a formal background in mathematics, statistics, fluid dynamics, and finance. My body metrics are 5’4”, 115 lbs, 33-27-36, estimated 24% bodyfat.
I began working out when I was 16 years old, at the recommendation of my doctor. At 5’4” and 95 lbs, I was not about to argue. The local gym had a selection of cardio equipment and weight machines, and I happily spent most of my time with the weight machines, tired of being skinny and unable to gain weight. Minor changes to my diet were also made, mostly in terms of swapping some simple carbohydrates with yogurt and milk. Within 8 months, I had added about four pounds of muscle, which helped me fill out a bit. I definitely looked better, but progress was slow and it seemed out of proportion with my efforts.
I then moved away to attend university, and continued to work out at the campus gym, starting my days at 5:00 AM to fit in a decent workout before classes. As my studies picked up in difficulty and sleep became more precious, I slowly abandoned my workout routine and my diet deteriorated causing weight gain.
I continued to neglect my health until I was deep in graduate studies out West. I was in an airport convenience store, browsing the magazine rack to find something to read during a long flight to a conference, and my eyes were drawn to the image of a very fit woman with some muscle definition and perfect curves. I so badly wanted to look like that! That issue of Muscle and Fitness Hers (MFH) introduced me to the idea of fitness as a lifestyle.
I renewed my commitment to early morning workouts, and made the dietary adjustments necessary to be healthy, along with a large increase in my protein intake. I began spending more time in the weight room at my gym, and the results were impressive. I had never before as easily lost as much fat, nor had I yet looked as toned and defined. The switch from cable machines to free weights was key. There was still a long way to go, but I was on the right path. Yet, again, I allowed myself to get sidetracked by other things in life, especially work and school. The harsh winter also sapped my interest in early morning excursions to the gym, and made it easier for me to say, “I will just pick it up again when the weather is better.” Yikes!
It was my husband who sparked my fierce re-entry into the fitness world. He too had succumbed to the 'too busy' excuses and had quickly gained back all of the weight he lost over his years of exercise, and he was one day awarded a less than stellar set of medical results. He needed me to motivate him back to good health, and that in turn motivated me more than my desire to look better. With his doctor warning about the fate of someone with high blood pressure, obesity, and a deskbound lifestyle, we both took the plunge.
We completely changed our diets, purged the junk food from our grocery list, banned sugary and fatty condiments, converted our dining room into a weight gym (we lucked out and purchased a collection of used free weights, bench, squat bar, and assorted other stuff for cheap), and became part of an online fitness community to draw upon for motivation and advice. This would be the end our the litany of excuses. It was 6 days a week of exercise, with all manner of complicated splits for weight routines, and 5 visits a week to the new cardio equipment installed in our apartment building’s common area. My husband responded very well to the abrupt and dramatic lifestyle change, and was shedding fat and building muscles very quickly. My changes were slower and more gradual.
I soon began incorporating health supplements into my approach. I started with whey protein, soon added creatine, and then began assessing the benefits of an assortment of energy, muscle building, fat loss, and performance supplements. I kept careful logs, reported my findings to a community of fitness enthusiasts, and began collecting lists of favourite combinations and goal-specific supplement stacks. This data was the seed for my first incarnation of a fitness website, in the form of a text-only googlepages resource.
My husband had undergone a complete transformation, having lost 40 lbs of fat and put on about 15 lbs of lean muscle. My starting point was not as bad, so my journey did not take me as far. However, my entire shape changed dramatically. The squats and deadlifts built up some very nice curves in my hip and butt area, while the upper body work added some much-needed dimension for the top of the hourglass. While the rate of fat loss was not so rapid as to be unhealthy, it was accelerated beyond normal by the careful, measured, controlled use of a variety of health supplements.
We kept this up for a few years, finally interrupted by another big move. The new climate permitted us to set up a home gym within a screened-in back porch; the gym consisted of a free-weight station (squat rack, cable assembly, bench), elliptical, and stretching area. There were no excuses for missing a workout.
One fine September, I stopped taking most of my supplements. By that Christmas, I decided to step the exercises down a few notches. I reduced my weights for all lifts, added more fat and carbohydrates to my diet, and was watching my belly grow with delight - I went from bodybuilding to babybuilding! I gave birth to my first child a few months later, and within ten months of the birth, I was back down to my pre-pregnancy weight of 122 lbs...although with less muscle and a higher body-fat percentage than before. A combination of cardio, mild weight lifting, and breastfeeding sapped another 10 lbs of fat, bringing me back down to my lowest adult weight, 112 lbs, this time 18 months post-partum. This coincided with weaning, which made conditions favourable for some easy weight gain. I then spent the next nine months nurturing my young child and I put on 40 lbs.
Of course, most of that 40 lbs was another baby and her support systems! I had grown wiser between pregnancies, and had focused my exercises on those that support childbirth, learning from experience that you really do use every ounce of strength to give birth. I took additional care during pregnancy to consume more omega-3 (in part because I had started the pregnancy from a somewhat small base of body fat), adhered to a healthy diet, made daily use of my elliptical machine, and took a lot of walks with my toddler. My second labor started and ended within 3.5 hours, culminating in a drug-free water birth at the hands of a skilled midwife, and a few hours later I returned home.
It took 10 months to get down to 115 lbs, although I tilted the balance toward fat and away from muscle over the span of two back-to-back pregnancies. My present fitness goal is to regain 10 lbs of lean muscle mass and lose of 5 lbs of fat, getting my body-fat percentage back under 20%.