My Army of One

1 Oct

Well, it’s been quite an interesting week hasn’t it?

I have so much to say that I think I have to break this up into several posts. So here’s Post #1.

I was recently contacted by the Founding Editor of EL Magazine due to THIS post I made that was shared over 100 times. There were several of “us” that have been contacted which was actually very interesting. I’ve never been contacted by a magazine editor so this was a first.

I will get into my thoughts over all this in another post because quite frankly, I feel overwhelmed with what was discussed and the discussions I have had since then as well. I’d rather do more investigation and thorough research on what took place before I open that up can of worms.

One question I want to focus on was what Pilar, the editor, asked me and that was: “Can you tell me why you don’t like Vani Hari and why you didn’t want her on our cover?”

Me: “Ummm well like I said I didn’t even know who she was until a couple months ago. I actually “Liked” her FB page at the request of a friend. I saw she was followed by a few people I know and respect in this industry so I figured, why not? Honestly though, I unliked her after just a few weeks and I for the life of me, I cannot tell you why. I just know she must have rubbed me the wrong way.”

Pilar: “Okay why or how did she do that?”

Me: “Well, I’ve heard she says silly stuff in reference to chemicals causing cancer and microwaves being the worst thing in the world and…I know she deletes comments on her page and bans people for trying to engage her in a debate.”

It became clear that I didn’t really know too much about her and I’m not ashamed to admit that here. Pilar mentioned the other responds to that question were very similar to mine. Heresay.

So, now that I have a computer in front of me, and time, I am finally going to answer that question. So I’m copying and pasting some of her latest posts from her Facebook Page and here is my reaction to them.

Beware of Food Industry Fake Outs. There’s no butter in that “Extra Butter” Pop Secret, NO peaches in the “Peaches & Cream Quaker Oats”, NO lime in those “Chili Lime Special K Cracker Chips”, NO orange, grape or lemon in that “Orange, Grape, Lemon Jello”, NO strawberries or bananas in that “Strawberry Banana Bash Trix Yogurt”, NO vanilla in that “Nesquick vanilla milk”, NO strawberry in that “Nesquick strawberry milk”, NO butter in that “Butter Pam”, NO real carrots in that “Betty Crocker Carrot Cake Mix”, and NO berries in that “Fruit Roll Up.” #FoodBabeArmy

 

Okay well, right off the bat this does not strike me as new information.

I already know this information.

This is the equivalent of someone telling me “There’s no crystals in Crystal Light.”

Conclusion: I am not the target audience.

September 28
 
“Millions of Americans take over-the-counter painkillers like Advil or Aleve for any random ache, pain, or cold symptom, without a second thought. What most don’t know is that those drugs — called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) — are responsible for over 16,000 deaths per year: that’s more deaths per year than caused by asthma or AIDS. And, there is another less-recognized side effect — or, more accurately, another less-recognized effect, because side effects are nothing more than unwanted effects of medication. NSAIDs damage your gut lining, causing a condition responsible for a whole range of ailments, from allergies to autoimmune disease. It’s called leaky gut.” – Aviva Romm, MD & Dr. Mark Hyman, MD

So SHE herself is not claiming this, she’s merely quoting two doctors.

I have heard of “leaky gut.”  I have no idea if this is a manufactured disease or real. But let’s assume that is IS real.

I don’t take NSAID’s myself because I have Colitis and my GI doctor told me to take Tylenol instead.

Conclusion: I am not the target audience here either.

Check out #2 on this list Go #FoodBabeArmy Go!

The link was “What Starbucks Won’t Tell You.” And what was #2? That Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte contains no pumpkin and FoodBabe was credited for revealing this.

I don’t buy anything at Starbucks. I also live in a world where I know there isn’t a barista behind the counter with an actual pumpkin. Or even a can of pumpkin so this is not exactly news to me. The last time I went to Starbucks was with a blind date and I ordered a Refresher because I didn’t even know what any of the other things were.  My date ordered something with the word Pike in it. I found out that’s a black coffee…right? I I wouldn’t really know though because I don’t drink coffee. Or tea. And I’m cheap.

Conclusion: I am not the target audience here either.

BREAKING NEWS: How in the world do unregulated and untested GMO crops keep popping up? And how much are we unknowingly consuming? #Monsanto #LabelGMOs #FDA #USDA #ASLEEP
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/usda-makes-2nd-discovery-gmo-wheat-25784235

Aha! Okay something controversial.  So this is where we get to the heart of the matter on what she does. Got it.

Conclusion: Here are my thoughts on GMO’s: I think they should be labeled. But if they aren’t, it won’t change what I eat significantly. I don’t know if I’m a good target audience for this either.

If you would like to know more about my story and what inspired me to research, write and expose the facts I find out about the food industry, check out this interview with Jonathan Fields of the Good Life Project. I understand people might be threatened by the information I uncover and that’s ok. I hope you can see I do this out of love for my health, my family, all of you and the planet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxNKuejKUHQ

Okay I’ll bite…I watched it although I tuned out about halfway through.In summary she says she had some health problems that she has since solved by eating better food. She want through her own health transformation by going from eating junk to eating not junk and she feels better and she wants everyone else to eat what she eats. And she started her website and blog because of this.  Got it.

Conclusion: I’m not in the…

Hold up!

I started this blog as I went through a transformation too. But I lost weight and gained muscle by eating a MIXTURE of REAL and PROCESSED FOODS. And a lot of heavy lifting. And I share my story in the hopes that I would inspire others to get off the couch and get in the gym.

This begs the questions folks…Why don’t I have almost a million followers??? Her and I are practically the same!

#sarcasm

Here is the answer to the question: Why don’t you like Vani Hari, aka The Food Babe?

Because I’m not the target audience.

Because I don’t think she’s uncovering anything mind blowing.

Because I don’t care about joining a movement that has yet to prove anything earth shattering.

Because I eat Pop-Tarts 4 times a week. – I’m sure this contains chemicals that would not be Food Babe approved.

Because I eat Ezekial bread and sweet potatoes and oatmeal. REAL food!!

But…I drink Calorie Free Energy drinks. - What?! Banned.

Because I take Fish Oil - But probably not the brand that she endorses.

Because I don’t do Cross Fit but can still deadlift my bodyweight.  - Does she even lift?

Because I use Stevia everyday and I drink Diet Coke once a week. – Plus one for Stevia, but minus a 1,000 points for giving money to Coca-Cola.

One interesting point Vani Hari makes in that video is that she had some trial and error. Supposedly it took her 10 years to fully “heal.”

Ironically, isn’t that what we all should be doing? Trial and error.

When someone asks me “I was thinking of going gluten-free because I heard it might help with my ____________.”

My response has been the same: “Well, I have heard good things about that and I have also heard it’s complete hogwash. If you want to try to eliminate something from your diet to see if it makes you feel better,  you have to eliminate it for at least a few weeks. Try it and see what happens.”

“Do you think I should take fish oil?”

Me: “I do and I notice a difference in my mood actually. Try it and see what happens.”

“Do you think I should eat ____________ before/after I workout?”

Me: “Try it and see what happens.”

“Do you think I should do a detox?”

Me: “Ummm…you mean go to the bathroom? Yes you should definitely do that.”

See for me, I give out advice. I give out SIMPLE advice.  I do not stir the pot. Because I have no pot to stir. I’m not a consumer advocate. I’m not controversial. I have like, 10 followers here.

But simple isn’t controversial.

And I see FoodBabe as controversial.

Is she making a difference? I honestly do not know.

Is she going to continue to grow her #Foodbabearmy and boycott companies and DEMAND THE TRUTH?

Probably.

And the world will move on.

I think I care more about my clients than I care about taking down “FraudBabe.” I think I care more about my family and my friends than I do about a magazine cover.  And after reading some of her posts, I am not convinced that I am the right person to get on board with her cause.

I will not be joining her army anytime soon.

Surviving Mesothelioma: Heather’s Story

26 Sep 5

I’m taking the blog in a different direction this week to educate my readers about a couple things that are way more important than competitions or workouts.

First off, September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. This is something very near and dear to me since my mother passed away from Lymphoma over a year ago. You can donate this month (or anytime) to make a difference right here at LLS.org. This is an organization I trust and continue to support in the research that they do for treatments and a CURE for blood cancer.

You can learn more about Leukemia and Lymphoma on their FB page or their website. I know everyone heard about ALS these past few months due to the Ice Bucket Challenge and that’s wonderful. Education is very important when it comes to diseases that don’t get a lot of attention.

I rarely use this blog to talk about my own chronic condition: Ulcerative Colitis. I’m literally sitting here typing this at the Cleveland Clinic getting my Remicade infusion, the ridiculously expensive treatment so I stay in remission. I get this every 8 weeks. But I never talk about it too much. Perhaps that needs to change…a blog post for another day. Not today though.

Today is about someone else. Someone I have never even met or spoken with. Today is about Heather Von St. James.

Today, September 26th, is Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Yes, just one DAY dedicated to this disease that I would be willing to bet many people don’t know about.

I’ll be the first to admit my limited knowledge of this disease: I heard it mentioned on commercials for attorneys looking for patients who could be part of a class action law suit. I knew it had something to do with asbestos. And I knew it sounded bad.

Yep…That’s the extent of it.

When we don’t know someone affected by a disease, do we care? Should we care? No one expects us to be experts at every chronic disease, right? That wouldn’t be realistic. But, when someone we love and care about comes to us and says, “I was just told I have _____________,” what’s the first thing we do? We do as much research as we can! We find out the causes, the treatments, the survival rates, who’s the best doctor in town or the state or the country that can help.

Well, imagine someone just told you that you have Mesothelioma. And now read Heather’s story and see what you can do to spread awareness. I’m doing a small part by sharing Heather’s story. You can share it today too and educate a bunch of people too when you’re done reading it.

That’s called spreading the knowledge. That’s called making a difference.

HVSJ

Heather Von St. James was diagnosed with Mesothelioma at age 36. Same age as I am.

Imagine being told you have 15 months to live. That’s what happened to Heather on November 21st, 2005. And I sit here in this hospital right now picturing a doctor coming in the room telling ME, right now, “You have a extreme form of lung cancer. You have 15 months to live.”

What is the first thing I would do? I can’t even imagine…I suppose I would want to know how I got it.

Heather developed this disease because her father worked in construction. You read that right, her father worked a job that caused this disease because he would come home from work and had some dust on his clothes. Heather would play outside and put on his coat sometimes. That’s the gist of it. Something that sound so simple, almost an afterthought, caused this awful disease.

You may have been one of those people who associate asbestos with the older generation and so “not your problem.” Well, Heather was just 36 as I mentioned when she was diagnosed. Turns out, diagnosis in women is on the rise because of this very problem: They have contracted it from their parents (father’s, most likely) from second hand exposure.

This begs the question – How does this stuff even get into our bodies and lay dormant for so long?

Asbestos enters your body and settles into the linings of your lungs from all the furniture, floors, walls and insulation sheathings where it was “living.”  It can lie dormant for up to 50 years, DECADES, before showing signs of Mesothelioma to those who have been exposed, at which point the risk is critical.

Here’s where the story goes from tragic to a fight: Heather had just given birth 3 months prior to her daughter Lily. She’s a brand new mom. Her husband a brand new father. Imagine these parents being told this news. This horrific news. I’m trying to imagine it now and I just can’t grasp it.

Lily, born August 2005

Lily, born August 2005

What are the facts about Mesothelioma? Well, upon doing even the most basic Google search, Heather probably read that she was one of the 3,000 people diagnosed with this disease per year. It doesn’t sound like such a large number, and I suppose it isn’t. But just because it’s rare doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get attention. When something is rare, what happens to the funding for treatments or cures and studies? Probably not a whole lot of those going on because the awareness is minimal. But that’s why sharing Heather’s story is so crucial and so important.

A quick word about asbestos: It’s not banned in the United States. Yikes. Another startling fact: Over 30 years after its’ rise in the industry, asbestos remains as the most frequent cause of occupational cancer. Despite this, the U.S. continues to service out 30 million pounds each year, in homes, schools, and commercial buildings. So something that we once thought of, and continue to think of as an old problem, is a silent predator.

surgery

Surgery day – or as Heather now calls it “Lung Leavin’ Day.”

After Heather and Cameron realized the survival rate was so low, they decided what was most important was to find the best doctor.  That’s what you do when you’re ready to do battle; arm yourself with the best weapons. They found the best surgeon who was able to give Heather her best option for survival: extrapleural pneumonectomy. That’s a the technical term for Lung Removal.

On February 2, 2006 Heather underwent this long, intensive operation with a 55 percent complication rate and a 3 percent risk of death. Her husband told her, “Lily needs her mother. That’s the way I kept Heather’s hope up.”

Heather took 3 months to recover from the surgery. And today, 8 years later, she is a voice of hope for those that need one so desperately.

She says she doesn’t keep her cancer a secret from her daughter. Lily knows “Mommy had cancer” when she was a baby. But now she knows that “Mommy is a fighter and a survivor.”

Cam_Lil_HVSJ

Heather’s story has been shared many times by many bloggers and by Heather herself on social media and her webpage. It just goes to show that 1 person can make a huge difference. Even by sharing my blog today, you are making a difference in someone’s life. You are spreading that message of HOPE. She says she’s a Voice for the Victims. But I like to think she’s a voice for the FIGHTERS. :)

I picture myself, in that hospital room, getting a visit from a doctor. He tells me the worst news possible. In my case, I have an increased chance of colon cancer. What if I was told that today? I’d be terrified. I’d probably panic. But after the anger and stress and sadness and despair would wear off, I would hope that I would start educating. I would start sharing my FIGHT with you. With anyone who would listen.

Because that’s what survivors do.

Do yourself a favor and check out these resources for more information on Mesothelioma facts and treatment:

http://www.mesothelioma.com/treatment/
http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/

And please follow Heather on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for SHARING and taking part in Mesothelioma Awareness Day!

How to Un-Brand Your Company in Three Easy Steps Courtesy of Experience Life Magazine

24 Sep 1895 Montparnasse Station Train Wreck

Have you ever seen a train wreck? Take a look at this one:It’s a train wreck of a different kind: A Public Relations Train Wreck of Epic Proportions. How do you Un-Brand Yourself you might ask? Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Tout yourself as the No Gimmicks, No Hype Health Magazine. Proceed to put a woman on your cover of your latest issue whose SOLE purpose is to ALARM and CREATE HYPE to the uneducated consumer with outrageous claims not backed by any science or facts.
  2. ACCUSE the naysayers and people who comment negatively on your Facebook Page of being PAID BY THE BIG FOOD COMPANIES to make these comments. Assume these are all robots/fake accounts or paid shills and completely ignore the influx of negative comments because to do so would be to acknowledge that people disagree with you, and that simply can’t be!
  3. NEVER apologize or issue any statement saying how unfortunate and how sorry you are for completely distancing yourself from your audience for accusing them of such a conspiracy and continue to keep your head in the sand and hope this all just goes away. Proceed as if nothing has happened and continue to IGNORE your audience. This is the final step nail in the coffin.

Congratulations! Your brand that you worked for many years to establish is now running itself into the ground. Your magazine will now be associated with words like “hack” “hype” “gimmicky” and “Dr. Oz.” (and no, that’s not a good thing).


On one hand, I can’t feel THAT sorry for a company that makes a ton of $ in advertisers and Life Time Fitness Club members. (The members of LTF get this magazine for free). On the other hand, I feel like I’m watching the reputation of a magazine I really enjoyed reading go down the crapper. It would have been one thing to have this woman (I refuse to even say her name to give her more “clicks”) on their cover and ignore the negative comments. But then they had to go and accuse the negative people of being part of a conspiracy. Just a crazy irrational accusation that clearly was not well thought out. If it was run by the editors or whoever goes through the approval process, I just can’t imagine them saying “Yes, yes go ahead and put that on Facebook. That’s exactly what we should do.” I haven’t been an employee of Life Time Fitness in over 2 years and while I don’t see the magazine having a huge impact on the enrollment there, I do think if I WAS still an employee, I’d have a very hard time standing behind this company for this response. And the fact that they are taking their time issuing an apology tells me one thing: They are not sorry. They actually DO believe that everyone that commented are paid shills and part of a conspiracy and they believe everything FoodBabe stands for. And that is freakin scary. I almost feel like this is break up. Yes perhaps a little melodramatic of a word…but not really. I felt connected to this BRAND long after I quit Life Time Fitness. I read this magazine every month and would buy it even after I wasn’t an employee and getting it for free. I cut out articles and recipes and workouts. I shared articles on my Personal Trainer page encouraging my readers on my blog to subscribe and “read this” and “take a look at this” and “what a great article!” and “isn’t this inspiring?” What a fool I was. I bought in to their gimmick didn’t I? I was just another sucker. I thought what they were doing was game changing. I thought it was “revolutionizing” the way we think of health and fitness. I feel like a fool. If this is the direction they are taking their publication, then I guess there’s no room for me on this train. They will have their followers I’m sure. There will be FoodBabe (I personally like the nickname FraudBabe the best) followers who will pick up that issue and read it and drink that Kool-Aid. Oh wait..not Kool-Aid. That contains chemicals and probably causes cancer, right? But they’ll hop right on board and Experience Life Mag will welcome them with their wide open, fear mongering arms. To add a little humor, here are the BEST comments that you may have missed among the almost 1,000 that they are getting in response to their conspiracy accusation.

LOOOOOL. Coordinated effort subsidized by special interest. If by “special interest” you mean “actual scientific facts” then yes. because going to a four year university to become a dietitian and NOT agreeing with an alarmist makes me ”industry”? Unbelievable response! You should be embarrassed…especially because I was once a fan of your magazine, left a comment on my view of Vani, from an educated person in the field of food science, and all of a sudden you’re going to label me as part of some ”conspiracy”? Really? Major PR mistake!

Goodness ~what an accusation! I am only one woman, a 62 year old marathon running grandma with an Oxford PhD. There IS no industry coordinated response, rather a series of responses from unpaid, concerned citizens of FaceBook-land. Many of us have been banned by the Food Babe for engaging in innocuous questions there. Perhaps you might question her about her ‘no-debate’ policy that results in shutting down debate by manipulating her open FB page.

Bad form. It’s called dialogue and healthy debate with your readers. Not squashing them and labeling them part of an industry coordinated response. Paranoia and bullying don’t seem like earmarks of a healthy way of life company or publication. Yeesh. So what you’re saying is that someone created my Facebook account in 2008, added 200 friends, posted regularly and created an entire life just because you would eventually have someone on the cover that people don’t like? How deluded are you maniacs? It couldn’t possibly be that people dislike your cover choice? Shame on you. Conspiracy? No…. It’s a legitimate concern that you’re placing a lady on the cover of your mag who has no credentials to discuss nutrition. She is not a dietician or a nutritionist, she’s a computer major… Her qualifications are nil.

If popularity determined credibility, she’s the queen. It just doesn’t work that way in terms of science, nutrition and health and it’s embarrassing to see someone like her get exposure over many others who preach a healthy lifestyle without the bad science. They have a Senior Editor in charge of FACT CHECKING???? Hahahaha!!!!! If we really wanted to make a freaking killing financially and had no ethics, we’d copy Food Babe’s business model. The “earmarks of an industry-coordinated response?” Seriously?

Oh man, you need to catch up with how the internet works, especially when it comes to science geeks. We run our own blogs, and we talk to each other. I’m a biologist-turned-EMT-turned-nursing-student. No industry ties. And man, I WISH I was being subsidized, because it would help pay my tuition. I get paid for saving lives as an EMT, not for schilling for the food industry. (And actually, seeing as I prefer to grow much of my food and support small, local farmers, the “food industry” probably wouldn’t like me too much.)

No, darlings, I’m just anti-pseudoscience, anti-false-information, and anti-stupidity. I’ve been teaching and tutoring science (biology, chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, microbiology) for years, and so many people believe all sorts of bogus nonsense because of pseudoscience quacks like “Food Babe.” I know a lot of other very real people with NO connection to any particular industry who are sick and tired of pseudoscience from quacks like Vani Hari.

If you can’t recognize that the flood of comments against Vani Hari are from real people, then you need to catch up with the times.

And here are some epic MEMES: 10632790_10152274713091104_4242161282731127592_n 10650040_10152276100146881_591547837768837249_n 1524987_10153192572988047_11270695186533193_n **Updated: As of today, it’s been over a week and no apology. Their FB Page continued to post random articles from the current issue in the hopes that the “post in question” would travel so far down the page, maybe no one would notice. The comments have been nothing but negative and “We’re WAITING!” in anticipation of SOME sort of response…but they are quiet.

Their Amazon.com rating went down from 5 stars to 2 in less than 3 days. And, as soon as you search for it on Amazon, all the reviews posted are 1 starred. All the posts on Facebook are completely trashing the magazine as well as their sorry excuse for a PR department.  The silence is literally deafening.

Interview with Jenny Montgomery, NPC Figure Competitor

20 Sep

The Stats:

Name: Jenny Montgomery
Age: 41
Height: 5′ 1″
Married Mother of 2 amazing kids!

Competition History and outcomes:

 NPC Big Cat Classic 2013

- 4th Novice

- 5th Figure A

- 4th Masters

 NPC Natural PA 2013

- 4th Masters

- 8th Figure A

NPC MidAtlantic Cup 2014

- 3rd Figure A

- 1st Masters

- Won Masters Overall

NPC Northcoast Championships 2014

- 1st Figure A

- 3rd Masters

NPC Elite Physique 2014

- 2nd Figure A

- 2nd Masters

NPC Great Lakes Championships 2014

- 1st Figure A

- 1st Masters

- Won Masters Overall

Social Media sites:

InstaGram: NPCJEN

Facebook: Jenny Montgomery NPC Competitor

jenn.montgomery.3@facebook.com

BodySpace: Fitjenn73

Google: jenmontgomery10@gmail.com

 

I had the privilege of meeting Jenny at a posing clinic last year that was run by her coach, Chuck Mauceri. I was just happy to be there and learning. I remember turning to Jenn and seeing how nervous she was learning the poses (I think we all were) but I also remember thinking, “Ummm Is this chick doing the Lakewood show like me? Because if she is, I should just go home right now because she looks awesome!”  I was very intimidated by her but I quickly realized she’s very down to earth and an overall cool chick. She was prepping for a show in Pittsburgh and ended up doing quite well from her competition history, as you can see above. She’s been on a roll ever since and is improving at each show, which is the goal, isn’t it?  She’s definitely got the gift.  Let’s get to know Jenny Montgomery!

photo 3(6)

FFTF:  So, tell us how you got your start with transforming your body.  When did you start to take an interest in fitness?

I have always been athletic and participated in sports my whole life. I was getting close to turning 40 and after having 2 children (one out of the house and college age and the other now a pre-teen). I felt like it was finally my time to re-focus on my health. I had recently been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and was making significant changes to clean up my diet. I was working full time and in school after many years in nursing to obtain my Master’s Degree as an Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. After completing my Master’s Program I found myself 12 pounds over weight. The stress of working, school, no time to eat—-just eating plain old wrong had set in. So I joined a new gym thinking that would kick-start me in a new direction. I was feeling kinda lost until one Sunday I met a lady who was in her 60’s who was competing in Figure. She was one of the driving forces for me to compete. I began intense weight training and dieting – 3 years before ever competing.

FFTF:  What was your history like – Athletic? A yo-yo dieter? Casual workout person?

I played sports my whole life such as swimming, volleyball, softball, and hockey. I generally worked out 3-4 x/week but I did not have a trainer and I never really had a consistent diet. I was a full time nurse working long hours, so diet was always my biggest challenge.

Workin them legs!

Workin them legs!

I do not expect everyone to like the way I look or agree with my goals – however – what I do ask is you respect it.

FFTF:  Tell us about your first Figure competition – Highlights/low points?

First competition I was hooked!  Getting to see the look on my husband’s face the first time I stepped on stage was definitely a high!  Placing in all 3 categories my first time out was also a great high point.  No lows at all at the show – however, getting there had been quite a journey. I had been thru 2 other trainers prior to the one I am currently working with (who might I say is just amazing!!!). I was on the wrong diet, wrong plan and 12 weeks out of my first show was dumped by my previous trainer for his own personal reasons. Needless to say, after searching the NPC – came across Chuck Mauceri of Mauceri Private Fitness  and, well the rest is history as they say. I know that journey and finding Chuck was single handedly the best thing in a line of amazing things that were going to happen for me. And I believe the best is yet to come!

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I have the most amazing husband and children. they have been so supportive of me.

FFTF:  Did you find that people were supportive as you dieted for your transformation?  Did you encounter any resistance from people that you’d like to share or would you say overall everyone was supportive?

For the most part people were supportive but it was a learning curve. People always commented (and still do) on what I eat. Getting the stare when we go out to eat and everyone else orders food and I am eating what I brought. It really did not and does not bother me….. Yes, I am totally comfortable with eating cold chicken and green beans at 8 AM in a staff meeting – LOL!!! My husband and daughter embraced the diet changes in the house. We all learned together how to re-taste foods for what they really are without added sauces, fats, sugars, etc.  The entire family took part in eating clean and really helped with meal prep.

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Jenny’s Fridge at 8 weeks out from a competition. All business!

 FFTF:  What was your friends/family reaction when you told them you wanted to get on stage and take part in this competition?

Most people are supportive – however, I would be lying if I said I have not been the target of peoples opinion of what they think a healthy person/fit person should look like. I have been publicly ridiculed on social media – told that I am too muscular, not feminine, not what “most guys” look for or like in a woman and how could I think that looking this way is sexy….. I was actually called gross.  I have had people walk by me and comment on my muscles and say “that’s too much.” The first time I experience this – I was really hurt but it is always a matter of putting things into perspective. I do not expect everyone to like the way I look or agree with my goals – however – what I do ask is you respect it. Now I look at comments like that and laugh….. Whatever, it is their opinion and it is mind over matter. I don’t mind and they don’t matter!

Jenny with her biggest fan, her daughter.

Jenny with her biggest fan, her daughter.

 FFTF: What’s it like to be such a healthy role model for your children

I love the fact that I am a great role model for my kids – my daughter trains with me and is interested in competing in bikini when she’s old enough.

Jen and Chuck and his wife Tammy

Jen and Chuck and his wife Tammy

FFTF: What advice would you give to women reading this interview about competing and living a fit lifestyle?

I would say you’re never too old to get started! The fact that you’ve had children and your body is different is no excuse either. I compete in master figure and open classes with girls often 15-20 years younger then me and I’m totally cool with that. I’m still holding my own with them! Physical fitness and health is possible at any age. I  am the healthiest I’ve ever been in my 40s.

The best place to start is find a trainer who understands the female body – especially as you age and after having children. Let the expert assist you with diet and training. Moreover you have to be comfortable with the process as nothing great has ever been achieved overnight.

Competing was one of the first things that I had done for myself in a long time after raising a family but it’s very possible to balance your personal life with training and competing. I do it every day. It’s not always easy or fun but I’m committed to myself, the process and my goals.

FFTF:  What’s it like working with your Coach Chuck Mauceri?  Does he give you diet advice or workouts or both?

I really do not know if I can put into words the gratitude and thanks I have for him. Meeting him was likely one of the very best things that could have ever happened to me. From the first day I met him I was impressed and have been ever since. There is something to be said in finding a trainer that you know always has your best interest at heart and that is Chuck. He is truly an expert in the field, a mentor and a friend. Over the past year in working with him – I have changed my physique in ways I never thought was possible. He has taught me to believe in myself and trust the process. He pushes me hard and is one of my biggest cheerleaders. I know that he will help me to achieve my pro status. I have become very close with him and his amazing wife Tammy and their beautiful daughters. Chuck treats his MPF clients like family – putting together summer BBQ’s and celebratory gatherings. We all have become so close and often travel to each others shows – even when we are not competing but just to show support. This past month I had the opportunity to compete in the same shows with Chuck and it was another awesome experience – so fun to share the process together as a team. I am honored to be a member of the MPF Family.

chuckandjenThere is something to be said in finding a trainer that you know always has your best interest at heart and that is Chuck.

FFTF:  Any other interests outside the gym?

Very outdoors kinda girl and I love to cook and travel. I also love to read.

FFTF:  Speaking of food, what was your first meal after you got off stage?

Gluten Free Pizza!!!! and Potato Chips!!!

 

chuckandclients2
Chuck treats his MPF clients like family – putting together summer BBQ’s and celebratory gatherings. We all have become so close and often travel to each others shows – even when we are not competing but just to show support.

FFTF:  Would you recommend competing to anyone or do you think it takes a certain type of individual to engage in this “strict” diet and workout regimen?

I would not recommend “anyone” to do this and I do believe that it takes a special person to stay as motivated, driven and focused in order to do well. The training is intense, the diet is even harder. This is just as much mental as it is physical. I was once told that it is one of the most selfish sports a person can do, and to a great extent that statement is true. Your world revolves around meal prep, eating and training. It is more than just a persons drive to do this but you have to have a strong support system. If the people around you are not supportive – chances are failure is more likely.

I have the most amazing husband and children. they have been so supportive of me. They tolerate my contest prep. My low carb days  and my “hangry” attitude. I know that they are so proud of me. Just ask my husband. He would tell you that he never thought in a million years I could get up on that stage – as insecure as I used to be! Now he is the one cheering the loudest and I look for him first as soon as I hit that stage. I love this man and after 19+ years together this sport has brought our relationship to another awesome level. He even trains with me – it is just awesome!!!

 FFTF:  What’s on your Goal list now? 

My goal is to finish out the season with the 2014 NPC PA Natural and 2014 NPC Central States. Since I have qualified for nationals – my plan is to compete in my first National Show next July 2015 at Masters National. My ultimate goal would be to obtain my Pro Card! :)

Definitely keep us updated on that cook book Jenny. And we are anxious to see you finish this season and see you ultimately get that pro card!!! Good luck and keep up your amazing work! Congratulations once again on going From Fit To Figure!

2014 NPC Northcoast Championships

2014 NPC Northcoast Championships

Did you like this interview? If some of those folks looked familiar in the pics, it’s because you may have seen them in the interview I did with Stefan Perri on the FFTP site. He’s another client of Chuck’s and you can find his interview here.

10 Backhanded Compliments People Give You When You’re Into Fitness

13 Sep

From Fit to Figure:

This is incredibly accurate. Yes to all that have been listed.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

1. “I don’t know how you find the time to work out. I’m always so busy!”

Wow. Talk about condescending. Like every other human, people who are into fitness have 24 hours a day which consists of multiple commitments from work to relationships to laundry. And the reality is fitness is something that you do, if you value it. It’s not about having the time; it’s about making the time.

2. “You look great but the muscular look is just not for me.”

This one is usually directed at girls and all I have to say is “what?!” I’ll try and design my body according to your wishes. NOT! Firstly, it’s REALLY hard for girls to get a bulky look – our hormones are just not into it. Secondly, “having muscles” is not the goal as much as being strong is. And strength is good for functional everyday…

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36 Life Lessons

8 Sep

Tuesday is my birthday and I’ll be 36.  Since I’m big on numbers (and low on blog ideas) I thought I would babble share 36 things I’ve learned. But we are always learning aren’t we? I suppose we never stop until the day we take our last breath.  So here’s what I believe to be true. Some are funny, some are serious, some are fitness related, but most are not. All are very random.

1. When given the choice, I will always eat my calories instead of drinking them. Gimme a cheesecake over a Mojito any day of the week.

2. Cleveland is the best and the worst city to live in during football season.

3. Friends are temporary, family is forever. Treasure them while they are here. Don’t decline or ignore their calls and messages. One day you won’t hear their voice anymore and you’ll wish you had listened more.

4. Speaking of friends, let go of toxic relationships. The people that claim to be friends with you unfortunately will disappoint you and maybe even hurt you. Once or twice is understandable. But if they mock what you do, or don’t understand you or gossip about you or just plain bring you down? Time to say goodbye. And it’s okay.

5. Spend time alone. 10 minutes or 10 days or 10 weeks. Read alone. Go the movies alone. Have your morning coffee alone. Too many people spend so much time joined at the hip with someone (spouse, partner, kids, co-workers). How can you really get any downtime if someone is always in your ear? Oh and before I get accused of being Sad and Lonely Single Gal, alone does not equate lonely.

6. Weighing yourself on the scale everyday is a quick path to obsession with your body, and weight, and numbers. It’s not a representation of what’s on the inside. And if teenage girls (and boys) learned this from a very early age, it would save so many tears. And years of therapy. Seriously.

7. Don’t do things just so you can post about it on social media as a way to brag and boast. This is not to say all status updates and tweets and IG photos should be profound or inspirational or serious. But I always (TRY) to think before I tweet “Is this something anyone is even going to CARE about? Will it bring a smile to someone’s face? Will it make anyone think differently perhaps?” My point? Make it mean something. If you want to babble about mundane things, start a blog.

8. Creamy Peanut Butter trumps Crunchy Peanut Butter every day. Don’t even try and get me to like your crunchy crap. It’s basically WHOLE PEANUTS wrapped in Peanut Butter! What is the point???

9. You can live off PB and J on white bread for 18 years everyday for lunch and still be okay. I’m living proof.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I was afraid of raising my hand in class when I was in grade school. I don’t really know why or how it started, I just remember faking stomach aches more times than I should have at a young age. I was petrified of asking something stupid. I was afraid of being called on for answering any questions too! I should have asked more questions. I was a big coward and it really messed me up academically.

11. Be selective and picky about major purchases as well as relationships. I’m talking everything from a car to a husband. Do research. Read reviews. Choose…wisely.

12. Forgive those who do you wrong. And don’t hold it above their head. You may not forget very easily, but forgive people who don’t even forgive you.

13. Don’t wait for a certain age or time in your life to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Do it now. Why wait?

14. Money doesn’t buy happiness. I don’t know this for sure, however, since I have never had a lot of money. But I know it doesn’t buy happiness because I’m happy now and have been for quite some time. I’m probably the poorest I’ve ever been in my life…but I’m quite content. Weird!

15. People say don’t be afraid to fail. I think that’s true, but I don’t think you should ever AIM to fail. I think you can have miniature failures in order to be hugely successful. And by the way, what you think and define as successful, is probably way different than someone else’s definition. I’ve already had 3 mini successes in the past 24 hours. :)

16. If you say it, you become it. If you’re always telling yourself that you’re unhappy, or ugly, or fat, or angry, guess what? You ARE that person. You BECOME unhappy and fat and ugly. But if you wake up and say “I’m not thin now, but I’m going to be” or “I’m not super happy at this moment, but I’m not doing too bad.” I think people start to SEE that in you. I’ve seen it myself and I’ve been there myself. It’s a fact. There is power in the words you use to describe yourself. Use the good ones, stop saying the negative ones.

17. Social Media is a time suck. I’ve had a love/hate/love/love/hate/hate/love relationship with it for what seems like almost forever. On one hand, we can’t seem to live without it to get our news and stay in touch with people. On the other hand, it can really damage our REAL relationships. Someone posted recently: “If social media ceased to exist, how many people would lose their identity/their business?”  Food for thought.

18. Speaking of food, take time to learn how to cook 3 good dishes. 3 things that you cook REALLY WELL. They don’t have to be extravagant or something that would be found in Epicurious. Just something you do really well and that you are totally proud of. Then tweet it out. ;)

19. The DVR is the best invention of my lifetime.

20. The Smartphone is the second best.

21. When someone breaks your heart it’s the worst feeling in the world. But that feeling when you wake up knowing you have moved on and you are over them? Damn that feeling is so good. And then the feeling of being HAPPY for that person because you realize you were both meant to take different paths? That’s the BEST feeling!

22. There are no such things as coincidences; everything happens for a reason.

23. Don’t speed. Don’t text and speed. Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive. Just don’t. If you’re tempted, picture the youngest relative you have crossing the street in front of you and not being able to stop in time. Sounds horrific doesn’t it? That’s the point.

24. Back to social media – If someone posts something you disagree with, you can either skip over it and ignore or it start to debate. If you’re going to debate, debate. Don’t ever mock someone or make them feel small by ridiculing what they are saying. I guess it goes back to #10. No one wants to feel stupid, so don’t do it. Take the high road. Every time.

25. Skinny jeans are the worst invention of all time and while every BODY is different, not every BODY should squeeze into those. I’m just sayin.

26. Try not to judge. You really don’t know what someone else is going through. Why are certain people just plain jerks? Who knows! But maybe they have issues that you can’t even begin to understand. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

27. Don’t knock it before you try it. I did this recently with golf. I hated it. I hated watching it. I thought it was stupid and boring and I couldn’t believe people got paid millions to play this silly game. Then I tried it. Then I started watching it. Then I started practicing. And now I love it. I still hate it, but I love it. And I appreciate it.

28. Don’t give gifts unwrapped. Presentation is everything. I’m a horrible gift wrapper so I resort to gift bags usually. Giving a gift as is says “I don’t really care.” Wrapped gift says: “This gift might not be too expensive, but at least I wrapped it in pretty paper to make it look expensive.”

29. If you ever want to feel old, watch re-runs of Law and Order when they had to call the precinct from a Pay Phone. And they refer to the internet as the World Wide Web. It’s…hilarious.

30. Speaking of Law and Order, you can never watch too many episodes of L&O. If there’s a marathon of that show on, settle in because you are going nowhere for hours!

31. Do your dream job. I’m a big believer in doing what you love. The best book I ever read was “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss.  I quit my job 6 months after reading it. I loved it so much I gave it to two other people, who quit their jobs less than a year later and are now totally happy as well.

32. Stop worrying about what people think of you. I did this mostly in my 20’s. It’s such a 20’s thing to do isn’t it? Care about what people think?! Nah. Not anymore.

33. Cursing is not an attractive quality. I have a hard time with this one but I notice how much I curse when I hear others curse and I think “Oh no, that doesn’t sound very good at all. Shit, is that what I sound like? Oh shit I just cursed!” Yep, it sounds bad. It doesn’t make us bad people, but, we should try and cut back, ya know?

34. Timing is everything. It can be the right time for you, but the wrong time for someone else. That’s just how it goes.

35. Write more. Real writing, like, by hand. And send them in the mail. Like the real mail. People love getting mail that isn’t junk. Don’t they?

36. Always hit the SAVE button when writing a long blog post. I had to re-write this all over again because I forgot I wasn’t logged in to my site. And my first reaction?  Laughed…a lot. Which is a great way to end this:

Laugh more. At everything!

The Struggle to Stay Fit

2 Sep
This week I have to share part of the homily my pastor spoke about just this past weekend as the INTRO to this post. I’m literally copying and pasting here as well as filling in the gaps so I sure hope this doesn’t constitute as plagiarism. ;)
From Struggle to Flight:
 
So there’s this family who have two cocoons which were about to hatch. They watched as the first one began to open and the butterfly inside squeezed very slowly and painfully through a tiny hole that it chewed at the end of the cocoon.
It was a struggle to emerge.
 
After lying exhausted for about 10 minutes, following the struggle and agony, the butterfly flew out the open window on its beautiful new wings.
Since it was so painful to see the butterfly struggle, the family decided to help the second butterfly so that it wouldn’t have to go through such an ordeal.
 
As the second one began to emerge, they carefully sliced open the cocoon with a razor blade, doing the equivalent of a C-section.  The second butterfly, however, never sprouted wings and in 10 minutes, instead of flying away, it quietly died.  The family asked a biologist friend to explain what happened and this is what he told them:
 
The difficult struggle to emerge from the small hole actually pushes liquids from deep inside the butterfly’s body cavity into tiny capillaries in the wings where they hardened to complete the healthy and beautiful adult butterfly. By preventing the struggle, they inadvertently harmed the butterfly.

 

Moral of the story? Without the struggle, there are no wings to fly.

As my pastor told this story in church this weekend, and went on to discuss why we must go through painful ordeals, I was thinking very hard about what to blog about this week. I immediately thought of the struggle of hunger while dieting and of course, the constant battle of dieting in general and all the messy stuff that it entails. Granted, there are worse problems and things we suffer through than just dieting, but that’s where my mind went first.

I’m currently struggling myself to diet but I’m maintaining my weight, which is a success in my book.

A few of my clients are having quite the difficult time lately and it’s my gut reaction to want to help them of course. When I can’t or when the right words of advice don’t come automatically, I feel like I’ve failed them. I start asking Why? Why can’t I just tell them one thing that they can use and be done with it? Why are they struggling so much and why doesn’t my advice do any good? What’s going on in their head that I can just turn off or turn on to make them follow their plan and get their act together??

And then I laugh and think, I might as well ask myself these same questions! Duh!

I don’t have an answer, really.  More of a theory I guess.

I remember that it’s a struggle for everyone. For every bodybuilding pro or fitness model out there who tweets and puts on Facebook how great they are doing, how many inches they are down, how they just had the best workout ever and here are the sweat stains to prove it…there are many more who AREN’T doing all that great, who DO struggle with their diet, and they actually DO share that information. And it’s awesome when they do because you realize it’s a constant battle for everyone.  Some have overcome after YEARS of binge eating or eating disorders or yo-yo dieting. Others STILL struggle to even maintain their weight. And some haven’t quite gotten back from rebounding after losing a large amount of weight due to bad coaching or losing it too fast.

What would be great is if there were more pro’s out there willing to share the “not so happy” experiences. There are a few I would recommend the next time you find yourself wallowing in self pity thinking “No one knows what this is like.” Because let me tell ya, there are many.

  • The first that comes to mind is Brooke Erickson. Simply put, she’s incredibly honest. She shares a lot. But not OFTEN. In other words, when she does post something, it’s well- thought out, it’s usually pretty short and to the point, and it’s relevant. She is competitor but she isn’t currently competing. She’s a coach, she’s a mom, and she’s a hard worker. I love everything she has to say because it’s from the heart and there’s no sugar coating.
  • Another is Jennifer Jewell Fitness.  She’s a big believer in the IIFYM diet which is fine (not my cup of tea anymore but if it works for you, awesome). But I like that she discusses body image and metabolism and keeps it real. She also shares alot of her clients stories which are always good to read for motivation.
  • I wouldn’t be a very good blogger if I didn’t mention my “boss” Roxie Beckles. This woman is pretty amazing in that she shares EVERYTHING about her journey to the stage. She has had a rough season to say the least and recently put it all out there, admitting that she did the #1 thing we tell all our clients: Listen to your body.  She didn’t listen and it mentally and physically drained her. She’s gotten back on her feet and she is persevering to the Olympia Stage (the grandaddy of all competitions) in just a few weeks.  I cannot wait to see how she does!

Closing thoughts? We all screw up. We all cheat on our diet. We all have the same conversation with ourselves: “I’ll do better this week. I’ll start my diet Monday. I’ll just do some extra cardio tomorrow.”

You’re gonna have to struggle temporarily in order to be successful. I think the key is the take that struggle, take those difficult moments, and learn from it. Suffer now in order to be great later. And later may be weeks, months or years from now, unfortunately.

But, what a moment you’ll have when you get to look back and see where you were…and what it took to get there.

What a story that will be!

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