Owning My Story

If you have browsed my blog then you know I post a lot about how exercise benefits mental health and how it can really help with anxiety and depression. Well, a couple of years ago I wanted to share my story and how fitness, along with self acceptance, changed my life, so I wrote a book.

I was quite proud, and the feedback I received from sharing it with a few close friends and family members was terrific but….I just could not bring myself to publish it and make it public. While yes, I have overcome debilitating anxiety and panic attacks, I still had a fear of judgement and ridicule. Is it really that good though? Maybe what worked for me wont work for others? What if, what about, and so on….

Then, just recently I had someone approach me at the gym about how an Instagram post I made regarding my struggles with anxiety really spoke to them. I was touched and decided to share my book with this person. I anxiously awaited his feedback and after a few days received an email that had me completely dumbfounded. Is he talking to me? Is what he is saying seriously about my book? Have I truly made an impact on this mans life with a short story about my personal struggles?

Well, after a few more emails back and forth, it was proven that yes, he was indeed talking to me, about me. Here is a small snippet of his review of my book;

“I want to thank you soooo much for allowing me to read this. I have read it over and over and it is just so damn brave of you to write this. I read it and had tears in my eyes at points as it really hit home. I am just so happy that I approached you (which was very hard haha) as what you have provided me with is a blueprint for success. What you have written should be shared in schools and at conferences as I know there are so many individuals that would benefit.”

*MIND BLOWN*

 

I used to wonder if sharing my story would even make a difference and well, it appears it has, so……I have decided to push aside my fears and finally share its existence. I actually published it on Amazon Kindle a couple of months ago but have done nothing in regards to promoting or sharing it. So, before I chicken out, again, here is the link to where my book can be purchased;

Accepting Anxiety

If you happen to read it, I would love to hear your thoughts. While leaving a review on Amazon would be helpful and greatly appreciated, directly messaging me would also be fantastic as I would love to hear your feedback (positive or constructive)

If you are a minor and do not have access to purchasing from Amazon please let me know and I will share with you a PDF copy.

xo Erin

 

 

Travel Strong – 5 Tips for Staying Fit on Vacation

IMG_3911Vacation or business trip, staying on track can prove difficult when you remove yourself from your normal routine. By planning ahead, you can incorporate fitness into your travels and avoid sabotaging all your hard work. Here are 5 tips to help keep you fit and returning home with zero guilt.

Research – Find out if your hotel or resort has a gym and don’t be afraid to ask what kind of equipment they have. There’s nothing more disappointing then to show up ready to hit the weights only to find a treadmill and a bosu ball.  If your hotel does not have a gym or its not up to par, inquire about nearby fitness centers. Many of these fitness centers offer discounted rates for hotel guests too, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Pack Your Own Gym – no gym in sight? No problem. Pack a skipping rope and resistance bands or get creative by utilizing hotel furniture such as the chair or bed for tricep dips, decline push ups and more. Walk the town, go for a run, use a tree branch to perform pull ups, the possibilities are endless with a little imagination.

Wake up Early – yes, its vacation time and you want to sleep in however you’re more likely to conquer your workout at the beginning of the day then later on. It’s also proven that by starting your day with exercise you will feel energized and more conscientious about your food choices throughout the day. Rise 30 minutes early and hit the gym or use your room to bust out a quick, high intensity workout.

Incorporate Fitness into Your Itinerary – many vacation spots and resorts have activities you can sign up for such as bike tours, nature hikes, paddle boarding and scuba diving. Burn your calories while exploring and having fun.

Eat & Drink Wisely – this can be a tough one as we tend to have the mindset of “hey, I’m on Vacation” and allow ourselves to splurge. It’s all about moderation. Be sure to drink plenty of water and limit yourself on treats. Many hotel rooms come with fridges so stock up on fruits and veggies as well as other healthy snacks so you don’t have to rely on eating out the entire time. You can even use your coffee maker to prepare instant oatmeal. When eating out do some research and check out menus of nearby restaurants to see if they offer meals that suit your diet. When it comes to alcohol, choose your booze wisely and opt for low calorie drinks such as light beer or vodka with soda water. Again, moderation is key.

Avoiding Post Competition Blues

While I cannot claim I have all the answers, I can say from experience having competed in 3 shows and having to take nearly 6 months off the gym after a car accident, post competition blues and body dysmorphic disorder are very real and can be very serious if one is not prepared.  Having a game plan for both before and after a show is key in avoiding post competition depression, body image issues and in some cases, eating disorders. While your coach should help prepare you for this process, unfortunately not all of them will or you may have prepped solo, so here are a few of my personal tips to help avoid this issue.

 

  1. Make it about the Process

Focus on the process of prepping for a show instead of the outcome. If you go into preparing for a competition with expectations of how your physique is going to look or how well your going to place and then you don’t meet those expectations, the results can be frustrating and depressing. Focusing on the process and giving it your best in all areas (training, diet, posing etc) will leave you feeling much more accomplished knowing that you gave it your all and brought your best to the stage.

 

  1. Plan for after Competition

After months of mentally, emotionally and physically preparing for a fitness competition, once its all over you may find yourself feeling lost and not knowing what to do next. We spend all our time focusing on this one day without planning for afterwards. Having a plan or a new goal for once the show has ended is a great way to keep you focused.

 

  1. Reverse Diet

While you deserve nothing more than to reward yourself for months of sticking to your prep diet, a reverse diet can help prevent post diet rebound. Increasing calories incrementally will allow your metabolism to reignite and catch up to the surplus calories. If you consume an excessive amount of calories too soon the body will attempt to store these calories and in turn can lead to metabolic damage and rapid weight gain.

 

  1. Be Prepared for Change

Staying ‘stage lean’ is not ideal or practical. During the ‘cutting’ phase your adrenal glands and hormones are working overtime and to try and stick with it will only cause burn out and can lead to long term health issues. While it is possible to stay lean year-round this will look different from your stage ready physique. You will gain some weight back after the show and that’s ok, you need to properly fuel your body to regain strength so you can get back to work on improving your physique.

 

  1. Take time off

Taking some time off the gym after competition can be beneficial both mentally and physically. Rest will allow your hormones to balance out and your body to repair after undergoing such stress and demand.

Glute Activation – 3 Must-Do Moves to Fire Up Those Glutes!

Activating or ‘firing up’ the glutes increases the amount of work done by our glute muscles when performing exercises which also employ the glutes (lunges, squats, deadlifts). When the glutes are inactive, the body will utilize other muscles to perform the movements instead.

Here are 3 of the top glute activation exercises you can knock out in less than 10 minutes before hitting the squat rack.

I like to do all 3 then repeat for 2-3 sets.

  1. Glute Bridge

bridge start

bridge

Lying on your back with your hands by your sides, legs bent and heels positioned firmly on the floor, toes up, keep hips stable while you raise them off the floor, squeezing your glutes. Lower your hips back down to the floor and repeat for 20 reps.

*kick it up a notch by performing single leg glute bridges. Extend one leg outwards keeping it off the ground as you lift with the opposite leg for 20 reps then switch.

1 leg bridge

2. Clamshell

Lying on your right side with your legs slightly bent, resting on top of each other, you can rest your head on your arm or prop your head onto your right hand. Keeping your feet together, raise your left knee off of your right until you cannot lift your left knee anymore without separating your feet. Squeeze the glutes as you lift. Slowly lower your leg to bring your knees together again. Perform 20 reps on each side.

*place a band around the knees when performing this exercise to create more tension.

clam start

clam

3. Frog Pumps

Start by getting into the glute bridge position. Tucking your chin into your chest and digging elbows into the ground, put the bottoms of your feet together and bring heels as close to your butt as possible. Bridge as you squeeze your glutes then slowly lower back down. Perform 20 reps.

frog

 

Climb Your Way to a 6-Pack! – 15 Minute HIIT Ab Routine for a Shredded Midsection

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Greg Cleaver Photography

Creating a shredded midsection takes a combination of proper training and diet and since I already covered in a past post How To Uncover That 6 Pack, today we’re going to go over a HIIT Ab Routine to help you create that 6 pack.

To best achieve that ripped midsection it’s key to work your abs from 3 different planes of motion; frontal, sagittal and reverse. High intensity ab training is also a great way to help burn fat and get those abs poppin’ asap.  So, keep rest minimal and feel that burn!

This routine is set up as a high intensity circuit to help you hit all angles, burn more fat and carve out that midsection. Mountain climbers are beneficial for both muscular and cardiovascular fitness and are an excellent way to engage the core as well as the shoulders, arms, legs and glutes. I have incorporated a few variations of Mountain Climbers into this routine to keep things exciting and to really challenge your core.

Each exercise will performed for 30-60 seconds in sets of 2 with 30 seconds of rest in between sets for a total of 15 minutes. Perform 2-3 times per week in addition to your regular fitness routine.

Set 1

  • Forearm Plank – 60 seconds
  • Mountain Climbers – 30 seconds

Rest 30 seconds

Set 2

  • Right Side Plank – 60 seconds
  • Cross-body Mountain Climbers – 30 seconds

Rest 30 seconds

Set 3

  • Left Side Plank – 60 seconds
  • Cross-body Mountain Climbers – 30 seconds

Rest 30 seconds

Set 3

  • Leg Raises – 60 seconds
  • Plank Jack Mountain Climbers – 30 seconds

Rest 30 seconds

Set 4

  • Reverse Crunches – 60 seconds
  • Plank Jack Mountain Climbers – 30 seconds

Rest 30 seconds

Set 5

  • Stability Ball Jackknife or Pull In – 60 seconds
  • Stability Ball Mountain Climbers – 30 seconds

Rest 30 seconds

Set 6

  • Bicycle Crunches or Russian Twists – 60 seconds
  • Mountain Climbers – 30 seconds

Rest 30 seconds

Set 7

Forearm Plank – 60 seconds

DONE!

 

 

 

Build a Strong, Healthy Back

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One of the body’s largest and strongest parts, there are many benefits to having a strong, healthy back:

  • Improved Posture
  • Prevent/Decrease/Eliminate Back Pain
  • Increased Strength
  • Increased Flexibility
  • Improved Spinal Stability

The back is made up of several interconnected muscle groups, but to keep things simple, we will focus on the 4 main areas:

back-muscles

  • Upper Back (Traps)
  • Rear Delts
  • Middle Back (Lats)
  • Lower Back

While the rear delts are part of your shoulder muscles, they are highly engaged in multijoint back exercises so we have included them here.

 

 

 

The Top Back Exercises

#1 Wide Grip Pull Up – This compound movement is excellent for targeting the lats while also hitting the biceps, triceps and rhomboids. The wide grip pull up will help create that V taper while also increasing grip strength. Definitely not the easiest of exercises, you can start with the assisted pull up machine or with negatives.

#2 Wide Grip Seated Row- using a wide grip allows you to target the lats while also hitting the traps, teres major and rear delts.

#3 Close Grip Seated Row – This exercise targets the mid-back, lats and lower traps.

#4 Standing T Bar Row – this exercise is great for the middle back. Avoid jerking or using momentum in this movement for best results.

#5 Bent over Barbell Row – another excellent compound movement, the bent over row  hits the lats, rhomboids, rear delts, traps, and even the biceps.

#6 Single Arm Row – this is great unilateral exercise and it allows you to emphasize on the lats while also working the upper back and traps.

#7 Back Extensions – Target the lower back with Hyper extensions or my personal favorite, seated good mornings. Keep your movements slow and controlled, form is key in avoiding injury.

#8 Deadlift – the deadlift is another great compound movement and will target all of the muscles in the back while increasing core strength as it hits all major muscle groups.

 

 

 

Do I Need to Hire a Contest Prep Coach?

15027615_1072758956174822_1231113419248564194_n1So you’ve decided to enter a fitness competition and now your wondering, do I need a coach? Well, while I cannot tell you personally yes or no, I can offer some things to think about which can help you decide.

As a personal trainer and nutrition coach I figured I could do most of my first prep on my own while enlisting the help of friends who had competed before. Well, at about 3 weeks out I started to panic when I realized I really had no idea how to ‘cut’, when to water load, when to deplete, if I was anywhere close to stage ready and so on. Searching online, through my text books and magazines really only left me confused and overwhelmed as the information and advice is extreme and different from source to source. Plus, as you get closer to the actual competition day, things can get a little more stressful and you start to doubt yourself and your progress, making the entire process less enjoyable. So, I did some research and found a prep coach who was willing to help me at only 3 weeks out and I made top 5, qualifying myself for Provincials. Had I been able to do this without him? Most likely not.

So, with that said, unless you have the experience of preparing for a competition or just want to be on stage for the sake of being on stage without caring how you place, I highly recommend you hire a coach. Not only can they help guide you in the process, they can hold you accountable and help prepare you in what to expect on show day.

Some other important things to consider –

You are being judged in a physique competition so having another set of eyes, more so a set that knows what the judges want, is definitely going to be beneficial.

You need to consider your mental well being when prepping for a show. There is a physiological response to being in a caloric deficit for an extended period of time and the lethargy that sets in can cause a lack of mental focus and an emotional drain that can be very difficult. A coach understands this and a great coach will be there for you on those days where you feel like you just cant do it or want to give up.

Diet and supplementation are huge in prepping for a show and because everyone is different, copying a diet you found online or that a friend followed is risky. Proper nutrition before and after a show is crucial. You may believe once the competition is over you can just eat as you wish but this can have negative effects on your body, mental health, metabolism and hormones.

So, while the decision is ultimately yours to make, if you are serious about competing and bringing your best package to that stage, it’s pretty obvious, that until you gain the necessary experience, hiring a prep coach is in your best interest. I personally will never compete in a show without a coach, even with my experience and my education in fitness and nutrition as the benefits are far to vast.

6 Tips to Make Your Fitness Resolution Stick

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Photo by Ramirez Creative

With the New Year right around the corner many of you have decided that your New Years Resolution will be to join a gym and get in shape. While I think this is a terrific resolution, less than 10% of you will actually stick to it. This happens for a few reasons, the main one being that we set unrealistic goals for ourselves and fall back into our old habits quickly.

So, lets discuss how we can avoid this and make this the year that our resolution to get fit sticks!

1. Set your goal and be SMART about it. Meaning; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time.  For example, your goal could be ‘I want to lose 20 pounds (specific) in 16 weeks (measurable, achievable, time), so I can feel confident this summer in a swimsuit (relevant). Once you have your goal, write it down on paper and place it somewhere you will see it daily. Remember to stay realistic with your goals.

2. Plan and Schedule. Decide how many days per week you want to work out (3-4 is a good start for a newbie) and schedule those days and times into your schedule. Planning ahead is key and scheduling your workouts ahead of time will keep you from using the excuse of not having time.

3. Create Healthy Eating Habits. While working out can have a great impact on your health, its important that you pair this with healthy nutrition habits as well. Eating the right foods can fuel your workout, aid in weight loss or in gaining muscle as well keep you energized throughout the day. Small meals consisting of protein and veggies every 2-4 hours, 50-75 grams of carbs after your workout, a daily dose of healthy fats and a minimum 3 liters of water per day is a good place to start. Prepping your meals ahead of time is a great way to stay on track.

4. Accountability. There are a few different ways to hold yourself accountable. You can hire a trainer, tell your friends and family of your goals or find a friend who also wants to make fitness a regular part of their lifestyle and hold each other accountable.

5. Motivation. Motivation is key and while the first few weeks into a new resolution is usually smothered in, it can fade fast. Keep your motivation up with trying one or all of these-

    • Set performance goals (hit a 1 min plank by week 2, 5 unassisted chinups by week 5 etc..)
    • Take weekly progress photos
    • Buy a new outfit one size too small
    • Enter a transformation contest

6. Find the right Gym for you! Some gyms have scheduled hours, some gyms are open 24/7. Some are female only and some have sections for just females and open co-ed areas. Some will have classes they offer for a fee or for free to members. Some gyms require a year contract while others will let you pay monthly or as you go. Its important to shop around and find a gym that will not just fit your needs but one where you will feel comfortable as well. Most gyms offer a free week or drop in so take advantage and check out a few before making any type of commitment.

BCABBA Upcoming Fitness Competitions 2017

 

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Thinking of competing or just interested in checking out a fitness competition in BC? Here is a list of upcoming shows being held by the BCABBA in 2017.

  • OPEN STREAM – Non-Tested Show
  • TRADITIONAL STREAM – Tested Show
  • You must place in the Top 3 in the Open stream or Top 5 in the Traditional Stream to move onto a Tier Two show.

 

2017 BCABBA LBMC – March 18th (New Westminster) – Open Stream, Tier One

2017 BCABBA Kelowna Classic – May 6th (Kelowna) – Traditional Stream, Tier One

2017 BCABBA BC CUP – May 20th (New Westminster) – Traditional Stream, Tier Two

2017 BCABBA Northern Classic – June 17th (Fort St. John) – Open Stream, Tier One

2017 BC Provincials Championships – July 8/9th (Vancouver) – Open Stream, Tier Two

2017 BCABBA Knight of Champions – September 9th (Surrey) – Open Stream, Tier One

2017 BCABBA Iron Ore Classic – September 30th (Prince George) – Open Stream, Tier One

2017 Vancity Showdown – October 14th – (Vancouver) – Traditional Stream, Tier One

2017 Popeyes Fall Classic – Potential Date Nov 18th (waiting on venue availability) – Open Stream, Tier One