READY, SET & GOOD TO GO. 6 weeks post op of my open heart surgery.

30 05 2015

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Hope Nagy, mom. A women who feels on most days alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild her… we have the technology. We have the capability to build… I mean bill her daily. Hope Nagy will be that woman. Poorer than she was before… but better, stronger, and faster…

Now wait a second. Did Steve Austin pay for his six million dollar body, or was he on Obama Care? Yes, 6 weeks post op. Time to rejoice in the fact that I have met my deductible!

If your caught in a lie deny, deny, deny. People think I am so brave. But I can’t lie. I am far from brave and would like to think the following thing didn’t occur, but it did. Barely able to speak, not even 24 hours after my surgery I called my still sleeping boyfriend at 6am in the morning to ask “What time are you coming to the hospital?” ‘Come now.” and “Please bring a gun so I can kill myself.” He laughed at me and said “You told me before surgery that you wanted me to bring you coffee from Starbucks with a little cream and 3 Splenda’s.

Now weeks later I am able to drive to Starbucks and get my own coffee. On a daily basis I am asked “hey how ya feelin?” I’m from Philly so that’s not a typo. People comment on how well I look, how fast I am recovering, and tell me how “amazing” I am. “Oh yes, soooo amazing” I chuckle at this. Why? Because I’m far from amazing. Mostly because the day after my surgery I thought, “If this was a race I would take a DNF right now.” In fact I said very clearly to my parents as I laid in my hospital bed the day after surgery “I don’t think I can do this.” I even cried to my dad. “Daddy how could you do this so many times? You’re so out of shape. Your amazing.”

Truth be told I was bogged down with the fear of the unknown ahead of me, and my road to recovery. I wanted time to speed up, to flash forward weeks and be out of the scary woods. Gotta get to that six week mark because that’s when my surgeon told me I would be “Good to go.” Tell a fitness freak that they are “good to go” and we go, we hesitate a little, we go, we go slower then we did before and then we wonder? Did I really lose this much strength and endurance in just a few weeks? Did atrophy take over? Beast mode on? Hmmmmm I guess I will listen to the doctors and just ease on back down the road. Except Miss I WON A PUSH-UP contest, once in my early forties can’t even do a real push up.  I’ll call them sucky, non-regulated, partial push-ups, because I just can’t seem to drop low without my chest feeling like it’s going to rip open and spill my guts on the gym floor.

Push-Up Queen For The Day

Push Up QUEEN FOR THE DAY

(most push-ups in a minute after ODDMAN Duathalon won a XL Men’s Mountain Bike Shirt)

Weighing in 5 pounds heavier then my pre surgery weigh-in, at six weeks I am mushier and have less definition. But I have a brand new aortic valve and root, and that’s so much more important. So who cares. I lost my six pack, gained some unwanted body fat and now have something that resembles a vagina in the crease near my armpit. I am at the six week mark. I think I am “good to go.” I am free to pick up the big kid weights now. Free to run, teach spin “on” the bike, jump rope, dead lift, and test out my new heart pumping equipment. Now a days when someone comes up to me while I’m working out and uses their hands to motion take it easy, slow it down sister…..I am free to shout “I’ve got clearance. I’m ok.” “Sorry, I can’t hear you. My music. I’m in the zone.” Feels great to be back to training because my pants feel tight and I can’t breathe …. and a damaged valve is not to blame. lol I can’t afford new clothes, I have bills, bills, bills to pay. Cue Destiny’s Child…….

Can you pay my bills?
Can you pay my telephone bills?
Do you pay my automo’ bills?

But hey I’m doing great. Ok, most of the time. I’m working hard for the money and taking care of business and workin’ overtime. And then BAM I have a moment. Because the reality is it isn’t easy as fishin’ and I’m not a musician. The reality is Girlfriend, no one has waved a magic wand over you and made you 100 percent recovered. You had major surgery 6 weeks ago. So sometimes I get a little reminder that I am not superwoman. Could be one of my horrible headaches or just feeling light headed. These moments trigger a fear that what if something isn’t right. For example just last week at the Home Depot while in the garden center, my blood pressure dropped suddenly really low. Without any forewarning I became dizzy and felt like I was walking on a slanted floor like in the old V8 commercials. Thanks to Miracle Grow and it’s foam granules I landed safely. “Ma’am can we call 911 for you.” “No I’m fine. I’m not drunk. Just need to sit for a minute” and sounding like an old Jewish woman from New York I said “It’s just my preshsha medicine.” But actually I thought I was having a stroke. When I told my cardiologist this she looked at me in a sincere yet cute funny way and asked “Did you ever have a stroke? Me “no” “Your pressure dropped.” And viola just like that I was taken off ALL meds. She told me to hydrate even more now that I’m back to being a sweaty mess and she strapped a holter monitor on me for 24 hours to record my heart rhythms. Yes, I was allowed to exercise with the monitor on, and yes I couldn’t shower, and yes I smelled, and yes the results came back fine, and YES I am medicine free!

I have to wait 9 weeks for my 6 week post op check up since Dr. Bavaria is pretty busy mending broken valves. I did not see him on game day since I was already sedated, but I know he was there by the lovely scar he left on my chest. Much better looking than the scar I had him draw on me in his office. (See picture) By his reaction apparently no one had asked him to do this before and the only marker available was a dry erase one. I am excited about my post operative appointment at The Hospital of the  University of Pennsylvania because I can’t wait to hear these words from the mouth of the wizard of Aortic Valve surgery …… YOU ARE GOOD TO GO.

Pre-Op Scar Drawing

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Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves. They exude kindness, and an aura flows around them full of warmth, generosity and humility. I on the other hand am not one to wear my heart on the outside for all to see. I keep it guarded like most who have been hurt in their past. It is there though and pretty big. For I would do anything for a friend. Judge a woMAN not by the amount of friends they have on Facebook, judge them by how long they have maintained their friendships. My best friends have seen my heart along with my tears and my fears. They are the people who know the girl they met thirty plus years ago with the thick glasses, braces and Sergio Valente jeans was ACTING brave leading up to surgery but was a nervous mess on the inside. Like the cowardly lion I feared not having courage, strength and the power to face this scary circumstance ahead of me. I feared for my children mostly. My two daughter’s are my life.  And my life  suddenly became more valuable when I thought of not being in their lives. So humble me will tell you I am not amazing. I am far from fearless. And even though my heart was seen on the outside in an operating room for a several hours on April 8th, 2015 it was securely placed back into it’s hiding place with some new parts and some good old courage. Sorry great wizard your services were not needed here.

And like Epicurus, a Greek Philosopher, once said,

You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”

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To read the beginning of my journey of my Aortic Valve and Aortic Aneurysm surgery read FIT, FIFTY & WTF go to https://hopenagy.wordpress.com/  and scroll to April 7, 2015.

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Hope Nagy

Certified Personal Trainer

MotivateHopeStrength.com

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Proud to be an Ambassador for The Movement Foundations “DARE TO BARE

An organization whose purpose is to help women battling eating disorders, body image issues, lack of self worth and depression simply by accepting bodies of all shapes and sizes. http://www.movemeantfoundation.com/#home

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Open My Heart Now Baby – Day 16 Post Op.

25 04 2015
DAY 16 POST OP Pumping little pink weights and getting the blood  flowing.

DAY 16 POST OP Pumping little pink weights and getting the blood flowing.

It’s been 16 day’s since my open heart surgery.  In these past  16 days I learned some things. That I have an amazing support system of friends and relatives, that I don’t like sitting in the back seat of the car and that Kevin Bacon has nothing on Dr. Bavaria when it comes to six degrees of separation.  It seems like everyday someone emails me or tells me that Dr. Bavaria did their father’s surgery, their mom mom’s valve replacement or they’ve worked with him, for him, or think he’s god. I think he’s god too.

DAY 1 -  Post op ICU hours after surgery. Today is the first time I have seen this picture. Wow

DAY 1 – Post op ICU hours after surgery. Today is the first time I have seen this photo.

It was kinda neat in an eerie and peculiar way to have a nurse stop by my room to tell me she watched my surgery and how 4 fellows, who are doctors doing their fellowship, pulled the wires that were holding my sternum closed while one fellow wired, sewed and glued me shut. Her words: “It was so cool. They literally leaned  back with their body weight and pulled on the wires while one fellow closed you up.”  I’d actually like to see my video. My post op report came in the mail today and I learned I was cross clamped for 160 minutes and on bypass for 217 minutes. Technically dead for a large part of my 6 hour surgery.  Body temperature lowered and then brought back to life by reconnecting my heart.  My father with his disposable flip phone took a picture of me in the ICU and sent it today.  My emotions vary looking at this picture, but mainly I’m thinking that I couldn’t imagine seeing one of my kids like this.  In the 16 days since surgery I’ve made some progress.   And although you would look at me and never know I just had major surgery I am dealing with  daily killer headaches, went  AFib two days ago and I get dizzy and light headed if I get up  too fast. I have noticed I am burping a lot but am totally blaming that on the pig valve, lol. I am not craving bacon, have not regained my love of coffee and peanut butter yet but chocolate still makes everything better.

Over the years I have often got asked while working out what I was training for? My response always was on the likes of “My next birthday”  but my usual response was “life”.  I just didn’t know I was actually training for open heart surgery. My abs made sitting up on day two without assistance easier, my thunder thighs from spinning made getting off the toilet easier and  my glutes from squatting made getting out of bed a tad less difficult.

I have eased back to work teaching spin off the bike, giving orders for TREAD & SHRED class and training a couple of clients who know I am not picking up their weights, demonstrating spiderman push-ups and by no means jumping rope with them.  I love, love, love  jumping rope.   I seriously cannot sit and watch any more daytime TV because it has convinced me that this is why America is full of overweight lazy people. Honestly all of my silly shows on Bravo that I am addicted to seem like rocket science compared to the amount of talk shows, Judge shows and game shows on TV.   I’ll take any Housewives shows over the annoying ladies on the View, Kathy Lee Gifford who gave me a migraine, and I will say it…… watching Kelly Ripa is like watching a puppet with a hand up its ass. Oh, and  “Let’s Make a Deal.” ….. How about” Let’s get a job”, “Let’s Volunteer”  or “let’s go workout.” ” I’ll take the box marked LIFE that Carol Merril is standing in  front of Monty.”

I have been told I look great.  People can’t believe I had open heart surgery, that I should be home resting, taking time off. I have even been told that I should look into going on disability. Are you serious?  Disability? What’s my disability?  I wake up everyday and I have a pulse, and I say “thank you.”  The only disability is a bad attitude and the belief that you are owed something in life.   I have a choice to make everyday…. to be mad about what I went through or to move forward and be happy that each day I am stronger than the day before. I am a lucky girl.  Hallelujah brother that my girls will come home from college in the next few weeks and will see me looking like their normal mom, tell me my scar is gross and ask me if we can we go to the mall.   If I have one thing to say is that life is good and yes I love Madonna.

Please follow my fitness blog and now my journey after open heart surgery. To read the original pre-op post Fit, Fifty & WTF go to hopenagy.wordpress.com and scroll to 4/7/2015

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Hope Nagy- Certified Personal Trainer

hope@motivatehopestrength.com

610-608-6087

MotivateHopeStrength.com   Personal Training

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YOU DON’T WORKOUT BECAUSE OF WHAT? by Hope Nagy

10 02 2014

“Success is not to be measured by the position someone has reached in life, but the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed.”  Booker T. Washngton

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Johnny Quinn IFBB

“I can’t exercise.” I hear it every day from people I know personally, not strangers.  Bad knee, bad back, bad hip, headaches, etc. And while I don’t discredit their discomfort, as I too have a bad knee, a bad back and my newest pain my hip, I do question their reasoning for not exercising.  I personally know people on disability for ailments that I question, “you really can’t work with that?” This is a subject that makes my blood boil and is something that I have a hard time with. I mean, if you could exercise and feel better, lessen the pain, and improve the quality of your life, why wouldn’t you?

While at the gym recently I noticed a guy with an amazing physique that was training with a fellow trainer Joe Quinn of ProQ Fitness  What I noticed first and then later say’s it all, and is the reason why I personally can’t accept some of the reasons why able bodied people tell me they can’t exercise.

Joe yelled over to me to see if I could I help him with a spot for this client. It wasn’t until I was walking over to them that I noticed that the guy with the huge biceps was in a wheel chair and was about to do a shoulder press with some heavy weight that needed a little assist. When the set was done Joe introduced me to his younger brother Johnny.  I walked away but throughout my workout I couldn’t help but watch Johnny because there seemed to be no obstacles in his way.  Although Johnny has some huge muscles I found 12 that were by far being used the most: Zygomaticus major and minor (4), Orbicularis oculi (2), Levator labii superioris (2), Levator anguli oris (2) and Risorius (2)… the 12 muscles that make up a smile.  A smile that said: I am one lucky guy to be able to exercise.

Meet Johnny Quinn, IFBB International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness.

In 1998, Johnny was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident that left him with a 10% chance to live. Two broken femurs, a broken arm, a broken jaw, massive head trauma and a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down.  He was 21 when this happened.

At age 19 if I asked Johnny Quinn what is the meaning of success in one word, what would teen Johnny have answered me? 

Wealthy

Your body screamed “COMPETITION” when I first saw you at the gym.  Some people notice eyes, some breasts, I notice biceps. Are you use to people staring at your physique?

Thanks! At first I felt like everyone would look at me because I was in a wheelchair. Now, I’m up on stage showing off my body and the last thing people see is the chair.

After the accident how many months did you spend at Magee Rehabilitation in Philadelphia?

One month in ICU, three months at Magee Rehab. Three long months, but it gave me the foundation to rebuild my life.

Prior to your accident you worked out, but nothing like now.  After the accident and being confined to a wheel chair you told me you watched your stomach get bigger and bigger.  Some people would have never even dreamed of heading back into the gym but you decided to take back control of your body, and head back to the gym. 

Mentally I was determined to beat this thing from day one. I never lost control of that.  The first year out was the toughest, but I had a lot of support from my family and friends. I discovered that with God all things are possible, and took it one day at a time. Oh, I had some battles with fear, anxiety & depression but I never let it take control. However, physically, I had to heal before I could really do any weight training. I had to focus on just being able to perform the daily activities of life. About two years after I got home I felt strong enough and independent enough to join back at the gym and to start weight training. The rest is history.

First days back at the gym, what was it like?

Without the use of my legs or my core muscles that help stabilize myself, training was very challenging at first and frustrating. We just had to think outside the box and always think safety too. I have titanium rods in my spine and have to be careful not to break them. Once we did start learning what works and developing a routine, it felt like a victory in itself. It was basically trial and error to see what works best. I am still discovering different ways to train the muscle in a different way to shock it and stimulate more growth.

You were shown a Flex magazine article which featured Men’s Wheelchair Body Building. That picture spoke something to you?

As soon as I saw that article and pics of those wheelchair bodybuilders I knew that’s what I wanted to do. If I had to be in a wheelchair, I wanted to look like that!

How long after your injury did you enter your first body building competition? 

My first competition was in 2001, three years after my injury. I was the only guy in a wheelchair, but once I got out on stage and heard the response from the audience after I rocked the house with my posing routine, I was hooked.  The support from all the other bodybuilders was awesome too! As nervous as I was they made me feel relaxed and confident in myself. It was a life changing event. It’s now 12 years later and I have since become an IFBB Pro Wheelchair Bodybuilder.

Are you always training? 

Bodybuilding is a way of life, a lifestyle. You are always training to make improvements for the next show, consistency is the key. It takes persistence, dedication, and devotion. Not everyone can do it. I’ll take a week or two off after a competition, but I get back on a schedule depending on my next show. However, taking some time off is always needed if you want to survive in this business.

Finish this sentence….. When this show is done I am eating ……..

Pizza, cheesburger and fries!

Yummy but I think I hear the Mcgurgles!  What’s playing in your ear buds when training?

Heavy Metal

What playing on the stage when you’re posing?

At first heavy metal, but then I wanted to do a song that meant something and allowed me to share my faith, so I toned it down and tried some christian praise songs. That was definitely moving, but I needed more power. I found this christian metal band “Disciple” who have the power and message together, so that is my music these days.

Here you are more than  decade later I’d say you proved the doctors wrong and then some, and some more!

I guarantee I would never have done many of the things in my life that I’ve done sif not for my accident. Most of all being a professional bodybuilder.

In the past 12 years tell me what shows you have competed in?

 In 2002 I competed in my first NPC National Wheelchair Bodybuilding show in Florida, where I placed 4th in my weight division. I continued to compete each year getting bigger and better each year. Along with the NPC Wheelchair Nationals in Palm Beach, Florida every year I also competed at the NPC Junior Nationals in New Orleans, now called the NPC USA Wheelchair Championships. Two shows a year is enough, and they are really the only wheelchair shows out there. In 2010 I achieved my goal I set from day 1, and that was to win the Overall title at the NPC Wheelchair Nationals. Winning the overall title earned me my official IFBB Pro Card. That was a great feeling of accomplishment. My greatest actually.

Tell me about your training program.

I train 4 days a week. One body part at a time, except for arms. That way I can focus 100% to one muscle and just kill it. Get in and get out. So many people spend way to much time in the gym. I’ll add cardio in getting ready for a show.

Diet? Share please! We want to know. 

Diet is the key to successful bodybuilding. You have to eat to grow. My diet consists of 6 meals a day. My protein sources consist of grilled chicken, turkey, lean red meat, eggs, fish, and whey protein powder by Tak-N Sports Supplements. Carbs are mostly oatmeal, sweet or white potatoes, rice (white or brown) and cream of rice. Green veggies also like broccoli, asparagus, and green beans. I never used to calculate my calories. I just judged by how I look, but since I turned pro I want to take it to the next level, which is why I started working with Vic Tringali at teamvic.com With his knowledge and experience I look to make some major improvements in size & conditioning. After only 10 weeks of contest prep with him last year I made tremendous improvements from the previous year to take 3rd place at the 2013 IFBB Houston Pro Show. My calorie intake for the show was around 1800-1900 per day. This off season it’s probably around 4000. With a good off season program & contest prep with Vic this year I look forward to making some serious gains. Just wait and see what the finished product looks like come October. Stay tuned!

4000 calories off season do you know what us gals would do to be able to eat 4000 calories? Any Supplements?

Lots of whey protein powder by Tak-N Sports Supplements.  Amino acids, creatine, glutamine. Whole food is the most important thing though.

One moment can change your life but what  do you think makes the difference between the person who can accept the change and the challenges it brings and the person who throws in the towel?

It comes from within. It comes from the heart and when you invite Jesus into your heart, then there’s nothing too hard for you to overcome.  Because with God all things are possible. Sometimes it takes something tragic to happen for you to realize that, but it doesn’t have to.

You have a smile that lights up a room. You’re big and strong looking but you don’t look angry and mean.  Or am I wrong? Do you have good days and bad days? 

I always have good & bad days. I’m human. I get angry at myself than anything, but I try to always keep a positive mind. Yeah I try to play the tough guy part, but I am a big softy. I’m Italian. However, I will release the wrath of God if necessary. Lol!

Do you sometimes listen to people bitch about their problems and think, OMG you have have no idea what a real problem is! Or how about people who take beter care of their cars then their health?  Choose not to exercise.  I often say to people, do you know how many others would trade places with you to have your heart, your lungs, your legs?

I agree, but like I said, that’s why I like to get out and share my story and mostly just let people see the way I live my life. Walk the walk, not just talk the talk. No pun intended.. Bodybuilding puts me in the spotlight and I like to use that as an avenue to encourage & inspire people.

Your brother Joe owner of  ProQfitness.com Personal Training is one of your biggest fans.  Joe had this to say about you. 

          Joe Quinn“I am his biggest fan! I am a proud big brother of all his life accomplishments, which to me seem unprecedented. His ability to thrive in moments of extreme misfortune and tremendous adversity is attractive, heroic and nothing short of amazing. He utilizes his ambitions when a specific opportunity presents itself.  Johnny is a celebrity in my eyes.”

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Joe has been a tremendous help. Believe it or not Joe and I just started training together over the past two years. He has been   there as my training partner and pretty much my right hand man. He comes to my shows and helps me get ready.  Its nice to be able to spend time with my brother like this. Its a team effort! I can always count on him.

 Joe spoke about  training someone in a wheelchair.

          Joe Quinn “Learning how to train someone in a wheelchair was a whole new ball game. Most of my learning and expertise came from Johnny himself and I was able to obtain some valuable techniques from other fitness experts in the field. Once becoming familiar with the training process,  the biggest obstacle as a trainer in this setting is Patience. There is a lot of transferring of Johnny in and out of the wheelchair from one machine/exercise to the next in a very specific and safe fashion. I have to stay alert and  very attentive.” 

I know God and your faith is a huge part of your life.  Who else are thankful for?

I am thankful for so many people in my life who have made an impact one way or another.  But the one I can single out is my mom, who has put my life before hers since I was born, and has been like a rock through everything, I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. I owe my life to her. She is a blessing from God.

Is there anything you can live without?

It’s amazing what you can adapt to in the face of adversity and after all I’ve been through there’s nothing I can’t live without.

Today at age 37 I am asking you what is your definition of “success”?

Fulfilling Gods will for my life, meeting Him in heaven to hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servent.”

Do we stop when we are done or are we never finished?  Do we ever reach all of our goals?

I think that if we don’t continue to set goals our lives will become stagnant.

I love the quote form Epictetus: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”  

Thats what makes the man!

BAM! (just had to say that. lol) Thanks Johnny 

Johnny will be competing next in October in Houston Texas.  Besides bodybuilding Johnny works full time for an Insurance Company and also does motivaional speaking engagements. You can learn more about Johnny at Johnnyquinn.com or contact him at quinnyjt21@aol.com

Personal Training by Joe Quinn  ProQfitness.com

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Hope Nagy Certified Personal Trainer

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You Always Had the Power My Dear

9 10 2013

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The email usually starts the same “Hi my name is…” Then the person goes on to tell me that they are interested in hiring a personal trainer because they need to lose weight, never worked out, need to be pushed, motivated and accountable to someone, getting married, etc.  But a year ago I got an e-mail that included this:

After successfully losing more than 160 pounds over 6+ years, working a crazy desk job and being lax about working out, the pounds have started to creep back.  I’m getting married in December (and have already ordered my dress) so I’m looking to get stronger and healthier.

Can you  possibly get any stronger than the strength and dedication it took to lose 160 lbs this gal already had?  The answer is yes, yes and YES!!!!!

One of the best things about this new client that came to me in September of 2012 and was getting married in December is she wasn’t my typical bride to be. She didn’t say the things I usually hear from brides. The I’m wearing a strapless dress and I want to lose 40 pounds have sculpted arms, accentuated collar bones,  and my legs are fine cause the dress is covering them.”  Christine told me I don’t expect miracles in the next few months I just want to look good in my dress. Did I actually have a bride that I didn’t have to give my I’m not a magician speech and that these requests come with hard work and SWEAT?   Christine lost weight in the few months and  look absolutely gorgeous in her dress.  But this story isn’t about brides and training and looking great in a wedding dress. The real story begins the 6 years before I met Christine and continues with the year we have spent together once a week, burpee after burpee after burpee.  See un like most brides after their big day Christine didn’t turn down her exercise regime, or take time off.   This married lady turned it up and the pounds went down and down each week. Putting us at this very moment I am typing to 50 pounds in a little over one year.

Like most girls who are not comfortable in a gym atmosphere, finding somewhere to workout  that is not in everyone’s view is where they either request to train or somehow manage to move me. Can we go over there they say.   Listen gals let’s get this straight. Nobody is looking at you. The guys and gals in front of the mirrors are so vain they don’t have time to look at you!

So what prompts most over weight people to make a change? Sometimes it’s  a trip to the doctor, blood test results or maybe heart disease.   Christine had no alarming medical diagnosis she just was sick and tired of being over weight.   No more talking about it,  waiting for the right time, New Years Day or a Monday.  She pressed go and got up and went and put her plan into action with cleaning up her diet and exercising.  A year ago I was told by Christine that she doesn’t run. She does now. Did her first 5K this year.  “I can’t do a push-up” has been replaced with “how many and do I clap or burpee in between ?”  In 12 months I never heard Christine say  “I can’t do that.” She ALWAYS says to me the words, “I’ll try.”  One pound losses were never a bummer for Christine. No losses we never upsetting, but just more motivation for her to tighten up her diet and exercise a little harder.   This past year I witnessed the decline of jean sizes this year and saw how exciting it was for Christine to get rid of the old clothes and go shopping for new ones. My favorite texts said “Hi!!! I just bought a pair of 27, yes 27, True Religion jeans. I don’t have muffin top. I’m in shock!” and “I can’t believe the ass in the mirror is mine!”  That ass has done a million squats, of every version I can think of in the last 12 months, it better look good or my ass is grass! My business card is stamped on that ass of hers.

Whether Christine’s goal was looking good in her wedding dress, or recently zipping up a dress she wanted to wear to a friend’s wedding, she always set realistic goals and then worked, not wished towards that goal.  When she said to me in her initial e-mail she wanted to get stronger, she didn’t realize that she already had an over abundance of strength and dedication that even i I could not give her.  That type of strength has to come from inside. That strength is what is needed to succeed and never give up.  No personal trainer is going to give that to you. Trainers  might push you, pull you, and tug some things out of you give you muscular strength, endurance and cardio but  dedication and the POWER to succeed is internal and has to come from you.

Gone are the pink baby weights and hiding in the corner.  Christine is pressing steel in double digits, running, spinning, squatting, and standing in front of the mirror. Why? Because I tell her to. Look at your muscles. Check out your form. That’s what the mirrors are for. That’s why we gym rats hog the mirrors. Watching your body’s muscles is like sculpting a piece of art.

When someone loses weight they also lose some inhibitions. Confidence is often gained. Strength surfaces and is used in multiple ways. Yes there will be the haters. “You’re too skinny”, “You’re obsessed”.  Your real friends will let you know if they see a problem or in Christine’s case I told her recently  “I’ll tell you if you’re getting too skinny.”

There is a great saying from Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz: “You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it yourself.”

Christine you are an inspiration to the many people who have to lose weight and to get healthy. Being your bad bitch, oops, I mean bad witch this year was rewarding to me, and your constant smile and positive attitude is so refreshing. I thank you and I’ll get you my pretty at this weeks training.

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Christine and a friends dog

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Christine & Tom December 2012

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When I grow up…I want to be a Fitness Competitor.

20 02 2012

For many  of us fitness enthusiasts there have been many  moments where we think, I would have loved to have been that, done that, or tried that. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I say that often. I could have played sports but my parents worked full-time so I wasn’t allowed. I could have been a singer but I ruined my voice yelling in spin class. I could have been a professional biker had I started riding younger. I coulda, woulda, shoulda ….the list goes on and on.  At one point in our lives we put our dreams, wishes and desires aside because we either doubted ourselves, didn’t have the passion, the drive or the dedication to go for it, or thought we are to old, or some have even given up on a dream because of someone else’s. I do believe that each person has something they excel at and most go through their entire lives never finding that special gift that they have. Lance Armstrong talks about that in his first book, about how lucky he was to find biking. I may never find my “thing” so I’ll keep looking, dreaming and hoping for more chances. In the meantime I want to talk to the people who have succeeded in finding their “thing”.

Today I start my first of a series of  blogs called: When I grow up.

 When I grow up I would like to be a Fitness Competitor.

Meet Carrie Simmons, I.F.B.B. Pro Fitness competitor, aerialist, personal trainer and coach. When I have a question about training I usually e-mail Carrie. Since she is surrounded by serious fitness folks I know if she doesn’t know the answer, she will find it for me.  Carrie moved from Conshohocken, PA to LA to pursue her dream of becoming a fitness professional.  I spoke to Carrie recently…….

Q- When did you start working out?

A- I started training when I was 23. I was dating a National level BBer who dragged me kicking and screaming to the gym.

Q- How old were you and what was the first competition you entered?

A – I was 26 I think. It was a regional Ms. Fitness USA competition.

Q- How did you do? What one thing did you learn from this first competition that stayed  with you and made you prepare better for the next show? 

A- I think I was like second to last… LMAO! I learned to diet more than 4 weeks for a show and don’t carb up on Frosted Flakes!!!!!

Q- You turned pro in what year and how many years after your first competition?

A- Turned pro in 2009, 12 years after starting.

Q-That’s a long time. Did you ever want to quit?

Hell YEAH. They weren’t 12 continuous years, I’d get fed up and take some time off, then the itch would come back

Q- What was the name of the competition and how did it feel to get your pro card? 

A- It was the NPC Team Universe in NYC. It was AWESOME!

Q- What is your biggest struggle to stay  in top shape?  

A-  DIETING!!!!!!

Q- When you are not competing are you still strict with your diet and exercise?

A- I’m still strict, but more reasonable. I’ll eat a wider variety of foods.

Q- What type of food or supplements should I take before and after my workouts to help me see results in gaining lean muscle and losing fat? 

A- BCAAs and glutamine afterwards for recover and I like a pre workout supplement  that has no caffeine and sometimes caffeine for a kick.

Q- How do you deal with cravings for junk foods, sweets and salty food? I crave chocolate all the time. I have no willpower for this. It literally cannot be in my house in any form. 

A-  I do the same thing… I don’t keep it in the house!

Q- When I first saw you at Superfit gym when you still lived in Philadelphia I was so intimidated by you.  I am sure that most women are, but how do the men in the gym react to you? Intimidated? Jealous?  Impressed?  

A- LMAO!!!! YOU intimidated me! I remember saying to Greg, (owner of SuperFit Gym) “Wow does she always stay in that kind of shape??” I get a mix of reactions, mostly positive.

Q – What is the best compliment you have ever received? 

A- Probably when a woman tells me she wants  to look like me.

Q – I was in a club at the Jersey Shore (Yo)  and some little guy told me I was too big  and that it wasn’t feminine or sexy.  I’m not even that big.  Do people say stuff like that to you? 

A- I’ve gotten it before. My response is usually “f**k off” I look this way for me. I like it and that’s all that really matters.  I lucked out and found a great guy who likes it too.

Q- How do you deal with all the beautiful people in California (LA) who buy their appearance?

A- That great guy I found lives in LA. Yes, there are plenty of folks who have been surgically altered here, but there are a lot  more who spend hours in the gym just like us.

Q- Tell me the difference between people in an East Coast Gym and a West Coast Gym. 

A – I think the East coast guys are more “meat head”… more concerned with strength and muscle size not necessarily leanness. The west coast boys are all about being lean and pretty.  As for the girls, there are more ladies in the gyms on the west coast for certain.

Q- Please describe your normal diet. What do you eat on  a typical day to stay in shape. 

A- That’s easy it’s pretty much the same all year! Differences between off-season and contest prep are the types of proteins and the amount of carbs I eat.

Meal 1 – shake and oatmeal

Meal 2 – oatmeal and egg whites

Meal 3 – protein, carb, veggies

Meal 4 – protein, carb, veggies

Meal 5  – Post workout shake

Meal 6 – protein, carb

Meal 7 – protein

Q – “Carbs”, I can’t stand when my clients don’t eat any carbs and don’t understand the  good carb/ bad carb rule. Do you eat carbs? 

A – YUP!

Q – What guidelines do you recommend for daily protein intake? 

A- I’m of the 1.5-2g per lb. of body weight. The higher end of that being for quality muscle gaining.

Q – When you are not competing are you still strict with your diet and exercise? Because sometimes I see a post and your eating at a burger place or some other joint and I am saying no way is Carrie eating that crap. 

A – LMAO!!! Are you referring to my trips to the cheesecake factory and the Counter (awesome burger shop in LA)???? Hey, I love food. But even when I diet for a show, I get one cheat meal a week. I take it on a Saturday or Sunday so Michael and I can have somewhat of a “normal” time out. But even if it’s not a cheat meal,  the places we eat out at in LA don’t look at you like you’ve got 2 heads when you ask for something grilled, or without butter or dressing on the side. That’s another thing I like about the West coast, it’s way more health conscious than the East coast. I ask for my food prepared a special way and stuff on the side.  Back home  in Philly it would come with a heaping serving of spit.

When I order my boyfriend cringes, especially when I say “write this down” . He says, you forget to tell them no tomatoes and extra spit please. lol 

Q- What is your training routine like? (Please include a few details – training split, sets/reps, exercises, types of cardio, etc.) Currently  I’m hitting everything 2x a week

Answer

Mon – legs (quad specific, some ham)

Tue – back and biceps (heavy movements)

Wed – chest, shoulder triceps (chest and triceps specific)

Thu – legs (ham specific, some quad)

Fri – back and biceps (light and detailing)

Sat – chest, shoulder triceps (shoulder specific – military presses etc)

Cardio right now is treadmill mostly. Early AM empty stomach before work (lifting is at night after work)

Q – Six pack abs. Made in the kitchen or in the gym?  

A – Some gym, mostly kitchen!

Q – Do you train everyday? 

A- Sunday right now is off, but I wind up going to dance class.

Q – What are the top 5 tips you recommend for staying motivated on a fitness plan and truly making a healthy lifestyle change:

  1. Set goals. Whether it’s a competition, some party you want to look good for, your birthday…
  2. Track what you eat… FOR REAL. Every bite. Most folks don’t realize how much they really consume.
  3. Find a work out that’s fun. You hate weights? Try rock climbing. Hate the treadmill? Take a Zumba class
  4. If you fall off the wagon, jump right back on. Don’t give in to the “screw it, I already messed up, may as well keep going” pitfall.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people who will support your efforts

Q -What do you consider to be your strong points as a competitor?

A -With fitness, we have 2 rounds – physique and routine. Physique is definitely my stronger.

Q – What body part is the hardest for you to train? 

A – Legs are hard, but I love training them.

Q – Do you measure your body fat on a regular basis? Weigh your self everyday?

A – I don’t get my BF tested. Those handheld gadgets and home scales are always off. I had it done a few years back at a training facility. I measure my bf by how many striations, muscle fibers and veins I see. Weight I do once a week but only when I’m in contest mode.

Q – Who do you look to in the fitness industry for inspiration? 

A- One of my really good friends, IFBB Pro Fitness competitor Tracey Greenwood. She’s a PhD and a college professor. She retired from competition as one of the top girls of all time. She has a great work ethic and balance of fitness and work. She also helps to rescue dogs. (She also from the East coast! DE)

Q -What is the #1 thing you like about being into fitness?

A- How working out makes me look. I’ll admit it, I’m vain.

Q -Don’t you think you either have to be vain or insecure to be this dedicated?  I hate to admit this but I think personally my insecurities push me.

A- I think everyone is a little of both, its just how you let those 2 shape you and control you. We use ours to shape these physiques; someone else may allow the insecurities to drive tem to overeat…

Q – Coolest person you ever met? –

A – Randy Couture

Q – Person you’d love to meet? 

A – George St. Pierre

Q – If you could work out with one famous person who would that be.

A –  George St. Pierre

Q -You and your boyfriend are both in amazing shape. Could you ever date a regular guy.  You know what I mean. Mike is huge.

A – I couldn’t date anyone that doesn’t work out. They don’t have to be a BBer, but they need to train. I spend most of my free time in some sort of workout facility – be it lifting, gymnastics, dance, aerial. If that person didn’t work out, I’d never see them!

Q – Your also an aerialist. Explain to me what that is?

A – Think Cirque du Soleil. I perform on rope, trapeze, silks and hoop.

Q – I hate the age thing. I find myself at the gym busting my ass more. Wish I could turn back the years with each rep. How do you deal with the age thing.  Do you find that the older you get the harder it is to stay in shape, keep your muscle definition, stay lean? 

A – Honestly, not yet. I’ll be 40 in April and I’ve never looked better. I know it’s gonna catch me one day, but today ain’t that day!

Q – Recently someone I know posted on her Facebook that women over the age of 30 shouldn’t wear just jog bras when working out.  I of course had to comment why not? I am one of those gals that does wear a just a sports bra.  I was bombarded by a slew of women  who agreed with the poster.  Should a woman over a certain age not wear a bikini, a sports bra, etc.  Your thoughts? 

A –  If you look good, rock it. She was probably mad because SHE can’t wear one.

Q – Most girls look in the mirror and say “I hate my …..”  or “I wish I was…..” What does Carrie say? 

A – I don’t like my calves. Unfortunately, they’re genetic so I am stuck with them. But I’m ok with everything else right now. Butt could be tighter…

Complete these sentences: 

 When I grow up I want to be ……. I refuse to grow up!

If I could switch bodies with one person it would be…… No one. 

If chocolate chip cookies were fat-free and calorie free I would eat it all the time. 

I am scared of  failure.

Q – What’s one sport or event you wish you could do? (like  a triathlon, tennis, golf, etc.) 

A – Gymnastics.

Q – Favorite body part  on a guy (keep it clean) lol. 

A – LMAO!!!!! It depends, I love nice thick pecs and cannonball shoulders, but they gotta have legs too.

Q – There is a saying that I love it’s  “STRONG WOMEN ONLY INTIMIDATE WEAK MEN.”  True?

A – Weak mentally!

Carrie lives in Marina Del Rey, California and works as a Creative Director for a Personal Care Manufacturer.  If you are interested in training with Carrie or taking an Aerial class, or have a question for her  you can contact her at www.carrie-simmons.com or carrie@carrie-simmons.com. You can also find Carrie on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carrie-Simmons-IFBB-ProAerialist/159354270759333  and on twitter http://twitter.com/IFBBProCarrie.

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