ICELAND on the EDGE

4 07 2018

 

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The “Bucket List“.  An itinerary of things one may want to do, or places one may want to visit before one dies. Iceland was high on my bucket list for quit some time. Years ago, 2010 to be exact, while watching the Bachelorette, they were in Iceland and I said to my boyfriend who was not paying attention to the show  “We’re going to Iceland.”  He just said ok to placate me, but I meant it and knew if we could bike there he would go.   But for the same reason  people sometimes are triggered to create a bucket list, I suddenly had a medical mishap. This out of the blue heart defect thingy sidelined me for a little while. *See Fit,Fifty & WTF.  But if theres one thing a life threatening  illness or in my case open heart surgery does is makes you realize that time is not guaranteed to no one and you need to stop putting off what you can and want to do today.  So to celebrate the two year anniversary of my new aortic valve  I knew it was time to check it off the list and away we went to the land of fire.

While Iceland is a “hot” place to visit when you tell people that’s where you are vacationing they ask you “Is it cold?” Followed by “Where is Iceland?” and “Are you going to bike in Iceland?”   Now before you assume I surround myself with people of little geographical knowledge, know that 64% of American’s have never left the country.

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“Welcome to the land of the ice and snow.” (Repeat. But this time sing it like you’re Robert Plant.) So impressed with Icelands majestic terrain “The Immigrant Song” by the great Led Zeppelin was inspired to be written.  Iceland is an island in the Atlantic Ocean and the second largest island in Europe. It is also the most sparsely populated country in Europe. A quick 5 hour flight from Newark Airport and we were there.

 

Time constraints and busy season prices, we opted to take a chance and go in late March. This  is what is known as the beginning of their summer season.  Temperatures ranged in the high 50’s to mid 60’s.  Along with this choice of gambling on the changing of the seasons we did encounter the negatives that we had hoped we would somehow avoid. Our scheduled Volcano mountain bike ride ended up getting cancelled twice due to extremely high winds and bad weather. To give you an idea how windy it was when we were there the headlines of the newspaper read “Winds in Iceland cause flying trailers and trampolines.”  The beginning of summer is known for it’s  more severe glacial winds and this can cause the closing of sections of Ring Road also known as Rt.1. and if you can’t use this thoroughfare your trip plans get messed up!  The most popular attractions  are along the “The Golden Circle” section and our first two days we could only venture by car to sight see a certain radius along Ring Road because of road closures.  Finally, on the day prior to our departure our prayers were answered by the weather goddess.  Which meant we would finally get  to “The Edge”, the ride we pre-selected from the bike tour company  Icebike Adventure  . You can check out the many rides offered on Icebike Adventures web sight and make sure to follow them on Instagram.  Our guide Magne arrived at our hotel and we headed about 20 minutes outside Reyjakvik  towards the beautiful blue hued Bláfjöll volcanic mountain range.

Rain gear and trail shoes, not bike shoes as told from IceBike Adventures, who were awesome answering my questions via email prior to our trip, because although we would be riding we would be doing some walking on jagged terrain.  Armed with our fat tire bikes hiked on our shoulders, Magne said “Follow me” and he took off like a rabbit hopping thru a green patch of moss.  Obviously this bumpy moss covered terrain was a texture Magne was well accustomed to, however from the second I started our 1/4 mile trek threw this multi level green matted lava rock the Philly girl in me surfaced. “WTF”   You have this green sponge substance anchored over lava rock. Moss likes water so it looks pretty but you’re  trying to walk, see where you’re going so you don’t lose a limb  in-between a crevasse. I also am looking around for a martian to pop out  because it it so surreal and seriously looks like the set of a space movie.

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The higher part of the Volcano still had some white stuff that had not melted so we got to ride through some sections that still had some snow. And as we encountered these little white patches Magne would traverse down like Alberto Tomba as did Kevin my boyfriend. Me, I instantly would hit the snow and instead of peddling through, fall over and find myself sliding down sideways.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And to all of the snow riding experts out there, here’s my million and one excuses.  I never rode a fat tire bike. This particular bike was way too big for me. No the seat wouldn’t

IMG_2998adjust lower and I never rode a bike in the snow!  As we descended down the “Edge” we did so along with the run off of the earlier rains and the melting snow.  The trails are deep and muddy.  Which is why you are riding a fat tire and not a 26″ or 27.5″ tire.  While the scenery was spectacular, and the ride epic, it did at times become frustrating for me. Since I was on a bike that was way too big I did not have the steering control, and therefore every time my front tire hit something the bike would ricochet back throwing me and my vajayjay forward on to the bike bar.  Which brought again lots of F-Bombs out of my mouth and left me with a bruise the color of the blue lagoon.

By the bottom of this 3 plus hour majestical ride the sun appeared, the sweat dripped and we were now clad in T-shirts, mud and big smiles.  The colors, terrain and the textures unlike anything I have ever seen or ridden before in my life. The beauty of Iceland is simply breathtaking, and to be able to take in this magical ride is something I certainly do not take for granted. It is days like this that reinforce why I have a bucket list. Why it is so important to me to do things, see things and experience things rather than have things. Good health is not guaranteed. And certainly something one should never take for granted.  We can do our best to live our healthiest, but as I found out sometimes the cards have been dealt prior to birth and we never know what is lying in our hands or genes. What I can tell you is that I will always continue to add to my bucket list and always strive to check things off no matter what challenges should come my way.

The world is big and I want to have a good look before it gets dark. ” John Muir

The white hummer awaited us at the bottom with cold drinks thanks to Magnes staff.  The day was perfect and thankfully we were not repacking our clean bike gear for the trip home. That would have really sucked. Iceland CHECK!

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*For the Road riders you can ride or book with a bike tour company to travel parts or even the whole “Golden Circle” also known as Ring Road. This would be for those riders who can withstand the extreme strong winds, various terrain of tarmac and gravel along with various weather related road conditions along and steep hills.

Accommodations: We had debated on whether to stay at one of the bigger Hotels chains however even in the off season the rates seemed rather high and I personally preferred a location within a close walking distance to the main area of downtown Reykjavik.  Airbnb apartments will often showed up in your search as hotel rooms on the large travel sights so make sure when you are booking that you realize that a lot of these so called apartments are actually turn key hotel like rooms that are over other buildings with no lobby. There were many of these type rooms being built all over this area. We opted for small new Hotel called  Hotel Klettur  and were very please with our choice for it’s location, free continental breakfast, that went beyond just cereal and muffins and for its comfortable bed and linens.  It was furnished basic Scandinavian style furniture or as we American would say “looks like Ikea.”  If you are looking for fancy, book elsewhere.  

IMG_7163 Chasing Rainbows and Chillin’ 

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Hope’s Heart is Spinning at The PHILLY SPIN-IN

12 01 2018
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This is my cousin Scott. We are both members of the zipper club. A club neither of us chose to join but came with the Congenital Heart Defect membership we both received at birth. That’s the reality for many parents. One of every 120 children is born with congenital heart disease.Others are diagnosed with a heart condition during childhood, and some acquire heart disease as they grow. All told, there are millions of children living with some type of pediatric heart disease. That is why my heart is spinning and why I need your heart to spin too. 
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On Sunday March 11, 2018 I am so excited and proud to be one of the Spin instructors at this years Philly Spin-In for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — a fun, high-energy, indoor cycling party to help children with heart disease. It truly is a big workout to help little hearts.  Like my cousin Scott who was born with a congenital heart defect known as TGA-Transposition of the great arteries Scott spent his first 17 days of his life at CHOP. Turning 14 years old next month Scott is a normal healthy active boy with no restrictions.  His parents are thankful for the amazing doctors, nurses and the whole team of professionals at the Cardiac Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
I am Spinning for a cause that couldn’t get any closer to my very own heart.
I was born with a CHD, a Bicuspid Aortic Valve and found out at age 50 when an aneurysm developed. But no parent should ever have to hear the words “Your child has congenital heart disease.”  That is why the Philly Spin- In is raising support for the Cardiac Center to make tomorrow’s breakthroughs possible at Children’s Hospital.
Please join me, other cycle instructors and hundreds of people for this amazing event to benefit Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
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RIDE/DONATE or DONATE 
Be on my team Hopeheartstrong  by making a donation and signing up to ride at this link:
As a team we need to raise $1000. The more we raise the more bikes we will have at the event. 
Or please DONATE.  You can make a donation to the event
Details on the Philly Spin-In at: PHILLY SPIN – IN
Philly Spin-In
Corporate Sponsorship info is also available on-line and by contacting
Amanda Calabrese
Associate Director, Peer to Peer Fundraising
3401 Civic Center Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19104
267-426-6477 ● f 267-426-6530
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While I am passionate about Health and Fitness and am a preacher of heart health even more so now after my open heart surgery, anyone who knows me well knows I am a Spinning lover! ( I am sure people who take my classes have other adjectives to describe me)  However, having been an instructor for almost 20 years I credit spinning and so did my doctors to the reason I made it to age 50 with a CHD.  Spinning gave me a strong healthy heart, a genetic defect gave me a bad valve.  On Sunday March 11th at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia I plan on spinning my heart out because I physically can! Because I am grateful for those that provided me the medical advances, technology and skills that keep my heart pumping. I hope that events like the Philly Spin – In forge new discoveries in cardiac care, bolster training programs, advocate for children in underserved communities, and quickly respond to new opportunities that may — one day — cure all children with pediatric heart disease. Please donate.
Thank you from my heart ❤  Hope
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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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Biking in Whistler Canada a Mountain Bikers Oasis by Hope Nagy

12 10 2013

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I just got back from a  trip to Whistler, in Canada.   Home to the  2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games ,Whistler is about a two and a half hour car ride from Vancouver along the scenic Highway 99, also known as the Sea to  Sky Highway. Whistler in  the winter months is a mecca for skiers and snowboarders.  In the spring, summer, and a little bit into the fall it is a mountain bikers paradise.  From cross country to downhill, Whistler offers it all. The views are amazing, also shared by road cyclists and hikers.

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SEA TO SKY HIGHWAY 

If you’re planning a trip to Whistler for mountain biking, I will tell you that September is the least expensive time of the year to go because it’s the end of bike season.   I would recommend going spring or summer if you can afford it.  Even though the prices for a hotel room are exceptionally low in September the risk of rain is high, as I found out first hand. Also the local bike shops sell off their rentals at the end of the season to make room for next years new models, so I did have a hard time finding decent bikes even though there are a lot of shops in Whistler Village and the surrounding areas. After several calls in the weeks prior to my vacation I was able to rent myself a 2014 Santa Cruz Juliana and my boyfriend a Santa Cruz 29’er Tallboy from Evolution.    Evolution Whistler: Snowboard, Skate, Bike, Fashion store is located right in Whistler Village, were very accommodating, and the bikes we rented were pristine.  Suddenly my vintage 2001 Cannondale Scalpel might need to be replaced by a new Santa Cruz!  I normally ride a men’s frame, but I enjoyed the ride and feel of this women’s bike. My boyfriend Kevin, who usually rides a 26″ tire, loved his 29’er Tallboy and confirmed for him that he wants to make the switch to a larger tire.

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Whistler is home to Whistler Bike Park, http://bike.whistlerblackcomb.com. The park is for riders of all levels. They have tight single track with drop offs, steep rock faces, roots, twists and turns, and ramps. After watching the awesome videos on their site  this non-armour clad gal decided to go the route of the hills and cross-country trails outside the bike park .  Body armour and motocross style downhill helmets are a must. The sight of dozens of downhillers walking their bikes through Whistler Village is pretty cool, and watching the downhillers race down the mountain is even cooler. I wish I had the balls to ride downhill!

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I was lucky after a shout out on my Facebook page MotivateHopeStrength, to have the company Whistler Bike Guide recommended to me.  Some guides take their vacations at the end of the season, but I totally lucked out. Not only did I find a great guide, but I got the man who published the first Whistler bike guide, and one of the designers of the Whistler Trail System at Lost Lake Park!  Grant Lamont  guided us up some awesome climbs, and quick twisting descending single tracks. No map for us needed.  Grant lead and we followed.  The trail system is 126 miles of single track in the forest, and the trails are marked like a ski slope. Green circles, blue squares and black diamonds.  Every trail system has a name and we rode most of the Zappa system, with names like Disco Boy, we also caught a ride on Comfortably Numb and the ever popular River Runs Through it.   Grant gave us a three hour plus tour that gave me the hill climbs I wanted, and the downhills that my boyfriend loves.  His expertise was appreciated, and made the ride more enjoyable since we didn’t have to think about getting lost, and instead got to enjoy the ride. He also gave us an in-depth history of the trail system along with some other entertaining stories.

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 Grant Lamont –Whistler Bike Guide

Whistler Village was quaint.  Great shops, lodging, restaurants, and an over abundance of coffee shops.   Like most resort towns, Whistler is pricey.  The Four Seasons Whistler was beautiful and at the off-season rate it was very affordable.  When I search for a hotel it must have a gym/fitness room.   Location and a quality gym are my top priorities. I really wish more hotels would understand that a lot of us gym rats actually do base our choice of lodging based on it’s fitness room.    I give the Four Seasons Whistler a 10 out of 10 for the beautiful room, impeccable service and amenities, but only an 8.5 out of 10 for the fitness center.  The cardio equipment was in abundance and was like new.  At least 10 treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and even 14 sparkling new Schwinn Spin bikes. There were a few machines all that I didn’t particularly care for and one that was broken.   I never saw one person use these machines, most likely because they were awkward and were not user friendly. The small weight area had just one bench, which sat snugly in a very small area making it impossible for more than one person to lift. I will say I was pleasantly surprised that there was a bench press with a bar and plates, and a nicely sized aerobic room where they hold classes in the busier season.  For a hotel of this size and grandeur the weight area could be a little bigger so that at least two people could use it at the same time. I did love that the gym was located right next to the spa and I throughly enjoyed going right from the gym to the outside hot tubes, steam rooms and showers. Note to the Four Seasons, you can hire me to design and equip your fitness rooms!

FOUR SEASON WHISTLER

FOUR SEASON WHISTLER

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Heading back to Vancouver we stopped at the Capilano Bridge Suspension Park.  Spectacular and breathtaking bridges, cat walks contained in a rain forest. The perfect ending to a perfect trip! Now… where should I go next?

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Hope Nagy Personal Trainer

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Email Hope at:    Hope@motivatehopestrength.com

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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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