Posts Tagged ‘body building’


“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” ~ Aristotle

After 21 years in the Health and Fitness industry, I can finally say that I’ve found my niche. I am a strength and conditioning coach at 2 well known gyms located in downtown Toronto. I also work part-time as a physiotherapy assistant. I like the balance of helping individuals to attain their fitness and aesthetic goals; as well as aiding those who require a more therapeutic form of exercise; whose goals are more predetermined and specific ( ie, get up from a chair without knee pain).

I’ve always been an athlete, kind of the black sheep in my family in respect to that. I saw being active as pure enjoyment; the racing heartbeat, adrenaline and sweat was something I always enjoyed. I’m also very competitive by nature and I excelled in all sports related activities. My favorites are soccer, water polo and volleyball. I enjoyed these mostly because of the energy and synergy of the team environment.

As I got into my late teens, I had a shift in feeling about the team dynamic and felt like I wanted to try a sport where the competition was within one’s self. At 18 I began running long distance and by the time I was in my second year of university I had run 4 marathons. As much as I liked the cathartic feeling of a long distance run and the endorphins that followed, I was not built (bio-mechanically) to be a good runner. I experienced several injuries in my plantar fasciitis; knee and back discomfort, as well as a fateful left hamstring tear which occurred while running a marathon in Massey, Ontario.

After that injury I saw a chiropractor as a form of preventative treatment. My Doctor at that time recommended that I begin weight training to strengthen my hamstrings and offset the imbalance created by my strong quads. At the age of 21, I started on a path to bodybuilding and it has been my passion for almost 20 years. To me there is no better feeling than lifting heavy weights and pushing the body beyond its comfort zone. It’s not a natural state of mind; it can be extraordinarily painful; yet I continue to push forward to attain the desired goal. This thought process or state of being has transferred to other areas of my life. It has made me persevere, maintain focus, calm my mind and feel more confident. When I set my mind to something “I WILL” get it done. In other words I have attained a level of discipline that cannot be taught by book; classroom nor motivational speech.

The hardest obstacle that I’ve had to overcome as a female bodybuilder is twofold; the need to create balance between the gym and my personal life, as well as society’s misconception of women who have attained larger than average muscles. Unfortunately, it’s not as accepted as I’d hoped. Crossfit and various athletic (or fit) celebrities have helped somewhat, yet I can still occasionally feel the look of disapproval from people who don’t know me, yet judge me on what they see. It has nothing to do with masculine or feminine. In my eyes it has always been about building the perfect human form through weight training. I’ve always likened it to adding bits of clay to a sculpture bit by bit, until the results are perfect. I’ve discovered however that once attained there’s always a new goal on the horizon.

In the last 20 years, I have competed and won 5 times. I’ve also competed at Nationals and placed 4th. I’ve gone on to do discuss body building in the media, as well as trained other fitness athletes who themselves have attained great success. I now envision myself a mentor and teacher to other women with the same ideals.

My current workout routine, after trying several variations and muscle groupings, is 6 days a week, 1 body part a day, no more than one hour if possible, followed by 20 minutes HIIT cardio (high intensity interval training) or 1-2 x a week – spin class. My diet consists mainly of fish, sweet potatoes, Ezekiel bread, oatmeal, whey or casein protein, and several servings of fruit and vegetables as well nut butters and coconut oil for fats. My supplements have been basic for a while, as I try not to rely on them for my nutritional needs. I have a greens supplement drink first thing in the morning, followed by a pro-biotic and vitamin C. Post workout I have BCAA (branch chain amino-acid) as well as a shake. At night I take a multivitamin, vitamin D and magnesium.

My current fitness goals are trying to add more muscle to my legs and back; it’s the support system for the body and we can always benefit from getting stronger and more muscular.

One of the things that I try to convey to all of my clients is the fact that being inspired to train is good, but you must get to a point where you don’t need inspiration; only dedication. It all comes down to how badly you want to succeed. If the want is greater than the need, you’ll never be able to truly understand what it takes to get into the best shape of your life.

The sacrifices are many, but the rewards are tenfold physically, mentally and spiritually.

Kristen McCarthy
twitter @thehulklady


Hello, my name is Michelle and I am excited to share my fitness journey as so much has changed since sharing my first story with Socially Fit. I’m from the beautiful islands of Trinidad and Tobago found in the far south of the Caribbean. I began exercising at age 11 and never stopped unless told to do so. I was forced to stop working out in 2003 when I had a surgery. The other time was more recent, in 2013 after the birth of my miracle baby. Yes I said miracle baby since I was told that I was not capable of having children due to my diagnosis of endometriosis in 2003. I’m a figure athlete and have represented my country in various international body fitness competitions. My last competition being the Arnold Classic held in Ohio in 2013 where I placed 5th in my class.

During my pregnancy I was able to exercise with some modifications as I went through each trimester. However I had an emergency C-section which slowed my return to exercising post pregnancy. It was recommended that I should not to work out for the first 6 weeks post pregnancy and that was the crucial time when my weight should be reduced. Instead I have only lost a minimal amount of weight and after two months began a training regimen.

With the new addition to my family life, exercising has to be strategic. Timing is key. We purchased a treadmill for our home so I can get more structured cardio done when the baby is asleep. Weight training normally lasts between 30 to 40 minutes and is done prior to or after training clients as I am currently a freelance Personal Trainer in north Indianapolis area.

I have set both short term and long term goals and they motivate me to everyday to wake up and accomplish the objective set out for the day, week or month ahead. For example I set out to complete a 30 minute cardio session at least 3 days a week as well as 4 to 5 days of weight training to build muscle. My nutrition has also become even more crucial thus food prep every Sunday has become the norm to allow me to ensure the proper meals are consumed daily.

Some of my fitness goals include me being my original weight before I became pregnant on or before my birthday which is in July. I would also like to challenge myself by preparing to compete in October 2014 either representing my country Trinidad and Tobago or taking part in an NPC Show.

My hubby and parents have always been and still are the best support system ever. Hearing my mom say, “I’m eating better and exercising to be healthier” is support and a great motivational tool for me.

My favorite body part to work out is back.  I have always loved the quick response my back muscles adapt to my exercise routines over the years and this time is no different.

Always motivate yourself from within. Make mental notes and write down your goals. Mark Twain said it best, “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.” My last competition pic has been a continued motivational piece for me. I would love to earn my professional status one day. “One day at a time I am getting close to my goal” has been my mantra. It’s what I tell myself with each workout and each meal I consume each day.

Follow me on Twitter @triniintownmich
Blogspot M.O.R.E. Wellness by Michelle
Or Facebook Michelle Blessed


I’m very focused on building muscle while creating as little stress on my joints as possible. Always strict, controlled form. No bouncing. No swinging. Often (but not always): Slow reps (4sec down + 6 sec up) to shock the muscle and build up lactic acid releasing growth hormone. Drop sets, rest/pause and partial reps. Occasionally I will lift heavy weights, 3 sets of 5 reps or so.

In the mid-80s, I was a 115-pound teenager and I saw a picture of Robby Robinson posing. I remember thinking “Good grief is that his bicep?” He was fantastic and I was inspired. Seeing Robby Robinson, Frank Zane, Tom Platz and others, they blew me away.

I don’t have as many pains or some of the health problems that others my age have. I like to attribute this to staying healthy. Mentally, I love preparing for a workout, testing techniques and seeing how my body responds. It keeps me sharp. I love getting questions from others because then I usually have to do research before answering. I end up learning a lot that way.

Looking at how others progress and transform themselves, I also want to be inspirational to others my age or even younger. If I’m doing it, they can too! I love encouraging others and watching them take the bull by the horns.

My wife is fantastic! She’s my biggest supporter. She helps me eat healthy by eating healthy herself. She knows I’m not a fan of vegetables and she creatively adds them to the things she cooks. She is always encouraging me and telling me that I make her proud. She’s a wonderful woman and a blessing to my life!

I also get much enjoyment out of the younger crowd. We’re fortunate enough to have a great group of young people at our gym and they’re always encouraging and inspiring! I like having a good time at the gym and we all get along great.

Putting on weight has been one of my biggest obstacles. I was proud that I put on 18lbs. last year before cutting. That was the most I’ve ever weighed (178). I was also fortunate enough to have been interviewed by I was one of their Over 40 Amateurs of the week.

My routines change all the time. I’m cutting at the moment, the techniques are the same basically, I might add a few additional exercises if I think a specific body part needs more attention. I’m doing a lot of isolation type exercises right now to bring out the small details as I cut. I am very big on the MIND/MUSCLE connection (Kai Greene talks about this a lot). It really works!

I have a few goals I wish to achieve and there are many ways that I can go. Maybe personal training. Maybe a contest. But definitely to look at myself in the mirror and see improvement. My daily food plan consists of various combinations of the following: egg whites, 1 egg, oatmeal, tilapia, chicken breast, brown rice, tuna, broccoli, spinach, orange, apple and cottage cheese (casein protein). I also mix in supplements such as: Whey, BCAA’s, Creatine HCL, Yohimbe, Green Tea Extract, Fish Oil and Beta-Alanine.

I’m a HUGE fan of positive reinforcement. It’s just a great tool! EVERYONE has something they can be proud of and you should find people that will recognize those things in you. Social media is a great avenue for that. Find positive people who are not just blowing smoke or trying to sell something and they WILL help you. Remember, if you don’t fail occasionally, you’re not pushing hard enough. Don’t be afraid to fail! Just get started, one step at a time. Set small goals leading to ONE big goal.

Be proud, but don’t be satisfied. Take time to be pleased with the results of your hard work, but don’t be finished. Always look for something to improve. If you’re serious about progressing, you won’t have to look hard to find them.

Twitter: @TheOnlyAnt

Today We’re Chatting With an NPAA Elite Pro

If you follow Mindy Lou Ambrose on twitter you know that she’s nothing short of a fire cracker. She plays hard and works harder, so we’re thankful that she took the time to answer a few questions for us.

Mindy Lou Ambrose

Can you tell us a little about your formative years?

I spent much of my childhood exploring acting, dance and visual arts while my sister seemed to be more of a sports junkie. However, because she was only one year older, I kept trying to keep up with her. This meant participating in sports like Volleyball and Basketball, as well as competing in track and field events. My parents were supportive of all of our interests. My Dad used to ride my Mom’s bike around the block stopwatch in hand, beside us as we ran. We had him time us every night so that we could try to beat our times. This is a fond memory of mine because other kids in the neighborhood started to join in, and it was quite funny to see my Dad on my Mom’s bike with a pack of kids running beside him.  In high-school a few friends had gym memberships. I couldn’t afford one so I used a youth exercise program at a Rec Centre. I was heavy into aerobics, plyometrics, running, and resistance training from the age of 17 (through the youth program) but wanted to get into weight-lifting too. I loved the gym setting from the minute I set foot in one for the first time on a friend’s guest pass. I can’t say there was ever a light-bulb effect moment where I became a fitness junkie. It has just always been in me – I genuinely enjoy challenging my body. I started to realize I could be serious with weight-training when I joined a gym at the age of 20 that was managed by my good friend. He was a bodybuilder, and a personal trainer and gave me priceless advice about heavy-lifting, building and fat-burning.

How has fitness changed your life?

Developing muscles and cardio conditioning at such a young age has helped me feel physically strong and capable which has always added to my self-confidence. The biggest impact fitness has had overall, is in goal-setting. I am a self-declared expert at goal-setting. For over a decade I have seen myself set and exceed goals on a regular basis and I can’t tell you how valuable of a habit that is. Now that I am in my 30’s I feel like there’s nothing I can’t accomplish in life. No goal is too intimidating for me. I feel compelled to enlighten others on the habit of setting what I call “Juicy Goals.”  I see my body as a survival tool, and plan my nutrition and training around maintaining it the best I can. Results keep my momentum up more than anything. Seeing my strength and conditioning improve weekly gives me a high. At the moment, I have had success in natural bodybuilding and identify with being a completely hormone/drug-free, fat burner-free athlete. I hold myself accountable for living the lifestyle that I promote. I also surround myself with amazing people who are like-minded and are not afraid to set big fitness goals.

Who supports your efforts?

My parents are worriers – they fear for my safety when I practice boxing, and they remember all the ailments and injuries I have had from weight-training (which have all been very minor.) It is quite amusing actually. They are also conservative and have had to get used to the idea of me painting my body brown and wearing heels and a bikini before a panel of judges. When I had my first win, my Dad said “I’m proud of you but keep your clothes on.” They have always given me unconditional support, so all they care about is that I am happy. My sister and I are polar opposites but she tells me that she brags about my accomplishments to her friends. She is very proud of the level of confidence I have built through my sport. She comes to all of my shows. My main squeeze, Jason, fully gets what I do and welcomes my lifestyle. It makes a huge difference having a partner who shares the same values in health and fitness, and who genuinely believes I can achieve all of my goals. He has been known to push me on the odd day that I lacked motivation or energy, leading up to a competition. Even on our first dates he taught me about using nutrition to keep the muscles that I work hard to build. I also have the best coach in the business, and she has wonderful clients who are becoming great friends of mine. They all have zero doubts about my fitness goals, and that feels amazing.

What are the difficulties that you’ve faced?

I am in the habit of removing obstacles in my path to achieving goals. I can’t say I have had many obstacles except financial barriers surrounding a divorce, and retiring a business as a result of the divorce. I sold furniture and personal belongings to get started in this sport – to pay for my first coach, show fees, and costuming. Now that everything is sorted out, and I am thriving in a new career, my success has been building ever since, (on all levels.)

What are some of your accomplishments?

Winning my first show of this season, after having to drop out of the Fall season from the flu and pneumonia,) was an emotional milestone for me. I felt like I couldn’t get on that stage fast enough, after having a taste of competing 12 months before. I had already won, in my eyes, because of all of the personal goals I had exceeded in prep for the show, but bringing home my first trophy was redeeming that this was MY sport. I received first place in the IDFA Novice Fitness Model division, and a few months later won first overall in Fitness Model class at INBF in Vancouver. Having 2 unanimous wins gives me great confidence for future competing. I have now been awarded Elite Pro status in the NPAA, and will be competing for an IFPA pro card on September 30th, 2012. This year I found my place in natural fitness model physique competitions, which is perfect because of my values regarding banned substance use. I practice natural, healthy competing, and prefer to represent associations that reward this.

What’s your current training and meal plan?

I use which is an online coaching program created by WBFF Pro Fitness Model Fatima Leite Kusch. She adjusts my training about every few weeks, and it has changed for each of the 4 competitions this year (that’s right, FOUR competitions this Summer.) One trend seems to be 2 days on, rest day, 3 days on, rest day… for the past couple of months it has resembled a building program. I have had to build a lot of muscle since being sick all last Fall/Winter. For supplements I take protein shakes, (but rely on food first,) BCAAs and Glutamine. My body has held onto my muscles more effectively since using BCAAs. Muscle recovery is my main motivation for using these supplements. Mostly I rely on 8 hours of sleep every night, for muscle repair. I can’t tell you how much this works. It also prevents food cravings like nothing else. Every week, Fatima changes my ratio of fats, carbs, proteins, etc. I am fed more fats and carbs than people expect – even on the day of my show – back stage – I am eating loads of EVERY food group all day long, while other competitors starve and eat nothing but rice cakes. My favorite carbs are slow-release options like yam muffins, yams, oatmeal, oat brownies, and oat cookies. My favorite protein options are lean cuts of steak, chicken curry meatloaf, baked multigrain chicken strips and turkey burgers. For fats I eat olives, cheese, nuts, coconut, avocado and nut butters. I am consistent year-round, and avoid gaining excess fat in the winter, which allows me freedom to enjoy all kinds of foods. I don’t feel like I am dieting until I am1 week out from a competition. The emphasis is on feeding my muscles, rather than depletion. While I do eat a lot of foods, I don’t eat restaurant food very often, as there is little control over how it is prepared. You don’t achieve a pro fitness body by eating out all the time, or by simply making wise meal choices – it takes much more than that.

What are your immediate and long-term goals?

I have recently earned Elite Pro status with NPAA, which means I am recognized as a Canadian pro athlete. In order to win an international pro card with the IFPA (an affiliate with the NPAA,) I have to win my height class in my next competition, and then win overall among all height class winners. I feel that competing at the International pro level is just the gravy on top of all the opportunities coming my way. My goal is to continue competing annually, perhaps twice per year, and to use that new level of celebrity to become a judge, a posing coach, and a motivational speaker. I have a lot to say about living confidently, savoring life, and creating enormous goals. I also plan to master the art of Capoeira and compete in amateur boxing.

Any advice for our readers?

If you’re serious about transforming your physique health, and conditioning, my best piece of advice is to COMPLETELY model an athlete who has the regimen, body, and lifestyle you would enjoy having. I noticed major changes in my body when I started boxing. I admired the physique of a boxer, as well as enjoyed the various physical exercises involved with boxing, and wanted a total body workout and intense cardio conditioning. I wanted to be able to say I was an athletic machine, not just a bunch of pretty muscles. Having this connection to my overall goal kept me consistent and excited – none of it felt like a chore. The same applies to bodybuilding for me. I enjoy all aspects of this sport and my category, and I do not feel like it is a chore. I thrive in this sport because I genuinely enjoy it. Explore fitness and when you discover the activities you can’t get enough of, perform them with 100% intensity every time. If you hate running – don’t run. If you hate cycling – don’t cycle. Find the balance of the desired physique you want to maintain, and the level and nature of activity you are prepared to commit to… stop talking about it… start doing it.

Set a very specific big goal, and use small, bi-weekly attainable goals to get there. Enjoy the process of getting to the big goal, and celebrate your small successes. Give credit to all of your efforts. Also, do not let a single barrier get in your way of what you want to do. You can keep your momentum up by doing something every single day (no matter how small,) that contributes to your desired results. Whether it’s trying a new clean-eating recipe, buying yourself some new fitness gear, planning a fitness outing with friends, trying a new exercise class or new jogging route, going to the supplement store to be enlightened on new products… you can do something EVERY day that will help set you up for success in fitness. Everyone should also know that it may be scary throwing yourself out there for criticism (maybe you are out of shape and joining a gym… maybe you are competing as a fitness model and don’t feel like a conventional model,) but I guarantee you will hear more positive feedback than negative once you get started. Whatever you feel most vulnerable about will not be noticed by the masses. They will respect you as an athlete. Most of my fans started following me when I had only competed once, and received 5th place – no trophy. They support me because they see me eating, sleeping, and breathing my ideal lifestyle. They are fans because of my passion, not because of my wins. Throwing myself into the public eye was daunting last year, but for every ONE negative downer in my life, there are 1,000 supporters in my corner cheering me on.

I dare everyone to stop talking about that big juicy fantastical goal they have been talking about for years, and start implementing it TODAY. If I can design a dream life, so can you.

1-2-3 GO!

You can reach Mindy directly at her new Blog and Website: twitter @mindyambrose Facebook –

The Art of Body Building

This week’s shared experience comes courtesy of Shane Pottie. He lives in Nova Scotia, where he is currently a personal trainer, transformation coach, and avid bodybuilder. We met Shane on Twitter and have had a great relationship with him for some time now. For the past three years, he has been either training for or competing in the Nova Scotia Amateur Body Building Association (NSABBA). In his own words, Shane tells us how he got started and what it takes to compete in this sport.

Shane Pottie

It all started three years ago when I met this guy at a friends party. He was a year older than I was and two weeks away from a bodybuilding show. I always went to the gym to train for hockey and  to get into better shape. So when I saw this guy he was easily the leanest person I have ever seen. He was “RIPPED” and must have had 30 or 40 pounds over my small 145 pound frame. I wanted to look like that! After discussing body building with him I left the party motivated to get back in the gym. I started by taking both my training and diet more seriously and I set a goal to compete one year later. I was fortunate to have a lot of help from locals that have competed in the past to guide me with my training, diet, etc. 

When I trained before I began to body build, I never worked on my legs. My excuse was that we did enough leg work playing hockey. That was a big mistake. Learning to squat and deadlift correctly were the most challenging because I never practiced those exercises until later in my training. I love doing them now and I highly recommend taking the time to learn compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, and presses (especially the overhead press) before anything else because you will put on some serious size incorporating these into your routines. Currently I am trying to find time to learn the Olympic lifts (snatch, clean and jerk). I plan on trying a routine that tailors to this training style after my next bodybuilding competition.

Shane before body building

 Currently, I am two and a half weeks away from competing and I train six days a week with a ninety minute cardio session a day. This close to a show my diet is very strict with no cheat meals. I also have to drink seven litres of water a day. This will really dry up the body and give it that vascular conditioned look that the judges are looking for on stage. Posing practice is very important as well preparing for a show because it can make or break your placing. I practice for about an hour or two a day.

 My diet changes three or four times throughout my preparation for a competition. As I lose more weight, I need to drop calories and take out certain foods, especially closer to the show to prevent my body from holding water. Without changing the diet, just like training, your body becomes used to it and you will stop seeing results. The supplements I am currently taking are; BCAA’s, Whey Protein Isolate, Caffeine, Omega 3’s, L-Carnitine and R-ala. 

I am working with a new coach this year but usually there is a lot that goes on in the last 48 hours. Last year was my first contest and I had to drink as much as ten litres of water and put sea salt on everything. Within the last three days we drop these, then bring them back into the diet the night before the contest. I wake up the day of the show as dry as a bone. It looks like the water has been sucked out of my skin. I recommend hiring a coach if you plan to enter a contest, even for the last week because it can be difficult figuring out the process during that time. After a competition I might take one or two days off but I am usually back in the gym that Monday. I enjoy training and eating clean 24/7.

Shane (left) during last year's NSABBA competition

In a bodybuilding competition there are male and female categories. Men’s/Women’s Bodybuilding, Figure, Bikini and Fitness. As far as the category of bodybuilding goes there is a pre-judging round in the morning where most of the judging and comparisons are done. Then you have the night show which usually starts at 6pm where the competitors do their individual posing routines and then they are called back on stage for comparisons one last time before the placings are announced. In two and a half weeks I’ll be on stage for the second time. I love this sport because it helps me to remain disciplined and motivated. I like setting the long term goal every year to compete because without setting personal goals we would have nothing to motivate us every day we wake. Competing is what motivates me to stay in shape and live a healthy and fit lifestyle.

 I’d like to thank the team of Socially Fit for featuring me in their blog. Live fit and have fun! Please make sure to check out my fitness channel on youtube and follow me on twitter and facebook.