Posts Tagged ‘single parent’


Since my last story approximately two years ago, I’ve rejoined the workforce, commuted to another county, my mother survived cancer, I’ve competed in a small bodybuilding show, sold my house and divorced.  It’s been quite a journey.

The competition in February 2013 was small and a lot of fun.  I wasn’t the fittest competitor at the show, but I was the fittest ME.  Just being strong enough and brave enough to get up on stage after having kids and several years of training and getting healthier was a victory in itself.  I lost to my bodybuilding coaches, but no disappointment there. I did it for myself!

I am planning to compete in Women’s Physique this summer in Venice Beach.  Gorgeous plans, lots of fun and many friends will compete there. Again, I’ll be doing it just for myself. Free time and extra money are scarce these days, so one show is my only goal.

My work/life/gym balance is currently far from ideal.  I spend 3-4 hours commuting daily to my office in Orange County.  I have my daughters every other week but hardly see them.  My training is done whenever I can fit it in. Five days training per week is my goal, but fluctuates based upon travel times, the girl’s schedules, obligations, and a disturbing need for sleep.   This is the area of my life that needs drastic improvement, but the bills must be paid!

My primary goal is to find proper balance, spend as much quality time with my loved ones as possible and become as financially independent as I can without sacrificing my health, fitness or family time.

For the past 4-6 months I’ve been lifting as heavy as possible and building strength and mass. My upper body and legs have grown and definitely reflect it. I focus on individual muscle groups during each training session, but do adore training chest with triceps and lats with biceps.  I just started lowering the weight and am doing 20 minutes of some type of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) almost daily now that I am working on leaning out so the muscle definition really pops. I am very careful to keep the cardio moderate, my ultimate goal is burning fat without burning muscle mass. I want to keep the strength I’ve worked so hard to develop.

While my nutrition is tighter now that I am working on getting leaner, I am much more loose with it than I used to be. I eyeball portions more often than weighing and measuring. Treats find their way in when I feel the need. I recently recalculated my macros and am playing around with 170 grams protein, 140 grams carbs and 40 grams fat daily.  If I don’t see the results I’m aiming for, I’ll change it. No plan is so perfect that it cannot be improved upon.  This isn’t a diet or a fad, it’s my lifestyle.  It gets tweaked as my goals and needs change. I eat a lot of lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats.  Added sugar and processed foods are kept to bare minimums.  I’ve been doing this long enough that it’s no longer habit, but second nature.

Getting started, overweight, after having two children and multiple abdominal surgeries was HARD.  It was even more challenging to keep stepping into the gym when progress was slow, or seemed non-existent because I couldn’t see the changes happening fast enough for my liking.  It seemed like all of the incredibly fit people I saw at my gym were born that way and found it an effortless process. I have never, ever forgotten how that felt. I know better now and my passion is to help motivate others to take that first step. Encourage them to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Small steps now lead to BIG changes later. The journey to health and fitness is a marathon, not a sprint.  I want others to believe in their own inner strength and learn how to channel that into self-motivation.

The past year has been the most challenging of my life.  It’s also been the most rewarding.  I’ve fully embraced my inner strength, further developed my outer strength and emerged with the clearest vision of just who I am and, more specifically, who I am not.  I am perfectly imperfect and the people in my life who truly matter embrace me for who I am, not who they want me to be.  I am grateful for each new day.  Love and respect yourself first.  Then allow others to.  Love more.  Train harder.  Eat better.  Dream bigger.  Don’t compare yourself to others be the best possible YOU!

TWITTER: @OrganicOutcast
FACEBOOK: The Organic Outcast (warning: haven’t logged onto FB in months…)

Don’t do your best. Be your best.

Johnathan Barber

Growing up, I was one of the few who at least got a “father visit” every week.  On Saturday’s, my father and I went to the Regal  to watch karate movies.   Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and generic, subtitled heroes performed leaps hundreds of feet into the air.   I was fascinated by the unlimited ability of the good guys who always won every battle.  I imagined myself as the good guy who would ride off into the sunset, but, most of the time, at the end of the day, the Saturday visits were painfully short; when I was delivered home, I was regularly reminded that life doesn’t always have happy endings.

At an early age, I learned the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic influences and motivators. I learned that the greatest reward came from looking in a mirror, setting a difficult goal, and accomplishing it.   Fitness was my outlet—my personal treasure that helped me forget about many of my problems.

I started running.  I set goals, met them, and pushed myself to run farther each week.   I created a punching bag out of an old carpet and pushed myself to punch harder and longer.   I found a cushion from an old sofa and used it to practice roundhouse and front kicks.   I set and accomplished fitness goals in high school—setting a record for the most pushups during the high school physical education test.  I felt better about myself, finished high school, and graduated from Mount Saint Joseph with a degree in English.

Today, I set daily fitness goals, and regular exercise helps me stay sharp, energetic, and POSITIVE.  When I am not exercising, my spirit is vulnerable to negativity.  However, because I have two children, I sometimes trade a visit to Planet Fitness for homework time, cooking, or cleaning.  Finding time—stealing time–  is my hardest obstacle, but I try to go to the gym at least three times per week.

I mainly focus on weight training—upper body (push ups, bench press, lat press, curls, rows, tricep extensions, and dips), but I mix in lower body (leg press, calf raises, and leg extensions) secondarily.   I take GNC SPORTS POWDER, and I have to admit:  I feel rejuvenated when I take it.  However, nothing replaces a good hearty meal of Honey Nut Cheerios, Tang, fish, pork, ground beef, vegetables, milk, and an occasional glass of wine.  Now, in addition to feeling better about myself, I am determined to stay fit so that I can continue to remain healthy for my family.

I can not fly through the air with unlimited strength like the heroes I admired on the silver screen, but being fit gives me the confidence to accomplish my goals.  To those who are procrastinating or  just beginning, I can confidently tell you that you will see a change in your life as you continue your fitness journey.


Please feel free to follow me on twitter at @johnathanohio or visit my website