Sunday, December 9, 2012

Don't make the same mistake I did

I'm not going to lie. I'm glad this Define Fitness 6 week challenge is over. And since I'm confessing, after week one I didn't exactly follow my 6 week challenge plan that I laid out in the beginning. Trust me. I tried. Word of advice ... DON'T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE I DID. Yes. I made a big mistake when I planned my 6 week challenge. I bit off waaaaaaaay more than I could chew. The plan was borderline contest prep ... Lifting 5 days a week, cardio 4 times a week for at least 45 minutes, topped off with a tight diet ... and one moderate reward meal a week. It's a great plan that would without a doubt get results! I would have been "jacked" as one of my Define Fitness colleagues said. But it didn't exactly go as planned. Working one and a half jobs, working on new projects, trying to have a social life, being sleep-deprived didn't help. But that doesn't mean I abandoned my healthy lifestyle. I did workout ... some weeks only twice ... other weeks more. I also ate good clean food ... not always on time, not always enough, and not always what was on the plan. And I did eat "dirty" food beyond my one moderate reward meal limit. However I followed the 80/20 rule ... 80% clean, 20% "dirty". I was beating myself up every week that I didn't follow the 6 week challenge plan and vowed to get back on it. But really, the plan that I did follow was better FOR ME because it was more realistic FOR ME to follow, it fits MY lifestyle way better, and I'll be able to maintain it for a lot longer than 6 weeks. That's more important to me. It doesn't mean I'll never challenge my "fitness" self. It just means the challenge will be more suited to my lifestyle and schedule.
Despite not following my exact 6 week challenge plan, I did see success in the measurements I used. However, I don't want my clients to always be focused on the numbers. I want them to have fun training with me and feel amazing because of it. And if those jeans that they've been squeezing into fit a little better, then that's the icing on the cake! Mmmmmmm ... Cake :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It’s not an excuse. It’s a choice. Update on my #6weekchallenge

These past 2 weeks of my 6 week challenge were far from stellar. I hardly worked out more than 2 days a week. I ate well during the week but on the weekends I either hardly ate … or ate bad stuff beyond my treat meal allowance. Why? I was super busy. It’s not an excuse. It’s a choice. I chose to be busy with a new fitness venture ( It’s great because I’m adding to my fitness empire … growing my fitness business … sharing my love of fitness. All great stuff! However, like I’ve said in many blogs before I’m doing way too much. My goal was reasonable. However how I planned to go about it doesn’t work with my current lifestyle. I want to be able to maintain this routine beyond the 6 weeks. Believe it or not the clean eating was a lot easier than my workout schedule. So I will make some changes in my workout plan for the last 2 weeks in this challenge. It’s still enough time to make a difference … get back on the wagon … go hard or go home!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I Think I'll Stay Positive #6WeekChallenge

I thought long and hard about how I wanted to write this blog because week two of my 6 week challenge didn't go as well as I had hoped. Do I beat myself up for not following my plan exactly? Or do I focus on the stuff I did right and look forward to improving this week? I think I'll stay positive. What I did right: Ate clean and on time, 4 good workouts. What I'd like to improve on this week: More sleep, 6 good workouts, more moderate treat day. One of the numbers I'm using to measure my goal looks good so I know there is progress. My meals are ready for the week and I'm going to start things off with a good sleep tonight. Let week three of my 6 week challenge begin! To read more blogs from my fellow Define Fitness team members and their 6 week challenges go to

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Off to a Great Start ... Sort of ... #6WeekChallenge

As part of the Define Fitness team it's important for me walk the talk. So that's how the 6 week challenge came about. Each DF fitness coach picks a fitness goal, plans how they're going to get there, and documents the journey for all followers, friends, and clients to see. My goal: fat loss through consistent workouts and clean eating. I was off to a great start on my first week of the 6 week challenge. My food was on point. I was getting my workouts and cardio done. My muscles were nice and sore telling me I had pushed myself in the gym. I was already feeling and seeing results of the clean eating and consistent workouts. But what I didn't see was that a cold virus I had managed to avoid for weeks was getting ready to pounce again. This time it hit its target ... ME! On the evening of day 4 of my 6 week challenge, after my workout of the day, I started to feel it. I was down for the count. The way I felt I knew I'd be out for a few days. That meant no gym for me. But I didn't abandoned my 6 week challenge. I stuck to my diet and will do so until I get back to the gym. Thank goodness my fridge is full of all the clean eats I need while I'm quarantined. Resting and recharging for week 2 of the 6 week challenge! To read more about the Define Fitness 6 Week Challenge go to and click on BLOG.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Size Matters

As a personal trainer, I’m always happy to know when I’ve made a healthy impact on someone’s life ... even it’s a small impact. Like when I asked a co-worker about the nutritional content of the cereal he was eating and suggested that size matters. Me: “What’s your portion size?” His answer: “A bowlful”. I said he should probably check the serving size on the nutritional label. Well the next morning as he was pouring out his cereal, he said my voice popped into his head: “What’s your portion size?”. He promptly pulled out a measuring cup and dished out a perfect serving size as suggested on the box. Oh yeah ... then there’s my other colleague who likes to update me on her kitchen workouts. That’s right. She works out in her kitchen ... doing burpees with the broccoli ... and push ups with the pots and pans. As a single mom of a vibrant little girl there’s not a lot of time to fit everything in ... unless you make it a priority. And this recipe of fitness only requires 3 ingredients: a yoga mat, some rubber tubing ... and a little effort. Another great thing is that her daughter joins in! Small changes. Step by step. Long-term results!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

From High Heels to High Knees

My newest client has the BEST shoes ever! Well-known Calgary stylist Kim Flanagan ( can ROCK a pair of high heel shoes like crazy! And she always makes me feel like a million bucks after I shop with her. Plus, she has encouraged me to wear high heels to work almost every day now. (Shoes totally make the outfit!) So it’s only fair that I make her do high knees ... among other fun exercises. Like me, Kim had a great summer! That’s good ... but it’s showing in places we’d rather not expose. In fact, Kim confessed that her boyfriend jeans are fitting like skinny jeans. (Thank goodness she can style the hell out of love handles and long bums!) So she challenged me ... let’s get our 40-something year old bodies back to where they should be! Just the motivation I needed! So I upped my game in the gym and the kitchen. And she has too by making the time to exercise ... which includes training with me once a week. (Emphasis on MAKING THE TIME!) The day after our first workout I sent her a text message: “Good morning champ! How are your muscles feeling today?” Her reply: “Buns are on fire !! But buns feel smaller.” Mission accomplished! Join us on our “Getting Back on Track After Summer” fitness journey! Note: Good nutrition is part of a healthy weight loss plan. Both Kim & I eat clean most of the time leaving room for treats & cheats.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Cried Watching the MasterChef Finale

Have I ever mentioned that I love food? Part of the reason I fell in love with the show MasterChef. I recently watched the finale. The two top home cooks going head-to-head. Both full of passion and talent. Well when they crowned the winner ... the tears started flowing ... my tears! I cried watching the MasterChef finale! Why? Because what the winner had to overcome was astounding. She's visually impaired. Blind. Couldn't see her ingredients, tools, or dishes. Christine is her name. And she beat out dozens of competitors ... who can all see ... to become MasterChef. She may not have been able to see, but her sense of smell and taste were so strong ... that's all she needed. Well maybe not ALL she needed. She also needed confidence ... which she had to work on throughout the season. And most importantly she needed to trust herself, her abilities, her skills ... the process. Now how many of you can identify with that? I know I can. Lesson learned: Trust. Believe in yourself and focus on your most excellent qualities.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Look Good Naked? Why bother?

Unfortunately, it's part of my routine ... examining my body and focusing on my "trouble spots" pretty much every morning. Not really the best way to start the day but once I get dressed I feel great! I think I look fantastic! So why are "we" so obsessed with looking good naked? How many people actually see you naked? And those who do (boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives) should love you for YOU anyway ... right?! I encourage living a healthy lifestyle and I admit I train hard and eat clean to look good ... but I also do it to feel good ... and to avoid heart disease which is in my family. But as I continue on my fitness journey (career and other challenges) I'm working on being less worried about looking "perfect". So my advice: instead of worrying about looking good naked go shopping instead! That's what I did a few weeks ago. Instead of being so hard on myself, I decided to get a great outfit ... or 2 ... that compliments my body shape. I went somewhere that I KNEW I'd be pampered and taken care of by some great stylists ... espy (! It was so awesome! Check out my gold jeans! So comfy and they hug me in all the right places. And then this amazing dress from designer Mark Patrick Foreman ... I felt like a billion bucks when I wore this for the first time! And I forgot all about my "trouble spots". Now I'm not suggesting you slack off on your workouts and use clothes to cover up. I'm just saying be nicer to yourself and instead of focusing on the "trouble spots" ... highlight the hot spots!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Practice What You Preach

I am NOT lovin' my love handles. Don't get me wrong. I generally LOVE my body just the way it is but ... I've sort of fallen off the wagon this last month. I'm feeling a bit "fluffy". I've been so busy helping others get fit and fierce in my boot camp that I've neglected my own "fierce-ness". So I've had to remind myself "Cara, practice what you preach girl!" It has been an exciting ride kicking off my Fit and Fierce Boot Camp. I'm so fortunate to work with a great group who are serious about living a more active lifestyle AND more importantly are having FUN doing it! I love pushing them and seeing them challenge themselves. To keep them coming back for more, I spend a lot of time researching and planning each class so they're different every time and FUN! That has turned into late nights, missed meals, and half-assed workouts. It was time for me to get back on track with focused workouts and regular meal times ... and more of the good-for-you stuff on my plate. Believe it or not that's the easy part. Before any of that can happen, there are four things I need to keep in check. I took some advice from my fitness boss and reviewed probably the four most important elements of a balanced healthy lifestyle. My trainer/mentor/fitness boss Nathan Harewood shared these at a recent nutrition seminar he held. To me, without these 4 elements in place ... you're wasting your time working out. Check them out below: 4 Elements of a Healthy Balanced Lifestyle 1) DRINK WATER Benefits: flushes out toxins, aids in metabolism and digestion, helps your organs absorb nutrients, protects and moisturizes our joints ... just to name a few. Active people should drink 3 to 4 litres a day. And for every cup of coffee you drink add an extra 2 cups of water. 2) SLEEP Benefits: necessary for recovery and healing. Not enough sleep will increase body fat and release a hormone called ghrelin that stimulates hunger. Getting good sleep releases leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism. Take naps when you can. Naps are good! 3) BALANCED NUTRITION Keep your meals balanced with proteins, healthy carbohydrates, and healthy fats. If you are a calorie counter here's a guideline: 30% protein, 40% healthy carbs, 30% healthy fats. 4) REDUCE STRESS Stress increases cortisone which suppresses the immune system. It also "eats" muscle and disrupts digestion. Identify the areas in your life that cause you stress and do your best to change them. This is the most challenging element to tackle by far. Do you understand why I say without these elements in your life you might as well stay out of the gym until they're in check? So my fitness journey continues with this kick in the butt ... to help me reach my goals ... and I'm loving it! It's good to be back practicing what I'm preaching! :) Can I get an AMEN?!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Are YOU Bikini Ready?

Last year this time I had no choice but to be bikini ready. I was weeks away from hitting the stage in my last figure competition.

Yes I said “last”. I’ve decided to retire from figure competitions. But that doesn’t mean I’ll never put on a bikini again. In fact I’ll be hitting a couple beaches this year and I want to make sure that I can still rock a two-piece with my “everyday body”. So even though I’m not competing, I still have a fitness goal. What about you?

I'm going to challenge you to put on your own “itsy bitsy teeny weeny” bikini for a cause that will not only have you looking good but feeling good too ... and it will definitely have a lot of other people feeling pretty awesome as well.

I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with Megan Szanik, an amazing woman who owns an amazing clothing store and is doing some amazing things in her community.

Last year Megan created #nakedespy. She got a hundred guys to drop down to their skivvies and line up at her store to get hundreds of dollars worth of free clothes. But first they had to collect sponsors for the Calgary Prostate Cancer Center. This year, it’s all about the ladies ... in bikinis ... and a charity near and dear to Megan’s heart ... the Special Olympics.

Megan’s connection to the Special Olympics is very personal. Her brother Wade has Down’s Syndrome. He’s very special to her and has always been her reality check for what is important in life. Megan has been involved for years in Special Olympics with her family. Her brother has participated in the games and her mom has won female coach of the year. Megan says it is all about the message of the games, “Let me win. If I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” So a fundraiser for the Special Olympics is a natural fit.

Here’s how it works. On July 7 (first Saturday of the Centennial Stampede) 100 ladies will line up outside of the espy store in Inglewood in their BIKINIS and COWBOY BOOTS .... with donations in hand. They’ll get their FREE Stampede outfit valued at $500 and an OFFICIAL Calgary Stampede Cowboy Hat courtesy of Smithbilt Hats ... plus so much more! (Including a chance to meet some cute cowboys!) The ladies who line up for the free clothes will be asked to donate a MINIMUM of $100 to Special Olympics Calgary and are encouraged to collect sponsors beyond that. And if you collect the most sponsors, you get more FREE stuff ... and everyone will get the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve helped out a local charity! Check out for all the details on how you can get involved in #bikiniespy.

Ok ... I know what you’re thinking. Wearing a bikini in public? Are you kidding me? Well this is where I come in! Join my Fit and Fierce Boot Camp ... to help you get “tight” and feel “right” in your fave two-piece before #bikiniespy!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Learning Curve

Very excited now that my Fit and Fierce Boot Camp has actually started. So how was the first week? Good! I think the boot campers had fun and were challenged at the same time. I try to educate them at the same time as I'm making them sweat. It's a learning curve for some of them as well as for me! I love the challenge however I admit that it's a bit scary. Watching and talking to the other fitness coaches at Athlete Factory can be very overwhelming because of the wealth of knowledge. But they are very generous with their knowledge as is my "fitness boss" Nathan. There's so much to learn but I don't have to know everything. What I do need to know is as a fitness coach you should never stop learning. That's what makes this venture exciting, fun, challenging, and so rewarding ... especially when a client figures it out. Now if I could just figure out how to get enough rest to take on my demanding full time job, my part time job, my learning sessions, my own research and reading, my own training ... and my social life.

Monday, April 2, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Cara's Fit & Fierce Boot Camp is here!!!

It's hard to believe that 5 years ago I was preparing for my very first fitness/figure competition. You followed my blogs for a few of those years as I went through the ups and downs of training, cardio, and clean eating. You hung in there when I decided to try a few different fitness classes around the city and did my 30 day hot yoga challenge. You were there when I decided to get certified in group fitness. And when I took it a bit further and got my personal training certification, you cheered me on. Well now it's time to put all that hard work to good use. I'm fortunate enough to be working as a Fitness Coach with International Fitness and Nutrition Coach Nathan Harewood owner of Define Fitness ( And if that wasn't awesome enough, I'll be training my clients at the most unique gym in Calgary: the Athlete Factory ( I get to learn from a some of the best and most passionate fitness professionals in the city. So I'm taking baby steps to get things going. I'm starting my first boot camp this week. It's called: Fit & Fierce Boot Camp! And it's open to anyone who wants to have a fun and challenging work out with ME up to 3 times a week! If you want a piece of the action contact me at!

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Old Blog Entry Has Become New Again

There's so much going on in my life right now that I could write a blog every day on many different topics. However, today I need to repeat a blog entry that I wrote back in June of 2010. Because of some personal changes in my life, I find myself taking a closer ... and sometimes critical ... look at my appearance. The following old blog entry has become new again and reminds me that my uniqueness is beautiful.:


As I sit in the change room waiting to get my makeup done for my very first fitness photo shoot ... I'm nervously checking out the other ladies that are taking part. It's not a competition but I'm comparing myself. This is so out of my comfort zone! Mainly because when I look at all the models in many of the popular fitness magazines, I can’t identify with any of them. They don’t look like me. Black. Super short natural “mini-fro”. Real boobs. 40-plus. Many of them, fitness is their livelihood. For me it’s a hobby (that’s turning into a bit of a passion.) But even though I've got little in common with the ladies in the magazines (besides the love of fitness) I love my look! I created it! Who cares if I don't look like the typical fitness model. I’m just so fortunate that I can BE a fitness model for a few hours! And wow ... what an experience I had at the Best Body Model Fitness shootout with David Ford and Annette Milbers. So many people told me it was going to be amazing. They said not to be nervous because David and Annette would make you feel comfortable and that they were so good at what they do. Well ... believe the hype. You can’t get more comfortable than this ... I started with jeans and a tank top at the beginning of the shoot ... ended up in lingerie at the end of it all. Crazy. Still can’t believe I did it ... but that’s just how comfortable I felt working with them. I felt more than comfortable with my look. I felt more than comfortable in my own skin.

So forget about that guy who said I should put on a few pounds and grow my hair (seriously ... a guy I was “sweet” on, told me that. The “sweet” is turning “sour”). Forget about how the stereotypical fitness model looks. Forget about what people are comfortable with. I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and be UNIQUE.

Unique is what I strive to be. Authentic is most important to me.

Friday, January 13, 2012

"Perfect" Balance

"I don't HAVE to do this. I don't HAVE to become a personal trainer!" That's what I exclaimed to my friend Shelby moments before I did my final personal training practical exam. She stared at me with this look that said "Wow. Cara's having a mini-meltdown." I was really nervous. And I guess I just needed to let off a little nervous energy. I ended up doing VERY well on my exam. And when it was all done ... I was totally wired and ended up getting only four hours sleep. I slogged my way through the day ... and through the week ... desperately trying to catch up on my sleep. But it was worth it! There were many other late nights as I worked towards this overwhelming goal. To get here, I put in a lot of extra hours on top of my demanding full-time job, my part-time job as a group fitness instructor, my own training, and my sporadic social life. And now as I bask in the glow of accomplishment and major fatigue I ask the question ... how do I find the "perfect" balance? How do I find the balance between "working tirelessly towards a goal" and "taking care of me: physically and emotionally". I made this statement on FACEBOOK and many who commented were searching for the solution as well. However there were three comments that made me think and I'd like to share them with you ... with my thoughts just below each one:

1. "Perhaps it's how we work towards our goals that's the problem. Tirelessness should be replaced with consistently and persistently."

Good point considering I'm not really "tireless" ... I'm exhausted by the end of the week! I'm not sure how I do it.

2. "Sometimes working tirelessly and not listening to our bodies is what gets us into the predicament I am in."

Her predicament: brain cancer. It made me think about how much I want to live my best life NOW ... and not wait until "this" or "that" is in place.

3. "Balance is what we always seek, physically, emotionally, spiritually, if you find balance in one and not the others you will simply fall down... work them all"

There's the solution ... it's a constant pursuit ... it never ends ... that's what makes life exciting ... that's what will keep me on my toes ... that's what will keep me striving for more ... that's what keeps me driven ... so maybe it's better to have an "imperfect" balance.