Moving Though the Days With My Personalized 30 Pound Medicine Ball

Coming in on 31 weeks, and holy do I ever feel it! Squats, lunges and any other body weight exercise makes me laugh when I break a sweat and have to pause because my legs are on fire!

On the weekend I finally caved and bought some new workout pants, and 2 larger tops that I can put on.. without the help of my husband. I rocked them to a boot camp class in Bradford last night and it felt amazing! Boot camp classes are typically interval/ circuit style and are meant to kick your butt the whole time. I love them. I know my modifications partly because I’ve been working out through my whole pregnancy, but also in large part because I’ve done my certification for pre & postnatal for this very reason! I’m officially using no more than 25 pounds on kettlebells, when using two dumb bells I’m no heavier than 15 pounds, and… well you can pretty much call it a day with ab exercises.

Last night when I was working out I took particular notice to the extra weight at the front of my body. We were doing stairs– every other step.. with kettle bells. I decided that I could use a 15 pound weight because if you add that to what’s out in front, I should be more than set. HAH! I did it, I finished it, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel like dying. People were lapping me on the stairs as I took one step at a time, and set my mind to breathing and keeping proper form.

In the beginning of this journey I remember feeling frustrated with myself because I wanted to continue pushing hard in the gym, and lifting my regular weights, with the same speed and intensity.

Now, it’s not to say that I can’t push it, but I’ve had to play it smart with my intensity and the amount I’m lifting. The fact is, I could really hurt myself which could throw the rest of my pregnancy, and even opportunities to train the girls at the boot camp I still work at!

As the months have progressed I find myself laughing at the different positions I have to lay in, how much slower my movements are, and how freaking much my legs BURN when I do squats and lunges with my not so little lime. In one of the classes I did recently, we were doing leg raises on steps. You have to lay on the ground, place a weighted bar over your hips, and then dig your heals into the step and raise your hips up to the sky. For obvious reasons, I opted out of the bar across my hips… and decided on body weight. In my mind I told myself I can easily do one leg in the air for more intensity because– well– let’s be honest, this will be a breeze otherwise.

Annnnd once again there I was, NOT modifying to lift my leg in the air but actually working my butt off trying not to take a break in between each rep! It wasn’t until I was finished that circuit that I really pieced together that I do, in fact, have my own personal medicine ball that weighs everything down for me.

I love that little ball. She’s just doing her thing, flipping around, poking mama’s organs to make sure they’re still functioning, challenging my breathing… really– making me stronger. With each inch she takes up in my body, I become more aware of the focus and strength I need to keep my body healthy so that her body stays healthy too.

I joke when we go kickboxing about how she kicks me, so it’s fair that I kick the bag but really what it comes down to is that

I’m fostering a lifestyle that I want my baby to embrace when she’s able to make her own choices about health and fitness.

I have a couple more goals I’d like to achieve with her as we near the home stretch of our time connected to one another. I just love being able to take her along on these little adventures, because once she arrives it’s game on and I’m sure she will be taking me along for hers.

So you keep growing little ball, keep making mommy work harder, and get stronger because I promise that with all my strength, mommy will always be there to support you too.

cant stop me

workout

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Me…. and the Lime ;)

I’m BACCK 🙂

It feels so darn good to get back to writing! Let me tell you, when you want to be writing about what is going on in your life and how it relates to fitness but you have to distance yourself for a little while it is HARD. But, alas– the time has come to dust off my keyboard and begin my journey on here again!

Why, do you ask, would I leave you in the dark like this? When I was posting about my new goals and how I was going to push through for new accomplishments this year?

Well– actually– it has something to do with the fact that some of my goals have changed sliiighhtly in these last few months. As you may recall from previous posts, I have some race dates approaching in May– and was supposed to have some weight loss goals accomplished by– well– now. Not to disappoint, but weight loss for me is something that is NOT going to be on my agenda– at least for the next.. let’s say…9 months?

Yep. That’s right folks, your MrsKooyFitness is going to be MrsKooyMama! 🙂

I’m finally at a stage in my journey when I can begin to discuss this exciting event openly. And well there are never any guarantees in life, all one can hope for is to continue on this healthy path which will lead to the birth of a happy and healthy baby. But let me tell you– not only has it been difficult not writing on here to share my experiences thus far– the changes I have had to make to my own regularly active lifestyle have taken me some time to adjust to– and be okay with.

Slowly, I’m gaining my energy back (this little poppyseed, turned olive, turned prune, turned lime— has been eating away at my energy levels!) and dare I say– I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the toile– ugh— tunnel?

Today I accomplished a significant landmark for myself and baby lime. (the food references are not my cravings, they are — according to my “in depth” reading on my phone APP “baby bump”– the size of my growing baby!) Last night a good friend send me a text letting me know that our usual running crew were going to venture out tomorrow and try a small 7K to get back on the road. (7K used to be smaller for me.. but lately walking on the treadmill gets my heart rate up there so I was unsure whether I wanted to hold them back) I decided I was going to show up and do my best, and if I had to walk a bit so be it. We typically run before our bootcamp classes on Saturday so I thought if I was going to make the trek down there I would stay for the class afterwards and work at my own pace. My own pace. Something that was hard to dial down.. but I’m getting better at.

So I woke up this morning at 5:15– snoozed until 5:30… and finally got my little booty out of bed at 5:45 to get dressed, pack, and be ready to leave at 6:00. Well– apparently little lime wasn’t having this new agenda. One quick brush of my teeth sent me right over to my porcelain friend. The first few interactions with the toilet had me feeling like maybe I should just call the girls and tell them it’s not the morning for me, and go back to bed. But by the 5th, 6th, and 7th heave-hoe it was time for baby lime and I to have a little heart to heart.

I stood up, rubbed my tummy and said

“Look baby lime– you and I have to learn how to cooperate with one another. Otherwise this is going to be a long journey for the two of us. I’m going for this run today, and baby– you’re coming with me. So please, let’s work together and have a great morning”

So off we went. And you know what?

We did it! We ran 4K together, had a nice pick-me-up at Tim Hortons to refuel, and finished with a great workout together in boot camp!

It can be scary in the beginning to know your limits when you’re pushing for two. The important thing to remember though is so long as you have been physically active up to your pregnancy, and your doctor gives you the ok to continue what you’re doing– go for it!

The rest is up to you– and your baby! Listen to your body, ultimately it will tell you if you need to slow down. But let me tell you– there is no greater feeling that knowing you took your time but finished a great workout that not only benefits you, but benefits your little addition. The one who’s also working hard– trying to grow.

Have a wonderful weekend my readers!
Talk soon! 🙂

Those Sunday Blahs

I have had one of those weekends where everything around me feels Blah.

I’m on my new fitness program, and adjusting my carb intake along with I’m sure other monthly stressors preparing to rear their ugly head….So my physical and emotional state these last two days have been horrendous!

My poor husband came home from overtime on Saturday excited to have date night, only to be greeted by Hyde, Mrs. Vanderkooy’s evil twin.

Today, I awoke in worse spirits, with a neck so sore I could barely turn my head! I decided rather than fight through these feelings… I would try to embrace them. So, after church, I went to my favorite place: CHAPTERS. I bought a new book, and a magazine with new yoga poses.

Last year I began to do yoga on a daily basis, in my living room with a DVD that I had bought from chapters. It was only 27 minutes long and I found it fabulous. I have been struggling to get back into routine of having that daily practice so I decided to try it tonight in the hopes it may clear my mind. I followed the series of stretches through about 20 minutes, and lead myself through a meditation afterwards.

For the first time in what feels like AGES, I let myself slip into a deep meditation where nothing entered my mind. It was just myself in this moment with my breath. It’s not easy to let external factors and thoughts escape and leave you with inner peace, so today felt triumphant. It really felt refreshing to take that time alone and center myself.

I’m glad that I took the time to listen to my body and my mind today. I feel as though I avoided what may have felt like an up hill battle with myself, which I think is why my mind allowed me peace when I reached for it.

I feel ready to start a fresh week, complete with: Gym, boot camp, kickboxing, and running.

Enjoy the rest of your evening.

just be

When Your Arms Feel Like Jelly….

So today I focused on more upper body than anything today, and …well, I can barely type.

OF COURSE I would decide on the day I can’t type properly, this would be a wonderful time to post!

Since I fell off over the summer, I sadly watched the definition in my arms begin to disappear. Today however, sparked the change and regrowth of that muscle. Between the shoulder presses, bicep curls, incline chest press, push ups, rows and simply holding a plank on the stability ball, my little arms “got their swagger back”

Yes, I was listening to a dubstep song today called “I guess I got my swagger back” and say what you will, it kept me in the zone and feeling BADASS.

Don’t you just love the feeling of reaching muscle failure, and how jacked your body feels afterwards??

hardcore

Yes, today was definitely one of those Ego days, but let’s be real here– how often do you see a woman in the gym, confident and feeling good? I wish I saw more ladies in with the weights, pushing their limits and working their way around those weights.

I hope this gets out there to some more ladies who are maybe feeling too shy to get in there. Put on a good tune, and go challenge that body! Trust me, as much as your body needs it sometimes you just need to be in there to look in the mirror and think:

Damn, I look good. I look good and the person beside me is lifting the same weight that I am. Well done.

What do you do when you loose your Mojo?

starting over giving up

So, you read these things, get all jacked up and go out in the world ready to kick some serious ass.

But what happens when you begin to loose that momentum? What do you do when you start to loose focus, and it becomes easier to stay inside, to curl up on the couch and watch a movie– when it’s FAR less attractive to get out there and DO something?

That was me. I’m going to be complete honest here. For the last 2 months, Mrskooylovesfitness has slowly become: Mrskooylovestheideaofworkingoutbutishavingahardtimebalancinglifetofullylovefitness.

There. I said it. That’s the first step, right? Isn’t what “they” always say? The first step to change is to admit there is a problem. And I do. It’s not like I’ve been in denial about it. If anything I’ve been downright depressed about it. If you look back in previous posts, it is obvious that my life took some pretty significant changes with regards to life events: first house, steps into career as a teacher, we recently bought a dog :)… etc. I’m not using those as excuses, they are facts. I guess what I’ve been struggling with is how to manage all the change, balance my time to ensure that I fit in EVERYTHING that I love so much!

What I’ve come to realize in the last week that I never really took into consideration is that I have a commute to and from work now. So– not only do I put in extra time in the classroom to DOMINATE as a teacher (and yes, I can confidently say that I work hard to kick ASS in that classroom) but I have about 2 hours (traffic pending) there and back to factor in for driving time!

“Steph. Puh-Leassseeee. 2 hours? you don’t even know how far I have to commute, you don’t have kids, blah blah blah”

I’m sorry. I love you, but I don’t care about other circumstances out there. For me– this adjustment as been hard, and consequently my fitness has been suffering. NOT COOL.

SO.

After having a chat with my dear friend DG, I got a little spark to light that fire back inside me that has been dwindling. Quite honestly, Thursday and Friday I worked the Sh*t out of my body. IT FELT FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. Granted, I couldn’t move properly all weekend, but I’m so ready to kick it back into high gear tomorrow and for the rest of the week.

Sometimes it takes a conversation with someone you care about to help get that spark back when you’re struggling. Sometimes it’s hitting bottom and noticing something you’d rather not see in the mirror. For me– it wasn’t REALLY about hitting rock bottom. I’m a personal trainer. I know how to train my body, I KNOW what to eat, what not to– for me it was realizing that I’ve been taking a back seat to who I am.. and what I love. I was sitting back and watching other people dominate in life, and playing the “I wish” game.

WTF is that about?

I am NOT an “I wish” kind of woman. I’m an I WILL” woman.

So, I decided that I WILL get off my ass and start back into the routines that my body needs and my mind thrives off of.

F–U sideline Steph. You don’t belong out front, dictating the destructive direction of my fitness life.

I’m bringing back Mrskooylovesfitness, because it’s real and it’s what makes me the best version of me that I can be.

Expect more blogs from me.

I’m back.

SPOTLIGHT for SEPTEMBER: Hailey Wojick

Meet Hailey. This empowering beauty played soccer with me back when we were 12! I have always enjoyed her passion for life, and hilarious personality! Her light shines so bright in everything she does, but don’t take it from me. Read about her, get a taste for the positivity she breathes and let it inspire you to do the same.

hailey

Name: Hailey Wojcik
Age: 27
Occupation: HR Director, Northern Europe for large Internet company

What were you doing before you fell onto this path?

In many ways I have always been on the fitness path, it has just taken me a long time to see it clearly. My day job is working as the HR Director for a large Internet Company (Groupon) however in my free time (yup, that means early mornings, evenings and weekends) I am actively involved in my passion. From training friends to teaching aerobic-style classes and working on my lifestyle blog Fit, Fun & Free, fitness is present in all that I do and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Would you say you were happy with what you were doing previously? Or was there something that was missing from your previous career path?

Fitness is the only thing I have ever “tried” at. In other words, I have always been interested in learning as much as possible about living a healthy, active lifestyle and have spent a lot of my free time soaking up all I could about how to continually push myself to be better. It was only recently, within the last year, that it became clear to me that this is what I wanted to spend my life doing. When I am teaching classes or lifting heavy in the gym, I am happy on such a fundamental level- I feel like I could spend all day every day doing it. That’s gotta be a pretty good sign, right?

If you were happy with your current career, what was it about (Your passion) that made you believe it was time to act on this interest & develop it into more than just a hobby?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I love the company I work for. In many ways I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities I have had in my current career as they have helped shaped my passion and give me a platform to make a difference in other people’s lives. HR is all about people, and it was only after working in this field that I realized how much I loved making people happy and leaving them feeling good about themselves. I knew that if I were to take my love of business, people and fitness and combine them together, I could create the perfect blend of the things I professionally love most.
However, given that I am not ready to transition quite yet, I am finding new ways to incorporate my passion into my working life. For example,

I am currently working on something called ‘Groupon Active’, a program aimed at helping employees find a better work/life balance by setting goals to help them achieve their aims in the areas of clean eating, exercise and general health and well being.

It is a massive project and is all very hush-hush. But I want to use what I know and love to benefit those that I work with as I know it can have a really positive impact on the business and the staff within it.

Had you had experience in an area like this before?

When I was Activity Supervisor at Camp Oconto, part of the job was to develop robust full-cycle programs for campers ranging in age and ability levels. While it may seem incomparable, I like to think that 300 girls aged 6-14 are the toughest critics you will get, so designing an active lifestyle program to aid in work/life balance should be a walk in the park.
More seriously though, I have designed several different programs for myself and friends over the years so building it out on a larger scale will be a welcome challenge. I’m looking forward to it!

Did you have a mentor/ role model whom you confided in as you ventured into this new territory? How did they help shape your decision to follow your passion/ how have they shaped your journey?

I have been incredibly fortunate to have two of the best role models- my Mom Lucia and my boyfriend Nick.
Ever since I can remember, my Mom has been incredibly fit and active. When I was about 5, I remember going to the gym with her in Orangeville, Ontario (where I was born and raised) and she would do it all- aerobics, squash, weights. That woman was a machine! And the best part is that she always made a point of making her health and fitness a priority. In my house, it wasn’t unusual to see weight belts, lifting gloves, squash balls and racquets lying around the house. Only difference? They belonged to my Mom, the strongest woman I know. When I was in high school, some of my guy friends were intimidated by how big her biceps were and a few even commented that she was stronger than their Dad. I didn’t realize it at the time but my

Mom set me on the path for a life of fitness. She taught me that it is OK to be strong and that strong is beautiful.

I hope I can be a role model like this one day for other young women (and men!).
But a special mention also goes to my boyfriend, and best damn personal trainer I have ever met, Nick. We were introduced by pure luck when my previous (and not so great) trainer suddenly left the gym, and I was transferred to Nick for my remaining sessions. I told him I wanted to focus on training legs because it was the area I had the toughest time with. And man oh man did he deliver! He developed the perfect program for me and with his help he boosted my confidence and got me wearing shorts- something I hadn’t done in years because of how much I hated my legs. Now that we are dating he still inspires and motivates me to be my best every single day. He has really been the one to show me that fitness is a way of life, not a burden and I love him for changing my life in that way (but I love him for loads of other reasons too!)

Many books that I’ve been reading talk about discovering your happiness in life, and the easiest way to start is to look back at what you were interested in as a child. Did you ever play games/ participate in activities related to this field?

Oh you couldn’t keep me away from physical activity as a kid! A competitive figure skater and dancer for 14+ years, every day of the week you could find me engaged in some sort of activity. Winter was dance and skating, summer was football (aka soccer). I loved it all. I was also very fortunate to have parents who believed in me and prioritized our fitness pursuits. For example, when I was skating competitively for Dufferin Peel Skating Club, they would get up at 5am with me to get me to the ice rink (which was a 30 min drive away) for my 6am morning ice practice. And they did this twice during the week. Their commitment to me meant that I was committed to my sports and I don’t think I can ever thank them enough for their support and dedication to both me and my brother.

What were some of the challenges you faced when deciding to follow your passion & pursue this dream?

I think the biggest challenge is having confidence in yourself. At first I would compare myself to everyone else in the field and feel that I didn’t stack up in comparison. But instead of focusing negative energy on what I couldn’t do, I channeled positive energy into what I could do. I focused on the small steps first- eating clean, lifting heavy, and working hard. As my confidence developed, so did my skills and

I realized that everyone is different but that shouldn’t stop me from chasing my dreams.

Do you have any advice to other women who are possibly on the fence with following their own directions?

Do your research and listen to your gut. If you see a future in fitness, or in any passion, make sure you know what the road ahead for you holds. Look into challenges that others faced, and what quick wins they may have had. Learning from others means we are not reinventing the wheel, but improving on it.
Also look for ways that you can infuse your passion in your current routine before taking the “all-or-nothing” approach. Start a running club at work or a recipes board where you share healthy food options. Finding a way to engage people around you without making drastic changes means that you can improve on your ideas as you go, so when you do decide to take the full-time plunge, you will have direction and feedback to help guide you in the right direction.
Lastly, look for kindred spirits. Read an inspiring article or see someone kicking butt in an area you aspire to kick butt in too? Reach out to them and build relationships with like-minded individuals. You never know when it will come in handy down the road and in the mean time, the support will be invaluable!


Looking back, is there anything that you may have changed that you think would have helped you get on this path sooner?

Success is a journey, and it takes time to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting it right the first…or even tenth time. I think I have been really hard on myself over the years as I have struggled with my own personal motivation and will-power. Looking back, I wish I would have saved myself a couple of guilt trips on the way. However, I do know that everything I have gone through has contributed to who I am today, and that in order to appreciate the good moments in life, you need to experience the bad. I always try to remember this when I hit a rough patch on my journey to success.

Where do you see this passion growing to over the next 5 years? And 10?

Nick and I have plans to open our own fitness-focused business within the next 5 years. However, given the nature of the business and the unique value proposition of it, I can’t disclose too much. However, I can confirm it will be a combination of our greatest loves and it will be different from the majority of what currently exists in the market place.
Fitness is our life, our passion. We want to spend the rest of our lives doing what we love most in this world. And while we are waiting to officially launch, we are using all of our free time planning and preparing!

Where can someone find more information about your company/ career choice?

Right now we are in the initial planning stages, but if you want to check-in on my journey, check out Fit, Fun & Free (http://fitfunandfree.com/) where you will find updates on my adventures, clean eats and training recommendations. This will also keep you up to date on future plans so be sure to check back and see what is in store for us over the next 18 months!

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Workouts, Nutrition & Determination: A Recount of My First Fitness Photoshoot!

You’re going to have professional shots- some with just a sports bra- oh and make sure you have a bikini because you’ll do those ones too

Yeeeaah. The idea of having shots wearing (or really.. NOT wearing) particular items scared the crap out of me. I don’t care how big, small, tall, thin, square, pear, apple or plum you are… EVERYONE has their areas which make them cringe. Mine, has always been my stomach.

When I was first approached to do this photo shoot, there was no doubt in my mind that this was the push I need to take my fitness to the next level. After our wedding in July, I had plateaued. That’s not to say I was unhappy where my body and fitness levels had reached– I actually was super pumped for my results! I just knew that I was ready to challenge the old Steph.

The Steph that had accepted sitting down & crossing her arms over her stomach. The Steph that never really believed having VISUAL abdominal muscles was an accomplishment she could attain.

And so, I graciously accepted the challenge. And my 3 month body transformation began!

I want to put something out there.

I am not a full time personal trainer, nor do I have a lot of free time to devote to working out & being on a strict nutrition plan. My usual day consists of me being extremely busy… so Murphy’s Law… multiple areas of my life fall into place at once.

The final 2-3 weeks before the shoot (which happened on May 11th) I finally got into the school board for teaching. As most of you probably know, adjusting to a new job with a new morning schedule/ routine is exhausting enough! Factor in that I had a course for Personal Training over the course of 2 weekends, I train between 5 & 7 boot camp classes a week on TOP of the full working days I’m putting in, I tutor between 2-4 hours one NIGHT a week, we’re MOVING so we’re continually packing, annnd just for kicks how about we toss in Kickboxing at two different facilities, and my own personal workout sessions at the gym! (And– HUBBY?? haha I swear, I don’t forget about hubby!!)

NONE of those are excuses. They are reality. And that– my friends– is life.

LIFE will always get in the way! If you can STILL achieve results despite all that life will throw at you, THAT is the true testament to your health, and to your dedication to succeed.

So, while I know that I can still get myself further along– I am DAMN proud of how these pictures turned out. Not only do I have multiple bikini pictures I am proud of, I have fitness shots that demonstrate the strength that I have built in the last two years. And, on top of all that– I proved to myself that while I am damn busy at the moment, I didn’t let it get in the way of continuing on my path towards maintaining a healthy & active lifestyle.

It’s possible for anyone to do this. So before you sit back and start with the “Yeah– but you don’t have kids, or _____, or _____,” you can put in ANY excuse that you feel makes you the exception to making changes in your own life but let me tell you this:

The only person you are kidding, is yourself.

I’m not here to compare myself to you, nor should you compare what your life is like to me.  We all have stress in life, much like we all have areas on our body that we would love to “fix”. All I’m saying, is before you sit back and allow the busy days you have beat you, why don’t you step up and rise to the challenge?

At the end of the day, I speak honestly when I say that it feels damn good to look at those pictures, especially knowing how busy my life is at the moment. It’s a reminder that whenever I decide  that it’s time to get results, I determine how and when it happens. And, despite any distraction… I did it!! 323097_4215679170524_1747270089_o 919370_4222557062467_1783961205_o 920900_4222554902413_930026568_o 920982_4215684890667_2115775914_o 966226_4222549662282_1211942489_o 967183_4215676490457_419581716_o 976650_4215688290752_995252312_o 977349_4215676730463_1154164387_o