Being Plus Sized is Not a Problem.

Today I saw a post on Facebook that really really bothered me!

Some ladies were inquiring about local plus size fitness classes. They wanted a facility and program that was exclusive to 'full figure women' who could exercise without the judgemental eyes of other gym goers preying on their insecurities. And since it is proven that having the support of like minded individuals increases your chance of success, they were looking for a group that share similar physical qualities because they felt it would be a more welcoming, understanding, and comfortable setting.

These types of programs are available in our community but when I was asked if I would ever consider offering a program like this in my facility, I said no. The reason I said no is because...

I hate plus size fitness classes!

Not because they are worse from an exercise or instructor quality standpoint. I hate them because they breed a mindset that your body type dictates what you can or cannot do. I hate them because they create a label that doesn't need to be there. I hate them because they promote an attitude of judgment based on what you look like, which is exactly what these women fear in a 'regular' gym setting. Only in this case, the one doing the judging is YOU! And finally, I hate them because you full figure ladies don't actually NEED them! You have just spent so long listening to society tell you that you are not strong enough, skinny enough, and beautiful enough that you believe you do need them.

Being plus sized is NOT A PROBLEM. The problem is allowing that label and your insecurities to keep you from participating the activities you want and being happy about who you are and how you look and feel.

Time to stop being the problem and start being the solution. Someone smarter than me said 'the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step'. Or in this case 3 steps. Here are 3 things you NEED TO KNOW to improve how you look and feel about your body and live the life of health and happiness you want!


1. You do not need to be 'fit' to go to the gym!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard 'I need to get in shape before I come to the gym' I would be writing this from my beach house in Hawaii. Do people not realize that is what the gym is for...getting in shape! I always think of those toys for toddlers where they have to put the circle block in the circle hole and the triangle block in the triangle hole.

Gyms don't have a special 'fit' sized door that only 'fit' people can get through. They have normal doors. For every person of any shape/size. And I will let you in on a little secret. Those 'fit' people who are in the gym were not all magically in shape the first day they walked in. They all started somewhere.

And what happens when you get 'fit'. Say you join a plus size program that you love, make a ton of friends, have great success, and make a significant change to your body. what happens when you are no longer 'plus size'? What then? Are you still allowed to attend your class...or do you now become one of those 'fit' people who doesn't need that class anymore. Where do we draw the line on what shape gets included or not?


2. The people you think are judging you...aren't!

I don't know what it is like to be 100-200lbs overweight. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult that must be physically, mentally, and emotionally when trying to adopt healthier habits. But I do know what it is like to look in the mirror and hate the skin I am in and feel like everyone around me is looking at my back fat in disgust. I know what it is like to be called fat, to my face and very publicly online.

The reason I got into fitness in the first place was because a martial arts film producer in LA (I am trained to do movie stunts by the way) told me that I was skilled but I wouldn't get hired because I needed to lose weight. And then when I made fitness my career, someone posted some photos of me on an anonymous website saying that I was a fat slob who shouldn't call herself a trainer. I tried not to show it at the time, but that hurt, and still does when I let me insecurities get the best of me.

What I didn't know then is that all the people I thought were judging me, were worried that I was judging them right back. If everyone is scared of being judged then no one has the time to do the judging. Make sense? Yes there are some jerks in the world who no matter what will tell you that you are not good enough. But those people will say that no matter who you are or what you look like. So why bother trying to please them? Start by being good enough for you!


3. Choosing a fitness program based on what you look like is STUPID!

In our facility many of our members work with a trainer in private sessions or participate in our group training classes. We offer weight training programs, kickboxing, modified strongman conditioning, powerlifting, athlete sport development, and obstacle race training. We train males and females. Our members range from 14-68 and are anywhere from a size XS to 4XL. Every single one of our members is different from the next. They each have different exercise history, skills, injuries, experiences, and most importantly GOALS!

In a day, I might work with a 50 year old woman who wants to improve her bone density and lower her cholesterol. Or a 35 year old stressed out workaholic who sits at a desk all day and wants to lose the 20-30lbs he put on after college. Or I might have an 18 year old athlete who wants to be the next world champion power lifter. Would I have these three clients do the same program? NO because that makes no sense! What if they all weighed 250lbs?

When you look at it that way doesn't it seem a little ridiculous to group people together based on their shape or size? Every person who walks through our door is a blank canvas. We as trainers need to assess you individually and modify our exercises or programs based on your individual needs and goals not based on what you look like.


At the end of the day, some women still want to stay within the comfortable confines of their plus size security blanket. I get that it is a comfort thing and that it does take time. I just hope that you don't let the label keep you fro living the life of your dreams. And if one day you step out of that comfort zone you may just find that you are more than you ever gave yourself credit for. 

REMEMBER! No one has the right to judge you or make you feel bad about your body, including YOU! Your shape, size, weight, age, gender, fitness level or whatever else do not make you any less and do not limit what you can do or achieve. And the day you stop thinking that is the day more than the weight off your body is lifted...




5 Fat Loss Tips that cost NOTHING!

Fat loss doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. We all know that broccoli is better for you than a bag of chips. Yet we continue to indulge in these treats far more often than we should and complain about the 'last ten pounds' that we can never seem to get rid of. Well here are 10 EASY STEPS to help you drop that extra jiggle once and for all. And the best part, they are FREE and you can start them RIGHT NOW!



1. Drink more water!

Proper hydration is key to our bodies functioning properly and many don't get nearly enough! Instead they replace water with sugary juices, pop, or specialty coffees. Aim for getting half your body weight in ounces of water per day. So a 130lbs individual should be consuming a minimum of 65 ounces (approx 8 cups) of water, more if you are in a hot climate or are exercising. The best way to do this is to have a water bottle handy throughout the day to sip on and you can refill it when it is empty. You will find yourself drinking it just because it is there.


2. Eat protein for breakfast

Having a good source of protein for breakfast sets you up for success throughout the day. Aim to have some eggs, lean meat, a smoothie with some greek yogurt as opposed to a bowl of cereal or a bagel. Having a breakfast that is higher in carbohydrates spikes your body glucose, and might feel like it gives you a boost of energy, but it also drops very quickly, leaving you hungry and usually craving unhealthy things. Having more protein promotes better management of blood sugars, will keep you satisfied longer, and give you the fuel you need to perform better both physically and mentally.


3. Go to bed before midnight.

Eating nutritious food and getting regular exercise are both important parts of losing fat but if you are not getting adequate rest, you are not going to get the results you want as easily. Sleep is a key factor in consistent and maintainable fat loss. It is a time to 'reset' the hormones in your body and wake up with a new slate so to speak. Ideally, we should all aim for 8 hours of good quality sleep, but anyone living in reality knows that it is easier said than done sometimes. So let's start by prioritizing quality over quantity. If you are a night owl try going to sleep before midnight, since studies show that the quality of sleep in hours prior to midnight can be two to three times as good as the hours after.


4. Track your food.

Even if you change absolutely nothing in your diet, try grabbing a notebook or downloading one of those free food tracker apps on your smart phone and start logging what you eat and drink every day. Writing it down increases awareness about what you are putting in your body and often decreases mindless snacking that adds tons of calories we don't even think about. You are more likely to make healthier choices if you are writing down what you are consuming, more so if you have a person to keep you accountable who may take a peek at your food journal every now and then. Little by little you will notice you naturally start to make healthier decisions. Check out the example food tracking chart below! You can find plenty free printable ones online as well.


5. Move more.

We live in an age of technology and information is literally at our fingertips. But with this great power comes great responsibility...scratch comes with a great deal of sitting in poorly designed chairs with bad posture and carpal tunnel. More sitting means less movement and one of the greatest contributing factors to fat loss is movement. Whether that be going for a quick walk on your lunch break, playing at the park with your kids (did you know that many cities now have outdoor fitness equipment that looks just like a playground but for adults), or doing some push ups, lunges, etc. Get creative, and even if you can't put in a full workout, do something, ANYTHING to get your heart rate up and your waist size down!

And don't get overwhelmed by trying to do all of these things at once. Focus on committing to even one of them for an entire week, or even two, and once you have habit locked in add another one in and focus on it. Keep adding these healthy habits until you can do all of them without even having to try. No skin off your back, no money out of your wallet, and no more trying to squeeze into those 'skinny jeans'. They should be well on their way to fitting like a glove!



The Cost of Fitness


2015 is just around the corner! And who hasn't seen this motivational photo pop up once or twice?


I see the reflections of family and friends on the past year and the endless possibilities for the new one. As a fitness professional, the most common one I hear is the resolution to...

"... get healthy once and for all"
"... get back to the weight you were in high school, or college, or the 6 lbs 5 oz you were at birth"
"... eat better, give up red meat, go gluten free, or sugar free, or start a juice cleanse"
"... walk an hour every day, or maybe every other day, when it isn't cold...damn I live in Canada...time to move to Florida"
... finally lose that last 10 lbs. The same 10 lbs they have been talking about for the past 10 YEARS! Have they done it yet. Yeah maybe they did. And that sneaky 10 lbs came back. And brought 5 more with it! Wouldn't it be nice if our bank accounts accumulated interest the way our tush and tummy accumulates fat!
New Years is like feast time in the fitness world! I can see all of the gym owners, memberships sales staff, and personal trainers SALIVATING over the crop of fresh meat, credit card in hand, ready to finally "MAKE A CHANGE"! And they have just the deal that is going to make it happen. But what's the catch. Sure you get a great deal in January on the gym membership, or bootcamp, or personal training...but what about the rest of the year. Or the rest of your life for that matter! Does that 10 lbs really just come off and stay off...NO! At the end of the day there is no quick fix, there is no 8 week solution, there is no trick! At the end of the day you make the choice to make health and fitness a priority for life! But what is that lifetime commitment gonna cost? 


The average number of times a gym membership owner will go to the gym             2
Average monthly cost of a gym membership                                                                $58
Amount of gym membership money that goes to waste due to under utilization    $39  
Percent of people that have gym memberships that NEVER use them                        67%  

I believe Socrates hit the nail right on the head when he said:


When did the fitness industry get SO FAR from this perspective! When did the physical wellness, strength, and beauty of our bodies become something for the wealthy and elite. These are slightly exaggerated examples but are NOT FAR FROM THE TRUTH... 


"Want a gym membership? That will be $58 per month plus a $58 registration fee? But that is only if you commit for the next 2 years? Oh you may move...that's fine we have a great $98 per month option. And the registration fee jumped to $158. But you can quit anytime." 
"Oh that other gym is only $48 per month? Why is ours more? Well that is because ours has the shiniest, fanciest stuff inside of the shiniest fanciest room with mineral water straight from a mountain stream in you have access 28h per day...since you know you want to work out at 3:30 am." 
"Want some help reaching your fitness goals? We have all these great motivating classes that are super fun! And you want to do 2 days per week? Ok well that will be $75/month. But only if you do that 6pm class on Mon and Wed. Oh you want to do Thurs as well? $85/month. Oh but you want Thursday at 7pm? $95/month. But at that rate you might as well do our unlimited pass. Just $175/month! You can do any class at any time!" 
"But if you are really serious about that last 10 lbs you should really invest in personal training. We have this great trainer who took a 2 day weekend course about exercising. He even has a fancy certificate. All you have to do is remortgage your house and dip into your child's college fund. But that last 10 lbs will be GONE"
THAT IS GARBAGE! It pains me to see how many people invest hundreds and hundreds of dollars in fitness every year to be in the exact same spot next year. And the prices that have become standard in this industry are getting RIDICULOUS! Don't get me wrong...there is something to the idea that you get what you pay for. There is value in fitness, and as a personal trainer who spends thousands of dollars every year learning more, there is value in your investment. I believe there is value because I have paid it, I have experienced it, I have gotten the results. Investing in my health and fitness has CHANGED MY LIFE! The sad part is most people cannot tell the difference in VALUE from one place to the next and assume that if you pay more it is because it is better. Or if you pay less, they are worse. 

This concept is what guides us at Back Alley Fitness. It is the reason we try and offer high quality fitness programs that are RESULTS DRIVEN, SCHEDULE FLEXIBLE, and AFFORDABLE! We want to provide the BEST QUALITY, at the BEST PRICE, so that we can change the MOST LIVES and finally give people a NEW resolution in 2016! 



Reality Check. The truth behind your 'fitness goals'





As a trainer I ask people each and every day what their goals are. What are you doing here? What prompted you to set foot in my gym? WHY??? Do you like exercise? UNLIKELY! Exercise is hard. Exercise in uncomfortable. Exercise for MOST people is NOT fun at all. So what made you decide it was a good idea to walk in and pay money to do something that you deep down DO NOT WANT TO DO!


Everyone has their story. Their reason. And my job is to find out what that reason is and WHY.


I will give you three chances to guess the most common answer I hear. OH don't need three chances. Cause I bet you said the exact same thing when you were asked what your goals were and why.




Seriously? Do you even know what the word tone means?


It is a clinical term used primarily by physiotherapists to describe muscle 'stiffness' and its resistance to being stretched or its firmness when being palpated (squeezed). Tone has to do with the stiffness of both the muscle itself and the connective tissue that encases the muscle. This tendency towards less stiff connective tissue results often in hypermobility. Basically...ELASTIGIRL from the Incredibles. It also has to do with the size and strength of a molecule called titin. It also describes a muscle's readiness for action or how it responds to signals from the brain. Stronger firmer muscles have better tone...which is where that term was born. But it has been so miscontrued by fitness magazines and marketing that it can mean a million things to a million different people. So let me as you again....what the heck does TONING mean? Cause at this point it is a very relative term depending on who you are talking to...




TONE? FIT? It all comes down to the same problem. I have no idea what your definition of fitness is? How can i help you become more 'fit' if I don't know what fitness means to you. To a runner, fit might mean being able to complete a marathon. To a bodybuilder, fit might mean you could be the next Hulk the way you bust out of your clothes with all that MUSCLE. To a crossfitter, fit is...well crossfit. I cannot make you fit unless you tell me what fit is to you. What does that look and feel like.







Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Could you be more vague? These answers are honestly the ones I hear every single day. Now you tell can I help you to reach your goals if you cannot be honest with me about what they are. How can you reach them if you won't even be honest with yourself about what they are?


Sure those might be your goals...on the surface. But at the end of the day you and I both know that there is more to the story. It took me a really long time to come to terms with my own personal goals and being honest with myself and my trainer about why I wanted them. To this day I still have not completely revealed the reason behind my goals. But here it is. If i can share can share yours.




I am the oldest of three girls. We were normal sized children (actually more on the small side) and loved biking and playing outside. As we grew up my sisters both stayed very small. I did not. Teenage years meant changes to my body that made everything a little squishy. I was not outgoing like I am now. I was very shy and convinced myself that I wasn't pretty or skinny enough to be 'popular' or get attention from boys like my friends were. So I did what any self conscious teenager would do and turned to fitness magazines which were filled with advertisements for fat burners. And let me tell you...I tried most of them. Looking back now, I wish I would have appreciated my body the way it was and learned to treat it right because my behaviour then fuelled some very unhealthy habits for my future. University came along and so did the freshmen 15...and by 15 I mean 25 or 30. That was when I started working at my first gym. 


I got a trainer and started to see the benefits of exercise and making better nutrition habits...but to be honest I never really gave it my all. My trainer knew that and so did I. I was not honest with him about what I really wanted and why. I was way too self conscious to tell him how embarrassed I was about being fat and how it affected my life. That would have been humiliating right? Didn't help that I thought he was kind of cute and had a huge crush on him. There was NO WAY I was divulging my deep dark secrets to this guy. 


I tried a different trainer for a while. Didn't last long. I wasn't putting in the work. I was wasting his time...making the workouts useless by eating my body weight in Oreos feeling sorry for myself. I went on a vacation to Australia feeling fat and miserable and let me tell you...the beach and bikinis did not help. I came home at my heaviest weight of 165LBS. And while that might not seem heavy to some. To me it was the end of the world. I got back into martial arts and did some acting classes and when I was looking at what I wanted to do with my life I decided to pursue the ultimate dream...I was going to be a movie star! How was I going to do it? Hmmmmm I am really good at kicking things so I could totally be a stuntwoman. That was my plan. And I enrolled in stunt school. I even had a connection in Hollywood who emailed me and offered to take a look at my headshots and give me advice and possibly an opportunity. This was the defining moment for me and something I have told very few people. He gave me his honest opinion and told me my body wasn't right. I had to lose weight if I wanted to even think about going into the film industry. He was the first person to put into words what I told myself every day. He made it real for me. I couldn't lie anymore. I was devastated.


I hired my third trainer. I told him I wanted to be stronger and faster because I was going to the world martial arts games. I didn't tell him I hated my body and wanted those horrible thoughts to stop. I didn't tell him I would severely restrict my eating and then binge...but he is smart. He knew. I knew he knew because I didn't get the results I should have been. He gave me every step to success but I wouldn't let him help me because I wouldn't be honest about what I wanted and why. I just hoped I could lie and get it anyway. But deep down I had a very serious problem with my self esteem and body image that couldn't be solved by a workout plan. 


I have been with this trainer for 2.5 years now. And I have made some progress. He helped me win 6 medals at world games. I was strong and fast. I still sucked in on every picture from that trip though because I hated my stomach pudge. I wasn't proud. I wasn't happy. I wasn't motivated. I loosely did his programs and didn't see the results I wanted. Go figure. Then I thought...hey maybe its because I don't have the right gym. Maybe having a gym that is convenient and set up the way I like it is the way to go. So I opened a gym. YEP...that was one of the primary reasons Back Alley Fitness exists. YES, I had developed a passion for fitness. YES, I love helping others and it truly is what I am meant to do with my life. But it started as another path to my DREAM BODY! This time it was going to work. At first it was great. I had tons of energy and big dreams and I could do anything...


Then reality hit. The insecurity crept in as it always does. My body is not a 'typical' trainer body. Who wants to train with a person with all this extra body fat? How can I help others if I cannot help myself? I am a fake and a phoney and I should not be a trainer. Every once in a while that feeling still creeps up on me. But then I remind myself that the reason I am good at what I do is because I truly understand what it is like to be on your end. I know what insecurity and shame feels like. I know what struggling with weight and body image is like. I know how hard it is. I get it. I still struggle with it. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And I am no longer afraid to admit it. I know what I want. I know what my goals are. I know why I want them. And it is time to shout them from the rooftops. Because if I cant be honest about my can I ask you to be. So here they are....


I want to lose body fat. I don't care how much...the number is not important. I want to not suck in for every single picture. I want to flaunt a bikini on the beach, not hide under a tshirt. I want to put on an outfit that makes me feel attractive and confident...not one that hides the back fat around by bra strap and the love handles over my jeans. I want to be close to my man without worrying about my belly touching his and being embarrassed that it sticks out that far or that it jiggles. I seriously think about this crap every moment of every day! It is exhausting. I want to be an example of health and fitness that my clients can look up to. I want people to judge me on my skills as a trainer and not on the shape of my body. I want to go shopping with my sisters and not compare myself to them but be proud of our differences. I want my body to reflect how strong I am and how hard I work in the gym. I want my goal to finally be something athletic and not aesthetic. I want to have a healthy relationship with food and not use it as a comfort for self pity. I want to be happy and I want to do everything in life and never hold back because of my body....I WANT FREEDOM FROM THE PRISON I HAVE BUILT FOR MYSELF.


That's my story. That is as honest as I can get...and saying it out loud sets me free in a way I never though possible. Now it is your turn...








A Trainer's Promise...


I DO NOT promise to make you look like the cover model on Oxygen Magazine or like a star in the latest Hollywood Blockbuster...I DO promise to help you feel CONFIDENT and PROUD enough of your body to flaunt it like a starlet/model WITHOUT photoshop.

I DO NOT promise that you will lose the last 20 lbs in 12 weeks...I DO promise to help you be leaner, stronger, healthier, and more mobile in 12 weeks, and 16 weeks, and 52 weeks. See the pattern here. 12 weeks is not the answer. And shedding body fat, gaining muscle, and tightening/toning is not the same as losing weight. And when it comes down to it, if I could promise you a body tomorrow that you love more than today does the number on the scale REALLY matter? I do not promise you will lose weight, but I DO promise that if you trust the process we can make you more AWESOME than you already are!

I DO NOT promise to give you back the body you had before kids or the one you played hockey with in highschool...I do promise to give you a body that allows you to be active with your kids or continue to participate in activities you enjoy for as long as you enjoy it! Remember, the past is not always better so stop trying to recreate it. Let's aspire to be BETTER than our past. Taking care of your body now will create a BETTER future! 

I DO NOT promise to know what is the perfect exercise or nutrition program for your body...I DO promise that I will pay attention and listen to what your body is telling me so that I can help you see progress towards your goals. As our bodies change so does our exercise and nutritional needs and I promise to continue educating myself so that I can offer you the best knowledge and practices possible for you to see the results you want in a safe and effective manner that YOU ENJOY and that is MANAGEABLE in YOUR life.

I do not promise that the changes you need to make will be easy...I DO promise that if you trust the process and takes steps every day that are health conscious and goal oriented it will make living every day of the rest of your life easier.

I do not promise you will like me or agree with me all the time...I DO promise that I care about your thoughts, feelings, goals, progress, and success and will do my best to compromise in ways that will still be beneficial to your goals and give you educated reasoning for the decisions I make as your trainer. But at the end of the day, I will be honest with you and will not sugar coat the truth when I think you need to hear it, even if you don't agree or like me at the time. And I DO promise to always do it with a SMILE!

I do not promise to have the answer to all the questions you may have...I DO promise that if I do not know the answer I WILL find out. As a professional in this industry the more I learn the more I realize I don't know and the more I realize I want to know. However, I understand that there is always someone who knows MORE or knows BETTER and I will not let my ego keep me from asking so that I can give you the BEST answer there is.

Training is my passion and I think about my members and my clients like an extension of my family. And I promise to take care of you in the best way I know how. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and I cannot wait for what the New Year has to bring our Back Alley Fitness family! 





Haters Gonna Hate, Potatoes Gonna Potate


Words of wisdom from someone else who is as mad as a Hatter. Live life on your own terms, go in the direction you want,  and never let anyone dull your unique sparkle! What a revolutionary concept! If only we could all embrace our individuality and start living the badass life of supreme AWESOMENESS we were meant to. Oh wait! WE CAN!
Step 1: Start with reading my very short, somewhat autobiographical, novella entitled ULTIMATE SUPER NINJA SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE SURVIVAL OF THE 'FIT'POCALYPSE LEAD BY A MOB OF HATER VILLAINS DISGUISED AS NORMAL PEOPLE. The title is still being reviewed by my team of editors.
Step 2: Realize the ULTIMATE SUPER NINJA SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE SURVIVAL OF THE 'FIT'POCALYPSE LEAD BY A MOB OF HATER VILLAINS DISGUISED AS NORMAL PEOPLE is in fact an ebook that you have to buy through iTunes and decide to read my short summary below instead.
This is actually step one in the ULTIMATE SUPER...the book, but since I already used Step 1 and 3 above I decided to avoid confusion and just continue with Step 3. Anyways. Who are the villains you say? They are the individuals who rain on your parade of health and fitness awesomeness. They come in many shapes, sizes, and levels of obnoxiousness. Recognizing them is the first step in preventing their poisonous stench of negativity from ruining your inevitable greatness. Some characteristics to watch for:
- they respond with an eye roll when you order grilled chicken, with a double side of steamed broccoli and water with lemon on ladies margarita night. how dare you ruin the tradition of nursing a three day hangover with half a cold pizza and a tub of Ben n' Jerry's.
- they read in [insert magazine title here] that kissing burns 342 calories in a minute so clearly your need to go to the gym 5 days a week is obsessive and unhealthy and you should prioritize your life according to their divine wisdom
- they heard from a friend of a friend that lifting heavy weights will turn you into a unicorn, running long distances will give you Alzheimer's, yoga will make you go bald, and crossfit breaks down your tooth enamel due to the reaction between your skin and a kettlebell, the only way you can get the body of a victoria secret runway model is by eating a shake/smoothie of overripe bananas, coconut oil, and cotton candy at 4:02 am and then hula hooping on a bosu ball for an hour while holding your breath. basically if you are not doing what works for them you are doing it WRONG. so you might as well quit now.
- the number of passive aggressive statuses on their facebook timeline about the long term negative effects of Baconator deprivation increases exponentially...and you are tagged in them
Villains can be your family, friends, coworkers, significant others, or strangers in line at the supermarket. They have an opinion about the way you live your life and you must adopt their viewpoint immediately if you are to save yourself from certain demise. I call bullshit.
Since violent behavior is discouraged and generally results in legal implications I do not recommend actually punching people in the face. Even if they could really use a high five in the face with a chair. Remember that the mob of hater villains really are just people like you and I. They too dream of success and sometimes seeing you succeed in an aspect that they cannot succeed in is too much to handle. They are stuck in a vortex of negativity and self loathing and rather than facing insecurities and the fear of failure they try to suck you into the vortex with them. Because misery loves company. Remember that only the ones who are below you can pull you down. Don't let them. Instead punch them in the face with kindness, respect, positivity, and love. Who knows maybe one day they will join you in the bliss you enjoy.
Remember that you and you alone are in charge of your life. Whether you defeat your villains by communicating with them and coming to an understanding about what is acceptable and what is not in your relationship or whether you decide to eliminate these villains altogether. That is your choice. Sometimes we have to sacrifice the people in our lives who are not contributing in a positive way to our well being and learning to do that shows strength and self respect. And while this particular narrative used health and fitness as an example, these strategies apply to any aspect of your life. At the end of the day you cannot take care of others unless you first take care of yourself so do what YOU need to do, for YOU (just like Johnny recommended) so that you be the ultimate YOU and can do what YOU were meant to do. For the world.
Cause it is now 1:30 am and I should not be allowed near a computer unsupervised when I am this tired. Until next time. Super Ninja out ;-)

Good Livin'


How many of you have, at some point in your life, put something on your 'bucket list'? You know what I am talking about. It is that list of things we dream about doing, seeing, or being but put so high on a pedestal that it is out of immediate reach. Think about it. What is REALLY stopping you from going skydiving, writing a childrens book, or completing a triathlon. Time? Money? Perceived Inability? What is your go to excuse for not living the life you dream of. 

I am just as guilty of this behaviour as you are. Actually. Let me rephrase that. I was just as guilty. Over the past few years I have done an overhaul of how I perceive myself and what I can do. The conclusion I came to. I can do anything I damn well please. In that time I became the owner of two successful businesses that I truly love, earned my second degree black belt, competed and won at the world martial arts games, and went to stunt school. Now I don't know about you but that is what I consider bucket list worthy stuff. I have done a number of other things that were personal goals of mine but those are the big kahunas. And most of them were done in the past year which I consider a huge accomplishment. My most recent 'bucket list' task was completing the GORUCK Challenge this past weekend.

Now up until a friend of mine had mentioned it I had no idea what GORUCK was. So how could it have been a goal? Let me explain. I LOVE MOVIES! And I live for what I call 'movie moments'. Those perfect moments that are just so incredible and rare that there is no way they could be happening in real life. Like the Notebook style in the rain kiss from Ryan Gosling. FYI...still waiting Ryan. And one of my favorite movies is GI Jane. The one where Demi Moore becomes a test case for integration of females into military special operation training and service. In order for this to happen she must complete one of the most intense training programs known to man. SEAL CRT. So without spoiling the ending lets just say that every time I watch this film (which is often) I decide that I am going to become a Navy Seal or Marine or what have you. And this notion goes on for weeks. So you can imagine when I heard of the opportunity to complete a military style team training challenge I was all over that! Not only did I sign up. I paid for this. Well worth it in my opinion.

The challenge started at 1am on Friday night/ Saturday morning at public library. I prepped by taping 6 paver bricks together and putting them in a pack that I would carry through the entire 10 hour challenge. In the end I believe my pack ended up weighing about 35lbs. The first hour and a half consisted of bear crawling, crab crawling, low crawling, Indian running, pack passing, and then a series of physical training exercises in the bandshell at the train park. Then I became team leader.

Being team leader was terrifying because even though our cadre (challenge leader) was very soft spoken and nice I was sure it was the calm before the storm. So when he was explaining what our mission was that I had to relay to my team I am pretty sure all I did was nod and smile. At one point he said something about insurgents which I was pretty sure I knew the definition of but was too intimidated to ask. So I continued to nod and smile. Note to self: learn more military speak prior to military challenge. Our goal was to get to lions park kitchen where we would retrieve a downed satellite and extract it from enemy territory. So off we went. FYI. Downed satellite = a damn log! And when the cadre told me we had to get this log to Kin Coulee I am sure the look I gave him was less than enthusiastic. In fact the thoughts going through my head were 'are you kidding me. do you have a freaking clue how far kin coulee is from here you nutcase. or how heavy that log is? maybe you should go pick it up first and reevaluate the log drop off point because clearly you made a mistake'. He did not. In fact I am pretty sure he knew the trail system in Med Hat better than me and I have lived here for 18 years. He had been here maybe a day. Three and half hours later (my guess) we still had this damn log. We eventually made it to Kin Coulee where more physical training was to be had...not before we waded through the creek though. apparently bridges are the new national enemy. And for the record we have WAY more bridges than I ever realized and any city I relocate to will be based heavily on the number of bridges we capita. Anyways, bridges aside, next comes what I consider the best part of the day and the inspiration for this blog post.

Buddy carries up the Kin Coulee toboggan hill. Yep. 6 hours into this challenge and we had to get another human being from the bottom to the top. Actually two because we were in pairs. At this point I got the sense that my partner for this particular section was starting to get wore out so I offered to take the 190 lbs (my guess) guy while my partner took his pack. Hands down it was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life but in my head it was one of those movie moments where the heroine is bruised and battered but overcomes the seemingly impossible through determination and inner strength. Insert ROCKY soundtrack here. It was epic and I was so high on adrenaline that nothing could stop me. Which came in handy cause we still had one more guy to carry...facepalm*. The events that followed were just as gruelling and difficult but I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. I was GI Jane. Not that I would have been able to bust out a one arm pushup. That's next weeks goal...

The moral of this story is that we are all capable of doing so much more than we can even possibly comprehend if we set our minds to it and want it bad enough. The problem with 'bucket lists' is that we make these dreams or goals out to be impossible tasks. What makes them impossible is the perceived limitations we have. Money, time, your body fat percentage, or age have nothing to do with your ability to accomplish something. It is simply an excuse we use because we fear failure. If you don't try then you can't fail right? WRONG! You are failing right from the beginning simply by not trying. It doesn't matter how big the dream is! You can do it if you commit your body, mind, and soul to believing that everything is possible if you are willing to try.

So find a dream. And make it happen! Take your bucket list and make it a to do list. Time to start checking things off. I know what my next goal is. What is yours?

Class 564.

What is your weakness?


“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” ― Criss Jami

I was having a conversation today with a man who has had an indescribable impact on my life. He inspired my passion for health and fitness several years ago and has been a source of unbending encouragement and wisdom since. This particular nugget of wisdom came as both a welcome surprise and a compliment of the highest regard in my own mind. 
We were discussing life lessons and the subject was vulnerability. The concept in question is that those who are the most vulnerable are the strongest. They are not restricted by self imposed fear and doubt. They go 'all in' on life and understand that the only way to win big is to take big risks sometimes. Now do not get the wrong idea here. Taking risks is not the same as being reckless. Common sense, as uncommon as it may be, is an important factor in risk taking as long as it does not overpower your instincts. Learn to trust your instincts. Because Mr. Barrie had it right when he said "all you need is trust and a little bit of pixie dust". 
Now according to my inspirational source, this is something I apparently 'have down quite well'. My family and friends will vouch for me when I say that I am never content. I appreciate everything that has blessed my life but I am constantly striving for the next level. I distinctly remember the day one of my 'friends' told me that my dream to be a Disney Imagineer was childish, unreachable, and stupid. I might as well have told him my life goal was to become a rainbow unicorn that pooped cotton candy. It was that same day I realized I am very different from those around me. In my mind there is NOTHING that I cannot achieve once I set my mind to it. I am too determined to fail. I do not wait for opportunity to come knocking at my door. When I decide that I want something I go for it even if the odds are against me. I have no regard for failure. Failure is simply an opportunity to take a different direction. 
That is vulnerability. I put my whole mind, heart, and soul into everything I do. I share my experiences with the people around me in hopes that they can be inspired and educated by my successes and my failures. But as the world must have balance, my openness, positive outlook, and trust in humanity leaves me vulnerable to a great deal of negative energy. Just like everyone else, I am not made of stone. I have weaknesses. In fighting I have learned that weakness is something you embrace not ignore. If you recognize your weaknesses you can use your strengths to overcome them. The same principle applies in life. Sometimes people take advantage of your weaknesses in order to make you an object of their criticism. They play on your vulnerability. In my experience, those who criticize you are those who are envious because you embody qualities which they so desperately want in their own lives. The key is to not to let these people get you down, but reach down and try to help them up. Therein lies the strength. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Identify your weaknesses and fears and use them as a source of inspiration and determination. Kick doubt, self consciousness, fear of failure, and the criticism of others in the face. Set a new standard for yourself. Take risks. Dream big, Exceed your own expectations and achieve your personal greatness, WHATEVER that may be. 

What happens in Vegas...


    I have a tendency of being quite spontaneous when it comes to vacations. Most recently, a few of my girlfriends invited me to go to Vegas with them for the weekend after they finished writing their national nursing exam. I have been incredibly busy with work and they were studying like crazy so the idea of a weekend away to just have some fun was very appealing. Little did I know this would be such an enlightening adventure for me. 

    For those of you who haven't noticed. I spend basically every waking hour at the gym - minus a couple in the afternoon where someone else comes in so I can get other errands done or take a nap if I need. Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely without a doubt love my job but your body and mind can only take so much before they explode. My way to prevent spontaneous combustion is by going on little vacations. I will work for several weeks straight and then take a few days to just completely get away and recharge. And like shampoo, I lather, rinse, repeat. In fact, I have my next three vacations already planned and I like to compare it to the strategy they always tell you to use for studying. Work hard for an hour, take a 15 minute break, and then get back to work again. Having these little breaks helps me to focus in the time that I am here and makes me more productive. Like a reward system. My travels are like rewards for hard work.  I try to have the same attitude when it comes to fitness and nutrition.

If you constantly destroy your body (and by destroy I mean work it HARD) day after day in the gym at some point it is going to give under all the pressure. You need breaks from workng out and 'eating clean' the same as you need breaks from work, school, people, etc. You need to reenergize so that the time you are putting into your workouts or your nutrition are as effective and efficient as possible. Now this isn't a free pass to be a slug in the gym and eat cheeseburgers on a regular basis so that you don't go too overboard. Balance is key. Have a cheat meal every week. Take a day off from the gym and go for a walk or go rock climbing. Do something spontaneous and fun. Enjoying little indulgences or doing activities purely for the entertainment value lowers your cortisol (the evil stress hormone that prevents you from losing body fat) and will help your health and fitness journey in the long run. Believe me, if anyone understands stress, it's me. My brain is like the energizer bunny on cocaine and redbull and if I don't keep it in check then I get fried.

That is what this Vegas trip was for me. I am pretty strict on myself when I am home and I eat well and workout all the time (I mean I basically live in a gym - it's hard not to workout). I hate taking rest days even though I understand how important they are in terms of muscle recovery and rebuilding. I too get stressed out by the number on the scale and how it fluctuates depending on the time of the day, time of the month lol, how much water Ihave drank, how much sleep I got, etc. It is ridiculous to let that number dictate your attitude that day but even I fall into that nasty little trap from time to time. That was me last week (pre Vegas). I don't usually go anywhere near my scale but for some ungodly reason I decided to torture myself that day and was appalled by the fact that I had gained 5lbs seemingly overnight (it didn't help that I was feeling extremely bloated). So on came the panic attack  about the piece of chocolate I ate three days ago or the hamburger I was craving last week. Thoughts like that are psychotic, but hey we are all prone to fits of insanity now and then. Vegas was perfectly timed.

I learned how to vacation the hard way last year when I tried to maintain my 'perfect' (and I put that in quotations because the idea of perfection is dumb) eating habits while on a roadtrip to Disneyland with my sisters. I would eat celery, nut butter, hard boiled eggs and cottage cheese, while they had sandwiches or would stop for ice cream. End of story, I was miserable and I gained 8 lbs in the week I was gone. It dropped back off again in 2 days once I was out of that stressful environment and back in my element but it just goes to show how much stress affects your body. On this trip I did things differently. I knew I couldn't control every ingredient of every little thing I put in my mouth and I didn't care. I was there to have fun with my friends, not win fitness model of the year. We went to the buffets and because I cannot justify spending $20 on a single meal, I tried my very best to eat $20 worth of food for breakfast each morning. Epic fail for the record. I did however eat alot, I eat my normal eggs and fruit, and healthy fats but on top of that I had things like french toast, covered in syrup, whipped cream and white chocolate chips. I had eggs benedict. I had bacon and sausage. On the last day I am pretty sure I had an entire plate worth of dessert for breakfast. There was some serious food baby going on for the next couple hours as I tried to waddle down the Las Vegas strip. And naturally I went shopping right after epic meal time.

Shopping is not my favorite activity because I have always been very critical of my body. So as you can imagine, shopping after I have just stuffed my face with garbage food seems like a brilliant plan to boost the self confidence and body image. Guess what, I was fine! I tried on tons of clothes and instead of getting into a 'which body part do you hate more today' battle with myself I had a great attitude and decided to dish out some self love. In fact I bought my first ever Victoria Secret bikini this weekend and for once I felt fantastic showing that much skin. I maintained that same positive 'i'm too sexy for [insert anything]' attitude while getting dressed to go out to one of the night clubs and for once I was not worried about if every person in the room was noticing my love handles in my dress (the one in the photo). I decided this weekend to ditch the self loathing and just have fun in my body and be proud of who I am and and what I have accomplished so far on my fitness journey. I ate, I drank, I saw my lovely Chippendale soulmate again, I slept, I had fun, and I checked the scale this morning just out of curiousity...I lost 4 lbs. Ha!

Moral of the story. Working outand eating only celery for one day is not going to turn you into the fitness model you saw on Pinterest. Eating a hamburger every now and then is not going to qualify you to be a contestant on the Biggest Loser. Balance is key. Make good choices about the type of food you put in your body and remember it needs calories and it needs nutrients, so it give it what it NEEDS. And then every now and then give it what it WANTS. Exercise regularly to be strong not to be skinny. Get sleep. Relax. Take some time for yourself and do/eat the things you enjoy because at the end of the day life is short and berating yourself about the cookie you had after dinner is not worth it. Enjoy and have a great dayu

Be 100% you


One of the greatest lessons I have learned in the last couple of years as I started to journey deeper into the realm of health and fitness is that I am my greatest asset. That is not mean to sound conceited by any means. It just means that I have strengths and weaknesses and the more that I learn about myself and embrace the person that I am the greater success I will have at any endeavor. Especially when it comes to fitness. 

I spend an unreasonable amount of time on the internet. And right now the whole 'fitspiration' trend is off the charts. And while I think it is fantastic that people are being exposed to the ideas that being healthy and strong is more important than being skinny or an ideal weight, there are still some major flaws. Despite having taken a more healthy approach to what constitutes the 'ideal' body the fact that there is an 'ideal' at all can turn into very unhealthy obsessions for those trying to reach what may be an unrealistic goal. These images are often still heavily retouched and not an honest depiction of the subject. The reality is you have one body and it is 100% unique and no matter what you do you will never have the butt, abs, or biceps of the fitness model you saw on Pinterest or in Men's Health magazine. You will have your butt, abs, and biceps. Start learning to appreciate your body for its strengths and stopping feeling ashamed and guilty of your 'flaws' because they are what make you unique and that is always something to be proud of. 

Last night I went to see the Chippendale's World Tour show at the Esplanade here in town. Now let me tell you that was quite the experience. An hour and a half of the most gorgeous men dancing and taking their clothes off (staying classy of course). I was excited before the show started but when the lights dimmed and the first song started something in me snapped and 'wild, crazy, loud Ally' made an appearance. I will admit, I am pretty loud to begin with. I have spent a number of years teaching martial arts and it is my goal to command the attention of my students, a skill that comes in handy for public speaking of any kind...or in this case trying to get the attention of the men on stage. I am often criticized for how loud I am, being told to use my inside voice when I start to get excited about something and my volume goes up without me realizing. A few social drinks does not help the situation so at the show I am very confident in saying I was the loudest person in the room. And I did not care a bit. I tried to be polite to the people behind me and keep my standing/jumping up and down like a nutcase to a minimum (because hey they paid to see the show too. not my butt blocking their view of the significantly more muscular male rear ends on stage). But as the night wore on my excitement could not be contained. And I got a fair bit of attention from the performers as a result of my very vocal enthusiasm. One even threw me his shirt. After the show a woman was walking by me and called me 'a total nutbar'. Now in the context it was hard to tell if she  meant it as a criticism or a compliment but I chose to take it as the latter. I had a great time at the show and the performers clearly responded to and fed off of some of that energy. 

While some may consider my loudness a flaw I believe that it is a result of my overflowing energy for life. I embrace this quality in my job as a trainer, trying to motivation and energize my clients in a room full of noise and fatiguing minds and bodies. I cannot change who I am so I learn to use the tools I have been given in the best way possible. I treat my body the same way. I am not genetically engineered to be 110 lbs. You would have to cut off one of my legs in order for me to reach that weight. And I still need both my legs so i threw that dream out the window long ago. I have broad shoulders and hips and some junk in the trunk and I am proud of it. I am strong and I am fast and my motivation everyday that I train is to become the best that I can be. Not to become someone else. If embracing my body and personality ruffles a few feather along the way, well, I guess I will just have to live with that because I can only be one person and that is myself. So I might as well be the best self I can be and show it to the whole world! You should too.

New Year. New Gym. New Attitude.


Hi. My name is Ally. I run 'Back Alley Fitness' and this is my little story. Enjoy.

I have never been naturally 'small' and I never will be. I have two sisters who are and it used to make me crazy that I was not built like them. Sometimes it still does. But then I come to my senses and realize that my body is unique and I should be proud of what I can do with it. I have learned to embrace it. But I do work everyday to be the best I can be. I aim to be strong and healthy and enhance my life with exercise, nutrition, and positive lifestyle habits. I have one chance at this life so I am going to live it to the fullest an that means having a body that can support all of the things I want to do.

Name a 'quick fix' and I have probably tried it. I am still paying for the damage I did to my body by sending it on a constant roller coaster ride. In the end I realized that there is no quick fix. Just small efforts everyday that I can maintain for the rest of my life. I have off days just like everyone else but when I do I accept it rather than punish myself and then move on. I get back on track and guess what...I survive! 

My New Years goal is to reach 18% body fat. I'm probably approx 23-24% in this photo. Impact fitness is not only my gym, it is my support system! My members motivate me just like I try to motivate them! I consider them part of my big fitness family and I welcome you to join it. I am available to answer any questions you may have and if I cannot answer them I am sure I can find someone who can! So whether you start your journey today with me or not remember that there is someone out there going through or who has gone through the exact same thing! It's easier to do it together.