Tag Archives: fitness

Advice From Canada’s Strongest Woman “Be Your Own Motivation”

Guest Blog by Alyssa Smith

I know when you first start an exercise routine it can be hard for so many different reasons. What am I suppose do to? Should I go back?  It’s so intimidating! How do I know how many reps or sets I should do? What equipment should I use? You get the point. There are things you simply won’t know when you first start out and you know what, that’s completely okay. Everyone has been there once before.

I have never met anyone before who said they knew exactly what to do when they first started. No one does. Especially with all the different fads, false articles and phony magazines out there. It’s too easy to be confused and not know what to do or where to start. Don’t be discouraged. There are many different ways to become educated and self-efficient in your own way. The important thing is that you’re trying to better yourself. This in itself is your first step, so pat yourself on the back.

Here are 6 tips that kept me going when I had no clue what I was doing:

1. Don’t ever worry about what’s going on around you. This shouldn’t concern you whatsoever. You are your focus, not them.
2. Keep track of what you’re doing whether it’s your eating habits, your workouts, whatever it may be, WRITE IT DOWN. This is the best way to track your progress.
3. Make small, realistic goals. Don’t go too hard just yet. Ease into it.
4. Get a personal trainer. It doesn’t have to be for long but knowing the basics will bring you a long way and save you a lot of time and frustration. But make sure they’re a good fit for you. Not every trainer is reputable or reliable for that matter. (I suggest trying a free consultation first to see if they’re a good fit for you).
5. Don’t Compare yourself to others. Your goal is not to become them, but to become the best you.
6. Don’t give up!

My biggest success when I first started out was simply not giving up. There will be times you feel defeated, you feel like you’ve failed or you hit a bump in the road and just want to give it up. Don’t! Don’t let your thoughts hold you back. Everyone fails, it’s what makes us stronger. All of us have bad days, does this mean we are supposed to curl up in a ball and give up? Absolutely not, you pick yourself up and find a solution to your problem. You improve yourself and get back on track.

This is why I titled this blog “Be Your Own Motivation”. Don’t compare yourself to others, your goal is not to become them, your goal is to become the best you. You can have inspirations, motivators and heroes but in the end you should be your own inspiration. Your progress, hard work, dedication, time spent and goals met are the biggest influence to keep you focused on your goals and the road ahead. I really do understand the struggle, I was there. When I started my journey I had no idea what the heck I was doing. I was like a lost dog in a park.

You see, growing up I had no motivation. I was depressed, overweight, into drugs & alcohol, and was just plain miserable. My mother forced me into the gym when I was about 15 years of age. Surprisingly I took a liking to it. I didn’t have any specific goals at the time but to lose weight like almost everyone else when they first start. I had no idea what I was doing so I got a personal trainer and it gave me a much better understanding on exactly what I needed to do to lose weight and keep it off.

Shortly after, I went on my own for a bit but hit a plateau and felt like I was back where I started. I didn’t know if I wanted to continue, I felt like a failure. I decided to seek some help and got another personal trainer, long term this time. I started creating new goals, like gaining strength, feeling better, looking better and I kept track of everything I was doing. My trainer at the time introduced me to her boyfriend who was a powerlifter. I thought there was no way I could ever do that, I’m a girl! But I never turn down a challenge so I gave it a try and fell in love with the sport!

I decided I’d like to try a competition just to see if I’d like it. I was absolutely horrified the first time, the crowds of people watching you, the pressure, I was very uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone. But sometimes you have to step outside of that zone to accomplish what you’ve been working towards. I must say it paid off, I didn’t do well but it drove me to want do it again and be better.

Since then I studied for 2 years to become a personal trainer, received multiple certifications, and began working as a personal trainer full-time! Helping to change a person’s life and be a part of their journey like someone once was for me is the best feeling in the world. I also continued with powerlifting and recently be Canada’s strongest woman! I hold the #1 total in Canada with a 440lbs back squat, 203lbs bench press and 496lbs deadlift. The biggest powerlifting total to ever be done in Canada! I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m confident, I feel awesome and I have surpassed every goal I had. If you asked me when I first started, I never would have thought I’d be accomplishing the things I have. When things got rough and difficult, I didn’t give up. I believed in myself like everyone should. Everyone has the ability to better themselves and reach for the starts.

The point is I was once in your position and I took action and failed but I picked myself back up multiple times and kept going. No matter what the circumstances are, do not make excuses for why “you can’t” or why “you’re not good enough” because fact of the matter is you’re lying to yourself. You’re better than that and you can accomplish anything that you’re willing to put the effort and work into. YOU ARE what is going to make you reach your goals and strive for success.

Keep your head in the game, if I can do it so can you.

– Alyssa Smith

Alyssa Smith

Strives for total wellness to achieve her goals. Healthy diet, proper rest, correct exercise, right mindset, positive environment, amazing team and chiropractic are all key players in helping her get to where she is today. She is one amazingly strong woman both physically and mentally. She continues to help change lives by inspiring amazing transformations with her personal training clients and smashing through not only Canadian but World records in powerlifting. Amidst all her success she somehow manages to stay down to earth and can still make people laugh until it hurts. Check out Alyssa’s website to learn more about her story, see some of her client’s amazing transformations, check out unbelievable lifting videos or get in touch with her personally.

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10 Ways to Make Exercising More Fun

Last Sunday I went to the gym seeking an open treadmill because even though it’s now officially spring I wasn’t feeling up to toughing the -13 weather outside and I just wanted to walk.  Usually I find treadmills extremely boring but if I have a new podcast to listen to then I can usually zone out and sort of enjoy the fact that I’m walking in one spot for 30 minutes to go nowhere.

Every single treadmill in the place was taken but one. The gym was busy that day, maybe there was some post Saturday night guilt going around.  Quickly I claimed my territory on the treadmill, put my headphones on and started walking. The treadmill I was using was on the second floor of the gym. Directly in front of it was a giant t.v. and a view of the lower level which had most of the cardio equipment on it. If I had to guess from memory there was probably 40 to 50 pieces of cardio equipment on the floor, laid out warehouse style and every single one was being used. As I was trying to concentrate on listening to Coffee Break – French  I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that the gym (specifically the sea of cardio equipment) reminded me of a science experiment involving mice who learned to run on a wheel for their food or to avoid punishment.

I’m not knocking treadmills or people who work out in a gym. Gym’s can provide a sense of community, motivation and a platform for building strength and It’s also true that some people genuinely claim to love doing stationary cardio but let’s face it – no one is jumping onto a cardio machine simultaneously thinking “Wow, this is SO much fun! I wish I could do this more often”. Usually the dialogue sounds more like “Gee, I haven’t done much exercise today. Maybe I should log some miles on the treadmill? I hope my ipod is fully charged”.

The image of mice got me thinking. Have we forgotten to move for the sake of moving? Do we exercise like conditioned mice in a gym because we enjoy it or because it has become the social norm? Certainly we moved as children because it was fun. We didn’t play tag because we were trying to be healthy. We just did it because we wanted to, because it was play and it brought joy.

Becoming an adult too often causes play to mysteriously disappear from our lives. We are taught that play is for children and it’s important to get down to business and start being an adult. Choosing exercise you don’t enjoy and expecting to be successful with it through sheer willpower is going to end in disappointment and discouragement.  If you don’t like walking on a treadmill, don’t do it. If you don’t enjoy biking, don’t bike. Not only will the quality of your life improve because you sincerely enjoy what you’re doing but finding exercise that you enjoy (structured or not) will help you stick with it long term. It’s human nature to avoid things we don’t enjoy. Now, there is a time and place for hard work but If dread is what’s stopping you from getting off of the couch or computer chair remember that movement should be fun!  Here are 9 ways to make exercise fun again:

1. Dance

If you love to dance or always wanted to try a dance class, now is the time! You won’t even realize how much exercise you are getting because you’ll be having so much fun. It’s also a great way to try something new and meet new people. Or just go dancing! Every Sunday Babylon nightclub hosts Mod Night, dance your worries away. Heck, just blast your favourite song and let loose in the comforts of your own home. Who knows, you may discover your inner dance queen.

2. Sports

Join a sports team that you really enjoy or if you’ve never been into sports try something new that you think would be a good fit for you. Winter sports are abundant in Canada, there is no excuse to be cooped up inside all winter. If it doesn’t work out you can try something else. Being on a team helps keep you accountable and if you’re really out of shape and you love your sport then you’ll be motivated to get more fit.

3. Get Outside

Get outside. Pack a lunch, grab a friend and get going. Ottawa is fortunate enough to be right next door to the Gatineau Park which is a great place to go for a hike. On a sunny day head to the ByWard Market and spend the day walking around checking out the sights. Go biking on one of the many bike paths Ottawa has to offer. Every Sunday the City of Ottawa closes down major roads to be used as oversized bike paths. Check out Sunday Bikedays to find out where to ride. In the winter go skating on the World’s Largest Skating Rink. You can take up cross country skiing, downhill skiing or snowboarding. Invest in a pair of snowshoes and trek unbeaten paths. If winter usually brings you down, don’t stay cooped up inside. Dress warm and get out there!

4. Try Something New

Are you adventurous? Try rock climbing at Vertical Reality. Learn what the Crossfit craze is all about. Check out Algonquin’s Impact Zone to experience different disciplines of martial arts. Maybe powerlifting is your thing?
If you already have enough excitement in your life try Yoga if you haven’t already. There are hundreds of group fitness classes just waiting for you to try them.
There are so many different communities out there. If you look for them you are bound to find one that’s perfect for you.

5. Walk Your Dog

This should go without saying but if you have a dog, walk it.  Your dog needs exercise, you do too. You will both be happier because of it.

6. Be More Playful

Do you have children, younger brothers and sisters, younger cousins? Take them to the park or play structure and go exploring together. See if you can still swing on the bars, create mini challenges like how fast can you climb, what about cartwheels? Not only will you make the kids day (because adults are boring) but you will surprise yourself with how much fun you can have. This may not be a good idea if the structure is packed with kids who recently learned how to walk.
Go on a new nature walk and view your environment as a giant play ground. See if you can climb any rocks or trees, discover the size of rocks you can or can’t lift. Try new paths or “wannabe” paths. Go exploring.
Darryl Edwards, an exercise therapist specializing in the art of play, introduces great ideas on how to interact more with your environment to facilitate movement as play.
Check out Episode: 10 on The Primal Blueprint Podcast on itunes to hear what he has to say.

7. Change Gyms

If it’s the gym you don’t like (too busy, too stuffy, bad atmosphere, grumpy staff, poor location, etc.) then try out another gym! Not all gym’s are created equal. Give some local fitness facilities a call and tell them you would like to try their facility. They will be more than happy to introduce you and set you up with a free workout. You may find that your whole attitude changes. Environment influences performance.

8. Try Personal Training

Talk to different personal trainers and see who you mesh well with. Tell them that you want your workouts to be fun… REALLY fun! Finding a personal trainer who can get you to work hard without knowing it will get you results you didn’t think we’re possible.

9. Social Influence

Exercising with a friend or friends provides you with a social outlet and keeps you more motivated to exercise. Surround yourself with like minded people who are active or want to become more active. Tried and true, this is one of the best ways to stick with exercise. Its also a lot of fun.

10. Clean?

Ok, so this might not be “fun” or play, but if you have some household chores that need to be done blast your favourite music and vacuum that house. By the end you’ll notice you’ve actually done a fair bit of moving around. Heck, sometimes I get a small sweat going when I catch the cleaning bug (Is that just me or does anyone else get this?). You will feel better afterwards because now there’s one less thing you have to do and you have a clean house. Yay.

“Movement is Medicine” –– anon. 

Thanks for reading, I hope you found it helpful. Thank you to everyone who has been sharing and following the blog, it really means a lot to me. You guys are great! If you haven’t done so already, it would really help me if you spread the word about fitnesswithjules.

– Jules

Super Resource

Touchdown, Canada!

I landed safe and sound last Thursday at the Ottawa International Airport with friends and family who braved the cold to welcome me home at midnight. It felt good to be back, especially after the long flight. I think I had been awake for close to 30 hours. Leaving the airport and feeling the first sharp breath of -20 air in my summer lungs was a shock and a bittersweet reminder of what’s in store for the next month.

Lack of movement, sleep and “real food” on the journey home, coupled with some homecoming stress left me feeling a bit off of my game in terms of nutrition and health. A “healthy” labelled chicken salad from Vancouver airport left me with a sodium bomb that had me drinking copious amounts of water for hours afterwards and even left a tingling sensation on my tongue. A nice reminder of why I eat whole foods. Good thing I bought some raw, unsalted nuts for the plane beforehand. The lack of sleep will take some quality Zzz’s this week and getting back into a healthy exercise routine (no more sprinting outside!) is a welcome challenge!


It has been just under a week that I’v been home and it feels great! I was surprised by my hubby over the weekend with a wonderful whole food meal at Town on Elgin st. (I had the Notorious P.I.G) followed by a night at the fairy tale Fairmont Cheateau Laurier. What an excellent way to be welcomed home to your city. The weather was mild (for Canadian winter) and light flakes of snow were falling over the Ottawa Canal where couples and friends were enjoying their hot chocolates and beaver tails while skating through downtown Ottawa. Man, this city has charm! Long story short I have been happily busy relocating and making plans for my new life in Canada.

My initial intention was to write this weeks article on sugar and carbohydrates and what the heck they do for your health and waistline but that article will have to wait for next week. In the meantime, while my life is being smoothed out, I want to share this amazing fitness & health resource with you that cuts the BS, isn’t sponsored by companies trying to steal your money and preaches “Real food for real results”. The owners name is Abel James. You may have heard of him because at the moment he is blowing up the itunes podcast charts and consistently coming out in thetop five health podcasts. On his website you can watch videos where he interviews leading wellness experts and discusses what ACTUALLY works and what is a waste of your time and health. This guy is the real deal for fat lass resources. He’s been there before and found the solution for lasting fat loss and better health. I have learned so much from him and the gurus he interviews. It also helps that he is pretty easy on the eyes so you should probably check him out just for that. You can download podcasts to listen to on the way to work, watch videos on his website, or download some free recipe books. I promise the information you findis legitimate and not smoke and mirrors.



Leave a comment below on what you thought of fatburningman.com and share the resources with people you care about! Stay tuned for next weeks sugar and carb article and share fitnesswithjules if you like the information.

Thanks for reading!!

– Jules