June 1, 2015

I’m watching Jessica Kanstrup run a bootcamp class.  At first glance, the 26 year-old is an intimidating figure, even at 5’4”; she paces slowly back and forth across the studio stage in her black tights and red GoodLife Fitness shirt, stopwatch in hand, brow knitted, watching her crew of ladies sweat it out in their circuit.  It’s clear from the stern expression on her face that no one is going to slack off under her watch.  Then suddenly, she looks down at the stopwatch, clicks it, and shouts a command: all of her ladies come to a relieved stop and stare at her with expectant expressions.

Jess’ face breaks into a huge grin and her hands fly into the air in victory.  The rest of her crew does the same; the class is over.  They’ve done it!  The exhausted and relieved expressions on all of their faces say it all: they are both ecstatic to be done and delighted they came.  Jess congratulates each lady in turn as they leave the studio.  It’s evident she is someone who loves her job and cares about her clients. IMG_1423

“Having a trainer is so important for success,” she says as we sit for the interview, “It’s definitely been important for me [training for this fitness competition].  My first show, Chris [a male colleague] trained me, then I trained myself for the second one, and this time I wanted a female perspective.  We correspond every week, and I see her once a month so she can measure me and take my body fat, and take a look at me to see how my body is coming along. It’s been great so far.”

I believe her.  Training for a fitness competition is definitely hard work, but this beautiful blonde hardbody seems to have it all together.  What’s her secret?

“Not a lot of cardio!”  She laughs.  Jess is weeks away from her third fitness competition.  Last summer, she competed for the first time in SAF (Serious About Fitness), as well as in Physique Canada.  She took home first place in both shows, blowing her competition out of the water with her balanced physique and elegant stage presence.

“It was the most IMG_1431exciting day of my life,” she says, “I discovered my passion for competing and pushing myself to the limits to be the best I can be.  I competed again in the SAF Elite Pro Championship last October, and also placed first again with Physique Canada and became a Tier 1 Pro.  It’s been a whirlwind.”

A whirlwind to say the least, but Jess is used to a lot of activity.  “Growing up,” she says, “I was always an active kid that loved to be outside and moving around. I never played any specific sports, [but] I took acting classes and loved to sing and dance and be in front of the camera.”

Jess is definitely great in front of the camera.  From her pictures, it seems as though she was born to be in the spotlight.  Is it hard for her to stay grounded in such a vain industry?  “It’s hard sometimes.  It crossed my mind, getting implants, but it was more just a thought.  I compete naturally in an industry full of enhancement – drugs and plastic surgery – and while that’s fine for those competitors, I realized it’s not my style.  So I enter natural competitions so I can compete on more of a level playing field.”

And what led her to a career in fitness in the first place? “I come from a family with a history of alcoholism and drug addiction; my family has suffered a lot of loss and tragedy.  As I grew up, I realized I never wanted to end up down that path, like my two half-sisters who I have lost.IMG_1420

“In grade 11 I discovered weight lifting and fell in love with fitness.  I realized I wanted to help others discover this love for fitness and decided to pursue a career as a personal trainer.  I attended Algonquin College in the Fitness and Health Promotion program and then started working at GoodLife when I was 18.”

With ssidebar jessuch a demanding schedule (she works 7am to 7pm at the gym, plus works out five days a week), how does Jess
find time to unwind? “Wellness for me is taking time for myself to rest; I’ve been doing yoga once a week, and I always try and get enough sleep.  In this sport, recovery is almost more important than the workout.  It’s a little extreme, so you need to make sure you balance the hard stuff with enough rest.  The team at Whole Therapy have helped me as well; I see [Jen] for massages as often as I can.”IMG_1425

In light of her success thus far on stage, I wondered if modelling was in Jess’ future career plans.  “I’m not sure if I could or would make modeling my entire career.  Right now it’s something I do on the side that compliments my training.  In the future I’d love to do more of it, and get into coaching other competitors as well.”

Look for Jessica Kanstrup at next weekend’s SAF and Physique Canada shows, taking place Friday and Saturday, June 12 and 13 at the Canadian Museum of History.  Get tickets to the show here.

Interested in knowing more about Jess?  Check her out on twitter @JessikaCan and her website http://www.jessikafitness.com/

 

Know someone who would be great in the Wellness Spotlight?  Send us an email! info.wholetherapy@gmail.com 

 

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

 

 

March 23, 2015

I’m healing this week, from a bit of a wounded pride.  I have tried and failed to do at least 4 fitness shows.  I did succeeded once, but in hindsight, I feel like I might have only succeeded at the hands of Trainer Jamie, who basically pulled me along and made decisions for me.  This time, with only me at the helm, I failed.

Or did I?

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At the beginning of this fitness journey, I told the world my plans to keep me accountable and on an even keel.  And it worked, to some extent:  It helped to know there were people cheering me on.  But in the end, my decision to stop all of this made me feel both empowered and lost.  Was it the right thing to do?

Right or wrong, this humble-pie eating experience has taught me a few things:

Failing is really, really, normal. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10, 000 ways that won’t work.” My track record is one win for five “losses”, so I suppose I’m doing alright.  The wins in life are remarkable; failure is easy to come by.  If we just press on knowing that failure is inevitable, I feel like success might come faster.

Failing is really, really subjective.  “A failure,” says B.F. Skinner, “is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances.  The real mistake is to stop trying.” Ah, there is my perspective: I did the best I could do, and I didn’t make the stage, but that doesn’t mean I failed.  In the eyes of others, I won: I whipped my body into excellent shape. I had dedication. I still want to stay in great shape and have dedication.  True failure here would be to throw in the towel, stop exercising, and eat a vat of ice cream.  Not happening.

Failing serves a higher purpose.  I’m not religious, nor am I superstitious.  But things happen for a reason, and maybe in the depths of our despair we are too short-sighted to see what those reasons are. “The season for failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.” – Paramahansa Yogananda.  We can learn a whole lot from a failure.  Once I started to dig myself out of my pity-hole, I saw that I had indeed been on the wrong track.  For me, sowing the seeds of success looks like developing better long-term eating habits and practicing self-love and self-acceptance.  Maybe the universe has bigger plans for me on this path.

So let me see how this sounds: I didn’t fail.  I won.

I have this body that is so awesome.  It works.  My body lifts heavy weights. It massages people.  It made a really amazing little person whom I love to bits.  My body does all of these things for me every day, and what did I do for it? I fed it boring food and berated it for not being perfect enough.

If I soften the light I’ve shone on myself, I might notice that I’m human, just like the rest of the world.  I look fine.  And why, honestly, do I care so much?  Maybe I should focus on the inside stuff more.  Maybe a little external disconnect would do my soul some good.

The journey continues.

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

March 16, 2015

This diet thing isn’t working. It’s making me miserable, in fact.  Not in the overt, I’m-so-hungry-shoot-me-now way that it did last time.  This time it’s a slow and subtle road to miserable.  I’m munchy, not hungry, all the time. I don’t feel like my body is crazily burning fuel like before. It sucks.

In some ways I have more discipline than last time: when there are sweets and treats around, I seldom want any and can avoid them without having Trainer Jamie talk me off the ledge.  In others, I feel like I have so much less: breakfasting with the kids when there are pancakes or sausages or even fruit salad on the table makes me feel achy and empty that I can’t partake.

Part of me processes this information and thinks, Get a grip.  You can still hang out with the kids without eating sausages.  But the other part of me wonders, Well what are you doing this for, anyway?

And that part of me, the questioning side, got my attention this weekend.

What am I doing this show for?  I don’t know.  It started out as a way to push us all forward. Ana needed a driving force. Bailey wanted a new journey. I needed to focus and train hard.  But we are doing all of that. And I realize that the only part of this I’m dreading is the initial goal I set for myself of getting on stage.

Weird how that happens…

Getting on stage and doing a fitness show means that I’m focussed on the end result. I have tried to focus on the steps of the journey, but it’s legitimately stressing me out.  Do I simply not have what it takes anymore?

This weekend I decided to eat “whatever I wanted” within the calorie count that I was given.  I still aimed for the proper proteins, carbs, and fats, but I allowed myself to have yogurt, bread, popcorn with butter, and even a glass of wine.  I made sure I stuck with the right calories, and had tons of veggies and lean proteins and water as well.

And do you know what happened? Nothing.  The world didn’t end. I wasn’t bloated, or hungry, or stressed out, or hating myself. Amazing.

I had a great weekend with the kids and Husband Jamie, and I had no guilty feelings about show prep or anything.  I realized that I really, really like raw oats with yogurt and almonds.  I had forgotten!  I was also able to sit down with the family and eat what they ate; a very liberating and relaxing experience.

Oats, yogurt and fruit. Amazing.

Oats, yogurt and fruit. Amazing.

The tranquility in my mind was the best part, however.  I had given myself permission to eat “whatever,” and it was as if a huge weight was lifted; I realized that I had been really stressed without even knowing it.  Probably part of the reason my diet “wasn’t working”.

The strangest part was that giving myself permission to eat made the foods I shouldn’t eat less appealing, not more.  I didn’t want a huge piece of cake. Or ten sandwiches. Or chocolate. I just wanted to eat what I wanted to eat, and paying attention to my body while eating what I wanted led to eating when hungry, stopping when satisfied, and greater satisfaction overall.

So what now?  I’m not sure.  Without a stage to step on, new goals should be hashed out.  New plans laid.  I don’t operate well without a formula, and I know I need to make sure I keep tracking my food so that I don’t go overboard.

But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my breakfast.  It’s going to be a good day.

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

February 5, 2015

Ladies ladies ladies! Let’s talk about bras and how they support us, or don’t.  They are meant to aid a beautiful part of our body!  However, I have been seeing a running theme in my practice lately and even out and about on the street.  Ladies, why are you wearing ill-fitting bras with absolutely no support?

I hear all the excuses…”oh this is just my lazy day”, or “this is my bad bra”, or “my other one is in the laundry”, or “I just came from a work out”…again, all the excuses! Bras that you bought 10 years ago, throw them out! Even ones you bought 2 years ago, look at them closely! Does the elastic still support you the same way? Does the cup?  Have you washed them…and dried them?  How many do you have in a rotation?

Why do I bring up this subject? We can’t take our breasts off like we can our bras.  We need to support them!  We honour our bodies with exercise and nutrition, so why do our breasts hang low and depressed!? If you have not been fitted, go get fitted!  If you continue to wear the ill fitting bras, the drag will exacerbate poor posture, which can put aberrant stresses on your neck, shoulders and back. Poor posture can also impair breathing capabilities.

There are some wonderful places here in Ottawa that are both fabulous and more importantly educated on proper fitting.  Check out Brachic (www.brachicbras.com), and Mariannes  (www.mariannesboutique.ca) for more information on how to get your fitting underway.

Whether you’ve just had a baby, have goals to get back to a certain size, or are in the process of losing weight, have ongoing neck and shoulder pain, or headaches…whatever the reason, if you have never been sized by a professional, set up an appointment and go.  If you were sized 5 years ago, 2 years ago, go again.  I promise you, the relief of a proper fitting bra is worth it! And the satisfaction of looking good is even better! No more excuses!

 

Tara Hagan-Fields is an RMT with Whole Therapy.  Tara is a Women’s Health Specialist and Myofascial Release Therapist.  She focuses on the body as a whole and teaches you to do the same.  More about Tara here

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