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Successful Weight Loss: My Ms. Fitness Phase

Weight Loss How To | Meet the Food Cop | Ms. Fitness
Cake for Breakfast | Before/After

Ms. Fitness is Made not Born

I kept these eating habits from that point forward, and then one Christmas my husband gave me a set of "smart bells," dumbbells for women. I was in my late 20's and had never enjoyed any form of exercise in my life. I used the little booklet that came with the "Smart Bells" and started an exercise routine on the floor of our spare bedroom. I don't know what spark that lit, but it was the catalyst for my interest in weight training. I soon outgrew my little routine and wanted to learn more so I bought a book called Getting Built by Dr. Lynne Pirie. The photo on the cover inspired me to consider weight training. This woman was a physician, she showed photos of herself in her teens and another in her 30's and though she was thin in her teens, I preferred the older photo. Her body had shape and definition such as I'd never seen. She was beautiful. I wanted to look like that too.

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I visited several gyms looking for just the right one to join. I visited those with every feature you could imagine, and finally settled on the most unlikely spot: A tennis club. I didn't play tennis and had no interest in tennis but they also had a little used weight room. It was small, and it was not busy the way some of the clubs had been packed with people. I wanted somewhere I could privately try new things.

I started going three days a week at 6:00 AM when it first opened. I had the place all to myself. I'd followed the beginning "program" from Getting Built, and I got started. The first thing the "program" recommended was riding the stationary bike before the workout to get warmed up. They recommended 15 minutes – I barely lasted for five. I slowly worked my way up to six, then 10, then 15, and eventually I was riding an hour a day, nearly every day. (Today I ride 47 minutes six or more days a week, working my way up to 50 minutes).

My Bike -- The $2.55 Monthly Investment

Eventually I was riding for a long enough time that my workouts were starting to take too long in the gym, so I decided to purchase a home exercise bicycle. I shopped around and visited many exercise shops (I met a bodybuilder who became my training partner at one of these shops). I chose the Schwinn Air Dyne, primarily because it had a large, tractor style seat which I thought would be comfortable. Much of what I'd heard about home exercise equipment was that if you buy "cheap" you'll find it uncomfortable and most likely not use it.


Schwinn AirDyne bike total cost $2.18 per mo ( purchased in 1984) Buy quality equipment. It's worth it.

Here's my bike. Best money I ever spent. I finally had to toss that old gray leotard though. It had just too many miles on it, and was so stretched out it became a little sad looking.

Another excellent feature on my Schwinn are the handlebars which move back and forth as you pedal, giving the added benefit of some upper body work while you exercise your lower body. I read while I'm on the bike, so I hold my book in one hand, while moving the handlebar with the other. When it's time to turn the page, I just switch hands.

I paid $550 for my bike back in about 1984. By my estimation, that bike's investment has worked out to about $2.18 per month. Not bad. My bike has a nice layer of dust on the spokes, but it still runs perfectly, and it has traveled the globe with me, moving from Oregon to Ohio to California and finally to Washington State where I now live. I ride now 49 minutes a day, six or seven days a week. Why 49 minutes? That's just the number I've worked up to and I don't know that I'll go any further. It gets difficult to carve out much more than 45 minutes at a time -- at least for me.

I've rolled over the 9,999 mile speedometer at least four times (I finally quit counting) so I figure I have at least 40,000 miles on that bike and I'm still going strong.

Strength Training for Beauty


weight training
Strength Training for Beauty featuring Gladys Portugues. The magazine that started it all for me.

The magazine, Strength Training for Beauty, was what did it for me. Once I saw this photo I knew how to get into the shape I wanted to be. I eventually became a body builder and developed a rather nice physique. I trained at 5:30 AM with my workout partner (whom I'd met while shopping for bikes), took Tai Kwan Do once a week, rode my bike for an hour a day, six days a week and ate a low fat/high complex carbohydrate diet. At that point I had 14% body fat. I looked and felt great, although I'll be honest, I was never 100% satisfied. I guess perfect just doesn't really exist.

With all that exercise and activity by the time I finished all my workouts, showered, ate and dressed it was noon. That's a pretty tough schedule if you have a 9-5 job, so obviously I don't train like that today. In those days I was young, had no kids, and ran my own business, a health food type store called Bushel & Peck Produce Co., so I could keep any scheduled I wanted.

An injury curtailed the intensity of my workouts, but I never stopped training or riding my bike. I did give up the Tai Kw an Do -- my back couldn't take it. Now I take Pilates classes instead and my back's feeling much improved.

Ms. Fitness Has an 80 lb Baby

I started to gain weight from the day I conceived and found myself at 218 lbs. when my son was born. We hadn't had any mirrors, except a small bathroom medicine cabinet, so the day I used my doctor's restroom and saw myself in their full length mirrors was quite a shock. (I wonder why on earth they'd have a floor to ceiling mirror at an obstetricians' office?). Once I was home from the hospital, I knew I had a long road ahead to take off the extra weight. I wasn't too worried since I'd been in great shape prior to the pregnancy.

The real surprise was that I'd gained that much weight at all. I should have been more aware, but I was blissfully unaware, thinking I could still eat the same amounts I had when I was a very active bodybuilder. One of the best things about doing a lot of physical exercise is getting to eat a lot of food along with it, but a person has to realize if their activity level drastically changes, so to must their intake.

I did exercise during my pregnancy, weight lifting and riding my bike, but the last couple of months were increasingly difficult as my energy was low. I'd come home from work and go straight to bed.

How'd I gain so much weight? Maybe it was because I'd eat Chinese food every day during the week for lunch. If you ever go to an American Chinese restaurant the first thing you'll notice is the gigantic portions. They are suited to a family of three, but here are served to one person. I noticed most people had a "to go" carry out when they left, but not me. I ate every last morsel, every day. Some days, while waddling back to my office, I'd stop by and buy a cookie for dessert. Not a small palm sized cookie, but one of those giant cookies. This is America – let's Super Size It!

So, I ate my usual hearty breakfast, huge lunch and my husband would serve me a wholesome dinner in bed. And I slowly gained 80 lbs.

How I Lost the Pregnancy Weight

My weight loss graph shows 167 lbs as the starting weight, so that's when I started to pay attention. I began by exercising again, similar to the manner in which I started in the first place. I rode my bike for 10 minutes to start, gradually working back up to 45 minutes or more a day, most days. I trained with weights four days a week. Upper body one day, lower body the next, and then a day of rest in between. This was done at home with some crappy weight training equipment I bought, and my faithful Schwinn.

On weekends I didn't weight train, and only rode the bike if I felt like it. Food wise, I ate whatever I wanted, but tried to eat healthfully. I was breast feeding my baby, and didn't drink any alcohol. My husband was a heath nut and we didn't eat much in the way of prepared foods, fast foods, or refined flours.

Off came the weight. It wasn't difficult at all, and it took about eight months to lose the extra 80 lbs. I have the pictures to prove it.

Husband - emotional control – who decides?

Here we go again. My husband started to interfere in my eating habits though. He was a fanatic about certain foods, which he would not eat under any circumstances. Pork, shellfish. He would go insane if he accidentally got something with pork, such as a baked good that used lard. He once acted like I was trying to poison him because I accidentally bought some baked goods that used lard. He'd call the store and ask about ingredients. It got so I hated to go out to eat with him because he'd always grill the waiter about ingredients, like it was life or death.

He didn't want me to eat these foods either, and while I tried to go along with his wishes, as a good wife and all, I didn't appreciate being told what I could or could not eat. It was none of his business. This set me up for some rebellion, which I grasped eventually with a strong side of myself that should never have gotten involved. Now it was war and I was again at the helm of my own ship. I'd do what I wanted, even if it meant changing what I wanted, just to not be controlled by someone else. How stupid this was. I could have kept my healthy habits and just ignored his wishes, but no. I had to go overboard and I decided I'd eat what I wanted, and that was that. Suddenly I found myself wanting to eat less healthily, and that was the new path I chose.

Changed Habits = Changed Body & Health

After our divorce I moved back home, settling in Vancouver, Washington where much of my family lived. I started buying sugared cereals, eating hamburgers and french fries on a regular basis, eating candy, ice cream, whatever, but not because that was my best effort at staying healthy, but because no one was going to tell me what to do.

My ex-husband and I agreed that for our son, he'll eat whatever I choose when he's with me, and whatever his father chose when he's with him. After all, no divorced husband of mine was going to control me from afar, that was for sure. We never discussed it again. Slowly I gained again.

Full circle - best control

Now I've come full circle. I'm back to choosing healthy habits. No one controls me, and that includes my losing my path thinking it is because someone is trying to force good habits on me.

Today's Habits

I eat healthfully most days. I generally crave good foods, vegetables, fruits. I still eat cheeseburgers, but not very often. I still go out to eat, and choose whether to eat what they serve by what I want, not by its ingredients. I eat chocolates and prefer to get the best quality I can. I eat shortbread cookies that I buy by the case because I can't find any stores that carry them. They come individually wrapped and while I used to eat one for a meal, now I'll choose a healthier lunch, and perhaps a cookie later, if I still want it.

The interesting thing is I don't find myself hungry enough to eat most of the treats I buy, so they sit, uneaten. Sometimes for weeks or months. Sometimes I'm forced to throw some chocolate out because I didn't eat it and it's gone bad. That's pretty weird. Sometimes ice cream freezes over and gets icy, so out it goes. I throw away a lot of good food too, but so what? I eat what I want. Why should I treat myself like a human garbage can? I bought it, and I can now do whatever I want with it. That isn't wasteful, it's smart.
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Kathryn Martyn M.NLP
Kathryn Martyn Smith, M.NLP EFT Weight Loss Coach
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