Advertise to Your Ass

I’ve decided that for my next trick I must learn to speak German. Or Icelandic.


I’m serious – I’ve been watching a lot of European strongman training videos on YouTube lately and I would dearly love to understand what they’re saying. Because, you know, watching ginormous dudes pick up atlas stones and cars and logs is fun and exciting and all but I feel like I’m missing out on good information. Also languages are cool.

You know what’s not cool at all though? Opening up a video on YouTube and having to vomit into my mouth  for a minute and a half while I watch the commercial for Special K Pastry Crisps while I wait for my German strongman video to load, because for fuck’s sake:


“You’ve been so good all day. Satisfy your snack time craving and maintain your healthy lifestyle at the same time. New Special K* Chocolatey Caramel Pastry Crisps are a light and delicious treat you can enjoy two for 100 calories. Now this is an indulgence you can feel good about.”

**copied directly from

Because “being good” and “being bad” are words that should never describe eating habits. Because cravings are a sign that your diet is missing something. Because there is absolutely no place in a “healthy lifestyle” for that fucking garbage (unless calorie-reduced diet ‘crisps’ are your favorite thing ever, in which case go ahead but I question your taste). Because I shouldn’t feel good about other indulgences? Fuck you. And also your grammar is shit.

The commercial is even worse – patronizing and guilt- and fear-mongering and sexist and…would you ever in a million years start a commercial with “we got a bunch of men together and invited them to eat on camera, guilt free”? I could go on and on but I won’t because I have more stuff I need to rant about.


One problem with spending any time at all online is that the internet starts to think it knows who you are and then starts tailoring what kind of advertising to show you. It has figured out that I am female and that I am interested in fitness and health (I can’t imagine how that might have happened) and therefore I am party to lots of advertising of health and fitness products designed for women. Gimmicky shit that plays on all the insecurities that blanket our gender and hold us down, just because there’s more money to be made that way. The manufacturing sector would lose billions – BILLIONS – if we decided suddenly that in order to be the best versions of ourselves we’d eat good food, train hard at doing stuff we like, and love ourselves and be supportive of each other no matter what the outcome was.

Speaking of training, I am sick to death of looking at advertisements for training programs geared specifically toward women. What the ever-loving fuck is a female specific training plan?


No really – take a moment and think about what comes to mind. Is it a fat-loss program? Probably. Light weights so we don’t get bulky? Yup – check. “Fixes” for “problem areas”? Right again. My favorite is when male trainers design female-specific programs, so that he can develop a harem of loyal followers that he can “fix”. Ladies, we don’t need female-specific training or diet programs. We need programs that suit our goals, whatever they are, but nobody has “trouble spots” that need “fixing”. We are all (men included) just fine the way we are. If you want to lose fat, get stronger, build muscle or whatever, find a program that works for you that is specific to that goal. But here’s a secret: men and women have the same muscles, in the same places. With a couple of obvious exceptions, our bodies function the same way. (Disclaimer: yes, I know that there are various medical conditions which are gender-specific. I am talking about generally healthy people here – if the term “generally healthy” doesn’t apply to you then you should probably listen to your doctor and not get your advice from anyone on the internet, including me.)

Here’s a handy tip: if it’s marketed specifically to women, it’s probably garbage. If by some weird chance it isn’t garbage, you still shouldn’t spend money on it because they desperately need to change their advertising strategies. They should also fire the asshole who thought it would be a good idea to perpetuate and profit from the ideas that women aren’t good enough, they aren’t very smart, and they are generally too big and need to take up less space. Those ideas are dated, tired, and patently untrue – could we please let them die already?

No, we don’t need your nutritionally void low-calorie snack food that comes in a pink/purple box. If we want to indulge, we will fucking indulge and there will be no guilt or shame or “bad”-ness involved. And no, we don’t need your training or diet advice which will “fix” us or make us sexy or any of that shit. We will train to be awesome at things we like doing and feel good about it. And we will stop feeling guilty about the ways in which we fall short.

Wir sind starke frauen!!



Check your Ego at the Door, Part 2: Aging


Who doesn’t love getting older?

No really, I’m serious. Getting older is great: you’re wiser, more even-tempered, more stable, better off financially, you waste less time sleeping, you know yourself better, and you have fewer fucks to give about stupid things. There’s a sense of calm ‘cause you know the sun will keep rising and setting. Perspective. Less drama.


Aging is not quite as fun where physical performance is concerned. And that’s a rude shock if you’ve become used to being able to do just about anything and bounce back from it quickly.

Tissues don’t recover as fast. It takes longer to get warmed up. Injuries pile up. Even the ones that you maybe haven’t thought about in years, still add mileage to your body and may rear their ugly heads again. You don’t progress as fast. You have to train smarter, not harder.

This training smarter and not harder bullshit can be a difficult concept for the ego to come to terms with, and this is where I run into difficulty sometimes: what I figure I *should* be able to do just isn’t there some days and it takes some mental muscle to set my ego aside and roll with it. Here’s the thing though: if you can manage to banish the ego-monster from your training session, then you can really get some good and significant work done on the days when maybe picking up hundreds of pounds is not in the cards.


Imagine for a moment that you’ve had a bad day – you had a fight with your teenage kid, work was long and frustrating, and you’ve just been hit with a giant vet bill because your dog ate the contents of your sock drawer and needed surgery. You go to the gym to do some bench presses (it IS Monday after all) to shake off your bad mood so that you can face the evening of driving your kids around, and – hey, these weights were easy last Monday! What the hell?

The reality is that added stress takes a marked physical toll…so a big deciding factor when you go into the gym on any given day is your physical and mental readiness. And though the stress may not be physical  – in fact, as we age it’s more likely going to be due to work, family, finances, etc. – it will affect your physical performance. Perhaps the biggest piss-off here is that our time in the gym should be the therapy to help us through the rest of the bullshit life slings at us, but unfortunately it can leave us weakened and vulnerable to injury.


So, you can deal with this one of two ways: 1) Plow through the workout anyway, ignoring the pain and alarm bells, go home in an even worse mood because your workout sucked and wake up tomorrow morning with a separated shoulder, or 2) acknowledge that your stress level, on a scale of 1-10, is at roughly 11.5, and be proactive: take a little bit of extra time to warm up properly, then start your work sets at 80% of what you’d normally do. If that feels good, go to MAYBE 90%. Have fun anyway (because you checked your ego at the door) and show up the next time rested and ready to go at 105%. Autoregulation for the win!

It’s a good thing that rolling with the punches becomes easier as you get older and wiser. In fact, there’s absolutely no reason that you can’t keep getting stronger into your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond if you keep training intelligently and listening to your body. This is a skill that takes some practice though: knowing if, when, and how to modify the day’s program without babying yourself is a delicate art. (Plug: a good personal trainer can help you with this.)

One aspect of aging that I am particularly enjoying is actually being able to listen to my body – and although it took close to forty years for me to figure it out (and it’s still a skill that I focus on practising, every damn day) there’s no reason why anyone can’t learn how to do it. It helps that as I get older, I am less prone to absorbing the appearance-centred pablum that the media spews at us constantly. I spent my 20’s and an embarrassingly large chunk of my 30’s stressing over my appearance which never seemed to measure up. Those thoughts permeated every aspect of life – my relationships, my training, my eating habits…and you know what? As soon as I completely ran out of fucks to give about that stuff, I was able to quiet the outside noise and listen to my body.Then crazy things started to happen: fat loss, awesome strength gainz, heightened energy, and happiness.


Getting older is well worth embracing, if you ask me. The physical creakiness that may slow you down in the gym is far from deal-breaking – in fact, if you manage to banish your ego from training completely, you can keep getting more awesome indefinitely. And the mental strength that comes from living life, constantly learning and growing, make you better all the time.

The Bubble


A couple of weeks ago the scale said that I’ve lost 19lbs.

I didn’t really do it on purpose – I’ve been training hard, lifting heavy, and eating (mostly) clean because it feels good. I’ve also set some lofty performance goals and I’m having fun chasing them down. Fat loss has been a pleasant side effect but not the objective, because fuck that  desperately-trying-to-take-up-less-space noise. It’s time to lift bigger, not be smaller – that’s way more fun!

A funny thing happens when you get to that point where you’ve lost a bunch of weight though: other people start to notice.

Sure, YOU noticed that your body feels different after the first five; maybe even less than that. People close to you notice little differences here and there too, but they also notice how hard you’re working. Then one day, a magic switch flips and suddenly the world sees you differently. You get compliments from random people – sometimes multiple times a day. You’re in the zone – this awesome little bubble that insulates you from the bad feelings that will eat you alive if you don’t eat them first. And it feels great.


Unless you’ve been there before.

Unless your weight has gone up and down by hundreds of pounds over the years and you know the drill. You know that the bubble could pop any minute and six months of hard work could be undone in a couple of weeks and you’ll go plummeting to the ground…and if that happens, if a really good case of crippling depression and self-doubt get the better of you, all the cheering will disappear, leaving in its place awkward silences where people give you the once-over with their eyes, wondering what happened but not knowing what to say.

Weight loss can be a mind fuck, and the ever-present possibility of losing control and spiralling back to where you were is terrifying.

Right at this moment I’m not there yet. I’m still in the bubble but I’ve hit a plateau and mentally I’m struggling. Crushing self-doubt is lurking around the edges, making me question whether or not I’m doing things right. Whispering that I need to cut more, work harder, that I’m just a ridiculous old woman with a point to prove. The trainer in me knows, of course, that in my case, slow progress is better. That trying harder to control more only leads to disordered behaviour patterns, obsession, and failure. That the primary goal here is beastly strength, not an aesthetic.  But some days, the whispering is louder than the voice of reason. How do you deal when that happens – when progress slows (or stops), when that happy glow goes away and all that’s left is fear and doubt?

I’ll tell you a secret.


There is no bubble. Lasting change doesn’t depend on the structural integrity of a film of soapy water. You won’t go crashing down if you lose that buoyant, in-the-zone feeling. Be patient with yourself and you WILL get it back, I promise.  I’ve been stuck in a rut more times than I care to admit or even think about. I’ve also coached countless clients through them, and I’ve learned that two things need to happen in order to shake things up and get moving forward again.


Self-acceptance, to be more specific. Who are we doing this for again? Why? Because we’re daring to imagine a better reality for ourselves, that’s why. But none of us are going to be different people if/when we get to where we think we want to be, so we’d better all make peace with ourselves and be happy with where and who we are now. Go toward the most awesome version of yourself. Trust me, it’s worth it.


Surround yourself with people who inspire you, who make you want to be the best possible version of yourself. Pick up a new project. Learn something new. Get out of your comfort zone. Do whatever you have to do to shake things up and re-ignite your enthusiasm. Stoke that fire!

What I do to keep things fresh is  give myself one training day in the gym to do whatever I want. Four days a week I do what my trainer/coach tells me to do; the fifth day is play day. And lately play day means Olympic lifting – it’s something I’ve always wanted to be better at, but it scares me a little bit because it’s such a departure from anything I’ve worked on before. So I’ve enlisted the help of a friend who’s a competitive weightlifter and has ridiculous drive and focus, and I’m gonna damn well learn how to do it right. New skill + Inspiring company = reinforced drive to be better!

Here’s something else to chew on: think of someone you admire. What is it that you admire about them? Is it their focus? Commitment? Intensity? Exuberance? If you’ve recognized something extraordinary in that person, that quality is in you, too.


Above all, be patient. You may not be ready to re-commit to that goal just yet. Maybe you just need a break from all of it…and if that happens, it’s not a bad thing to just embrace it. Give yourself a set amount of time to let the bad feelings win, without doing anything to try and chase them away. Case in point: yesterday, I was done. I had nothing left – no fight, no will, no drive. I had lost control and I was terrified. So what did I do? I spent most of the day in bed, of course – I only got up to work and spend some time with my daughters. Here’s the thing though: that only works if there’s a time limit – I gave myself yesterday to wallow in self-pity; today it’s back to the business of smashing the shit out of my goals. Giddy up!

Check your Ego at the Door

Injuries suck. They’re exhausting and painful and demoralizing and frustrating.


They are also a really great learning experience. I mean, all adversity is an opportunity to learn and grow if you choose to treat it as such…and why not? Otherwise it’s just suckage with no point to it. That’s no fun.

Anyway, injuries: everyone who works out or enjoys physical activity in any capacity is going to sustain an injury at some point in their lives that derails their training and knocks them down a peg or two. Or more than two. So, you get injured, you get it treated, you do the physio and the rehab exercises etc etc and you’re feeling better. Time to get back at it, right? You’ve waited weeks, maybe months to get back into the gym and feel like you’re doing something challenging and worthwhile. Pedal to the metal, baby!!


Nope. Slow down there, Tex.

Because at the moment you feel 100%, that’s when you’re about 80% healed. And the time you spend between being 80% healed and 100% healed is the window of time where you are at the greatest risk of re-injury. It’s also the time when your ego, the little shit, is not your friend at all.

“Psst!” it’ll whisper at you. “You should be able to do that. You could six months ago. Give it a shot and see what happens! You can always stop if it hurts.”

Your ego doesn’t care that if you make it hurt too much then congratulations, you have successfully joined the ranks of people who find themselves back on the injury bench. It just wants to GO. It wants you to feel like you got something accomplished. It also wants you to be some kind of superhero who doesn’t have to obey the laws of physics like the rest of us. Well, guess what? You’re not a special snowflake – of course you are a special snowflake – but you’re still a broken snowflake and that means that for a little while, you need to find a way to leave your ego at home when you go to the gym.


This is not an easy thing to do.

The gym is where people go to get their pump on, to sweat, to feel strong and badass and sexy as fuck. It’s where people flex in the mirror and take more selfies than just about any other place on earth, right? The gym is any inflated ego’s happy place!

So when you bring your still-broken-but-feeling-way-better self back in there, it’s important – really important – that you take it easier than you think you need to. Lift the lighter weights. Work on mobility, balance, control. Get your mind-muscle connection firing again.  At this point it’s also good to isolate that injured spot and insult it just a little bit so that your body knows to concentrate its repair work there. Eccentric, or negative contractions (where the muscle is lengthening under tension instead of contracting; this usually is the down-phase of the exercise) done slowly and under control are key to let your body know that it needs to lay down more, stronger tissue in that location. (Plug: a good trainer can help with this and will know just how much to challenge you, or not, on any given day.)

pink dbs

Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. You may not get a good clip for Instagram showing all the cool stuff you can do. All of that can wait until you’re all the way better – and the way to get all the way better is to start slowly and build back up. S L O W L Y. It’s agonizing, I know! But better to do that, than end up with an injury that’s chronic. Your body doesn’t need that kind of mileage – that’s what you get when you slog through the suckage and don’t learn anything!! So check your ego at the door and gently explore what your body is capable of. You’ll gain perspective and it might even be fun.

Bullshit Healthy Things

Let’s face it, sometimes you just need cake.

And sometimes, when you go to Costco, even though you have told yourself a hundred times that it’s not a good idea (you’ve learned this from experience), you end up taking home that 10lb bag of carrots because you need a few carrots and you don’t want to go to a separate grocery store just for fucking carrots.

Furthermore, some weeks when you’re working a lot and are not caught up with keeping consumable snacks in the house, your preteen children complain bitterly that there’s nothing to eat after school and hassle you to within an inch of your sanity.

Obviously the solution to all of these problems is carrot cake. But what to do if you don’t want all the sugar and junkiness of cake? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

Carrot Apple Muffins

Bullshit Healthy Carrot Apple Muffins

Preheat oven to 425F, and line your muffin tins with parchment cups – this recipe makes 18 muffins so that’s how many cups you’ll need to have ready.

Dry stuff: mix the following in a big bowl – bigger than you think you need:

1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour

2 scoops vegan protein powder (unflavored, vanilla, or I used Epicure Optimum Vegan Protein Blend which has a mild coconut flavor)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

Wet stuff: mix the following in whatever bowl it fits in:

3 cups shredded carrots (this is a lot of carrots. If you don’t have a food processor with a shredder, you’re going to be grating for a looooong time. I am not above bribing my children to do this part of the job)

2 apples, diced

1 cup milk

½ cup maple syrup

⅓ cup coconut oil, melted

2 eggs

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and quickly stir to combine. Don’t be a perfectionist; some lumpiness is okay. Spoon the batter into your prepared muffin cups and bake for 13-15min.

These little mofo’s are delicious on their own, but if it’s cake with icing that you’re after feel free to pipe some cream cheese icing onto the top of each muffin (after they’ve cooled of course.)

Cream Cheese Icing

2 cups cream cheese

4 cups icing sugar

1 tsp. Vanilla

Whip all the ingredients together using an electric mixer and pipe over the muffins. You can use an icing bag with fancy nozzles for this step or just dump the whole mess into a freezer bag and cut a corner off – it’ll taste awesome either way!

Don’t call me Supermom


Over the last couple of days I’ve heard that word used to describe a number of women with kids, in various contexts. If I’m honest I’ve heard it used to describe me too…and though it is flattering and always used in the most generous and affectionate and admiring context, it eats away at me a little every time I hear it.

Maybe I’m being overly politically correct or sensitive here, but hear me out on this one: my thought is that the vast majority of mother-figures (there are exceptions of course, as always) are just doing their damnedest to raise happy, healthy kids who feel loved, build fulfilling careers (if they so choose), and maybe, if there’s energy left over, look after their own spirits. Yes I know, we’ve all heard it a million times – we have to carve out time to look after ourselves and we can’t be good examples to our kids if we don’t – but when something else comes apart, that’s often the first thing to go. That’s what we signed up for when we became responsible for other humans. But I’m not trying to be a martyr here; that’s not what this is about.


So what is this about?

It’s about competition. Because when someone is described as ‘supermom’, it implies that they are head and shoulders above us regular ol’ moms; someone to aspire to rather than someone who is down here in the trenches with the rest of us. And I get it – when a woman sticks out and does something amazing, she definitely deserves to be celebrated. OF COURSE she does. But does it make her a better mom? Not necessarily. And then if we pin the label ‘supermom’ on her, should the rest of us aspire to be more like her? What if we aren’t interested in achieving what she’s achieved?

Women don’t need to be in competition with each other. My thought is that there are too many of us who feel like we aren’t enough as it is. Let’s admire each other’s achievements without comparing parenting skills, mmmkay?


It’s about sexism. Let’s turn this around: how many male professionals, athletes, artists, leaders, etc. , who have children are referred to as ‘superdad’? Often you don’t hear that those guys have children at all; instead we admire their achievements for what they are. We don’t pull the parenthood card and call them superdad. We have no idea what kind of dad they are. The fruit of their loins doesn’t enter into the equation because…well, because it doesn’t.

Really the term ‘supermom’ is just a crusty old fossil from the late 70’s and early 80’s when women were taking on more traditionally masculine roles – you know, like having jobs and their own public social status. We don’t need it anymore.

I’ll tell you something about being a mom (which every parent reading this will already know, but here it is anyway): if we’re going to achieve anything noteworthy, something has to go. There has to be considerable sacrifice, or considerable external support from somewhere. I’ve been called supermom because I juggle two careers as well as two children, but I promise you, anyone who sees the unfortunate results of my housekeeping skills will revoke that supermom card in a hurry, because I can’t do it all. Maybe one day I will be in a position to hire someone to clean my house and then I can be called supermom again.

See how ridiculous that sounds?

Consider this: of all the moms I know (and I know lots of them), there are career-minded women who are going after their goals with singular determination. There are stay-at-home moms who have put careers on hold to be with their kids and look after their households. There are single moms who are juggling jobs and the demands of parenting solo. There are moms who are super fit, whose peace of mind depends on getting their workout in, and moms who have given in to the pull of obesity because the demands of all the kids’ activities means that they live in their minivans from 4-8pm. And ALL of them have well-adjusted kids who are happy and healthy. The point is that we all have different circumstances, different priorities, and different heaps of baggage and shit to deal with. None of us are supermom. Or rather, we are ALL supermom.


The 10-Minute Rule

This morning I squirted hand soap on my toothbrush.


Fortunately for me, I figured out something wasn’t quite right before I stuck it in my mouth. Maybe it was the smell. Either way, it was a piss-off and just added to the giant heap of suck that today was turning into. I’m fighting a cold, didn’t sleep well last night, and when I went to the basement to move the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer, climbing the 14 stairs back to the main floor left me gasping for air.

The last thing I wanted to do in the whole world was work out today.

I have a rule for days like today. Because we all have days when the thought of working out is about as appealing as brushing your teeth with hand soap. Yup, even trainers. (This one, anyway.) This rule has served me well over the years and helped me stay consistent with my workouts even when everything sucks – ESPECIALLY when everything sucks! The rule is this:


Often just getting out of my head and into my body is enough to keep going. In fact, 99% of the time, at ten minutes in, I’m having fun and happy I forced myself over that hump. Most of the time I have an okay workout and at the very least, get to the end of the day happy that I embraced the suck and made it happen. Sometimes, beast mode appears on the days that I feel the worst and I end up surprising myself, kicking ass, and turning the suckage right around. And some days, after ten minutes, my muscles are aching and my energy level has taken up residence in the bottom of a construction-site port-a-john. And on those days, I am completely okay with just dragging my carcass to the couch because it is not a workout day. If you’ve tried to get going and are still feeling the HELL NO after ten minutes then likely your body is feeling stressed and the risk of working out outweighs the potential reward. Don’t do it.

So, with the 10-min rule in mind, off I went to the gym at lunchtime. My plan was to do a quick posterior-chain smash (still fighting with my moody left hamstring) and then some steady-state cardio to get my heart rate up a little bit so that I could get through the afternoon without falling asleep. The verdict? It was a low-energy kinda day. Nothing wrong with that, because…