One of the things I love about Facebook, is how it connects us to everyone. It gives us access to amazing stories and inspiring lives. It offers us a place to share our own journeys and beliefs. It can be a real exercise in tolerance and patience sometimes and like with everything, should be used with restraint, moderation and certainly not when you've had one too many with boys at the local.
I've been fortunate enough to have a really great group of very talented and inspiring Facebook friends and acquaintances. These folks run the gamut of being artists to just “ordinary” folks reaching for extraordinary goals. Each of their stories and accomplishments help to push me forward on my own journey in life.
One such Facebook friend is Bernadette Ryan. About two years ago, she started on this amazing journey into fitness, setting her sights on competing in figure competitions. I have watched her progress and cheered her on ever since she first appeared on my newsfeed with a motivational quote. What makes her so inspiring to me is that she is just a “regular” mom of three, with all that comes with being a mom. She has the same stresses and pressures that most of us face every day and yet she had the courage not just to start this amazing journey, but to continue on in it.
Me: Children? How many?
BR: I have three children. 21, 18 and 15
Me: Are we allowed to ask, “How old are you?”
BR: 39. I'll be 40 in April.
Me: Brothers and sisters?
BR: One of each. Lol.
Me: What are currently listening to on your iPod?
BR: Wow, so many different songs. But if I train, I usually have HUGE ear phones on. Headphones on; world off)
Me: What is your favourite track and why?
BR: “PlayHard” by David Guetta. It gives me *woema and brings out the beast in me … LOL
*woema is a South African expression meaning something akin to “oomph” or “pumped” or “drive” LOVE that she used it!
Me: What inspires you?
BR: I inspire me. Many things and people will you down and disappoint and hurt you, but you will never let yourself down.
Me: Any favourite movies or books?
BR: Favourite movie is 21 Jumpstreet. Favourite book is a journal about how a women can look after themselves.
Me: How did you get started in fitness?
BR: I moved into a new home where my bedroom is just mirrors. Being single, I was all I could see. All the fat, the bulges … everything!
Me: Did you need a trainer?
BR: At first I lost a lot of my weight so I did cardio for about six months. Only then did I get a trainer.
Me: How many times do you meet with your trainer?
BR: I started with six times a week but we have cut it down to four. So we can do different muscle groups on different days.
Me: Is it hard sticking to the dietary requirements?
BR: Yes, it is difficult. You need to buy the right foods, which can be expensive, especially if you 're doing this alone and your family still eats “normal” food in front of you. I could never stick to a proper plan, so instead I eat my food out of a small dessert bowl. That's the size of your stomach. So if you eat in small portions you give your body the chance to digest. It's easier. For example: at dinner divide it into three. Eat one portion, wait an hour, eat the next portion. Third portion, give to the dogs! They'll love it.
Me: What is your most favourite part of your dietrary plan and what is your least favourite?
BR: There is no favourite or least favourite. In fitness it's “either/or”. There's no in-between. Just know what goes in must be used and used properly. If it's junk food, your body will have no use for it and will just store it.
Me: What does a typical work out day look like?
BR: I train in the mornings from 5am to 6am. I row on the Concept 2 machine. Then I do abs classes and some legs. Leave at 7am. Afternoons: 4:30pm I train for an hour with my trainer and I do killer abs classes. I train from Monday morning until Friday morning, then I rest the weekend.
Me: What exercises do you enjoy doing most?
BR: All exercises. I choose what I enjoy and give it my all.
Me: What exercises do you not enjoy doing?
BR: Lunges, but that is the best for bums.
Me: Do you ever have days when you feel, “Ugh! I just don't don't feel like working out today!”
BR: Yes, some afternoons, I do, but knowing my trainer is waiting for me and I lose my session, makes me put on my *takkies and just go for it!
*Takkies = a South Africanism for sneakers or trainers
Me: How do you keep yourself motivated and focused EVERYDAY?
BR: I have joined so many fitness pages on Facebook. So when I open up Facebook, it's all about fitness. Most groups are American, so when I wake up, they have come back from their evening work out and are all amped and ready to take over the world. LOL!! So, I thrive on their motivation.
Me: What has been the highlight of your journey so far?
BR: The respect I have earned. The confidence I can so easily carry. And the ability to jump up a wall or run after my children. I have the ability to play again.
Me: What have you learnt about yourself you didn't know before starting this journey?
BR: That stress we have in life is actually all imaginary. Most of it, we can't change. (In other words, if you can't change it, why stress over it) But walk in the gym, look at a weight that says “pick me up” or the row machine that says, “row me for one hour,” that's REAL stress. That is the stress we can change. When you experience that stress you will realise life is actually quite easy.
Me: Every great feat accomplished by a person, has been achieved because there are people who are encouraging and cheering the person on. Who has that been for you? And how important has that been for you through this process?
BR: My family. My friends. The people at the gym. I walk in and people, I have never seen before, take time to say, “hi!” That shows me they respect me.
Me: What do you hope to achieve in this journey?
BR: I hope to take it all the way. I want to show the world NOTHING in life has the ability to kill you but YOU, yourself.
Me: When is your first competition?
BR: I was hoping this year, but I think next year. I don't want to take steroids or growth hormones to help me get there. I will rather train for longer and do it naturally. I know people say it's impossible to win a competition if you're not on stuff but then again, when I was 28, the doctors told me I had cancer and wouldn't make it to 34!
Me: What advice would you have for folks who may want to start doing this. How should they go about it?
BR: I would say, start walking at first. At least *3kms a day. As you progress with walking, then you can start running from one lamp post to the next. Walk the next one and run the following, and so it goes. I would also recommend crunches. 4 sets of 20 reps.
*3km converts to 1.86 miles
I'd like to end this with a comment Bernadette posted the other day that really spoke to me.
“Your Body is your best friend. Your body will never let you down where everybody else might. All you got to do is be good back to your body. Feed it with good food and use your body as much as possible. After all, that's what it was given to us for. Use it.”
I wish you everything of the best in your endeavors, Bernadette. Thanks for proving that you are never too old, or been through too much to start something positive and new in your life!