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Bonnie’s Story

Tell us briefly who you are, how “young” you are and how you got started in your fitness journey.
I’m 65. Started doing a weekly stretch & tone aerobics class when I was about 30. Did these little classes for about 3 years until a gym opened in my area and I started mostly taking aerobics classes. and fumbled incorrectly on the equipment…thought I was spending enough on the membership without spending money on a trainer.  Finally friend & I started working with a trainer, 6 days a week for 3 years ….we got strong…but it was almost all legs, over exercising without understanding nutrition  My friend & I split a Le Menu frozen dinner 2 times a day & had protein shakes. She lost 100 lbs & I gained 20. At the end of this time she quit exercising & I continued on. Now as a trainer I understand that for both of us it was WAY TOO much exercise, too time consuming our diet was still so lacking that we were undermining our health still.

Have you always been athletic? 
Not at all. Always horribly underweight, sickly child, couldn’t do sports in school, hid during gym. I was force fed as a child to TRY & make me gain weight, as a young adult I started skipping meals, eating a lot of junk, lived on soda & ice cream, & lying about not eating. The gym and better eating (even though it was still horrible) helped me gain weight & become interested in fitness. 

Did you have weight to lose as well as muscle to build? 
In the beginning I only weighed 80 lbs, sometimes even less at 5’3”. Now I weigh around 110 or 115. I was down to the bone skinny but probably had a 35% body fat, very dangerous. It has taken me a long time to build muscle. I exercised for 10 years before I grasped how to develop muscle rather than just going through the motions. 

You owned a Gym for 25 years & started competing in bodybuilding competitions at age 48, tell us bit about those journeys.  
After a falling out with my trainer over how he’d treated by workout partner, fat shaming and cruel remarks, I decided to open my own gym in the next town away. At first it was a ladies only studio but soon the husbands wanted to join. During the first year I took an ICS course then during my second year I became AFAA certified, Due to needing continuing credits & wanting to gain knowledge I became WEIGHT ROOM certified through FRA & AFAA.  In 1998 I added NABF  North American Bodybuilding Federation Personal Trainer, Nutritional consultant & Contest Judge. Al Thurston, the founder of NABF has trained many top notch competitors & trainers & is well known especially through the east coast, Maine to Florida. I took up competing at 48 after training a 50 year old friend & said to myself that I SHOULD PRACTICE WHAT I PREACH TO MY CLIENTS, so I competed almost every year until 2013.
What is your biggest motivation in being fit? 
Being able to enjoy life  & do sports activities

What is your biggest obstacle to staying fit? 
I don’t see obstacles. Maybe too much travel, too much alcohol, too many desserts … but these things don’t affect me much

Women in our group always want to know this, What do you eat?  
MY food  …. sweet potato, chicken, fish, eggs, oatmeal, rice,  …. veg smoothie,  some days yogurt, papaya gut health…  little to no dairy, sugar, processed wheat, no soda or processed drink for 30 years, except once a year sparkling asti & rare red wine, nothing canned or packaged. I can give you a exact run down if your like….. its quick

How do you stay motivated and inspired?
I think the variety in my activities keeps me motivated..kayaking, SUP, bike, running, ropes course as well as weights

Have you ever gotten derailed from your path? 
Just this September, I decided to skip the gym for a month to devote more time to SUP, kayak, snorkeling, running, BOSU & stretching at home …so it turned into 8 weeks…..and I know my low back can not take 8 weeks off, I was just scrunching back on the couch & pulled muscles…. real pain …. got a appointment with a physical therapist and it was much better & he gave me instructions for avoiding in the future, one was to do overhead style swimming & work the elliptical. So for the next 6 weeks, I worked on light Physical therapy weight lifting, elliptical & swimming. In addition to this gyms, Sauna, Steam, power jet therapy pools. So 4 months recovering from not going to the gym! Now I’ve been back to a hearty workout for a month now & feel like I’d never stopped.

Do you have a big health & fitness goal for this year? 
I’d like to compete if I could find a convenient contest

What is your ONE fitness secret you’d like to share with our audience? 
for new exercisers … 5 years or less… 3 days a week might be more effective than 5. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 
Eat real food. Experiment with complex carbs such as sweet potato, rice, oatmeal, white potato, for breakfast, lunch, mid afternoon; in combination with fibrous carbs & protein.    Only about 20% of the population thrive on high protein diets.  Most people need MUCH more whole food complex carbs than they are getting. Eating too much protein in combination with complex carbs can cause metabolic & hormonal issues, diabetes & cancer.

Interview closing remarks:
Suppressing the appetite or starving can produce weight loss but NEVER produces health. There are no miracle weight loss products.

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