Why I'm Not Competing This Year

It’s a big decision. During the last two years I’ve trained exceptionally hard by honing in on my nutrition and exercise. All with the ultimate goal of pushing myself to my limits and getting up on stage for fitness competitions in British Columbia. From 2017 to 2018 I competed in three events placing 6th, 1st and somewhere in the double digits at the Vancouver Pro Show. I had so much fun participating in these events. The day is always a whirlwind, but what I love most is the preparation.

I couldn’t have pushed myself without the guidance of my Coach Ondrej of My Trainer 365 at the time. I’m forever grateful for the knowledge and habits that he instilled in me. I still train at the gym generally 5 to 6 days a week. I monitor my nutritional intake, but naturally without competition my dietary habits are certainly more relaxed. I feel very happy that coming out of three competitions I have recovered both mentally and physically with ease. The reverse diet was so important. I’m also aware that especially as a female, lowering your body fat to competition levels for most genetic make ups is not attainable all of the time. It’s about generating a balance for your life with your nutrition and fitness at the forefront. My body is still where I live so all superficial diatribes aside…I like to take care of my “house”.

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So if I had so much fun competing…why on earth would I decide not to compete this year? Well never say never, but I have no competition plans as I’m taking on a new challenge.

One of the main reasons I joined the CTV team last year was to provide myself a sense of community that I didn’t have in Vancouver as a solo video journalist. I’ve made it my mission to participate as much as possible with my new crew and I’m happy there have been lots of opportunities to do so. That said, you can’t join this team and not hear people talk about “the ride”.

Team CTV is going to be a part of the Ride to Conquer Cancer for the 11th consecutive year. When I hear my colleagues talk about the ride many of them express sentiments of how emotionally moving the weekend is and the level of camaraderie that is felt. This years ride will be 200 kilometres spread over two days August 24th and 25th.

Fun fact: I don’t really ride a bike nor have I ever ridden one on the road with cars. This will be an entirely new experience for me. Sure I’ve had a beach cruiser I dust off a few times a season—this journey is going to be exceptionally different. This is why I have decided not to compete. I want to focus on my ride training with my initial step of committing to 3 spin classes a week along with my regular strength training regime. I’m looking forward to the new physical and mental challenges that are to come.

Naturally the cause is the most important part of this journey. Every single one of the riders has a personal cancer story that has impacted them. Sadly many of you reading this also have these stories to share. For me the most upsetting part of this disease has been in recent years when it comes to the devastation cancer has caused for women my age. I lost my Grandmother to breast cancer in my teens, but I have to say it is a completely different experience when I see cancer going after women I know in their late twenties to mid thirties. Now don’t get me wrong one instance is not worse than the other. It’s just when it is someone so relatable to your own age it makes the entire disease have a whole new sense of reality to me.

In my mid twenties one of my very best friends was misdiagnosed with a gluten allergy for years. It turns out it was Ovarian Cancer. She fought hard and had to endure a very invasive surgical procedure. I’m so happy to say she quite recently celebrated 5 years cancer free. She is my absolute warrior having handled the whole ordeal with grace and courage.

This year I had a shock when I heard news of an old college friend. She is a 31 year old mother of two who is fighting against stage IV breast cancer. Although we have not been close in recent years it is still someone I shared a classroom with and sat next to at Niagara College. She is a kind and beautiful soul who clearly demonstrates this disease does not discriminate. She has been candid in sharing her journey and it is heartbreaking to see it unfold for herself and her family. She shared a sobering reminder for women to check their breasts regularly and stay in tune with their body. Upon her advice I literally made my check up appointment I had put off for years that very day.

Most recently a good friend from Orlando shared very upsetting news about her sister that is in her thirties. After being in terrible pain with unexplained symptoms for months she has now learned that she has cancer. She very much wants children of her own and is currently raising funds to freeze her eggs before she starts her cancer treatment.

We all have stories of people we know that have battled, are battling or have lost the battle. Participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer is a small stride to make a difference when it comes to new discoveries and improved patient outcomes.

Spoke to Spoke and Pedal to Pedal. I’ll be sharing the training journey here on the blog. I really appreciate you taking the time to read this. My fundraising goal is $2500 and I would love if you could take a quick moment of your time to make a donation to my ride.

For all those with a story — We have the power to create a happy ending. You can donate below and I thank you so much in advance.


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The Journey. The Challenge.

It's been a while. The last time I blogged I was on the brink of moving to my new job at CTV Vancouver and just embarking on my 12 week prep plan for the Vancouver Pro Show.

My two worlds were about to collide. Quickly co workers were going to become accustomed to the norm of me heating up pre prepped meals like clockwork. They would realize I would turn down all the offers of work snacks and quick lunches downtown. They would soon get used to hearing that my pre or post work plans typically involved being at the gym.

When prepping for a fitness show it's really just three key ingredients coming together. A goal. Consistency in taking steps toward that goal day in and day out. Lastly, discipline.

"It’s the discipline to work hard…
You know – NOT when everyone is watching.
But when no one is watching.
When the fans aren’t there.
When the coach isn’t there.
When it’s just you and your character.
The discipline to eat strong healthy foods, when you have other tempting options.
When those around you might not be so strong" - Fearless Motivation

So as many of you know I gave my whole heart to this prep. My discipline was unwavering. It was challenging as my entire life since I started competing a year and a half ago had changed. I had a new routine. New friends. New job. I hosted two back to back houseguests in my little 680 square foot condo at the heart of my homestretch of training. I refused to let prep result in being a social hermit so I went on brewless brew tours and dinner dates where I had already ate.


To those not involved in the circle this may come across as a lot of sacrifice for one day. One day that involves 500 competitors. Where fierce competitors will be traveling in from around the world. One day where you could show up having brought everything to the table...and leave with nothing. Or do you really leave with nothing?

At the Vancouver Pro Show that was me technically. However, I can assure you I didn't leave that stage empty handed. I may not have left with a physical medal, but once again I've left prep with another 12 week crash course on the power of the human character.

You see once you go through this process you come to realize this empowering metaphor of life. That any goal you set can be achieved. When you make consistent choices day in day out that positively impact working toward that goal and remain disciplined to be consistent...You will get there.


There is this incredible culture in this world of fitness that has learned that. Every single person who hit that international stage knows the battle. Knows the days they don't feel like it, but do it anyways. Throughout my day at the Vancouver Pro Show (very long day...Up at 3am Friday and went on stage the second time at 1230 am Saturday) I saw endless examples of sportsmanship, camaraderie and encouragement. It's a culture that celebrates pushing your mind places that allow your body to do great things. Every single person who got up on that stage has accomplished something that a sliver of the population will ever get up and do. One of the number one New Years resolutions involves incorporating a health and fitness routine. By July 95% of people have abandoned this resolution. The competitive fitness culture is yet another segment of the remaining 5% pushing things to the extra limit.

I don't say this in a superiority factor. We all have different motivators in our lives and ideals that we quantify achievements that fulfill us. I do feel though that any competitor has strength of character. The ability to identify choices we want to make to drive a path to our goal and follow it. I am amazed at the inspiration I get from this community daily. And who is the competitor you may ask? From copious amounts of tilapia to endless cardio to sobriety to no refined sugar...who are these crazy people that aren't being forced to live this way yet participate in the insanity that is show prep...

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They are nurses, doctors, police officers, lawyers, students (which I'm always so impressed because I know what I was doing in my early twenties), accountants, teachers and the list goes on and on. They are just normal people who share a passion.

I'm so happy to have incorporated this level of health and fitness in my life. I'm so happy to have joined in this community. My someday became this transformative journey to where I am now.

So where am I going from here now that one of my most challenging preps is behind me. Well I'll be honest the minute I was done my brain was like...I want to do it again! However, at this point I have decided to take the rest of the year off. I've done 36 weeks of strict show prep within the last 1.5 years. I want to get back to equilibrium over the summer and that starts with a reverse diet to a healthy balanced caloric intake. That said, I've discovered such a passion for health and fitness that I can't deny. So my next challenge is actually completing my personal training certification with Ace Fitness. I haven't crafted my exact game plan once I complete this, but no doubt I'll keep you posted. For now I've been enjoying soaking in more knowledge about how to build a healthy functioning physique and perhaps benefit others with this knowledge in the future.


This post wouldn't be complete without some major thank yous. To every single person who has had to engage in a prep related conversation or smell cod at 830am in the lunch room...thank you. Massive thanks goes to my producer Derek at CTV who not only supported and motivated me so much through this process, but also popped in the middle of his day just to see pre judging. This meant so much and then he also generously let me use his nearby condo for a nap. We work so closely together at CTV and I'm just so happy to have met such a soul with a heart of gold. My husband Gavin is my biggest supporter. He has never doubted my crazy passions, ideas or pursuits and I'm forever thankful. My Mom who doesn't entirely understand this crazy sport, but nevertheless encourages me with unwavering love. My Coach Ondrej who responded to about 5000 messages during my toughest peak week yet. Beauty by Banakas for getting me glammed for show day and allowed me to have a 6am tan drying dance party in their salon. To every single person who checked in or has reached out in any way. I see you and I'm thankful for you. 

So I didn't get a medal. Yet I've woken up today feeling more inspired and motivated than ever. I'm so proud to have hit that daunting stage with incredible talents from around the globe. No one can take that feeling away. No one can take away the growth from the process. My passion has just been reignited after yet another epic journey to the stage. 

"It’s the journey.
The continued pursuit of growth.
The constant seeking of improvement. THE CHALLENGE.
That’s what makes life great.
That’s what makes a fulfilled life.

I didn’t come this far to only come this far!
When I get this GOAL: I’ll seek MORE. Not more things. MORE GROWTH.
Constantly pushing myself to be better.

I didn’t come this far to only come this far!
I came this far so I could be strong enough to go further!
So I would be good enough to push myself harder! I’m only getting started. This is just the beginning.

I AM proud of my achievements, but that doesn’t mean I’ll settle for them.

A true winner doesn’t seek only the title. A true winner seeks GROWTH. A true winner seeks GREATNESS.
It’s the JOURNEY. It’s the CHALLENGE" - Fearless Motivation


The Monkey Wrench

Somehow its February. I can honestly say 2018 has been moving at rapid speed for me. I was traveling the majority of the month with some fleeting down time with my dog Stella and husband Gavin.

Prior to the New Year I had a conversation over a burger (ironically) that led to some decisions in regards to competition in 2018. Due to my qualification at the Iron Ore Classic in the fall I was going to train for the Vancouver Pro/Am in July. However, there have been a lot of changes in the organization. Instead of the BCABBA I'll be competing with the CPA, which comes with some different rules and mandatory poses.

I missed the thrill of the prep anyways so I thought I don't want my first experience with this organization to be in July. I wanted to do a regional show first. Introducing the Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic in March. That became my goal...somewhat. I entered January with the kind of sort of mind set that I was possibly maybe going to do a show in March.


This is where the problems started. Lack of focus.

I went home for a visit to Ontario. I called it my last hoorah. I still went to the gym regularly, but I indulged in a whisky tasting and other culinary fineries. 

Then I flew to Orlando for a work shoot. I called it my last hoorah. This was my final week before clamping down with a more restrictive competition diet.

About halfway through that shoot I was ill. Quite literally. That flu that has been running rampant decided that I would be its next recipient. The final days of the shoot I knew I wasn't fun. I was up all night with chills and a cough. I was socializing as that's part of the experience, but could feel myself increasingly getting run down. I missed 3 gym days in a row on that shoot.

When I got home I didn't move off the couch for 18 hours. In total that flu bug meant 7 days off the gym. My longest stint away in 2.5 years. It can not be coincidence that at the time I was taking the worst care of myself with diet and that is when I became super ill.

My competition dreams for March were waning, but I decided the call on that would be made by my Coach Ondrej. I see myself everyday. It's hard to tell exactly where my physique stands in regards to being competition ready. I can't help it, but I don't compete just for the experience. I enter the stage knowing I gave 100% and I'm competing for 1st.


There is never any reason to lie to your Coach about your performance. Ever. Mainly because they know before you've even said anything. Their job is analyzing and critiquing your physique. So if you've missed 7 days or put the all you can eat into the all you can eat buffet...they can tell.

Ondrej was encouraging. Prior to the months hiccup I had been pretty steady with my off season nutrition and certainly wasn't missing time at the gym. Just like you don't make all your gains in a day...You don't lose them either. Your psyche will tell you otherwise. That is why a Coach is key.

So although it would be a much shorter prep and therefore a little more difficult...We decided we could do it.

Cue this last week where once again I was doing the morning show live from Florida. Trust me it was amazing. As much as its an intense schedule I am constantly reminded how lucky I am that during that week those activities and views are my assignments and office. Within one week I traveled from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale to Miami to Boca Raton. We worked 14 to 16 hour days. It was a lot of fun as you can imagine. I even got to check out the most indulgent hotel room (Penthouse at the Hilton Bentley-Former home of the Kardashians) ...As my producer put it...It quite possibly may have been the first time real work was done in the Kardashian penthouse.

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I started off strong with squeezing in my gym visits. I opted for healthy dining options. However, with 14 to 16 hour work days I didn't plan it well. That's when my brain was like well if you don't do LBMC you could do the Vancouver Island show right after it.

There lies the problem. Lack of focus.

Could I have ate restrictive and made sure to get all my workouts in. Absolutely. I'm a believer in no excuses. I chose swimming in the penthouse pool over a sweat sesh. I chose a 20 minute power nap over 20 minutes of cardio I could have squeezed in. I chose getting up at 6am instead of 5am.

I chose.

I really feel it was my wishy washy mindset over the March deadline that really allowed me to waver on getting the work done. This is why when it comes to goal setting having a clear and concise goal is one of the key ingredients to your success. If it doesn't have a deadline you aren't keeping yourself accountable.

In addition it comes down to more than motivation. Motivation is a fleeting emotion. I have a friend who just started a YouTube channel called Supercharger Wellness and it took him saying something I already knew to have a revelation over my progress this last month.

Motivation comes and goes. However, we use it as a tool we think we are always going to have. Motivation will fail you. Determination is what makes the difference. Determination is what would have gotten me to choose the treadmill over the pool, to choose to set the alarm clock to 5, to choose the cardio over the nap.

It is the time of year that many have seemingly fallen off the wagon when it comes to their resolutions and goals. Based on my performance for aiming toward a competition I would have to admittedly include myself among those many.

The beauty is realizing that its never to late and that if you decide to infuse your life with that determination NOW you can still reach those goals. Just because you feel like they may have faded away or that you derailed...don't use that as an excuse to not get back up and keep going.

I've reprogrammed my mindset. I know that I can do it. So March 24th is my deadline to hit the stage again. It's officially 6 weeks and 5 days away. It's ambitious, but so long as I can make it there with a healthy game plan it's going to happen.

So as the circulating meme has alluded. January was your free trail month. If you left your goal behind already don't use that an excuse to wait all the way until 2019 to try again. Just start now. You've got this!

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Road to Resolution - Be The 6%

I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Joti Samra this week for work. She is a psychologist. (Who happened to be the 'go to' on The Bachelor Canada btw)

She shared an intriguing statistic. By July, 94% of people will have forgotten or failed their New Years resolutions. That is the majority by a long shot. So why do we do this to ourselves year after year?

It's simple right. We want change. We want to grow. We want to improve.

So what's stopping us? Elaborate drum roll please...Ourselves.

This is where it gets tricky. Making changes in our life is hard. Even positive changes.

Lately, I have read a lot of posts resolution bashing. Essentially negating the entire practice as a ritual that does more harm than good to our wellbeing. There are some interesting and valid points, but I'll be entirely honest I don't agree.


I'm a procrastinator and I'm fairly sure that is why New Year's resolutions are an effective tool for me. It's the swift kick I need to get me moving toward goals I want to achieve in the New Year. I find myself engineering action plans. All of a sudden ideas that have been hanging out in my brain begging to be brought to light finally get there time to shine. 

It is invigorating.

Imagine you journaled your life over the last year. The entire 365. Your journal was strictly sharing the simple activities, happenings and events of your day. How many climatic moments were there? How many adventures? How much happiness? How much accomplishment? If you were to weave those 365 days into a story...what kind of book did you write?

My fear for you would be that you may discover you pretty much wrote the same chapter over and over again.

Reflection is a beautiful tool and I'll tell you why. At any point you can make a plot change. You can add an unexpected twist.  This is where the joy of the resolution comes in. Perhaps look at it less like a mundane task you are going to force yourself to do and more like building your 2018 according to your goals.

From personal experience I'll tell you that it is an exceptional feeling ending the year off as the 6%. The small few that created a resolution and remained determined to stick it. I wanted to push my fitness goals to the next level and I managed to compete twice this year. I was honoured to take 6th at the Kelowna Classic and 1st at the Iron Ore Classic. It was not without help. I had my Coach Ondrej from My Trainer 365 and an endless amount of motivation from the #fitfam.

So if you're itching to craft that bestselling story for 2018 (we are talking about your life here just incase you haven't been following along with my metaphors) ... Here are some ways to help move you forward. My chat with Dr. Samra offered some great resolution inspiration:

Be specific- That's amazing that you want to get fit or actually write a novel. But break it down. You could say I'm going to go to 6 classes in January to kick start my workout routine or I'll dedicate 3 hours on Saturdays and complete the first two chapters by the 31st. Set some specific and realistic targets right from the get go.

Grab A Friend: Accountability is key. The American Society of Training and Development did a study that found you have a 65 percent chance of completing a goal if you've committed to someone. Even better if you have specific accountability appointments- That can increase your chance of success by 95 percent. The investment in a personal trainer makes a lot more sense when you look at it that way. It was certainly the step I needed to make in order to push myself forward.

Measurable: For every single person that has ever reached out about a fitness transformation one of my number one pieces of advice was take photos. These are a great way to measure your progress and ultimately motivate you even further. Another example of a measurable goal would be this blog. Last year I wanted to start one, but I was far from consistent. This year I have made the resolution to create two blog posts a week.

The biggest thing to remember as you enter the New Year is that you are capable. You can create and change your life in any direction you desire.

I read a great quote that really got me thinking...

You have a 1 in 400 000 000 000 of being born. Don't waste 2018.