Lifestyle Prior To Change
Prior to getting in shape, I used to regularly skip meals and eat mostly carbohydrates and low fat foods – protein was never a focus and I truly believed I was eating “healthy”. I did also go to the gym often, but I had no plan and I focused primarily on forcing myself to do cardio, even though I much preferred doing weights.
What was your low point or turning point?
For me, I was in a lull for a very long time. I hated looking at myself in the mirror, I felt disgusting and I dreaded going out shopping or just being in public altogether. It was really hard to think positively - life just seemed to be working against me all the time, but now I know it was all in my head.
Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?
In 2007 a pivotal moment changed my life forever. In the blink of an eye, I went from walking across a side street, minding my own business, to suddenly waking up in the middle of the road in a pool of my own blood - I had been struck by a car.
The car had sent me soaring 10 feet in the air, slamming my face into the ground. When I woke up I remember screaming, noticing the large gap inside my mouth from where my front teeth had been shattered, and realizing that I couldn't feel my legs from the waist down.
As I lay on the pavement staring at the blood fall from my face, I watched the driver of the vehicle flee the scene. And I knew at that very moment, that my life was never to be the same again.
A few months went by and of course, I thought I was handling things quite well - the doctors were impressed with my physical healing and I worked hard to be able to get back to normal. Then one day I just broke. My strong outer shell gave way, and all of my buried fears, nightmares, flashbacks and depression came to the forefront.
So, after much convincing from my boyfriend and family, I sought professional help. And eventually, this propelled me towards a better way of thinking and helped me decide what was most important to me in life - family and friends.
Although I still battled (and continue to today) stiffness, aches, pain and muscular tension, I found that I had a renewed focus and clarity in life. My goals became about living life to its fullest, being true to myself and about focusing on getting married and starting a family. Granted, I was pretty young to be thinking about my future as a mother, but I was happy to have realized how important it was to me.
About a year post accident, my symptoms began. I started having mood swings, cravings, hot flashes and night sweats - nothing you'd expect at the age of 19. So, naturally, I went to the doctor and got some tests.
The day I received those test results, was the day I thought my heart had stopped beating. To my absolute devastation I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI - a.k.a. Premature Ovarian Failure), and told I have a 0 - 5% chance of conceiving naturally. How could this be? Why me? I'm meant to have children, was all I could keep thinking.
I tried to hold it together, I really did. I put on my brave face, sucked back my tears and tried to convince myself that there was still a purpose to moving on. It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to accept.
I would love to say that at this point in time things started to look up for me, but unfortunately, the old saying, "bad things happen in threes" held true.
During my continued doctor visits, another test was carried out to determine the potential cause of my POI. And right when I thought things couldn't get even more complicated, they did. I was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic disorder called, "Small Supernumerary Marker Chromosomes" - which only exists in about .5% of the world's population. To this day I still don't fully understand how this may affect me. So what did this all mean? I felt like my life was spinning out of control.
One bad thing after another kept happening to me - so much so that people made jokes about me being 'cursed'. I had lost every ounce of control I thought I had over my life. I felt helpless.
Then, one day while surfing the net, I came across some material on bodybuilding. Little did I know, that day I had found something that was going to grant me back a sense of control and transform me into a healthier, happier and more knowledgeable me.
From that point on, bodybuilding, training, and fitness became my passion. I learned how to control my health and well-being, and how to use training as a way to de-stress and re-focus. Fitness became my answer - the sunshine that cleared my gray skies.
- Transformation Start: January 15th 2010.
- Milestone: May 6th 2010 – officially down 20lbs.
- Milestone: June 30th 2010 – officially down 30lbs.
- Milestone: October 23rd – officially down 40lbs.
- Transformation End: January 15th 2011 – Officially down 52lbs!
Kristen's Training And Cardio Approach
What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?
Throughout my transformation, my training routines varied every 6-8 weeks to ensure that my body never got used to one particular plan. This workout plan below is an example of what I did during my recent 4 week dieting break. The purpose was to take advantage of the higher caloric intake and use it as an opportunity to strengthen some of my weaker muscle groups – back, chest and shoulders – which is why I tried to hit them twice a week.
Since my lower body was already very strong and defined (for the body fat % that I was sitting at), I decided only to concentrate on it one day each week. Currently, I am back to a fairly balanced lower and upper body routine.
- Monday - Shoulders, triceps and traps.
- Tuesday - Chest, biceps and abs. PM steady state cardio – 20 minutes.
- Wednesday - AM steady state cardio - 20 minutes.
- Thursday - Shoulders, chest and back.
- Friday - Legs and glutes.
- Saturday - Abs and back. HIIT 20 minutes.
- Sunday - Rest.
|Monday - Shoulders, Triceps and Traps|
|Bent Over Reverse Flyes||3||10|
|One Arm Rear Delt Row||3||10|
|Dumbbell Front Raise||3||10|
|Upright Cable Row||3||10|
|Cable Tricep Extension||3||10|
|Tuesday - Chest, Biceps and Abs|
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press||3||10|
|Bench Knee Raise||3||10|
|Machine Bench Press||3||10|
|Alternating Ball Hold||3||10|
|Abdominal Pull Ins on a Ball||3||10|
|Thursday - Shoulder, Chest and Back|
|One Arm Rear Delt Row||3||10|
|Dumbbell Bench Press||3||10|
|Wide Grip Lat Pull Down||3||10|
|Alternate Front Dumbbell Raise||3||20|
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press||3||10|
|Bent Over Reverse Dumbbell Flye||3||10|
|Friday - Legs and Glutes|
|Plie Dumbbell Squat||3||10|
|Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift||3||10|
|Dumbbell Calf Raise||3||15|
|Squat to Bench (Box Squat)||3||10|
|Ball Hamstring Curl||3||10|
|Saturday - Abs and Back|
|Wide Grip Lat Pull Down||3||10|
|Underhand Lat Pull Down||3||10|
|Ball Side Crunch||3||15|
|Hanging Leg Raise||3||15|
Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation?
At the beginning of my transformation, steady state cardio was more of a focus and I completed it 5 days a week. But, as I became leaner I did less steady state cardio and more HIIT and limited my cardio sessions to about 1-2 times per week for 20 minutes.
Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Women will not get big or bulky if they lift weights, we just don’t have the levels of testosterone in us to get that way. Unfortunately, this stigma about weight lifting steers most women away from picking up dumbbells heavier than 5-10lbs.
- Too much cardio training will equate to muscle loss, and in the end it is important to maintain and/or build muscle in order to be healthy, strong and create the best environment for your body to efficiently burn fat. In the long run your body burns more calories through weight training than through cardio anyway because it takes energy (or calories) to repair the muscle during rest. So unlike cardio, where you stop burning extra calories once your heart rate goes back to normal, weight training allows your body to keep burning extra calories while you are sitting around or sleeping. BONUS!
- It is important to keep changing up your routine and to always focus on improvement. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you will only get what you’ve already gotten.
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?
Currently I am still focusing on supersets, as I have found them to be extremely beneficial for my body and I am doing very limited cardio. I also continue to focus on lifting heavy and changing up my routine every 6-8 weeks.
Kristen's Diet And Nutrition Approach
What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?
Throughout my transformation I closely monitored my caloric and macronutrient intake, ensuring that I was always eating in a deficit, and allowing me to make subtle changes to my numbers in order to continue to get results.
To monitor my calories and macronutrients, I would create a meal plan every Sunday that fit the numbers I needed to hit, and I would then eat that same plan for 7 days straight. On the following Sunday, if I felt like changing it up I would modify the food to create a new plan that fit those numbers.
For some, this approach may seem boring, but for me it worked perfectly. I don’t get bored of food and it made grocery shopping and meal planning much easier! I still use this approach today and I have found it to be extremely effective.
Can you provide us with a sample eating plan (please be specific):
Breakfast: Kristen’s Infamous Protein Pancakes with a Skinny Cappuccino - Tassimo Skinny Cappuccino. For pancakes, blend together:
- 150g of egg whites
- 15g of oatmeal
- ½ tsp of vanilla extra
- 1 package of Stevia
Divide the batter in half and cook two pancakes in 1 tsp of olive oil (1/2 tsp each) and top with Molly McButter (butter flavoring) and Walden Farms Pancake Syrup.
Mid Morning: Vegan protein shake.
- 1 scoop rice protein
- 70g frozen berries
- 1 cup of unsweetened soy milk
Lunch: Fresh & Fruity Tuna Salad.
- ½ apple chopped
- ¼ avocado chopped
- 1 pouch of tuna
- 1 tbsp of fat free mayo
- ½ slice of raisin Ezekiel
- 15g of natural peanut butter
- 10 almonds
- 88g fat free tofu (Extra Firm)
- ½ yellow pepper
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp of reduce sodium stir fry sauce
- 1 cup of unsweetened soy milk
- 150g egg whites with 15g of goat cheese
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?
The first mistake I made when I began my transformation was I believed that I had to eat foods that I found bland and boring. When I started, my first meal plans consisted of plain chicken, egg whites, broccoli, salad etc. Not to say that I don’t like these foods, but I thought that in order to be successful I needed to just choke down the same old plain food everyday. This is definitely not the case.
There are so many ways to add flavor to your foods and there is a wide variety of healthy food options out there, you just need to experiment a little. For instance, instead of eating plain egg whites and oatmeal for breakfast, I mix the two together, add in some Stevia and vanilla extract and cook them like pancakes. Topped with the little sugar free maple syrup, you can’t go wrong!
The second mistake I made was I went ‘all or nothing’ when it came to my diet. This meant that I refused to ever eat out, I avoided going over to people’s houses and I declined every lunch meeting request at the office. The truth is, that isn’t life. The worst thing to do is avoid life at all costs or else your diet and nutrition habits will never become sustainable.
You need to learn how to cope with these types of situations. Whether that means finding alternative food choices, searching the online restaurant nutritional information ahead of time, or just allowing yourself to relax and enjoy the food for the evening, you have to find ways to face life head on.
Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
- Planning is one of the most important components to being successful in your journey. Plan your meals, pack them in advance and devise strategies for how you will deal with outings/social gatherings. Planning ahead of time will ensure that you don’t panic in any given situation.
- When eating a low carbohydrate diet throughout the week, adding in 1-2 refeed days is a great way to keep you sane and not to mention, strong! It eliminates the desire to cheat, confuses your body to accelerate fat loss and restores your glycogen levels to ensure you have the energy your body needs to lift heavy.
- If you’re craving something to eat or munch on, first drink a glass of water to ensure that it isn’t thirst. Then, if that doesn’t help, turn to something along the lines of sugar free Jell-O, celery sticks or sugar free gum in order to give your mouth something to chew on.
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?
Over the course of my journey I did allow myself a few cheat meals, but for the most part, I was always conscious of the food I had chosen to put in my mouth. I think this is an important component of cheating. If you’re going to do it, do it consciously and know when to stop. Luckily, for me, when I crave something it’s usually carbs, and I get plenty of those during my refeed days so I always feel satisfied.
What supplements did you use during your transformation?
- Upon Waking - 1-2 Caltrate Plus Chewables.
- Mid Morning - 1 scoop of Gaspari Myofusion, 1 Scoop of Women’s Ultra Mega Maximum Nutrition Formula.
- Pre Workout - 1 scoop Gaspari Superpump 250.
- Intra Workout - ½ scoop Gaspari Size On.
- Post Workout - 1 scoop Gaspari Myofusion or 1 pouch of Muscle Pharm Muscle Gel.
Advice For Others
What are your best tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
Over the past year, I’ve learned a lot about myself and about health and fitness in general, but there are certainly some key pieces of advice I’d like others who are trying to transform their bodies, to consider:
- There is no ‘quick fix’ for weight loss. Anything that promises super fast results is only going to do more harm to your body, metabolism and self esteem in the long run.
- Weight loss should be a journey to health – prepare yourself for the long road ahead and enjoy every minute of it.
- Losing weight and transforming your body starts with your brain. You’ve got to change the way you think before you can change the way you look. That means: Figure out what your staple excuses are and call yourself out when you use them. Do some research to abolish myths – there are tons of them out there (especially for women). Eliminate negative thoughts and feelings. They do nothing but bring you down.
- They key to success is planning for it. Have a plan for everything: Meal plans, training plans, motivation plans – yep that’s right! How do you plan to maintain motivation? (often overlooked) Dining out plans.
- Build a strong support system. If you’re not getting it from friends and family, get your support online from the many others out there!
- Prepare yourself for the ‘success sabatogers’. Over the course of your transformation, you will face people who envy the progress you’ve made and the dedication you amplify; don’t let their comments bring you down. Value feedback from other bodybuilders/fitness professionals and from your doctor before taking to heart the feedback from your uneducated peers.
- Remember it’s you vs. you – don’t embark on this journey just to prove others wrong. You have to want to do it just for you.
- Always set goals and record your progress. It holds you accountable for results and it forces you to continually want to improve.
- For the ladies: drop the 5 and 10lb weights and get your butt off the cardio machines! If you want a fit physique, you need to lift heavy weights and concentrate on a strong diet – NO, you will not get bulky!
- And lastly, don’t forget to live life! Sometimes we ‘fit-aholics’ can get so engrossed in our goals that all we can think about is our diet and training. But don’t forget, you only live one life, so don’t beat yourself up if you decide to go out for drinks and chicken wings one night. Just make sure that you’ve made a conscious decision and that you have the willpower to get back on the horse tomorrow and move forward.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?
Firstly, plan to stay motivated. Create a plan that outlines what you will do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to keep your ‘head in the game’. For me, I subscribed to several fitness magazines, vowed to visit online fitness and bodybuilding websites daily and bought advanced tickets to shows or competitions.
If you’re having trouble staying on track, I highly recommend visiting an online forum and speaking to other people with the same interest. Often times it’s because of the people we surround ourselves with that it can be hard to stay focused. I found that meeting people online was extremely helpful and motivating.
More From Kristen Adamson
What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?
My life today is very different from what it was like in the past. Today I am more confident, I feel in control of my life and I am focused on reaching for the stars – instead of dwelling on the past, I am concentrating on the future.
What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?
I think there are a few things keeping me motivated to keep improving. For one thing, the fact that I haven’t finished reaching my goals yet! In the beginning, people thought I was crazy for wanting to achieve some of my goals, but I am happy that I set the bar so high for myself because now I still have goals to achieve and places to go – I think it’s so important to always have goals.
Another thing keeping me motivated is all of the people I have met through the internet over the course of my transformation. From the emails I receive to the number of hits I get on my website, it’s inspiring to know that I am helping others throughout there journey. It only makes me want to keep getting better and keep learning more.
Anything else you would like to share?
Remember everyone, live each and every day to the fullest and take time to notice all the things that make you happy – you never know what day might be your last.
How can people contact you?