Written by Chelsea Clarke | Photo by Filion Photography
Creative Direction by Cindy Van-Empel Popowich

After decades of subscribing to an all-or-nothing approach when it came to fitness and nutrition, a succession of health scares forced mom-of-two Kathy to re-examine how she was caring for her body and mind. She knew there was no better time to practice making small, lasting changes to drop some unwanted pounds, elevate her health, and gain a stronger mindset, and she joined the 12-week 2019 STRONG Transformation Challenge. Here, she shares the simple upgrades she made to her everyday life that helped her to finally put herself first.

Who She Is

Age: 44     Hometown: Sudbury, ON, Canada    Gig: Business Owner & Manager    Transformation: Lost 16 inches and 14.7 lbs

It’s Not About the Weight

Kathy’s main goal had nothing to do with weight—she set out to create rock solid morning and evening routines so she could properly support herself during the challenge. “We were a few weeks into the pandemic and online schooling had begun. I wanted to be able to deal with stress and anxiety since I knew emotional eating would be at an all-time high.”

“I started noticing a craving for workouts and an increase in my energy and mood, which helped me cope with COVID-19 craziness.”

Walking Works

A mix of STRONG exercise and nutrition guides, plus IG workouts, helped Kathy reach her goal. But her success boils down to something simple and accessible: “A woman in the FB Transformation Challenge group posted about outdoor exercise, and it reminded me how much I used to enjoy that, too. I started walking 5k in April and I completed 13.5k by June. My husband would sometimes join me, or I’d enjoy my walk as ‘me time.’”

Overcoming Obstacles

When Kathy hit a rough week at work and she felt her motivation wane, she reached out to a friend for some encouragement, and it was just what she needed to get back on track. “When I’m having tough days, I imagine what I would say to my daughter if she were in my place. I’d be kind to her, and assure her that hard days are normal. I’d remind her how strong and loved she is. With this in mind, I try to speak to myself in the same way.”

Her Day on a Plate: 

3L every day

Post-Morning Workout:
Protein Shake
(1 scoop of protein powder, one shot of espresso, 1 Tbsp peanut butter,
1 Tbsp collagen, 1 tsp fiber)

1 cup of lemon-ginger tea
Veggie omelette with ½ cup berries

Smoked salmon and spinach wrap

Stir-fry Sunday  – shrimp, chicken, steak (family members add what they like)
Taco Tuesdays – my tacos in a lettuce wrap and rest of family in hard/soft shells
Fajita Friday – chicken and beef with grilled vegetables

Her Advice

Getting enough sleep was a game changer for Kathy’s energy, and allowed her to wake up on time for her walks or workout. “Prioritize yourself in your schedule without mom, work, or any other obligation guilt.”

Chelsea Clarke
Chelsea is a Toronto-based editor and writer, penning everything from investigative reports to inspiring profiles. She’s the current Associate Editor of Strategy Magazine.