Tell me a little about yourself and your background?
I am a young and ambitious entrepreneur, currently living basically a dream life by the beach in Mexico while still running a very sustainable and successful company. I am a sponsored powerlifter (with Canadian Protein – their first sponsored athlete!) and the owner of Courtney For Life. I have been in the health and fitness industry for over a decade and have successfully built my own brand with the purpose to educate and guide female athletes to eat with balance, lift with passion, and live with intent.
I promote a healthy lifestyle beyond just food and fitness. As a woman who has a history of mental health issues and mild eating disorders, I have been able to turn these ‘weaknesses’ into strengths, and I now use them to teach others how to thrive in their own journeys.
Whether it’s the barbell or with nutrition, I approach my opportunities and challenges head-on and with purpose. I educate my athletes with science-backed research from formal education and certifications, workshops and seminars from industry leaders, and from my own personal experiences. I have created a community of athletes who have learned to fuel their body with quality nutrition and supplementation and shape their physique through strength training. I focus on teaching women the empowerment of strength training and the importance of fueling the body with balanced nutrition.
What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?
My favourite style of training is powerlifting. Powerlifting consists of the three most optimal lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift. There are many variations of each movement (i.e. high bar or low bar squat; sumo or conventional deadlift) and that variation is going to depend on the person and their body mechanics.
I spent years trying different workout routines and got bored of going into the gym day after day without any real purpose or definitive goal to strive towards. I spent a few months really trying to get into Olympic Weightlifting (moves like the clean and jerk and the snatch), but unfortunately it caused more emotional stress than enjoyment. It’s an extremely technical sport that requires strength, mobility and exact timing. I dabbled around in some powerlifting programming during that time as well and really took a liking to it. Although I am passionate about powerlifting, it’s not my only fitness passion, so I like to incorporate quite a bit of bodybuilding accessory work as well, so I can build a very functional aesthetic physique. I have been training with an emphasis on powerlifting for almost 2.5 years now and competing for 2. I had my first international competition in June 2018 in Mexico, and I’m so proud to call myself an international powerlifter!
The powerlifting community, especially women, is so unbelievably empowering. Finding likeminded ladies on social media and in my surrounding cities to workout with and share stories and to build each other up, is more than I could have ever imagined it be. Everyone is so positive, and although it is a competitive sport, most of the members really just want to see everyone do their best and hit their lifts. In competitions, everyone is cheering, and it’s really motivating!
How long have you been into fitness?
I have been working out for over 10 years. I got my first gym membership after my first year of college when I was blessed with the Freshman… 20… I came home and received an abundance of joyful comments from family members about my social life and how I had put on a ‘few’ generous pounds. That was enough motivation for me to get my butt in the gym and start making a change. Little did I know back then, that I needed to be doing more than just hitting the gym in order to start making really sustainable and healthy changes.
How did you get into fitness?
My fitness journey started (I’m sure) like many women; inspired by the women who graced fitness magazine covers and thought that more cardio and light weights meant carving out a shredded physique. I didn’t want to get big and bulky, because at one point, I too thought that was what happened when you lifted big weights. Although I am what I like to call a “PowerBuilder” right now (a mix between a powerlifter and a bodybuilder) I feel like my fitness mindset and focus is based upon building a well-rounded and functional physique. It’s more than just what I look like. I want to be able to move well, have a strong body that can push big weights, but also be explosive with heavy Kettlebell swings and be able to perform pushups with grace and ease. Although I did have a lot of trial and error in my past fitness journey, it’s all lead me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change anything.
What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?
The ultimate driving force for my most recent fitness journey was my body composition. For years I had been resistance training and what I deemed to be ‘eating clean’ yet wasn’t really seeing much change in my body. I always felt a little soft and was missing desired muscle definition that I knew I should have had. When I went for my very first session in the Bod Pod (which is an air displacement measurement system) I was extremely shocked to know that my body was 30% fat (and that’s a lot for my body!) That was by no means acceptable for myself, and that was Day 1 of change (May 1, 2015)
How has fitness impacted your life?
In the last three years I have lost and gained weight; both muscle and fat. I have made incredible strength gains and lost them as well, and then rebuilt them again. I have learned that progress isn’t linear and being fixated on the scale weight is only going to cause unnecessary stress. No one cares what your weight is; having abs doesn’t make you a better human and being able to squat 2x your body weight won’t make you more likeable. I have learned that strength training is important for healthy body composition, but what’s more important is loving what you do. I know just how empowering the feeling of being strong in the gym can be, but nothing is more empowering than being able to love your body for all that is has been through and all that it is capable of.
Recently I have been way more flexible with my nutrition as I am at a really balanced point in my life where I don’t need to track every single gram that I consume. I have chosen to partake in new life adventures that make me happier than I have ever been before. I am ok with the scale fluctuating 5lbs throughout the week because I am happy, strong and very healthy. Although I am still focused on powerlifting and have specific performance goals for 2018, I am also very focused on my own wellbeing and having a balance through it all.
Being physically strong is incredibly empowering but being able to wake up each morning being happy and healthy is the best feeling of all. Being mentally strong is about being confident in your abilities and being proud of who you are (not where you are.)
I am so proud to be able to inspire thousands of people with my journey. All my years of failing with fad diets, seeing what works in the gym, and learning from personal experiences, I have learned so much that has allowed me to become the successful woman (and coach) that I am today.
What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?
To someone just starting to improve their overall quality of life through nutrition and exercise, I would always recommend to start small. Start with small changes over time, because those are the ones that are going to be most impactful and you can adhere to. Going all-out on Day 1 is usually grounds for an overload and usually a crash and burn, and we never want that. For example, when I begin guided programming with clients, we take their current nutrition plan (or what they usually eat on a regular basis) and make small modifications to a few different things. Keeping it simple and sticking to things that the beginner likes will make the changes much more appealing and likely to stick to in the long term. I always say that nutrition is going to trump training when it comes to starting and trying to make a change. The workouts are the easy part, it’s the nutrition that’s crucial for any success. What we put into our bodies is what we can expect to get out of it. To me, it’s not 80% nutrition and 20% training; it’s 100% of each. You need to commit your entirety into your nutrition and training. So even if you only go for a 10 minute walk at the end of the day, don’t only do 9 minutes. Do the whole 10, do the 100%. Commit and follow through.
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