Sunday, November 29, 2009


Pictured: Tammy Coles, Sarah Frankel, Krista Schaus, Susan Abbott receive 2009 Ontario Best Team Trophy from Ontario Powerlifting Association Representative Barry Antoniow

The Defining Strength team, coached by Krista Schaus and assisted by Jayne Boer, represented very well this past weekend in Ottawa at the Last Chance Open - appropriately named as it was lifter's last opportunity to qualify for Provincials on January 23rd in St. Catharine's and Nationals in Montreal (April 2010) beyond that.

All three lifters were novices to powerlifting which involves a combined best total of 3 single repetition (1RM) attempts in the squat, bench press and deadlift (in that order).

Supportive and assistance gear is allowed such as belts, knee and wrist wraps, tight fighting suits in the squat and deadlift (which look like wrestling singlets) and bench press shirts.

The Defining Strength team for this contest consisted of:

* Mary Lupton (Master 2 class)
* Sonja Bedic (Open class)
* Ashley Werner (Junior class)

All three lifters had personal bests (PB) out of the deadlift and Sonja also a PB in the squat. At a lifter's first contest, there can be quite a bit of discrepancies between gym or training lifts and contest lifts due to "novice nerves", possible weight loss to make a weight class, changes in nutrition and hydration levels, change of environment and the distractions associated to warming up with other lifters and the commotion of the crowd, equipmenet checks and the pressure of being judged. Many technicalities will emerge that the lifter may not have experienced or the coach may not have observed in training.

In powerlifting there are many reasons a lift can not pass regardless of whether the lifter actually lifted the weight or not. A few examples - insufficient depth in the squat, not fully locking out the knees or elbows at the start or completion of the lifts, not listening to lifting commands such as "start" or "rack", a foot moving during the squat or deadlift, or heels, butt or head coming off during the bench press.

The Defining Strength team handled the multiple physical and mental pressures of their first competition exceedingly well. Coach Schause stated she "was proud to have been a part of their accomplishments thus far and look forward to the progress they are certain to make in the coming months and years".


All 3 lifters lift with only belts and wraps in the squat, belt in the deadlift with the exception of Sonja who uses a squat suit.

Mary Lupton - 90+ kg - 77.5 kg squat, 40 kg bench, 107.5 kg deadlift for a total of nearly 500 lbs (225 kg)! Mary will very soon be an M3 Class* lifter (age 60 plus) which is an inspiring feat in itself, to be pushing the body to maximum strength while others may be experiencing physical decline.

Mary has plenty more strength in all three lifts however, a few minor technicalities in the squat and bench press saw her short of her goals in those lifts. But she made up for in the deadlift by easily pulling 15 lbs more than originally planned. Mary is certain to pull 250 to 300 lbs in her next open contest Spring 2010. Mary is looking long term towards Worlds 2011 that will be hosted by Niagara Powerlifting.

Sonja Bedic - 75 kg - 120 kg squat, 47.5 kg bench, 125 kg deadlift for a qualifying (Class III) total of 292.5 kg (she needed 282.5 kg to qualify for provincials). She went 3 for 3 in the squats (successful on all 3 of her attempts) got her off to a confident start. Shoulder dysfunction late in her contest training meant Sonja would not be bringing any PB's to the lifting platform in the bench press.

The goal was to get a decent bench press in to stay in the game. If a lifter fails one of the 3 lifts, they are disqualified from the competition. So getting a good opening attempt in is of vital important. Openers (1st attempts) should be relatively easy to avoid "bombing" (disqualification).

She easily pulled her 125 kg 3rd attempt deadlift - evidence that for provincials she will be planning on another deadlift personal best. I am setting a 140 kg goal for provincials in the deadlift (308 lbs).

Ashely Werner - 67.5 kg - 107.5 kg squat, 65 kg bench, 120 kg deadlift for a 292.5 kg total putting her well above her qualifying requirements of 262.5 kg. Ashely weighed in light in her weight class - 62.5 kg meaning she had to lift against heavier (and more geared and experienced lifters). It is fair to say that most of her lifts were easy from an untapped strength standpoint. She has much more strength to reveal due in part to her combined wrestling, rowing and fitness background. With further refining and training time, we could see her on the World platform as soon as 2010 in her last year as a Junior lifter. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we look forward to her continued success on the platform at Provincials and Nationals later this year.

The Defining Strength team will get right back into training as Provincials are just 7 weeks again - November 23rd in St. Catharine's.

Tammy Coles of Calendoia, and coach Krista Schaus also qualified for Nationals at Provincials earlier this year where Schaus took home Ontario's Best Female Lifter award, a bench press and deadlift record and the Defining Strength team won Best Team Trophy. This was the first time in Canadian Powerlifting hostiry that an all female team won the Team Trophy. For full results on that qualifying competition visit.

As the powerlifting 2009 season closes, Coach Krista Schaus also would like to extend honorable metions to team members Carol Brady of Caledonia (M2 lifter) and Jayne Boer (M1 lifter) who also lifted in their first powerlifting events in 2009. In addition to impressive lifting, both Carol and Jayne have also been an essential part of the team helping with organizing, coaching and logistics.

Additionally, Susan Abbott of Hagersville is co-coach of Defining Strength. The accomplishments of her athletes this year - Lisa Nigh, Anita Santos, Krista Miller and Natasha Farrell - has helped the team see its best competitive year to date.

Sarah Frankel of Toronto, one of Ontario's best female lifters, was also a Defining Strength team member in 2009 and has been organizing a Toronto Powerlifting team for launch 2010.

* There are both age divisions (Junior, Open, Master 1, 2, 3...) and there are classes for qualifying totals or caliber of lifting (Class IIII, III, II, I, Mater and Elite). Women's qualifying standard for Provincials and Nationals is a minimum of a Class III total (exception: Sub Junior and Master III = "previous experience only"). For details on age classes and qualifying standards click here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Free Health & Wellness Classes with Dr. Oz!

I have been "in class" the past few days but not at a school or even online.

There's not too many TV shows that I can watch the days and be able to learn valuable new health information every day. But someone is my new favorite teacher - Dr. Oz.

If you are a health, wellness and fitness nut like I am, he's likely your favorite prof these days also.

His show is a wealth of knowledge and applicable information and well overdue in the television industry.

So what have I been noting lately:

1) 2 NEW Signs of Hypothyroidism (low functioning thyroid) that I was unaware of:

- slow reflex at the knee joint (slow eccentric or return of the leg to starting position to be exact)
- eyebrow hair loss or shortened eyebrows at the end

How many shows can you take notes during every episode?

Plus one I was reminded of:

- chronic constipation

2) Cancer and cell phone radiation.

(from November 16th episode)

For more information on signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism.

They are discovering a possible link between cell phone use and brain tumors. How can you protect yourself? Top 5 tips from The Dr. Oz show November 17th:

- Hold the cell phone away from your ear. The further away the less the risk. You can minimize your risk by 1000 to 10,000 times by holding the cell phone away and using the speaker option.
- Use head sets / speaker on wires for the same reason - it keeps the cell phone away from the head
- Do not carry it on the hip or in the pocket (while it's on) unless you want to also increase your risk of testicular or ovarian cancers or of other reproductive problems such as reduced sperm count in men.
- Turn the cell phone off when carrying on your body whenever possible.
- Carry it in your purse, briefcase or duffle bag rather than on your person.

It apparently takes up to 40 years for exposure negative impacts (such as brain tumors) to appear, so more evidence of this growing problem will likely surface in our CHILDREN so start educating them now.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Harvest of Haldimand

I was very pleased to find the Harvest of Haldimand Guide at my local library last week.

The guide provides listings and contact information for local farms and restaurants that support local food.

About a year ago I had a conversation with an aestetician at a local spa that it would be great if we had a booklet or online resources to get local foods. This came about as we were talking about the benefits of the 100-Mile Diet concept. We went as far as to brainstorm about how to put such a thing together.

Well I pretty much forgot all about it until I saw my vision in real life. Ok, I didn`t do anything but dream it up. But clearly someone else had too - Haldimand County to be exact. Well done Haldimand County! And also accolades goes out to all our local producers, suppliers and supporters of the local food movement.

You can visit online at or find your guide at many establishments throughout Haldimand County such as:

Haldimand County offices
The Sachem
The Haldimand Press
Regional News This Week
Library Branches

Most importantly start supporting and visiting our local farmers, providers of agri-tainment and restaurants that support local farming.

Some of my personal favorites:

Twisted Lemon Restaurant at 3 Norton Street Cayuga - you must try their grilled vegetable and goat cheese salad. Their desserts are also to die for. Learn more about their menu and events. They will make you re-define dining as their motto suggests.

Flyer`s Cafe at 144 Queen Street Dunnville. Flyer`s has an exquisite bakery selection of fresh breads and pies. What makes them extra cool is that they are huge supporters of the arts bringing in local and international talent for your enjoyment at a very affordable price. Enjoy the food, the sounds, the environment and often the art exhibits on display.

Muddy Lane Maple Syrup at 4516 Rainham Road, Selkirk - Make sure to mark your calendar for their annual maple syrup festival (end of March or early April) where you can sample and purchase local maple syrup, take a ride through the sugar bush on horse and cart wit the kids and enjoy the local beauty.

Richardson`s Corn Maze & Farm Market at 131 River Road Dunnville. will provide you with seasonal hours so you can plan your trip to experience the best that our community has to offer from the pumpkin patch or corn maze to local berries, corn, jams and maple syrup.

The Potting Shed at 44 Haldimand Road 17 Dunnville. You will not regret visiting this award winning garden center. You can go as far as choosing your own variety of hostas. They make a very special and long lasting gift for special occasions. Let the bride or groom name their own hosta variation. Truly one of a kind. They also have an amazing selection of ornamental grasses. Learn more at

So again thank you Haldimand County and sponsors of the Harvests of Haldimand Guide. You saved me work - and honestly I would not have done nearly as good of a job!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jeff King... No Excuses

Originally appeared at on November 26, 2006


We're all human, and sometimes we lose that motivation, even if it's just a little loss, we can always use some motivation.

Then, someone like Jeff King sends over an e mail and it sends a bolt of lighting through my veins.

Read below to see who Jeff King is, and what this Gladiator is all about!

I was born in 1973 with mild cerebral palsy. Compared to others affected by wheelchair confinement, I have only slight hip unevenness and a lesser sense of hand-eye coordination.

In high school, I began lifting weights at a local gym. I started out as a typical 98-pound weakling, but after a while I grew confident enough to wrestle and arm wrestle. In college, I discovered an official arm-wrestling tournament at a sports bar and won my first match. I soon joined a competitive circuit, and in 1996 I won the Ontario (Canada) Provincials at 180 pounds. In 1998, I placed third at the Canadian Championships--all this against "normal," able-bodied opponents.

Jeff's Message: Today, after a few brief comebacks and retirements, I coach arm wrestlers out of my home, and they've encouraged me to return to full-time competition. The most notable and recent win of my 11-year career was in the 198-pound left-hand class at the biggest pro tournament in Canada on March 27. (I can only arm wrestle left-handed because of my cerebral palsy.)

At the time of this writing, I am undefeated in 2004. I'm also finishing up my personal-trainer certification and will be testing for my black belt in the art of aikido after nine years of study.

Yes, times are tough, but, if you're half as tough as Jeff King, you'll kick those "times" in the ass!

BIG Thanks to Jeff King for the motivation and inspiration!

Jeff will be guest speaker / coach on November 20th at Everest College for a presentation on working with athletes / clients with disabilities, training modifications and also an introduction to the odd lifts.

I am also looking forward to working with Jeff more in the future when his new home gym opens up in the new year in Hamilton.

Do you know your blood type?

A, O, AB, B, RH-... so many options!

"I think I am an A, but not sure."

"My Mom is an O so I must be."

"I am pretty sure I am the rare one."

Blood type is not something you want to apply guess work to. For medical purposes, there must be certainty and if you don't know or that information is not available when you have a medical emergency, extra (and potentially valuable time) must be taken in order to find out.

It's primarily important to know for:

* medical emergency care
* family health history
* treatment for some conditions
* prenatal care
* family planning

It is also beneficial to know for individualization in diet, (such as Eat Right for Your Blood Type) but not essential.

Eating According to Blood Type

There are many people who make the decision to eat in order to please their blood type. Certain blood types may be more prone to certain health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. Eating certain foods can help you prevent these health problems from affecting you. People with certain blood types may also become more satisfied by eating certain foods. Although some blood types should remain vegetarian, there are others which should avoid eating carbohydrates, for the most part. You may be able to live longer and feel healthier when you make the decision to go on a diet that is designed solely for your blood type.

The Evolutionary Story

•Type O – The oldest and most basic blood type, the survivor at the top of the food chain, with a strong and ornery immune system willing to and capable of destroying anyone, friend, or foe.

•Type A – The first immigrants, forced by the necessity of migration to adapt to a more agrarian diet and lifestyle, had a more cooperative personality to get along in crowded communities.

•Type B – The assimilator, adapting to new climates and the mingling of populations who represented nature’s quest for a more balanced force between the tensions of the mind and the demands of the immune system.

•Type AB – The delicate offspring of a rare merger between the tolerant Type A and the formerly barbaric but more balanced Type B.

It's not always easy to find out, but here are some avenues to pursue to find out:

Home Blood Type Test Kits at an affordable price. However my experience has taught me that many people buy home kits for blood type, hormone profiles, but do not use them and may not use them properly. This may be a good option if you want to know for dietary purposes but not for medical purposes. It is subject to error.

Your Doctor - Many people think ask or call their doctor's office or ask their doctor but are often surprised to discover that information is not in their file. Some people have reported that the information has been withheld from them if the doctor or staff beleives that you are asking for dietary purposes only. If you were born at the same hospital / medical centre where your family doctor is operating, you may have it in your file. If you have a history of fad dieting, yo yoing with your weight or symptoms of disordered behavior (as it relates to diet / exercise) then your doctor is doing his or her job by not giving you that information without asking further questions. However, you ARE entitled to know about your body.

Baby Book or Hosptical Birth Card - My parents kept everything from greeting cards to hospital birth card and my blood type was listed in my baby book. Not everyone had parent's who were scrapbooking fenatics or hoarders. But worth looking into.

Blood Donor Card - If you have ever given blood it is listed in the bottom corner of your blood donor card from Canadian Blood Services. This is a great reason to give blood also - you benefit from the information and someone else benefits from the gift of life. Check your community listings or search the internet for clinics coming up in your area.

Blood Test Clinics - This is not common, but they are starting to pop up. Due to a more integrated approach to health care, health promotion and preventative or proactive strategies, community blood testing clinics are popping up. They will even advertise them by mentioning benefits for knowing your blood type such as health benefits and personal dietary interests. That's progress!

Dunnville War Memorial Hospital is holding a Blood Test Clinic on Friday November 13th.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Healthy Contest Prep – An Oxymoron?

Originally published at

Maybe you’re one of them? Maybe you’ve considered finding a coach and stepping on the competitive stage as a bodybuilder, fitness competitor, or figure model? Maybe you’ve considered a powerlifting contest. Or maybe you’ve considered running a marathon.

And maybe you think these are “healthy” things to do. Well, if so, there’s some stuff you need to know.

So pull up a chair and listen closely as natural bodybuilder, drug-free powerlifter, and Lean Eating Coach, Krista Schaus mentors you toward a healthy understanding of the competitive process.


Extreme Competition Unhealthy?

Men and women come to me from far and wide to get advice on how to get to the competitive stage in a “healthy” or “balanced” way. You see, that’s sorta become my thing. Yes, I’ve paid my dues as a high performance coach. And as competitive strength and physique athlete.

But I’ve also spent a lot of time learning about health and physiological function from some of the best in the business – like Charles Poliquin, Dr Berardi, and more. And I’ve made it my mission to help people find a way to balance out the two. To get maximally strong for power lifting, to get maximally lean for physique competition, to get maximally fit for running, while also protecting the body from injury.

Coach Krista - A Strong, Lean, And Fit Woman

Now, it might not seem self evident – at first – that these “extreme” activities like physique competition or marathon running are unhealthy. And it’s for this reason that most people see them the logical end to some otherwise healthy activity like lifting weights or jogging.

Yet, if you think about it, there’s nothing all that natural or healthy about running to the point that you can’t walk for 2 days after, or about dieting down to abnormally low body fat levels.

Getting Super-Lean and Managing Imbalances

For example, younger females typically carry around about 25-30% body fat; older women about 30 to 35%. And younger males typically carry around about 12-17% body fat; older males about 15-20% body fat.

So, attaining the body fat levels of a bikini model (12-15%) or a bodybuilder (5%) means struggling against millions of years of evolution. And the high volumes of training, coupled with the low quantities of food necessary to attain this level of leanness, are very stressful. Especially if the negative energy balance isn’t managed correctly!

The same is true with long distance running. Logging all those miles creates the same type of negative energy balance.

It’s for this reason that musculoskeletal injuries are common during pre-contest/pre-competition periods. As are hormonal problems like adrenal burnout, sex hormone depression, and much more.

I’ve seen so many folks come to me having prepared badly in the past due to due to lack of information or misinformation. They’ve damaged their metabolisms, hormonal systems, digestive health, sleep rhythms, their body images, and their relationships with food. It’s sad actually.

But don’t think that just because some people prepare for contests badly, it’s impossible to prepare well. After all, these problems are totally manageable. And that’s what I do. I enter into every contest preparation period with the idea that competing is never healthy. And then I do my best to manage the imbalances and unhealthy nature of competing.

Is Competing Beneficial?

Ok, so there are some risks with competing. But there must be some benefits, right? Well, that’s an important question. And the answer depends on you. In some cases, competing is totally beneficial. In other cases, it’s a bad idea.

Some of the most significant physical and personal growth myself and my clients have experienced has come from pushing beyond our comfort levels and beyond what we thought was possible. From challenge comes growth.

Indeed, everyone at some point in their lives…or many times… should find their equivalent of preparing and training for “the stage”.

Coach Krista in Bodybuilding Shape

But not everyone needs to choose this particular vehicle to expand their horizons and excel at a higher level. There are many vehicles for growth and various opportunities to challenge yourself. Physique contests, endurance events (triathlons, marathons) or strength/power events (powerlifting, olympic lifting) are just some examples of how you can prepare, push and peak.

But each of these examples involves risk, commitment, sacrifice and yes, degrees of imbalance.

And sometimes what we get in the end is very different than what we expected. Some see competing as the ultimate end point – only to discover it is just the beginning. There is no “end”. You just set your sights higher or focus your attention to different things and see things differently than you did before.

One of my favorite songs from the musical Wicked is “For Good.” And one of my favorite lines is: “I don’t know if I have been changed for the better, but I have been changed for good.”
This goes for competing. It will change you – whether it is a positive change is another question. And only you can decide the answer to this one too.

But, whatever you decide to do and however you decided to push yourself, you must educate yourself and be prepared for the good, the bad and the ugly. Plus, expect the unexpected. And get rid of any fantasy now that it is healthy, normal or easy.

A New Fitness Goal: Always Be 3-6 Weeks Away
Let me be really honest about something here. There are some folks who have an advantage when it comes to physique sports. Indeed, those who find getting ready for physique contests easy are those that are naturally very lean; those that walk around with a near contest-body year-round. In essence, they’re 3-6 weeks from being ready for a contest year-round.

Personally, that’s exactly what I aspire toward. Indeed, my goal has always been to be a well-rounded representative of what I value most – strength, leanness, health and fitness. What that means in concrete terms is that I want to be able to participate in or compete in anything health and fitness related at almost any time.

If I want to step onto a lifting platform – I’m only 3-6 weeks of training away
If I want to step on the stage – I’m only 3-6 weeks of training (& dieting) away
If I want to enter a CrossFit challenge – I’m only 3-6 weeks of training away
If I want to participate in a team sport – I’m only 3-6 weeks of training away.
Maybe this is really what most people in the health and fitness world aspire toward. Maybe it’s not the contest per se that people find most important. Maybe it’s being strong, athletic, and lean enough to compete in any number of activities with only a little preparation.

Now, beyond the comfort (and ego boost) of knowing that you’re fit enough to participate in most sports at any time, there’s another huge benefit of always training for physical preparedness. When you’re training year-round and staying “3-6 weeks away,” your preparation phase is much less stressful on the body.

Think about it, if you only have 10-15lbs to lose for a competition it takes much less time (and much less of a huge lifestyle overhaul) than if you have to lose 30-40lbs for that competition. The negative energy balance doesn’t have to be as great. So, you can keep eating lots of nutrient rich foods while simply cleaning up the diet and ramping up the exercise program.

Health, Body Comp, and Food

Now, I’m not perfect. I have lost my period in the past during training. And I have battled overeating after a long period of contest preparation. But I learned from my mistakes. And I have a good system in place now.

First, I make sure that I pick my battles very carefully. For example, there are quite a few events I’d love to compete in each year. However, I have to prioritize the most important ones. If I try to do too many, or if I try to do an event if I’m feeling too burnt out from other work and life responsibilities, the mix will definitely kick me out of balance. So I’ve learned to just say no.

Second, I make sure that I always have a food plan in place for the “off-season,” for my “contest prep,” and for immediately after my contests. There’s rarely a time where I just “wing it.” Because winging it can get dicey. A little extra turns into a lot extra. And before you know it, you’re binging and out of control

PN – It’s My Secret Weapon

The best thing I’ve found for keeping me on track year-round; for both helping me maintain my off-season leanness and helping me avoid the post-contest rebound is Precision Nutrition.

No, that’s not me “selling out.” It’s me sharing my truth, based on my own experience and the experience of the competitors I’ve worked with.

PN V3 - Build The Body You Want

We’ve done intuitive eating, carb cycling, macro counting, quasi fasting, cheat meals, vegetarian fare, detoxes… and more. And PN has worked the best for the following reasons:

There’s a support system for you
Individualization is built in
There’s no counting calories, grams or weighing foods unless you need some troubleshooting
Improved body composition and health is the strategic outcome
I use PN year-round with some small tweaks and individualization changes as a contest approaches. My clients and athletes do the same.

The Wrap-Up

In the end, it seems to me that a lot of gym folks treat physique competition like recreational runners treat their local marathon. It becomes a holy grail of sorts.

In establishing this milestone goal, they forget that before rushing headlong into such an event, there’s some stuff to do. Some self-exploration is required. Some expert advice is to be sought out. And some serious sacrifices have to be made along the way.

So if you’re thinking about competing in your first physique contest – or your first powerlifting meet – or your first marathon, we here at PN encourage you to “just do it.” One caveat, though. Do it right!