My name is Brenda Conrad, I’m Tricia’s cousin. My fitness journey began when I started dating my husband Barry. We have been working out together since we started dating about 25 years ago. He taught me the basics of lifting weights. That is where my passion for body building and healthy living began. Although through the years I’ve discovered many new ways to build muscle and cut fat, I always fall back to free weights at the core.
Prior to having kids, I worked out no less than six days a week. Whether weights, walking or an occasional aerobics class, I thrived on staying fit. My first pregnancy was a huge change for me. Everything I knew had to be adjusted to how my body was growing. Still I managed to work out by adjusting the amount of weight I used and changed up my exercises. Weight lifting is actually a fantastic exercise to help strengthen all the muscles needed for delivery. I was able to bounce back within days to my pre pregnancy weight and I was back at my regular routine within weeks.
I’m no super woman, I get tired, overwhelmed and miss work outs on days that I need to take my kids to their activities. But I’m sure to eat good foods, stretch my body on days I can’t’ get a full workout in and I don’t worry about the days that go by with no work out at all.
I was thrilled when at the age of 5 my son Gage wanted to try karate because it was something I had wanted to do for myself for years. Within 4 months both Barry and I were signed up for 2 nights a week and loving every minute. Now 7 years later, my husband and I are both black belts as well as my son who is currently training for his adult black belt. My daughter is training for her junior black belt. We’ve made it a family affair.
Although I try to maintain fully balanced healthy meals, I also allow myself treats such as cookies and fruit popsicles. I’ve learned its ok to have cookies as long as I’m burning the calories consumed in a well-planned workout schedule. It has been years since I’ve eaten red meat, but I do add an occasional meal of chicken. Mostly I stick to fresh fruit and veggies, but I don’t label my eating habits with names like vegetarian because I don’t follow a specific diet, I just eat what will keep my body healthy and in shape. My eating habits have also evolved as I’ve gotten older because it is true that a body is in constant change.
Currently, I’ve added more weight lifting but on a different level than I had used when I was younger. Higher reps and longer sets have done more for toning & strengthening my muscles. I’ve also just begun to bike ride in preparation for future family bike rides we are planning to start in September now that both kids are seasoned bikers and ready to keep up with us.
Most important on my journey of healthy living has been changing what I do to fit my life. I used to build my life around my workouts. Now my workouts have to compete with gymnastics, school functions, horse lessons as well as family functions. Working out as a family has become a major part of who we are and what we do. The kids are older, less dependent, which makes it so much easier to spend more time dedicated to my own fitness. But nothing could make me happier than working out with them, eating healthy foods with them and spending time exercising with them and being able to show them that even though I’m their mom I’m still capable of doing splits, hand springs and sparring with their dad at karate. We’ve made it a point to spend certain holidays like Mother’s day hiking, biking or doing something that is good for all of us.
There is so much benefit to staying healthy. Feeling better, looking better and wanting to motivate others to do the same is worth every bit of the effort it takes to stay fit. Teaching my kids by example that staying in shape doesn’t stop when you get out of school, or get married, or move on to any mile stone in life. Staying healthy and fit is life.