Gluten Free Fitness

The tale of the clear heels: The gluten free princess takes the stage

The tale of the clear heels: The gluten free princess takes the stage


I’ve been a little absent this week.

As some of you know, I had a date to be on a stage with a fake tan and wearing clear heels yesterday.

Get your mind out of the gutter πŸ˜‰

Yesterday I competed in a figure competition-kind of a fitness modelly type of competition that requires a bit of muscle and a good amount of leanness to show that muscularity. The fake tan is so the muscle shows under the bright stage lights. I’ve been preparing for about 3 months specifically getting lean enough and training. Although I always train and try to eat well, getting to this level of leanness is a whole different ballgame.

It’s quite a journey, but it also is very rewarding to be able to achieve those goals.

But there is a point here, dear reader. Promise.

It’s been a convoluted road in coming to this particular goal. When I was growing up, I was a competitive equestrian. That ended when I went to PT school. In PT school, as a poor student I fulfilled my need to achieve a physical goal with starting to lift weights and running. Throughout this I was beginning to have my knee problems, and the running went away, and more knee surgeries came. So time to readjust the goals. I changed from a saddle for a horse, to a saddle on a road bike. I started training in cycling, and did some long distance charity events. Then more knee surgeries. After my second to last knee surgery I learned about the sport of figure. I had seen the magazine Oxygen, and loved the strong but feminine look. I immersed myself in learning more about the proper method for training with weights and optimizing my cardiovascular training. In 2006 I was lucky enough to find an incredibly helpful and knowledgeable coach who could help me with getting into competition shape, and did my first figure show. (Yes, I have the diet and training knowledge, but it’s very hard to be objective when looking at your own physique-especially when you are dieting. Someone once said “The person who trains themselves has a fool for a client” and I agree with that.)

Seeing the changes in my body was incredibly empowering. I felt strong, and was physically stronger.

Throughout all this though, my knees were getting worse. In April of 2007 I underwent my last surgery, which was a complicated procedure. It involved being in the hospital for a week, a wheelchair and braces on both legs for two months, and then crutches and braces for another two months. I was completely physically dependent. I needed assistance to get from the wheelchair into bed. I was in machines which moved my legs passively for 8 hours a day, because to protect the surgery I was not allowed to move my knees on my own for several weeks. I had machines that circulated ice water around my legs for most of the day, including night time. I slept in our guest room with all these machines. I had to rely on my fiance (boyfriend at the time) for everything. Everything. I couldn’t reach into cabinets, open a door, nothing.

Going from an independent, strong person to being completely dependent sure does kick you in the ass.

I had a choice. I could whine, (and I did sometimes) or I could suck it up, do the work, and get back to being me. So I did. I did the incredibly tedious 8 hours a day in the machines, I did all the rehab exercises, I got in the pool when I was allowed, I progressed slowly. I went back in the gym when I was still on crutches to start training upper body. I looked at my legs-two sticks of mush and scars, with no muscle at all. And I decided I would make it back to a figure stage one day.

It was a long road, but 18 months after my surgery I stepped back onto a figure stage, 5″ clear heels and all. My legs were still underdeveloped, and I had problems going down the stairs from the stage, but I did it. I proved it to myself. I’ve continued to rebuild, and yesterday marked exactly 3 years since my surgery. I stepped onstage, presented the best physique I’ve had to date, and placed second.

It’s not about the placing. It’s not about the trophy. (It’s nice, don’t get me wrong.)

What it is about is having a goal, working like hell to reach that goal and not giving yourself room for any excuses.

Anyone can do this. I am not special.

It may be running a marathon, it may be running a block. It may be improving your cholesterol in order to be able to stop taking medication. It may be lowering your blood pressure. Maybe it’s fitting into your clothes better. Maybe it’s the ability to go up stairs without getting winded. Maybe it’s setting a good example for your kids. Maybe it’s helping your kids to be more healthy. Maybe it’s carrying groceries more easily. It doesn’t matter.

Just pick something. Something objective, measurable. Give yourself a time frame, and stick to it. No excuses, no slacking. You can totally do this.

What’s your goal?

Give me your goals. Put it out there, and make it real. Commit.

One person who leaves a comment below with their goal will be randomly selected to receive a free copy of Marlisa Brown’s book Gluten-Free, Hassle Free: A Simple, Sane, Dietitian-Approved Program for Eating Your Way Back To Health.

Contest will close at Midnight EST on May 1st, winner will be notified on May 2nd.

18 comments on “The tale of the clear heels: The gluten free princess takes the stage

    • Kim! You’re so close now! 4 hours would be incredible. I’ll be with you in spirit for sure!
      I so appreciate yours, and everyone’s support-it means more than you know.

  1. Wow!! What an inspiration you are!!
    I came across your site just a few days ago as I was despairing over the fact that I will have to live with the GF diet for the rest of my life…
    I am 50lbs overweight at the moment and my goal is to lose them by Christmas! I think that will be the best Christmas present I could give myself and my family.
    Thanks for all the useful info you have here!

    • Hi there! Thanks so much for the kind words-there is inspiration all around us, every day.
      I think you are absolutely correct-losing 50 pounds would be an incredible gift. And as you can see-living gluten free and with celiac disease can be a gift as well.
      Thanks for sharing your story-and keep us posted on your progress toward your goal!

  2. Woo-Hoo Erin!! You look Beautiful and I am so proud of you! πŸ™‚

    Goals, hmmm. Well, I have lost 50 lbs. over the past year (originally packed on during my Grave’s Disease/Thyroid Ablation and Undiagnosed/Untreated Celiac Odyssey. The weight loss stemmed from getting off the GF processed foods (for the most part) and learning to cook better GF meals at home, where I control the ingredients. I also managed to wean off of Diet sodas and am learning to like naturally gluten-free “dirt” flavored veggies like Brussels Sprouts (I am up to eating 4 whole sprouts!:-D ) and the dark leafy greens.

    I walk a lot (there isn’t enough Duck Tape or a sports bra out there that can tame these puppies enough to run without incurring a black eye!). I would love to hike to the top of the Sandia Mountains, maybe that should be my next goal… You and Kim are great inspirations to do better.

    • Heidi! 50 pounds! That’s awesome! You are living proof that is possible to live well and healthfully gluten free, and lose any unwanted weight that may have come on with the celiac health issues-and you know I’m with ya 100% on controlling the ingredients and quality of what composes your food. LOL @ “dirt” flavored veggies!
      And we need to keep your eyes intact-hiking is awesome and one of my favorite things to do when we travel. (Not much hiking here in completely flat South Florida!)
      I think hiking to the top of the mountains is an awesome goal-measurable and attainable. So what’s your timeframe so we can hold you to it? πŸ˜‰
      I expect a photo from that summit!
      And thank you for your compliments-we all inspire each other, and we all have amazing talents to add to our little community.

  3. What a fantastically inspirational post! I have 3 goals for the year. The first is to complete a half-marathon in October, which I signed up for in a moment of madness… Second, to get considerably (say, 5″) smaller around the middle. I have learned, to my utter bemusement, that weight loss and inch loss don’t seem to go together with me, so just…to be smaller, would be good! Third, to be able to squat my bodyweight by the end of the year (whether that’s by getting lighter, or lifting heavier, I don’t mind XD).

    Congratulations on your placing, and on looking just fantastic!

    • Hey Katy!
      Awesome goals! I very much admire your half marathon goal-that would totally be madness for me! And yes-weight (scale) and measurements do not correlate all the time-smaller is by far the more important measure of success. And YAY on the squatting goal! I’m rooting for you! Keep us posted on how you make out.
      And thank you very much for the kind words. Constant improvement is the goal πŸ™‚

  4. You are a humble one Erin. I actually do think that you are special. The kind of discipline and determination to do what you have done while patiently facing down the kinds of obstacles you have is neither common nor run of the mill.
    You are definitely an inspiration. I have been having a great deal of difficulty recovering from foot surgety and maintaining a decent level of fitness, but my issues pale in comparison to what you have endured. It helps me to be reminded that it could not only be worse, but you have faced worst and still claimed the victory. Thank youso much for sharing!

    • Monica, you are so kind πŸ™‚ Thank you very much.
      I guess the point is that we all have our own obstacles and struggles-the important thing is to not let these derail you from sticking to your guns and achieving your goals.
      Best wishes with your foot-this too will pass!

  5. YES! Amazing discipline. I had the discipline to starve myself but I’m not sure I could find the balance to do something like this. You’ve inspired me though and I’ve set myself a goal of achieving 6 pack abs. My back, shoulders and arms are pretty well defined and I have the top part of my abs. It’s the rest that need some work. So thanks for the challenge and continued inspiration.

    • Anna! You could totally do it if you chose to. Discipline is simply a habit that moves you toward a goal. Seeing the top 2 abs is awesome! Keep in mind that this level of conditioning is for a competition-not maintainable to walk around like that 365 days. So now I’m dealing with seeing a layer of water blurring the definition, and will regain about 6 pounds of fat over the next couple months. And I expect that, and while it’s not totally easy, I know it’s necessary for health. Then when I want to I’ll bring it back down again. Bodies need time to regenerate and rest, as hard as it can be mentally to be OK with those changes.
      So reach your goal and your challenge-and then be gentle, back off a bit, reassess, and then hit a new goal πŸ™‚
      I think we need to start an accountability section on the Facebook page for these goals!

  6. You looked great Erin! Congrats on your strong finish in Figure! I’m looking forward to my upcoming Duathlon, plan some charity rides on the bike (not brave enough for Criterium yet), and will probably have to dust off my heels for October. Still loving the website and all the things you post!

    • Hey Kelly! I was just thinking of you the other day. Glad to hear you are well. I did a couple of crits back in my riding days-and have a nice couple inch scar above my right eye to prove it πŸ˜‰
      Good luck on the Duathalon girl! I can’t run unless I’m being chased….
      Keep me posted on the October show! I think I’ll do one more in September or early October.

  7. I would like to be fit enough to walk around Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis with my dog. I’ve been struggling with asthma and allergies that have had an impact on my breathing. I’m hoping that going GF will help.

    • Awesome goal! You guys seriously rock. These are kick ass goals. I have to say “please check with your doctor regarding your allergies and getting tested for celiac” but regardless-I know many have seen an improvement with respiratory issues, and I wish the same to you πŸ™‚

  8. Thank you so much to everyone for reading, commenting and sharing your goals πŸ™‚
    The random number generator selected Anna as the winner of the book. Congratulations Anna!

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