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T H E E D M O N T O N S U N • T h urs d a y , A p r il 1 3 , 2006
House Works: Cut the Clutter, Speed Your Cleaning and Calm the Chaos, by Cynthia Townley Ewer (DK, $22). Isn’t writing a book about house cleaning the ultimate in procrastination? With today’s Martha Stewart make-over culture and our obsession with self-improvement, it’s hardly surprising. The story behind the author’s plight to combat clutter is actually quite funny. In 1983, her house was broken into. When the police arrived, they marvelled at how the upstairs had been completely ransacked. But to Ewer’s horror, the space was exactly as she’d left it. She set out on a mission to learn how to organize her household, which led to a website – organizedhome.com – and this book full of techniques and photos to help even the worst packrat banish clutter once and for all. ••• Surprise Child: Finding Hope in Unexpected Pregnancy, by Leslie Leyland Fields (Waterbrook Press, $16.99). This mother of six endured the anger, denial and grief of two unplanned pregnancies in her 40s despite using contraception. Feeling isolated and guilty about her negative emotions, she decided to trust in God and search for joy in her situation. She wrote this book about her journey to reach out to other women – newly married, never married, the emptynester, the teenager, the overworked mother, the career women – whose lives have been turned upside-down by an unwanted pregnancy. ••• Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie, by Gail Saltz (Random House, $29.95). This psychoanalyst explores the fascinating p sy c hologi ca l profiles of people who live secret lives – the travelling businessman who brings prostitutes back to his hotel room, the wealthy woman who is arrested for shoplifting, the seemingly happily married man who cruises gay clubs. She examines the psychological risks involved for both the secret-keeper and those – JENNIFER PARKS close to him or her. arb Herbert is a bronzed bodybuilder who doesn’t fret about CARY CASTAGNA stepping onstage in a postage stamp-sized swimsuit. In fact, she relishes the opportunity. But you can hardly blame her because she says not too long ago she was a marshmallowy channel-surfer who shamefully tried to hide her flab under baggy sweatshirts and soothe her sagging selfesteem with calorie-laden comfort foods. “All you want to do is hide,” the 38-year-old Edmontonian recalls. “Your main goal in life is to hide and eat, basically. And it’s a vicious circle.” Herbert can laugh about it now. She chuckles while admitting, “I know what it feels like when on a day it’s 35-above to be wearing a black sweatsuit.” She wasn’t laughing, however, back in 2002, when she hit a personal high of 251 pounds at five-foot-six. And she wasn’t laughing on the occasions when she was mistaken for being pregnant or when a child innocently wondered aloud why she was so fat. “You couldn’t really be mad at people because they weren’t doing it to be mean,” she says in hindsight. “They honestly thought I was pregnant. Or little kids honestly wanted to know, ‘Why are you so fat?’ ” Besides the burdensome emotional pain, there was also the constant physical pain. Herbert remembers her legs and knees aching so bad when she walked for any prolonged period of time that she says it felt like she had been whacked with a nine-iron. Herbert eventually hit her breaking point. “I just got sick of feeling bad and looking bad,” she says. Her amazing metamorphosis began about four years ago, when she was living in Ontario. The first thing she did was join Weight Watchers. Within two years, she dropped more than 100 pounds. “It taught me portion control,” she explains. “It taught me to control myself, that you can’t just eat whatever you want, whenever you want and whatever amount you want.” Although she cut her weight to 150 pounds – making her half the woman she once was, Herbert still wasn’t satisfied with how she looked. “I didn’t look vital and healthy. I looked sickly and scrawny,” she recalls, adding she also quit smoking a short time later in August 2004, curtailing her pack-and-ahalf-a-day habit through “sheer willpower and sugar-free candy by the bagful.” It was around that time
Went from couch potato to bodybuilder
that Herbert moved to Edmonton to work for an engineering firm as a cartographic specialist. Not long after, she signed up at Club Fit because she was having trouble maintaining her weight loss. That September, Herbert befriended personal trainer Allen Shaw, who introduced her to bodybuilding. While falling in love with the iron game, Herbert made immediate progress. And three months later, Shaw helped her begin preparing for her first competition – the 2005 Northern Alberta Bodybuilding Championships that June in Red Deer. At a lean 125 pounds, Herbert placed just out of the top 10 in the middleweight class. This June, she’s determined to finish in the top five in the heavyweight division of the entry-level contest and qualify for provincials. Herbert, who’s married with no kids, is already in the midst of her contest prep, ingesting a diet that includes turkey and chicken breasts, potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal and all the veggies she can stomach. Once a chubby kid while growing up in Montmartre, Sask., southeast of Regina, these days Herbert eats seven small meals a day – roughly once every two hours. With her bodybuilding competition less than two months away, Herbert is hitting the gym up to three times a day, seven days a week. Two of her daily workouts are hour-long sessions on the treadmill or cross-trainer. The other workout is 60-90 minutes of pumping iron. Part of what drives Herbert is the fear of returning to her former fat self. She also admits she’s addicted to feeling good. “I don’t think people realize how good they can feel, how good it’s possible for them to feel, and not only physically, but what it does for you mentally,” she says, adding the sense of accomplishment she’s attained from shaping up extends to other facets of her life. “Once you’ve done this, you feel like there’s nothing you can’t do.”
Do you have an inspirational story for Keeping Fit? E-mail Cary Castagna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Supplied photos
Barb Herbert has transformed