This interview series is one of the most important thing you can get a hold of, and it's free, so make sure you listen to every single one.

To get more interviews with our contest winners, just go here: Transformation Contests

Have Venus, Will Travel

Summer is here.

In the Northern hemisphere at any rate.

I also think many of our friends down south are planning on a tropical adventure to get away from the cold.  Either way it is time for parties, vacations, skimpy dresses and bikinis.

I am the self proclaimed Queen of travel.

My life revolves around adventures, work trips and catching up with friends and family. This year I will only spend about 6 months at home in Hong Kong. I will have about 4 months of adventures and 2 months of overseas based work.

Nice work if you can get it.

Right now I am writing to you from Port Douglas at the top end of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  I am back in Australia for a couple of weeks – work, family and adventure.

So what happens to the Venus body when travel and life gets in the way?  Why, you take the the Venus Index plan with you.

Have Venus, Will Travel.

This is a snapshot of some of my fun adventures over the past year or so.

On each one of these I took my Venus Index plan with me, I found a gym or I packed resistance bands.

I Just Did It.

No excuses girls!

The funniest was when we were sailing around the South Pacific with my brother and Roly pulled the ab wheel out of his wheelie bag.  Or maybe going to the gym in Egypt during the revolution last year.

1) Owning the Grand Canyon, USA. 2) Heli-skiing in Canada. 3) Camel riding through the Pyramids, Egypt. 4) Hiking the Silk Road, Central Asia. 5) Sailing the South Pacific, Bora Bora. 6) Mountain biking across Jordan, Middle East.

Enough of my holiday pics for now.

Here are some tips on how I keep my Every Day Venus look despite a hectic travel schedule.

Getting Ready

I think most of us want to look our best for vacation.

Especially if bikinis and summery clothes are involved.  I don’t do anything too special other than I lower calories a little and cut starchy carbs for about 2-3 days before leaving.

Just gives a little more definition. I find there is no point doing full cut.  It is too hard to maintain while travelling.

Holidays are for fun not watching every mouthful.

Working Out While Travelling

There are a couple of choices.

You can either time your holiday with a one week workout break, or just take Venus Index plan with you.  I have pretty much always found a gym everywhere in the world.

…And when I did not I took resistance bands. It may not be as good as your gym at home but it is enough.

I find on longer holidays it is possible to lose upper body muscle (and lower if you do not move much).  Roly lost inches from his shoulders while skiing this year by not keeping a little upper body exercise going.

I was ok.

It may be due to my higher muscle maturity, it seem easier to keep muscles you have had for years than new built muscle, but it’s just a theory.

I also walk a lot (or ski, ride or swim) on holidays.  This burns calories.  Just keep moving and it really does help balance out those bigger meals.

Travelling with a Diet

For me travelling and holidays always means food.

New things to taste, meals to socialise with friends and just relaxing the rules.

I use the Anything Goes Diet philosophy to the maximum and if I am not hungry I will miss a meal.

I over eat.

…but not by an insane amount.

I eat enough to make me happy, just watching portions slightly and making some good choices.

I also avoid those big grazing buffets.  Especially the hotel breakfast ones.  I never come back from holiday more than 2lb up.

I also know the foods that bloat me. It is these I limit if I am going to wearing a bikini the next day.

That simple.

But Most of All

Have fun.

Don’t stress it, even if you eat a bit much and don’t workout.

You know what to do when you get home to fix it.

As a final thought this is me in Port Douglas today.

At the gym practicing what I preach.  Also on the beach.  This is after a week eating 2000+ calories per day, when my RMR is about 1250 calories.  Still an Every Day Venus.

1) On the beach after overeating for a week. 2) About to deadlift 180lb at the gym in Port Douglas, Australia

What about you? Do you have some special techniques you use on your holidays to stay bikini ready?

What If You Have Never Lifted Weights, Can You Still Do This?

Today we have an interview with Heidi Fletcher who placed 5th in the Open Level 1 in our latest Venus Index Contest.

Check out her pictures:

Heidi’s after pictures from this Venus Index Contest.

What’s amazing about this transformation is that Heidi didn’t do it alone. She did the contest with her boyfriend Adam, who placed in the latest Adonis Index contest.

Heidi never lifted weights before and she watched Adam when he was following the Adonis Index workouts.

Then finally she decided to jump in and not only do the Venus workouts, but also join the contest as well.

Adam started coaching her on how to lift the weights, how to improve her form and he was encouraging her to challenge herself more with her training.

Starting out, Heidi  wasn’t sure how much to lift for each exercise. She never trained at the gym, prior to Venus, running was her  sole form of cardio training and exercise.

Heidi was always in a pretty good shape, outside of her baby weight, she naturally ate at maintenance and kept her waist line slim.

She never did anything specifically to lose weight, because she never had to.

However, when she saw Adam getting into shape she recalled from her background in the  medical field the many benefits of lifting weights to improve overall health.  More importantly the impact weightlifting had on improving bone density, especially for  women.   This made her even more eager to get started.

Heidi with her boyfriend Adam.

 Heidi mentioned several times what a joy it was to workout with Adam, who operated as her trainer and was able to  coach her on how to lift properly.

He trained her to know what it feels like to  pushing the weights and how to safely challenge herself.

Heidi experienced a different type of exhaustion from lifting weights as opposed to just running.

This provided a learning curve until her body was able to acclimate to the training and she had a better understanding of how to test her limits.

It’s normal if you  experience these similar feelings, because it takes years to know what it takes to be exhausted at each rep range.

Heidi still has some mental barriers like fear of falling over with heavy weights, but this is something that she will overcome with time invested in the Venus workouts.

Weight Lifting Will Not Turn You Into a Green Big Monster

Most women think that weight lifting is stupid or that it will somehow turn into a big green hulk. Well, that’s not true, those muscle ladies you see on stage of Mrs. Olympia are always on massive amounts of steroids and testosterone, you will never look like that, ever, even if you lift the heaviest dumbbells in the gym.

What actually happens as a response to weight lifting is that your body tightens up and your curves will come up, which at a low body fat creates that desired attractive hourglass look.

You need to lift weights to look good, feel healthy and to become a stronger woman, there is no other way around it.

The only issue is that we don’t have enough role models for this, so the general assumption is lifting weights = big bulky muscles = unattractive.

Right now the only way to see what looks good is to look at certain movie stars, natural fitness models or even certain fashion models and see the real results from intense training.

What you can also do, is go here into our transformation database and take a look at what our ladies have achieved with the intense Venus Index workouts.

More tips from Heidi:

  • Photoshoots are not just standing there and taking a snap shot, it’s hard work and you should be prepared to take hundreds of pictures to pick one or two good ones
  • When you are lean your look will change depending on what you eat and how much you move
  • When you are lean you might consider fasting just for 16-18 instead of 24, and maybe more often
  • When you get to the last 5 pounds of fat, it gets harder and even though it’s still only about calories, your approach will have to change a bit
  • Trust the VI numbers
  • Everybody will look different at the same metrics
  • Get to the point where you like what you are seeing in a mirror
  • Your running will improve as you follow along with the Venus Index workouts, because stronger muscles take longer to fatigue
  • Don’t be afraid of weight lifting
  • You can lift and run at a same time
  • Watch yourself in a mirror
  • Have someone there to correct your form

Links from the interview:

Read Heidi’s experience with Venus Index in her own words:

I have never done a dieting plan before or even really focused on working out. I have been a runner on and off and have generally eaten healthy. While doing this program, though, I learned that eating is so much more than just healthy food and that exercise is so much more than just having a fast heart rate. I learned that my body can function on foods I choose to put into it and that I get to choose what my body looks like…Continue reading here

Listen to the interview here, and please “like” it when you’re done:

Transformation Is a Family Affair! Part 2

My gorgeous tween daughter today
My gorgeous tween daughter today

This is the conclusion of a blog post from last week. If you haven’t already read Part 1, please catch up here: Transformation is a Family Affair!

For those of you who have Venus Index Community access, there are quite a few comments being shared about Part 1 as well as some blog posts where members delve into their relationship with their mother while growing up as it pertains to the topics of body image, self-esteem, and transformation.

Here Are Some Highlights of the Ongoing Discussion:

  • We face new challenges in this modern age, some of which our own experience did not prepare us for.
  • The media plays a key role in developing body image, especially teen, fitness and fashion magazines.
  • Many kids use food to self soothe and/or eat mindlessly.
  • Anything can set a child off on a possible path to disordered eating. It might just be a passing comment. This is more true for girls but applies to boys as well.
  • Addressing a child’s body weight issue is a difficult conversation which some parents are unwilling or unable to take on, even if the child repeatedly asked for help.
  • Some difficult topics can be made less uncomfortable by doing things such as discussing while driving or doing the dishes.
  • Beginning these conversations is important so underlying issues can be allowed to surface. It is a process.
  • While we know there is a genetic ideal for adults, we are not so clear on what the truth of the matter is for children. How do we even know for sure if our child has an issue that needs to be addressed?
  • Simply telling a child that they are fat or eat too much is not helpful. Adults barely understand how to work through the process of reducing body fat in a safe manner. A child needs patient guidance and ongoing support given in a loving and non-critical manner.
  • Women who grew up during the 1970s and before remember a time when it was “normal” to constantly “diet”. Perhaps some of the methods were not ideal but there is a lesson in there; we were indeed thinner. If periodically dieting is what it takes to maintain that for some of us, what could possibly be wrong with that? Ideally, learning to minimize periods of weight gain is the ultimate goal but until that is mastered, getting back on course through a mini-diet as soon as required is a healthy approach to maintaining an ideal weight.
  • With the bulk of adults now overweight or obese, guiding our children has become quite the challenge. How can we teach what we do not ourselves know?
  • Some of us come through childhood with the disadvantage of having been led astray by parents who just didn’t have emotional maturity about their own self-image and, intentionally or not, did emotional damage to their kids. Be kind to yourself if you find you need to overcome and heal childhood wounds. That may be a lifelong process but it does not mean you need to repeat the same mistakes that were made. Also, as above, simply communicating with your children even about your mistakes goes a long way.
  • Be careful using food as a manipulator/drug/healer/reward! Yes, we do sometimes all need to sit down to a big old tub of ice cream or plate of cookies or know we’re loved because we got lasagna on our birthday, but just think carefully when you are dealing with a developing child who is developing associations.
  • When judging your parents, know that they had their own issues with their parents. Know too that you won’t possibly do everything perfectly. Forgiveness and compassion go a long way, especially towards yourself!
  • Children do not get the same portion size as adults! (This was a big eye-opener for me!)
  • Other cultures do still nip the problem in the bud by having children diet, something that has come to be considered dangerous in North America.

Last week, I was discussing how my older daughter came to my husband and me asking for help getting leaner. She had begun to perceive herself as fat. At the same time, my younger daughter who has always been very lean has some issues we need to guide her through including being willing to try more foods, eat a balanced diet, and eat enough around activities such as socializing and gymnastics.

My husband and I have stayed up into the wee hours discussing how to preserve and nurture our older daughter’s delicate self-esteem while empowering her to gently shift her ways of eating and moving her body towards a life-long habit of both physical and emotional health.

We have been forthcoming with her about the methods we used to achieve our results and also open about our ignorance of what she as a child should safely do.

Lifting weights?

Perhaps not yet.

Caloric restriction?

Perhaps minimal.

The goal has never been a 12 week transformation. The most important goal has always been education and safe, gradual improvement both internally and externally. Physical and emotional health are what parents want for their children.

But is it taboo to say we’d be happy to help take it further if and when she is interested?

The bottom line is we are in charge of her health and she is in charge of her body.

The VI and AI ratios have helped us to finally understand not only what look is most attractive, it’s also the genetic ideal. In other words, if the body is used and treated ideally, this is the shape it takes on.

So part of our education process can be helping her understand what she is capable of and helping her understand why she is still unsatisfied with what she has achieved to date. Just as I am teaching my daughters how to work with their hair (curly hair has a steep learning curve) and how to put together flattering outfits, I am also there to help them understand how to achieve their most flattering figure.

The difference here is she leads, we follow. Because she is now feeling very proud of the progress she has made in the last few years, we are careful not to jeopardize her developing self-confidence. If and when she wants to take it further, we are there to help explain the concepts.

One day last week was very hectic so a pizza on the run was the plan for dinner. My older daughter said to her dad, “Hey, we’d better eat a very light breakfast and lunch since we’re having pizza later.” How cool that she has begun to responsibility for how much she eats while still checking in and continuing to learn.

You Are Both the Parent and the Coach

When did it become taboo to tell a child not to eat right before dinner, that vegetables are as critical to health as is sufficient protein or that perhaps cheese is not the best snack but rather something that should be enjoyed in limited quantities?

Without controlling what she chooses to eat, we have regular discussions about nutrition and let her make her own choices.

My gorgeous tween daughter today

My gorgeous tween daughter today

Over time, her choices constantly improve.

The flip-side of this is we don’t force our girls to choke down meals we decided they should eat. Everyone has their own tastes and we honor this and play to their strengths without capitulating to a junk food diet.

If it’s not in the house, it’s not going to be eaten all the time.

If they want an occasional treat, we’re usually up for going out and getting it.

The thing is, now that we’re not bringing multiple pints of ice cream and take out pizzas into the house so often, they gradually stopped asking so much. We did at first explain that we needed to have less of these things as we were cutting down.

Now that we have let these foods back into our life on a more regular basis, we are all more in control. Friday night tends to be treat night around here and that feels fun.

You Must Parent Each Child Uniquely

Although I attempt to get my younger daughter to try new things, I understand that it is not always possible for her to eat food items that she finds abhorrent. I still remember simply not being able to choke down most of what was served to me during my childhood. The difference is I was expected to eat what I was served and was made to feel wrong for not liking it. While it’s easy sometimes to understand this pattern of thinking, especially when the meal really is quite delicious, I have to respect her tastes.

I have invested significant time and effort into trying to get her to be honest about her current likes and dislikes and we talk about being willing to taste new things more than once to be sure that she truly doesn’t care for the item right now.

We also talk about not dismissing a plate based upon looks.

I do strive to add visual appeal for her sake, something I’d never bothered with before. And I don’t hop up and fix a whole new meal.

She knows that if she rejects what I’m serving, I’m going to sit and enjoy the meal I’ve lovingly prepared and she can either wait or fix herself a healthy snack.

We also don’t try to control her small appetite which used to cause us such concern.

We have grown to love that she knows when to stop eating.

Sort of…

She will actually eat far more than her share of treats! Luckily, access to unlimited treats is pretty rare.

We do not ever demand she finish what I arbitrarily portioned onto her plate. We also sometimes need to make certain she actually does eat, like before gymnastics which she does 3 days a week for 3 hours at a time. And we have to jump through a few hoops to get her to eat enough protein.

Her tastes are a moving target and while I do not want to coddle her, I also don’t want to have a resentful atmosphere. Also, I trust that as she matures, so will her tastes.

We notice her attitude and strength are affected when she goes without food for too long.

So for the sake of our sanity, sometimes we simply must insist she eat!

We try to keep that to a minimum and we always explain the circumstances.

On her rest days, she can do without food for hours.

It’s all good.

How refreshing to have let this battle of wills go!

What issues are you dealing with?

Because I have not been free to discuss this taboo subject openly, finding my way has been an iterative process of learning about how healthy adult human bodies work, mostly from the Venus Index Uncensored Podcasts, and then relying heavily on intuition when applying these teachings to my children.

Does anything in this resonate with you?

Or irk you?

Let’s hear it!

You Can Change the Way You Look

Today we have an interview with Ioana Tarce who placed 2nd in our  latest Venus Index Transformation Contest.

Check out her pictures:

Ioana is happy with her after pictures, what about you?

Ioana never felt bad in her own skin and she never worked out or followed any type of diet.

She was always pretty satisfied with her body, living her regular lifestyle and not trying to change it.

She told us that she thought it was actually impossible to change her body. She thought working out was stupid and she didn’t want anyone to tell her what to eat and what not to eat, so she just dismissed training and nutrition completely.

She took some aerobic classes and Pilates to stay active, but she got bored really quickly, so she never stuck to it. Sounds familiar?


Her Boyfriend Introduced Her to the Venus Index

She saw other women that have gotten amazing results and she wanted to achieve that figure too.

She decided why not give it a shot and see what it can do for her.

She went to the gym and did the first workout, which wasn’t exactly easy. Truth be told,  if you have never worked out then your muscles are weak and you have to expect some resistance and possible soreness at the  beginning of your fitness journey.   The GOOD NEWS is that beginners adapt quickly and the results in strength and muscle gains are really fast compared to women who train often.

At first Ioana couldn’t even do a pushup, now here she is:

If you are doing a photoshoot, apart from some usual posses, why not take a few fun ones?

After a few weeks Ioana started feeling muscles she never thought she had. She was also pretty surprised at how quickly she adapted to the physical stress of weight training.

After a few weeks her clothes started feeling a bit loose, more proof that what she was doing was working.

The biggest benefit was that Ioana started enjoying her workouts, which was a tremendous attitude adjustment compared to a few months prior when she believed the concept of working out to be just plain stupid.

Is Hard Dieting & Cardio Necessary for Fat Loss?

For the diet part of the transformation Ioana didn’t do anything special. She didn’t obsess herself over macronutrients, she wasn’t preparing meals every three hours nor did she follow any type of the mainstream nutrition approach.

She kept it simple, she threw in a couple of fasts, she kept it light during the day by cooking low calorie meals like salads and soups and watched the portions in the restaurants she went to on regular basis.

She wasn’t doing traditional cardio either. She didn’t do two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon on a treadmill, she just went jogging when she felt like going and that was it.

No stress or obsession about cardio or diet, just an easy and simple approach that was flexible enough for her to sustain for the whole 12 week transformation.

Tips from Ioana:
  • “I was working out in hotel rooms when I was on the road, it’s important to  improvise to get the workouts done”
  • “You don’t need a professional photoshoot, my boyfriend took the pictures with a borrowed camera on the balcony of our appartment”
  • “Don’t stress yourself over little details at the beginning, you will figure things out on the road”
  • “I no longer believe that working out is dumb, actually I think it’s amazing and everyone should do it”
  • “If you are getting bored with your regular routines, try the Venus Index Workout, there are no traditional exercises and it’s fun every time”
  • “Get into the contests, it’s great motivation, because submitting your pictures will make you wanna work harder on yourself”
  • “Even if the journey is not perfect, you will still see some difference in your physique, every step forward counts”
  • “The first few hours of the fast are the worst, but after that it’s pretty easy”
  • “The last week of the contest is when you will see what body shape you have actually built, it’s weird, but it gets revealed in that last week”

Links from the interview:

  • Main VI Workout – Workout program that’s focused on building your naturally attractive ideal body shape – hourglass shape
  • Eat Stop Eat – Lifestyle base around the beauty of intermittent fasting
  • Adonis Index – Lifestyle and training approach that’s focused on building ideal metrics for men

Read Ioana’s experience with Venus Index in her own words:

My VI experience started when my boyfriend, whom is an AI program user introduced me the idea of body index. It seemed logical for a person who is an engineer although at the time I didn’t believe body building was for girls…nevertheless, I got the program. I was out of shape and I started the VI program to get back in shape, to be fit and toned. I thought it would be hard. Especially…Continue reading here

Listen to the interview here, and please “like” it when you’re done:

Transformation is a Family Affair!

You Become Those with Whom You Associate

Just as you are the sum of the people closest to you, you and your family members influence one another both now and in the future.

Today, I’ll talk about how our children are affected by how moms treat and view their own bodies as well as how they relate to their daughters. As I am female and have daughters, this will be slanted towards mothers and daughters.

My beautiful girls before I began my transformation

My beautiful girls before I began my transformation

Mothers and Daughters Have a Special Relationship

Your mother’s influence shapes you well past childhood.

In listening to the Venus Index podcasts, I’ve noticed this theme a number of times. Some of the contest winners reveal in their interviews that their mother started discussing dieting when they were very young. Others, myself included, are concerned with helping our daughters grow up to be a healthy size and maintain excellent self-esteem.

How do you predict the future results of actions taken today?

Clearly moms have the best intentions but it doesn’t always come out the way we’d hoped.

Here are a few interviews where the moms discuss how transformation is a family affair.

My mother made a brave effort to overcome the misconceptions and poor body image her mother bestowed upon her: a super human effort, really, considering how she was raised.

She unintentionally led me astray with some misconceptions about appropriate measurements; she taught me that measurements didn’t correspond to height so I always assumed I should have the exact same measurements as a much shorter woman.

It wasn’t until I discovered Venus Index that I found out that ideal measurements are directly linked to height. She also led me to believe food was something over which we had no control.

I grew up in a home with a locked box and learned to binge and sneak food very early on. I was forced to choke down abhorrent meals that someone else deemed suitable (or sneak them into the trash when everyone finally gave up waiting for me to finish) and was the self-pronounced “World’s Pickiest Eater” until well into my teens.

As women, as daughters, as mothers, we are aware and noticed perhaps more than men. While mothers wish the best for their daughters, there are always choices to be made and it can be decades before how we did is revealed. As my mother did, I tried to learn from the mistakes of the previous generation.

We are all, hopefully, doing the best we can.

Stealth Fat Loss: Is It Possible? Is It Right?

In Elisa’s case, she felt it was the best choice to go stealth with the methods she was using to reduce body fat.

After checking in with herself, she realized that it was actually best to be honest and forthcoming. While her son was apparently indifferent, her daughter was happy to have this topic brought into the light because she had indeed observed what was going on and not discussed.

Like Elisa, I have had to tread carefully on this topic.

While we do not necessarily need to share every aspect of our adult lives with our children, nor would it be to their benefit, to what extent is it wise to keep a process such as a physical transformation from them?

  • How does our transformation process affect those to whom we are close, regardless of whether we are open and forthcoming, or not?
  • How does our own attitude about the process affect our daughters?
  • How did our mothers’ attitudes about their bodies and relationship with food affect ours?

I would argue that these issues are critical to shaping who girls become as women and being honest and open will only serve to help our daughters in the long run.

As someone who is always checking out to the long-term repercussions, I thought it would be wise to check in with friends.

It turns out this is a VERY touchy area indeed.

Many women are struggling with body image issues stemming from decisions their parents made in the best interest of their kids, or so they believed, decades ago.

I have never been shut down so quickly on any topic!

I’d add discussing the weight of girls to religion, politics and money as taboo!

Yet I persevere!

The research I did was no more enlightening. All I learned was that growing bodies need calories but no one is quite sure how many and that during the years a girl is developing into a woman and starting to menstruate it is no time to even consider doing anything so risky as cutting calories.

All the online calorie tracking software is for adults. It seems that if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having a child who wants to slim down, and who should, you are going to have to go it alone. (As a side note, as women, we are also informed that during pregnancy and nursing it is not safe to consider cutting calories. Again, most people do not want to risk touching this subject.)

You Can’t Control Your Children, You Can Only Influence Them

When I became a mother, I was shocked to find myself unable to control my older daughter’s weight.

It didn’t help that I didn’t yet have the right information. When I was informed by a doctor at her 5th birthday checkup that she had an “excess of adipose tissue” and that I should cut the junk food, I was not amused. While it was clear to me that she was overweight, she’s never actually eaten junk food and it was so much harder than the idealistic mother of imaginary children that I used to be could ever have foreseen to reduce her body fat.

It certainly did not help that I had also become fat and exhausted and was still operating under the misconception that exercise was the key to fatloss. I felt a total failure as a parent since I didn’t have the energy to move with her and I did know enough to realize I needed to set the example.

Lead by Example

Sure enough, when I started incorporating exercise into our lives on a regular basis, my husband and kids indeed followed suit!

So great, right?

Only the unfortunate results were underwhelming. As our diets did not address our caloric overages, we didn’t get where I expected. Also, I noticed both flattering and not so flattering mirrors of my actions.

Some of my earlier diet attempts before I got the right information involved cheat days.

These quickly turned into a full-blown family fiasco!

Once I began calorie counting, my daughter was very interested and I was at a loss as to what to tell her. The most important message I could give her is that she is beautiful and that I love her, right?

But on the flipside, dishonesty does not serve and I have to admit I wanted to find a way to support her to safely slim down while still growing.

How do you answer your daughter truthfully when she asks if she is fat?

What do you do about the series of emotions visible on your face before answering, “You’re beautiful and I love you”?

She noticed, of course.

How could she not?

She is female and we know from an early age the importance of appearance.

Does she dismiss your answer?

Is it best to say more or leave it at that?

What do you do when your daughter announces that she is fat.

How do you help and guide her when she sees that you are making changes and she asks you what she can do to change her body?

Being Lean Is Not the Only Goal!

It’s not all roses with my younger daughter, by the way.

Although she is naturally lean and strong, she could give me a run for my money for that “World’s Pickiest Eater” title. I thought she’d outgrow it. She will announce that she’s “not hungry” one bite into a meal.

We notice her attitude and strength are affected when she goes without food for too long.

Well meaning friends and family often commented on her eating habits and how “skinny” she was. I used to spend endless hours worrying over how little she ate (keep in mind my reference points were my husband, myself, and my older daughter, and all three of us were growing increasingly more overweight) and constantly trying to tempt her into eating more. This made mealtimes generally unpleasant.  I am old enough to remember when nearly all children where her size so I am somewhat ashamed to have capitulated to peer pressure in this regard.

So what’s next?

Obviously, we have made significant progress in the last four years. In the next installment, I will discuss how my husband and I were able to help our older daughter achieve her goals in a safe and sustainable way while preserving her self-esteem not just now, but hopefully, for the rest of her life. I will also discuss how we have learned to embrace the brilliant eating habits of our younger daughter while at the same time learning from the example she sets.

Are you with me?

Does anything in you’ve just read resonate with you?

Or irk you?

Let’s hear it!


Your Goal, Your Choice

The path to success is seldom easy.  It is not always straightforward, there are often roadblocks and damn it, you always have to work harder than you want to.  But with trial and error, and with time, knowledge and experience comes wisdom.

The wisdom of knowing the right route for you, of understanding the tradeoff on personal cost versus outcome, and also knowing that nothing lasts forever……unless you want it to.

This is me in March 2012 doing what I do best……double black diamond moguls

With the Venus program we have a blueprint for success but we also have a choice, the choice of our own goal.

We all see success differently – is it being a defined muscle chick, is it maintaining an awesome bikini body every day or is it an amazing transformation for your wedding day?  In my transformation journey one of the hardest things has been to understand and be true to my goals.  Not the ‘I want to lose body fat and be at my Venus metrics for a competition’ goal.  More the how do I want to look every day, how do I achieve and maintain this.

This is where I live.

I also have a busy life, a life where I need a functional body.  I do a lot of full on out door activities.

…Skiing, hiking, mountain biking.

My body needs to be able to perform.

I have been on this Venus journey for about 18 months now.  I achieved my Venus metrics during the VT1 competition and have spent the past 15-16 months in various states of maintenance.  It has been a quite a journey and it has taken quite some time for me to be comfortable with my own body shape goals.

Initially my goals were a little fuzzy.  I wanted less fat and more muscle.  Something like a fitness model.  Then as I started to transform and was able to see the raw clay I had to play with I was able to get more specific.  However that was when the Axis of Evil, The Trinity of Terror, The Cult of the Obsessed showed up.

Otherwise known as the hijackers, the terrorists and the fundamentalists.

Goal Hijackers

When we transform ourselves physically, everyone has an opinion.  They have opinions on the process, on our look and even on our sanity.

Mostly we can sort the useful from the mundane. But what happens when we allow the goals of other people that we respect to become our own?

As humans we measure things through relativity.

How do I look compared to you?

How heavy did I Iift this month compared to last month?

I am particularly susceptible to goal-oriented challenges.  I want to share a couple of examples of how I let myself be derailed this past year.  I have always been clear that my goal is to be an every day Venus.

For me this means being bikini ready, and while I highly admire it in others, not being a muscle chick.

In an attempt to get to incredibly low body fat I kept pushing low calories, fasting and depleting.  We had a number of mini challenges in the community to really push on the fat loss.

This would have been fine if I had more to lose but I managed to get myself down to 98lb, at just a shade under 5’4” (161.5 cm).  I was all bones and skin.  I did not have the muscle to support this look, in fact I would say I lost muscle in this attempt at achieving ripped abs.

I will say this openly, I DID NOT LOOK GOOD.

Last year I leant to lift heavy.  I realised that for most of my life I had been lifting seriously too light to get awesome results.  The Venus program and the community taught me to lift.  However being a very goal oriented person this quickly became a personal challenge for PBs (Personal Bests).  I started collecting the PBs of experienced lifters and I went right ahead and did it.  Someone would mention a 250lb deadlift……so I worked on that one and achieved it.

I felt great, I was blasting out PBs most weeks but my body responded by really pumping up in the legs. To the point I did not like my look.  Kind of obvious this would happen but I was stuck between the look I wanted and a serious drive to go get PBs.  It took a while but I backed off the PBs, reversed out the legs and I am much happier.

The Friend & Family “Terrorists”

 These are the well-meaning friends and family.  We hope they will be our biggest supporters but often times their motives are unclear as our transformation challenges their perception of themselves.  Many times they do not like what they see, in us and in themselves.  They can try to undermine our transformation.

It may be through comments about getting too thin.

Or offering us known trigger foods, and pushing us to eat it.  In little ways they can derail our effort.  It is tough to manage this as these people are important to us and what they say can be very hurtful.  It feels impolite to refuse their advice and food.

Standing up for your beliefs and goals is your right and your choice.  We all have to split our nearest and dearest into the camps of supporters, terrorists, and do not care.  Just be aware, be covert when you need to be, and do not expect support.  Remember, you cannot negotiate with a terrorist.

The Fundamentalists

The people who hold very strong beliefs about eating every 2 hours, or only precise macronutrient ratios.  Who believe that only a certain exercise style is optimal, that their way is right and hence everyone else is wrong.

Often times these beliefs have very little scientific basis but if it works for you, then that is great.

For many of us all these messages, the hope for a little magic beyond ‘eat less, exercise more’ is compelling.

The Goldilocks Series: Too thin, a little beefy, and just right. These are my every day happy snaps on the beach – no fasting, no flexing, no make up and a point then click camera.

I am definitely a recovering orthorexic.

I spent a number of years becoming increasing obsessed with low carb, eating frequently, managing macronutrient ratios, counting calories and timing carbs to workouts.  This may work for some but the net result for me was putting on weight.

Getting fatter despite all my effort.  It has taken quite a while to build new (well old) habits but I have gone back to my old instinctive styles of eating.  I eat mostly what I want but only when I am hungry and I manage the portions.

For me this is freedom.

This truly is “anything goes” diet.

We all have our own goals.

These are what you want and they do not need to conform to anyone else’s idea of great.

This is your choice but we all have a confusing array of respected advice, not so expert opinions, science, junk science and emotional triggers to sort through.  Just be clear about what you want.

Own your goal.

Mastering Martial Arts Doesn’t Mean You’ll Build a Great Body

Today we have an interview with Judy Rabil who placed 6th in our  latest Venus Index Transformation Contest.

Check out her pictures:

Remember, you are supposed to enjoy this!

Judy spent an entire decade doing martial arts. She also trained bodybuilding and powerlifting style with her sister. Her approach was to first learn to stabilize the joints, then work on the strength followed by developing explosive power.

She naturally has great endurance, but very little strength, however, her sister was stronger than anyone she knew. She was so powerful that all the guys in the gym felt weak when they saw Judy’s sister, and Judy was often intimidated by her. On the other hand when it came to cardio she could go run a marathon, while her sister could barely run a mile.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

When her sister got injured and was unable to work out,  Judy also stopped training because her sister was her coach.

Judy decided to focus on Martial Arts without the supplement of strength training. She was intimated to go the gym on her own, her coach just wasn’t there with her anymore and she wasn’t ready to go it alone.

However, she started getting injured during her martial arts workouts (broken bones and tendons) and felt terrible.

One day she decided to stop, she walked out and never went back.

“Then I Found Venus Index Podcasts at iTunes…”

Before, Judy would wake up  and go to bed in pain. At no point during the day did she experience relief. This is a terrible way to live, and if you can relate, you should continue reading and listen to her interview.

Judy is in her 40s and truth be told, at this age your body just doesn’t heal as quickly as it did in your teens and twenties.

In January 2008 she slowly made her way back to the gym, which was pretty hard because she was conditioned (for well over 10 years) to exercise with other people, never alone. Upon her return to the gym scene, she fell in love with yoga and the group setting of it all, but found out that she just couldn’t do the same routines over and over again even though they were perfectly balanced.

Then she saw the VI podcasts at iTunes and specifically one called “Overestimating calories” caught her attention.

Judy always thought that she burned plenty of calories during her workouts and never limited what she ate. Since she was doing a LOT of activity she believed she could get away with eating ice cream and fries whenever she wanted.

So when she stopped doing all her fitness activities, and her calorie intake remained the same, you can guess what the result was – weight gain.

At that point she felt miserable.

And it didn’t help that she thought (and was always told by her sister) that she needs to eat, often and a lot. She was lead to believe that she needs to eat snacks, pre-workout and post-workout meals, because they are all necessary.

This is why she got a bit angry when she heard Barban saying that this approach is nuts and that you don’t need to eat at all and actually you should eat very little to begin with.

Although Judy was very insecure about her diet,  she slowly realized she should and actually even COULD eat way less than she was used to, and that it’s okay to eat half of a candy bar and then throw the other half away; furthermore, she doesn’t have to eat in the morning if she doesn’t want to.

Then another surprise came with the Venus Index workout plans.

She was always used to do bodybuilding splits and performing them at very low repetitions.

Suddenly, she wasn’t doing any leg presses, pull ups, dips with chains; no more power movements.

At first it made her a bit concerned that the workout wouldn’t work for her, because she is simply not doing enough work.

However, despite her skepticism she gave it a shot.

She did the program exactly as it was written,held onto some  yoga and some spinning routines and  committed to training 7 days a week.

During phase 1 of VI she got sick, had no energy and felt bloated. Even though she was following VI workouts, with all the other activities she was doing way too much.

She told us that she felt like her gut was on fire and she was pregnant again.

Then her doctor told her that she is completely gluten intolerant and will have severe reactions to wheat.

For 6 weeks she couldn’t do anything.

After she got better, she made a choice to take a more healthy and stable approach.

She started with VI phase 2, started fasting with a friend from the VI community and avoided the foods that were causing the bad reactions.

Want to know how it affected her lifestyle and what are the life results of that whole transformation?

Go listen to the interview below this article to find out!

Tips from Judy:
  • Everybody has her unique look at the same metrics
  • Figure out what physical activity makes you hungry and figure out how much you can do without overeating afterwards
  • You don’t have to do it alone, just join the Venus Index Community
  • Don’t be afraid to mix the VI workouts, they are designed to be mixed and matched and ‘lego blocked’
  • There are no rules, just boundaries and you have to function within them
  • Have fun with it and don’t beat yourself up over small ‘screw ups’ (we all screw up from time to time)
  • Don’t ever look at it as any form of punishment or self-sabotage, you are supposed to enjoy it
  • Do various rep ranges as described in the VI workout plans
  • Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t eat something
Links from the interview:
Read Judy’s experience with Venus Index in her own words:

I started VI a little over a year ago.  I was around 168 lbs, a size 12 and pushing the edge of “average” and looking dumpy square in the eye.  I suffered from undiagnosed digestive issues, I regularly paid for bootcamp classes, I did one or two spin classes a week and walked my dogs.  Even though I wasn’t falling into the “Obese” category, I was getting close…Continue reading here

Listen to the interview here, and please “like” it when you’re done:

You Have to Deal with the Inner Issues First

Today we have an interview with Elisa Miller who placed 4th in the Open Level 1 in our  latest Venus Index Transformation Contest.

Check out her pictures:

Practice posing and once you know how to present yourself just be creative.

Elisa noticed that at the beginning of your journey, specifically at your first contest you don’t really know what you are doing and you are just trying to copy other people’s poses. But that changes as you progress and do this a couple of times.

And this is why we encourage you to be more creative with the poses and pictures.

Have fun with it, look at magazines, search the web, try something new and different.

What is necessary though is practice.

Most models spend hours every day posing, taking pictures and some of them have to practice walking as well.

Now you may be asking  yourself, why on earth would anyone spend so much time on doing all this crazy boring stuff every day just to  have some pictures in a bikini, right?

Well, if you want to blow everyone  away with professional pictures of your awesome and hard-earned body then you have to know the poses, angles and side of your body that is most flattering  (HINT: Both sides are not created equal!).


Next,  you should find a way to flex the right muscles at the right time for the photographer.

There are  all sorts of  small adjustments that go into capturing your body at its best, and it comes naturally once you’ve developed “muscle memory” from the poses you practiced.

Take the time to learn where to put your arm, how to tilt your head and how to turn your hips to show off your abs.

Let me ask you a question…

Do you have those girlfriends who always seem to look perfect in every picture someone takes of them at any event? Well, you would be surprised at how many times they took  pictures of themselves and practiced their smile in the mirror when nobody was looking. People do this more than you think.

And that’s just casual social pictures, taking fitness pictures is even harder!

Find the Deep Emotional Issue that Is Causing You the External Trouble

Elisa’s first interview was very enlightening to her, because it made her realize that even though she progressed and improved her body, she was still hiding something.

She wasn’t hiding what she was eating anymore, but rather that she wasn’t eating during certain times, mainly from her family.

Her family didn’t know that she was skipping meals; she always just made some excuses.

Then one day she decided that this isn’t right and she wanted to have a more open and transparent relationships with her family, so she sat down with everyone and explained that she is fasting, skipping breakfast and told everyone why she is doing it, how it helped her get healthier and become a better person.

Honesty became the number one priority for her.

And her family has accepted it.

Like she told us, she has a history of hiding things from her family that stemmed from her dad who was always hiding alcohol consumption from them.

This translated into her hiding her diet approach. However, she didn’t want to continue this vicious cycle and decided to break it.

And it was very liberating to finally be honest with everyone.

We always say that you can be covert with your nutritional approach, however if it’s eating you alive that nobody knows what you’re doing and you feel like you are lying, then feel free to admit it to people, especially to your family.

However, it’s normal to experience some resistance from your friends and family. This is natural, they often times mean well but may not fully understand what you’re trying to accomplish.  The pursuit of the Venus Lifestyle  is “against the grain” and not the ‘norm’ or the  ‘status quo’.  Remember to stay strong and not  let  others deter you from your physical fitness goals and endeavors.

Tips from Elisa:

  • Nobody is perfect
  • Expect and prepare yourself mentally that you are going to have high eating days
  • The ability to stay flexible is golden
  • Nothing usually goes the way we expect it
  • Don’t let external factors get to you
  • You need to be able to get back on track quickly
  • Most things that go wrong in your life don’t really matter
  • Your body is the tip of the iceberg people see, but the biggest transformation is internal – what they don’t see is the bigger part of the iceberg that is under the water
  • If you don’t address the emotional issues no external results will come…even if you can make some external change with internal change, it will only be temporary
  • Work around your injuries, do what you can, but be careful and conscious, don’t push through pain
  • You have to be really patient to build a good looking body
  • Measurements and weight do not tell the whole story
  • Take pictures and then compare your progress
  • Listen to the podcasts, get in the VI community, unsubscribe from the mainstream fitness media and so called ‘experts’

Links from the interview:

Read Elisa’s experience with Venus Index in her own words:

For the majority of VT4, I chugged along always under the assumption that, although I was making progress, it would not be enough to make a difference in the end. Until I took my final photos last week and took a good, hard look at my stats from the end of VT3 until now, I had no idea that I had made such good strides. My weight is only about…Continue reading here

Listen to the interview here, and please “like” it when you’re done:

It’s Never too Late to Get in Shape, I’m 47!

Welcome to looking like a mom.

You know the story. Get married. Have kids. No money. No time. Get fat. For life. End of story.


It’s not a very happy ending but it’s happening more often and at younger ages than ever.

So the question is, can you have kids and  attain, maintain or regain your ideal body? Without role models, I found it nearly impossible to even believe this was possible. It was not until I tracked down the simple truth that I was able to achieve the body of my dreams.

Now it’s my mission to inspire you. (Stop looking around. I really am talking to you!)

Here’s me at my best before look, after kids and finallly how I look now at 47 years old:

Naomi Sandoval: Better than ever at 47

Life Before Kids

Before having kids, I had plenty of money and time to play, travel, eat well and stay fit. I met and married my husband Al (whose story very much aligns with my own so go have a look!) We had no idea what was about to hit us. Like so many couples, our double-income-no-kids lifestyle afforded us pretty much whatever we wanted.

Enter the Kids

Once we became parents, we made the decision to become a single-income homeschooling family. We adore our kids and nothing makes us happier than seeing them happy. Like many parents, we learned that food is one of the chief ways to maintain the peace. Ben and Jerry’s, pizza and pasta were our drugs of choice. What do you use? Fast food drive through? Microwave dinners? Chips? Who has time, right? Rather suddenly, our days of looking young and sexy had become a thing of the past.

Welcome to Frumpy

It’s a demoralizing but natural progression that once you have kids, you don’t have to concern yourself with your body shape. You’ve already snagged your mate. Who cares what you look like? And anyway, why worry; we all know the metabolism slowing inevitably leads to these changes, rrrright? (Are you buying this crap?) Older equals fatter and that’s that.

Only, we’re not dead yet. While the media tout accepting and loving your body as it is, I found this a hard pill to swallow. Seriously? I’m in my forties, have had two pregnancies, so I should embrace the sag and the flab and just be grateful for what my body has brought me? Don’t get me wrong! I adore my kids. But being frumpy? Not so much.

“Are you Pregnant?”

Perhaps the kick in the ass I needed to finally make an effort to give myself the gift of my body back was that people kept asking if I was pregnant. Awkward! At the time, I cursed the fact that most of my extra fat piled onto my belly and, like so many women, complained about clothing not being shaped like “real” people. I now know that underneath the fat, we are all shaped pretty much the same but clothing manufacturers don’t stand a chance of creating clothing to match every possible shape. Fat piles on in a unique fashion for each of us and often it’s simply not flattering. Lots of my mom friends suffer from the humiliation of excess belly fat and regular invasive queries as to the contents of their uterus. Do you? Or perhaps you suffer from back boobs, thunder thighs, birthing hips or big bones. Believe it or not, you can get beyond all of these issues to the body of your dreams.

Enter 4000 calorie workouts and cheat days

Like most women, I believed the commonly held wisdom that the solution was to burn it off. I became a self-proclaimed transformation expert. I devoured all the current nutrition, fat loss and exercise articles and put my money where my mouth was, literally. I spent hours in the gym with a heart rate monitor and diligently scarfed as many fun calories as possible on weekly cheat days. I followed so many programs that involved eliminating this and combining that. What I refused to do was consider calories. What did I learn? Diets don’t work. Of course, I blamed myself and tried harder. Have you continued to follow a program that didn’t bring you the results you sought? Yes, that’s the definition for insanity but the marketing was so compelling so it just had to work. Eventually.

Talk to the Hand

Miraculously, a friend introduced me to Eat Stop Eat. And by introduce, I mean she was kind enough to share with me numerous times about how easy and simple fasting was despite my dismissive attitude. Fasting would never work for me. (Read these with a whiney voice.) “I get dizzy.” “I’ll throw up.” “I have low blood sugar or hypoglycemia or, um, well something. I just can’t.”  “I’m a snowflake!” Yes, I was the queen of justifying my failure to do the things that will actually work.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself actually giving it a whirl and nothing tragic happened.  I got up and didn’t eat “the most important meal of the day“. I lived my life, parented my kids, made dinner, and lookie that! I’d banked 2/3 of my day’s calories. All this without it taking up any extra time and all because a tiny crack opened up in my mind just enough to hear what my friend was kind enough to share with me about her transformation.

Having an open mind is key to success. Also, recognizing what is simple and sensible as compared to magical and mystical is the secret to success. Oh. Yeah. And following the plan is kind of critical too. Did you forget about that? Just knowing isn’t quite gonna get the job done!

MILF: Momma Isn’t Loving Frumpy

The other piece of the puzzle was learning about the research done by John Barban and Brad Pilon. These guys discovered that there is simple math that links ideal metrics to height for both men and women. Even before kids, when my figure was “fine” and “good enough” (see my dieted down photoshoot photo above), I never quite felt I had it figured out. You can’t discuss this stuff with anyone because, well, it sounds too vain. It’s fine to get un-fat. But you can’t just come out and talk about wanting to take it all the way.

I didn’t know what was “wrong” with my body, just that I was vaguely dissatisfied. The knowledge that there was a simple formula that dictated my ideal waist, shoulder and hip size plus a program I could follow that would lead me there was empowering and freeing! My transformation got fully underway once all the pieces of the puzzle came together. Not only did I need to hack away at the fat (A.K.A diet), I needed specific goals that would bring me to my ideal numbers, the knowledge that this was attainable, and a simple program to achieve the best look. I had always believed some bodies look one way and other bodies look another and there is little we can do to affect this. How freeing to no longer be limited to trying to accept my sagging momma body and further, to learn I could get the shape I’d always wanted even though I was in my mid-40s.

The Rest Is History!

Following the programs is not especially sexy to talk about. I blogged quite a bit on the community forums so feel free to have a look. Luckily, lots of others blog as well so you’re sure to find someone or many someones whose journey resonates with you. I highly recommend blogging as the process helps you to clarify your thoughts and you get excellent feedback and support.

What’s next? You tell me!

Thanks for reading this far!  My transformation journey was not just personal: my husband and one of my girls have improved as well. She has come a long way and it’s been tricky navigating this while maintaining her self-esteem.  My other daughter is a competitive gymnast who has always been lean and strong and we’ll be sure to do everything we can to keep her on track. We all motivate each other to stay active and healthy. Would you like to hear more about how things are going with my 12 year old daughter? Would you like to hear how it was initially doing my transformation alone a full year before my husband? Would you like to hear about recomposition: the process of making subtle improvements over a longer period of time? Something else? Please let me know how I can inspire you to attain, maintain or regain your best body!

If you want to hear more from me, you can also listen to the interview I did with John Barban this Monday here: How Many Contests Does it Take to Become Venus?

How Many Contests Does it Take to Become Venus?

Today we have an interview with Naomi Sandoval who placed 3rd in the Open Level 2 Category in the latest Venus Index Contest.

Check out the pictures:

Learn some good poses for the shoot and practice them a few times before the big day.

Moving from One Contest to Another

Naomi was always setting her goals in a way to improve for the contests, not just for herself. So, when she placed in all of them – transformation and open, she didn’t know how to set her goals again.

At that time we announced that we will have an open level 2 in 2012. However, she didn’t quite know what’s possible to accomplish in a year.

At the level she was – lean and well developed physique, you can’t really expect huge changes that are visible with regular clothes, at her level the changes are more subtle and really only visible in a bikini.

When you do a photoshoot, you will notice, but in clothes you will probably look the same.

It also requires patience.

Which is probably the number one reason why people have such a hard time staying in shape.

Re-composition is slow and you need to master the skill of being patient, otherwise you will end up like most of the women who start working out in January and then cancel their memberships in February.

It just takes time.

And the better conditioned you are the more time it will take and ironically the less overall changes you will experience.

At this stage (remember you already look good, just want to take it to another level), you won’t even get much feedback on even a monthly basis, because pretty much you are the only person who knows that something is changing.


Be creative and take some pictures while working out.

Train Hard and Activate Your Muscles Correctly

Training hard, having intense and challenging workouts, lifting heavy, having good form, knowing how to activate and contract your muscles, that’s all going to play a role if you want to change and improve the shape of your body. And it’s even more important if you’re trying to take your body from good to great.

To quote Naomi:

“I just didn’t know how to fire my glutes, so I had no butt.”

Muscle activation is important, you can have the best workouts on earth, but if you don’t know how to use them, they won’t do very much for you.

Now that Naomi has learned how to fire the right muscles on each exercise, she is sore after every workout, and that’s a good thing!

And based on your form, you can make different exercises work for certain muscles or not. You have to experience the feeling to really “get it”.

Start Posting Blog Updates

  • Blogging is the coolest thing ever in the community
  • It’s not public, but rather it’s for people who understand what you’re doing so it’s a safe place to share
  • The minute you need to get thoughts out of your head the write a blog, the exercise of doing this will help you get clear on what you want, that helps, might not make sense to you, but works
  • Just try it for yourself and see if it helps

Tips from Naomi:

  • Do conditioning to survive the photoshoot
  • Get a professional photographer
  • Figure out your goals well ahead of time
  • At some point bodyweight will become irrelevant and your final look will be all that matters to you
  • Its rare to achieve a six pack without drugs and still look feminine
  • Working out can be a big help with depression and moodiness…it can do so much more than just change the look and shape of your body

Links from the interview:

Read Naomi’s experience with Venus Index in her own words:

There are no words to express how grateful I am for the Venus, Adonis, ESE, AGD and related programs and material. To say this information has been life changing just doesn’t capture what has happened for me and my family. I feel a level of peace knowing we are empowered to stay lean and strong for the rest of our lives. My strategy this past year has been to focus on the following… Continue reading here

Listen to the interview here: