How Keturah Overcame Fibromyalgia and Hypothyroidism to Lose over 100 Pounds

Keturah Before and After Side

Keturah has been using Venus systems for over 5 years!  Her transformation stretches out further than a 12 week period though, she has lost over ONE HUNDRED pounds!


Keturah Through Weight Loss to Maintenance


Keturah through the weight loss over the years

(Left) Keturah at her heaviest before finding Venus in 2011

(Middle) Keturah in the middle of her transformation at about 190 lbs in November of 2011

(Right) in the middle of her transformation at about 180 lbs in February of 2012

Here is what Keturah had to say in her own words:


Maintenance: Choosing life.
Maintenance is something you don’t hear much about. The fitness world is full of shiny before and after photos with big shiny smiles to match. What no one seems to talk about is the daily practice of life. 
There are some things that set apart maintenance from deficit. Let’s focus on what comprises this brave new world. 

I recently reread some of my old blog posts. It was such a wise voice, and it was speaking to me now. (The value of listening to ourselves is great!) First, let me level with you: I am no different than anyone else. Fear creeps in. Old thought patterns start repeating. Fear of rebound weight gain. Fear of not being able to do it. Fear of looking too thin. Fear of people being negative. Fear of not maintaining it for life. Fear of disordered eating. Fear of putting my value in my looks, and not in who I AM INSIDE.

I think the last argument “Fear of putting my value in my looks, and not in who I AM INSIDE” is especially real. It’s a fear that many women deal with in our current culture. I’ve come to realize that while weight, size, shape, and body shape are not my source of identity, being overweight and unhappy with my body can be a road block to feeling good about myself. My insecurity about my body, the shame and guilt I have felt in being overweight: it was real. Learning that I could change that was empowering. But also learning that my body doesn’t define me is a mindset that has taken longer to sink in and takes daily practice.
Value where you are at NOW. Comparison is the thief of joy. We all know that popular quote. Sometimes the comparison isn’t with other people, it’s with ourselves. We can lose a lot of joy comparing ourselves to the past or even to perhaps unrealistic goals and standards. Maybe right now it tough and you don’t particularly feel joy. That’s okay. I am learning to ask myself questions. Why am I feeling this way? I keep asking why. Doing this helps me get to the root of lingering insecurities or issues. I also find out that what scares me is usually not as huge as I’ve made it in my head.

We think this journey of self introspection disappears when we enter maintenance mode. It doesn’t. If anything, it began a new season of asking questions, dealing with some old triggers, and learning to trust ourselves in new ways during new seasons and situations. Which is why we also need to work on habits. 

Fear can hold us hostage and make us freak out! But the truth is, it’s about choices, not fears. I choose to be healthy. I choose to eat supportive foods that will help my Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia. I choose to lift weights so I’m strong, lean, slender, and pain-free. I choose to walk to have head space, time to think, reflect, and enjoy the outdoors. I choose to stretch to be flexible, limber, and feel good. I choose to be at peace with my body and take steps that will enable me to continue being Venus for life.

Maintenance is not automatic. It is about daily choices, habits and goals. This isn’t glamorous. Habits are choices we make and continue making everyday. I can choose to say “no” to fear and listen to the truth. I can choose not to let my circumstances and past, worries about the future, and other things define me, but to take a step forward and embrace the present, choose joy, and keep stepping forward up the mountain.

I liken maintenance to keeping the house neat, or perhaps tending the garden after the plants have started growing. If you let the little things go–laundry and dishes pile up, floors need swept, garbage overflowing, weeds growing wild–pretty soon the place is a disaster needing a complete cleaning and overhaul. Some daily tidying and daily weeding would have kept those things from happening. Some days we let things go. It’s about attending to the dishes before the pile gets too big. Or put it this way: it’s paying of the credit card bill at the end of the month instead of letting it stack up for a couple of years until it becomes a mountain of debt!
The habits you begin and consistently choose and practice will be habits that keep you going, even if they change in form. My daily habits are movement (for me that’s resistance training, flexibility, and walking); including protein and either fruit or vegetables at most meals; good rest; hobbies I love (makeup, knitting, and reading are just a few!) and relaxing with my husband on the weekends. I am learning to balance my meals and intake. If we go out on a brewery tour I will enjoy a burger and beer. The next meal or day, I have my coffee  but enjoy water, fruit, salad, and some light protein for the rest of the meals. There is no punishment, no reproach. No starvation, no forcing of food. I just listen to myself. 
Maintenance is the season I have really learned to enjoy living life and how to be flexible. Shortly after reaching my Venus metrics a couple years ago, I was still in “get competition lean” mode. It took a couple months for me to realize I wasn’t really getting anywhere with all my hard work and was frustrated. Mostly, it was mental. I decided to do something crazy. I stopped trying so dang hard to reach smaller metrics, body goals, and all the other stuff I deemed necessary to joy. Instead, I let go. I began listening to my body, doing what felt both right and good, and relaxing about the rest. It was, and still is, the very best thing for me. I learned another lesson in trusting myself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting competition lean. But it’s a season, and for many it isn’t a season that can be stretched out for indefinite periods of time. Sometimes we have to count the cost. The cost at the time wasn’t best for me. 
There is also adaptive components to maintenance. I am learning to change up my routine or my workout when I feel unmotivated about workouts. There are also life changes that require workouts changes. My husband and I recently relocated 2300 miles, from mountain life to ocean life. While I had spent the last couple years lifting heavy weights at the gym, I was suddenly faced with a new challenge. There was no gym and our new home didn’t have space for heavy weights. At first, I was frustrated. What was I going to do now? I quickly realized my new life change meant a change in my training. This wasn’t an easy change at first. The first few weeks of no gym I had a lot of anxiety! Heavy weightlifting had become a security blanket and it was time to put it away for a while. Without access to the barbell rack, I’ve had a chance to work on some old gymnastic training, flexibility, and explore other workouts–areas I neglected for years, and that I really missed doing. 
Final thoughts. 
Honestly, maintenance is about learning to live from out truest, healthiest selves. The main focus of fat loss phase is so you can make changes in your body and, most importantly and what gets left out by a lot of people, live life with new lifelong habits, and keeping Venus tools for when you do let the house go and need to whip it back into shape. You learn to listen to yourself, learn what works best for you, what is sustainable, what is joyful. You learn balance. 
Maintenance is choosing to be Venus for LIFE.


Keturah Before and After Front

Ketty’s Metrics Using Venus

(Note Keturah had lost about 100 lbs before even finding Venus in 2011 on her own! WOW!)

Weight Height Waist Shoulders Hips
June 2011 217 lb 71 in ~35.5 in ~46 in ~50 in
April 2016 175 lb 71 in 27.5 in 43 in 42 in
Deltas -42 lb 0 in -8 in -3 in -8 in




Keturah Happily Ever After Maintaining

Keturah Happily Ever After Maintaining at her Wedding in Summer 2015


Watch Keturah’s interview with Liss below:

Listen to Keturah’s interview with Liss below, or download it for later:

Laura Found Venus to be a Healthy Lifestyle NOT a Get-Fit-Quick Scheme

Laura before and after Venus - Front Clothes

Laura placed in our recent VT15 Venus Transformation Contest.

She did a phenomenal job and her results display the hard work she put in.

Laura before and after Venus - Side

Laura lost 7 inches from her waist and 7 inches from her hips in only 12 weeks! WOW!

Here is what Laura had to say in her own words:

“My experience with the Venus Factor system”

I have to say that I was a teeny bit skeptical about the Venus System when I first went through all the elements. Yes it made sense from a scientific point of view, but there are so many other get fit schemes in the market that I wanted to make sure I was putting my beloved body through a safe and trustworthy system. I then researched and discovered that John Barban is a fitness genius and has plenty of credibility. His explanations are valid, so I make the commitment and signed up! The primary focus I took was on the eating system using the morning fasts about 4 days per week, which made reaching the deficit goal much easier! I was not hungry apart from some days on a couple difficult weeks. Juicing from time to time helped me to get in extra vegetables and healthy nutrients. The forums are also great to read, they were instrumental to me at the beginning to wrap my head around how to really implement this into my life on a daily basis. The fantastic tips I learned from Roberta, Lissa (ah-mazing recipes thanks) as well as the other coaches and regulars on the posts and podcasts gave invaluable, uplifting recommendations. I have weights and other personal fitness gear so I could do modified workouts if I was working from home, on my back deck or would make the trip to a gym. I also bike to work a few times a week though as warned, that can be a little too much and make me more hungry and tired, so I avoided excessive cardio. Since I work in the field of health and physical education I wanted to be walking my talk more since I had got out of past routines over the last year with extra stress and responsibility adding pounds on. The Venus Factor system was the vehicle I needed to get there! The first few weeks of my subscription I lost 4 pounds but there was no contest to start until late August, then I lost the rest of the pounds and inches here in Contest 15! I am delighted to have improved my body to where I feel stronger and more energetic. I can even say focus is better. I have received several compliments and am motivated to keep going in order to shred, shape and tone even more! This is the end of one contest but the beginning of a new framework that is now over the weeks ingrained into me, on how to live a healthier lifestyle. I’m going to keep going until I reach my goals. Thanks Venus Factor!

Laura before and after Venus - Back

Laura’s Metrics

Weight Height Waist Shoulders Hips
Before 151 lb 67.5 in 36 in 45.3 in 42 in
After 141 lb 67.5 in 28.8 in 42.3 in 35 in
Deltas -10 lb 0 in -7.3 in -3 in -7 in


Listen to Laura’s interview with Liss below, or download it for later:

Heather Found Venus was the Solution to Fat Loss and Maintenance

Heather Before Heaviest and After Venus

Heather at one of her heaviest weights before finding Venus and after, WOW!



Heather placed in our recent VT15 Venus Transformation Contest.

She did a phenomenal job and her results display the hard work she put in. Her transformation stretches out further than this 12 week period though, she has lost over 30 lbs using Venus!

Heather before and after Venus Front

Heather before starting Venus in 2015 and after this 12 week contest, unbelievable!

Here is what Heather had to say in her own words:

My experience with Venus has been amazing. My life long search for the program that works is finally over. I have found it and I am hooked. I am a 47 year old woman with a wonderful husband and 4 terrific grown children. However I was struggling with self-image problems, low self-esteem and was just unhappy inside. Like many other Venus ladies, I tried every diet program out there, and purchased several exercise DVD programs. I was successful in my goal of losing weight but as soon as I hit a certain point the motivation to stick with it disappeared and the weight started to climb back up. I had convinced myself that I was just meant to be overweight and my genetic chemistry was preventing me from being slim. Then in March of 2015 I found Venus on Facebook. I listened to John’s story about his sister and how he developed something that was specific to women who battle with this issue. In my first 12 weeks on Venus I lost 20 pounds and 24 inches off my body. One thing I had never done in previous weight loss efforts was to combine the diet and the lifting. I had done both separately thinking it was enough by itself. The other aspect of Venus that was hugely motivating for me was the all the information I got through the podcasts and blog posts. I love, love, love John and Brad’s podcasts. I listened to them whenever I could. They blasted away every myth I grew up believing, every misconception that I had adopted just because a fitness professional said it and I was finally able to break away from all the bad information that I had stored in my head and replaced with the facts that John and Brad’s research had taught me. So after my first 12 weeks of the Venus program, it was May and summer was coming. I decided that I would take a break from actively losing, and applied the same principles of the program but eat at maintenance most days and at a deficit 2 days each week. As August approached I had maintained my 20 pound weight loss. I was ecstatic. I had never ever done that. In the past as soon as I stopped following the weight loss program, instantly the weight started creeping back up. This was when I decided that I would enter the contest to further motivate me to continue my journey. Here I am today at the end of the contest and I am more motivated than ever to continue my journey to get to my ideal Venus Body. I am not there yet but I am loving my new body, my new outlook on life, my new self-confidence. Not just my body changed, but my life changed…and people have noticed. This journey has been amazing and I am so grateful for John, Brad, Liss, and Roberta and all the ladies on the forum for their constant efforts to encourage us, educate us and provide effective tools for every woman to utilize in reaching their fitness goals. Thank you all.


Heather’s Metrics

Weight Height Waist Shoulders Hips
Before 140 lb 62 in 31.5 in 41.7 in 37 in
After 131 lb 62 in 29 in 38.8 in 36 in
Deltas -9 lb 0 in -2.5 in -3 in -1 in


Heather before and after Venus


Heather is a beautiful Venus! Nothing can stop her now!


Heather’s AWESOME Home Gym

Heather Venus Index Home Gym

Listen to Heather’s interview with Liss below, or download it for later:

What is Venus Coaching and who is it for?

Venus Index Coaches

Your Venus Index Coaching Team


I have answered a few questions lately regarding Venus coaching and how it differs from our Venus Immersion.



Venus Immersion is comparable to a “do it yourself” home project. You know it will take you a bit longer than a contractor but it will save money and you will learn the basics along the way.  The other benefit is that you have access to Venus training programming much longer than a 12 week period along with access to all the uncensored podcasts.



Venus coaching is comparable to hiring a contractor for your home project. You want an expert so it gets done right the first time or maybe you have a special case.  Other reasons may be that you have no background knowledge in fitness or your time is valuable so you want to cut to the chase. A coach will get your background and prescribe a nutrition and training regimen based on your needs.


All the coaches do things a little differently based on their personalities. You can request any one of the coaches and if we have space we will accommodate your request.   We all touch base with clients weekly and take client biweekly progress reports. Based on that, a coach will modify programming for the client.  Clients can email their coach at any time with questions or concerns. I like to talk to my clients face to face so we Skype if the client desires, some of the other coaches do as well.


If you think Immersion might be right for you, there is more information here –


If you think coaching might be for you, there is more info here –


Either way you go, you are investing in your health and priorities which is a win.


X- Coach Liss

Are You a Venus Endurance Athlete?

Are you in this for the long haul?

Are you in this for the long haul?

Are You a Venus Endurance Athlete?

This past week has been one of remembering to be thankful. You must think about what it is for which you are grateful, and give thanks for it. That’s the interesting thing about giving thanks – it is very much an intentional act. It’s a lot like being a Venus. When we become a Venus, we have to go about it with a fair amount of intention. We choose to make changes.

I thought a bit about all these changes I’ve been making. Eating differently, exercising differently, thinking differently…it’s a lot of “differentlys” in a relatively short period of time. That can be something of a stressor, both physically and mentally.

I have had great success with Venus thus far – but my fat loss is the “long haul” sort. At the start of my Venus journey, my total weight loss goal put me at 105 pounds to lose. The 25.5 lbs I’ve lost with Venus so far is great! But I have 79.5 more pounds to go. It’s just a process, after all, but the REALITY is, it’s going to take me awhile.

It’s not going to happen in 12 weeks like it will for some ladies. Or 24 weeks or 36 or maybe even 48 or longer…I am having to mentally prepare myself for a journey that is going to require I have my head in the game for a bit before I’ve lost my optimal amount of fat. This isn’t a bad thing. Or a good thing, for that matter. It’s just what it is.

As usual, it got me thinking in comparisons. And I compare this journey to being an endurance athlete. Because like an endurance athlete, to DO this, we all have to be self-motivated, we have to be able to see the Big Picture, we need a team (family, friends, the Venus community), and we have to endure with a little panache.

Endurance athletes share other things in common with the ladies of Venus who are “In it to Win it!”


  • You focus on cumulative gains: Just like endurance athletes can’t complete a marathon in one day, neither can you lose all your fat in one fell swoop. You do it little by little, weights and measures. Week by week you follow the plan and you trust the process. As Coach Liss has said on Venus, JOT, or Just One Thing…you just do one thing at a time, day by day.


  • It’s you against yourself: You’re not doing this “against” anybody else. Your results are yours. And no one else’s. We are our worst enemy; once we figure that out, we face our own fears, our own constraints, our own worries. We face them and we conquer them, and that’s how we win. As Coach Roberta likes to say, celebrate each victory, every time!


  • You push your limits: It’s known that the reason endurance athletics is so hard is that it forces you to push yourself. Honestly, though, following an eating protocol and exercise program is the easy part. The hard part is the mindset it takes to make it to the end. Pushing your mental limits is where the real magic happens.


  • You help others: This isn’t totally necessary, I mean, you can succeed anyway without helping anyone along the way. But on Venus, we see again and again that those who reach out to others, over the long haul, just do better with their on weight loss and maintenance. You give tips or you share recipes. You encourage and support.


  • The more you sweat in training, the easier it is to race: I liken this to fat loss phase versus maintenance phase. If you put in the hard, grunty work to understand how to lose fat and build muscle during fat loss phase, when it is time to maintain, you will win that “race” because maintenance is for the rest of your life. Train yourself. And you’ll know how to race.


  • You will finish: And this is really it. You never quit. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, how often you stumble, how many times you have to buy new jeans, you will finish. This is yours and yours alone to finish. No one can do it for you.


So, are you a Venus Endurance Athlete?

– Anea

How to Practice Social Eating

Julie’s Stunning VT8 Transformation

Julie placed WAY back in VT8 and is still active in the Venus community as a veteran Venus member.

Venus ladies in Vegas

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting her in person at a Venus meetup held in Las Vegas last year. Julie was full of questions and had a genuine interest in each of our stories.  We found we had a shared love of multitasking when I admitted to reading while I blow dry my hair. Turns out we also share a very serious podcast addiction.  I hold Venus primarily accountable!

One of greatest things about Venus and our community is that we are so thrilled with our own results and being lifted up by others that we feel compelled to pay that forward.  We do that by telling our struggles and by sharing what worked for us.  Julie shared the following post with me and a few other Venus friends in that same spirit.  It was so good I knew I had to share with you all too because it was so profound and helpful. She credits a podcast called Mastering Fat Loss for putting the following ideas together about navigating social eating. Julie, take it away….



Social eating season is upon us



Dreading the holiday temptations? While I don’t think we should push our luck by hanging around the doughnut table, there are situations we can’t avoid or shouldn’t avoid since most people have families, work, and are hopefully not social hermits. What we can do is see these situations as “PRACTICE”.  Here’s a helpful tip I picked up from a couple of different podcasts this week.

The first is that you look at temptation situations/stress/lack of sleep/overworked, etc. as you would look at gym practice if you were on a basketball team. Imagine you are the star player in a game you love.  (Basketball, soccer, bowling, whatever)  You joined this team to help them succeed, but you really suck, which is pretty upsetting.  When it comes times to practice you are still pretty bummed, so you decide to skip practice. Then the next game rolls around and you suck again, because you didn’t practice.  How will you ever get better without practice? It’s so obvious in this situation.  The better choice would have been to pick yourself up after the sucky game and jump right in when the opportunity to practice presents itself.

Over time your game will improve because you PRACTICED. Holidays, social settings, all the situations that tend to derail us should not be dreaded, but seen as an opportunity to PRACTICE! (I think this is an amazing way to reframe these situations and change our attitude about feeling deprived or deserving of something that doesn’t take us to our goals.)

The mindset from a another podcast compared “positive thinking” to the concept of “power thinking”; choosing to frame a situation in a way that is both useful and empowering to you.  Blend the two and take it one step better by incorporating the idea above about PRACTICE with Power Thinking.

It would go something like this:

“I’m in control of my choices and I know it will be easier to make good choices when life isn’t easy, if I PRACTICE it.  And in order to get better, I need PRACTICE. In order to have the opportunity to PRACTICE, I need stressful situations in my life. I need situations to arise where everything doesn’t go according to plan. If those things don’t happen, if life doesn’t rattle me sometimes, I don’t have the opportunity to PRACTICE. I’ve proven to myself that I can make bad choices, and now I’m grateful for these opportunities to prove something different to myself, to change my body and in moments where life isn’t going according to plan, I am going to PRACTICE gratitude for everything that is going well in my life .  I am going to embrace the opportunity to PRACTICE making good food choices because making bad food choices only makes a less than ideal situation even worse.

PRACTICE makes it easier. Skipping PRACTICE makes it more of a challenge.

I am far more powerful than the temptations I face because I PRACTICE making good choices when the opportunity arises.”


Wow. What great insight, Julie! Thank you for sharing.

Nutrition the Venus Way – Podcast

Liss Nutrition and Dumas Venus ladies

In this podcast which was recorded live in front of an audience for a seminar in Dumas, Texas, at the Moore County YMCA- Coach Liss answers:

  • What is the fitness hierarchy?
  • Why is rest and stress important to consider?
  • What are the 3 ways of eating?
  • Why, when, and how should we eat in a deficit.
  • Why is eating to maintenance level important?
  • Why we should consider error in our nutrition.
  • Why is protein important?
  • How a weekly and daily eating pattern might look.
  • Does meal timing matter?
  • What supplements should I consider?
  • Why should I consider gut health?
  • What is the Anything Goes Diet?
  • How might I consider actions instead of only goals

Goal to Actions Graphic

Along with many practical tips and actual examples of what Liss’ nutrition looks like on a daily basis.


Listen to the free Venus Factor Podcast below:

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Keeping your Motivation Up


Jenny venus top small

Coach Jenny knows what it takes to win a Venus Contest.

As we start out this latest Venus Contest- VT12, expectation and motivation run high. It is so exciting to think of the possible change you can drive in 12 short weeks with consistency and hard work!

For some the newness will wear down after a few weeks; challenges will inevitably present themselves and motivation will wane. What you will be left with is a choice to continue on with the commitment you made or to throw in the towel. Many will choose the latter. Do not be one of them.  You can do this!
Here are some practical tips to keep up your motivation-

1) Refocus and reflect

I like to look over how I did the day before and plan out the day ahead for both calories and workouts. I then take my daily goals and turn them into weekly goals. Those become a weekly journal where I can reflect on what went good or bad.  It is from this weekly feedback that we learn what works.



Coach Roberta’s main motivation is her workouts. The workouts help her keep her eye on the prize and make healthy choices with food.

2) Try a new tool

There are many to choose from, and how well they work for you will change with the seasons. Being open to trying new things and to changing something that is not working for you is important on a fitness journey. Experiment with the time of day you work out, try adding a day of cardio, change up the number of meals a day, or give fasting a try.

3) Find others who have walked the same path and succeeded

I find listening to Venus Index podcasts each day both inspires and motivates me.  They keep me focused and I always come away with at least one helpful idea.


The Venus Index community is brimming full of women who are previous contest winners and those who are on their maintenance journey.   It is so easy to reach out and get more personal via PM’s, texts, or email. The accountability is often very helpful when you are struggling.


We now have Venus Premier Coaching available for those who want it. A Venus coach will tell you exactly what to do and keep you accountable with regular check points.

Coach Lita is in tip top shape and knows how to get her clients there too

Coach Lita is in tip top shape and knows how to get her clients there too.

4) Start a streak

Get yourself a calendar and reward each forward day with a sticker. Log continuously on My Fitness Pal. Creating a streak can be motivating! They also tend to develop into habits which take up less mental space.

5) Spend money

Where your money goes often reveals your priorities. It should be enough to make you feel the need to use it so make the amount appropriate to your income. Some ideas would be to purchase home gym equipment, workout clothing/shoes, or advanced programming like Immersion or Venus Premier Coaching.


Hiring a photographer is another great motivating tool for your contest photos. What better reward than professional documentation of being in the best shape of your life!

Liss teal workout outfit

On scene at my last shoot, photographers and timelines are motivating for me.

Try incorporating a few of these methods into your contest or contest shadowing. This is a choice you are making, so commit to honor that as best you can. Forgive yourself when you mess up, learn from it, and power on. We call that stumbling forward in Venus land. Best wishes for VT12!


X- Liss

Pseudo Nutrition regarding fitness; Uncensored Podcast


What is pseudo nutrition, nutritionism, or nutrition as a hobby?


Why do we seek these patterns with food?

How does this relate cause and effect relationship with food?

How does this relate to physiological research?

What about all the variables?

How does your interpreting the data fit in?

What about the environmental situation?

Is it really unbiased?

Where do the fallacies fit in?

What about when you have a degree in nutrition?

What about image illusion?

Why do we get caught up in it?

Is it a false sense of truth?

Does it address the real problem?



Listen to what John and Brad have to say about Pseudo Nutrition:


IMMERSION Clients May Login and Download Podcast Here

(If you are using Venus Index Mobile, go to the left menu -> My products -> right menu -> Uncensored Season 3 -> enjoy, you can assign star to add it into Favorites for easier access next time, if you don’t have access to Uncensored Podcasts you can purchase Immersion Package inside the App Shop)

Not a Venus Index IMMERSION client? Click here to find out more…

How I Lost Belly Fat and got my Abs back

I made a lot of mistakes and it took me a year and a half to get my abs back

I made a lot of mistakes and it took me a year and a half to get my abs back


I’ve made a lot of mistakes this past year and a half. I am an imperfect human with many flaws and I know it.  I hope that explaining the mistakes I have made might help someone.

Most of us know that words are only a small part of communication so you probably would not realize how afraid I was to post this picture (yet at the same time how proud I am of it), or how vulnerable I feel when I post a video of myself in my own backyard.

Someone in the online community said the picture was pretty cool and likened me to a tough Janet Jackson type chick.  Little would anyone know that I am far from anything like a tough chick.  As Randy said about me recently, I’m like the tin man with a soft squishy marshmallow inside.

Part of the story I’m going to tell here involves the fact that I’m a 53-year-old female who has been going through menopause for several years.  There I said it; it’s an icky topic that is TMI for many.  But it’s a reality for women my age and that includes many new members of the Venus community.

Just this morning I showed this picture to my husband Randy.  He was the one who took the short video, but I am the one who freeze framed two frames from the video and superimposed them together.  I told Randy I was really happy with this picture because I felt like it showed the real me (no makeup, in gym clothes, in my own back yard, in natural movement that was not “posing”).  As my friends in the gym would say, it’s me in my “element”.

I am also very happy with the picture because it shows I finally I got my abs back!  I have been struggling for a year and a half to get to exactly this point.

This morning as I showed the picture to Randy I said “Don’t you like it?”  He groaned.  Of course he likes it, what else would he say?  Certainly nothing that would cause me to repeat another recent episode of “Nobody likes me, every body hates me!”  READ: Wild female menopause hormone episodes increased by hot flashes, insomnia, and hypersensitivity.  Oh yeah.  Crazy stuff.


Was it hormones or calorie counting?

Menopause hormones. That’s a big part of what I struggled with last year and the issues are still not resolved.  I attributed most of my problems to that but I was wrong.  Yes there’s a problem with them, but they did not cause me to gain fat or to have trouble losing fat.

I caused many of my own health issues.

Looking back I’ve noticed some strange behavior once I started counting calories.

When I started the fat loss process back in 2009 I did not count calories.

I was at the peak of my obesity eating 100% organic food.  I soaked, dried, and milled all of my own grain.  I made homemade sauerkraut and kombucha.  I soaked and cooked organic legumes and chickpeas (and still do as I love the improved taste and could never go back to anything else). I ate only free-range grass fed meat and dairy, with no added hormones.  I used raw organic cream and butter.  I ate full fat organic live cultured yogurt.  I followed Weston Price Wise Traditions style of eating and relied heavily “Nourishing Traditions” which I still consider one of the best cookbooks in existence.

I also lost 85 pounds eating the same way, I just cut my portion sizes way down, ate my food on desert plates, and practiced some prolonged nightly fasting as well as some Eat Stop Eat intermittent fasting.  I got all the way down to 10% body fat eating all organic and not counting a single calorie.  Portion control was key.

Then I floundered at how to eat normal (maintenance) as most of us do once we reach our fat loss goal.  You see, we know how to diet (eat less), and we know how to over eat (that’s how we became overweight in the first place), but we have a hard time learning how to just eat normal.

That’s when I started counting calories.  There is nothing wrong with counting calories.  I intend to keep counting because I do like having the data and it helps with troubleshooting health issues.  I also think it’s important because most of us females are so small that we have very little margin for error if we want to remain lean athletes.  We can’t eat too low when we are lean, and we can’t eat too much if we want to remain lean.  The margin of error for me is only about 200 calories.  It’s very hard to walk that fine of a line without tracking calories.


Here’s the problem I created for myself when I started counting calories

I was so focused on calories that I unintentionally started cutting out healthy fat and started adding in “short cut” foods; artificial sweeteners, artificial butter flavor, miracle noodles, Glucomannan powder, sugar free Jell-O and pudding, and artificial creamer.  I had even cut out the fish oil that my doctor recommended because I thought it was too many calories.

I started getting a clue last year when I wrote “Successful Weight Loss; There Are No Shortcuts”.

But it didn’t totally sink in yet.  I cut out all of those foods and then reverted back to artificial butter and creamer, and still used sugar free pudding on occasion, as well as a few other products with Splenda.

I continued to have problems with inflammation and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t seem to lose the little bit of extra fat around my belly.  I know it wasn’t much and I certainly was not fat, but it just wasn’t where I felt my best.

I also experimented with Carb Back-Loading, which had some disastrous affects along with some very good take away points, which I have kept.  I will talk more about that later.

I continued to get thicker around the waist and had a little emotional breakdown. I began to focus more on getting my peak calorie days back in control but I was still having sleep issues due to hot flashes and insomnia.  I had a lot of strange food cravings that were hard to control.


The research project that got me back on the healthy track

After the New Year John and Brad had me work on a research project for them.  During the research I relearned much of what I used to practice with the Weston Price foundation and Nourishing Traditions.

The research lead me to science that backed the fact that Splenda and many food chemicals harm your gut flora.  I was also reminded of how important fermented foods, prebiotic, and probiotic foods are to keeping your gut flora healthy.  I also learned that unhealthy gut flora can hinder fat loss.

The light bulb flashed in my mind.  I gathered up all of the containers of creamer, Splenda products, and sugar free pudding mixes and tossed them in the trash.  My husband was quite happy because he never liked that I was using those products.  I’ve started making sure I eat something fermented everyday again and my husband started drinking kombucha with me, which was a pleasant surprise.


Still, those hormones again

Even with the hormone problems that still exist for me I’ve dropped all the belly fat and got my abs back just by making the few healthy changes to my diet.  At my already extreme low body fat I could not lower my calories very much, but what I found over the last two months is that my strange food cravings went away and I’m able to keep my peak calorie days under control.

I’ve started seeing a new doctor and got my hormones checked.  Some of my friends in the Venus online community already know that I’m pretty tired of waking up every day feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck.  It turns out that many of my hormones are low; TSH, DHEA, Progesterone, Estradiol, and my free testosterone is almost zero.  Dr. Campbell is starting me on some Bio-identical hormone replacement and I’m still waiting patiently to see how it will affect me.  I’m hoping it will help me feel better soon.

I asked the doctor how on earth do I have so much muscle with no testosterone?  He said “I don’t know, but I would have loved to see a baseline when you were younger!”  And “Girl, you got some guns on you!”  That made me feel pretty good; I do work hard.  I’m far from perfect but I put a lot of effort into all I do.

In the meantime I really am happy that I got my Abs back!


Carb Back-Loading take away points and caveats

I mentioned that I found some caveats with John Kiefer’s Carb Back-Loading protocol.

First problem, it was designed for men.  Not counting calories works fine for men because they are bigger, have a bigger metabolism, and have more room for error with calorie intake.  For women who want to maintain a lean athletic physique that includes “having abs” (which Kiefer likes to show his program gives you), most likely it’s too fine a line to not count those calories.

Second problem, eating white sugar and white flour is like heroin to a female on a calorie deficit at the end of the day when she is most ego depleted. This scenario is a disaster waiting to happen.  I prefer corn grits, corn tortillas, potato, sweet potato, sourdough bread, or popcorn, and I usually only have room for one serving at night, if that.

I did like the science and research and found it well worth the read for the timing of protein and carbs in relation to how fat is stored and how it effects muscle.

I also follow Kiefer’s advice on skipping breakfast when I’m not hungry, working out fasted (although I prefer mid day with my schedule as opposed to evening), and saving my carbs for later in the day after I’ve worked out.

The last benefit that I took away from Kiefer’s protocol was ending my long distance cardio.  I now only do HIIT and low intensity cardio for not longer than 50 minutes (unless I’m out hiking which isn’t all that often).  This is working out really well for me.  I’m less fatigued, less stressed, less hungry, and better able to keep my eating habits under control.



Interesting tip for capturing photos

The picture I posted here today were two superimposed freeze frames from this short video taken last weekend.  I had Randy take the video just to see how I looked with my newly found long lost abs.  It was a cool trick John told me about in order to capture muscle tone, striations, etc. that you sometimes see in the mirror but have a hard time capturing in pictures.  I hadn’t thought of it until after we viewed the video.  I thought it worked pretty well.

It might come in handy for some of you taking pictures this weekend!

I’m looking forward to viewing the VT-10 contests results next week.  If you are in the contest make sure to enter your photo’s into the tracker contest dashboard tool.  The contest deadline is April 14, 2014.

Have a great weekend!


 You can find me in the Venus online community as RobertaSaum.