The Secret Of Motivation That Nobody Wants You To Know

Most people struggle with motivation.

They think the reason they can’t follow a particular nutrition plan or exercise routine is because they’re not motivated enough:

“All those people getting lean and sticking to their plan must be more MOTIVATED than I am.”

“They must know some secret of motivation.”

Let’s look at that idea for a moment.

Motivation is defined as: the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

Do you think that all those people going to the gym 4 or 5 times a week always have a desire to do it?

Would their preferred choice always be chicken breast and veggies instead of a burger and fries?

No way!

Many times they’re tired and don’t feel like going to the gym, but do it anyway.


They choose certain foods because they remind themselves how good those foods make them feel and the effects they have.

They do it because they know about the benefits.

They’ve made a commitment to themselves to make certain choices.

Many times they think about the fact that even though they don’t necessarily feel like going to the gym or eating the healthier food, they’ll probably feel better afterwards.

You can do the work without feeling the motivation to do it.

Make it part of your routine.

Schedule it in like any other important appointment.

But you need to WANT to make a change in your life.

And you won’t change until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of the changes you need to make to get there.

Think about that for a moment (it’s a mental twister, that’s for sure!).

Until the pain of not having the body you want is greater than the pain of exercising and turning down that extra bagel (things required to make a change), then you won’t do anything.

It doesn’t have to related to fitness either.

If you don’t enjoy your job, you won’t feel the need to change until the misery of that job is greater than the discomfort, inconvenience, and potential financial disaster of being unemployed.

When the pain of your current state overrides everything else, you’ll make the change.

As humans, we naturally go towards pleasure and avoid pain.


And it’s not always what’s best for us.

So if you need to make a change, it’s HARD.

No one can make you do it and no one can just push you in the right direction.

That’s the unsexy truth about motivation.

Until it hurts so much to stay as you are that you don’t want to stay there anymore, you won’t do the things you need to do to change.

Many of my Online Coaching clients have been encouraged to change by a health scare, or forced into action by an upcoming milestone birthday.

The pain of staying in their current state became too much.

They felt compelled to make the change.

Once the change is made, it needs to be reinforced on a daily basis.

In my 20s, I spent a lot of time having epiphanies that I would never eat chocolate again or binge eat again.

“Really, THIS is the last time!”, I would tell myself.

Until it wasn’t.

So I kept making the same mistake over and over again.

Don’t Do It Alone!

It’s important to have support to keep you going in the right direction.


Whether that’s friends, family, a support group, or (ideally) a professional coach, most people need guidance on their fitness journey.

Some days it will seem more important than anything to have the fitness to be able to play with your kids without getting winded.

You’ll think about how things will look in your 50s and 60s if you continue on the path you’re on and it will scare you enough to do things differently.

And then one day your desire may be overcome by a donut that crosses your path.

Or the pint of beer that somehow ends up on your table.

Soon that “motivation” won’t be as strong and you’ll start to slip.

What happens then?

If you don’t have anyone to support your goal or keep you on track then your behaviour may change for the worse.

That’s why it’s important to have a support system to help you achieve important goals.

When one of my Online Coaching clients feels their motivation wane, I’m there to remind them why they started the process in the first place.

Creating a powerful “why” is an important tool to keep your desire for change burning.

So find your reason.

Do you want to be a good example for your kids?

Are you disappointed with how weak and tired your body feels?

Is your health not what you would like it to be?

The motivation to make a lifestyle change will be easier to find when you have a strong reason.

Find what motivates you.

Get support along the way.

Once you’ve built up the habit of exercise and eating well, you’ll go through the motions that get results…even when your motivation isn’t particularly strong.

That’s when things start to feel effortless.

And you’ll know that real change has happened.

Ivana Chapman


My Year End Review 2018


It says something about the way that 2019 has begun that I’m writing this blog post in February!

2019 has started off busy – in a good way!

I’ve welcomed a couple of new Online Coaching clients. I’m always excited about the opportunity to change people’s lives through a healthier lifestyle.

Although I managed to give myself a mild rotator cuff tear when I fell skiing in the first week of January, my rehab is progressing well and I’ve been able to work around it in my weight training sessions.

This post represents a look back at 2018 and a plan for moving forward.

It might give you some ideas for what you want to achieve.

If you’re wondering how things were looking as I started 2018, check out My Year End Review of 2017.

Growing As He Grows

My son Kai turned four in 2018 and started Junior Kindergarten in the Fall. While the transition wasn’t as seamless as we expected (no more naps…yikes!), he’s now settled into the JK life.

This autumn he did kung fu classes and in January he went back to his weekly ice skating classes.


He also started going to Czech classes on Saturdays and began doing acrobatics once a week too.

As my son takes on more activities, I’ve done my best to keep learning new things as well.

I’ve been working on my ice skating skills. Although I’ve been skating since I was a kid, I got a lot better in the last few months just because we went skating so often (probably a dozen times this season so far).

Those backwards moves are looking more confident!

Too many parents sign their kids up for activities and classes several days a week, without giving a thought to their own development.

Life isn’t over because you’re a parent or because you hit a certain age.

I’m continuing to develop my Czech skills. Although I was born in Prague, I stopped speaking Czech when I was five and I never learned to read or write. I’ve been working on learning the Czech language since around the time my son was born.

I’m currently using the free language app Duolingo, which I highly recommend.

In December, I started learning piano, after finally finding an app that I like, SimplyPiano. Apart from recorder as a child and a depressing year with the trombone in middle school (envision the sound of irritable elephants), I haven’t had experience with musical instruments. So it’s a fun mental task for me to learn music.

Keep Learning, Stay Young

I loved THIS POST about a 65-year-old Norwegian woman who took up skateboarding at 61. She’s also recently taken up acrobatics and graphite art.

Sounds like my kind of woman!

It’s so inspiring to see people in their 60s pushing the boundaries, when many people as young as 35 or 40 have already given up.

When you consider yourself too old to do something, that’s when amazing opportunities for joy and self-development disappear.

What are you working on for 2019?

What do you want to try or get better at?

Your life isn’t all about your child(ren), or at least it shouldn’t be.

Your personal health and achievements need to be priorities too.

Health Issues And Solutions

As healthy as I try to be, like most people I still have my share of health issues.

I’ve suffered from GERD and IBS for over twenty years.

I tried the FODMAP Diet for IBS in 2018 without success.

After a CT scan of my sinuses proved clear, the ENT doctor told me the incessant coughing I’d been experiencing was acid travelling up my esophagus from GERD.

Early in 2018 I tried giving up dairy, reducing chocolate, and limiting caffeine to one cup of tea a day in order to control my GERD symptoms.

It didn’t help.

After two decades and endless diets, I haven’t found any dietary measure that eliminates my GERD (although spicy and greasy foods can certainly make it worse) entirely.


I did discover that my symptoms can be exercise-induced. Whenever I push myself hard, either with weights, martial arts, or running, my stomach gets worse.

It used to happen years ago when I was a competitive karate athlete. Whenever my stomach got better I would start pushing myself harder with my training. Then my stomach would get worse again.

So the lesson there is that I can’t always physically push myself the way I would like.

I need to avoid running and jumping, for the most part. I need to take it easy with my martial arts training so I haven’t been able to attend classes where I might start feeling competitive and go too hard.

I tried a kung fu class at the school my son was attending last year and ended up having an acid reflux flare-up that lasted two weeks!

So I have to pace myself, which I admit isn’t always easy.

I’m Out

I skipped competing in fitness model shows last year because I was struggling with GERD symptoms. Given that my symptoms get worse the more I push myself, it seems like a more moderate approach is warranted. And my competitive nature means that I don’t want to give a half-hearted effort.

So I won’t be competing in 2019, and perhaps not at all.

Where is all that time and energy going to?

A bit of skating, language learning, and piano. And perhaps I’ll finally have time to finish that fitness book I’ve been writing for a few years.

Fun Stuff

After not travelling at all in 2017 (booo!), we finally got back into it in 2018.

In April, we went to St Lucia for a week to escape the freakishly cold and seemingly-never ending winter.

We then hit the Czech Republic, my birthplace, for a couple of weeks to visit family. We were also able to check out the fairytale village called Cesky Krumlov, that I’ve been wanting to see since an Australian workmate told me about it in 1998.


Plans For 2019

A lot of my focus is on helping my Online Coaching clients change their lives through nutrition and exercise. I do strive to make what I do life-altering. I want to change people’s relationship with food and fitness, rather than just helping them achieve some arbitrary new year’s resolution.

I love what I do and my business will get more of my energy this year.

I’ll also be spending time writing more blog posts and contributing as a fitness & nutrition expert to various outlets.

Writing will be a big focus in 2019.

And having just booked a week-long vacation to the island of Martinique in the French Caribbean in March, it might be time to brush up on my limited high school French!

Best of luck with YOUR plans for 2019.

Hopefully this will be a special year for you.

Ivana Chapman


Why Most People Never Change


Admit it.

You have a routine for most things in your life.

You probably drive or walk the same way to work each morning.

Your breakfast is the same 80% of the time.

You shop in the same few places for your groceries and your clothes.

There’s nothing wrong with having a routine…as long as it serves you.

Your lifestyle is the sum of all the decisions you make every day.


It’s a bunch of habits that you’ve built up over time.

If those routines are helping you progress toward your goals…great!

Otherwise it’s time to make a change.

Change Is Hard!

We get stuck in a groove and keep repeating the same actions.

And mainly it’s tied to the stories we tell ourselves.

Until you change that story, you won’t make progress in your

Are you telling yourself that you’re too old to get in shape?

Do you tell yourself that taking care of your kids is more important than making time for yourself?

Do you believe that you’re not as motivated as other people, or that you don’t have the energy left (after taking care or your career, family, etc.) to go to the gym or prepare balanced meals?

If you don’t change your thinking, you won’t break out of those negative routines and get on the path that leads to your goals.

You won’t make progress until you change the stories you tell yourself about WHY you can’t make a difference to your body or your health.

Deep-down, are you blaming your genetics, your upbringing, your career, or your family responsibilities for why you can’t succeed?

All of those excuses are total BS.

For every excuse you can throw out there, there’s a person who’s overcoming that challenge because they have a different attitude.

New mom?

I’ve worked with women who got in better shape than ever after having kids, even with the challenges of round-the-clock feedings and minimal “personal time”.

Four kids?

Yup, I know some people successfully kicking butt as parents, while taking care of their own health.

Busy career with regular travel?

If you learn how to eat on the go and do efficient workouts, your job won’t hold you back.

When you see yourself as a fit, healthy, motivated person you’re more likely to behave that way.


And how you view yourself is something that you can take control of.

It’s not necessary to get all psychoanalytical and try to figure out what episode in your past made you feel like you aren’t good enough.

You don’t need to examine whether your parents were the right role models for the lifestyle you want now.

All you need to do is tell yourself a better story.

A story that says, “I’m committed and I can do this.”

Or “I’m smart and capable and I can succeed.”

You can even go as far as, “I’m a fit person who takes care of herself/himself.”

Ready To Make A Change? Let Me Help.

My Online Coaching program could be what puts it all together for you.


If you want a complete workout, nutrition and mindset program to get you on the right track, it’s the most effective route to success.

Look, I get it.

You probably don’t think you can achieve the body you want.

Or maybe you figure you can do it on your own…if you can get motivated to do it.

How’s that been working out so far?

If you’re not where you want to be then there are changes to make.

If you’ve decided that it’s time to make a change, then why not give yourself the best chance of succeeding?

Having professional guidance and support, and a clear plan of action will get you where you want to be.

In a year you could be looking back, proud of what you’ve accomplished.

And if you really want to make a change, why not work with someone who has a track record of success working with people like you?

However you chose to move forward with your goals, remember that you need to start telling yourself stories that inspire you to move in the right direction.


You can change those stories, one at a time and day-by-day.

The better the stories you tell yourself, the more progress you make and the closer you’ll be to your goal.

And then the story of your life becomes very different.

Ivana Chapman


Why You Don’t Need Motivation


Trying to get yourself motivated is a pain, isn’t it?

You know you there are things you should be doing to get healthier, feel stronger, and get a bit leaner.

But it’s so damn hard to get MOTIVATED to do those things.

Coming off a long weekend here in Canada, it’s normal to feel a bit sluggish.

Although I managed a long bike ride with my son and took him swimming one day, I also spent an inordinate amount of time lying around reading A Clash of Kings (the second book in the Game of Thrones series) in my mom’s backyard.

So I’m feeling more well-rested, but perhaps lacking slightly in enthusiasm today.

Now I need to “get motivated”, right?


Today I’ll hit the gym to do a weights workout (LEGS!) because it’s part of my routine.

Even though I had an extra day off from the gym to spend time with my family, there’s nothing to contemplate today.

Back to work, back to the gym.

Everyone thinks that motivation is the answer.

“If I just had the motivation to work out!”

“If I only had the motivation to prepare some healthy meals!”

Motivation is NOT what you need.

You’re better off going to the gym and doing a half-hearted workout while feeling completely unmotivated than you are spending that time on the couch reading a motivation book to get you pumped.

I’m not saying that motivating books aren’t great (and I’m writing one myself!), but at some point you’ve got to stop reading and start DOING.

Lots of enthusiasm isn’t necessary to make progress.

Because what really makes a difference is ACTION, not motivation.

ACTION gets you the results you want.

Do the action and you’ll find the motivation.

If you’re feeling a bit tired, work out anyway.

The motivation will probably (although admittedly not always!) find you.

If it doesn’t, you can stop after 30 minutes and call it quits.

That 30-minute workout is better than nothing.

And it works a lot better than sitting around saying to yourself that you’ll start eating right and working out tomorrow.

Nike’s slogan is a cliche now, but they had it right.

Just do it.

Don’t question it.

It doesn’t need to be perfect (whether it’s your nutrition or your workouts).

You don’t even need to commit 100%.

Just give what you have to give right now.

Take one step forward and don’t worry about your distance from the goal.

You don’t need to be super-enthusiastic and gung-ho to do the work.

Just get it done.

Ivana Chapman


Some Truths You Need To Hear


Changing your lifestyle for the better can be hard.

It’s an ongoing process to maintain your commitment to eating right for your goals and doing the amount and type of exercise you need to feel fit and strong.

Plenty of excuses will rear their ugly heads as you navigate your fitness journey.

“I’m too busy.”

“I’m too tired.”

“I have more important things to do.”

Changing your mindset about food and exercise is important.

Doing the right things for your body will give you more energy and allow you to give more to others and have a more fulfilling life.

Here are some important things to remember:

1) You have complete control over what you’re eating.

Sure, people can try to entice you with whatever delicious food they’ve brought to the BBQ or try to goad you into having another drink, but the choice is ultimately yours. Take back control and make the choices that are right for you, whether that means eating the burger…or not eating the burger.

2) It takes time to see changes in your body.

You’ve been exercising for a few weeks and keeping a closer eye on your food intake. If you’re not seeing the changes you want, don’t panic! It takes time to get into the shape you’re in and it will take time to get into the shape you want. Manage your expectations and get help along the way with a supportive friend or awesome coach. 😉

3) Saying NO is the a powerful tool.

“NO, I don’t want that piece of cake.”

“NO, I can’t skip my workout to go for a beer.”

“NO, I don’t need to eat those chips after dinner.”

Whether you say these things to someone else or to yourself, know that you have the power to say them whenever you need to.

4) Food doesn’t replace anything that’s missing in your life.

If you’re unhappy, food won’t make you happy. That doesn’t mean that food can’t be part of fun experiences, but it won’t solve the underlying issue if you’ve got one.

If you’re bored, food isn’t a good source of entertainment. Read a book, flip through a trashy magazine, text a friend, go for a walk, or watch videos of cats riding bicycles on YouTube.

Do something else that entertains you and leave food for it’s true purpose (nourishment and true enjoyment).

If you’re stressed, food won’t actually relieve your stress. Eating poorly or too much will only add to your stresses, since you’ll feel less energetic and probably guilty about your expanding waistline.

5) The body you see in a few months is the result of actions you take every day.

A few days of “being good” won’t cut it. Give up the idea of “being good” altogether and learn to manage your day-to-day choices in a way that makes sense for your level of commitment and what you want to achieve with your body.

Every little step counts.

Every movement forward encourages you to keep on the right path.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the excuses.

Remember that when it comes to nutrition and exercise, you have the power to make the choices that are right for you.

Ivana Chapman


Go After The Body You Want NOW

Many of us put off things until tomorrow.

The diet starts tomorrow.

I’ll start working out tomorrow.

Most of the time this tomorrow isn’t actually tomorrow, but just a date that keeps getting pushed later and later.

Procrastination keeps people from many goals, not just plans to change their bodies.

Delaying often means that progress and opportunities are lost.

When I pursued acting and modelling for about 4 years, from 2004-2008, I often delayed parts of the process:

“I’ll look for an agent when I lose 10 pounds.”

“I’ll start going to more auditions after I finish one more acting class.”

“I’ll get new headshots done once my skin clears up a little and I get my hair highlighted.”

Admittedly, procrastination isn’t the reason I didn’t succeed at acting.

I didn’t really have the passion needed to get through the shitty early years (or decades!) of struggle as an actor.

I had worn out all that energy as an amateur international athlete in karate…and my passion and dedication there was more real.

The process I went through still serves an important point though.

It was emotionally exhausting always waiting and never feeling quite ready.


Those little things you think matter really don’t.

One more acting class wasn’t going to significantly improve my odds at auditions.

Sometimes starting “imperfectly” is fine.

Done is better than perfect.

Improving your nutrition a little is better than not making any changes.

Exercising once or twice a week for 30 minutes is better than sitting on the couch or browsing the Internet every night.

And guess what?

Those small changes may encourage you to make more changes.

Sometimes you just need a little momentum.

Get started, even if it’s a baby step.

If you’re not moving forward, you’ll eventually fall behind.

It doesn’t get easier to lose weight or build muscle as you get older, so you’re better off starting as soon as you can.

Waiting for the stars to align isn’t helpful.

The stars will never perfectly align for you.

You’ll always be busy at work.

Your kids will always be going through some phase.

You probably won’t feel like you’re energetic enough to start a serious workout regime…ever.

Start small.

Be consistent.

A series of positive decisions will edge you closer and closer to your goal.

If you’re keeping track of your weight, calories, or workout routine, you might not even notice how far you’re come until you look back on your records.

And yes, you should try to keep track of things that you’re doing to move towards your goal.

I encourage all my Online Coaching clients to record the weight they’re lifting, and how often they’re working out, as well as check their weight and measurements (as appropriate) at least every couple of weeks.

This serves as an important reality check on a regular basis and also gives you the opportunity to make modifications along the way.

When I was coaching people over a decade ago, I didn’t get regular measurements or ask clients to do a weigh-in more than once every 3 months.

3 months!

Granted, not everyone’s goal is weight loss so a weigh-in isn’t always appropriate.

Many people are just looking to be more healthy, improve their posture, or feel stronger and more energetic.

Tracking your weight isn’t necessarily helpful in those cases.

But if your goal is weight loss or just improving body composition (fat loss!), taking some sort of objective measure is valuable.

There are a lot of ups and downs during the fat loss process and you want to know where you’re at.

Regular monitoring is important.

So is accountability.

It’s a rare person who can weather the tough parts of the weight loss process on their own.

Having someone around checking in and providing the right thing to say at the right time is invaluable.

That’s why I created my Online Coaching program.

I work One-On-One with you and give individual feedback as often as you need it (some people need daily check-ins, but most of my clients do it once a week).

Having someone to be accountable to can really keep you pushing in the right direction.

Few people have the tools to get their nutrition and workouts right, and even fewer can do those things without some support along the way.

Getting started is the most important thing.

If you’re doing it on your own, make sure that you’re keeping track of your progress.

Start small and build…don’t wait for the perfect time.

The right time is now.

Because tomorrow is always too far away.

Ivana Chapman


My Year End Review

Looking back at 2017…literally (haha)

The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on how things have gone the year before and decide how to make things better this year. I don’t like to dwell on the past (it can hold me back!), but I find looking at the lessons learned and nuggets of wisdom picked up from various places can help me move forward more productively.

With that in mind, I’m going to get a little personal and share some of my insights from last year. Maybe some of them will help you make 2018 more successful. And yeah, you’ll get to know me a little better too.

The Power Of Knowledge

I like to call myself a lifelong learner and I’m always striving to find out more about things that interest me. Any successful person I know has always continued educating themselves long after they graduated from school or university.

There’s no better way to keep your mind young than to keep learning.

I love to read and I never feel like I have quite enough time to do it, but I do my best to keep up-to-date with the latest in fitness, nutrition, and sports psychology. I’ve always been a fan of the self-help realm and also enjoy reading biographies of famous people that I admire. Elon Musk’s biography by Ashlee Vance was a highlight in 2017.

Two of the most helpful books I read last year were “Fluent in 3 Months” by Benny Lewis and “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. The former helped me realize some of the limitations I felt about re-learning my first language, Czech, and got me inspired to take action on the big goal of becoming more fluent.

Carol Dweck’s book is one of the most important of the “self-help” genre, as it’s science-based info about what it really takes to achieve success. I’m planning a blog post about mindset, as well as other psychological strategies to get lean permanently, for later in the year…so stay tuned.

2017 was the end of the 3-year period required to get my credits to keep my CSCS (Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist) qualification active, so I watched a lot of webinars and did a few courses. I studied Bodybuilding Anatomy and finally completed Scientific Back Training from the CHEK Institute, which I’ve had lying around for about 3 years.

I also did short courses on Ginseng, Fiber and Cardiovascular Health, Metabolic Training For Fat Loss,  Nutrition and Supplements for Injury Recovery, and Protein Benefits. I promised myself I wouldn’t leave so many CEUs on the table the next time my re-certification comes around too!

On the weight training front, I read “Programming” by Mark Rippetoe and “High Intensity Training” by Mike Mentzer.


I’ve been a big proponent of weight training for a long time. I started doing it myself when I was 15, and I’ve based my career on helping people learn how to lift weights effectively.

I still believe that weight training is the most efficient and effective way for someone to get the lean physique they want.

The importance of cardio came back to me this year though. Not that I mean spending hours slowly peddling on a stationary bike, but regular physical activity makes you feel good. And telling people that they don’t need to do it to be lean is a little different from advising people against it (yes, there are small fitness communities that advocate avoiding cardio altogether).

A few of my coaching clients reminded me this year that they enjoy cardio. They find it helps them relieve stress and clear their minds. I don’t doubt that.

Years ago, when I was living in Bondi Beach in Australia, I used to love going for jogs along the water from Bondi to Coogee Beach. And if you don’t think it looks inspiring/beautiful/stress-relieving then you’re clearly messing with me:

Whether that’s HIIT, Metabolic resistance training, or outdoor workouts, some cardiovascular exercise is helpful. Yes, you can get that with weight training by doing things “circuit style” and limiting your rest, but sometimes you want a break from weights in your week. Other times you want to get outdoors and just feel your body move in the way it’s designed to.

Some form of cardiovascular activity is important.

So while it’s rare to catch me on a cardio machine at the gym (although I’ve done the odd bit of Step Mill to finish off weights sessions in the last few months), I spend the warmer months cycling, rollerblading, and walking whenever I can.

I don’t worry about whether it’s in the “target heart rate zone” (which I believe is an outdated method of assessing an exercise’s value), but it gets the blood flowing and makes me feel good.

Loving the way your body moves and feels is a key component of fitness.

Nutrition Lies Are Everywhere

I learned this important info from a marketing course that I did, but it’s actually the sad reality of the nutrition world on the internet:

People will believe anything if you have confidence in yourself.

That’s NOT a positive thing. 

There are several notable Internet nutrition “experts” who are making ridiculous claims, but saying it with so much confidence that thousands (and sometimes hundreds of thousands!) of people believe them. 

I won’t name these “experts” because I don’t want to increase their already over-inflated popularity.

Science got dealt a pretty hard blow this year.

Prominent people denied climate change is happening, and many people are even trying to prove that the earth is flat.

I’ve been shaking my head so hard sometimes that my neck hurts.

Admittedly, there are plenty of things that science doesn’t know for sure.

These gaps are where charlatans move in for the kill.

Actually, they also go directly against the body of scientific evidence without once acknowledging that there could be another truth (like, you know, the actual truth).

In a year when fake news was ubiquitous, nutrition is packed with it.

Going through all the nutrition nonsense on the internet would take several blog posts, but here’s a few of the current truths:

  • No pill/supplement/lotion will make you lean without effort
  • The cure for cancer HAS NOT been found
  • Toxins ARE NOT keeping you from losing weight
  • Carbs ARE NOT killing you
  • Protein IS NOT killing you
  • Vegetables probably WON’T save your life, but they should be a major part of your nutrition plan

Meditation Is The Thing Most People Realize They SHOULD Do, But Don’t

Most extremely successful people (billionaires, CEOs, Oprah) have some form of meditation practice in their lives. Many feel that it’s an ideal start to their hectic day. Meditation relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, increases focus, and can even lower your blood sugar levels!

So why isn’t EVERYONE doing it?

Most people don’t see the value, despite the scientific evidence.

Some people try and don’t see the effects fast enough so they give up.

In a time-pressured world, meditation gets left behind.

The irony is that the people who need it the most (the busiest and most stressed) are often the ones who are least likely to do it.

Nope, it doesn’t have to be this fancy. Just sit quietly and focus on your breath and you’re MEDITATING

I’ve had my own relationship with meditation over the years, somewhat bumpy at times.

I started doing meditation as a young martial arts student, then used visualization and focussing techniques as an international karate competitor for many years (while I studied Sports Psychology at University). I practiced mindfulness and self-hypnosis for my drug-free labour with my son almost 4 years ago (yes, it still hurt!).

I haven’t been consistent with meditation over the years and it’s one of the things I’m going to be working on for 2018.

What helped me when I was consistent with meditation?

Using the Calm app on my iPhone.

I did daily meditation for months last year, then it fizzled out when I stopped using the Calm app and thought I would do it on my own.

Everything is gamified these days, even meditation.

It doesn’t matter how you get yourself meditating regularly, just do it.

If you want a simple way to start, check out my blog post about meditation HERE.

Be patient and don’t expect too much and you’ll find it’s a worthwhile way to spend 10 minutes (or more) of your day. I’m back on the app and on a 9-day streak for 2018.

It works!

Personal Stuff

This is the first year in as long as I can remember that I didn’t go on a vacation! We moved to a new place in downtown Toronto, my son started daycare, and it all went way too fast.

The only trip I took was to Quebec to compete in the IFBB (Bodybuilding) International Events Qualifier.

In 2016, my husband Ryan, son Kai, and I had gone to Australia, The Czech Republic, and Holland…so it was a bit disappointed that 2017 was vacation-free.

I’m long overdue for a holiday so the plan is to have a couple of those in 2018.

Onwards and Upwards

I admit, 2017 wasn’t the best year of my life.

While some things moved forward, it wasn’t at the pace that I was hoping for. My plan now is to accelerate my growth by working my butt off in 2018.

And yes, I hope they’ll be at least one trip to the Caribbean!

If you’ve been on this journey with me for a while, thanks for being here.

I hope 2018 is the year where you make big things happen for yourself (and others).

Let’s make magic happen.

Ivana Chapman


How To Find Success After Failure


Is this going to be the year when you find success with your nutrition plan and get consistent with your workouts?

I don’t know about you, but I consider today the REAL start of the new year.

The holidays are officially over, my son went back to daycare today after two weeks off, and it’s a full 5-day work week.

For all the talk about new year’s resolutioners in the gym, most of them won’t really be getting back into action until this week.

Many have tried this path before, succeeded for a while, and then it all came apart somehow.

The nutrition side is totally in gear now too.

Most people are cutting the treat foods after some overindulgence over the holidays and a few are vowing to go without “junk food” or alcohol for at least a month.

I’m not saying that these aren’t worthwhile goals for the short term, but they’re not the lifelong solution to fat loss that you’ve been waiting for.

You’ve probably tried these strategies many times with varying success.

Right now you’re ready to get back on track and you’re motivated to finally give it your all.

Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?

I could give you a million different cheesy motivational quotes to help you get back on track, but that will only work for a while.

Here they are, if you think they’ll help:

“If you first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.”

“Fail again, fail better.”

“Don’t be scared of failure. Learn from it and try again.”

“Forget how much it hurts and try again.”

And here’s a Japanese saying that I’ve always liked:

So yes, definitely try again.

If you’re not where you want to be keep then going.

The important thing about trying again is that you try a different approach this time.

Did you succeed at losing weight by following an extremely strict diet (like paleo, no “junk food”, vegan, keto, very-low calorie, etc.) and then realize you couldn’t follow that plan forever and rebound?

Try something a little different.

Consistency and accountability are going to make your results last.

One approach is 1-On-1 Online Coaching with me: DETAILS HERE

Even if you want to go it alone, make sure you’re using the right approach.

DON’T follow any crazy detox plan (they’re everywhere right now!).

They don’t teach you anything about eating in the real world.

DON’T go overboard with exercise if you haven’t been consistent until now.

You’ll burn out or might even get injured.

Make the changes GRADUAL and SUSTAINABLE for you.

Going to the gym for 45 minutes three or four times a week regularly is better than doing a couple of hours two days a week (and then skipping a week here and there).

Having treat foods a couple of times a week is better than banning them for a month and then binging on way too many after that.

Figure out how to make your new workout and nutrition plan fit into your life.

That’s how long-term success is found.

And you won’t need to “start again” anymore.

Ivana Chapman


How To Re-Launch Your Motivation

Are you ready to get the results you want?

This week all the kiddies went back to school and our Facebook feeds were packed with pics of adorable cherubs wearing backpacks. Even before I had a kid of my own (my 3-year-old entered preschool on Tuesday!), I always loved seeing those photos of the children of my friends beginning their school year. They always looked so excited and their eyes were lit up with the possibilities for a new school year (either that, or someone gave them too much sugar that morning!).

Nothing like a kid on his first day of school (this one’s mine!).

Even for adults, this time of year can be really exciting and productive.

If you’re a parent, your kids are spending more time away from you in the care of others…so you can take more time for yourself (yes, yes, yes!).

Most businesses start to get more serious about their goals and targets, as employees leave “summer vacation mode” and enter a more productive time.

And let’s not forget that those new year’s resolutions are now only a few months away!

So what if you’ve let things slack for a little while?

Maybe a summer of weddings and BBQs has meant that your workout routine AND your nutrition plan has been far from optimal.

All that eating and resting has left you feeling a bit BLAH, and you’re not sure how to become an unstoppable machine again (or for the first time).

How do you get your mojo back?

First things first.

Even if you don’t feel like doing it, you have to start going through the motions.

Head to the gym even if the first few sessions are a bit lacklustre.

Prepare food in advance (particularly your proteins and veggies!) so that you don’t give yourself an excuse to give in to laziness or fatigue.

Perhaps get some professional guidance in the form of a coach or by (shameless plug) joining my Lean365 program to get your workouts and nutrition on track.

Whatever gets you moving forward in the right direction.

The other key element is to remind yourself of your WHY.

Why do you want to get lean?

Is it because you want to live longer, feel sexy on your Caribbean holiday, or so you have the energy to play with your kids?

If you don’t have a strong enough reason for doing what you’re doing, you won’t do it.

Well, you might at first.

But sooner or later you’ll be wondering if you need to re-watch old episodes of Game of Thrones instead of hitting the gym.

So find your WHY.

Keep reminding yourself WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.

Get yourself in motion, no matter how hard it seems at first, and focus on why you want to achieve your particular goal.

It’s great to have goals, for sure, but if you don’t have a compelling reason to achieve them you won’t stay consistent and you’ll have a hard time getting off your butt to do the things you need to do.

When you know why you’re working towards your goal, you’ll keep moving forward even when the inevitable obstacles hit.

Ivana Chapman

P.S. Want help putting together a nutrition and workout plan to get you lean – and keep you lean – 365 days of the year? My Lean365 Online Membership Program can help! Check out the details HERE.


The Life Lesson You Should Never Ignore

There’s something important you need to think about before time runs out.

Today would have been my dad’s 71st birthday. Sadly, he passed away of a sudden heart attack at the age of only 58 over a dozen years ago.

If you’re thinking this is one of those “my dad wasn’t in good shape, died early, and that’s why I’m so passionate about health and fitness” stories, you’d be wrong.

My dad was an athlete all his life, a downhill skier in his youth and a marathoner (with the occasional 10K, duathlon, and triathlon thrown in) in later years. He gave up running in his late 40s (I think) and focussed on weights and karate.

For relaxation, he meditated, did tai chi, and studied Buddhism and Japanese.

With my dad in one of the few photos we have together (this was before digital was common!)

My dad was teaching a karate class for kids when he stopped the sparring session to take a drink. That’s when he collapsed and we’re told his heart stopped. At the time we were told that it was bad genetics and the coroner actually told me that if he didn’t take care of himself as well as he did (eating well and exercising), he might have been gone at 48, rather than 58.

It turns out that the story was a bit more complicated than that.

My dad suffered from ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a form of arthritis and an autoimmune disease that primarily attacks the lower spine and eventually causes spinal fusion. But AS also causes a general inflammatory state in the body and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. The heart’s blood supply is blocked by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart).

The result, in my dad’s case, was a fatal heart attack.

We didn’t know any of this at the time; it just seemed inexplicable that a man like my dad who appeared to be so healthy and basically had a 6-pack late into his 50s could have a heart attack and die.

Does it make me feel better to know that there was an underlying cause to his early death?

Not particularly.

I’d much rather still have him around to spend time with his grandkids. Still, as a health professional I find it interesting that there are so many things that can be affecting the state of your body.

It’s important to take care of yourself on a day-to-day basis.

Eat the right quantity and quality of food, get to a healthy weight, exercise regularly, sleep adequately, and destress as needed. Deal with any medical issues you have and don’t leave any suspicious ailments uninvestigated.

There’s no guarantee that you’ll live to be 70, 80, 90, or 100 years old, even if you do all the “right” things.

One thing I do know is that if you do follow all those practices, you’ll feel better and look better for whatever amount of years that you’re on this earth.

Living an active, energetic life is its own reward.

Being able to run around with your kids without getting winded or play the same sport you did in high school with energy and enthusiasm is what a satisfying life is all about.

Maybe it means that you finally get your act together, eat right, do weight training regularly, and build the body you’ve always wanted.

Many people grumble about getting older, but it’s a gift to be able to grow older, outpacing other people your age (and even those much younger!) with your energy, strength, and youthful vigor.

I’m a big believer in sucking all the juice out of life that’s possible.

Run, jump, play, travel, and discover new things.

When you start on a fitness journey, it’s often about the initial result you get with your body.

You want to be leaner and look better. Maybe you appreciate being stronger or having bigger biceps.

Eating well, with plenty of protein and vegetables, and strength training 3-5 days a week is the key to building the amazing body that you want.

The added benefit is that you feel stronger and more energetic and able to conquer the inevitable challenges that you face in your daily life.

Yes, you’ll be healthier and probably live a bit longer. What’s more important than adding years to your life through a healthy lifestyle is having a lot more life in your years.

That’s one thing that my dad knew a lot about.

Ivana Chapman


Why Willpower Sucks And What To Do Instead

Making the right decision with food can be hard.

Don’t we all wish we had a bit more willpower? To be able to turn down those muffins or donuts that someone (EVIL!) brought to the weekly meeting? To be able to head to the gym and do a challenging workout when your favourite team is playing an important game? To stop at one glass of wine and not finish off the bottle with a friend?

Let’s say that willpower (otherwise known as self-control) is the ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations to meet long-term goals. You might believe that the reason you haven’t been successful with your fat-loss efforts is because you lack willpower:

“If only I had a bit more self-control around chocolate.”

“If only I had the willpower to wake up a bit earlier and go to the gym instead of hitting the snooze button.”

“If only I could resist the urge to curl up on the couch with a bag of pretzels.”

Sometimes it seems that some people have willpower and some people just don’t…and you probably feel like you’re the type who doesn’t have enough. The truth is, you’re probably no worse off than the next person. The problem is that nobody seems to have all the willpower they need, all the time. If our self-control is destined to fail us, what can we do instead?

Willpower as a Muscle

Let’s look at the problem with willpower first. Think of willpower as a muscle. Willpower can be trained and gets stronger when you use it. Unfortunately, your willpower can also get exhausted and stop working.

Ego depletion is the idea that your willpower or self-control are in limited supply and if you use them up in one area (say, your job) then you won’t have any left in other areas (working out and eating well). It’s not a fact; although it’s intuitively-appealing, it’s just a theory as to how it may work and some research doesn’t support the concept. Sometimes it’s clear that certain people seem to have more willpower in all areas of their lives, an argument against the concept of ego depletion.

One thing that seems a bit clear, however, is that relying on willpower isn’t a great idea. When you face a self-control challenge, you may experience undue stress. Most of us face struggles as we try to have self-control with our nutrition plans or our exercise routine.

An Effective Alternative

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Although often attributed to Aristotle, apparently this quote came from a 1926 book about philosophers by Will Durant. Makes no difference really. These guys had a point!

You don’t achieve a fabulous, fit, lean, athletic body in one day, but with the habits that occur over months and years. And there are many parts of that. Working out becomes a habit after a certain period of time. You get to the point when it’s weirder for you NOT to go to the gym than it is for you to go to the gym. Regularly choosing more protein and vegetables becomes more normal than crappy processed carbs like donuts, chips, fries, and crackers. You may eventually develop the habit of having a glass of water in between drinks when you go out to cut down on alcohol consumption and combat dehydration.

So what’s better than relying on willpower, which we’re concerned isn’t as reliable as we’d like?

Building habits!

What It Really Takes To Build a Habit

A habit is an acquired behaviour pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. Most of us make brushing our teeth a daily habit (flossing is a bit less popular!). We take a shower after a workout (we all hope!). We might drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Or have protein powder after a workout.

How long it takes to build a habit is up for debate. The often-quoted 21 days wasn’t based on any research; it was based on the observations of a plastic surgeon named Dr Maxwell Maltz, who noticed that it took his patients a minimum of 21 days to adjust to their new appearance. Notice the words “a minimum” that are mentioned, although the fine print is mentioned when most people quote this common, but completely untrue, number. Some sources state that it takes 30 days to build a habit, or some other arbitrary number. The truth is that it depends on the person and the habit.

A small study of 96 people over a 12-week period found that it took between 18 and 254 days to build a self-selected eating, drinking, or activity habit. In this study, it took an average of 66 days to build a habit and some were easier habits (like drinking water with a meal) and some were more challenging (going for a run before dinner). The less-challenging habits took less time than the ones that were more challenging. You can probably guess which habits in your own life would be more difficult for you and which would be easy enough to make permanent quickly.

That’s what it’s about. Making the habit permanent in your life. Following the right nutrition plan and working out regularly need to become habits of our daily existence. Expecting it to happen overnight, or in 21 or even 30 days, will only lead to disappointment. Be more patient. Take smaller steps.

Setting a date (for many people, it’s January 1st!) and convincing yourself that you’re going to go from working out once a week to six times a week, while totally overhauling your diet, will only set you up for failure and disappointment. When I’m taking clients through my coaching plan, either my Lean365 membership program or one-on-one, I ask them to focus on one thing at a time when it comes to changing their diet. Each week there’s something new to practice within their nutrition plan.

That’s the way to think about it – practice. You work on your habits daily and soon you get better at maintaining them. You won’t always get it right, but you need to give yourself credit for small wins along the way.

The Pull of Bad Habits

Let’s look at the flip side of the coin – breaking bad habits. In a small study, researchers had 100 people sit in a movie theatre and offered them popcorn, varying whether the popcorn was fresh or stale (a week old!). The people who normally ate popcorn at the movies (strong bad habit) ate more than the people who don’t normally eat popcorn. Interestingly, those people who normally ate popcorn at the movies ate the same amount of popcorn, whether the popcorn was fresh or stale! So eating popcorn, for those people with the habit, was automatic and not determined by how tasty the popcorn was. Amazing how strong our bad habits can be, isn’t it? So what can we do to overcome them?

Breaking Habits with Disruption

If you have a bad habit, there are a couple of ways that you can work on changing your automatic patterns:

  1. Disrupt the habit by changing the context – Certain situations are associated with the bad habit so if you avoid the context then you avoid the habit being triggered. Think about habits you have and where they occur. Do you eat mindlessly on the couch? Try sitting somewhere else when you watch TV (even the floor, if necessary!) and the eating behaviour is less likely to be triggered.
  2. Disrupt the habit by changing the method of performance – Try eating with your non-dominant hand and you’ll find you eat less because the habit becomes more challenging to perform.

Making your bad habit more difficult or awkward to perform can make it easier to break it. So first, try to avoid being in the place where the habit is triggered. Take a longer walk and avoid the smell of the bakery. Next, make it awkward to eat the food, perhaps by eating with chopsticks (unless you’re really good with chopsticks!).

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

As you’ve learned from our discussion of habits, your environment dictates your behaviour. If you keep crappy food around the house, you’re more likely to eat it. This is true whether you have a relatively healthy relationship with food or not. If that chocolate is sitting on your desk every day you’re more likely to eat it. If that bag of potato chips is on the shelf in your kitchen you’re more likely to reach for it when you’re too tired to make dinner. Don’t test your willpower any more than you need to!

Fill your fridge with lean protein and lots of vegetables. Don’t give yourself more excuses for not eating well. Make your good habits easy to establish by giving yourself the resources you need, when you need them. Go grocery shopping with a list that fits your ideal nutrition plan and don’t buy anything that isn’t on the list. This is probably also a good time to mention that you should never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry!

A Warning!

Building a habit is a great goal, but we know that sometimes, through the pressures of life or unexpected illnesses or injuries, we get away from even some of our most deeply-engrained habits. It’s painful to “fall off the wagon”, but it happens to everyone at some point. It doesn’t matter that you’ve drifted off, what matters is that you find yourself a way to get back on track.

Getting a coach or finding a group to be accountable to, like my Lean365 Club, can be really valuable here. Being with people who are building the same habits provides the support you need during the difficult times (and there are always difficult times!) and reinforces your belief that what you’re doing is right. Be very careful which groups you hang out in though. Many groups become about complaining about the challenges of forming new habits, rather than about finding solutions. Get help from positive, resourceful people who can help you build habits that are good for your body.

Reality Check

Remember that behavioural change is hard! That’s not an excuse, but it’s a reminder that there will be challenges along the way. Building habits that give you a lean, athletic physique will take time and proactivity on your part. Commit to your goals and the steps you need to take to get there. Plan wisely and you’ll soon find that your new habits will become automatic and they won’t take as much energy to maintain. Then you won’t have to worry so much about willpower anymore.

Ivana Chapman

P.S. Want help putting together a nutrition and workout plan to get you lean – and keep you lean – 365 days of the year? My Lean365 Online Membership Program can help! $47 a month gets you all the nutrition, exercise, and psychology & lifestyle guidance you need to get the body you want. Check out the details HERE.


Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C.H, Potts, H.W., Wardle, J. How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology. 2010; 998-1009.


7 Mistakes People Make With New Year’s Resolutions

It’s a new year and that feeling of anticipation is in the air. The resolutions are fresh and you can’t remember when you’ve been so positive or optimistic. The slate has been wiped clean and you feel like nothing can stop you from achieving your goals. Well, that’s the theory anyway. In reality it’s just another day and the challenges are just as great as they were last year.

Still, I believe this time of year can be a great opportunity to take advantage of that sense of optimism and renewal that can finally get you to achieve what you’ve always wanted. So how do you avoid screwing it up? Seriously, most new year’s resolutions are caput by the end of January…and you don’t want that to happen to you.

Here are seven big mistakes that people often make when they’re making new year’s resolutions:

1) Making Unrealistic Resolutions

Planning to give up chocolate this year, even though you love it? Resolved to work out EVERY day in 2017? Promised yourself you’ll NEVER watch TV again? Hahaha. It’s not going to happen.If your resolution is nearly impossible and goes too far away from your norm then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Going from sitting on the couch every evening to working out seven days a week isn’t going to be sustainable for you and you’ll feel overwhelmed.

Make reasonable adjustments that are in line with your current behaviour. If you’re working out 2 days a week then increase it to 4 days a week. Resolve to finally have a defined weight training routine, rather than just “winging it” each time you hit the gym. Don’t promise to give up all treats. Decide that you’re only going to have treats on the weekend, in one or two meals.

2) Making Vague or Weak Resolutions

One of the most common resolutions is to “be healthier”. That’s very admirable, but what does that mean exactly? How will you measure it? If you had a piece of broccoli once a month and you never ate any before, would you be healthier? How significant would a change like that be to your “healthiness”? Not much, probably, but that’s not even the point. If you make a vague resolution like being healthier then you’re not going to get any specific results.

If you want to lower your blood pressure and come up with a specific way of doing that (exercise 3x a week and meditate 15 mins a day), then you’ve made a more useful resolution. Although a big-picture goal like “have visible abs” is great to give you a vision, it’s important to focus on the process that’s going to get you there.

So visible abs could be broken down into specific steps that will get you those results:

  • Weight train 4-5 days per week
  • Do 1-2 HIIT sessions per week
  • Eat 1g per pound of my bodyweight in protein each day
  • Have a treat only once per week on the weekend
  • Prepare 90% of my meals myself and bring them with me when on-the-go
  • Sleep at least 7 hours each night
  • Give up drinking alcohol

In case you’re wondering, the steps above are actually a good way to get you on that path to visible abs. Breaking down the steps will often make you consider whether it’s a goal that you’re really interested in achieving.

Still, make sure that your goal is ambitious and really drives you forward to change. No one ever lost 30 pounds when they set out to lose 10 pounds. Reach for the stars and make sure you put in the required effort to get there.

3) Trying To Do It Alone

Being accountable to someone is an important part of succeeding with a goal. The reason I created my Lean365 online membership program is so people can be part of a supportive group that’s working on achieving the same thing – a lean lifestyle. Having a one-on-one coach is ideal, but I realize that not everyone is in a position to pay the regular fees associated with that. The membership program is all online on the site, and you could go through the process on your own if you really want to, but the private Facebook Group provides the additional benefit of accountability.

Many people do well when they first set their goal, but start to stumble a few weeks or months into it. That’s why many people have a history of yo-yo dieting. Consistency is key. When things get tough, you’ll have someone to give you a nudge in the right direction again. When you’re on a roll, the combined force of you and your accountability partners will be indestructible.

4) Having Weak Reasons

When you’re If you tell yourself you want to lose ten pounds, but the best reason you can come up with is to fit into your jeans from high school then you will probably give up sooner rather than later. You need to have a strong reason, and preferably a lot of strong reasons, for achieving your goal. Want to get stronger and fitter so you can play tennis with your kids (and future grandkids some day), or so you can spend more exciting quality time with your spouse (yeah, I went there)? Maybe you want to eat more vegetables to reduce your risk of the cancer that runs in your family. Any reason that fills you with a burning desire is a good one.

5) Not Reminding Yourself of Your Goal Regularly

Having a daily, weekly, and monthly check-in with yourself to assess your progress towards your goal is useful. You know how you’re enthusiastic about something for a few days and then you lose interest, or something else distracts you? You need to overcome that natural human behaviour by constantly reminding yourself about what you want to achieve. I like to think of it as “boosting” your motivation regularly.

Everyone gets that whole “epiphany” feeling sometimes, convinced that their overwhelming desire for a lean body on January 3 (the day you cleared the cupboards of all the “holiday” food and decided to never have it again) is still going to be there by February. It’s not just about making the commitment once, because plenty of things will get in the way later on. You’ll be tired, you’ll be irritable, or you’ll just find other things to do that feel more important than prepping food and working out. We all need a regular boost of motivation to keep us going, so create a system of monitoring and stick to it.

6) Berating Yourself for Slipping

Whatever resolution you make, expect to experience some obstacles along the way. You may get injured or sick, which sidetracks your workout regime and makes you lose motivation. You may have a couple more beers than you planned and eat the greasy takeaway food you weren’t planning to eat. You may have a tough emotional time or extra stress at work and your resolution doesn’t seem as important anymore.

It’s easy to pretend that making a resolution steels you against those challenges, but you’re only human and you’ll probably slip occasionally. The worst thing you can do is beat yourself up about it. Feeling guilty tends to make you adopt the “Screw it, why bother?” mentality that totally blows your plans.

Forgive yourself, do what it takes to get back on track, and keep moving forward.

7) Making Too Many Commitments

Most ambitious and driven people want to really “juice” the year for all it’s got. It’s a noble pursuit, but you need to rein it in if you’re taking too much on board. Breaking down your goals into the months that you’re focusing on them is a good idea. January, not surprisingly, is not the best time to work on achieving everything.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve put “learn to play keyboard” on my list, along with about a dozen or so things that are more important to me than learning to play the keyboard. Not surprisingly, I haven’t really gotten around to learning to play. This year, the keyboard is still on the list (I’ve had one sitting in my home for about 5 years now), but I’m making the goal to play a song once a week for 20 minutes. It’s a smaller goal, but it’s more in line with my actual desire. I’m not trying to be a professional keyboard player or a join a band in 2017, but I do want the simple pleasure of making a little music in my spare time.

Kicking Butt in 2017

I know a lot of people considered 2016 a bad year, mainly because of all the celebrity deaths. Honestly, if you measure your year by the number and quality of famous people who left us, you don’t have a lot of control over how great this year is. Really, it should be all about YOU kicking butt in 2017, not about whether Betty White beats the Grim Reaper one more year.

So make your plans and consider your resolutions and how you’re going to follow through with them. We all want to achieve our goals and feel like we’re on top of the world. Get excited, get ambitious, but also get real. Figure out how you’re going to do it and you’ll avoid the common mistakes that most people make with new year’s resolutions.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, lean, strong, successful 2017 for all of us!

Ivana Chapman 


How to Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down

man holding head in bed with woman

It seems bad now, but it will get better.

We all have those moments, don’t we?

Or maybe it’s not just a moment but a week, a month, or a year.

It seems like everything’s going wrong.

You feel out of control and like your life isn’t really where you want it to be.

In the past few weeks I’ve cared for my sick baby while being sick myself. My workouts had been going well. I was gaining momentum with my business.

And then it was all forced to slow down.

No biggie really. Just a bit annoying, in the grand scheme of things.

In the meantime, I’ve heard stories from my friends and clients that broke my heart:

A friend, who’s a teacher, lost a student to suicide.

Someone lost a cousin to a car accident.

A family member is battling cancer.

A client lost a job unexpectedly, shortly after taking out a large mortgage.

(I hope this isn’t getting too depressing…there’s an uplifting section, I promise!)

Life can be rough, for sure.

And I couldn’t tell any of those people just to “look on the bright side” or that “things could be worse”.

That’s a nasty thing to tell someone who’s really suffering.

No one can measure your pain or give you a quick-fix remedy.

How to Face Challenges

There’s a lovely Japanese proverb that goes like this:

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”


It totally explains the reality of life. And the only way to cope when things get hard.

We all fall down (a lot!); it’s perfectly normal for us as human beings.

Not all those falls have anything to do with you.

Sometimes someone pushed you.

Sometimes the ground opened up beneath your feet and sent you tumbling.

It doesn’t matter.

You CAN get back up again.


Sometimes you need to ask someone else for help.

Maybe you need to take time for yourself.

Sometimes you need to change course and find a path that makes you happier.

Other times you just need to pause a reflect for a moment, then pick yourself back up again.

I know it’s hard.

Like everyone I’ve had my share of stumbles. I’ve faced pain that I didn’t think I deserved and it took time to work my way through it.

They’ll be more pain for us in the future too, but we can’t waste time worrying about it.

You Can Get Back Up

Admit that it hurts.

Take strength from those that love you and who want to help.

Try to focus on the things that are going right in your life (no matter how bad things are, there is always something left).

Don’t worry about time you’ve lost through pain, grief, or just feeling sorry for yourself.

Just the fact that you’re taking the time to read this means that you want to find a way to make things better.

Move forward, one step at a time.

Ivana Chapman


My Nutrition and Fitness Routine on Holiday

woman and baby in front of beach scene on holiday

Enjoying some quality time with my baby on our holiday.

I recently returned from a week in the Caribbean, where I took in the beauty and warm temperatures of St. Martin, Anguilla, and St. Bart’s. For many people, beach holidays are the ultimate excuse to eat like crazy, drink like a (drunken) fish, and lie supine on the beach for hours at a time, pausing only periodically to reapply sunscreen.

Holidays can be a great time to get away from it all.

Does a sunny vacation mean that you leave your nutrition and fitness regime behind too?


It’s really up to you.


Are you surprised that I’m NOT telling you to exercise every morning in the resort gym before hitting the beach and ask the resort’s chefs to serve you up only chicken breasts and broccoli for the week? Don’t be. My system is all about living your life and enjoying all the variety of foods and activities (even when it’s just lying prostrate on the beach soaking up the vitamin D) that this world has to offer. You can still be fit and healthy, and have a sexy, lean physique while you enjoy indulgences. By the way, that goes for daily life and not just for vacations. I stayed at an All-Inclusive resort and usually ate at a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And I didn’t do much damage to my physique during the week I was away.

Are you wondering how I did it?

Here’s the scoop:

What Did I Eat?

Breakfast – Sure, there were the usual breads, cereals, pancakes, waffles, and other sugary, carb-rich foods available. I skipped them. What’s the point? I don’t eat those at home (the occasional protein pancake is the exception) and I didn’t particularly have any desire to indulge in them this time. I stuck to many varieties of eggs:  cheese and tomato omelettes, fried eggs, eggs over easy, scrambled eggs, whatever I was in the mood for that morning.

Gotta get that protein in! I then added cheese, olives and veggies I found at the salad bar and some tropical fruit like papaya, pineapple, and passionfruit.

Lunch – The midday buffet wasn’t particularly appealing, so I kept it simple. I found the chicken and fish, added whatever veggies I could find, indulged in fried plantain, and added plenty of guacamole and salsa on the side.

Dinner – I ate plenty of lobster tails, fish, and some stuffed crab, usually accompanied by any roasted veggies that were available or things I really enjoy, like hummus, eggplant, and artichoke.

Dessert – I had dessert. Every night. I skip the starchy carbs in the morning and midday and enjoy a celebration in the evening. I tried a sample of most of the desserts on offer each evening, and finished off with ice cream topped with plenty of liquid chocolate from the chocolate fountain (yes, this was as amazing as it sounds!).

How Much Did I Exercise?

Not a lot. I went to the gym mid-week to do some weights and rehab exercises for my hip issue, so that I could handle all the walking we were doing while sightseeing on the islands. That’s it.

Know Yourself

If your holiday is only a week and you intend to go nuts in the food department the whole time, will you be able to get on track as soon as you get back home?

If you’re new to your particular nutrition plan and it isn’t second nature to you already, going completely off the rails for a week might destroy your progress and your momentum.

A week of overindulging won’t take all your results away (although you can inflict some damage if you try hard enough), but if you can’t get back in control on your return then you’ve done yourself an injustice. If you’re the type that can get right back into things as soon as your plane lands on home soil, then a week of hedonistic vacation won’t cause a problem.

My personal solution is something in between.

I still avoided most grains, as I usually do, and made sure to have plenty of protein with each meal. I don’t like greasy food so I avoided that as usual too.

I like to try local specialties if they interest me, even if they’re not something I’d regularly eat.

Life’s For Living

Yes, I could have eaten “clean” for my entire holiday.

Then I would have missed out on the many tasty servings of the Caribbean speciality of fried plantain. And that chocolate fountain.

I could have gotten up earlier (not that I slept in…I have an infant!) and worked out every day according to my current regime. If I’d worked out every day, I would have been absolutely exhausted because of all the extra walking I was doing every day. I would have burned through the hard-earned muscle I’ve built.

Now that I’m back home, my usual routine is back in force.

I’ve got my scheduled weights sessions. I still have dessert, but not every night like on vacation.

I love how fitness and nutrition fits into my life…whether I’m at home or away.

Ivana Chapman 


Success at Fitness Competitions after Baby

blonde fitness woman on stage in red bikini

So happy to be back on stage 9 months after having my baby.

It’s been just over a week since I stepped on the stage at the Ontario Physique Association (OPA) Toronto Championships. The spray-on stage tan has pretty much faded away (apart from my suspiciously brown feet!) and I finally managed to unpack my competition bag and get organized again. Now it’s time to recap the show and keep moving forward.

Back in Action

I hadn’t been on stage since the Inside Fitness Model Search in July 2013. Since that time I spawned a beautiful little creature my husband and I affectionately call Baby Kai. Our son is nearly ten months old and it’s amazing how quickly the time has gone by. Physique-wise, I think I would have been ready to step on stage in December, but there weren’t any competitions that month.

Also, being a mom has meant an increase in daily duties (diaper changes, nursing, preparing food, nibbling on my son’s belly) that vastly decrease my spare time. I’ve been working out regularly since just over 3 weeks after Kai’s birth, but didn’t make the time to practice posing, order a bikini, and all the other random things that go into contest preparation.

Now was the time.


As the mom of an infant who wakes up regularly and feeds voraciously, I don’t usually get the sleep that I need. I have to do my workouts in the morning or afternoon because if I leave it until the evening I probably won’t have the energy to work out as hard as I need to. Because I’m nursing, I can’t use any stimulants, pre-workout supplements, or much caffeine to get me through those tired times. A couple of cups of tea is the most I’ll have in a day. I also have to avoid a lot of herbal supplements and some teas.

I have to be careful with what I eat and drink anyway, because I suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and messing around with my diet too much can have adverse consequences. I went a little heavy on the veggies and found myself bloated and uncomfortable in the last few days leading up to the competition. I didn’t want to dehydrate myself for the show, as most competitors do, because I didn’t want to do anything to effect my milk supply. The other challenge with nursing while competing is something I didn’t expect. Since I was away from my baby for several hours, my breasts decided to do their own thing. The right one started to grow bigger and I sat backstage furiously trying to pump it out before my category was called.

Not exactly a typical competitor experience!

The Results

I was happy with the physique and presentation that I brought to the stage. It was a slightly “softer” look than I’ve had before, but I’m competing in the Bikini class so that’s not always a bad thing. The time spent practising my posing really paid off. I felt confident strutting my stuff on stage and didn’t feel nervous as I got ready to go on. I got some great coaching with posing in the weeks leading up to the show and I practised my posing almost daily on my own. There’s still plenty of work to be done with my presentation, but at this stage it was a success.

I won the Bikini Masters (35+) category and took 5th place in Bikini Tall, which qualifies me to step up to the next level – Provincials! – in both categories. Not a bad start for this new mama!

This Girl is on Fire!

Every single workout since my show has been amazing. I’ve pushed myself harder, grunted louder, and felt more muscle burn than I have in a while. After looking at the video and photos from the show, I know what I want to do to improve for the next time.

It was great to be on stage again, but it was even better to be backstage with so many amazing fitness people. What I love most about fitness competitions is the great people that I get to meet and spend time with.

The Wrap-up

I consider the competition a tremendous success. Yes, it’s nice to have won one of my categories, but the main reason that I’m satisfied is that I brought the best performance that I could on the day. There are plenty of things I’ll do differently next time and a lot more to work on in the months ahead.

Oh, did I mention that the next show is two and a half weeks away?

OPA Naturals in Cobourg on April 18…hope to see many of my fitness family there!

Ivana Chapman 


Put the Right People Around You to Achieve Success

group of eight people huddled together

Having the right people in your life can make a big difference to your success.

The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” makes sense, but not in the way you might think. Getting ahead and achieving success with your physique goals is often the result of having quality people around you to support those goals. If you don’t have the support of positive, uplifting people to get you through the tough times then you may get off track. Nothing beats the “You can do it!” encouragement of a friend or mentor to get you through a sticking point. What can you do to make sure you have the right people on your side?

Find Connections through Social Media

There are great groups to be found on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other social media sites where you can connect with people who share similar interests and ambitions. You may never meet these people in person, but they may share information through blogs, inspiring quotations, or an encouraging word just when you need it. Find others who share your passion and you’ll find your way.

Banish the Doom and Gloomers

You know the friend who wants to take you out for dessert as soon as she hears that you’re starting to eat more healthily? Or the colleague who points out your mistakes at every opportunity? Avoid them!

You need people in your life who will support your goals. It’s common for a spouse to make it unintentionally (or intentionally!) difficult for you to make changes to your nutrition and lifestyle. He or she is probably happy with things the way things are, and isn’t interested in having you shake life up. This is especially true if your spouse should be making lifestyle changes too, but isn’t motivated to do so. Explain the importance of your goals to your spouse and try to enlist their help. Who knows? Maybe you can lose weight/quit smoking/start exercising together!

Get out there!

There’s a great big world out there and it’s full of people who want to enhance your life.

Where should you look? Wherever your interests lie. If you’re working towards a fitness goal, start a conversation with that fit girl with the funky green running shoes on (about her shoes, of course!). If you want to do a bodybuilding or fitness competition go to a posing class for the association you want to compete with. Or maybe it’s time to take that nutrition course you’ve always wanted to do. You’ll probably meet many like-minded people there.

People make all the difference in the success of your life. Make sure you pick the right ones to share in your journey.

Ivana Chapman 


Are You Choosing Results or Reasons?

businessman holding arms up

What are you gonna do? It’s SOOOO hard.

“You will either have reasons…or results.” 

Vince Lombardi

The successful football coach used to inspire his athletes with those words before their games. He wanted them to know that without their best efforts they wouldn’t have the results they wanted. You can’t explain away an unsuccessful performance, despite any reasons you might give. It’s a cop-out.

So Many Reasons

You can probably come up with plenty of reasons why you can’t get the physique you want. You’re too busy with work, too old, haven’t got the genetics, want to spend more time with your partner, you have kids, you haven’t got the support you need from your family, your health isn’t great, or you haven’t got the knowledge to achieve what you want.

I have plenty of examples of people who have overcome those excuses and got the results they wanted. Mothers of four kids with busy careers who get up at 5am to squeeze in a workout and prepare healthy meals. Top executives who travel for work and make time to fit in four workouts a week and still catch their son’s soccer game.

No Time?

Everyone has the same amount of time every day, but some people use it more effectively than others. The average person watches over five hours of TV a day! How many hours do you think Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Warren Buffett or Barrack Obama watch? How many hours do you think the average Olympic athlete watches? Not many, I imagine.

Achieving Your Goal

If you’re serious about your goal, you might need to change your life to achieve it. You can’t expect massive physique changes to come from minimal changes in your nutrition and training.

That’s what everyone wants though, isn’t it? The quick-fix, take a pill and get the body of your dreams BS that sells millions of bottles of raspberry ketones (bogus!) and meal replacement shakes. If you aren’t changing the effort you put in, you won’t see any change in the results you’re currently getting.

Stop finding reasons that you’re failing and put in the effort to win.

Ivana Chapman 


If You Don’t Try, You’ll Always Fail

try and fail road sign

If you try and fail that’s ok, but if you never try at all then you’ll never succeed. 

Certain moments in daily life seem to crystallize the attitudes that lead to failure.

I was sitting at the doctor’s office the other day when an older couple walked in and approached the unmanned reception desk. The woman turned to me and asked,”Where do they want us to check in?”

I told her that they just had to use one of the computers on the wall to check in.

“What if you can’t use a computer?” She said, clearly irritated.

“You can’t use a computer?” I asked incredulously.

“Well I can, but he can’t.” She said, pointing at her husband behind her, who grinned sheepishly.

At that point the receptionist walked by and the woman accosted her with an abrupt “Can’t we just check in with you?”.

It’s Not Hard, Really!

I have to point out that this was an English-speaking couple who didn’t seem to have any problems communicating. The computer check-in was a touch-screen that asked you to answer simple questions like whether you had allergies and requested that you type in data like your name and your address. Very simple procedure.

If the woman – who admitted that she could use a computer – had bothered to try the computer check-in she would likely have found it very simple and efficient.

She didn’t bother to TRY.

Never Try, Never Gain

I don’t know anything else about this woman apart from her behaviour that day, but I would venture a guess that she’s not a very successful person.  I imagine her having the same boring job her entire life and never bothering to learn anything new. If she lost that boring job, she wouldn’t know what to do. She couldn’t face the scary prospect of learning something totally different from what she knew before.

She might have had many potential abilities that she never explored. She stayed stuck.

Fail, and Fail to Try?

I was incredibly frustrated when I left the doctor’s office that day. The women’s lack of initiative annoyed me so much. Maybe she tried some things in the past and failed. The pain of the failures prevents her from trying new things for fear of more pain (even if pain isn’t necessarily the outcome). In psychology they call the phenomenon learned helplessness.

I find it very sad when people give up before they try. Even if you’re tried and failed before you can succeed the next time. If you give up trying altogether then you’ve really failed.

Just Try

Many people have tried to lose weight and they’ve failed. They might have tried to change their diets and it didn’t go the way they planned. If you aren’t willing to make an effort then you’ve already failed. You can’t learn and you can’t progress. Be willing to try different approaches. Be willing to go outside your comfort zone. Sometimes you’ll fail and look like an idiot, but you’ll probably learn something valuable for the next attempt. Some people aren’t willing to take chances and put their honour at stake. They play it safe and don’t stretch themselves.

That’s a recipe for a boring life of underachievement.

Make the Effort

Nothing worth achieving comes easily. Put in the time and effort and don’t stop until you achieve what you want.

Take a risk and there just might be a reward.

Don’t bother to try and you’ll never achieve anything.

Ivana Chapman