Reader mail 4

Alison pulling fire hose

I love your website and you keep me going a lot of days! Thought I’d send you a picture of my latest endeavour.

A wee bit of background, I’m 39, married, mother of five of the world’s most wonderful children whose ages range from 7 to 16, 5’4″ so I can appreciate the title of stumptuous, and at my most horrible I was about 240lbs.

I woke up in 2001 and got moving with weight lifting and Weight Watchers and I feel so much better now (right now I’m plateaued at 172.5 lbs, but I’m focusing on staying strong at the moment). Went back to school and became a paramedic and now get to run lights and sirens around Orlando Florida rescuing people from themselves. Retirement as just a medic sucks so…

Now I’m in fire school. In the United States today only 2% of all paid firefighters are female. This kicks my ass. BTW, that cursed hose (and I’m cursing it in this picture believe me) gets pulled for 100 feet and it gets progressively heavier until the last ten feet it’s 220 lbs. The water is pressurized inside and its horribly stiff and unforgiving. All my gear, helmet and air tank, weigh about 50 lbs. This kicks the ass of 18 year old boys! But I’m doing it and in fact just two days before Christmas landed a job as a firemedic in a suburb of Orlando. I still have a lot of pulling and sweating to do before graduation but I’m going to do it. It would not have been possible without a lot of inspiration, so I say thank you again.


Hi Krista! I stumbled upon your website some time ago (I forget just how!), and have returned several times to read your excellent articles on health and fitness.

I just finished reading the philosophical thoughts on body fat, and was sitting here nodding my head and agreeing with you. When I was at my heaviest, I encountered the attitude that because I was big I must be lazy or that I ate far too much. I usually ate no more than my thinner friends, but because the balance was wrong for me, I put on weight and they didn’t. I was also far more active than most of the people I know – walking, dancing and playing tennis regularly.

About a year ago I discovered some truly excellent books on health and nutrition by an Australian personal trainer – Donna Aston. I read the books and got angry, wondering how on earth could anyone live that way. But I was really fed up with how I felt about myself and decided that I had nothing to lose except a whole lot of body fat that I didn’t need.

I also found an excellent personal trainer, who has been working with me for the past year and has helped to keep me motivated when the going gets tough! Sites like yours have also helped – which is why I’m writing to say thanks!

I have lost 32 kilograms over the course of a year and brought my body fat down from an unacceptable 44% to 31% at the last measuring. I still have a little way to go.

The health benefits to both myself and my husband have been enormous. We are fit, healthy, have loads of energy and are at the right weight for us. I should also mention that we are competitive ballroom dancers and the change in our overall appearance has been enormous. Our improved fitness and “look” have made a huge difference to our dancing this year.

Regards from Down Under,


Ingrid's newspaper article

I knew I had gained weight (when you do, you know!); but it wasn’t until I stepped (and restepped…several times, because I couldn’t believe that number!) on the scale and was heavier than when I had been 8 months pregnant…. Yikes. that I got the determination to change!!!! I had hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and high cholesterol along with a terrible medical history and family medical history. So… if I was going to sweat and grunt, it was going to be for as many benefits in correcting as many problems as I could!

I started my “fitness quest” (my term), on Oct.1, 2000. My first picture (to the right) shows me ‘before’ starting my quest. I was about 160 lbs., wearing a size 16, and all of that was NOT pretty on my 5’1″, 45 year old frame…trust me! I started doing weight training I worked out 6 days a week. By the time Christmas rolled around, I was thrilled to find myself into a size 12.

Well, I didn’t want to go back to a larger size and I felt if I slacked off that’s where I would find myself. Therefore, I kept going! By mid January 2001, I was into a size 10 and actually was dropping sizes too quickly…. my $$$ supply couldn’t afford to keep buying clothes, for I could no longer have size 16s altered to fit me! Honest, it happened! So, I lowered my intensity… worked out 5 days a week and not quite as heavy of lifting.

By the end of February (about 5 months after my start) I reached a size 8 and 135 lbs. I felt I had enough muscle mass at this point and switched gears to try to attain better overall proportion and definition. If I went down into another size fine, but I was ok with size 8… thrilled to see a single digit size again! I kept working out and upon getting a job that found me having to be there by 7:30am, that meant, for me, getting up by 4:45am so I could be working out by 5am, have time to eat, shower, dress, and see daughter off to school and make it to work on time. I managed to whittle off a few fractions of an inch here and there, attain some definition, and by my “anniversary date”, one year since I started on my “fitness quest”, I reached a size 6 and 130 lbs.

I have continued working out…it is the way I start and get energized for my day! I am still redefining workouts that I’ve designed to continue attaining better overall proportion and definition. I am now a size 4/6 (4’s in most everything but jeans, thus the qualifying of the size) and am 128-130 lbs. I wear a smaller size than over 26 years ago when I got married and I only weighed 109 lbs back then!!!

So…you see, although muscle takes up a lot less room than fat, it is more dense and you’ll weigh more but wear a smaller size…GREAT! So, let me ask you: “Does this stuff work?” I’ll be 48 years old in May of 2003…. what do you think my answer is? Haha! You’re right if you said, “YES!”

Now, I’m NOT perfect and I do NOT claim to be. I’m not a competitive bodybuilder. I’m a married woman with 2 adult daughters (ages 21 and 18, the younger daughter is physically handicapped), a husband, and the family’s cat. I have had my own business, currently am employed for the local school district as a paraprofessional where I am assigned one on one with a physically handicapped student. I am a member of chancel and adult bell choirs, and serve as worship leader and pianist, as needed at our church. I help ‘coach’ and advise aproximately 25-30 other women via online/email and host a fitness forum to help them gain support to achieve their goals.

So, yes I’m busy, but if you make exercise a part of your daily life…just like brushing your teeth, taking a bath, etc., and you stay consistent, forgive yourself when you go off the path (yes, it happens! I am human and so are you!) and quit the excuses! Just DO IT (to borrow Nike’s slogan), because “doing” is always better than NOT doing anything. As I said, I’m NOT perfect…I still have “areas of discontent” (my term), but that’s ok! Now, I’ve attained my certification as a fitness trainer and I do motivational speaking as well! I’m a middle-aged woman who plans to collect on some of the “sweat equity” I’ve invested! Not many can say that it took them to age 47 to know what they wanted to be when they grew up, but that’s my story!

Crystal Reiber

Dear Krista,

My husband found your website and it is most interesting! It is hard to find any useful information for women regarding weightlifting and serious health improvement. Seems everyone is out to make a buck selling you something they claim will do it all!!

I turned 60 last September and look and feel better than at any time in my life. A couple years ago I started to seriously shed some weight and dropped 40 pounds going from a size 16 to an 8. I also showed the usual signs of weight loss: flabby wrinkled skin and poor physical ability due to being a lifelong couch potato. My husband suggested that I try doing some arm curls with the 11 pound weights we had that I had till then refused to pick up. I gave it a try and after just a few days noticed a definite improvement. A couple weeks later I moved up to 15 pounds, then 20 then 25 doing just 1 set of 30 reps daily. I grew some respectable biceps and the loose skin filled up nicely with something besides fat, making the wrinkles go away.

About 4 months ago we found a new fitness center that opened up nearby and signed up for a year. We work out together using both machines and free weights and have made remarkable progress. My first maximum bench press was 60 pounds with struggling to do 1 rep. Last weekend I pressed 120 with a goal of 150 by birthday 61! I have shied away from doing any squats but after reading your website and Bill’s armtwisting, I will be giving it some effort to see what I can improve.

Attached are a few pictures, one of me at 49 looking quite elderly and the other taken December 2004 at age 60. Also here is a picture taken recently at the gym… that last rep is a killer!

Mesa, Arizona

Gayle at 49

Gayle at 60

Gayle pumps iron – love the red manicure!

Gail practicing posing

Update from Gayle February 2006: Me learning how to pose with my personal trainer, Mistress Debbie Brooks. Biceps are up to 14 1/2" and can bench 165, hoping for 200 by my 62nd birthday in September.

Update from Gayle November 2006:

Here are pictures from my NASA powerlfiting competition November 4th where I set state records for bench, squat and deadlift and national for bench in my age/weight class (age 62, 75kg). You had a lot to do with inspiration to do this along with my husband. Enjoyed it so much that I want to do this some more.

Gayle "grips it and rips it" on the deadlift.

Gayle celebrates her mighty accomplishment with a front double biceps pose! Hooyeah!


I dropped you a line last year regarding how much we love your website and training philosophy (and writing style). I wanted to let you know about one of our athletes. Please visit our website. It is crappy and under construction but we want you to visit
the pictures pages.

My athlete Jen, 24, just graduated from West Chester University with a BS in Kinesiology. In the last three months she has competed in 2 powerlifting meets (2nd place in both) an Olympic Weightlifting meet (learned the lifts from scratch and competed after 4 weeks) taking Best Novice and won her weight class, and two weeks ago became the NAKF National Women’s Champion in Girevoy Sport: she did 155 snatches in 10 minutes and 90 jerks in 10 minutes with 16kg kettlebells (see photo).

Oh yeah, there are also pics of some old coot obviously going through a mid-life crisis. The young guy working with Jen in a couple of pics is Valery Fedorenko, World GS Champion in the 80kg class the last few years.

At our club, you bet we let our women do our fightin’ for us.

Randy Hauer

West Chester, PA USA

Hi Krista:

I reached your website through my association with ISSA (International Sport Sciences Association), where I am a member and Certified Personal Trainer. Kudos to you for telling the iron-minded wanabes like it is – no whitewash, no prettying things up and giving the real facts about the iron life, real iron women etc.

I have been lifting for 25 years and continue doing so until the last breath leaves my body. I competed as a natural bodybuilder when I was 30 and at the age of 48 now, I am now a personal trainer who wants to pass on to others, this fantastic feeling (and look!) that the iron lifestyle bestows.

Attached is a picture of me when I was 31 and 6 weeks away from my second year of competing as a short and stumptuous lightweight (left photo). Also attached is a black and white photo of me taken recently at the age of 48 (right photo).

I’m a big believer that weight training keeps one “ageless”, hence that is also the trade name of my business “Ageless Fitness & Health”.

Keep on lifting, ladies!

Michelle G

Certified Personal Trainer

Ageless Fitness & Health