Note from Girls Gone Strong: We were first introduced to Adriene when she contacted us near the beginning of the year for advice about how to structure her training before and after major surgery. She was going to be donating a kidney to her Mother. You can read physical therapist Ann Wendel’s answer here. We couldn’t think of a more incredible and strong woman to spotlight. Without further ado, meet Adriene!
Name: Adriene Jameson
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
What does being a GGS mean to you?
It means being not only physically strong, but having the courage and the willingness to find out the best answers for yourself, and not just doing what the "famous experts" tell you is "healthy." It also means having the courage to face the darkest parts of you, the guilt, the self-hatred, and to find ways to overcome them.
How long have you been training?
I was lucky to go to a high school that made the weight room part of the gym curriculum. I've never had trouble with form or with knowing how to set up a lift. However, it wasn't until I went through a big weight loss (80 pounds) from the Spring of 2012 to Spring of 2013 (after a frightening visit to my doctor who declared me borderline hypertensive) that I really took my health seriously.
My mother has type 2 diabetes, and this prognosis was a huge wake up call. I took up running and ran my first 10k in September of 2012 at about 30 pounds away from my goal weight. That day, I found out one of my best friends committed suicide. I struggled for about six weeks, sitting at a plateau and seriously questioning my life, and what really mattered. I decided to change my routine and started metabolic interval training using weights and cardio. The suggested 5 pound weight was too light for me, and I found I enjoyed doing them with 10 or 15 pound weights or heavier.
My body really started to change, and I found I liked being stronger. I hit my goal weight, but not only that: people started calling me an "athlete." That has never happened before in my whole life. I moved to a new town in June of 2013 to a house where I didn't have room to train at home, so I joined a gym, found a workout at bodybuilding.com that I liked, and started seriously strength training from there. My body is constantly changing. Most of my support comes from online and from a friend that strength trains as well. He keeps me from getting too down on myself!
Tie between regular deadlifts and shoulder presses. Both make me feel really powerful.
Most memorable PR:
When I was doing leg extensions and leg curls and decided to increase the weight. I unknowingly increased it by twenty pounds instead of ten, but didn't realize until I finished three sets no problem!
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym/in your gym bag:
Favorite post-workout meal:
My morning smoothie made of low fat yogurt, protein powder (a local, all-natural brand), a banana, skim milk, kale and blueberries or raspberries. I have it every morning while I drive to work after the gym.
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Going out with my husband for a relaxing meal with good quality, well-cooked food! I love good food and I love cooking... I'm a true foodie! I'm learning to enjoy it without guilt and in moderation.
So many! I am constantly inspired by quotes. Currently: "For what it's worth: It's never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start over." - F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Currently: “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith.
What inspires and motivates you?
I am inspired by people who make the best of unspeakably difficult situations: people living in poverty, people who have survived atrocities. My parents were brought up in the Philippines and worked hard to give their children an easier life. I try hard not to get bogged down by "First World Problems."
What does a typical day look like for you?
My alarm goes off at 5:20am. I sit up, breathe deeply, do a big stretch and get up. I put on my workout clothes, let my dog out (who promptly goes back to bed afterward) and pick up my gym bag, lunch box and morning smoothie (all prepared the night before), and I drive to the gym.
At the gym, I do 30 minutes of cardio, alternating between running on the treadmill (intervals or speed training) and elliptical and stair work, then I move to the weight room and work on strength. I lift two days on, one day off, then two days on and one day off, alternating between upper and lower body. That brings me to around 7:10am, when I get into the shower, jump into the car and get to work at 7:45 to start at 8:00.
I finish at 4:30pm (but it varies, depending on my workload), and when I get home, I grab a quick snack, and then my husband and I take our dog out for a walk, usually between 30 and 50 minutes. It's our time to catch up with each other's day and get some fresh air together.
We usually have dinner pre-planned (I think planning meals keeps me from eating too much junk). We eat at around 6:30 or 7:00pm, then we clean up, and I rest for about half an hour before I get my yoga mat out and stretch for about 40 minutes. I pack my gym bag, and prepare my morning smoothie and my lunch for the next day.
If I'm not too tired, I'll take out my current craft project (I write regularly about my hobbies at adrienescouch.blogspot.com). I try to put myself to bed by 9:00pm, and try to get to sleep by 9:30 or 10:00pm.
On my off days from the gym, I usually go swimming with my husband, or I do a road run, between 6 and 10km. I also make sure I take my doggie out for lots of walks, because he deserves to go out and meet all his adoring fans!
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from lifting heavy?
The coolest side effect of lifting heavy is the effect it has had on the other women who work out with me in the early morning. I've noticed that they have slowly started to make their way off the cardio machines over to the weight room. Some of them ask me how to do different lifts. It is the most amazing thing. I don't think they would have done it if I'd stood on a soap box and told them to do it. Trying my best to be stronger is making them want to try as well.
Next training goal:
I am donating a kidney to my mother in early March. My next training goal is to get back to my current physical shape safely.
Update: Adriene donated a kidney to her Mother this past March. The surgery was successful for both of them and Adriene says, “I'm actually nearly back to where I was before the surgery! Interestingly, since I was knocked back to having to lift much lighter weights, I took the opportunity to work on my form. Now, I have much better form than I ever had before, especially for deadlifts (both bent leg and RDLs - thanks to the exercise spotlights on GGS!). Thank you again for your help!”
Three words that best describe you:
Stubborn, Determined, Resourceful.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start lifting heavy?
Be curious about your capabilities. People really do want to see you succeed. Don't assume that it's too hard or too confusing. It's up to you to discover the truth about you, no one else. Stephen Fry said, "The oddest and most foolish failing there is are the people who blame other factors, such as their past schooling for their lack of knowledge, rather than their own incuriosity. Imagine a city where the streets are covered in gold coins. Imagine there is a beggar who holds up his hand and asks for money. Wouldn’t we be struck with incredulity by the behaviour of the beggar? ‘But look around you,’ you would shout. ‘There is gold enough to last you your whole life. All you have to do is bend down and pick it up!" And so it is the same with knowledge. Knowledge has never been more ubiquitous than in our present day and age. All we have to do is 'bend down and pick it up.'” What a fitting quote for people who like to lift things!
If you're inspired by Adriene, read on to learn more about—and join!—our community of strong, supportive women...
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