Catherine Sperle had a desire to be more healthy and have a body image she was happy with. She changed her routine and her life to do that.
Sperle talked in 2009 at a 25-year high school reunion with another person about fitness attempts. All her life she believed if she ate less she would lose more weight and she had it in her mind that she should weigh a certain number. Body Mass Index was “the gospel of numbers” and no one ever talked about weight training to look healthy and fit.
“I tried walking for hours, biking till I couldn’t walk, I won honours in TOPS, became a life member of Weight Watchers, but all it taught me was to eat less that resulted in rebounds and binges. I counted points not portions, calories not meals,” said Sperle.
After learning muscle mass needs to burn calories and that she needed more protein and more food, she began weight training. With her training she has met amazing like-minded people, through the Body for Life community, and she continues to push herself, wanting more as the results continue to amaze her, both mentally and physically, as she says “train the mind, train the body.”
Her program, which is called Body for Life, started in August of 2009 and works in increments of 12 weeks. She did seven challenges and also trained to run her second half-marathon in Atlanta. Her first half-marathon, she walked the whole way at an event in Unity.
She then decided she needed a new goal and new challenge to keep her focused. Sperle stepped far out of her comfort zone and her home gym and bought a membership at a local gym. She decided she wanted to keep herself “uncomfortable,” because it is easy to go backwards.
“The gym has everything a person needs to get results,” explained Sperle. “I began waking up at 4 a.m. with my supportive husband Jim, and hitting the weights early to avoid the crowd and to also be able to train without distraction. I fell in love with the machines, the options, the new adrenaline high. It was me time. The morning crew at the gym became great faces to see each day.”
How did she finally make the transition to body building?
“Michelle Schwab had been after me for years to train for body building,” said Sperle. “I always thought she was nuts. In my head, a body builder was some huge awkward drug-induced muscle head, and not some shapely toned woman. Something snapped as I listened to her. I was ready to absorb this time. I had just turned 45 and any woman knows, this is a great time of our lives to just do it. Step out, really put some live into our life. Change our future.”
Schwab did the homework for and located trainers Leigh and Colin Keess from Estevan. Leigh works with the nutrition portion while Colin does the weight training.
“Together they create results beyond belief,” said Sperle.
Sperle and Schwab met with their trainers in September of 2011 and started training days later. Over the months Sperle never missed a workout even while on vacation to Mexico or Jamaica.
“Of course some were better than others, but I kept my routine,” said Sperle. “Gradually the weight fell off as the muscles appeared.”
Her training has changed weekly, beginning 18 weeks before the competition and she began measuring the protein and carbs with each meal.
“I started at 164 pounds and Colin’s goal for me on stage was 120 pounds.,” said Sperle. “To my utter disbelief I got to 122.4 pounds of muscle for competition weigh in. He was right.”
April 6, Sperle was ready for her first body building competition – the Saskatchewan Amateur Body Building Association’s Super Show in Regina. Sperle didn’t go there to win, she instead felt it was her reward for months of intense training, the end of what she had set out to do.
She was entered in the novice women’s masters and novice women’s open. She placed third in novice open, which earned her a berth into the provincial women’s open the following day where she earned a proud fourth place finish.
“It was an incredible experience to be among such elite athletes and trainers,” said Sperle. “The photographers were top notch, the back stage crew were all famous body builders ... I learned so much about nutrition, and the science that goes into preparing a body for a show.”
Sperle has yet to decide what her next goal will be, but she knows she needs to make one soon in order to stay focused. Sperle hasn’t ruled out another competition, but she is looking forward to lacing up the rollerblades as well as getting busy in the gym and maintaining all her hard work.
“I definitely feel the best I have all of my adult life and I thank my husband for the support as well as those who supported, encouraged and helped me along this ride,” said Sperle.