My name is Kirianna. I am a certified Personal Trainer and Nutritional Therapist with my BSc., and I am on a mission to share the most relevant, no-bullshit information on health, fitness, and nutrition to everyone I can.
Here’s my story.
I never had a skinny phase as a kid. I wouldn’t say I was ‘fat’ either, but I always had that comforting layer of chub. And even though I was active, my parents knew nothing about nutrition or controlling caloric intake.
In other words, I didn’t understand that putting spoonful after spoonful of sugar into my morning cereal was a bad thing; all I knew was that it tasted a hell of a lot better than plain old cheerios.
I will always remember seventh grade, because that was the year that had the biggest impact on both my body and mentality towards food. At this point in my life I was a big kid; I was the tallest in my grade and chubby to boot, sitting at 5’6”-ish and 130lbs. I wasn’t significantly aware of my size compared to other people my age, but I knew I didn’t have rail-thin limbs like my pre-pubescent classmates.
So in grade seven one of my close friends decided to stop eating lunch, and though at first I was horrified (as most virtuous, rule-following children like myself are), I slowly started following her lead. It intrigued me that if I didn’t eat my sandwich in the cafeteria I could maybe have toothpick arms like the other girls.
As a 12-year-old I didn’t quite grasp the severity my decisions would have in the future, both mentally and physiologically. All I knew was as I ate less food throughout the day, the number on the scale kept going down. Slowly lunch spilled over into breakfast and by the middle of spring I had stopped eating until dinnertime at home. It became an exciting challenge to see that number on the scale go down.
Although I never got deathly thin (I think I lost about 20 pounds), grade seven was the year my mentality about food, weight, and body image changed. All I wanted to do was be thin- to have my hip bones protrude when I laid down or see the ridges of my ribs when I sucked in my stomach. I became obsessed with food but I knew nothing about it.
Looking back now I can recognize that my metabolic processes had very efficiently adapted to such restrictive eating, and as my body became less efficient at burning calories I became more and more unhappy with myself and how I looked.
I had an obsession with getting thinner.
I will always be proud of at least one decision my younger self made. In late grade 8 I started going to the gym. I was fascinated with people so into fitness that they would go to a place specifically to work on it, and paying for a membership was the best thing my parents ever did for me. I really had no idea what I was doing but I liked being there. I liked the feeling it gave me. I liked being around other people who enjoyed being active. I felt a sense of pride doing something different than my peers.
For years I trained with no specific goal and no real idea of what the heck I was doing. Playing sports seriously through high school helped encourage my gym time and gave me purpose being there, but I never had effective plans for increasing any sport-specific skills.
Every time I read an article on a new way to achieve “the perfect body” or those ever-elusive 6-pack abs I would change what I was doing and try out something new without giving those previous workouts time to have any effect (while, let’s be real, Women’s Health ‘Great Glutes’ workouts are not going to get you a cake booty after 12 weeks no matter how many air squats you do).
As most people in their late teens, I thought I was completely, unquestionably right about everything, and since I loved “researching” (aka googling) about nutrition and weight loss, I was incredibly well-read and therefore extremely wise about food, nutrition, and healthfulness (I’m writing this and simultaneously shaking my head in shame and embarrassment thinking of my younger self).
Upon starting university, I was a self-righteous, pretentious food snob who wouldn’t touch processed foods and thought everyone who didn’t know that red meat made you fat was a total and absolute idiot.
Boy, was I wrong. Turns out Wikipedia and paleo diet websites are not reliable sources of legitimate information. Yet here I was seeking out and then believing every single article I would read about “Food X makes you gain more fat when it’s processed” and “your body will store food Y immediately as fat cells” and then subsequently regurgitating all that information to whoever would listen with such self-satisfaction you might as well have called me the Mother Theresa of Clean-eating liver-detoxing health.
Through my young life I went through phases of restrictive dieting with excessive cardio, doing cleanses and detoxes, cutting out every kind of “food allergen” that allegedly made you gain weight, going vegetarian and eventually vegan, and through all of these phases I never saw the results I wanted to. (Yes, I will very shamefully admit that I tried that stupid lemon water and cayenne pepper cleanse for 3 days and almost died/ate my roommates).
I, like many many other people, have tried every stupid fad diet under the sun and guess what? None of them worked. Sure, I’d feel like I was losing weight by starving myself on lemon-juice-and-cayenne-pepper concoctions or pumping milk thistle and flax oil into my body to “cleanse my liver” (spoiler: that’s bullshit too). But I’d ALWAYS put whatever weight I lost back on, and sometimes more by forcing my metabolism to adapt to extremely low calories.
The more classes I took in University and the more I dove into my own research on human physiology, I started realizing how misleading the health and fitness industry was. Companies were too quick to cling onto irrelevant theories, correlations, and horribly-executed scientific research in order to promote their products as proven “weight-loss”, “pre-workout”, or “muscle-building” solutions.
Companies have absolutely no problem extorting you for money by convincing you their product will help you reach your physique goals.
The worst part is, so many of them believe so whole-heartedly their product will change your life, they will grasp and pass-on “bad science” like it’s a SARS outbreak all over again.
By the end of university, I had gotten into tracking macros and I was at the gym almost every day with no real direction of where I wanted to go with it. I had always wanted to compete, so I decided to bite the bullet and just do it instead of waiting any longer. I did hours of inquiring before I decided on a local team to coach me into my first competition. Now, my first coaches did not use macros as a form of tracking, which I actually didn’t mind. It was much easier to be told exactly what to eat and when rather than having to figure out my own meals every single day.
But those 16 weeks of prep were probably the hardest so far of my short life.
While my coaches were amazing, supportive people and I will never regret having them for my first show, I learned a lot of things about my body the hard way. Being on such a restrictive meal plan made my IBS much worse. Every single day I would wake up bloated and inflamed with horrible stomach aches after I ate. And the more restricted we made my diet in an attempt to control the IBS, the worst it got until I was eating ground turkey with coconut oil for almost every meal and nothing else beyond that.
I pushed myself past exhaustion like I never had before, dealing with moving to another province, school, commuting for hours, stressful situations and everything in between on a very restrictive diet. Every morning I would wake up at 5am to do 30-40 minutes of interval cardio before I had to drive 1.5 hours to University for the day.
There were multiple mornings I sat in my car and sobbed because I was so exhausted. But I kept pushing through it and in my first competition (October 2015) I placed second in my class.
After my competition I decided to track macros again, and I did hours of research in order to reverse diet myself out of my caloric deficit.
And the results were amazing. I was able to increase my calories by over 1,000 within 6 months and only gained 3-4 pounds more from my stage weight. I was shocked that the results could be so great after everything I had done to my body.
The biggest difference I saw was that my IBS basically disappeared as soon as I became flexible with my diet and started eating more processed foods. And that’s when it all clicked for me. I regretfully left my “clean-eating” team and [after extensive research and communications] hired a flexible-deiting, evidence-based coach for my next prep.
I competed again in summer of 2016. After not placing as well as I’d liked, I realized that to become competitive in the federation I was in would require a full year of growth for my tall, slow-building body type.
While I can’t regret any of my life decisions from the past, I can look back and recognize the times in my life when I was a real asshole to my body. All of my stupid, rash, young-kid decisions and obsession with getting a perfectly skinny body has served to really mess up my mentality and metabolic processes, but at the same time I’ve learned so much from my mistakes I don’t know if I could ever fully regret the decisions I made in the past. Without the constant struggle and failures, I wouldn’t be half the researcher and knowledgeable person I am today. I probably wouldn’t take research statistics so seriously. I probably wouldn’t have delved into the world of evidence-based fitness and nutrition. I would probably still believe that gluten makes you fat.
Since university I have began work as a personal trainer and nutritional therapist. I have done hours upon hours of my own research. I have learned copious amounts through my own experiences as well as my experience with other people. I have found many mentors throughout the world I can always turn to for advice. Most importantly, I am on the path of constant change and education, and I know I will never be able to learn everything (but I can damn sure try).
So here I am now, trying my best to educate and inspire those around me while continuing to inspire myself, eat LOTS of food, and grow (both physically and mentally) as a person. I no longer want to be skinny, I’d rather be strong and well-fed. I’d rather be healthy and happy, and be able to share my experiences with all of you.
Now that I’m a full-time trainer and nutritionist, I realize there is this incredible disconnect between nutrition, exercise, and the idea of being healthy. I am more aware now than ever how horribly rampant myths in the health and fitness world still are. It is incredibly frustrating trying to re-teach people all these misconceptions they’ve been perpetually indoctrinated with in the news, online, or even just talking with others.
I see a lot of my younger, less well-informed self in my clients and the people I talk to, yet I’ve been challenged with trying to articulate such complicated concepts of the TRUE effects of food on the body into explanations that are easy to understand.
And thus comes my inspiration to start this blog. Being a trainer and nutritional therapist (with a science degree), I’ve quickly learned that people simply want to be told what and what NOT to do. Plain and simple. Clear cut. Ockham’s razor. No “well this hasn’t been proven but it also hasn’t been disproven” or “well this study isn’t very good causational research it’s only correlational”. Just “do this, don’t do this” and “this is good, this is bad”.
Unfortunately, restrictions are not a very maintainable lifestyle, and I’d rather help give people the information out there in order to help them make the most informed decisions regarding their lifestyles.
I started this blog in order to help as many people as possible navigate their way through the convoluted, overwhelming world of health, nutrition, and fitness; To give some assistance and point you in the right, no bullshit direction towards your health goals.
I’m here to educate YOU to the best of my abilities and you can either stay and learn, or go and keep on doing what you’ve always been doing, bombarded up to your eyeballs with “fat-burning foods” and “detox diets” (guaranteed to help you shed fat in 2 weeks for only $500). I’ll still be here trying to educate and empower when you get out on the other end.
I’m here to help you revolutionize the way you think and act about health, food, and fitness.