“Being in a wheelchair makes you realize what you want out of life and what you are willing to do to get it,” says 35-year-old Tara Dear. “I joke that I gave up bread and took up triathlon.”
Two years ago, the full-time mom suffered from diastasis symphysis pubis while pregnant with her second child. The symphysis pubis is the stiff joint that connects the two halves of the pelvis. It’s normal for this joint to loosen and open up by a few millimeters during pregnancy. In Tara’s case, the joint opened so much it was considered to be dislocated.
The result was eight months of bed rest, followed by two months of physiotherapy.
She wanted to do more to get in shape, but like many of us, it was easy to find reasons not to commit to a regular routine of exercise. Her father, who was already a client at Free Form Fitness’s Kanata location, took away her excuses: he offered to babysit and to pay for her initial sessions with a personal trainer.
“You can get a wonderful workout in 20 minutes,” she said. “You don’t have to run for three hours.”
Two years later, she has lost 90 pounds (yes, 90). In addition to her two sessions a week with FFF trainer Adrian Zulpo, she plays ice and ball hockey every week and runs as part of the Ottawa Triathlon Club. In fact, she is only one event away from earning her 2013 OTiS award from the club, which involves completing one organized event in seven sports: swimming, biking, running, duathlon, aquathon, triathlon and pentathlon.
When she began with FFF, it was more than just a routine of exercise, it was a tailored fitness program intended to strengthen and condition for injury recovery and prevention. In other words, it served as a continuation of her physiotherapy. Despite the fantastic progress she has made in two years, she still derives great value from regular coaching by a certified trainer.
“I am still getting my form corrected by Adrian,” she said. “I still wouldn’t be doing it right on my own and I wouldn’t be pushing myself as hard. The accountability is huge.”
Her children are an added inspiration.
“You can’t be sitting on a couch eating potato chips and telling your kids to eat healthy,” she said.
Nutrition is of course a huge part of her fitness routine. “You can eat your way through any amount of exercise,” she said. But it wasn’t until after she had cut bread and baked goods from her diet, then tried to indulge with the odd cheat day, that she realized she was gluten intolerant and likely had been all her life.
It’s estimated that 15 per cent of the North American population is gluten intolerant and 99 per cent of these people are never diagnosed. The effects range from a variety of digestive problems, to fatigue and brain fog, and even autoimmune diseases.
“A whole myriad of problems went away” when she cut gluten from her diet.
Most of the people in her life have accepted the lifestyle changes she has made for the better. This includes her ball hockey team, which likes to hit the pub after each game. But while her teammates indulge, she opts instead for a simple cup of tea.
“They’ve accepted that I am just as much fun without beer and wings.”