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Donna Baran had competed for years but felt exhausted and stressed. This is how she found balance and happiness through simple mindset changes.


For many years I was going nonstop with no care for my health. I joined the gym, went twice a year, did only cardio, and made the excuse of having no time until I convinced myself this was true. One day I looked in the mirror. I didn’t like what I saw and hated the way I felt. I told my husband we are joining the gym tomorrow and I want him to help me get in shape. His eyes lit up, he had wanted to make a commitment to fitness again. The very next morning we joined a local YMCA together, trained together from day one and still do today, changed our eating and made it something that was part of our life. Then I started competing in figure competitions but in the off seasons I got way off track. At 42 years old I had to put my foot down yet another time and promise myself this was it.


My biggest obstacle was trying to balance everything in my life: the business, family, fitness and competing. When you’re trying to give each thing 100% it’s easy to lose your mind at times. Recently I made it a point to give each portion of my life 100% at that given moment so whatever is in front of me that’s what I’m doing. Scheduling my day has become mandatory, but so far so good.


I had zero fitness background when I made the choice to make a change in my life. So having to start from square one I knew I had to dedicate a block of time to fitness. With everything I had going on, this had to become a part of my life, not just something I did when it was convenient. That had to be the commitment. My hormones were also out of whack so no matter what I did, how I dieted or trained, nothing was cooperating for me. It was very frustrating to know how hard I was working, and how strict I was dieting and things were not happening as planned. I stressed and before you know it I was fried. I gave myself a break mentally and physically with no show in mind at all.


1. If you’re going to take a pre-workout, wait at least an hour after your last meal. The nutrients from your meal are fighting for the same pathway as the pre-workout so usually the food wins and the supplement doesn’t work as well. Leave a clear path for the pre-workout.

2. Do a few sets of a weak body part at the end of every workout, just two or three quick sets and not to failure. Just enough to get a very nice pump. For me it’s shoulders so I will do either rear or side. Keeping blood flow in them has made a difference.

3. There is no perfect time. Just start today. If it’s Thursday do not wait until Monday. Start that day or at the very least, the next day. That way the feeling you have doesn’t go away. Understand why you’re wanting to do this and use that every single time you may want to sway from you choice. This needs to be a part of your life, not a one-time fix.


Meal 1: Shake (6 egg whites, 1 scoop whey protein blend, ice cubes). 1 serve oatmeal with handful of berries. 1 egg.

Meal 2: 4oz ground turkey or chicken, ¾ cup jasmine rice, chopped onion, amino soy sauce, ½ cup asparagus.

Meal 3: Repeat meal 2

Meal 4: Repeat meal 2

Meal 5: 4.5oz ground chicken or red meat, green salad.

Meal 6:1 scoop whey protein isolate, ½ cup egg whites, ½ scoop of carb powder


I am a big believer in giving your body the proper nutrition and supplements it needs, especially when training. My first is a multi and micro vitamin pack in the morning always to ensure I get all the basics and many more. I also have high quality omega-3 fish oils, greens powder with digestive enzymes and probiotics. Vitamin D and whey proteins are also on my main supplement menu.


Steady cardio is done three times per week for 20 minutes on a treadmill.


Walking lunges Warm up
Hip thrusts 5 x 12
Dumbbell sumo squats 5 x 12
Lying leg curl 5 x 12
Dumbbell stiff-legged deadlifts 5 x 20
Adductor machine 3 x 15
Smith machine wide stance squats 5 x 12
Leg press 5 x 12
Leg extensions 5 x 12
Split squat 3 x 8


Seated overhead press 3 x 15
Rear delt machine 5 x 15
Side lateral raises 5 x 20
Superset: Upright rows 3 x 12
Front dumbbell raises 3 x 12

Lying leg raises 4 x 30
Machine crunches 3 x 25
Standing calf machine 4 x 30


Pull-downs 4 x 15
Machine row 5 x 20
Underhand pull-down 4 x 20
Standing pull-overs 5 x 15
Single arm dumbbell row 4 x 12
Hyperextensions 4 x 25


Incline Smith machine 4 x 15
Fly machine 4 x 20
Dumbbell press 3 x 12
Rope crunches 4 x 25
Hanging leg raises 3 x 20
Seated calf machine 4 x 15


Walking lunges for warm-up
Leg extensions 6 x 25,25,20,20,15,15
Leg press 4 x 12
Split squat 3 x 15
Superset: Smith machine front squats 3 x 20; Dumbbell squats 3 x 15
Superset: Dumbbell stiff-legged deadlifts 3 x 12; Hip thrusts 3 x 15


Side lateral machine 4 x 20
Rear delt machine 4 x 20
Superset: Rope push-downs 3 x 15
Standing cable curls 3 x 15
Superset: Overhead tricep extensions 3 x 20; Standing dumbbell curls 3 x 15
Superset: Tricep extension machine 3 x 20; Preacher arm curl machine 3 x 15


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