It takes two to make a change
Committing to a healthy lifestyle can often mean drastic changes in every aspect of your life. But having a partner who is supporting you every step of the way can make all the difference in the world.
A year and a half ago, husband and wife Grace and Andrew Bukowsky, decided to make that change. And by holding each other accountable and relying on each other for support, the couple has transformed their lives.
Today, both Grace and Andrew compete in all-natural body building competitions, and this April, Andrew has a shot at the International Federation of Body Building’s world finals.
The couple’s journey to fitness began in 2011, when after years of being overweight and unsatisfied with their health, they vowed to turn their lives around.
“We weren’t happy with how we looked, we weren’t happy with our bodies at all,” says Grace, who is the general manager of Cove Links Golf Course in Ladner.
For Andrew, getting fit was very much a matter of life and death.
“My dad died at 39 of a heart attack, and here I was, almost the exact same age, and I was the heaviest I’d ever been,” he says.
The couple started with an intense home video workout routine, and began to see results. But it wasn’t until they started working with husband and wife personal trainers Dean and Leigh Brandt that the weight really started to come off and their bodies were transformed.
“When we started on our own, we weren’t really giving 100 per cent,” says Andrew. “There’s just so much information out there, it was hard to get focussed.”
Having a personal trainer design an exercise and diet plan for the couple helped them zero in on what exactly they needed to do to get the results they were after.
“It’s hard work,” says Andrew of the couple’s transformation. “But the more you do, the easier it becomes.”
And the results soon came.
After they each lost about 30 pounds, the couple started to focus on reshaping and redefining their bodies, instead of merely getting fit.
When the opportunity came to compete in body building competitions, the couple jumped at the chance to show off all their hard work.
Grace finished fourth at the Canadian Body Building Federation’s Sandra Wickham Fall Classic event this past November.
After finishing seventh at nationals last year, Andrew earned himself a spot at the IFBB world qualifier event in Winnipeg this April.
“It wasn’t a goal initially,” says Andrew of competing. “But when the opportunity came up, we thought why not?”
Having a goal to focus on also gave the couple added motivation.
“Having a goal gives you that extra fire,” he says.
The changes the couple has made have gone far beyond their physical appearance, however.
“This is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” says Grace. “My confidence is up, my energy is up, I don’t have any aches and pains.
“I feel better and look better than when I was 18,” says the 38-year-old.
But it’s not about looking a certain way, it’s about being healthy, she stresses.
In addition to turning their lives around, Grace says their focus on health has rubbed off on her 14-year-old daughter, who now works out regularly with the couple.
“We are a fit family,” says Grace.
And while regular exercise is important, nutrition is No. 1 in the Bukowsky household.
Grace says the couple eats as much fresh organic food they can, with no fillers or added sodium.
Breakfast typically consists of oatmeal with egg whites and cucumber. Then a “super greens” smoothie before a snack of apple, almond butter, and a protein shake. Right before a workout, Grace and Andrew might have another protein shake, along with yams or oatmeal, and some rice cakes for after wards.
Instead of sports drinks, Grace says they prefer coconut water to rehydrate.
An afternoon snack might consist of salad with no dressing, except for a little bit of vinegar.
“We eat like babies,” she says. “Every two hours or so.”
Dinner is usually fish or meat, with rice and green veggies, then an egg white crepe with peanut butter before bed.
“We spend about $800 a month on groceries,” says Grace. “Our bodies are like machines, they need to be fueled.”
Giving up unhealthy food is like overcoming any addiction, says Andrew.
“You have to make it a priority in your life,” he says. “You have to make it a routine, and not just a habit.”
Andrew recently quit his job as a restaurant manager and began working a personal trainer and fitness manager full time.
“I still work out with a personal trainer, though,” he says. “Having a personal trainer gives you someone to be accountable to, and helps you focus your workout.”
As a personal trainer, he’s seen what happens when couples don’t support each other.
Often when one person in a relationship makes the commitment to get fit, and the other partner isn’t on board, that partner can often end up sabotaging the efforts of the other, he says.
“They may not even be aware they are doing it, but it happens.”
Andrew says the support the couple has for each other has helped make their transformation possible, and strengthened their relationship.
“It’s the key to being successful,” he says.
• You can follow Grace and Andrew’s progress on their blog, The Fit Life 24/7, at gracebukowsky.blogspot.ca