Every Friday I am going to feature a woman that I adore. They exude all the qualities of an Alpha Female and I want to dig into their lives to get some nuggets of knowledge to help us all live happier, healthier lives balancing life & work.
Definition of an Alpha Female
An Alpha Female is a powerful and assertive woman. Her confidence is due to being an intelligent and intellectual problem-solver. Being an Alpha Female is a State of Mind based on choosing ambition and being proud of it. She strives for a happy and healthy work/life harmony.
Type A Alpha Females often come across as strong willed and selfish. When we stay true to our authentic selves and stay true to our mission we shine. A true Alpha Female puts the needs of herself first without sacrificing her principles or dignity. She fills up her cup or gas tank first so that she has enough energy for her friends, family, and coworkers. A true Alpha Female strives for synergy with the world around her. She wants a perfect work/life balance but knows that it requires being true to your priorities and what makes you happy. She is never complacent about striving for better and nurtures relationships with the people in her life.
Meet Holly Barker!
Holly Barker is a Saskatchewan born and raised farm girl. She grew up with the world as her playground and a farm filled with horses, cows, peacocks, chickens, bunnies, cats, dogs and a donkey to complete the pack. She has always had a passion for knowledge and fitness and was taught the importance of education and travel from her grandma and amazing work ethic from her mom and dad throughout her entire life.
She went on to university where she met her now husband. She graduated with a business degree and moved on to a career in finance where she discovered the corporate world was not for her. Her love for business as well as fitness came together as one when she took the plunge into the entrepreneurial atmosphere with her husband in 2010 opening their first Anytime Fitness Franchise location in Saskatchewan Canada. They went on to open their 2nd Saskatchewan location in 2011 and have just opened their 3rd location and first in BC Canada this past December.
Holly began competing in bikini competitions in 2011 and obtained sponsorship with Magnum Nutraceuticals, a Canadian supplement company in 2012. She travels twice yearly to represent her sponsor and stands behind the quality products, selling the entire line in her 3 Anytime Fitness Locations. Passion for all things fitness, fashion, food and fotography (she calls it the 4F pillars of success) has taken her on a journey to work with some of the best photographers in the industry, has allowed her to contribute to multiple publications in the industry and has enabled her to put her entrepreneurial acumen to work; creating an EBook titled Behind the Photo w/ Holly Barker, a fitness app titled Total Body Fitness Challenge available on iTunes and incorporating and building up a lifestyle apparel brand mhbworld.com to help promote a lifestyle of adventure in health and wellness. Holly loves travel and adventure and is passionate about the platform that social media allows her to spread the 4F lifestyle and to inspire many around the world. Holly has just recently relocated again to Kelowna BC where her and her husband manage the clubs off site and are in the works for new adventures to come.
Stay tuned on new product launches from Holly on her social feeds Instagram
So on Tuesday, December 2nd after receiving my first steroid IV treatment in the hospital I was sent home to sleep in the comfort of my bed. Which was glorious! I was more excited to brush my teeth than anything.
My immediate treatment was to go through 3 doses of Solu-Medrol by IV (once in the hospital) and at home over the next two days. They shipped me the medication and an IV pole and arranged for a nurse to come in every day for treatment. She would hook IVAN the IV (yes I named him) to the medication on the IV pole and the drug would run through my system for an hour before she unhooked me and left. Solu-Medrol is a corticosteroid. It works by modifying the body’s immune response to various conditions and decreasing inflammation. We definitely made jokes on social media with my fitness world peeps that I was going to get jacked on steroids! Again I always have to look for humour.
The hospital sent my blood work off to check for viruses that could be sitting dormant in my body. Being on the steroid treatment and lowering my immune system meant that if I had dormant viruses in my body they could now take effect. Fortunately Hep A, C & HIV tests all came back negative. I was also asked to go to my family doctor for a TB test which also came back negative. Yay for positive news!
Over the next three days, I felt ok. I rested on my sofa bed, which my mom was sleeping on while staying with me, and called in for every meeting at work that I could so I could listen in or contribute. I wanted to make sure I didn’t lose any details at work even while I was resting and my office was very accommodating to calling me in. My last IV treatment was Thursday and I was so happy to get rid of IVAN. Friday, my mom and I had to run a few errands. We went to the doctor’s office for the TB test results, we had loaded up a bunch of used books and dropped them off at the used book store, drove down to Kensington Market for probiotics at my favourite health food store, grabbed healthy grass-fed meat at Sanagan’s meat locker and takeout from Fresh on Eglinton and then drove by the hospital to get my MRI scans on CD. By the time we got home, I was utterly exhausted and couldn’t explain it. I’m used to functioning at high levels and I didn’t feel like I was exerting myself but I do understand that my body needs rest more than ever.
Later that night I felt like I could barely get a breath in. I felt like my chest was being squeezed. All weekend my side effect symptoms were getting worse. I felt moody. Happy one minute and tired and sad the next. I was still having shortness of breath even while resting. I felt like I had a brain fog & I was having trouble thinking rationally. So I’d head to bed at 8 pm every night and sleep it off. Monday I was feeling better and I wanted to get back to the office. My only worry was that the Solu-Medrol solution may lower the ability of my body to fight infection. I was told to avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. It’s flu season in Toronto and everyone and their mother seems to be sick so I was a bit hesitant to join the real world again. I managed to get back into the office but got really tired and had to leave early most days my first week back.
In addition to immediate steroid therapy, I sprang into making appointments with many of my health care providers. I made an appointment with my Naturopath to discuss supplements, reached out to a Registered Holistic Nutritionist for a consultation on what I eat, made my follow up appointment with my Neurologist & emailed Soul 7 who I had visited back in October for a tour of their new healing facility in Yorkville. I believe in holistic health. I believe that I need an MS army of specialists to treat me and I intend on getting total care instead of just one avenue of care. Below are the Naturopath & Healing Wellness tactics I’m exploring.
Monday morning I went to the blood clinic early for blood work for my Naturopath. I’m seriously tired of needles. Wednesday morning I went to see her in the morning to review the blood work results. I also brought a bag with all my supplements in them for a full ingredient review. The good news is that the majority of my supplements are great. I need to take some of the supplements more consistently but I’m glad I have an action plan now.
Traumeel: I just recently bought oral pills which help in reducing inflammation. I take 3 daily.
NutraSea + D: I bought a small bottle so I can add a spoon of this to my green smoothies. I haven’t been diligent enough with getting fish oil in my diet and this has added Vitamin D to it.
I’m almost finished with my Ubermag so I’ll be looking for a new brand after this bottle is done as it’s too difficult to find in Canada.
The only supplement I have to put on hold at the moment is ReloraPlex which I was taking to balance my high cortisol levels.
The only new recommended product I should start taking is Pure Encapsulations – NAC which is a free radical scavenger that helps create glutathione in the body. Glutathione is used for maintaining the body’s defence system (immune system) which I need to build up so it stops attacking my myelin.
Magnum Primer: I take one pack daily with my red meat meal of the day. My naturopath loves this product and thinks it’s the perfect general health maintenance product on the market. It has the Omegas my body needs, a digestive enzyme for my gut health and is loaded with a ton of great vitamins & minerals.
In other great news, we took a deep dive into all my Magnum Supplements to ensure I’m ok to start taking them again (I’ve been off a few for the past 3 weeks), especially when I’m able to return to the gym. I’m cleared to take DNA (strength product) & Rocket Science (energy) pre-workout, Hi5 (BCAAs) intra-workout and Quattro (protein) & G (glutamine) post-workout. Glutamine will be so important for ensuring my gut health is increased post the steroid treatment. I can try Volume (muscle pump product) when I return to the gym. The most interesting thing we found is that Mimic (insulin mimicker) is actually imperative for me to take right now. My body is reacting to this diagnosis with massive stress and it thinks it’s diabetic based on my blood work so Mimic will be instrumental for me to regulate my insulin.
Disclaimer: This is a vitamin/supplement action plan reviewed and suggested by my naturopath. Please see your health care professionals before taking anything new.
Soul 7 Healing Technologies
Thursday evening I went to Soul 7 to consult with Bob Berman, the founder & owner. We sat and chatted for 30 mins about my diagnosis, symptoms and the technology that Soul 7 has. I remember everything he told me during my first visit but we talked specifically about how they can help with an autoimmune disease. He used the ONDAMED biofeedback machine on me to scan where I am having what he calls energy blockages.
What fascinates me is that he asked me to not tell him where the lesions are on my body. He placed a collar around my neck and the machine releases subtle stimulation. Bob felt my pulse and if it spiked he would write down the number associated with the spike. So without knowing where the MS lesions are the machine was able to identify where the lesions are on my body. He is going to treat me with the machine over a series of 20 appointments. In the meantime, we acknowledged that I needed to start boosting my immune system back up to heal itself. I spent 30 mins on the Pulsed Electro-Magnetic Field Therapy (PEMF) bed. This technology is FDA approved for reducing pain and tissue swelling. While napping on the bed I also listened to a 20-minute guided visualization created by Dr. Clifford Saunders, Ph.D. that addresses the mind-body connection of dealing with stress.
After this treatment was done I moved over to take another 20-minute nap on the Neuro Muscular Vibration Therapy bed. I had tried the larger beds last time I was here and raved about the most relaxing nap ever. The bed emits multi-frequency acoustic vibrations which transmit suggested muscular and mental commands through the central, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. They placed a heating pad on top of me to keep my core body temperature high and after the two naps, I was beyond relaxed.
I left feeling calm and peaceful and I’m excited to see how the treatments alleviate my symptoms and help me heal.
After a bit of a somber post yesterday reflecting on the lessons learned in 2012, it’s time to celebrate the goals I set and achieved.
Fitness Writing: I had the pleasure of being published in Max Sport & Fitness this year as a writer and model for my own article. This was special to me as I expanded my horizons as a writer. I was published as a model several times in Best Health this year & in World Physique Magazine. I’ve posted them in my Portfolio but the article below was a new milestone for me as a writer.
Obstacle Racing: I trained and completed the Warrior Dash with my friends Jess & Krysten in July. We even finished under an hour which we were so proud of! In October I tackled the famous O Course in Toronto and placed within the top 20 females that day. It was definitely harder than Warrior Dash and did a number on my body but made me feel so awesome knowing I had tackled and completed it!
Magnum Sponsorship: I want to truly thank my sponsors Magnum Nutraceuticals for everything they did for me this year. I was asked to attend both the Arnold & the Olympia with the team which was a huge blessing and for a short stint from May – November I used my OCD skills as their athlete liaison organizing demos & product orders for all our athletes. We disbanded the position at the end of the year as it was no longer needed but it was a great year with them. I still remain a sponsored athlete with the company so you’ll have to look out for my 2013 blogs and videos on hardmagnum.com!
Became an Author: I had set a goal to write an eBook in 2012. Over the month of November I was spurred into action and completed the 16 page book about how to “Live Like An Alpha Female”. You can purchase your copy on my website here for only 99 cents!
Despite the hard lessons learned this year. 2012 was good to me. So as much as I’m looking forward to 2013. I don’t let bad moments get me down and choose to focus on the amazing things I’ve been able to accomplish.