Journey Back To Strength 2

My Plan of Action

Journey Back To Strength Blog 2 - My Plan of Action
Editor’s Note: Ava Cowan, a top IFBB Figure Athlete, sustained a serious neck injury that required surgery and had her bed-ridden for months. Ava has kept this struggle quiet, but she is ready to get her strength back and wants to share the journey with us. If I know Ava, this will be a real, raw, inspirational experience for all of us. Ava will be checking in each Monday. We hope you’ll follow along.

AVA-JOURNEY-BACK-PART-2-INS7Today my Journey Back To Strength Blog 1 went online. To say that I felt blown away and incredibly emotional would be a mild understatement. But, why? Things are just getting better! I wanted to know what was it about that post— the world knowing the truth— that brought up so many feelings. So I sat here quietly contemplating what my heart was truly feeling. I wanted to understand what the incredible reaction to my disclosure meant to me. I suppose over the past four months I’ve at times felt isolated, in the shadows and truthfully afraid.

Journey Back To Strength Blog 2 - My Plan of ActionThen, literally in an instant, hundreds of people reached out to me with compassion, words of encouragement and support— it was all deeply moving. It is comparable to the way it feels when all you want is a big hug, and you finally get one. Quite a few people shared about their own personal struggles, painful injuries and how they too were fighting and finding their way back to normalcy. I couldn’t help but feel connected to many, see our similarities and how all of us are doing the best we can. I imagine going from months of partial if not total seclusion to then reading so many beautiful and heartfelt posts made me feel loved. So for giving that love to me, thank you!

How much pain can you take?

It’s been my experience that when things are handed to you in life and come a bit too easily, there can never be an true understanding or sense of what relief truly means. I believe true beauty and strength comes from the experiencing struggle, walking through it, wanting more for your life, and from refusing to stay in the pain. It’s getting hit hard, knocked down time and again that shapes and molds character. The shift comes from the realization that the only option is to dig deeper than you ever thought possible. And to stand back up one more time. That can’t be taught; it comes from your soul, only experienced and never given nor taken away. It’s yours, and only you own it.


True to form, I am not going to skirt around matters of the heart. Yes, this is about a comeback, but a few things must be mentioned. No, I want to mention them. I felt stuck in a bad place, in limbo, below limbo actually and graciously FitnessRx for Women said yes to documenting my road back to strength through a weekly blog. That is allowing me to rebuild, refocus and has more meaning to me than anyone truly knows. Because of this opportunity, I will stay on track and reach the finish line of this transformation. I feel the fire in my belly, and believe me, there was no fire there. I mentioned relief, appreciation and respect, which I feel immensely.

Where do we start?

As per my doctor’s request, very light lifting until my next visit in mid-December to get clearance for heavy lifting. So for now I use bands, very light dumbbells and machines, particularly with head support. I do not do cardio on consecutive days. That is never advised for beginners and even doing exactly as my doctor has requested my hip joint is inflamed, and I found out this week I have trochanteric bursitis. I am prescribed another round of physical therapy, and Advil but I asked specifically if I could continue my program and he said yes without question. So that is great!

Starting weight?

Ready for this one? LOL. Oh yes, it’s a number I’ve never seen on a scale that I have been standing on!

1. 9/12/2013 158.9 pounds
No metabolic damage here, I should weigh 200 pounds. I own it. BUT, I did start to watch all of my food and count my macros from that point on starting 9/12/2013.

2. 9/24/2013 153.9 lbs.

3. 9/26/2013 152.3 pounds

Thank you, God! LOL. That’s a seven-pound loss in two weeks. I do NOT expect that to continue. My weekly goal for healthy body fat loss is one to two pounds of body fat. The scale may not move as well because I am adding some muscle that I lost. So some weeks may yield no movement on the scale; I am prepared for that. But I am prepared for battle, so in the end, I will prevail.

Goal Weight: 120 pounds, photo shoot ready, stage ready— if it’s time and meant to be. 32 pounds to go!

Plan of Action Today?

I do my weigh-in in the morning before breakfast so that I step on the scale at the same time of day for consistent weigh-ins. I eat and then log into to add up breakfast and all potential meals for the day. I allow 15 minutes to do this each morning so that I know exactly what I am eating for the entire day, making sure to meet the macro goals for that day. For me they change daily in a four-day cycle. Then I go in and prepare everything. If I leave the house, I take the premeasured prepared food and the food list with me. I would completely forget what to eat and at what time if I wasn’t that thorough. Most importantly, if I have several places to go during the day I bring every single meal with me and it stays in my insulated cooler.

AVA-JOURNEY-BACK-PART-2-INS8Here is my secret weapon that is great for traveling all over town and even across the globe! I have used this bag everywhere— even in hotels that were out of refrigerators when I was competing! I use approximately four Ziploc gallon bags, fill one-fourth with ice and place the ice throughout the bag, keeping everything cold. That amount of ice spreads out evenly and isn’t too heavy to carry. It also fits in the overhead compartment on any airplane— even the tiny ones!

Here is the link to the bag if you’d like to buy one: Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack Soft Side Cooler – Black

This planning means that no matter what comes up for me, I am ready to go and I stay on track. In my experience, I have found this to be the only way that I can be successful.

Until next week… let’s do this!

Ava Cowan is an IFBB Figure Professional, a CPTS® and full time online coach and consultant for women of all fitness levels.

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