Magdalena Cieslak: She Turned Adversity into Success
By Magdalena Cieslak
My name is Magdalena Cieslak and my story began in Poland where I was born back in March 1980. When I was 12 years old, my parents and I were blessed with a gift of being able to move to Canada in August 1992.
Before I jump forward with my journey, I am going to take you back to Senior Kindergarten when we had a doctor come into our school to do routine check-ups on all the kids and on that day my life changed when I was told that it appears that I have scoliosis (curvature of the spine). As a child, you don’t think much of it especially when you are that young, but let me tell you my poor mom poured her heart and soul into this when we found out. I vaguely remember seeing the spine x-rays and how terribly curved my back was. Endless chiropractic appointments, physiotherapy and daily exercise at home with my mom were a normal weekly/daily routine for me. There came a point where there were talks about putting me into a back brace and what that would have looked like. Basically, 23 hours in a brace with only 1 hour to shower etc. My mom decided to get another opinion and my physical therapy continued. The physiotherapist taught my mother how to do the exercises with me at home along with some easy massaging techniques because travelling across the city by bus everyday was not realistic and early clinic hours didn’t allow it. I vividly remember the daily massages and walking around with a wooden stick behind my back to help with posture. Sigh… Needless to say, I managed to avoid the brace, but now looking back I almost wonder if it would have been a better idea to just suck it up for a year or two and have a straighter spine. I will be forever thankful to my mom for doing all of this for me.
When we moved over to Canada, my uncle found an amazing chiropractor Dr. Gleeson who adjusted me 3 times a week for a full year. Thanks to him my spine was better and I will forever remember that he always encouraged exercise and to keep active. I don’t remember the exact day, but I do remember when I stumbled onto a channel where they were showing a fitness show. I was much younger and this little girl wondered if she could ever do stuff like that. So I guess I always wondered if I could get into a great shape and be able to do what those girls on tv did, fitness shows. As exciting as that sounded I always had that darn scoliosis in the back of my head.
In my late 20’s I decided I was going to be a runner. That lasted about a year and I only did it because my best friend Roxanne did it with me. I actually didn’t enjoy running, partially because it hurt my lower back and left knee and secondly because I wasn’t seeing the physical results I was hoping for. I wanted muscles and running was not helping with that. I lost some weight so that was good but the muscles were still hidden.
I am fairly short only standing at 5’3 ¾ and when I hold my weight it goes straight to my lower half, which is also the toughest to train. I was one of those people that wanted ‘quick results’ and I would go through my two-week gym sessions going hard, working out and seeing no results so I’d quit each time. Well I now know that there is no magical pill or a ‘quick’ solution to instant results. The solution is called time, dedication, sweat, and clean eating (another thing I had no idea about). One day I came across pictures of a friend of mine Anita Kielba who lost a lot of weight and decided to compete and placed. I knew then that it was time to do something about my weight. I refused to go up a size bigger and decided to join Adam Blackwell’s bootcamp, which helped me to lose my unwanted weight and get into that bikini just in time for our Mexico trip in July 2012. I tell you that bootcamp taught me a lot and changed the way I looked at fitness. Each session was intense, sweaty and rewarding and Adam was very motivational. Once I hit my goal weight I looked at Adam and asked him if he thought I’d be ready to do a Fitness Competition and all I heard was “lets do this!”. Because I was very driven, I was able to diet down for the first show in a mere 8 weeks! I know that sounds absolutely insane but I did it and placed 3rd in fitness model and was hooked. Two weeks later I competed in my first INBF Canada show in Calgary in 2012 and the rest was history. Now I am getting ready for my 10th show this upcoming May 28th, 2016 with INBF Canada in Calgary.
One of my biggest challenges was changing my way of eating and knowing that if I wanted results I would have to wait and be patient. I am so grateful for my nutritionist and friend Edie Vlooswyk who guided me through it all from the very beginning and still continues to do so.
Competing naturally was always important to me and it’s truly what I believe in. I choose to be natural because taking enhancements scares me and simply goes against me and my nutritionist Edie Vlooswyk believe in. To me natural means healthy in and off-season. Natural or not, all athletes work hard for their results I just chose to take the natural way.
Some of my core values that get my through my daily life and through training are adaptability, motivation, inspiration and respect. I have always been able to adapt to new situations easily and now having to modify my workouts around my scoliosis and my injury has enabled my adaptability once again so that I can go above and beyond and achieve my goals. Motivation is important to me because to me when I have a goal in mind I look to others for that extra motivation.
Inspiration goes hand in hand with motivation because it allows for that individuality. I have so many people that inspire me daily, Vanessa Rogers being one of them. Last but not least respect. We have to remember to respect everyone around us because we all have a story and a journey we are travelling on and that’s what makes us all unique. We as athletes and people must uplift each other daily to keep pushing forward. My inability to quit drives my stubbornness and me to keep pushing forward. I have been told that I shouldn’t workout because it might make my scoliosis worse but I refuse to quit and stop. I have come way to far to stop now. I am just getting going and I have way too many people to look up to and people who look up to me and I just can’t and won’t stop. Quitting is not an option, period. One of my goals is to get my personal training certificate and be able to help others the way that I was helped. My other goal is to step on the WNBF World Stage as a Pro.
Balancing work, family, training and life was tricky at first but as I got the hang of it, it got more manageable. Where there is a will there is a way as my mom would always say. Call me crazy, but currently I work, I’m planning a wedding, training, chiropractic weekly appointments and hanging out with my loves Gabriel, Vinnie and Zoey. Yes my life is busy but I like it that way. I don’t like to be bored. My current training consists of 6 days a week weight training as heavy as possible. I do two leg days (glute/quad and glute/hamstring), two shoulder/back days and two bis/tris/abs days. Sunday is my rest day and time to hang out with my puppies and my very understanding and supportive fiancé Gabriel. I continue to clean eat and my official show diet will begin Feb. 15th, 2016 to get ready for my 4thINBF Canada Show to date where I will be competing in bikini and figure. I follow a simple clean eating program loaded with vegetables, some carbs and of course proteins. My diet changes weekly as we approach show time. I do take a pre-workout drink prior to my workouts and a shake post-workout with Glutamine. I also take a vitamin b-complex and closer to show I will take b-6 and a b-12 along with dandelion root pills few days before the show.
I will leave with a few words that will hopefully help or motivate those who want to but don’t know how to start. Surround yourself with positive like-minded people who will uplift you. (Support system). Have goals and crush them and be proud. Small success is better than not starting. Be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day (I’m still working on developing my glutes and hamstrings thanks to my scoliosis 3 years later). Compliment others because sometimes a simple “good work” will make someone’s day. Eat clean and train like a beast. It takes 4 weeks for you to see a difference, 8 weeks for your family and friends and 12 for the world. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to. Visualise yourself already accomplishing your goal and it will happen. (Thank you, Mathew Park for these inspirational words). Just go for it!
Also, be sure to listen to Magdalena’s live INBF Canada athlete video interview with Peak Mindset Coach and INBF Canada President Mathew Park: