How These Busy Parents of Two Got in the Best Shape of Their Lives


About a month ago I was contacted by a gentleman who wrote me a really nice message about our High Carb Fat Loss course.

I just want to thank you for writing the high carb fat loss book. It changed me and my wife’s lives for the better. We lost a lot of unwanted weight and even used the framework of the eating plan for a recent physique competition and did very well.

I clicked over to his profile on Facebook to see if he had any pictures from the competition.

I was blown away…

His name is Lawrence, and he’s 43. His wife Sandy is 34. They both work full-time jobs and have two children, ages 11 and 12.

On Facebook he also wrote this.

We did not hire a coach, as every coach we approached wanted us to either increase our fat intake or reduce our carbs. No thanks. We coached ourselves and used a lot of Rusty’s tips from his Visual Impact emails (with a couple of modifications from time to time).

I knew I had to interview these two.

There are countless examples of men and women online in their 20’s in incredible shape.

Sandy and Lawrence are inspirational because they are parents in their 30’s and 40’s.

Here are pictures from 10 years ago.

They put in 10 years of work to get in tremendous shape.

Sandy and Larence live in Winnipeg, Canada.

I like to refer to them as “Canada’s Fittest Parents”…

An Interview with Canada’s Fittest Parents.

Q: You two have great muscle maturity, how many years have you lifted weights? Do you have a background in sports?

Sandy: I was a tomboy growing up and did a lot of cycling and high school sports.  I started seriously lifting weights (i.e. following a dedicated workout program consistently), for the past 10 years, since I met Lawrence.  And no word of a Lie, we have been training together as training partners ever since.  It’s like our couples therapy, lol.

Lawrence: I played high school sports, participating mostly in volleyball and basketball.  I always struggled with weight as a child, so I started working out and lifting weights at quite an early age.  I asked my parents for a weight set when I was 13 years old, and they got me one of those vinyl weight sets loaded with sand.  I used an old coffee table as a bench back then LOL.  Ever since then I was hooked, and I’ve been lifting ever since.

Q: What does your workout schedule look like now? How many days per week and how do you split up the days, etc.

Sandy: I follow the exact same training program as Lawrence does.  The only thing I do different is change the rep ranges and tempo of lifts on some exercises so I can personally feel them more.  Also during contest prep, I do a different program only because I wanted to concentrate on different problem areas.

Lawrence:  Right now we are doing a traditional “bro” split.  Meaning we are training one body part per day per week.  We are only using this as a deload from competing this past May.  Soon we will revert to our “go to” workout program which is an upper body / lower body split.

The split looks like this: Monday – Upper body, Tuesday – Lower body, Wednesday – off, Thursday – Upper body, Friday – Lower body, weekend off.  I think it’s important to change the workouts up every 3 months or so, depending on our goals.

Q: Did your training change leading up to the show in May? Did you need to do cardio or were you able to get lean through diet alone?

Sandy: I did change my training a bit.  There were some areas that I wanted to improve on, namely my legs and glutes, which I began training twice a week. We didn’t do any cardio til we were 4 weeks out from our competition.

Lawrence: My training split stayed the same.  I was doing an upper body / lower body split.  Upper body days were Monday and Thursday.  Lower body days were Tuesday and Friday.  The only thing I changed were the rep ranges and exercises for my workouts.  For example, on my Monday and Tuesday workouts, I would focus more on compound movements staying in the 6 to 10 rep range.  On my Thursday and Friday workouts, I would focus more on density training and time under tension staying in the 10 to 15 rep range.

We didn’t do any cardio til we were 4 weeks out from competition.  We were able to lose weight, at first, simply by reducing calories and changing up our food changes.  Once we noticed weight loss coming to a stall, instead of decreasing calories further, we incorporated cardio.  We started off doing 10 minutes of step mill after each workout.  Once we were 2 weeks out from competition date, we increased our cardio to 15 minutes of step mill after each workout.

Q: I know you guys use a slight variation of our High Carb Fat Loss diet. I always encourage tweaks depending upon goals. What were the changes you made?

Lawrence:  The only thing I change is the protein ratio.  I would say that I am closer to 25% protein, as I consume about 120 grams of protein a day.  We do also incorporate an intermittent fasting eating style from time to time depending on our schedules.

Q: That is still much lower protein than is typically recommended. It obviously worked for both you and Sandy, but were you slightly worried that you would lose muscle? 

Sandy: I never change my protein consumption.  I stay pretty much at 50 to 60 grams of protein per day, even throughout contest prep.  The one you should talk to about this is Lawrence.  He used to drink protein shakes all the time.  Protein shakes led to bad gas, which led to an angry Sandy, LOL.

Lawrence: Yeah right Sandy, you like it.  Just joking.  I grew up weight lifting and reading bodybuilding magazines.  I always thought that the more protein you consume, the better.  The minimum amount of protein I USED to consume was 1.5 grams times my bodyweight in pounds, (as is often prescribed in bodybuilding magazines, online forums and the “bros” at the gym).

When we first started HCFL, my intention was more geared towards the longevity aspect of this style of eating.  Therefore, I lowered my normal protein intake to better suit the macro ratio described in your HCFL course.  Much to my surprise, I was able to retain all of my muscle mass even in a caloric deficit.

Q: How many calories per day do you eat most of the year? 

Sandy: I currently weigh 123lbs.  I like to stay between 2200 to 2500 calories a day.

Lawrence:  The normal weight that I am comfortable with is 175 lbs, which I am now, and about 10% body fat.  For most of the year, I consume 2800 to 3100 calories depending on my goals.  2800 calories is pretty much where my maintenance calories lie.  Since following HCFL, I haven’t done a traditional bodybuilding “bulk phase”.  When I do want to focus on trying to build muscle, I will bump my daily intake up by 200 to 300 calories, and stay here for about 2 weeks, followed by 1 week of eating at maintenance calories.  This helps me keep my abs visible year round.

Q: How low in calories did you have to go to reach the condition we see in your competition photo? How long did it take to go from lean to the level we see in the picture?

Sandy: During contest prep, I was able to keep my calories fairly high up until the final four weeks.  At this point, my calories were as low as 1000 calories a day.  However, we were using calorie cycling and I would not be this low for extended periods of time.

Lawrence:  The lowest I had my calories were 1200 calories per day.  As Sandy mentioned we utilized calorie cycling and structured refeeds throughout our prep, so I wouldn’t stay this low for extended periods of time.

For example, the last two weeks of contest prep I did two days of dieting on 1200 calories per day followed by one day eating at maintenance.  Then I would drop down to 1200 calories per day for another two days and so forth.  During our prep, we evaluated everything at the end of the week and made adjustments from there.

Q: How much lighter were you for your competition vs day-to-day the rest of the year.

Sandy: Year round I normally weigh 130 to 135 pounds.  On contest day I weighed in at 122 pounds.

Lawrence:  I normally walk around at 180 to 185 pounds.  At the start of our contest prep, I was 185 pounds and I weighed in at 162 pounds.

Q: Would you say it easier for you to gain muscle… or is easier for you to get lean?

Sandy: They are both hard!!! Haha.  For me, it took a long time to gain strength and actually build muscle.  I would say a good 2 years to gain a decent amount of noticeable muscle.  We try to not focus so much on the results but instead enjoy the journey.  And then when the results come, which they will if you are smart, are consistent and bust your ass, then it is a really nice benefit of this lifestyle.  I never had visible abs until following HCFL for about a year.

Lawrence:  Losing fat for me has always been a struggle.  That’s why HCFL has been a blessing for me.  I’ve never been able to stay lean year round before discovering HCFL.  And nowadays I’m not so concerned about building more muscle.  Rather, I try to focus more on keeping and hardening the muscle that I already have.

Sandy and I have taken on the HCFL journey originally for its health benefits and to reduce our own environmental footprint by not eating red meat anymore.  For protein sources, we currently use white fish and chicken breast.  Eventually, we want to experiment with a full vegan diet and see how that works with our own personal physique goals.

You see Rusty, competing in physique competitions is just a sport for us.  When we are competing, the way we look at our bodies have nothing to do with vanity.  It’s actually quite an odd thing, LOL.  When we compete, we are cognizant that the condition we are getting in is only temporary and strictly for the contest.

Q: You two have crazy sharp abs. I know a lot of it comes down to being lean, but you both have amazing muscle density across your whole midsection. How often do you train your abs and how long, etc?

Sandy: We have been following the same routine for abs for the past two years or so.  We have one day per week dedicated to ab training and at the end of each of our workout sessions throughout the week, we do a 2-minute plank.  We started off with a 25-second plank in the very beginning.  We added 5 seconds to this every week until we were able to do a 2-minute plank.  That 2 minutes is still challenging today.

Lawrence:  As Sandy stated, we do a 2-minute plank after each workout session and we have one dedicated “ab blitz” day per week.  This ab session lasts about 30 to 40 minutes.  Rusty, years ago you sent out an email detailing an ab workout involving woodchoppers finishing off with Pallof Presses.

We begin each “ab blitz” session with this woodchopper workout, which really gets the heart pumping.  We then do variations of weighted ab and density based ab exercises.  Creating dense abdominal muscles this way is beneficial because even when you are at higher body fat percentage you can still have visible abs.  We plan on doing a video in the near future detailing this ab workout.

Q: One concern we get from people about HCFL diet is the belief that we need plenty of fats for optimal hormone function. I’ve been eating this way for 2+ years and I have never had an issue, but have either of you experienced any problems of this nature?

Sandy: I have never had a problem with this since starting HCFL.  In fact, I would say that all my bodily systems are functioning more optimally.

Lawrence: I have not had a problem with this either.  My libido is strong, (just ask Sandy hehehe), I am stronger in my lifts than I have ever been, and my metabolism is revved way up.  When we first started off using HCFL, Sandy and I were just coming off of years of dieting on and off on a KETO style diet.

Needless to say, our bodies were not used to processing so many carbohydrates.  We did not lose any weight for the first 3 weeks.  But we loved the way we were feeling regardless, so we forged ahead with HCFL.  All of a sudden we started losing weight, and doing so consistently.  I am sure there were a lot of factors going on here, but I believe one of the factors was that our bodies were just getting used to processing all of the carbohydrates.

Q: I’d like to thank you both for taking the time to answer these questions. You both work full-time and have kids yet find the time to stay lean and healthy. 

Sandy: Thank you so much, Rusty.  Lawrence and I wanted the 30 somethings and 40 somethings out there to have a voice. Let’s face it, we know what it’s like to work full time, raise kids, deal with day to day stressors, and on top of all that deal with a slowing metabolism.  Trying to get in shape gets frustrating.  Not to mention the media.  It gets so confusing out there.

There are so many opinions on what you can eat, what you can’t eat, what diets work and which ones don’t.  Lawrence and I have been there.  We are still there, lol.  But we have found a lifestyle that works for us.  We feel better, we have more energy, we are leaner and more importantly, we are healthier.  We want to help people out there feel the same way.

Lawrence:  Yes Rusty, thank you.  There are very few people in the fitness industry that you can actually trust and Rusty, you are one of the few.  (No he did not pay me to say this… yet).  We just want to pay it forward.