I’ve been described as “the Cinderella story of the fitness world”—but the truth is messier and more complicated.
My life has been beset by multiple challenges, but it’s also a testament to the value of resilience and the rewards you can achieve with hard work and determination. See how these experiences have shaped me and informed my approach to health, wellness, and life.
Childhood & Loveless Marriage
Growing up in a Dutch immigrant family, I was always the larger, more curious child among my siblings. In my twenties and thirties, I became a mother to three beautiful daughters, but as I approached my 40th year, I realized I had fallen out of love and faced the difficult decision to end my marriage in search of freedom and personal happiness.
Divorce, Career Change, & Falling in Love
The divorce led me to change careers and go back to school to become a Grade 1 teacher. It was on the school playground where I met Robert, an older gentleman who would not only introduce me to the world of fitness and bodybuilding but also become my loving husband.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, Robert was the owner of a new fitness magazine dedicated completely to women. He was also the man who had brought Arnold Schwartzenegger and women’s fitness to the North American mainstream. Together, we embarked on an exciting journey of growth and self-discovery.
Weight Loss Journey
Prior to meeting Robert, I had been working to lose 84 pounds of unwanted weight—primarily through cardiovascular exercise. Robert began to coach and train me, guiding me towards weight training and ultimately competitive bodybuilding.
This process taught me about my own resilience and determination. It also served as the foundation for my future career in health and wellness. I competed in my first ever bodybuilding competition at the age of 42, complete with a V-taper and striated glutes. I placed in the top 5 and was hooked.
The Dream Cont.
Oxygen & Career Take Off
My transformation caught the eye of Robert’s fitness magazine, Oxygen, leading to my first cover at the age of 42. This milestone also inspired legions of women who read the magazine, and I was soon invited to write for Oxygen as a contributor as well.
The column I wrote, called Raise the Bar, soon became a cornerstone of the magazine and kick-started my writing career. This resulted in the creation of the Eat Clean Diet® series, which went on to become a New York Times Best Seller and spark an international sensation.
The Eat Clean revolution had begun. I dedicated myself to sharing the secrets that had helped me lose weight quickly and safely so that other women could do the same—embarking on book tours and winning numerous awards in the process.
End of the Cinderella Story
Tragedy struck with the loss of my stepson and my beloved husband, Robert, in quick succession. The subsequent bankruptcy of Robert’s publishing business left me reeling and facing immense challenges, both emotionally and financially.
I’ve Gone Through This So You Don’t Have To!
What I’ve been through hasn’t been easy—but it has been remarkably rewarding. I’m confident that what I’ve learned through my experiences can empower you as well. Let me guide you towards your own transformation.