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Oh, hi there!

Hello! I feel like I have started every post lately with an apology for being so lazy with blogging. This post is no different! I really don’t have an excuse other than the motivation seems to have left me in the last few months. If I wasn’t sick in bed right now, this post may not have happened either. I’ve still been chipping away at my goals, but the blogging side of things seems to have taken a step back. Hopefully the motivation will return soon 🙂

Anyway, a little update…

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Into the home stretch: STS Round 2 Final Week


I had been meaning to post an update much sooner but I am laptop-less at the moment and updating via iPad or phone is just painful.

Well, I’ve almost made it. Today is day 34 of this round of Shortcut To Shred. That means I’ve got 8 days to go! In some ways it feels like the last 5 weeks have flown by, but it’s definitely been a challenging round. Actually, this week has probably been one of the hardest…

This time last week I had a big night. As a non-frequent drinker, when I do decide to have a big night, it really hits me hard. And this one hit so hard I lost all motivation to do absolutely anything besides drag myself to work for days afterwards. On Saturday morning I did a massive full body workout, made some healthier chocolate crackles (recipe up soon) and went to the party. The workout made me sore for days, which might have also contributed to my unwillingness to do anything. By Tuesday, I felt like the old Cassie had seeped back in and my old sloth-y ways had begun again. While some days I am exhausted and don’t feel like working out, it’s rare that I wholeheartedly don’t want to get up and get moving. And for a few days this week, I really just wanted to sit on my butt, eat and feel like crap. So, I allowed myself to have a break from the gym, and then picked myself back up, dusted myself off and got back into it on Wednesday. Sure, I missed a few days but I am counting them as “mental health days” and to be honest, I think we all need them sometimes.

Getting back into it on Wednesday.  (Source: instagram - cassiedawson_)

Getting back into it on Wednesday.
(Source: instagram – cassiedawson_)

The rest of this week has felt pretty good. Yesterday I broke my Smith Machine Standing Calf Raise record with 60kg (plus the bar weight, if you want to be technical) for 15 reps. I knew they are one of my favourite exercises for a reason. I’m really starting to see definition in my upper arms and shoulders too, which I am loving. I must say that Shortcut To Shred does amazing things to your shoulders (though maybe i’m a little biased as I love training shoulders).

Friday :) workout + song of the day

Friday 🙂 workout + song of the day


Stand by for progress photos next week! Up until now I have not wanted to post progress photos of muscle tone, but we’ll see 😉


4 weeks in, 2 to go!

So I am four weeks into Shortcut To Shred and to be quite honest, I am exhausted! I know I’ve just got to keep on pushing but as winter is just starting here, it is becoming more and more tempting to stay rugged up in bed rather than getting up for workouts. Oh well. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do!

So, this happened on Saturday:


Yessss! 200kg! This has been a goal of mine for a long time now. I have bad hips and get remedial massages to fix them every two weeks so having a heavy squat goal would most likely make my hips worse at the moment. Leg press however… All. Over. It. And damn it felt good to get to 200. And for 5 reps… Not even just one. The achievements make the struggles all worth it.

I feel like I have been making decent progress overall as well, but I have been struggling with a lack of energy and at times, a lack of motivation. I had considered that I might be getting sick since I have been getting enough sleep, but so far no cold symptoms have reared their ugly little head. I guess we’ll see!

I guess that’s it for now!!

Shortcut To Shred: Round 2, so far…


Hey there!
I’m almost two weeks in to my latest round of Shortcut To Shred, so I thought I’d post a little update if how it’s going.

First up, I have been ridiculously tired these last few weeks. I don’t even think it has to do with the crazy workouts or anything else in my life. I’m really hoping I’m not getting sick or anything, but I guess we’ll see. I’m just taking it one day at a time and making sure I don’t completely run myself into the ground.

I had almost forgotten how much of a challenge the STS workouts can be. I think my fitness level had definitely improved since my last round, but I still find myself drenched in sweat and totally exhausted by the time each workout is done. Jim Stoppani, you are crazy.

Nutrition has been a struggle when I’ve been feeling so run down. I didn’t get a chance to prep lunches and snacks last Sunday so I had to cook on Tuesday night and buy prepacked snacks and lots of fruit to get me through the rest of the week. This weekend I am definitely going to make a few batches of healthy slices and snacks that I will actually enjoy. The photo at the top of this post is actually the prep I did on the day before this round started. It was only half the food I had prepared!!

Progress wise, I am definitely heading in the right direction. My work pants are getting loose and I can’t keep them up properly. I recently bought new gym pants that are now too big around the waist. I had forgotten how good this program is for my shoulders too. In such a short space of time they have become much more defined and shapely. I am loving it. I’ve definitely got more muscle definition all over, which I guess is as much from fat loss as it is muscle building.

On some sort of side note, I realised a few days ago I never measured myself before I started this round. Rookie error. I guess all I have to go off is photos now, but somehow that’s quite a liberating feeling.

So these are the things I am going to work super hard on improving over the next week…

Number one – I am scheduling myself in a relaxed weekend and at least one big sleep in. I feel like I haven’t had a sleep in for a very long time so maybe it’s exactly what I need to get back to feeling good. I am also planning to get a good dose if vitamin D and sunshine, which is certainly something I have lacked lately.

Number two – I need to work on the nutrition side of things more. If the choice had no consequences, I would more than likely choose a schnitzel and chips over steak and veg every time. I need to work more on self control and beating cravings.

Number three – not directly STS related, but I think I am going to start journaling more (offline). Mental health is just as important as physical health, after all!

That’s everything for now!! If anyone else out there is doing STS or a similar program, I’d love to hear how you are doing!! x

Quick updated progress timeline


A quick updated progress timeline.
2013 – 2014 has been more about muscle building and finding balance for me, so while it doesn’t look like much has changed, it has. One of these days I’ll get better at taking these photos!

Something else to note – in the time between the 2013 and 2014 photos were taken, my life was essentially overhauled! I moved to a completely new area an hour away from where I used to live, finished up one job and started another and settled in to a completely new life! No wonder this year has been about finding balance! 😉

Lost: my motivation and lifestyle mojo

This is more of a rant to myself, I guess.

Well, it has finally happened. After such a long time of pushing on, I think I can finally admit I’ve lost my motivation and nutrition/exercise mojo. I really wish I had some sort of excuse, and on some levels I do, but it can’t really beat the fact that I have just been lazy lately. I have really been struggling with anxiety and stress and I think it’s really affected most areas of my life, including my ability to push on and motivate myself.

So… Where to from here? Firstly, I guess I need to accept the damage I’ve done to my body lately. I definitely know I have gone backwards fat loss wise, and even though I am still improving strength wise, I have not been treating my body with the respect it deserves. Second, I am hereby allowing myself a day of rest. A day to myself where I can sit on my butt and relax and not feel bad about it. I feel like usually when I try this, I either feel so guilty I go and do something, or I end up making plans and rushing around just as much as I would on a normal weekday. Thirdly, I need some get some serious meal prep going. Good, tasty food that I won’t get sick of eating halfway through the week. That includes snacks too!

I really need to dig deep and remember why I started this journey in the first place. While I still find myself feeling like I am lagging on behind the pack of transformations, being lazy and going back to old habits isn’t going to help.

You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down. – Mary Pickford

Setting goals + my 2 year gymiversary!

Oh, hey there! Even though I’ve been absent from writing of late, I am still working away at becoming the best possible version of myself.

While I was at the gym today, I realised I missed my two year anniversary of joining the gym and overhauling my lifestyle! April 10th, 2010 was the day I decided enough was enough and that I was tired of being overweight (I was just over 82kg!) and hating the way I looked and felt. I never thought it would become such a hobby/interest for me, but I am so glad it has.

In light of what I have dubbed my gymiversary, I think it’s time to sort out my goals for the year and get my online presence back on track!

Goals – this year

A few things I want to achieve within the next 8 months (2014):

  1. Reach 200kg 0n the leg press – I actually broke my personal best for the plated/sled leg press today and am currently sitting at 160kg for 10 reps.
  2. Get a dexa scan – This is something I really should have done a long time ago.
  3. Complete Run Newcastle, 30/11/2014 – In an ideal world, I’d be able to run the 12km, but I am aiming to at least run the 6km track.
  4. Practice yoga and meditation more regularly (yoga at least once a fortnight)
  5. Try at least 3 new workout types – time to branch outside of outdoor circuits and and the gym!
  6. Read at least 3 nutrition books
  7. Be able to do 5 unassisted pull-ups with good form – I am terrible at pull-ups. Time for improvement!

I’m sure I’ll think of more to add to this list soon, and I’ve really got to get some updated photos up, but for now, adiós!

Regular updates and photos can be found on my Facebook page, so be sure to stop by! x

Some recent snapshots and stories!

Since moving to Newcastle, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone in a heap of ways. I’ve tried plenty of new things and my training style is so much more varied and challenging now. Here’s just a few of the great things I’ve done recently…

Started Yoga

Doing yoga at a professional studio is something I’ve always wanted to do, though locations were limited on the Coast. Now that I am closer to a city like Newcastle, there are a few places around to choose from. I have to say that though I was originally sceptic about doing hot yoga (I’m not generally great with hot temperatures), it was super cleansing and refreshing. I’ve now attended classes a few times and plan to keep doing it once I have stable employment.

If you’re interested in starting hot yoga and are a local, you can get a 10 day unlimited trial for $20 at yogabodyworks on King Street in Newcastle.

Started outdoor workouts

While I was commuting to Sydney, I didn’t really have the option to work out outdoors since it was dark when I left for work and dark when I got home. Now that I have more time on my hands, I’ve been taking my training outdoors with some lovely ladies. It is much more of a challenge for me than hitting the gym, but I’m loving it. There’s nothing like working out while watching the sun rise.

Juice Mania

Not this this is particularly out of my comfort zone (in fact, quite the opposite!), but I have been loving my new juicer. I’ve been going crazy with different combinations of fresh fruit and vegetables. My favourite so far is a detox juice which I should have the recipe for up by the end of the week.

Looking forward to 2014

It’s been so long since I’ve written anything on this blog I’ve almost forgotten how to start!

First up, Happy New Year to anyone who reads this. Hopefully you’re already having a great 2014!

2013 was a huge year for me, and while a lot as happened I have mixed feelings about how successful the year was. During the last few months of the year, I went through some huge personal challenges and changes including health issues (still trying to sort those out), uprooting/moving the life I had known for most of my lifetime and more. I think I changed a lot as a person and am certainly not as afraid of change as I used to be.

On a health and fitness level, I have a confession to make that may somewhat explain my absence from blog writing. I feel like with everything that happened towards the end of last year, a little bit of my passion and fire went out. I have reignited the spark over the last few weeks and am feeling pretty good now, but for a little while I had to put myself into robot mode and go work out because I needed to, regardless of motivation. While I was moving my diet suffered a lot and it’s only really now that I’ve sorted out a routine and gotten back to eating healthier. I think a big part of my motivation drop was because of my lack of progress. 2013 was a year of great transformations for many people, and as I saw their progress over much shorter lengths of time than my own, I couldn’t help but compare myself to others and feel very much disheartened. I know comparing myself to others is a big no-no, but I think we can all admit it is something we still do sometimes. It feels as though I am running into a brick wall and not changing at all, despite the hard work I have been putting in. It’s incredibly frustrating, and I’m sure I’m not alone. It’s not that I am not incredibly happy for anyone who has had an amazing transformation. In fact, I am totally inspired by others’ transformations. It’s just that I had always hoped that after a year and a half of working out and making better food choices, I would no longer feel and look overweight and would be proud to show off my body.

This all brings me to the health issues I mentioned above. I don’t really feel like I need to go into too much detail, but I am still trying to get to the bottom of a few things that may, once diagnosed or solved, may explain why my exercise and diet efforts seem to give lacklustre results. There’s a chance you might be thinking I’m doing something wrong with my diet or workouts that would lead me to this point, but I assure you, I have done the research, tried many different workout plans and tried to be as healthy as possible. It’s not an issue of getting enough vitamins, and hopefully I’ll have some more answers soon. Maybe once I know what’s stopping my progress I’ll write about it a little more.

While all of this makes it seem like I had a bad 2013, I really didn’t. I have learnt more about myself this year than I could have imagined. I have embraced change and taken time out to look after myself. I have finally stopped commuting and can, for the first time in years, put my health first and take time to relax a little. I have started fresh and am enjoying my new surroundings. I have met some great people, and am grateful as always for the people already in my life (especially my family, who have supported me through several tough moments this year).

Now, enough looking back. Onto 2014…

I feel like this year is going to be a good year. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions as I believe if you have to wait until a certain date to change your life, you don’t want it bad enough, but I do have a few goals I’d like to achieve this year. None of these are particularly new goals, but I think it’ll help to have them down in writing.

2014 Goals

  • Find a new job – Since I moved north, I can no longer keep working in Sydney. I have been using up annual leave since late November, but am on the lookout for a new job. I’m super keen to take on a new challenge, meet new people and learn new skills.
  • Get my health sorted – Hopefully I can get this done over the next few months!
  • Be proud of my own transformation and further it – I have goals of what I want to look like and even with a few hurdles, hopefully I can achieve this goal in 2014. I have already been working hard to get leaner and build muscle, especially over the last few weeks (I’ll probably make a post about how my workouts have changed lately soon!).
  • Do more things outside of my comfort zone – I am a creature of habit and usually a pretty shy person. This year I’m hoping to change that.
  • Care less what others think – I guess this kind of links to several other goals I have for 2014, but it definitely deserves its own point. I have always been the kind of person that gets wrapped up in what other people think of me. I think that in order for me to be proud of myself and love my body, I need to consider more what I think, and less what others think.
  • Blog more – Yeah, I know everyone always says this. But I do want to follow through with my plans to make Zero Steps Back into a fully fledged website and do a giveaway at some point soon.

Thank you for all your support in 2013, and hopefully 2014! xx

“I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.” – Ken Venturi

Smashing It

I feel like a lot of my progress story gets missed on here because it all goes onto my Instagram and Facebook page, so here’s a post from earlier tonight. Loving doing Shortcut To Shred again. Almost two weeks in and I can see changes and am feeling much stronger!

Smashing It - Shortcut To Shred

“1 & 2. Smashed Shortcut To Shred today.  3. Just because we all know I’m a sucker for a nice scenery shot (shame it’s crappy quality). “

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