Cindy Marcotte has turned her life upside-down over the last three months training for a figure competition in Kelowna. The Western Canadian Championships are this weekend

Cindy Marcotte has turned her life upside-down over the last three months training for a figure competition in Kelowna. The Western Canadian Championships are this weekend

Life changing challenge for Chilliwack mom

Three months ago, Cindy Marcotte thought figure building competitions were silly and easy. She knows better three months later.

Yeah, right.

That was Cindy Marcotte’s reaction when the idea was first mentioned.

During a casual conversation with a friend, Tonia Penner, she mentioned that she was looking for a new challenge.

Penner suggested entering a figure competition.

Marcotte looked horrified.

“I really didn’t approve of that sort of thing because I thought it was all about vanity. I thought it was silly,” she said with a sheepish look.

What she knew of figure competitions was intimidating.

Images of glistening muscle-bound women flashed through her head.

Flex and smile.

Flex and smile.

She’d heard stories about the harsh diets contestants adhered to. She knew there was lots and lots and lots of gym time.

The pictures she’d seen — the people in those pictures looked nothing like her, and she couldn’t imagine herself looking anything like them.

She surveyed her slight frame in the mirror and said, ‘No way can I do that.’

Penner, though, had a counter offer.

“Just give it two weeks,” Marcotte’s trainer-to-be said with a sly little grin. “And if it’s not working for you after 14 days, then you can bail.”

“So I could try it, and if it didn’t work I wouldn’t be losing anything,” Marcotte recalled. “I could honestly say it wasn’t for me and move on.”

Marcotte started by altering her diet.

Not to the full-blown nothing-but-chicken-and-greens diet mind you.

In the first eight weeks of training, the diet is less restricted. Still, there was a major adjustment as Marcotte cut out processed foods.

“I’ve always had the approach where I ate what I wanted and then I just ran it off,” the frequent marathon runner said. “But I had issues with irritable bowel syndrome and bloating, and all of that just went away when I started this. The diet just agreed with me, and at that point I was thinking, ‘Well. Let’s see what can happen.’”

Marcotte was still sceptical about the end result. She could put in the work and eat the food, but she had one major issue.

She didn’t believe.

“I’ve looked at the covers of Oxygen magazine and other fitness magazines and thought, ‘That’s not me. I could never look that way,” she said. “And that’s a big mental hurdle that you have to overcome. You have to have faith that at the end you are going to look like that. It’s about believing it will happen because you know you’ve done the work.”

Ah yes.

The work.

As mentioned, Marcotte has run marathons.

Last year, she entered a sadistic event called Tough Mudder, crawling through water-filled tunnels and running through electrified wires.

Compared to those, she pegged a figure competition as easy-peasy.

“That’s another thing I’ve eaten crow on, because this turned out to be harder than any marathon training,” she chuckled. “You work out a lot, sometimes two and a half hours a day, and I’m still going to work and doing family stuff. So I’m tired all the time.”

“It is a mentally and physically challenging task that you do for three months, and halfway through lots of people are done,” Penner added. “Anyone can do this if they have the drive, determination and time to devote. You either want it bad enough, or you don’t.”

Marcotte’s been blessed with a support system. Her husband has backed her in every venture.

She does, however, lament the lack of time spent with her son.

“I’m home for an hour or two, maybe, after work, just enough time to get supper ready for them,” Marcotte said. “Then I’m back to the gym. I see my son in the morning or at night, but not both. My time is so divided.”

He had a birthday recently, complete with the requisite cake.

Marcotte couldn’t have any.

“Having to explain to people why I can’t eat something, and having them think I’m kind of crazy, that’s been difficult,” she said.

After eight weeks, the diet became a real issue.

Processed foods out.

No added sugars.

No refined carbs.

No fat. No cheese, bread or pasta.

“It’s clean eating, and a diet I’ll still continue after this is done,” Marcotte said. “I thought for sure I was going to crave foods like crazy. But I never went through this ‘rip people’s heads off phase,’ that my husband expected.”

This weekend marks the culmination of all the work and sacrifice as Marcotte hops in a car to Kelowna. The Kelowna Community Theatre is the venue for the Western Canadian Championships.

“These last two weeks have been the toughest because the diet is at its most restricted and the workouts are at their most intense,” Marcotte said. “So I feel like I’m doing more on less fuel. I’ve actually cried during workouts.”

On Saturday, she’ll walk onto the stage and go through the required routine.

A glued on bikini (seriously).

Five-inch high heels.

Makeup and a deep brown tan.

A set of poses (front, side and back) requiring every muscle flexed and a smile on her face.

“I’ve practised in front of the mirror, a lot, with help from Tonia, my husband and my sister,” Marcotte said. “The poses are very unnatural, and they hurt when you hold them. But you have to make it look effortless.”

This article has made much of the training sound like a brutal, torturous exercise.

Was it worth it?

Three months ago, Marcotte looked in the mirror and saw a skeptic looking back.

She has seen the looks of people who don’t understand this venture. She has sacrificed more than she ever imagined she would. But now, when she looks in that mirror, she says she sees the person she always knew was there.

“I’m the best representation of myself, in the fitness sense,” she elaborated. “I’m proud of myself because I’ve worked very hard.”

And would she do it again?

“I don’t know, and that’s a better question to ask once it’s all over,” she said. “I have no expectations going into it. This is what I worked for and I’m going to go out on that stage and own it. After that, whatever happens happens and I’ll be happy with it.”

Then she’ll go have breakfast.

“French toast. Pancakes with whipped cream. Eggs and bacon,” she laughed. “I can’t wait.”

Get more info at

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Madalyn Clempson, 18, of Chilliwack sings ‘Hiney Yamin Ba-im.’ She won the Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music award at the Performing Arts BC Virtual Provincial Festival. (YouTube)
Chilliwack youth bring home awards from provincial performing arts festival

Chilliwack’s 18-year-old Madalyn Clempson ‘a bit stunned’ to have won Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music

These three kittens, seen here on Thursday, June 10, 2021, are just some of many up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Three kittens at the Chilliwack SPCA

Kittens were in ‘rough shape’ when they came into the Chilliwack SPCA, now ready for adoption

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Chilliwack family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read