Sunday, April 10, 2011

Steely Springham - "Why Not Me?"

Me and my Pal!
I met Steely on cold and rainy winter day in January 2010.  Popping into Avant Garde Hair Salon to pick up a CD of images from her after interviewing owner Jon Paul Holt, she discreetly asked how she could become involved with my magazine.  My short and and rather abrupt answer if I remember it right was - "I need a writer."  I don't think that was what she expected. but in true Steely fashion, took the door that was open and walked through it. 

She brought her experience as a songwriter to the table, adding a unique voice to the magazine.  More than that, she became a friend and mentor - someone who pushed me to think outside the box and banish negative thoughts.  One of the first mantras - "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!"  She was also the impetus, driving force and producer that made our first ever magazine launch a reality.  I will forever be grateful that she came into my life.

From the VFE launch which she produced

In January 2011, Steely let  me know she had to step down from the magazine for 6 months as she was pursuing a life-long goal - training for a figure competition.  First, I fell apart as I had come to rely on her support.  Then I listened to what she was saying and realized it's importance.  Next came the impetus to write her story, but it took until March for us to find time for the interview.  Between training, work and classes to certify as a personal trainer, her free time is minimal, but it was worth the wait.  I think her journey has a message for women everywhere.

Emceeing a JCI student fashion show.

Steely was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, and from childhood had a vivid imagination.  "My parents owned this really cool brass goblet that looked like something out of a  Shakespearean movie.  I used to take it to my room, set up my Barbies and pretend I was a priest."  Acting, musical theatre and sports filled her free time. In high school she lived and breathed volleyball.  Although she is only 5'4," she played HARD.  "I had a lot of bruises.  The joke was that I would sacrifice my body for the team."  Post high school things were not as simple. 

I love this photo because she looks ready to fly!

Never judge a book by it's cover. When Steely says she understands self-doubt, it comes from experience. It is hard to imagine looking at the composed, fit person we see today and discover in her past she struggled with self-image and a weight that yo-yo'd up and down. "I could lose 25-30 pounds in a month and gain 35 the next month. I didn't do drugs and rarely ever drank - food was my vice."  Post high school, she moved to Vancouver and explored university for awhile, but struggled to find the right direction.  In the meantime she worked as a waitress in a strip bar. "It was a great experience.  I learnt a lot about life, the world and street smarts.  It prepared me for when I later moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and music."   The downside, while working in the bar she began putting on weight.

Photo shoot and modeling on the runway.
Two director/producers for the original Rambo movie frequently came into the bar on breaks and Steely befriended them - always having their coffee ready as soon as they walked in the door. Out of the blue, one of them encouraged her to audition for a part. “The role called for nudity and you had to audition in a swimsuit. I didn't even think about that. In a panic, I stayed up all night trying to memorize the lines.

I was waiting outside the audition room in a swimsuit that didn't fit and in walked a bartender from another bar - one who enjoyed taunting me about my weight - to audition for the same part. She starting laughing when she saw me.”  In embarrassment Steely panicked, forgot all the lines and completely froze in the audition.  She left without even putting her clothes back on feeling, “This was my BIG chance, my ONLY chance and I blew it. I don't deserve any other chances.”

Photos during her singing career

A trip to Los Angeles several years later opened new doors.  She had been living there for about 4 months and was about to throw in the towel, but was talked into doing a bikini contest. Since she didn't have the Pamela Anderson look of most of the contestants, Steely chose to focus on becoming extremely fit. For 11 weeks she worked with a trainer - eating, sleeping, working out, following all of his instructions to the letter and enjoying the discipline of it all. The outcome? She won.  However, there was a downside. The jealousy of fellow contestants and so call friends caused her to lose several and her response – food. 

It took two years to again lose the weight she gained after that contest. Acting jobs began to come in and she was signed to a record label where she earned 4 top 20 singles - 1 top ten. Through the process a valuable lesson hit home. “I realized I still looked at myself in a negative way. You can fix the outside, lose the weight and get in shape, but if you don't fix your perspective, it's going to be a constant battle for the rest of your life." She chose working out instead of food to deal with the stresses of life and surrounded herself with incredible friends that exuded positive energy.

Steely with her trainer - Nico

In 2008, Steely realized her career was not progressing the way she had hoped and chose to return to Vancouver.  At first she immersed herself in helping everyone else, keeping so busy there was no personal time.  Then came the realization that she needed to find time for her own goals.  "It's okay to be selfish as long as it's about becoming the best you can be.  Then you can be good to other people." 

One long term goal had always been to try training "AS IF" she was going to enter a figure competition.  "I'm fascinated by the metamorphosis of someone's body and respect the discipline it takes. I like the regiment of training and wanted to work on sculpting my body.  Just see where I could take it."  One day a local trainer, Nico De Feo, handed her an advertisement for his upcoming boot camp.  After checking out his credentials and asking a lot of questions, she felt she had finally found the right person to work with.  The message changed from 'I wish I could look like that' to 'Why not me?'  One surprise development, Nico pushed her to actually enter competition.


April 8th progress photo
Training is time consuming, at least 3-4 days per week.  Her injuries from earlier car accidents have to be worked around and a very strict diet is required.  But what Steely found the biggest hurdle to overcome is the mental challenge.  "The mental is what stops you from going to the gym or tells you it's okay to have that chocolate cake today.  It's that little devil that sits on your shoulder and says you can't, you won't, you're not good enough." 

The cost is also a burden.  Personal trainers charge by the hour and that rate can vary widely. Competition swimsuits can run up to $1500, but are absolutely essential.   "They can make or break you. The right suit can hide your flaws or make you look longer, taller."  Then there are competition entry fees that can cost hundreds of dollars. Finding sponsorship has become a necessary focus as she looks ahead to future competition goals, but to Steely, it is all worth it. From training has come a new found sense of strength and empowerment, the ability to no longer negatively compare herself to others and the satisfaction of realizing a long held dream.
 
I want to close with a personal quote from Steely's website - "Motivation is trying to make yourself go somewhere. Inspiration is being called to who you are.  I don't want to be motivated or to motivate, I want to be inspired and to inspire!"

To check out her progress, view training videos or enquire about sponsorship go to http://www.steely.ca/

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