December 31, 2018

“I have two words that I focus on: strong and resilient.”

Margaret Jamieson
Margaret Jamieson

Introducing Margaret

Margaret Jamieson is a 53-year-old swimming instructor/lifeguard for the Toronto District School Board. 

The years between 40-50 brought a lot of ups and downs for Margaret. She struggled with injuries, weight gain, depression, lack of self-confidence, and lack of career direction. 

When she was 45, motivated by feeling shocked after seeing a photo of herself on a family vacation, Margaret joined a gym and met someone who would become instrumental in her health journey, personal trainer, Chas Cook. Within 6 weeks at the gym, she had lost 25 lbs, gained strength, and her high blood pressure was gone.

This new commitment to her fitness snowballed. Margaret started doing half and full marathons and signed up to do her personal training certification.

After an incredible journey with her fitness and a new career path, everything continued to grow and get better and better until a series of injuries stopped her from being able to run or even walk for more than six minutes without having to stop because of the pain or numbness.

After her injury, she lost her social network that revolved around her running and fitness,  became severely depressed, and stopped all her healthy habits, and became obese again.

With more help from Chas, two of her really good trainer friends, Anne Carty and Brandon Green, and nutritional coaching she slowly began to train and her way back to health.

Between January and June 2018, Margaret lost 75 lbs.

What would you say has been the biggest shift in your life since turning 40?

What I’ve realized is that over the many years as a wife, mother, and friend, I put everyone’s needs ahead of my own and ended up so far down this list that at the end of the day, there wasn’t anything left to help or care about myself.

I’ve since read and learned from Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, to let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. This circus act of looking after everyone else’s needs before myself was simply exhausting and depleting.

Thus, all of my focus since hurting my back has been on health and my physical and mental wellness. This gives me the energy to take care of the people in my life in a new way because I’m so much happier and healthier.

When do you feel you are most powerful?

I have two words that I focus on: Strong and Resilient. I use them as a mantra and even purchased temporary tattoos that I placed on my wrist every week during this journey so I wouldn’t forget. 

I feel strongest when I’m doing something physical or if I’m training/coaching someone else. I support and coach many of the women just like me at school or at the gym, 45-60-year-olds who are struggling with the same weight loss/physical issues/perimenopausal issues as I am.

It fills me up to help them, support them, encourage them like they have done for me over the years!

I’m my most powerful when I am being myself: fun, caring, supportive, curious, challenging and improving myself, growing and learning. 

What are the top 3 most important things to you right now?

  1. Being able to move pain-free and continuing to enjoy my lifestyle, exercise, our cottage, and friends.
  2. My nutrition. I can’t slack off my focus on my eating and drinking. I can have something special once a week or so but if I indulge more often than that my weight comes back on, my back starts to hurt, and my digestion goes off.
  3. My family and friends. I’ve learned not to be afraid to ask for help and value being supported and giving support back.

How do you make sure your actions are aligned with what’s most important to you?

I’m still photo journaling and not drinking, I’m taking vitamin D now that there is less daylight, and stepping up the exercise that helps me with good endorphins. If I need to I’ll see my doctor for meds but I haven’t needed them over the last two winters because of the exercise. 

What seeds are you planting today for the future?

I plan on retiring in a year and a half. After that, my goal is to be working two-thirds of the time as a personal trainer.

I want to continue to focus on my weight maintenance and exercise goals to protect my back from disabling pain and to continue to enjoy my life in retirement; biking, sailing, hiking, canoeing, and weight-lifting. I want to travel, see new places, enjoy long bike rides and hikes or swim across the lake.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in redesigning midlife?

Start now. It doesn’t matter how small a step you take.

Make plans… some small, some big… even some crazy ones!

I never expected to run a marathon or do 8 chins up… but I did and I need to keep reaching for new and exciting opportunities 

How can people connect with you and your work?

I love to help people. So I have created my own unique business. I run a private swim school for adults and children, am a personal trainer and group fitness instructor at Strata Internal Performance in Newmarket, and I teach first aid and CPR to families and business. You can connect with me at or call me at 647-528-9732.

Welcome to my Power Profiles Series

Here I introduce you to powerful midlife role models in our community. May these stories inspire you, motivate you, and show you what is possible.

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I'm here to reclaim the term 'midlife' and embrace the power these years offer us.

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Sara Smeaton

Sara Smeaton is a certified professional coach and facilitator who helps midlife women follow their dreams after forty. She works privately with clients in Canada, the US and the UK.

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