It’s almost that time…swimsuit season!
I used to dread this time of year. The reason is because I probably took about 20 “before” photos at different times over a 4 year period. I would promise myself, “this is THE year! This is MY year!” I didn’t even care about being in a bikini….I just wanted to feel good wearing shorts and showing my legs in public.
I had great intentions, I just never knew HOW. I knew I was not a “dieter.” I somehow knew it would take a lot of patience on my part and some hard work. There was so much weight-loss information out there and I was confused on what was right and what was a sales gimmick.
After doing my research and committing to a lifestyle change, I slowly started seeing progress. I found out my results were determined 80% by nutrition. All the while, I had been “killing it” in the gym with few results. It only made sense.
At 50 pounds overweight, I eased into a new lifestyle.
Here are my 4 main tips for getting started on your fitness journey:
I committed to cooking more meals at home and going out to eat less. Even when you go to a restaurant and “think” you’re ordering healthily, you still don’t know how the food is being prepared. Most foods are cooked in butter and oil, among other things. Sure, you can order healthy food to the best of your abilities, but I wouldn’t make it a habit of going out to eat if you’re really on a mission to transform your body. Once a week would be my recommendation for a “treat meal.”
Be realistic with yourself. If someone would have told me at 200 pounds to meal prep all my food on one or two days a week and carry 5-6 meals with me in a cooler, I would have laughed at them. Yeah right! If you’re always on the go, find a meal replacement shake that works into your life so you don’t miss meals. Visit my grocery list here for meal ideas.
I eat every 3 hours (without skipping, and aim for at least 5 meals a day. I have been eating this way for five years now and it keeps my metabolism high and my body fueled for daily activities.
Low-carb dieting is not the answer. According to Certified Nutrition, Keith Klein, the first 10 pounds lost on a low-carb diet, 4-6 of those pounds is loss of muscle. That’s crazy! Don’t do any crazy dieting. You don’t want to damage your metabolism. Just eat healthily. My grocery list above offers some generic meal portions. If you want professional assistance, I certainly recommend Keith Klein’s team for nutrition. Great people!
There’s a reason I listed food first, because it’s the most important part. Exercise is only 20% of it. Although, I found that I wanted to eat healthier when I stuck to a workout program. If this is the case for you too, then make it a point to exercise often! You certainly don’t want to overdo it and burn yourself out. As a certified personal trainer, I recommend working out 3-4 days a week when starting out. Even to this day, on a good week, I might get in a workout 5 days a week.
When I started out, I focused on getting in 3 workouts a week. Whether I just went walking outside or went to the gym for circuit training and cardio, I committed to staying active. I had NO CLUE what I was doing when it came to the gym and lifting weights, but I pretended I did.
I did some research on websites such as Bodybuilding.com and found a handy exercise database that I still use to this day. I would select the muscle group I wanted to work and then watch the videos before my workout, taking notes. It was awkward at first, but after a couple of times, I got the hang of it. Try it for yourself: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/
Or, simply go to an exercise class or workout with a friend. The BEST kind of workout is the one you actually LIKE to do and is fun for you. Whether it’s walking your dog, pushing your baby in the stroller, listening to music on the elliptical, find something that works for Y-O-U. Then branch out from there and try new things. It’s great to change things up every couple of weeks to keep your body guessing.
Remember, you cannot out train a bad diet. Believe me, I’ve tried.
It is totally normal to want all the results NOW! We are definitely in a world of instant gratification. The most important thing I learned on my journey is to love myself at every stage of my transformation and to be patient. Have you noticed when you work really really hard for something, you feel so proud once you complete the goal? There’s no other feeling like it! As opposed to something coming easy. It’s almost like we don’t appreciate that as much. I know I’ve been there.
It took me 2 consistent months of clean eating to see a BIG difference in my body. I love telling people that because lots of people expect it to be one week or overnight. Great things take time. You are building a new body, new ways of thinking and a new lifestyle. That is not an overnight thing. That’s months in the making.
It took me 2 years to put on 50 pounds and it took me a couple more to get it off. It was simply because I did not know the power of nutrition. Focus and be patient with yourself. Practice positive self-talk. Sometimes no one will notice you dropped 5 pounds or 2 clothing sizes. Don’t worry. You know.
4. Don’t Worry about the Scale
It has no idea if you’re replacing fat with muscle. I have gotten the absolute BEST results of my life with weight training. It reshapes your body. I lift as heavy as I can with proper form. Ladies, it will not make you bulky or too muscular.
The only time you get bigger from lifting is when you eat junk food and you add muscle to fat. I’ve done that before.
Once I got back in size 8/10 jeans, I hired a nutritionist. It took me 3-4 months to transform my body from that point. At the end of that time period I was in a size 4 jeans. The difference was 24% body fat, down to 15% (athletic range).
And guess what? I stayed 140 pounds on the scale the entire time. Good thing I didn’t weigh myself, I would have been so discouraged and might have given up. Luckily, my nutritionist was able to tell an increase in my lean body mass and my clothes were fitting loose. Don’t worry about the scale. Take progress pictures and measurements to judge your progress.
Lead by example and pay it forward by showing other people the healthy way as well. It’s been the most inspiring part of my journey.
In the Fitting Room
I never dreamt that I would ever wear a bikini again, but here I am. The top right picture was taken one year post-pregnancy in the Target fitting room trying on bikinis. It’s easy to pick out imperfections because we can be our own worst critics. That goes back to my point of loving yourself at every stage. Instead of looking at myself and finding cellulite, I thought,
“you grew a big beautiful baby in your tummy and it looks fabulous!”
Moving Forward After You’ve Met Your Goals
This part is just as important. You really have to find a healthy balance with everything you do. I am still a “chunky girl” at heart. I will always love margaritas, Mexican food, cheeseburgers, the list goes on. I have just found the best way to balance it AND live the fit life. I want it all!
I do get bored sometimes, I won’t lie. There are days I feel so unmotivated and it would be SO easy to go back to my old habits. But I also remember how hard I worked and how bad it felt to be miserable. That will always drive me and push me to do more.
If I can do this, so can you.
All the best.