Back in 2018, I posted about My Journey Toward a Healthier Lifestyle. I had just hit the big 3-0 and had a huge wakeup call – I was the biggest I’d ever been in my life, and I was miserable.
I started walking and eating better, and I lost 50 pounds in 9 months. I was doing great, and more importantly, feeling great!
Fast forward to my dad being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2019 and his downward spiral in 2020, and I fell off the wagon. HARD. I gained back half of what I’d lost, I was eating my feelings, I wasn’t taking care of myself. Not hydrating. Not exercising. Barely sleeping. Eating absolute junk, constantly. That’s all I did in 2020 was go into a downward spiral right along with my dad. I stopped caring about myself because I was too busy caring for both my parents. Something I didn’t talk about in that November 2020 update was the fact that my mom was also trapped in the downward spiral. She already had existing mental health issues – bipolar disorder and severe catatonic depression – and to be honest, she gave up when dad died. I felt like I lost both my parents instead of just one. If it weren’t for Adam, I’d have been alone…and frankly, I don’t think I’d have survived it. He was my rock. He helped pull me out of the dark place I was in after everything happened, and getting engaged was the motivation I needed to get my health back on track.
It started as mostly a shallow reason – I didn’t want to look like a stuffed sausage in my wedding dress, lol. But the more I did, the more it became about wanting to live my best life, feeling good (physically AND mentally), and being healthy. I want us to live a long, healthy life together and I couldn’t do that the way I was going. I absolutely would have ended up with health issues – diabetes, at the very least.
In October of 2020, I started on Booty King’s home program. In just the first month, I lost 2 inches in my waist and a 1/2 inch everywhere else. I repeated the first month twice, then finished out the 3 month program. By May of 2021, I was down almost 4 inches in my bust, waist, and hips; 3 inches in my thighs and 1 inch in my arms and calves; and was down 16 pounds. I finally went to try on wedding dresses (I had gone in October and hated my body so much that I was miserable and didn’t like anything on me) and found The Dress! In the end, I decided to order one size down because I was losing so rapidly. I was confident I could fit into it by the wedding in another 6 months. (And I did!)
In July of 2021 I started using FitBod (you can build your own workouts tailored to your needs) to up my lifting game – I began doing a push/pull/legs split so that I could do more upper body, and I was building more muscle overall. I was down to a street size 6 by the wedding in November!
Fitbod started to feel pretty stale after a few months, though. My progress had stalled completely and I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere anymore. During Black Friday my fave brand of fitness gear, Constantly Varied Gear, was having a sale on their Thick Thighs Save Lives workout ebook, so I jumped on it. I started the TTSL ebook the last week of November, doing their 45 day program. It was a HUGE challenge, but very rewarding. It’s insanely hard, even scaling – it’s meant to be – but I could see clear progress and changes in my body, and I finally started to break plateaus that I’d been stuck on for MONTHS on end. I’m done with the ebook now, and I signed up for a free 2-week trial of their TTSL Daily program, which is what I’m currently doing. I’m not sure I’ll commit to that just yet as it’s $50 a month – I’ll probably cycle through the ebook at least one more time, then come back to Daily. I love their programming SO much, though! I can feel myself getting stronger every single week – I recently bumped up to 25# on ground to overheads (was doing 10# because I didn’t have a 15# plate and couldn’t quite handle 25 yet), 60# deadlifts (started the ebook at 40#), 20# kettlebell rows (from 15#), and as much as I hate them I’m learning front squats. My back squats have improved, I’m slowly lowering my elevated push ups, and I don’t struggle on ab workouts like I used to. It feels amazing to constantly be pushing my limits and breaking those PRs! SO rewarding! The CVG ladies are a huge inspiration, and the whole community is extremely uplifting and inspiring. (There’s a CVG Nation app full of thousands of women if you’re interested in joining!)
I love the fitness lifestyle, which blows my mind a little bit. If anyone had told my younger self that I would ever be considered athletic, she’d have laughed right in your face! I was never a sporty person, I couldn’t run at all, I was sedentary for most of my adult life up until now. But after making these changes, I feel better at 33 than I ever did in my 20’s! I mentioned that in my post 2021 Highlights: Marriage + Fitness, in which I talk about my discovery of this lifestyle, my struggle with weight, and my aversion to diets. I’m sure there will be some repetition between this post and that one, but I wanted to go into more depth about the how instead of the why in this post and the things I’ve done to get here.
What works for me
- 10k+ steps a day
- 2+ mile walk daily (currently incorporating running, too)
- Metcon/strength training 3-5 days a week (current program: Thick Thighs Save Lives by CVG)
Tips for sore muscles: foam rolling, hot epsom salt baths (Dr. Teals pink himalayan salt is LIFE), zinc + vitamin C, magnesium, high protein + recovery foods like banana, sweet potato, spinach, light movement on rest days to prevent stiffness – most importantly, STAY ACTIVE! Being sedentary makes you sooo much more sore!
- Cut out processed junk
- No white sugar or white flour
- NO pop
- Healthy carbs like oats/whole grains, legumes, sweet potatoes, fruits & veggies
- Healthy fats like fish, avocado, eggs, nuts & nut butters
- High water intake – at least half my body weight in ounces per day
- Low sugar intake – no more than 40 grams per day
- High protein intake – 60-80% of body weight in grams per day
- Eat plenty of fruit and veggies
- Almond milk instead of dairy milk (a fraction of the fat/calories!)
- One cheat meal a week
- Protein shake every morning
- NO. CRAZY. DIETS. No insane calorie restriction, just a deficit. No cutting out carbs, your body needs them. No starving yourself! Your body NEEDS fuel, and sometimes eating less actually makes it harder to lose weight!
I want to note here that this is not a STRICT every-single-day regimen. I follow the 80/20 rule – I eat healthy & clean 80% of the time. I still have my pizza and tacos! It’s really all about moderation.
I am actually enjoying eating healthy! Not only do I feel better overall, but I’ve learned to eat a lot of foods that I once would never have touched. (I discovered brussels sprouts are actually delicious when cooked properly!) There’s not many things I won’t eat anymore. I love trying new recipes, too!
Favorite healthy food: oats! I am OBSESSED with overnight oats. They’re so versatile, and there’s a million things you can do with them recipe-wise. I eat them almost every day!
- 8 hours of sleep per night (okay so I’m pretty bad about this sometimes)
- Go to bed & wake up around the same time every day
- Vitamins – here’s a look at what I take:
- Zinc & vitamin C for muscle growth/recovery
- Super B Complex and 5-HTP for mood
- Gingko for mental support & memory
- Biotin + collagen powder for healthy skin & nails
- Turmeric for mental support, anti-inflammation, & joints (and heart health!)
- Fish oil for the same reasons as turmeric + healthy skin
- Magnesium on recovery days for muscle recovery and to help with stiffness
- MEASURE YOUR PROGRESS. The scale is a dirty liar! It’s cool to weigh yourself if you want, but remember that muscle is more dense than fat, so 20 pounds of muscle is MUCH different than 20 pounds of fat. Take monthly measurements instead, and take lots of pictures. SEEING your progress is going to be a lot more motivating than a number on the scale, which will only serve to disappoint and discourage. (Keep in mind that I dropped 3 inches without the scale budging because I was gaining muscle. It’s not about the number!!)
- Push yourself to do better. Sometimes motivation only comes from action. It’s okay to take a day off, but don’t continue to make excuses. Even if you don’t want to, get up and do it anyway. THAT is how you get motivated.
- MAKE it habit. It’s hard at first, it always is. But once you do it for a few months it becomes habit. And then you find yourself wanting to do it!
Consistency + Moderation.
It is absolutely ALL about consistency and moderation. It’s okay to do unhealthy things sometimes as long as you don’t make a habit out of it. There will be some days you don’t work out. Some days when you eat like crap. Just get back to it the next day and don’t wallow in guilt over missing a day or two. Consistency always wins in the end!
Starting measurements in September 2020:
Belly button: 35.5
Current measurements as of January 2022:
Belly button: 31
If anyone ever has any additional questions, don’t hesitate to ask!