At the end of April this year, I decided that I needed to start taking time for myself to get back into a fitness routine. I love working out, but after having kids I went into mom mode and was always taking care of everyone else that I forgot to take time for myself to keep myself healthy. Then the kids got a little bigger and our schedules filled up with activities, life was just busy!!
A few years ago I joined the Tone it Up Community to start getting myself back on track, I would work out for awhile but then fall off track and then stop completely. I couldn't keep myself consistent or committed to my routines. And my nutrition, it was always all over the place.
Every Spring the TIU girls do an 8 week Bikini Series, I've started a couple of the Bikini Series but never completed them because I would fall off track, or get discouraged without seeing the results I wanted to see. This year I told myself that I would commit to the Bikini Series 100%, not just working out, but keep my nutrition as clean as possible. I followed the meal plans as they were laid out, only changing some of the meals around to my taste or ingredients that I had. I made a point of getting my workouts in, no matter the time it was, some nights working out at 10pm if I had to. I did not want to give up, I needed to keep going for myself.
The challenge started on April 24th and every week I jotted down my measurements (except for my weight as I did not have a scale and I didn't want to focus on my weight). Every week the numbers kept getting smaller up until week 5, then week 6 the numbers didn't change. I started to plateau. Usually that is when I would start giving up and sabotaging my progress with falling off track on my nutrition, but this time I told myself that I wasn't going to do that. I decided to increase my weights a little bit and keep pushing myself harder. Week 7 came and my numbers had dropped again, I pushed through the plateau.
When week 8 was coming to an end I was trying to decide what to do to keep my momentum and routine. I had decided that I would start the whole 8 weeks over again and just keep going. Then by fluke, I was searching for Oxygen Magazine on Facebook and their Oxygen Challenge popped up in my search, it was starting the day after I had come across it. I knew I had to sign up, it was a sign for me to keep going and have a challenge through the Summer to keep my motivation. The winner of the Oxygen Magazine Challenge will get the chance to grace a cover of the magazine in 2018, it was a great motivator. I had to choose between two trainers to follow, or I could train under both of them. I listened to both trainer's intro videos for the challenge and decided that Jamie Eason was the trainer I wanted to sign up with. I was intrigued by Kaisa's way of working out and learning about how our bodies move, but I knew that with my scoliosis I would have a hard time following along with her workouts or I would hurt myself trying to push hard to do them. Jamie's traditional lifting approach to training sounded right up my alley. On June 12th I went online and purchased the program under Team Jamie.
The Oxygen challenge started on the 9th week of the Bikini Series (a Bonus 7 day slim down week to finish off), so I took that week to read and listen to all the information but kept up with the TIU Bikini Series meal plan and workouts and added in the new lifting workouts from the Oxygen Challenge.
I took my 8 week after photos for the TIU Bikini Series, but now my after photos became my before photos for my new challenge. I was excited and motivated. I treated myself and purchased a Fitbit.
I was proud of myself for finally sticking through a whole Bikini Series and completing it, and was happy with the changes I made, but now it was time to build some muscle and shape.
I bought a scale to weigh myself (I had to submit my before photos with my measurements and weight), I followed along with the workouts, and stopped doing my TIU workouts because I didn't need all the cardio, I was trying to build some muscle. I was eating clean, so I thought I was on the right track, but I should have read my information more closely because I ended up under eating my calories for the first half of the challenge (if not longer), ended up having crazy cravings that sometimes I couldn't control and I would end up eating some junk, that's 6 weeks or more where my nutrition wasn't right. I wasn't seeing any changes and was feeling sluggish and discouraged. I did not want to give up. I had to figure it out. I started looking back at all my food intake numbers, figured out what I was doing wrong and then within a few days I started seeing my measurements moving again. I was finally on the right track. I purchased a barbell weight set just over a month into the challenge as well, I needed more weight for my leg workouts. My 15lb dumbells just weren't enough, so a barbell and weight plates that went up to 100lbs was what I needed to get. I am a work out at home kind of person, I just don't like going to the gym.
The last few weeks of the challenge we were supposed to start a lean out phase, meaning more high intensity workouts and cardio to burn some fat and show all those muscles we've been building from the first half of the challenge. But because we were going away on vacation and I had recently figured out my nutrition mistakes, I decided I would leave the lean out phase to the very last week or two of the challenge. On vacation I kept my food healthy, but workouts were minimal, and that was ok, I was on vacation after all, and soaking up every minute of my family. The week after we came home from vacation I was doing shoulder workouts and was in horrible pain, I have no idea what I had done to my shoulder but I couldn't do anything over head. I started taking a collagen supplement and krill oil tablets, plus a break from any overhead shoulder workouts. It seemed to work, no more shoulder pain.
These last two weeks I started carb cycling, following a laid out meal plan (with a rotation tweak) from an issue of Oxygen Magazine, I do way better when something is written out for me to follow when it comes to nutrition, it just makes life so much simpler. I was doing high intensity workouts, but also incorporating more lifting as well so that I wouldn't lose too much muscle from what I may have built from the beginning stages of the challenge. It wasn't easy, but I told myself I would complete this challenge and submit my after photos no matter what. I did not think I made enough change in the last 12 weeks to win the cover, but I finished the whole challenge and am proud of myself for it.
The past 5 months has been a lot of work, but it has been so worth it. Not only for the fact that I have lost a bunch of weight (I don't know an exact number because I have no idea what I started at back in April), but my back pain from my scoliosis is pretty minimal, I still get it, but mostly just before my cycle is about to begin, and not on a daily basis anymore. I can also lay on my back and my arms will lay flat on the ground in an L beside me, something that I couldn't do just a few shorts months ago, they would literally hover over the ground. *Edit to add: This whole journey has also helped minimize my diastasis recti (the separation of abdominal muscles).
Now to start the program somewhat from the beginning again, along with doing one of Jamie Eason's free programs to build some more booty and work my legs harder, go back to eating a bunch of carbs and start building a bit more muscle, here's to another 12 weeks.
Now after all that I bet you're eager to see my progress photos?!? Ok, here we go.
First are my Before photos back from April (from the help of my awesome daughter who took them one morning for me because I didn't want to procrastinate and to keep myself accountable by having the photos).
My Photos after 8 weeks on TIU, and the photos I submitted to the Oxygen Magazine Challenge.
And my final photos that I submitted as my After photos for the Oxygen Magazine Challenge. Yes I went and got a tan (it was suggested for us to get a spray tan, do our makeup and our hair if we could for the after photos). And I want to keep my tan forever, I like it too much!!
And here's a side by side of each photo from April 24th, June 16th, and Sept 13th.
Check out the improvement in my posture, unreal!!
And for my measurements:
April 24th: Bust - 35" / Waist - 31.5" / Hip - 39" / Thigh - 20" / Weight - Unknown
June 16th: Bust - 34" / Waist - 29" / Hip - 37" / Thigh - 20" / Weight - 146lbs / BF% - 22%
Sept 13th: Bust - 33" / Waist - 27" / Hip - 35" / Thigh - 19" / Weight - 137lbs / BF% - 18%
Wow, my longest blog post to date! Thanks for staying to the end. Now my goal is to keep going strong and build my leg muscles some more, and to see if I can build any more definition in my abs, although I don't think I'm one of those people that gets those defining abs.
I will ask for your help when voting begins, because why not. I may as well give it a go and see how far I can get into possibly winning a shot at the cover, wouldn't that be something, or even to make it into the top 50 or 20 or whatever it is. But, even if I don't get anywhere close, I am proud of myself for sticking it through and for working hard to achieve the changes I have made.
**And if you'd like to follow my fitness journey over on Instagram, you can find me here!!