Micelle

Hello, my name is Michelle and I am excited to share my fitness journey as so much has changed since sharing my first story with Socially Fit. I’m from the beautiful islands of Trinidad and Tobago found in the far south of the Caribbean. I began exercising at age 11 and never stopped unless told to do so. I was forced to stop working out in 2003 when I had a surgery. The other time was more recent, in 2013 after the birth of my miracle baby. Yes I said miracle baby since I was told that I was not capable of having children due to my diagnosis of endometriosis in 2003. I’m a figure athlete and have represented my country in various international body fitness competitions. My last competition being the Arnold Classic held in Ohio in 2013 where I placed 5th in my class.

During my pregnancy I was able to exercise with some modifications as I went through each trimester. However I had an emergency C-section which slowed my return to exercising post pregnancy. It was recommended that I should not to work out for the first 6 weeks post pregnancy and that was the crucial time when my weight should be reduced. Instead I have only lost a minimal amount of weight and after two months began a training regimen.

With the new addition to my family life, exercising has to be strategic. Timing is key. We purchased a treadmill for our home so I can get more structured cardio done when the baby is asleep. Weight training normally lasts between 30 to 40 minutes and is done prior to or after training clients as I am currently a freelance Personal Trainer in north Indianapolis area.

I have set both short term and long term goals and they motivate me to everyday to wake up and accomplish the objective set out for the day, week or month ahead. For example I set out to complete a 30 minute cardio session at least 3 days a week as well as 4 to 5 days of weight training to build muscle. My nutrition has also become even more crucial thus food prep every Sunday has become the norm to allow me to ensure the proper meals are consumed daily.

Some of my fitness goals include me being my original weight before I became pregnant on or before my birthday which is in July. I would also like to challenge myself by preparing to compete in October 2014 either representing my country Trinidad and Tobago or taking part in an NPC Show.

My hubby and parents have always been and still are the best support system ever. Hearing my mom say, “I’m eating better and exercising to be healthier” is support and a great motivational tool for me.

My favorite body part to work out is back.  I have always loved the quick response my back muscles adapt to my exercise routines over the years and this time is no different.

Always motivate yourself from within. Make mental notes and write down your goals. Mark Twain said it best, “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.” My last competition pic has been a continued motivational piece for me. I would love to earn my professional status one day. “One day at a time I am getting close to my goal” has been my mantra. It’s what I tell myself with each workout and each meal I consume each day.

Follow me on Twitter @triniintownmich
Blogspot M.O.R.E. Wellness by Michelle
Email michelle@fcindy.com
Or Facebook Michelle Blessed

Ant

I’m very focused on building muscle while creating as little stress on my joints as possible. Always strict, controlled form. No bouncing. No swinging. Often (but not always): Slow reps (4sec down + 6 sec up) to shock the muscle and build up lactic acid releasing growth hormone. Drop sets, rest/pause and partial reps. Occasionally I will lift heavy weights, 3 sets of 5 reps or so.

In the mid-80s, I was a 115-pound teenager and I saw a picture of Robby Robinson posing. I remember thinking “Good grief is that his bicep?” He was fantastic and I was inspired. Seeing Robby Robinson, Frank Zane, Tom Platz and others, they blew me away.

I don’t have as many pains or some of the health problems that others my age have. I like to attribute this to staying healthy. Mentally, I love preparing for a workout, testing techniques and seeing how my body responds. It keeps me sharp. I love getting questions from others because then I usually have to do research before answering. I end up learning a lot that way.

Looking at how others progress and transform themselves, I also want to be inspirational to others my age or even younger. If I’m doing it, they can too! I love encouraging others and watching them take the bull by the horns.

My wife is fantastic! She’s my biggest supporter. She helps me eat healthy by eating healthy herself. She knows I’m not a fan of vegetables and she creatively adds them to the things she cooks. She is always encouraging me and telling me that I make her proud. She’s a wonderful woman and a blessing to my life!

I also get much enjoyment out of the younger crowd. We’re fortunate enough to have a great group of young people at our gym and they’re always encouraging and inspiring! I like having a good time at the gym and we all get along great.

Putting on weight has been one of my biggest obstacles. I was proud that I put on 18lbs. last year before cutting. That was the most I’ve ever weighed (178). I was also fortunate enough to have been interviewed by Bodybuilding.com. I was one of their Over 40 Amateurs of the week.

My routines change all the time. I’m cutting at the moment, the techniques are the same basically, I might add a few additional exercises if I think a specific body part needs more attention. I’m doing a lot of isolation type exercises right now to bring out the small details as I cut. I am very big on the MIND/MUSCLE connection (Kai Greene talks about this a lot). It really works!

I have a few goals I wish to achieve and there are many ways that I can go. Maybe personal training. Maybe a contest. But definitely to look at myself in the mirror and see improvement. My daily food plan consists of various combinations of the following: egg whites, 1 egg, oatmeal, tilapia, chicken breast, brown rice, tuna, broccoli, spinach, orange, apple and cottage cheese (casein protein). I also mix in supplements such as: Whey, BCAA’s, Creatine HCL, Yohimbe, Green Tea Extract, Fish Oil and Beta-Alanine.

I’m a HUGE fan of positive reinforcement. It’s just a great tool! EVERYONE has something they can be proud of and you should find people that will recognize those things in you. Social media is a great avenue for that. Find positive people who are not just blowing smoke or trying to sell something and they WILL help you. Remember, if you don’t fail occasionally, you’re not pushing hard enough. Don’t be afraid to fail! Just get started, one step at a time. Set small goals leading to ONE big goal.

Be proud, but don’t be satisfied. Take time to be pleased with the results of your hard work, but don’t be finished. Always look for something to improve. If you’re serious about progressing, you won’t have to look hard to find them.

Twitter: @TheOnlyAnt

Kristin

Since my last story approximately two years ago, I’ve rejoined the workforce, commuted to another county, my mother survived cancer, I’ve competed in a small bodybuilding show, sold my house and divorced.  It’s been quite a journey.

The competition in February 2013 was small and a lot of fun.  I wasn’t the fittest competitor at the show, but I was the fittest ME.  Just being strong enough and brave enough to get up on stage after having kids and several years of training and getting healthier was a victory in itself.  I lost to my bodybuilding coaches, but no disappointment there. I did it for myself!

I am planning to compete in Women’s Physique this summer in Venice Beach.  Gorgeous plans, lots of fun and many friends will compete there. Again, I’ll be doing it just for myself. Free time and extra money are scarce these days, so one show is my only goal.

My work/life/gym balance is currently far from ideal.  I spend 3-4 hours commuting daily to my office in Orange County.  I have my daughters every other week but hardly see them.  My training is done whenever I can fit it in. Five days training per week is my goal, but fluctuates based upon travel times, the girl’s schedules, obligations, and a disturbing need for sleep.   This is the area of my life that needs drastic improvement, but the bills must be paid!

My primary goal is to find proper balance, spend as much quality time with my loved ones as possible and become as financially independent as I can without sacrificing my health, fitness or family time.

For the past 4-6 months I’ve been lifting as heavy as possible and building strength and mass. My upper body and legs have grown and definitely reflect it. I focus on individual muscle groups during each training session, but do adore training chest with triceps and lats with biceps.  I just started lowering the weight and am doing 20 minutes of some type of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) almost daily now that I am working on leaning out so the muscle definition really pops. I am very careful to keep the cardio moderate, my ultimate goal is burning fat without burning muscle mass. I want to keep the strength I’ve worked so hard to develop.

While my nutrition is tighter now that I am working on getting leaner, I am much more loose with it than I used to be. I eyeball portions more often than weighing and measuring. Treats find their way in when I feel the need. I recently recalculated my macros and am playing around with 170 grams protein, 140 grams carbs and 40 grams fat daily.  If I don’t see the results I’m aiming for, I’ll change it. No plan is so perfect that it cannot be improved upon.  This isn’t a diet or a fad, it’s my lifestyle.  It gets tweaked as my goals and needs change. I eat a lot of lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats.  Added sugar and processed foods are kept to bare minimums.  I’ve been doing this long enough that it’s no longer habit, but second nature.

Getting started, overweight, after having two children and multiple abdominal surgeries was HARD.  It was even more challenging to keep stepping into the gym when progress was slow, or seemed non-existent because I couldn’t see the changes happening fast enough for my liking.  It seemed like all of the incredibly fit people I saw at my gym were born that way and found it an effortless process. I have never, ever forgotten how that felt. I know better now and my passion is to help motivate others to take that first step. Encourage them to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Small steps now lead to BIG changes later. The journey to health and fitness is a marathon, not a sprint.  I want others to believe in their own inner strength and learn how to channel that into self-motivation.

The past year has been the most challenging of my life.  It’s also been the most rewarding.  I’ve fully embraced my inner strength, further developed my outer strength and emerged with the clearest vision of just who I am and, more specifically, who I am not.  I am perfectly imperfect and the people in my life who truly matter embrace me for who I am, not who they want me to be.  I am grateful for each new day.  Love and respect yourself first.  Then allow others to.  Love more.  Train harder.  Eat better.  Dream bigger.  Don’t compare yourself to others be the best possible YOU!

TWITTER: @OrganicOutcast
FACEBOOK: The Organic Outcast (warning: haven’t logged onto FB in months…)

#TrainInsane #LeaveHumanityBehind #TeamMutant

#TrainInsane
#LeaveHumanityBehind
#TeamMutant

Well it’s time to share my journey and life transformation through fitness. Two years ago I was given the opportunity to share my story for the first time and it really changed a lot of things in my life for the better. The overwhelming positive response that I received added to my already burning desire to be the best that I could possibly be!

It all started in 2011, I weighed 267 lbs. and had lost all respect for myself. One photograph that I received from my parents changed everything. I saw how awful and out of shape I looked and knew right there it was time for a change. Through a clean diet and some exercise I managed to lose 90 lbs. in 95 days.  Everything in my life beyond just my health and specific level of fitness was amazing from the beginning of my journey up until today.

Last year when I shared the second year of my journey I had already taken on more of a bodybuilding workout regimen and had just invested in my first gym membership a few months prior. I fell in love with the atmosphere at the gym. Everybody was so positive and willing to share so many great tips. For all of last year and even today I generally train 6 days a week.

Since the last story I have really taken my workouts extremely seriously. Endless hours have been spent in the gym training as hard and heavy as possible in an effort to gain size. Bodybuilding is such an amazing art and being able to watch the way you are physically able to manipulate your body is incredible. I’ve spent the last 12 months focusing on adding as much muscle mass as possible to my frame. When I had initially lost all of my weight, I had dropped to 178 lbs. and I felt too small. I currently weigh 218 lbs. and I am finished with my bulk. I am focusing on cutting down and walking around with a body fat percentage of around 12%. My ideal weight will likely fall between 200lbs.–205lbs. and I’m excited to see results from my years of hard work.

Last June I was fortunate enough to become an ambassador for Mutant Nutrition. This is a major supplement company based out of Vancouver. The products are located in 76 countries worldwide. I had been using their supplements for around a year so I was definitely excited to have a chance to work with this great brand if even in just a small capacity. As an ambassador I promote the products mostly through social media.  Forums like Instagram and Twitter as well as Facebook make it extremely easy to connect with people and answer questions regarding the Mutant Nutrition. I hand out samples at gyms in my area and the response is overwhelming. People love the supplements and the sponsored athletes, so it really makes my job very easy. I’m promoting something that I love and that I truly believe in. I will also work a few of the Mutant booths at bodybuilding expos which is really going to be great! I look forward to interacting with the fans first hand and hearing their feedback about the products.

Mutant products have been around for a while but in the past year the brand has really blown up. The products are processed in British Columbia and are always guaranteed results if used properly combined with proper diet and training. There’s everything from pre workout powders to post workout as well as everything in between. I stand behind the products and can tell you I would never go back to using anything else. If you’re interested in seeing the entire line of supplements, clothing and training videos go to iammutant.com.

This year my main goal is to lean out and see how I look. I’ve added cardio back into my regimen so it won’t be long until I see the results from my year of training hard. I’m really expecting great things for this year! To be a bodybuilder is an incredible obsession. But in the end every ounce of sweat that you sacrifice in order to reach your goal is worth it. By the end of this year I would like to be 220 lbs. with 12% body fat. It won’t be easy to reach this, but then again I never enjoyed anything that came too easy.

My workouts always vary but for the most part I generally train one muscle group per session. Often times I will throw in some calves or abs at the end of a workout. I train calves and abs 4-5 times per week and everything else just once. My sessions are usually around 90 minutes long and often include upwards of 50 sets and 500-600 reps. I love the burn and I crave the pump when I’m training. I like to hit things from multiple angles and different rep counts. I include giant sets, drop sets and super sets in my workouts. It’s great to constantly change things up so you can create a bit of muscle confusion. My current split is back, chest, arms, shoulders, legs and then day 6 I start all over again or just have a rear delt and trap day.

My normal diet consists of 6 meals. Basically the only foods I eat are rice, sweet potatoes, veggies, chicken and ground beef or turkey, eggs, egg whites and oats. I also have 2 or 3 whey protein shakes a day. Normally I consume 3500-4000 calories a day. 300 grams of protein, 300 grams of carbs and 100 grams of fat is the norm. Now that I’ve begun cutting those numbers will change. Eating cold meals out of Tupperware has become my life. I much prefer this lifestyle over my past where fast foods were a staple. My cheat meals are generally massive and sloppy. Lately my go to has been a meal consisting of lasagna, veal parm, meatballs, sausage, garlic bread or piles of chicken wings and a lot of pizza. I usually have one cheat day a week and without counting I’m sure I’ve had some days well over 7000 calories. Cheat days are great to control cravings throughout the week and give you something to look forward to. However mine get a little out of control and I’ve cut them completely for the next 3 months while I cut.

I feel it’s important that everyone knows that anyone can do this. When I started I was a 30 something year old obese lazy slob. Once it’s in your mind to be great, nothing can stop you. The mind is your most powerful weapon. It can literally either make or break you. If you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, only you have the ability to make the change. Start with just some light exercise, go for walks, eat more fruit and limit your sugars. It’s very easy to get started but once you do, be prepared to work your ass off and continue to do so for the rest of your life. Fitness isn’t a part time job. It’s every day, every meal and every rep at the gym. It is the healthiest addiction you can have!

I just would like to say in closing, thank you to each and every person who ever called me fat or told me I couldn’t do this. Your words have been on my mind for the past 3 years and it has been the motivation I needed to reach my goals. I’ve set my goals so high that I will have to keep working for the rest of my life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Train hard and live the fit life!

Follow me on Twitter @MUTANT_FREAK_
Instagram @mutant_freak_
Or Facebook Michael Gainz Green

Daryl Malden (Left 2013 Right 2014)

Daryl Malden (Left 2013 / Right 2014)

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” ~ Bob Marley

My name is Daryl Malden and I am currently a Digital Marketer.  My other interests include cooking, health, fitness and most importantly family.  Growing up in Trinidad, I had an amazing childhood.  I enjoyed many outdoor activities and healthy eating was simply a way of life. That being said, I was always considered to be a chubby guy (not fat).  As I got older and headed into my teen years I became more self-conscious about how I looked; I never actually thought about how I felt physically or mentally. I always looked at “other guys” and wanted to be just like them. So I watched what I ate, exercised and did my best to look like them – the perceived healthier, happier guys. This would go back and forth for many years; my weight up, sometimes down. Finally mid 40’s I decided I wanted to be me.  Whatever that was; so I started a journey of self-discovery. I wrote down what I wanted to change in my life to become closer to my authentic self and here is what worked for me:

#1 (This is the most IMPORTANT)

I changed my mindset (focus) from where I was in life to where I wanted to be in life.

#2

I started reading books that interested me about wellness, self empowerment, meditation, religion etc.

#3

I made a promise  (to myself) that I was going to find that place within where I was most at peace in a happier, healthier, drug/alcohol free body.

The turning point in my life came when I hit 245lbs; I was taking all kinds of meds for health related issues that stemmed from being overweight and not exercising. As I started to read and research more about the food that I ate I began to realize that the processed food and even the stuff that I thought was actually healthy, really wasn’t all that good for me. Initially I stopped eating meat. I also stopped smoking and having the occasional drink.  I also started to exercise. Then I decided to try a juice cleanse. This is where the magic happened.

For me juicing organic vegetables and fruits of all kinds work best for me. I have never felt so energized about life as I do right now. I am now at 5’9’ 170 lbs and loving it. This has become my new lifestyle. At 54 I am proud to say that I am off my meds and heading upward in all aspects of my life. I wake up every morning at 4:30am, make a cup of green tea,  wash up and head to my quiet space where I meditate and give gratitude for all that I have and what’s coming. When I am finished I head into the kitchen to start breakfast for my family. Breakfast consists of protein and fruit or 32oz of green juice and it’s freaking amazing. Then I head to the gym or stay at home and work out for about 45 minutes. After my work out I have another green juice and then I head to my home office for a 3-4 hour work day. I keep hydrated with lots of green tea and fill up on hearty salads as often as I can.  I throw in some almonds and dried fruit (with no sugar added) at different times of the day.  In the evening I head to my quiet space to meditate and give thanks for the day. It’s the most amazing feeling any human being can imagine.

In order to stay focused I’ve surrounded myself with positive people and positive thoughts. Every breath that I take; everything that I see, touch, smell or taste I am thankful. For my strong arms, legs, heart, lungs, kidney and brain, I am thankful.  For my ability to walk, talk, breathe and experience life on a daily basis I am thankful. For the family, friends and mentors that have stood by me throughout this process, I am eternally grateful.

Sometimes as you try to find your way you lose friends and family members and that’s ok. You have to change for you and no one else. If you are in a relationship let your partner know what your intentions are and where you’re headed; if they love you they’ll be supportive, they may even join you and the journey becomes more fulfilling.

Find your motivation and above all else, stay true to self.

Daryl

Namaste

 

Are They Working Hard or Hardly Working?

A personal trainer should be very easy to talk to, smiling, dressed well and appear to be organized and prepared. The personal trainer should be paying attention to the client, what they are saying, what they are doing and how they are doing it. They should be providing feedback and motivating the client. The personal trainer should be inspiring and engaged with the client at all times. Their tone of voice and body language should be motivating and attractive. They should be putting the “personal” in personal training. That is what you are paying for!

A personal trainer should be very easy to talk to, smiling, dressed well and appear to be organized and prepared. The personal trainer should be paying attention to the client, what they are saying, what they are doing and how they are doing it. They should be providing feedback and motivating the client. The personal trainer should be inspiring and engaged with the client at all times. Their tone of voice and body language should be motivating and attractive. They should be putting the “personal” in personal training. That is what you are paying for!

It has been some time since I have put my thoughts into writing but today I saw something that inspired me to write this short article about the things you should be looking for in a personal trainer. 

For the past ten years I have had the opportunity to work with, manage and teach many aspiring health and fitness professionals. In this time, I have also been a witness to many practices that I will never understand and today was one of them. When I exercise I tend to keep to myself and observe everyone else. I do this for a couple of reasons; one of them being that I am a lifelong student and I am always watching people to learn from them and their successes and mistakes. The other is that I have had the pleasure of observing some of the best and some of the worst fitness professionals in the industry.  

Today, I witnessed something that I still cannot wrap my head around. When I am teaching aspiring fitness professionals the one thing I spend a fair bit of time on is safety. Today I witnessed a complete disregard for safety by a certified personal trainer. While working with his client and spotting her on a dumbbell flat chest press, he spotted from the elbows (which is the first mistake). When spotting his client, she failed and the dumbbell fell on her face. The part that I am still struggling with is that within a minute, he attempted to spot her again from the elbows, and again, the weight fell on her face. First things first, when spotting any dumbbell press, you should always spot from the wrists or hands so that when your client does fatigue, you do not push the weight into their body or face like I witnessed today. This is one of the most commonly made mistakes in a fitness facility but any educated fitness professional should know this. Secondly, he did it twice!  

There are an increasingly large number of people seeking personal trainers in North America. With this demand, the industry has been exploding with new theories of training, new certifications, new styles of training, new corporate fitness facilities and more and more boutique style training facilities. Before you sign up and purchase personal training, there are some things you might want to consider.  

  1. Age, Maturity, Engagement, Body Language, Appearance and Attire 

Something that is not always easy to determine prior to purchasing personal training is the age and maturity level of the fitness professional. But if you have the opportunity, it is always a good idea to observe the personal trainers while they are exercising in the facility and while they are engaged with a client. This will reveal very important information regarding the personal trainer’s perspective on exercise and their approach to personal training. Look for things like whether the personal trainer has their shoes tied up, are they leaning on equipment or sitting down when their client is exercising, are they observing their client’s performance from all angles and viewpoints, are they smiling and making eye contact with their client, are they carrying a coffee while they are training their client, do they look like they just rolled out of bed and were late getting to the client’s session, are they carrying their client’s file and are they writing down information, are they actually watching their client’s technique or are they looking at other gym-goers, are they motivating and talking with their client? In between sets are they being personable or are they staring off into the distance, are they offering feedback to their client? Does the client look like they are enjoying themselves? Are they working hard or hardly working?  

The answers to these questions will tell you the quality of the personal trainer you are going to get. The personal trainer should be very easy to talk to, smiling, dressed well and appear to be organized and prepared. The personal trainer should be paying attention to the client, what they are saying, what they are doing and how they are doing it. They should be providing feedback and motivating the client. The personal trainer should be inspiring and engaged with the client at all times. Their tone of voice and body language should be motivating and attractive. They should be putting the “personal” in personal training. That is what you are paying for! 

  1. Education/Certifications 

Aside from the personal side of personal training, you want a personal trainer who knows what they are doing. In the industry today there are more certifications than we know what to do with. There are certifications that you can achieve by attending a weekend course, certifications that require a minimum of two years of post secondary education before you can achieve them, certifications that you can achieve online, certifications that are one day workshops and certifications that specific to a type of equipment. What you want to look for in a personal trainer are certifications that are theory based because the theory-based certifications typically require formal education prior to attempting the certification. Some of the more common theory based certifications are CSEP – CPT, NSCA – CPT, NSCA – CSCS and the YMCA Fitness Education certification. These are certifications that require education and mentorship hours to achieve. This means that they have formal education in health and fitness in addition to their personal training certification. Keep in mind that just because someone is wearing a shirt that says “Personal Trainer” does not mean they are certified. I was a “Personal Trainer” for a year at a well renowned fitness facility without any certifications 

Most fitness facilities will post their personal trainer’s credentials for you to see. Google what the certifications are or the requirements to obtain them to see just how qualified your personal trainer is! 

Ideally, your personal trainer should have formal education (post secondary) in health and fitness as well as a theory-based certification. I am not saying that any personal trainer who does not have this is not high quality (I currently do not have a theory based certification but I do have 10 years of post secondary education in exercise science and 16 years of work experience in the field) but it is something to consider!  

  1. Walking the Walk 

Another questions to ask is, does your personal trainer practice what they preach? Are they coaching you to do something that they cannot do themselves? If this is the case they might not be best suited for you. Think about your stockbroker. If they were encouraging you to purchase a specific stock, but they would not purchase it themselves, would you buy it? If your doctor prescribed a medication for you but they would never take it themselves, would you be confident in taking it? Find out what your personal trainer does in their spare time, their hobbies and interests. This will tell you a lot about whether they will be able to inspire you and motivate you to health and wellness.

In closing, a real fitness professional will be professional. They will treat their job as a profession. They will design workouts and programs specific to your needs and your abilities. They will contact you on your off days and see how you are feeling. They will ask you questions about you and listen to your answers and offer advice when needed. They will be YOUR personal trainer and make you feel that way. They will inspire you to be better, to do more, to achieve goals that you have never thought possible. They will educate you and teach you why you are doing what they are telling you to do. And lastly, they will encourage you and guide you to the results you want to see while making sure you are getting there safely. 

If you have any questions or comments I would be happy to hear from you. Check out my website at www.mohawkcollege.ca/corefusion, follow me on twitter @nickjpetrella and @corfusion1, add me to facebook or email me at nicholas.petrella@mohawkcollege.ca. I would be happy to hear from you! 

Madison

I was born, raised, and still live in southern US and I love it! But being from the south, food has always been a big presence in my life, and not necessarily healthy food. Not to be stereotypical, but we like to fry everything we can get our hands on and then we might cover it in ranch dressing or gravy or even sugar depending on what it is. I never really remember learning healthy eating habits as a child and I have been overweight pretty much my entire life. I started to gain even more weight when I graduated from high school and went off to college; but then the problem wasn’t just food. I drank with my friends in high school as a lot of teens do, but once I was out of my parents’ house it became a daily thing. I failed every single class I was enrolled in the second semester of college because instead of going to class I woke up and started drinking. I moved home and got it somewhat under control for a brief time but went right back to my old ways, failing out of yet another university. I gave up on trying to get an education at that point, got married, and began working random minimum wage jobs that were miserable and only contributed to my eating/drinking problem.

During these years I did the yo-yo dieting thing, losing 50-60 pounds then gaining back 70-80 each time. I was only trying to lose weight to look good at that point. I didn’t care about my health really; I just wanted to be thin and pretty! I was approaching 25 and I kept hearing things about a woman’s metabolism slowing down considerably after that age. It was almost like it was directed towards me as much as I kept hearing this. So February of 2011, 3 months before my 25th birthday, I stepped on the scale and saw the number 254. I nearly choked as it had been a while since I weighed myself, and I was convinced I hadn’t gotten _that_ big since my last diet! I had always told myself I would never let myself get past 250lbs as I was afraid that was my point of no return. I decided then that it would be the last time I would ever see that number, and I was going to be thin while I was still young if it killed me. Even then I didn’t much care about my actual health, just what I looked like. However, I did great for a while. I ate enough and ate healthy, I lifted weights and did cardio religiously, and I had amazing results losing about 80 pounds in probably 6 months. Then my body got used to what I was doing and I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted to see. I thought, “Ok, well I guess I need to start eating less and doing more cardio because weights aren’t doing anything for me.” I should mention now that I was still drinking pretty heavily at this point. I cut my calories even more and now I was only eating 800-1000 calories a day while doing literally hours of cardio. I got down to 150lbs which was my goal weight at the time and I should have been happy; but since I lost the weight so quickly and not healthily I was left with this deflated, flabby body that I hated. I began to starve myself even more, I weighed myself constantly, and my drinking became absolutely out of control. I would drink to stave off the hunger and the thoughts that I would never have the “perfect body” that I was striving for. My husband and I fought constantly, I called in to work because I would be so sick from drinking/not eating, I was miserable. Here I was 2 years away from my starting point, and I was no happier than when I was overweight, if anything I was more _un_happy. There were many times that I “quit” drinking during that 2 years but I never _really_ found the motivation to make it stick. In February of this year, my body had finally reached its breaking point. After months of starving myself and poisoning my brain by consuming so much alcohol, I literally lost it. My husband was able to reach my parents and the three of them were able to get me calmed down and talk some sense into me. I realized that looking good was not worth what I was doing to myself and I had to get it together. My main focus at this point was to be sober and healthy and I was in search of a way to do that. I had heard people talk about eating “clean” and I had no idea what that meant, so I did some research. I started cutting out as many “unclean” things from my diet as possible and I was seeing some changes again. This time, though, I was noticing things like my hair being stronger and more shiny and the wrinkles that had formed on my face looking less noticeable; I started to realize how old and unhealthy I looked before even though I thought all I wanted to be was “skinny”. I’d say about another month later, I found the “fitfam” community on twitter. They all talked about eating clean and *gasp* LIFTING?! I thought, “But doesn’t that really make you bigger?” That’s false, of course, and luckily I decided to try it anyway because I couldn’t be happier with the results.

I have now been sober for 7 1/2 months, October 18th will be my 8 month mark. I would have to say that my problem with drinking was the hardest obstacle I had to overcome in order to get to this point. I think it was the root of all of my other problems. I have also been eating clean and training my body in a healthy way during that time. I don’t even weigh myself anymore as the changes to my body speak for themselves and are not reflected by a number on a scale. I feel as though I look and feel younger than I have in years; I was aging myself with my unhealthy lifestyle. I don’t get sick, I have a more positive outlook, and I’m actually living my life; I’m just _finally happy_ and that is the greatest gift I could ever ask for. This feeling of peace and joy are my motivation to keep going because it just keeps getting better. Every day that passes I am able to do things I couldn’t imagine being able to do before. Most importantly my husband and I have started to become involved in church again. I have probably neglected my spiritual health even more than my physical health throughout this journey, and getting back to that has been a blessing. Make no mistake, I have worked very hard to get myself on the right track to being fit, but I can’t take all the credit. The Lord has given me the strength to pick myself up when I get knocked down, and I thank Him for that daily. Without His presence in my life, I know I would have been lost. My husband has been a great support through all of this as well. He has stood by my side no matter how crazy things have gotten. My parents tell me how proud of me they are almost daily. It’s a great feeling.

The person I am today is nothing like the person I was 2+ years ago. I seem to be always on the go instead of always on the couch these days! I work in a small (but extremely busy) restaurant owned by my parents that is a pretty popular spot for the local college kids and Downtown employees. Recently I have started attending cosmetology school, which was always a dream of mine, so after work I drive about 40 minutes to school and am there from 5pm-10pm Monday through Thursday. I have about a year of cosmetology school left, after which my ultimate goal is to become a certified personal trainer as well so I can help people like me take control of their lives, feel great about themselves, and finally start really living.

I don’t necessarily have a set “routine” that I follow anymore as far as my workouts are concerned.  Since I am so busy Monday through Thursday I just make sure to commit myself to at least 3 days of cardio a week, where I will do some kind of HIIT program on the elliptical for anywhere from 30-60 minutes, and lifting at least 5 days a week. My lifting schedule varies as I get bored easily, so I focus on the different muscle groups (i.e. core/abs, arms, legs, back, etc.) and just switch it up however I feel! I make sure to train all groups at least once every week. I find different exercises by searching online, from people on twitter, from various fitness apps on my phone, just doing my homework! I do all my workouts at home as my guest room doubles as my weight room, and I have my elliptical set up right in my den. I’d say I follow an “If It Fits Your Macros” style diet, with my macros varying based on what activities I have planned for the day. For example, I may lower my carb intake on a day when I know I’m just going to be sitting in class and not moving around much, or up my protein intake on a day when I’ve done some intense lifting. My fat intake doesn’t really vary, I just make sure I am getting enough to fuel my body. I try to avoid any processed foods like the plague and stick to fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. I do have the occasional protein bar that might not be “all natural”. I keep my whey protein powder stocked as I use it in oats, smoothies, etc. for the extra protein, but I don’t take any other supplements. I used to take a pre-workout but I find that they just make me jittery and coffee works just as well if I need a little boost. I always have coffee in the mornings as well, and I do add a little Truvia. I make sure I’m drinking at _least_ a gallon of water a day and I drink a glass of green tea as soon as I wake up, after every meal, and after my workouts. I try to never have a “cheat meal” but I LOVE sweets so if I’m feeling the need for a treat I’ll have some natural peanut butter. I am obsessed with any of the flavors by Peanut Butter and Co., especially White Chocolate Wonderful.

My goals right now as far as fitness goes are to keep losing fat and building muscle as much as I can while not having as much time to train, and of course to maintain a healthy diet. Once I graduate from cosmetology school and become licensed in that, I want to become a certified personal trainer as I mentioned before, and I have played around with the idea of competing when I have more time to train my body. Really, my ultimate goal is to help others. I want everyone who is currently stuck in the life that I was living before to be able to be happy and healthy and to wake up every day feeling great and loving themselves. To those of you reading this who ARE me before, I want you to know that you CAN do this and when you do you will never regret it. I’m not here to tell you that it’s easy — it’s not easy at all. It’s hard to train yourself out of bad habits but it can be done, and it is the greatest gift you can ever give yourself.

I’d like to thank Shay for asking me to share my story, it’s so flattering and kind of overwhelming at the same time! I’d also like to thank all of you for taking the time to read my story and I hope it can serve as some kind of inspiration or motivation for you. If you’d like to get in touch with me, you can follow me on twitter @Fit_Love_Beauty and I’ll try to get with you as quickly as my schedule allows! Again, thanks for reading.