Updated: Dec 22, 2020
It was the end of 2017.
I had been tagged in some Facebook pictures that were less than flattering. I immediately untagged myself and thought, “What happened to me?”
I didn’t recognize myself.
As a teen I was always self conscious of my weight. I didn’t understand how to control it and it would go up and down like crazy. I spent most of my teen years and early 20s on the very high end of normal and overweight.
There were times in my teens and 20s where I felt like I had a better handle on my weight but honestly I had no idea why or how to control it. It just would be a surprise each time I weighed myself.
I had recently gotten married and started my teaching career. Life had gotten hectic. I would stay late almost every night after school, not knowing how else to get everything done.
I was constantly stressed out and would eat my feelings. I would often eat half a can of Pringles during my school planning period.
When I would get home I would put whipped cream and chocolate syrup literally straight into a tub of ice cream and just go to town. I would drink alcohol almost nightly.
I felt like crap about myself. I would wake up, go to work, go home, watch tv and eat, go to sleep and repeat over and over again. That was my life.
My self esteem was low. I was constantly asking my husband if I looked okay, if I was fat and I relied on him for way too much emotionally.
I was unhappy, unmotivated and desperately needed a change.
It was December 2017 and my husband and I toured a gym. We really liked it and decided to become members. We were about to go on a trip to New York City so we waited until we got back from that and then immediately joined the gym.
I had previously tried to start working out and eating healthier in the past (multiple times) but always gave up shortly after starting.
I wanted to motivate myself to actually use my gym membership and eat better so I started a Diet Bet challenge in January 2018.
Diet Bet is a weight loss challenge web site where you bet money on your success.
I started a 6 month transformer challenge. Each month I would put $25 in the pot. I had to start the challenge by getting my picture taken on the scale. Then I had to take a picture of my feet on the scale, showing my weight.
At the end of each month I had to submit pictures. I had a goal of how much to lose each month in order to win.
At first it was very difficult but then as the challenge went on, it got much easier.
I remember struggling to make the weigh ins the first 2-3 months and then the last 3 were a piece of cake for me.
I’ll make a future post about Diet Bet explaining what I think about it and if I would recommend it.
Let’s go back to the topic of me joining the gym...
I joined the gym and I had no freaking idea what to do... so how did I begin working out?
I started out by going to spin classes! I went to spin classes 5x a week. I would rush to the gym right after school, change into my gym clothes, and then get into the class right in time or a couple of minutes late.
After a month or so of attending spin classes, I switched it up.
I started attending Body Pump in place of a couple of my spin classes. Body Pump is a workout class where you use dumbbells and barbells. It’s a very fast paced, high rep weight lifting class.
After a month or so of doing Body Pump I felt more comfortable doing weight training.
I decided to start exercising on the gym floor.
I would do 10 minutes or so of the stair climber. Then I would do weight training for 30-60 minutes and sometimes end with another 10 minutes on the stair climber.
There was still a lot of weight training equipment that I did not understand how to use. I asked for help and watched a lot of tutorial videos the first couple months of working out on the gym floor.
If I didn’t understand a machine or if I wasn’t sure if my form was correct, I would ask someone that worked at the gym or even sometimes other gym goers for help.
Most people were actually very happy to help. If someone wasn’t very helpful, I would ask someone else the next time I was at the gym. I highly recommend asking for help when you need it! Everyone starts out as a beginner.
It was March 2018 and I got a positive pregnancy test. My husband and I had been trying since October 2017 so we were so thrilled. I even announced my pregnancy as soon as I found out.
A couple weeks after finding out we were pregnant, I miscarried.
We were both heart broken. I can’t even explain the pain I felt. I remember when I found out, I was alone and I went straight to the gym (because it became a form of therapy for me.) I tried to workout inside the gym but I couldn’t stop crying so I walked on the sidewalk right outside of the gym as I often did on nice days and I cried out as I was walking (thankfully no one was around.)
I threw myself even more into my fitness and nutrition as it was a distraction for me and I was starting to fall in love with it.
I started macro tracking. I was losing weight no problem but I just didn’t feel like I was being fed properly.
I would eat “healthy” but I honestly didn’t even really know what that meant. I would eat lots of salads, grilled chicken and veggies but I felt like I needed more.
Macro tracking is a fancy form of calorie counting where you have a calorie goal but you are supposed to eat a certain amount of grams of protein, carbs and fats within that calorie amount.
I used the free macro calculator on iifym.com, bought a $8 food scale on Amazon and started weighing and tracking my food using the free version of My Fitness Pal.
Macro tracking was a game changer for me. I went from feeling kind of blah and restricted to feeling more fueled.
Sure, I couldn’t fit everything in my macros but I could fit a lot of things I wanted in pretty easily.
I spent the first couple months of macro tracking reading nutrition labels and pre-planning my days the night before in My Fitness Pal.
I learned a lot about nutrition by macro tracking but I did become a bit obsessive about it, to the point where I would carry containers of food around to places that I couldn’t easily hit my macros.
I was a hardcore meal prepper and meal prepped every week.
Eventually, I started hitting my protein and calorie goal and letting the fats and carbs fall according to my preference and that’s what I now recommend to the average person.
It’s a bit less tedious but still extremely helpful.
So the 6 months of the Diet Bet were finished in July 2018 and I won every single round yay!
Then, literally at the same time I won my Diet Bet, I became pregnant again!
We were so excited but also scared out of our minds.
The emotional toll of our miscarriage really took on a toll on us.
I started spotting the same month we found out we were pregnant. That’s exactly what happened right before we miscarried in March so I just became extremely anxious.
I went in to do a test at the OBGYN to check on the pregnancy and she said when I went in that she thought it was going to be fine but then when my test results came back she thought that maybe I was having an ectopic pregnancy which is when the egg implants outside of the uterus.
I went in with my husband for an ultrasound and we heard the heartbeat and saw Oliver and he was just fine. I cried. I was so relieved but this was just the beginning.
I went in for many appointments.
Oliver was IUGR which means he was growth restricted. He was not growing at a normal rate and they believe the placenta wasn’t providing enough nutrients. I eventually was in the OBGYN and hospital 3-4x a week.
This whole pregnancy, I went to the gym but not nearly as much as I did pre-pregnancy.
I had crippling anxiety the whole pregnancy. I did not enjoy the pregnancy at all. I ate my feelings and gained a significant amount of weight (60+ pounds.)
February 15, 2019, I gave birth to Oliver!
I had a planned induction at 37 weeks because Oliver’s growth slowed even more and they wanted to get him out.
Oliver couldn’t handle the contractions so I had a c-section. The c-section did not go exactly as planned. Oliver’s head was stuck. They shook me like a rag doll trying to get him out and pumped me with so much morphine that I was barely conscious. I remember asking “If I fall asleep, will I be okay?” as they did the c-section.
They literally told me that the only place that would be numb would be my lower body so I literally thought I was dying because I couldn’t stay awake anymore.
I was in and out of consciousness when Oliver was finally out. When I first heard his cry, I cried because I was so relieved that he was okay.
When they handed Oliver to me I was still in and out of consciousness. People stood by to make sure he was safe as I was holding him.
I ended up getting approved by my doctor to take the full 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. I am lucky that if you get a doctors note at my work, if you have enough sick and personal days saved, you get paid maternity leave.
Because of my c-section, I automatically was approved for 8 weeks paid leave but then I was approved to have my leave extended because of my c-section not going as planned and the emotional toll the whole pregnancy and delivery left on me.
Around 8 weeks postpartum I was approved by my doctor to begin exercising again. I gently went back into exercising and macro tracking again.
I did pelvic floor and other light exercises at first. I didn’t do real core workouts for about 6 months.
I gently worked my way back to regular exercise.
Macro tracking became very difficult with a newborn. I found that because of my previous experience weighing and tracking that I was able to eyeball portions and still see success.
I started weighing myself daily and eyeballing portions. Once in a while I would bust out the food scale to verify that I was correct in my portion size but in general I didn’t use my food scale or log my food postpartum.
I do not think I would have been successful if I had not previously macro tracked pre-pregnancy so I am very glad that I spent time doing that before Oliver was born.
I did and still do a lighter version of meal prepping but I don’t go all out like I used to. I make enough overnight oats for the week once a week and make ground turkey for taco salad once or twice a week. I eat the same breakfast and lunch almost daily but it works for me and makes my life easier.
Postpartum, I started out working out at the gym but eventually I switched to working out at home before Oliver woke up in the morning. It just was a whole lot simpler and I didn’t want to miss out on anymore of his awake time on my work days where my time with him was limited already.
I was nervous to start working out at home. I loved working out at the gym and all the equipment I had access to.
It definitely took me time to get used to home workouts and I did not like them at all in the beginning.
I had limited equipment. I started out with some adjustable dumbbells that went up to I think 20 pounds, a mat, booty bands and a few light kettlebells.
Eventually, I was able to purchase a few more things like a bench and adjustable Bowflex dumbbells.
At first, I did a lot of dumbbell strength training, swipe workouts on Instagram. I would do almost a completely different workout each day in the beginning of working out at home. Eventually, I started being more intentional about my workouts.
Come December 2019, I got a bit obsessed with daily workouts. From December 2019-April 2020 I worked out every freaking day.
I was listening to a lot of podcasts by Jordan Syatt and Susan Neibergall at the time (highly recommend) and I remember them talking about how important rest days are.
I kind of shoved it off but after listening to them constantly bring it up, I felt compelled to really think about why I worked out every single day.
I said it was because I loved working out because it was my “me time.” But also I realized that I was scared to not workout everyday. I didn’t want to lose my progress.
I started taking 2-3 rest days a week mid April 2020 and I haven’t looked back! I also decided to go into maintenance in April 2020.
I began structuring my workouts to be more specific to my strength goals. I started creating a training plan for myself and sticking with the same plan for 4-6 weeks before changing it so I could actually have a chance to see progress.
I went from being able to do 0 full pushups to being able to do at least 8 and I improved in a variety of other strength exercises as well!
Now I’m working on chin-ups! I’m currently using assistance bands but am hoping to be able to do an unassisted chin-up soon!
May 2020, I decided I wanted to get my personal training certification! I enrolled in the NASM personal training course.
This was during quarantine and I was at home with Oliver not teaching. I definitely over estimated my ability to be able to study with a one year old but during the last possible week that I could take the exam to get my certification, I took it and passed! Thank goodness!
I had a part time gym internship lined up but due to covid, it fell through. I plan to do it still as soon as it’s allowed again but for now I am training a few women online and I am having so much fun with it!
I am also currently working on creating long form content so I can reach more people. I’ve been running my fitness Instagram for exactly one year but I have a desire to create deeper content. I just launched my website and podcast and I am honestly so excited about it!
Thank you to everyone who’s read this far! I appreciate you all more than you know!