I have fought with body image my whole life, cycling between crazy fad diets and excessive cardio for as long as I can remember. I obsessed over achieving the perfect “fitness cover model” body. When I turned 30 in the summer of 2010 I decided to challenge myself to a 12 week training program and get into the best shape of my life once and for all. My goal was to look better at the age of 30 than I did when I was 20. I had a diet and weight training program laid out for me step by step, and I didn’t deviate from the plan one bit. The training program incorporated heavy weights, which made me feel strong and more confident. I quickly developed a passion for weight lifting. In the fall of 2010 I completed that challenge and accomplished my goal. I was in the best shape of my life up to that point! I felt confident and successful, and I looked fantastic! I had finally gotten my physique to the point I had always dreamed of, and I vowed to never again allow myself to slip into the lonely, unconfident, out of shape person I had previously been.
Going into 2011 I found myself beginning to struggle with my workout program. I had been successful in initially transforming my body, but I had no idea how to maintain or continue seeing progress and results. I thought my only option was to just continue on with the same weight training routine and diet plan. After all, if it had worked before it should continue to work, right? My workouts consisted of 75 minutes of heavy weight training, and a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio, 6 days a week. I was low on energy and having a difficult time with the monotony of the low fat, low carb meal plan. My results began to plateau, so I increased my workouts and began to excessively cut calories. No matter how much I worked out, and how many calories I cut, the number on the scale began to rise instead of going down. I began having a difficult time sleeping, and struggled to stay focused throughout the work day. What use to bring me happiness and confidence was making me unhappy and causing me a lot of distress. I had no idea what I was doing wrong! I was adding more exercise, and subtracting more calories, so why wasn’t I progressing anymore? With each passing day I was growing increasingly obsessed with my food intake and more and more frustrated with my workouts.
The last straw came in June of 2011, when my father unexpectedly passed away from a massive heart attack at the age of 61. This event, coupled with the stress I was experiencing at work, and the frustration I was feeling with my workout program, threw me into a downwards spiral. I couldn’t focus on my workout routines anymore and I found it near impossible to stick with my meal plans. I was burnt out, both mentally and physically. I quickly lost track of my fitness goals, fell into a state of depression, and became withdrawn. The physical achievements I had attained a year earlier deteriorated before my eyes, and I felt deeply ashamed that everything that I had worked so hard to achieve was gone. My life was completely upside down, and I was left feeling like a complete failure because I had allowed myself to slip back into the person I had vowed to never be again.
When I saw the SKFitLife Challenge in January of 2012 it was like a light bulb turned on inside me. I saw the program as an opportunity for me to get back on my feet again and challenge myself to gain back what I had lost. I wanted to be happy, have self confidence again, and to gain back the physique I had thrown away. Over the previous six months I had become withdrawn from the passions that made me happy, but I was ready to dig deep to gain all of that back again. All of a sudden I felt a renewed excitement about fitness!
The SKFitLife Challenge gave me an opportunity to meet a community of women with similar goals and interests in mind. In the past I had never had anyone aside from my husband who shared a common interest in fitness. Suddenly I had a forum filled with amazing women striving to become healthier, all while pushing each other to dig deeper and push harder. Over the past twelve weeks the women in this group have become dear friends to me. Their positive motivation is what keeps me going throughout my day. Their ups and their downs help me to realize we all have obstacles to overcome in our lives, and with support and nurturing, we can all continue grow and better ourselves.
The SKFitLife Challenge has taught me that I don’t need to spend hours in the gym each day, and that I don’t need to eliminate carbs and healthy fats from my diet in order to see amazing results. As a matter of fact, Stephanie explained to me that my previous meal plan had been too low in carbs and healthy fats, and that was what was making my mind cloudy, and attributing to my mood swings. She also explained there is a time and a place for low carb, but it is to be used sparingly in order to not destroy your metabolism. This was news to me because I had been fearful of fats and carbs for so long! No wonder the number on my scale had started to climb with the more restrictive I made my previous diet and workout routine. I was destroying my metabolism! I reincorporated starchy carbs and healthy fats back into my diet, and as a result, my mental health greatly improved! I feel so much more energetic and positive about life now!
I have truly fallen in love with the circuit style trainings and HIIT WoW’s that Stephanie has put together! They are intense, easily modifiable, straight to the point, and I am always drenched in sweat at the end. There is tons of variety thrown in to each routine as well, so your body never fully adjusts to the exercises. In the beginning I felt a little silly hopping around at the gym, than I quickly realized that I was getting better results with these circuit and plyo style routines, than I ever did with any past heavy lifting routine. The quick bursts of energy at the end of each weight set are intense and challenging. I absolutely love the rush! And I’m thrilled to say that I have greatly reduced the amount of time I spend on cardio equipment. My workout routines are far more focused now. I go into the gym with a game plan, and I leave feeling like I’ve gotten an affective workout in half the time I use to.
At the start of the SKFitLife Challenge I shared a photo of my previous 2010 results with the women in the support forum, and announced that my goal was to once again obtain that physique. I’m proud to say that I have achieved that goal through consistent diet, hard work, and amazing help and support from Stephanie and the other Challengers! I have taken away so much more from this challenge than just a new physique though. Along with transforming my physical appearance, I have transformed my inner self. It’s my inner transformation that I am most proud of! I view myself in an entirely new light. I no longer focus on my flaws. Instead I focus on my accomplishments, even the small ones. An extra rep here, and few extra pushups there… They are all small accomplishments helping me to reach my overall goal of a fitter, happier self. I have a new relationship with food that is no longer obsessive. I understand how to properly fuel my body, and no longer punish myself for enjoying the occasional cheat meal. I view my body as work in progress, a lump of clay I can continue to mold and shape. My energy and focus are directed towards realistic and obtainable goals now. I have come to the realization that I have wasted too much of my life worrying about obtaining the unrealistic, like trying to achieve and maintain a “fitness cover model” body. I’m now 100% focused on living the best life possible because every minute of every day should be enjoyed.
I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to take part in the SKFitLife Challenge! I’m energized about fitness again! I have gained the skills and the knowledge to continue on my fitness journey, and successfully maintain my physique this time around, with realistic approaches and techniques. More importantly, I’m walking away from this challenge with renewed self-esteem. Looking back on 2011, I can now see that all the challenges that I faced were blessings in disguise. Controllable and uncontrollable situations can happen to anyone, at any moment. I had let the physical achievements I attained in 2010 slip away from me due to some bumps in the road, but I had come to the point in my life when I decided that “enough is enough.” SKFitLife Challenge helped me to find that positive underlying motivation that drove me to push myself to become the happy, healthy individual that I longed to be once again. Transformations are tough, and they push you beyond your limits, but with discipline and perseverance, even the most impossible goal can become achievable again!