Before I was pregnant with my first child in 2013, I was in the best shape of my life, or so I thought. I could run 5 miles in under 45 minutes, and I could do 50 pushups without a break. However, after I gave birth to my first daughter, I had 20 pounds to lose. So, I went on a Paleo diet in which one is to eat only meats, fruits, veggies, and nuts. Dairy, added sugar, bread and bread products were completely off limits. I couldn’t even have cream with coffee! Who the hell thinks this is okay? But, I did it anyways. I thought for sure this would work, and it did! After only two weeks of doing this, with no exercise, I lost 8 pounds. Yay! However, as soon I got down to my lowest weight since high school, I gave birth to my second little girl in 2015 and, once again, had 20 pounds to lose. This time was different, though. The pounds fell off in the beginning because I was able to breastfeed her for 9 months. Did you know that breastfeeding burns up to 1,000 calories a day!? I didn’t! But once I did, it was no wonder I got so thin so quickly. However, once you stop breastfeeding, those pesky pounds come right back!
After I was finished breastfeeding, I was at 130 pounds, wanting to lose at least 15. I am short, so being at that weight doesn’t look particularly good on me. I was also desperate to get toned and fit! One of my friends is a personal trainer and has very muscular arms, a nice ass, and a thin stomach with a couple abs poking through. She always posts pictures of her progress, and it made me want the same for myself. I have never been very toned and I have always had ginormous boobs, no butt, and no abs. So, I decided since I am getting older (am 31), I need to do this now. Therefore, I went on the Paleo diet same as last time. I was on it much longer though. It is August 2017; I started my diet and exercise regime in December of 2016.
This is what I looked like before my change; I know I didn’t have much to lose, but the pounds I did have I desperately wanted to get rid of.
My meals went a lot like this (and still do):
Breakfast: two eggs and some fruit, usually a banana.
Snack: cashews or almonds. Sometimes I would have apples with almond butter or just an apple.
Lunch: Some sort of meat and steamed veggies (the kind at Wal-Mart are so easy and quick!)
Dinner: Same as lunch.
I wouldn’t eat after 7PM. For coffee, I tried to do black. But, really, who I was kidding? I can’t stomach black coffee. I used to pour French Vanilla creamer in my coffee; it had such an amazing flavor! But I knew I had to kick that habit to the curb as it was very unhealthy, with all of those additives and added sugar. No way was I and no way will I ever put that junk in my body again. I compromised with myself and Paleo and instead just add half-n-half to my coffee, which still tastes good and is not nearly as unhealthy as other coffee creamers.
I truly stuck to a classic Paleo diet: meat, eggs, fruit, veggies, and nuts. Nothing else. I basically changed my body into using sugar as energy to fat, which is key to losing weight. The first week, due to the body getting reset and feeling a bit deprived without all of that sugar, I felt nauseous and very weak and tired. However, after pushing through that first week, I felt incredible. My energy spiked, I was getting better sleep at night, my skin stopped breaking out, and I was losing weight pretty quickly. Eating this way changes your body, in the best way! Exercise helped too, of course.
With my first, I didn’t exercise; I just ate very well. This time, though, my best friend made me get on Pinterest to look at recipes I could make. Once I started getting the hang of navigating Pinterest, I encountered HIIT and Circuit workouts. These include exercise moves such as jumping jacks, jumping lunges, squats, pushups, tuck jumps, crunches, etc. After one workout, I INSTANTLY FELL IN LOVE! As a result, I began to workout 3 days on, one day off, for an hour at a time. I never used to enjoy working out since running was always my go-to. I loathed every time I was supposed to run, so I only worked out every other day and rarely put forth much effort as I truly despise running. This time, however, I couldn’t wait to get to my basement and do another circuit workout and see how I could further challenge my body.
Every time I found a HIIT and circuit workout that looked difficult to me, I would pin it and then perform it that same night. A significant part of my personality is to always challenge not only others, but also myself. So, I became (and still am) obsessed to see how much I could do with my own body. Before I started my workouts, I tried to do 5 jumping lunges and 10 burpees. I literally stopped at 1 burpee and 2 jumping lunges! I realized I was so out of shape. Therefore, I was deadest determined to do those 10 burpees and 20 jumping lunges (the hardest exercises I have ever encountered-for good reason as they work many areas of your body!). After two weeks of hard work and dedication, I was able to do 30 burpees and 20 jumping lunges for 3 sets. I felt so proud of myself! I could also see and feel the change in my legs and in my arms. My body was getting stronger. My endurance was also improving.
After a couple months, I lost nearly 10 pounds. I was looking amazing. Then, I again wanted to challenge my body. So I looked on Pinterest again and came upon kettlebell workouts. So I started doing those. I realized that if I wanted to tone my body, I needed to incorporate some sort of strength training. After doing kettlebell workouts for a couple weeks, I got bored and just started lifting weights, using workouts from Pinterest.
After a month of incorporating strength training, I had seriously toned my arms in a way they have never been. They actually look muscular when I am just walking around, as opposed to simply flexing. This post explains the arm exercises that I feel significantly helped me tone my arms.
The exercises that I perform each and every day included and still include the following:
- Jumping jacks (I do 100 reps, 3 sets)
- Crunches (150 reps, 3 sets)
- Bicycle crunches (50 reps, 3 sets-tap left leg, tap right leg=1 rep)
- Mountain climbers (50 reps, 3 sets-left knee up, right knee up=1 rep)
- Butt kicks (60 reps, 3 sets-left leg up, right leg up=1 rep)
- High knees (60 reps, 3 sets-left leg up, right leg up=1 rep)
- Plank jacks (25 reps, 3 times)
- Kickboxing-20 minutes cardio blast-I have a Pinterest workout that I LOVE and I do at least 2-3 times a week. It the last one on my Kickboxing board. I have since added 5 pound weights in each hand to increase calorie burn and to incorporate strength training).
- Jumping lunges (20 reps, 3 sets-alternating legs)
- Back extensions (30 reps, 4 sets)
For strength training, these are exercises I HAVE to do every time I lift:
- Bicep curls using 20 pound weights (8 reps, 3-4 sets)
- Hammer curls using 10 pound weights (15 reps, 4 sets)
- Side bends using 20 pound weights (50 reps per side, 3 sets)
- Push presses using 20 pound weights (15 reps, 3 sets)
- Renegade rows using 20 pound weights (15 alternating reps, 3 sets)
- Upright rows using 20 pound weights (20 reps, 3 sets per arm)
- Wood chops holding one 10 pound weight with both hands (10 reps, 4 sets per side)
- Chest flies (15 reps, 4 sets)
My schedule went and still goes like this: three days on, one day off. The first day is my kickboxing workout. Day two is for strength training, and day three is for a HIIT or a circuit workout.
As I mentioned before, I began this transformation in December of 2016. I was at a size 11 in pants. Since then, I have lost 20 pounds. I now weigh 110 and am a size 2 in pants. Never have I been happier.
What else I found after losing weight, though, was quite surprising. Due to my height and previous weight/lack of a toned body, I had low self-esteem and was very quiet and just not at all confident. Now, I look at myself in the mirror with joy and pride for being able to accomplish this. I have also become more social, meeting new people, making new friends. I am not shy to talk to strangers, and I walk with confidence. It feels amazing.
My husband and sister keep telling me my head has gotten bigger and I am conceited (more in a joking way). I completely disagree. Or maybe not. Maybe they are right. But I feel as if I am allowed to be this happy and content with myself. I earned it, dammit! I worked too damn hard to not show how happy I am with myself. Is that so bad? I think not. If you’re happy and you know it, shouldn’t you show it!?
If you have been thinking about getting toned or losing weight, DO IT! We have only one life, why wait until you keep getting older, when you lose energy and motivation? And worse, metabolism! Try the Paleo diet; it is difficult, but it gets results quickly and makes you feel amazing. Find something you enjoy doing for exercise, and perform that workout most days of the week. You will see how much you can change-not just with your body, but also with your mind!