Welcome to my blog! As I sit here, trying to decide what to say, I want to start off by thanking you for taking time out of your busy day to read my very first blog post. I’ve gone back and forth for over 2 years on when to start new en devour, and today felt like the day!
So why am I starting a blog? I will admit, I love to write… but often I feel myself stuck inside my own head and at a mental block. Know the feeling? I get the urge to start putting pen to paper and then: BLANK. Nothing. Nada. Before I know it, I’ve wasted an hour and given myself a headache trying to come up with something to write about. Talk about frustrating… to have all of this creativity and passion and nothing that comes out of it.
Recently something occurred to me: why am I trying to write what I THINK people want to read, when I could write about the things I love to talk about? BAM! That’s all it took. In preparation for the newsletters I plan to release in conjunction with my upcoming coaching business, I began an outline of sorts on topics I know and can easily speak to with confidence that I am not only sharing useful information, but also helping out those seeking the same things I did when I began my health journey.
I will not be your run of the mill fitness coach. While I also plan to go after my personal training certification, I am currently enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching Program and set to graduate in September. By fusing health, wellness, and fitness together into one, I will provide a program that is customized, supportive, and provides the accountability that so many people crave. But more on that later 😉
So many friends have reached out to me and expressed amazement and congratulations on my more recent transformation. Now, it wasn’t an astonishing 100lb weightloss or anything, but it was challenging nonetheless. “How did you do it?” “Can you help me do that?” “I want to feel as confident in my skin as you look in yours!” “I’m a single mom too, how did you manage to find the time?” These are just a few examples of what I’ve received through private messages. The funny thing is, I was simply sharing my journey, and no doubt annoying my Facebook friends with sweaty gym selfies and fit-food photos. Little did I know that I had a following of sorts – other women who saw what I was doing and wanted a piece of the action.
I had never truly been overweight, being a cheerleader in high school and college kept me in shape for the most part. But after the delivery of my daughter, I found myself 30lbs heavier than I had ever been, and it wasn’t budging! I literally thought that I would be one of those women who bounce back looking better than they did before pregnancy. Yea, not the case. After about 3 years, slowly some of the weight came off, but it left me even more insecure and feeling “squishy”. I decided there had to be a change, and I was determined to one day feel comfortable and confident in my skin and in the body that I planned to build.
The first step to my healthier lifestyle was giving up smoking. I’d resisted for so long for fear of weight gain through the common aftermath of snacking due to the hand-to-mouth habit leftover from smoking. In July of 2013 my home state of Minnesota decided to raise the price of cigarettes by quite a lot in order to help fund the building of what would become US Bank Stadium (home of the Vikings). My mom and I, both being stubborn and broke, decided we would not be paying for a stadium that we wouldn’t be able to afford a ticket to visit. So on July 1st, we each slapped on a patch and tossed the sticks in the garbage. This was the best decision I’ve made yet, and only wish I would have done it sooner!
Next, I began taking walks in the mornings before work. It started as a way to get outside and get some fresh air to help release some stress I had been holding onto while going through a breakup. But as the weeks went by, I noticed the walk became easier and easier and I began incorporating running intervals. I’d see a stop sign and decide to sprint as fast as I could to it, then walk it off to bring my heart rate back down. Little did I know I was experiencing my first form of HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio! I was quickly addicted to the endorphin being released in my system, and gradually increased the amount of time I was running. Eventually I was running more than I was walking. Soon, though, it would become winter in Minne-snow-ta, and running outside would no longer be an option – I wasn’t that die-hard about it. So I decided it was time for a gym membership.
I landed at the YMCA and signed up on the spot. I loved that they offered childcare while you worked out, free group fitness classes, and I wouldn’t be completely uncomfortable being surrounded by “meat heads” as this was more of a family gym. I started going to a live PiYo class (developed by none other than Beachbody’s Chalene Johnson) and my love of yoga blossomed. I continued running on the indoor track, added stationary bike cardio, and attempted to use the weight machines, although not as much as I should have. During this time, my mother and I lived together. I would put my daughter to bed and head to the gym to close it down without fear as grandma was there in case peanut woke back up. It was wonderful, and I was blessed to have that accommodation.
The next step in my journey happened when a co-worker let me borrow her copy of the Skinny Bitch book by Rory Freedman. This was the first nutrition based book I had ever picked up, and I read the whole thing in one sitting. If you have never read this book, you should! She has the best no holds attitude on snappy comebacks and tough love (and quite the collection of cuss words which helped make the book even more enjoyable!). After hearing me rave about it, my mom picked up the book and consumed it in under a day as well. Together, we decided to give up dairy milk and switched to the ever popular almond milk. My daughter was 4 years old at the time and had no problem letting go of her beloved chocolate milk for a nut milk substitute. I also chose to give up eating meat for 30 days. This was easy to do, but admittedly, I missed it and eventually it came back into my diet. Simple switches were made in our kitchen, little by little. My ultimate goal was to rid the pantry of all highly processed foods in exchange for whole, nutrient dense foods. This took the span of about 3 years to complete. Being a working, single mother to a toddler, it was tough not to have a few quick go to boxes of mac and cheese or hot dogs on hand, and I don’t regret that decision.
Finally, in September of 2015 I decided to embark on the ultimate challenge: completing a Whole30. This is essentially an elimination diet created by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. Hearing about it from a friend and then seeing the thousands of posts on Pinterest about it, I knew there was something to all the buzz. I successfully went 30 days without grains, gluten, msg, sugar, legumes, soy, dairy, alcohol, etc – and survived! I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing i felt. I lost the bloated feeling that I had literally ALL OF THE TIME. I even began getting up half an hour earlier just to do yoga before hopping into the shower (wh-what??). Life was awesome and this was exactly the distraction i need from yet another breakup (different guy this time!). The best part was that my then 5 year old was obsessed with the dinners I was putting on the table and couldn’t believe Whole30 could taste so good, lol. I never restricted her lunches or snacks, but dinner was going to be eaten as a family and she had no problem with it being Whole30 compliant. We also implemented “meatless Mondays” at that time, which not only gave our bodies a little break, but also cam in handy on busy weeknights.
After completing the Whole30, I maintained the next 8 months free from gluten and dairy as I had learned my body didn’t like to process it very well. After that time, I slowly started incorporating them back into my diet and noticed my issues were not as severe as they had once been. To this day, I still choose to limit them however, just for my own daily comfort and to stay as close to a clean diet as possible.
My journey has had it’s ups and downs. Restriction and binging, no exercise routine to over-exercising, and lack of motivation to damn near obsession. Only when I found weight training did I truly fall in love with fitness and began settling into a routine that I could maintain. I began dating my boyfriend Danny in early 2016 and he introduced me to the weight room. As I watched my strength go up, my muscles grow, my body transform, and my mind relax, I finally understood why some people needed the gym on a daily basis. I couldn’t get enough. Never did I think I would get excited about seeing veins popping out while I lifted heavy things. Yes, it’s true, I’ve become a meat head – or more technically: a bodybuilder. After a year of lifting, I decided I wanted yet another challenge – as if being a mom, a girlfriend, a homeowner, and full time working woman, and full time student wasn’t enough. I hired a coach and began prepping for my first NPC Bikini Competition. After a 5 month prep and cutting program (body fat shedding) I stepped on stage for the first time in June 2017. It was awesome, and I definitely got the stage bug! Do I plan to compete again? YES! But I also plan to make this time off in between shows the best improvement season I possibly can. But then, now what?
Now this. I’m officially beginning to embark on the task of opening my own coaching business. With graduation only a few months away, it’s time I get started and begin the work so that I’m ready and able to accommodate my clients when I hit the ground running.
At this point I am in the very beginning stages of production, and I’m thrilled to say I have retained my first client for a 3 month health and fitness program. As i mentioned earlier, I’m also working on my newsletter and will soon have the ability to send those out and provide information on things I believe many people wonder about. If you have any suggestions on topics, please comment below! I would love to tackle your questions for you! Until next time, take care and have a fabulous day!
Xoxo – Ame