Four months ago, I saw one of those “fitness progress shots” appear on my Instagram timeline of someone who recently had a baby and went on a “body transformation” journey. It appeared at a time when I was feeling big and lumpy and sick of not fitting into those pants… you know? I’ve always been quite active and healthy, but have never really been focused on it and never really followed a training programme or eating plan. What struck me about this particular post was that it was someone that I knew and I all of a sudden realised that I COULD actually regain control of my body, with a bit of dedication. If she could do it whilst being a new mom, I’m sure I could do it too!
My journey is a story of self-love, dedication and perseverance. I haven’t just changed my body, but shown myself that I am capable of so much more than I think I am and (thanks to my fiancé) that it’s okay to be kind to myself too.
Here’s what I did.
What was I putting in?
I looked into some eating options and decided to start by getting my eating right. I put a lot of effort into researching portion sizes and healthy recipes. I started with the 21 Day Fix concept because I liked how it very simply laid out portion control and proper meal planning for each day. I prepared a plan for each day where I allocated my daily portions to meals and snacks and came up with interesting ways to put together all the required starches, proteins, veg, oils and dairy. This was the most difficult thing for me as I was used to snacking on things (mainly cheese as it’s the easiest thing to grab and eat from the fridge) as I got peckish and not really taking note of it all. When I added it all up, I realised that I was eating generally healthy meals, but constantly snacking the throughout the day without realising how much crap I was consuming as a result! Having to measure and plan my food really helped me to gain control of what I was putting into my body and raised awareness for healthy portion sizes and healthy “clean-eating” foods. I also don’t eat meat or chicken and this makes it even more difficult to find healthy balanced fitness meals!
That being said, I also quickly realised that I wasn’t eating enough on the 21 Day Fix plan and ditched it (being hungry is not an option for me), but continued to plan my food in advance in the format of breakfast, lunch and dinner with two snacks in between – now portion controlled and clean-eating focused. Magic!
What was I doing with it?
I spent 2 weeks getting my eating right and then needed to move on to a proper exercise plan. I started following all the latest fitness and health nutters online and was quite taken by the results shown by the Bikini Body Guide programme. If you follow Kayla Itsines on Instagram, there’s basically no way you can just hang around being sulky with your own body without trying it out. If they can do it, then so can I!
I was completely shocked by the level of difficulty of the programme, thinking that I was generally quite active and fit (ish) and started with the 4 week pre-training guide first, then committed myself to the full 12 weeks of hard work ahead.
Not one single workout was easy. I did not feel on top of any one day that I trekked off to the gym to push myself, but I did it. Some days were more half-hearted than others, but I did it. In the freezing cold, dark and rainy mornings of Cape Town winter, I did it. With only myself as a motivator, ignoring the stares at the gym when I’m doing some weird burpees mixed with push-ups and jumps all over the place (a lot of the time nearly falling on my face), I did it.
I moaned, beat myself up about not getting my meal planning right all the time, drinking too much wine sometimes and gorging on cheese sometimes, but I kept at it. When I started to see the fat fall off and actual muscles start showing, I nearly DIED with excitement.
Discipline is the name of the game here and finding a way to fit exercise and food prep into your daily routine is key.
How did it turn out?
I toyed with the idea of posting my progress pictures for a few reasons:
- I was embarrassed about my ‘Before’ picture. When I took it, I was shocked at what I really looked like. The thing is that I really felt like I looked, but refused to believe it.
- I’m not one to parade my bikini-clad body all over the internet and it takes some serious guts to put it out there for all to see!
- I’m scared that you look at it and don’t see the massive difference that I actually feel. I’m no fitness model and have just stuck to my path as best I can, but am so incredibly proud of what I was able to achieve.
But you know what? My journey started with seeing someone else’s hesitant progress picture post and I was motivated to make a change for me, for the better. If my little story can motivate just one person to move towards a healthier lifestyle, then it’s worth it.
There are so many paths in life that we can take and we all get to make our own choices. Choose a path and follow it!