One day as I chased my Little through the Willowbend play area, enjoying the cushy rebounding surfaces that comforted my achy lower back, I looked at him and understood.
I was caught up in what I thought moms were supposed to do: devote all my time to my child. I realized it didn’t matter that I was playing with him all the time if I wasn’t healthy enough and was always run down from being an overweight unfit working mom.
In July 2015, I received some emails from Life Time Fitness suggesting I join the 90 Day Challenge. I wanted to learn more about what my body could do. This is awful, but I have to be honest. I wasn’t certain what the challenge entailed. (I wasn’t even aware enough to take correct before pics.) How much energy could I commit to really going for this challenge? I’m in my mid-forties. I work full-time. I have a young son. I am a group fitness instructor, but do I look and live the part? What could I possibly accomplish?
Weigh-in Day arrived. I was overweight AND plump. 145 lbs and 29% body fat. Whoa. Really? About one third of my body was fat? No wonder I had low energy. I was not happy.
Step 1: Set goals. I had to be realistic. I wanted to be lean, but my goal had to be attainable within the 90 Days. I decided on 133 lbs. and a Percentage of Body Fat (PBF) of 23%. That would mean losing 12 pounds and 6% body fat (a 20.7% loss of total PBF). It sounded daunting yet doable.
Step 2: Log my food and exercise. Using the Lose It app, I logged what I ate and how many calories I consumed. I tracked my exercise with estimates on how many calories my physical activity would burn. This held me accountable to stay in an acceptable range. I used the readings from the weigh-in to adjust how much I should be eating and working out.
I saw progress at my first weigh-in. Down 5 lbs and down about 2% PBF. I was amazed at what this heightened sense of awareness did. I started making deliberate decisions on what I ate and when.
Step 3: Start meal prepping on weekends for my lunches at school. Every weekend, I created mason jars with chicken breast, roasted root vegetables, edamame salad, and power greens. This not only gave me portion control and a rainbow of nutrition everyday. It also allowed me to share nutritious meal ideas with my learners. SO many of them would beg me for a jar of food, and I shared. It made me happy seeing young people delight in something healthy. They saw me as a role model. All of that equals more motivation.
Step 4: Add another weight day to my high-cardio routine. My fitness program: Danceaton for cardio 4 days a week, 2 weight days, a yin yoga day for my sanity, and a heated Lifetime Vinyasa for the challenge and toning. Yes, there were overlaps in the workouts. There had to be. I also started doing 100 plie squats for my legs and added other challenges.
Some weeks, I noticed more progress than others, but I still had losses in PBF every week. I was happy, but as progress was slowed, I started examining beyond the calories.
Step 5: Watch protein intake. One day after a Danceton class, one of the members, Cristy Alcorn Russell, and I were discussing what we eat. She started commenting on how difficult it’s been to up her protein. Before this discussion, I wasn’t really vigilant of this. Some days, I’m ashamed to say I had only 55 grams of protein! What? No wonder muscles were slower to develop! I tracked my protein (I need over 100g), included the Life Time Vanilla Whey Protein in my smoothies and coffee, always had a Quest Bar with me, and much more progress was made!
Step 6: Seek other ways to work out. I started a 30-Day Pushup Challenge on Facebook. It was awesome virtually working out with others and holding each other accountable. Some members raved of how strong they had become. We celebrate one another and gently remind them of the day’s task. We are continuing additional challenges through the Facebook group. Currently, we are working on the plank challenge and loving it. Many of us still do our push-ups from the first challenge. I also get to do these challenges at school with my learners. It has brought us closer together, made us fitter, and encourages deeper learning due to the physical engagement.
Here I am at the end of this 90 Day Challenge. I am down to 125.9 lbs and 16.3% body fat. That’s down 20 pounds, down 12.7% body fat (a 43.7% loss of total PBF). Over the 90 days, I went up and down on the Leaderboard, but here are the final results.
I cannot believe it. Let me repeat. I cannot believe it. I never imagined I could be this fit, have this much energy, or be this focused. It happened gradually, but time passed quickly because of all of the other benefits from this amazing journey.
First, I have a much better understanding of how my body works and what works for my body. I value nutrition, an engaging fitness regimen, and throwing my body a curveball every now and then. I know I need rest, 2 days of rest, if possible. I also need real food. Yes, I ate pizza and barbecue and Korean food and gelato and dim sum during this 90 Day Challenge. I reserved those for days when I had double workouts, but I ate real meals because I know my lifestyle.
Second, the journey is a fine balance between being self-motivated but also realizing people notice a change in you. I kept my progress pretty quiet. I just think I work that way, but when others commented on changes in physique and energy levels and inquired what I had been doing, I shared. I also invited them to join me on challenges. That made it fun.
Most importantly, I knew the biggest challenge was myself: getting over my self-limitations and excuses. In short, GOING FOR IT!
So I did. I went for it. And I won’t stop. I won’t stop.