I’ve written and erased this post countless times over the last few months. My wanting to share my story felt overwhelming and a little bit scary. I didn’t know where to begin and how to frame it all. What to focus on and where to draw the line. But here I am doing the same thing I did with my health journey at the beginning, putting one foot in front of the other, or in this case one word after the other, and hoping it all makes sense at the end.
For reference this post will be a little bit different than my usual story telling, because this time I want to share information and I want to make sure I don’t forget anything.
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So in summary: After three babies, three pregnancies, three c sections and three plus years of breastfeeding I found myself on my 35th birthday, overweight, tired and lacking in self love. The last one being more important than I realized it was until recently, but we’ll get into that soon. A few months after I had Henrik I weighted in at 207 lbs, that’s the last weigh in I knew before I bought a scale several months into my workouts/eating plan. On my 35th birthday I was a tight size 32 jeans, a Large in tops and a 10 in almost all the other things that warrant a sized category.
On my birthday one of my best friends came over with lunch, Chinese takeout, champagne and macarons. It was so sweet of her and I was so happy to have that day. That night we ordered Mexican and drank more wine. I had cupcakes and food and beverages and my day was made. But the next day I looked in the mirror and I realized that somewhere along the years of motherhood I’d accepted my new body, my weight and my crappy eating as normal. I wasn’t even making excuses for it all, I just accepted it and loved it, and that scared me. I realized that I progressively got bigger with every year and every month and that it wasn’t healthy for my body, my organs or my mind. And that’s the day I put my foot down and decided I had to change. I made a plan and decided to take tiny steps and focus on each one at a time. You can watch this video that I made of that first day and those first workouts but this is what triggered it all. And now 7 months later, 2 rounds of BBG later, 70 lbs down later, 5 pant sizes later I want to share what’s happened.
I’m 5’8, my thighs always touched. I have Diastasis Recti. I’m bottom heavy and love sweets. I run on my heels, not my toes, and am injury prone. I’ve never consistently done anything to build muscle and my upper body is the weakest thing about me.
After years of just running, or hiring expensive trainers, going to expensive gyms etc, I knew I needed a workout that was doable on my own from home. I needed easy in the sense of getting started with my workout, not necessarily the workout itself, but the more complicated the process the less likely I would be to stick to it. So this is how I came about using the SWEAT app (BBG workouts that stand for Bikini Body Guides) I had followed Kayla Itsines on Instagram for a few years. I watched her before and after photos that she posted of clients who worked through her program. I also followed a few other moms on Instagram who were doing her program as well and got amazing results. After looking into the SWEAT app on the Apple store I realized the exercises would be intense, cardio based HIIT, which would allow me to maximize my calorie burn, muscle fitness and time while forcing my body to continue burning fat long after the workout was done. So I downloaded the app and signed up for the program. The app costs money, but its cheaper than a gym membership.
I started with the 4 week beginner program and the workouts were intense. At first I used the equipment I had at home. I bought one skipping rope for the skip rope exercises but the rest I used a kids’ step stool and my yoga mat. I didn’t need much to start.
Once the first 4 weeks of beginner exercises were complete I started the official BBG 1.0 workouts, 12 weeks total, and somewhere around week 7 or 8 I bought a few more things to help me work out. A medicine ball and free weights. Somewhere around 10 weeks I bought a bench and a bosu ball, a step stool and a kettle bell. All off Amazon and I’ll share those in their own special post.
The BBG workouts are split into 3 resistance training sessions, they’re cardio intensive HIIT and last 28 minutes. From a time commitment perspective they’re motivating and easy to fit into a busy day…because who doesn’t have 28 minutes to work out?! I focused on doing my 3 resistance days NO MATTER WHAT. Some days I found myself at 10pm not having sat down to work out and I just got up and did the 28 minutes anyways. Tired and hating every second of it, but done was better than perfect.
In addition to those 3 resistance days the BBG weeks also include 3 LISS days (low intensity steady state). This is just basic cardio and could be anything you want it to be. I always loved running so I thought it was perfect to get back to my running days through this program. Running was also easy, I didn’t need to have any fancy equipment or a partner to do it. I could take Henrik along with me in his running stroller and I could easily fit it into whatever else I was doing.
So what does a typical week look like for me? Well like this: Monday, Run | Tuesday, BBG Legs | Wednesday, Run | Thursday, BBG Arms | Friday, Run | Saturday, BBG Abs (sometimes a short light run) | Sunday, Rest.
My rest days aren’t always on Sundays and the order changes depending on what’s happening at home, with my work, with our family etc. I try to space things out one and one, but sometimes I have to put two resistance days back to back, or two running days back to back, or I have to take one extra rest day and then double my workouts. If I ever do a double workout I always do abs with a run, never anything else.
The workouts are hard and even today, 2 rounds later plus 4 weeks of beginner, I still don’t always get through the full set of reps! And I’m sore after every single workout of hers. The workouts are designed to push you to the limit and that’s what I do. I either complete the set or I do it to failure. Its that simple.
I work out in my living room, or in the back yard. I skip rope inside the dining area or on my porch, and I run outside.
About a month ago I also incorporated daily deep core exercises into my week. I met with a physiotherapist who did an assessment of my ab separation and put me on a simple 5 min a day workout plan. I don’t always get it in 7 days a week, but I do my best and its made a world of a difference to my core strength. I am going to work with her to help me put this plan down on paper for you all since she’s the expert and I’m not.
The Food Plan:
I didn’t follow a meal guide. Its too hard with a big family and everyone having different nutritional and dietary needs. I also didn’t count calories or cut out carbs. As a rule of thumb I don’t believe in fad diets, because I think anything that gets results fast is usually not meant to last. In high school I stopped eating for several months to try and be the skinny girl. In university after finding myself 30lbs heavier than I was in high school I put myself on a “health” journey that spiralled out of control and I found myself as skinny as I’d always wanted to be but eating 800 calories a day and obsessing about everything that went into my body. I know that my mind can get into a dark place and I know that its as dangerous as being overweight, so to minimize the potential for unhealthy habits creeping their way into my life I decided NOT to count calories and NOT to follow a meal plan. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a plan, I did, I still do, but my plan is this.
First I cut out refined white sugar from everything in our house, that meant baked goods, dairy, desserts etc…. I actually threw all our white sugar out and replaced it all with palm sugar, brown sugar, honey and maple syrup.
I also cut out white carbs meaning rice, pasta, white bread. I cut these out 100% cold turkey for me and 75% for the kids…because they love croissants and sourdough bread and that’s A ok. But I swapped out all our pasta for quinoa pasta, buckwheat soba noodles, brown and wild rice, and multi grain bread. I also freeze my bread and eat it toasted from the freezer which modifies it in such a way that changes my blood sugar…google that one its too much to write about here.
I added in a 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon mixed with warm water to every single one of my mornings. I drink it on an empty stomach and dilute it with an entire giant cup of water. It helps speed up my metabolism and I do this every single day…I haven’t missed a day…even when sick.
I replaced butter with avocado. I made sure to add lots of protein into every meal. I forced myself to eat lots of salads every single day until it became a habit and I started adding veggies to every meal I had throughout the day.
I ate fruit and dark chocolate when I craved sweets, usually with a big bowl of greek yogurt.
I chose full fat yogurt and cottage cheese over low fat options because they contained a higher protein content and lower sugar content. I continued to drink coffee every day with full fat milk.
I added in smoothies and home made green juices to meals and sometimes as post workout snacks. I added in almonds as well for protein.
I eat 5-6 meals a day and I listened to my body when it was hungry I would feed it.
I also cut my portions. This was key. I used a smaller plate and a smaller bowl and mentally told myself to first take 1/2 of what I would normally be tempted to take as a serving. For example instead of 1 whole bagel I would have 1/2 a bagel and add an egg to it and then fill the rest of my plate with lots of veggies. I would finish what I was eating, drink my water and coffee and wait. If I was still hungry 15 minutes later then I would eat a little more or add a few more fruit into my day.
I absolutely eat fruit, all fruit, all veggies, I eat bread and pasta and rice. My meals are balanced out to reflect all the food groups with a heavier emphasis on veggies for fiber and to fill me up for longer. I think every component plays a role into my life and keeping me healthy. It also keeps me sane doing things this way and not obsessing over every little thing I eat.
I am not a nutritionist but this is what works for me.
A typical breakfast for me is 1 piece of avocado toast, with either scrambled eggs or a hard boiled egg, tomatoes and cucumber, lemon water and coffee. As a snack I may have hummus and pita with more veggies, or a smoothie. Lunch could be a smoked fish wrap with hummus or a triangle of cow cheese, more veggies and a side salad, or a giant Mediterranean plate loaded with hummus and eggplant dip, raw veggies, olives, almonds, etc. Afternoon snack could be almonds and cottage cheese. Dinner might be my peanut soba noodles with lots of veggies, grilled chicken and sesame seeds. And a late evening snack is either popcorn or yogurt and fruit.
I cut down alcohol significantly too, at first 100% completely and later introduced a glass here and there.
I document a lot of this on my instagram feed and in my stories so follow there for daily information.
Oh, and I stopped eating the kids leftovers or anything off their plate.
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This is probably the most common question I get. “where do you get the motivation to do what you do and keep working out when you’re tired?”. The short answer is: I’m not sure. I don’t feel particularly motivated to do anything but when I put my mind to something I usually like to do it 200% or else I may as well not have started at all. This is just how I am though, and how my personality works. So I don’t know if its motivation as much as anything else.
On days when I’m tired and its the end of the day and haven’t worked out yet, I just put one foot in front of the other and move off the couch or bed I’m sitting on and start the workout. Just do it. Nike said it well. Just do it. And my mantra is that done is better than perfect, so a crappy workout is better than no workout.
I’ve done a few things to help me stay excited and engaged though.
First I set small goals for myself, daily goals like “making sure to not eat refined sugar or white carbs today and get in a 28min workout”. Then as I got stronger and more fit I set larger goals like running races and buying a new pair of running shoes.
I also started putting on my workout clothes straight from bed. I found if I was ready for a workout I was more likely to get it done than if I had to add in the element of “changing” to an already long busy day.
I try to get my workouts in earlier in the day when possible. I realize I’m lucky because I work from home and I have this flexibility, but if I was going back to the office I would wake up at 5 am and get it done, no questions asked.
Now that I’ve seen results, now that I’ve seen the weight drop, the muscle build and my kids and Michael adopting a healthier lifestyle as well because they see me do it, its given me motivation. I am my own motivation now and that’s a pretty rad feeling.
I always thought I was too busy to work out, but when I decided to make this change I realized something had to give. It wasn’t going to be my kids or my husband who suffered, but something had to get left behind. I decided almost immediately that it would be my work and my house chores. If I could do it all, great, but if I couldn’t then there would be dishes piled in the sink because loading and unloading the washer takes at least 15minutes, and laundry would stay unfolded. I decided to stop video taping 3 YouTube videos a week and go to bed earlier. And I started to say NO to a lot more potential clients. I stopped meeting friends for coffees during evenings and just MADE the time to work out.
I prioritized working out as third into my life, with first being my family, my pets, my workouts. And I made sure to include “me” in that family prioritization by making sure that my nutrition was on point.
I would do my workouts in the morning, at first it was during Henrik’s naps, then when he changed to one nap a day I would do my runs with him in a stroller and the BBG workouts during the afternoon nap.
If I have other kids at home I usually have them sit on the couch and read quietly while I do my workouts, sometimes they like to participate too or count me down on reps. Sometimes my runs are with a dog, a stroller, a kid on a bike, or all of the above. And if Michael comes home and I haven’t had a chance to get my run in then I go after dinner when Henrik goes to bed.
I can’t do it all, but this order is a much more sustainable, healthier order to my priorities.
The Injuries and Illness:
I don’t work out when I’m sick or injured. This doesn’t mean a sniffle. If I have a fever, I take walks if I can, but no resistance training. If I’m injured I try to work out a different part of my body or take the time off to recover. A few times this has meant me having to roll back a whole BBG week that I missed, and that was all fine. But my body needs love and respect and giving it a rest sometimes is more important than pushing through.
I go into my vacations with the plan of working out like I do at home. And for the most part I’ve done it. Mexico, Miami, Romania etc… I stuck to my routine and my eating. I don’t think Vacations are an excuse to get back to my bad habits any more. And when I started my journey in February I was 2 weeks out from a 3 day solo ski trip with the kids and 3 weeks out from a Mexico vacation with the family. I could have told myself “oh I’ll start when I’m back” but why… a lifestyle change means vacation too. That doesn’t mean I’m always perfect, for example in Iceland I had a hard time figuring out how to get in any runs and so I took the week off, but the minute I got back home I laced up and went for a run. To me that’s what balance is now.
Done is better than perfect. I love myself enough to want to change. Small steps lead to big changes. These are basically where my mind is at right now. I repeated these to myself all through my workouts. Running changed me and so did working out. I am not the same. I am more confident, and more gentle with myself. I respect me, love me and feel proud of what I’ve done. I know it wasn’t easy, I lived the last 7 months, and I could have stopped but I chose not to. I chose to be married and to work on my relationship. I chose to be a present parent and provide the best for my kids. I chose to feed them healthy food and make sure they have limited screen time. And I decided I needed to chose better things for me too because I matter, but those choices didn’t come easily, at least not at first. I did it like I would take medicine if I was sick, because I had to. And then I learned to love it all along the way. So I’m proud of me for all that. Part of me also wonders what the heck I did with my time when I didn’t have kids, and why I didn’t get my arse in shape way earlier?! I mean I had the time…Lord knows I had the time.
So this is it, this is where I’m at and I hope to have answered most of your questions. I will have a few separate videos coming out to show you where I store my equipment and specifics about what the equipment is. Some things are easier shared via video than words. I’ll also have a few videos to share about my favourite athletic wear.
If there’s anything I forgot to touch on please ask below so everyone can see the answer, and remember to follow me on Instagram for more daily laments 🙂
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“Will that pouch thing on top of your tummy ever go away?”, probably top 5 most asked questions I get whenever I post a workout or transformation photo of myself. And the answer is two fold, first off probably not. My stomach birthed 3 babies and was cut open 3 times, the expectation that it will be the same is unrealistic and it’s not my goal anyways. And secondly, I’m choosing to focus on the positive things my body is doing. Like building muscle I never thought I had and running distances with power and strength. So whatever happens happens but I’m 35 not 25 and my body bears the marks of my experience. And for that I’m grateful. Progress not perfection ❤️happy weekend. #bbgmums #bbgtransformation #bbgprogress #bbgmoms #momof3 #boymom #momof3boys