Lifestyle Prior To Change
I reached a point in my life where I realized I had lost control. The controlling relationship I had forged with food had put me at the most I’ve ever weighed. I was depressed, lonely and digging a deeper hole day by day. I lost most of any confidence I had and hid behind my black, baggy clothes. I remember at one point I could not find one shirt in my closet that was big enough to hide the fat rolling over my pants. I was starting to get farther away from who I thought I was and who I wanted to be.
One night in January, 2009, my boyfriend and I went to Chicago with our friends. I remember being down because I could not find an outfit and realized how each day letting go had accumulated to today. This feeling negatively influenced my entire evening out. I was inside my own head thinking about how unhappy I was and how out of control I truly let myself get. I felt like I was living someone else’s life. I was not living the life I wanted to live.
Looking at those pictures and New Year’s Eve pictures of myself later that week I thought to myself, I can either keep doing the same thing I have always done; keep feeling depressed and gaining weight, or I can decide to change. Something clicked. It was different this time than any of the other times I told myself I would change. Maybe I had gotten to the biggest I would let myself get.
From there, I began to take control. That is when everything changed.
How Did You Turn Your Life Around?
I started by changing my mind. I put pictures up on my bathroom mirror and refrigerator of women’s bodies I admired. I got a lot of advice from my boyfriend who has always been very health conscious and fit. One day he sent me a link to Tiffany Forni’s Transformation. This was my first visit to a bodybuilding website, which became a huge resource for me in the following months and to this day. Her transformation totally inspired me and from there I began looking at more and more transformations and how they did it. The release date every other Friday of a new transformation gave me new motivation.
In one simple sentence, I consumed my mind with thoughts of exercise, nutrition, and the image of what I wanted my body and life to look like and I lived those thoughts.
For the next year, I would research anything and everything that I could wrap my mind around in the areas of health, fitness, weight loss and muscle development. Slowly but surely I began seeing small changes. This is when I realized how easy and selfish it is to put weight on and how challenging and self-respecting it is to treat your body right.
It IS tough. My boyfriend once said to me as I was going through a tough point in my life, “Ash, you gotta crawl your way back up. Life is tough and you have to be too.” I literally equated that with digging my fingernails into the dirt, digging and pulling myself out of the hole. After all, isn’t that when you truly appreciate something; when you fall hard and then sacrifice and struggle until you’ve mastered what it was that made you fall in the first place? We rarely appreciate the things that come easily to us, and it’s that way for a reason.
Sample Diet Plan
- Breakfast Meal 1: 5 egg whites (1/2 cup), 2 tbsp wheat germ with ½ cup berries.
- Snack Meal 2: IsoFlex Protein scoop with 12 ounce water, ½ banana and 1 tbsp flax seed blended.
- Meal 3: 5 oz chicken, 1 cup green veggies.
- Snack Meal 4: One tomato sliced with 1 cup Dean’s low-fat cottage cheese.
- Meal 5: Chicken breast with ½ cup brown rice.
- Meal 6 before bed: Casein protein scoop with water.
Gallon of water daily!
What supplements did you use?
- Controlled Labs White Flood
- Whey Protein Powder
- IsoFlex Protein Powder
- Casein Protein Powder (before bed shake)
- Fish Oil
I change everything up every other week, including muscles paired in one workout, weights, reps and sets to keep my body guessing. These are some of my favorite exercises to perform.
Monday: Legs and Glutes
- 3x30 Box Steps with 15 lb. dumbbells in hand (sometimes I throw my knee up or extend each leg back slowly to focus on my glutes more).
- 3x8 Smith Machine Squats with increasing weight.
- 3x8 Reverse Bench Lunges with 15 lb. dumbbells in hand.
- 3x15 Sumo Squats.
- 3x25 Walking Dumbbell Lunges with 10 lb. dumbbells in hands *I do as many as I can of these between exercises to get heart rate up.
- 30 Minutes stairmill with footing variations.
1 hour of HIIT on treadmill or stairmill. I began to add an incline for uphill running to this as I got in better shape.
Wednesday: Abs and Lower Back
- 3xFail Back Extensions, switching arms in front of chest and behind head.
- 3x15 Oblique/Side Extensions with 8 lb. ball in hand, one week slow, one week quick.
- 3x30 Barbell or Dumbbell Deadlifts.
- 3xFail Captain’s Chair Leg Twists.
- *3x Fail Plank (do one set between any exercise to get heart rate up).
- 3x12 Decline Crunches.
- 3x8 Bent Over Cable Rows.
- 3x20 Side Bends with increasing weights.
- 3x30 Roman Twists (on decline bench as variation).
Thursday: Triceps & Biceps/Cardio
- 3x30 Cable Curls.
- 3x12 Bench Dips.
- 3x8 Hammer Curls.
- 3x8 Barbell Curls with heavy weight.
- 3x8 Cable Tricep Extensions.
- 3x8 Crossover Hammer Curls.
- I might throw in some push ups for quick cardio and just to hit another muscle in between some sets.
- 40 minutes of low intensity running, about 3-4 miles.
Friday: REST DAY
Saturday: Delts & Cardio
- 3x12 Rear Delts on machine.
- 3x12 Bent Over Lateral Raises.
- 3xFail Standing Lateral Raises, holding position at top of raise.
- 3x8 Arnold Press.
- 3x8 Front Raises.
- 3x12 Dumbbell Shoulder Press.
- 45 minutes of HIIT on stairmill or treadmill.
Sunday: Chest & Back
- 3x10 Bench Press.
- 3xFail Push ups.
- 3xFail Assisted Pull ups.
- 3x8 Assisted Chest Dips.
- 3x8 Lat Pull Down, Wide Grip & Close Grip.
- 3x15 Seated Cable Rows.
- 3x40 seconds Plank.
Recently, I sought the help from a personal trainer to take it up a notch and my workouts are looking a lot different!
What Is Your Life Like Now?
I will be getting my CPR/AED Certification in February and I am scheduled to get my Personal Training Certification in April! I have finally found my passion. I can talk about health, nutrition, diet, exercise, etc., etc., all day to anyone because I love it. I can not tell anyone enough how much what I have done for myself and continue to do on a day to day basis has CHANGED my life. I will work towards my October goal of competing onstage for the first time in the Bikini & Sports Model Division!
I look forward to getting to the gym every day and pushing myself and then seeing results later. It is a work in process and there is always an opportunity for growth. This is what I am in control of in my life, and no one can change that. I would love to help others, such as my family and eventually have clients that I can motivate and show them the tools to live their life in a way that most human beings are not aware of. I have my boyfriend to thank in so many ways because he enjoys this as much as I do and he is who inspired me in the first place. I didn't know anyone else who was living their life like this, healthfully and physically. He was my biggest influence when I started my journey and now he is my biggest support each day I continue it.
I may not have all the pieces together in all the sectors of my life, but this piece is strong and it's what holds me together. My decision to turn my life around and my follow through have given me the life I have always wanted to live; a confident one and one full of pride. I am proud of myself! Every day, my goal is to just keep getting better at something, and I can't think of a better goal. Because that's what life is about; progression. Keep moving forward and stay tough!
Advice For Others
There is a quote I think about a lot in every area of my life: “Keep doing what you’ve always done and you will get what you’ve always gotten.”
Take charge of your life! There are not too many places in our daily life we are able to have full control over. This is one powerful exception. Ask yourself what you want. Challenge yourself to do the thing you never thought you could do. Nothing is unattainable if you set your mind to it and decide to do it! It takes time, like anything learned and conquered.
You will sacrifice much; it will be uncomfortable and difficult at first but you will learn patience and discipline in the process. You will feel feelings of empowerment, self-pride, respect for oneself and accomplishment. When you pass the negative feelings and begin to create those positive feelings for yourself, it will give you more than just a better body, it will create something much deeper. It will give you the confidence and the pride in yourself that we all deserve to own.
Surround yourself with people who are consumed with the same thoughts; who are doing the same thing. Interact with others who are passionate about fitness and health and this will enhance your motivation in an entirely different way!
There will be ups and downs, losses, possible gains and plateaus, but just remember that hard work and unfaltering determination yield extraordinary results. Consume your thoughts with big, healthy thoughts. Keep that vision of what you are going to look like in the forefront of your mind and live it.
Only negative thoughts hold us back and keep us from living to our highest potential. Learning to control those thoughts and substitute them for positive ones will be an integral part of your transformation.
In life, you are the only person who will always be with yourself. Choose a healthy lifestyle for her, work hard at progressing, never stop getting better and you will give yourself the greatest gift you are able to: love for oneself.
Life is short. Start being who you want to be now!