When I saw my starting photos, I wanted to cry.
I knew that my son was born seven weeks earlier, but any delusion I had about “just carrying some baby weight” was gone. The reality of my situation was staring me in the face. I had no idea this was how bad everything had become.
I had found Ideal Bodies Online while I was pregnant, and contacted them because I saw real women who had made changes to their lives. There was no magic pill or potion sold, results were achieved clearly through hard work – but the success stories were there. It was real and I began to visualise myself achieving results.
I signed up for a 12 week Ultimate Body Makeover program. I began to set up a gym in our garage during my pregnancy. I mentally looked toward my start date, which was set for around 7 weeks after the birth of our baby.
In the end it was pretty simple – I needed to change so I could be a positive role model for my daughter and unborn child. I wanted to be a mother who was plugged in and engaged, not tired, stressed and exhausted.
Our beautiful baby boy was born in September 2012. We now had our little girl who had just turned two, and our baby boy – the perfect pair as we put it.
For financial reasons I had to return to a work from home role when he was just three weeks old, and this took an even bigger toll on me. I was exhausted and had nothing left in the emotional or physical tank. I didn’t have the energy to look after myself at all, and to be honest, I just didn’t care at that point.
I knew the start date for my training program was coming, and I was so scared to take on something new. I wasn’t really coping with everything on my plate as it was, and didn’t know how I would manage to add more in with a new born that I was breastfeeding, a toddler, working from home as well as managing our family’s day to day lives.
When I received my first program it was a real mind-shift for me to start incorporating good nutrition and physical activity, rather than just flying blind, eating whatever, whenever, and not doing any type of physical activity.
I read over everything a few times to familiarise myself. I mapped out my first week’s training, scheduled in what I would do each day, went shopping for appropriate foods and I started.
I entered two competitions to keep me accountable, despite the deep fear of anyone ever seeing my starting photos. Whenever I looked at them I was so angry at myself, and found motivation every time I saw them. I swore to myself I would have a different version of myself to show at the end of the 12 week process.
During my first weights session I fought back tears. I felt like an idiot because I didn’t know what I was doing. I felt like stopping short and had negative voices telling me I was useless the whole time, but I pushed through and completed all repetitions and sets of each exercise.
I committed to doing my program exercise regardless of the negative self-talk telling me it was too hard, regardless of how much sleep I was having, regardless of how many times my baby son was waking in the night for feeds.
No matter what excuse I tried to come up with, I did the exercise as it was written out in the program.
Slowly I began to find it easier to get out of bed. Slowly I grew stronger. Slowly I started to get fitter.
The other exciting new thing was the physiological improvements from the strength training. My muscles were defining, still hiding from the world underneath heavy layers of fat – but I knew they were there. I gradually increased my weights, and found a new focus.
I also got really honest about my negative self-talk – like telling myself I would never be able to keep this up, that I was useless, that I would fail, that I was always going to be average. The list is endless to the put downs I would say to myself.
I began to recognise where that self-worth stemmed from by hearing it loud and clear and linking it with my past, my experiences, to establish where it all started and where it had gotten worse over the years.
I had become my own worst enemy by giving weight to these thoughts all through my life.
In the end, no matter where this self-worth stemmed from, or who may have had a role to play in it, the only person who could change it was me.
In the end, the only person I had to prove wrong was me.
Through my mentor Leanne, and the fact that I was finally being completely honest with myself, I was able to understand what I had led me to fail in the past, or give up on myself in regard to my health.
I have always known that I am an emotional eater – I could always tell how I was going on an emotional level by looking at my body shape. My mentor Leanne was able to help me see that I had always taken an all or nothing approach to my health and fitness. I had thought that it was about perfection – getting everything right, at all times, and when I had bad days, I would give up on myself, and eventually quit because I had thought I’d failed.
In the past I would achieve results through cardio, and think, “Oh well, I look alright now, I’m comfortable” and slowly teeter off, and eventually stop, go back to poor diet choices and then the weight would creep back on. It was a complete yo-yo, emotionally and physically.
Armed with new knowledge, I ate to fuel my body on most days. When I had slip ups, or special occasions, I learned to remove the guilt that had always played such a big part in giving up on maintaining healthy lifestyle choices in the past. I even began to enjoy my occasional slip ups, because I knew they were temporary knowing that my new lifestyle was the permanent part in the equation.
I trained hard throughout Christmas and New Year, and was even up at 5am on Christmas Day and New Years Day and in the gym. I definitely ate outside of my nutritional needs during this time, but still managed to keep losing weight.
I couldn’t believe I was actually sticking to this new way of life during a time that would normally see me go right off the rails – it was almost like a “look Mum, no hands” moment for me.
Regardless of how I felt, I did my program exercise. I told myself that if it was a doctor’s appointment for my child, I would take them no matter how I felt, or what was happening around me. I treated my exercise like appointments with myself that have the same level of priority. I made the time, which meant I usually exercised when my family slept. As a Mum of a new baby and young child, it was important for me to find this time and make it guilt free, or otherwise I knew I would not be able to focus properly.
I have always looked at people who woke up at 5am to exercise as crazy, and now I am one of them all the way. It’s turned into my time, where everyone else is asleep. I go into the gym, and take “my” time to listen to “my” music and focus on “my” self without interruption.
I am addicted to strength training, and am slowly beginning to realise what my body is capable of through making regular progress. I can also run again and push through intense cardio, and am setting new goals for myself every week.
I am no longer externalising and focussing on things happening around me that are out of my control. I am no longer blaming myself for every negative situation, or thinking that every problem is my responsibility to fix. I am no longer worried about what people might think of me, or letting other people’s attitudes affect me negatively.
I am a better mother, better partner, and more to the point, a better self. I am not taking crap anymore, because when “crap” arises I am not bottling things up, or trying to over-analyse or take on too much responsibility. I am simply dealing with things, letting things go and moving on.
This started as a way for me to feel better about myself, maybe lose some weight, but it has now turned into a new way of life. I can see there is no end to this process, and no end to what I can achieve.
I look at my before and after photos, and while I have made some amazing ground, I am completely aware this journey is far from over. I still have a road ahead to reach my best possible body composition and to be the strongest version of myself – but I will achieve what is best for me, and continue to set myself new goals.
Thanks to Kristin at IBO for developing my programs, and my mentor Leanne, who enabled me to reflect on myself and provided me with so much new knowledge about how to move past things when I would have bad days. Thanks also to my feedback coach Carly for your regular encouragement and assessment of how I was doing on the exercise front.
Thank you to my partner for his love and support and to my beautiful kids for inspiring me to do this for myself. There’s no looking back now!