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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Alei's Incredible Journey To Losing 30+lbs

Hi everyone! For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Alei, and this is a little insight on my health and fitness journey and how I have come to lose 30+ pounds.

When I was young, I was never very active. I was born with chronic asthma and had battled it throughout my child hood. I could never really play typical sports with my condition, so the one sport I was able to fall in love with was golf, which I played through middle school and high school.

Growing up, I always had problems with my weight. I always just told myself “Oh, it’s okay its genetics”, or “As long as I’m happy that’s all that matters!” But the truth is, it was always a problem for me. I was never bullied or made fun of; in fact I enjoyed High School and made a lot of friends in the small town I grew up in. But it was hard for me to accept the reality of just being “bigger” than my friends.

When I went off to college, everything just went downhill. I started partying all the time and drinking heavy and in what seemed like overnight, the “freshman 15” turned into the “freshman 25”. After going to a University for 2 years, I decided to come back home where my parents live to finish my Bachelor’s degree.

At my heaviest, I was 210 pounds. (Yep, I still want to cry when I hear that number!) It wasn’t until I looked back at my college pictures, that I realized how heavy I had gotten, and how out of control my weight really was.

Naturally, to anyone who doesn’t work out, a gym can be a very intimidating place. I had a friend that was a member of a gym in town and she told me she would take me in to sign up for a membership, and I can honestly say that it was that day that changed my life.

I ended up getting a personal trainer who taught me a lot about the machines and a lot of “beginner” exercises for different muscle groups. After a year trying to figure out different fitness routines and dieting tricks, I had only lost about 10 pounds. So I knew I had to find something different. 

I had multiple friends who had been on fitness programs with, who is now my trainer and coach. I knew he was tough and that his plans worked but I didn’t really know the extent of what he did until I met with him. Finding out later that he is a competitive bodybuilding coach and competitor, I was shocked! I had never really thought about this type of industry nor knew anything about it. But I was excited to see what kind of results was going to come out of this type of training.

After being on his program for just a few weeks, I could see the pounds dropping and I was ecstatic! The best part was that I was able to meet and become friends so many different people who were also training with him. We are essentially on a “team” full of competitors and non-competitors. We all just connect through social media and share our stories and lives with each other and honestly, it is the biggest support system I have ever had.

It has now been almost 6 months since I joined the team, and I can’t say enough how much it has changed my life. I am 33 pounds down with the goal of losing 20 more. I have the best coach and best teammates supporting me on a daily basis.

So, to anybody intimidated to begin their weight loss journey, DON’T BE! It will be the most rewarding and humble experience you will ever go through. Surround yourself with people who have similar stories and who you know will support what you’re doing. Whether you want to compete, or just reach a simple weight goal, all I can say is stop thinking about it, and just get out there, get out of your comfort zone and do it! You won’t regret it!!

I hope you enjoyed my story, and thank you Ashley for allowing me to be a part of such an inspiring page! If you’d like to see more of my journey, or even share yours with me, you can follow me on Instagram at aoconnell91.


Monday, July 14, 2014

How I Lost 20 lbs & Gained a New Lifestyle

How I Lost 20 Pounds and Gained a New Lifestyle
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Katie and this is how I lost 20 pounds and went on to compete in my first fitness competition.

Up until college I had always been active and able to eat pretty much whatever I wanted. Once I got to college my whole lifestyle changed. I partied at least 3-4 times a week, started smoking cigarettes (ew, I know), only occasionally worked out (but kept eating what I wanted), and had a horrible diet that contained a lot of late night McDonald’s runs. I had a lot of fun in college but after gaining 12 pounds and having such poor health I realized I wasn’t happy anymore. This started my weight loss journey.
 I knew that I wanted to lose weight but I also wanted a new lifestyle that I could maintain and for that reason I didn’t take any weird diet pills, go super low carb, join Jenny Craig, whatever. I quit smoking because you can’t exercise when you can hardly breathe. Then I started to learn as much as I could about nutrition and I incorporated nutritious foods into my diet. I also minimized eating out because it’s easier to make cleaner food options at home and I cut out the binge drinking (obviously).  I started exercising at least 5-6 times a week (weight lifting and cardio mix). Last, I found new things that I enjoyed like clean baking and lifting weights. If you enjoy what you’re doing then the weight loss is all that much easier.
After losing 16 pounds on my own, I made the decision to compete in my first fitness competition as a bikini competitor. Through clean eating, heavy lifting, cardio, and lots of coaching from my Fitshop coach, Jenny, I lost 4 more pounds and stepped on stage. I wanted to compete to win but mostly I wanted to compete to show off what I had worked so hard for. Ask me a year earlier and I would have never been caught dead in a tiny red bikini ESPECIALLY on stage but the new me was happy, healthy, and proud in her own skin. I loved competing and being confident on stage and I found out that this was something I wanted to keep doing!
I’m not going to sugar coat it, losing weight and completely changing your lifestyle isn’t the easiest thing to do. But it can be done and it gets easier. Besides working out on my own I would sometimes see a trainer, Marisa. She would watch me get discouraged because I didn’t see the scale go down in a week and she always told me to keep going, never give up and never lose patience. Keep working and it will pay off! You might not see changes every day but if you give up then you won’t ever see those changes. It was also difficult for me to find balance with food. This was something that I struggled with up until very recently. I realized that you have to find balance and moderation. Eat healthy, work hard, but go enjoy ice cream with your friends once in awhile. Find that balance in your life to where you enjoy every minute of it. One ice cream cone won’t make you fat and it’s good for your mental health so go enjoy every bite. The next morning wake up, eat a healthy breakfast, and go get a good workout in. It really is all about balance and moderation because that leads you to a healthy LIFESTYLE, not just quick weight loss.
What kept me motivated throughout this journey was my drive to be better. If you’ve always wanted to be a bikini competitor then go do it! Only you can make those dreams come true through hard work and persistence. I’m lucky I had a lot of support but I also kept myself motivated by knowing what my goals were and how I wanted to achieve them. Very often I write my goals down so I can see them, I keep my trophy’s up from my first competition to remind me that I want to come back better next time, and I keep going, pushing myself to be my best self. Having visual goals helps to keep you motivated whether it’s to lose weight, step on stage, compete in a marathon, whatever it may be. You can do anything you set your mind to so keep going.
All of this is about finding YOUR happiness and being YOUR best self. Never forget why you started! I hope you enjoyed my featured blog! You can follow me on twitter and Instagram at katielynn_xo. Looking forward to chatting with you again soon!