It is time for our next transformation story, and this month Cait is opening up about how she managed to find self love through a healthy lifestyle! Truly an inspiring story that shows us all how small changes in our lifestyle can have a huge impact on our overall wellbeing, health and happiness.
Tell us about yourself!
Hello! I am a School Counselor from Pennsylvania who fell in love with fitness in my late 20s. I am recently married to my husband Kyle and together we have two furbabies Mr. Milo and Gryffindor. We just bought a new home this summer too! I love to be outside and summertime. I also love to read, write, travel, and love meeting new people.
What made you rethink your lifestyle?
At some point in my early teens I became really down on myself and had a really bad negative self image. I looked into the mirror and picked myself apart constantly. As I got older and into college and gained weight and it only worsened. I knew I needed to rethink who I was and who I wanted to become because I was constantly unhappy with life and myself.
What changes did you make?
I made a complete lifestyle change. My amazing inspiration of a friend introduced me to Tone it Up, a fitness blog and community that represents empowering women and a balanced healthy lifestyle. It was the only thing after many attempts that gave me the tools to change my life around and become a healthy person. I started working out consistently for the first time in my life and changed the way I ate because of their nutrition plan and learned that living a healthy lifestyle could not only feel good but actually make me a happier person.
Have you tried diets before? What were the results?
I have tried diets and different exercise programs before but it was never something I stuck to. If involved any sort of restriction or counting calories it was a failure every time. It just wasn’t in my personality to be following guidelines 24/7. I also didn’t have the money to afford some of the other options out there and knew I couldn’t commit to something you had to pay for monthly.
Every new beginning is difficult - how did you stay motivated?
It was not easy at first. Change is so uncomfortable and when your changing an extreme amount of things in your life all at once, it can feel overwhelming. What pushed me through it most of the time was the amazing community of women Tone it Up has created. They support you, hold you accountable, and remind you to love yourself through the process even when you mess up. The team and Karena and Katrina the founders of TIU had my back every step of the way and helped me change my mindset about my body and myself for good.
How did you go about setting goals for yourself?
I had learned many times that if you set giant goals for yourself right off the bat, you end of discouraged or disappointed in yourself when you can't meet them or live up to your high expectations right away. So I decided to start small and work up. I knew if I did everything at once I would immediately doubt myself too quickly. I started running as it felt like the least overwhelming type of workout and started to change little things about my diet like cutting back on fried food and no longer drinking beer. It wasn’t like I ate this kind of thing every day so I knew that was a little thing I could change to help me move closer to my goals.
How long did it take you until this change became a lifestyle, a normal part of your everyday life?
After 6th months or so of doing just little things I saw changes in myself, but nothing I was hoping for so that was when I decided I had to go all in and see where it took me. I bought the TIU nutrition plan and started to do their weekly workout schedule during their big Bikini Series challenge and It was during that challenge that I really connected to the TIU community and living that lifestyle that I really saw amazing results. That was 2.5 years ago and I have been doing it ever since. Now some things took longer, it took me forever to get used to waking up in the morning for the bootycall. I am not a morning person, but my school job forced me have to wake up early so what was another half hour? The past year I started to meal prep my meals for work religiously every Sunday for the first time and have seen even more results by staying on track and taking time to prevent slip ups.
Did you have any setbacks, and how did you overcome them?
There is no way to make all these changes and NOT have setbacks. We are all human and we are creatures of habit. In the beginning there were days sometimes a week or two where I’d fall off track, but I knew it was the overall process that mattered. I always tried to remind myself that one week in a whole year was NOT going to ruin my goals. It was OK to slip up, have a cheat meal or miss a day of working out because it was about the JOURNEY and only helped remind me why living healthy was a better choice. I also have a bad back. There were times where I was in so much pain working out wasn’t an option, it was discouraging, but it was those times that I would come out of and keep going and I knew I had changed my life for good, because they didn’t make me give up.
What does your typical day look like in terms of nutrition choices and workouts?
I wake up for a morning workout roughly 3-4 times a week during the school year because it helps wake my body up and reminds me I can take anything life throws at me that day. It just helps your soul in the morning to start off that way. I also work out in the afternoon 6 days a week and always take one rest day a week. The afternoon workouts are usually my hard core ones, the mornings are just to get the blood flowing and are usually only about 20-30 mins. I eat 5 times a day and follow the TIU plan. I am on course with this usually 80% of the time and I am ok with that number. Again, I am not the type of person to be super regimented or restrictive even though it sounds that way from my schedule. I like to YOLO 20% of the time because life is too short to say no to things sometimes. But it is all about how you balance it. I like to plan my cheat meals out so I don’t fall off course randomly and I always make it an “event”. My husband and I will have a date night and I’ll plan to order pasta or steak or I’ll have a girls night out and have some margaritas and chips and guac, but then I bounce back the next day to make sure I am right back on track. It doesn’t have to be “I can’t” all the time, but it's all about balancing and remember your overall goals.
How do you stay healthy on the go or when you travel?
I really like to stay busy. I am social and happy around others and I LOVE to travel and see new places so this is just a part of my life and how I make it work. I continue to work out on vacation because it makes me feel good and I actually like the feeling of running new courses or trying new gyms at the hotels. I am one of those rare people that like change and my workouts are no different. When I am on the go at home nutrition is easy for me because I prep everything on Sunday and that’s what I eat throughout the week. I usually plan one night a week where I don’t plan my meal and we go out or I wing it in the kitchen. I love to cook so prepping is fun for me. I pour a glass of wine and play music and just make it a fun experience. When I travel I usually try to keep it lean clean green when I can but don’t try to worry about it too much because its vacation!
A lot of people are concerned that such a change will affect their social lifestyle. Did this change affect your social lifestyle?
It has in many ways. I used to get together with friends at bar and that was our go-to always. I thought I might end up getting slack from friends or even losing friends because of wanting to do healthy activities more often and people can be judgmental when you are eating healthy. But I was really surprised because I actually had a lot of friends JOIN ME! That was one of the coolest things because a lot of them were very supportive and saw my changes and said “I want that too” now I have a ton of real life friends as my TIU friends as well! Not only that but TIU opens up really amazing doors and now I meet girls who are TIU girls locally and we do workouts together etc. I also have connected with so many other women on line that I've MADE a ton of friends in the process. Changing my lifestyle has really only benefitted me socially and I am so grateful for it. The TIU community is like no other.
How has your life, health and overall wellbeing changed throughout this process?
Before this lifestyle changed happened, I was unable to love myself. It has changed me outwardly, but most importantly inwardly. I got me to believe in myself, have confidence, become more open socially. It made me braver to try things I wouldn’t that I actually LOVE now and showed me that I was capable of anything I put my mind to. I truly learned to love myself through this process and I am SO MUCH HAPPIER. That is more beneficial to me than anything else.
You are working full time, how do you manage such a lifestyle (workout and nutrition) while working full time?
It isn’t always easy, but when it becomes a routine you just make it happen. It ALWAYS makes me feel better, have more energy and when I can do it all I feel unstoppable. I am human, there are crazy days at work that I come home and say “no way! I’m exhausted” but I do lot of self talk that helps me stay on track. If you tell yourself it's just a half hour or you’ll be glad that you did. Like, literally say it out loud to yourself, it is hard to convince yourself not to. There are days it happens, but again, I jump back on track the next day and don’t hang on to the guilt. What doesn’t serve you in a positive way doesn’t help you as a person ever. So I try hard not to beat myself when I do choose to just put my feet up or eat pizza. I am happier that way.
Do you ever allow yourself unhealthy food? Do you feel guilty? How do you deal with it?
Absolutely. As I said before I can’t do the “I’ll never eat that again” motto. Balance balance balance. I think it’s so important to enjoy those times too. I make it a date night with my husband, or walk the dog to get ice cream (He has some too) and really savor the taste and the time spent with loved ones. It’s totally worth it and as long as you stay on track most of the time, these times aren’t going to set you back.
What can we always find in your fridge?
Edamame, almond milk, feta cheese and kale! Sauteed Kale is my go to easy dinner during the week and I literally put feta choose on everything! Not tiu approved but I love it!
What did you learn about you throughout this lifestyle change?
-That I am totally worth it, and capable of a lot more than I give myself credit. At one point I was planning my wedding, interning, working, going to school AND working out 6 days a week…if I can get through that…I can get through anything. I also learned that perspective makes ALL the difference and I could actually MAKE myself happy just by working hard on that piece of it. I also learned that loving myself could open so many doors and that it was worth it to work hard for.
What kind of advise can you give to anyone looking to change their lifestyle to a healthier one?
- Start small. Make your goals attainable because it is more important to feel good about yourself during the process than to meet big goals. My body has always been slow to change and grow and learn things so I know it can be hard at times when you’re not seeing things happen right away. BE PATIENT and Trust the process. It works.
- Work on your mind and what you’re telling yourself. Do your best to train your brain to start thinking positive thoughts instead of negative ones. If you are discouraging yourself…your life and the people around you will follow. Catch yourself being negative and correct it, even if you don’t believe it at first. My favorite motto is FAKE IT UNTIL YOU BECOME IT. The more you choose to live a more happy and healthy lifestyle and stay in the mindset, the more you WILL be that way.
- DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP. Learning to love yourself along the way is apart of it. It is OK when you fall off track. Just get back on. And don’t feel like you have to give up everything to make changes. Pick and choose the things that matter to you.