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What an incredible business model for this program – Stephanie – you have the knowledge and the means to touch so many people and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you!
This challenge and my results have finally let me have peace with my body, I couldn’t be any happier!
This was truly the best twelve weeks of my life! I hope everyone is as lucky as I am to experience such positive life changing events!
“You’re so skinny.” “You’re so little.” “You should never be on a diet!” “I can’t believe you are eating healthy, you’re already a toothpick!” These are all comments that I heard from friends, family, and fellow workers when I would be watching my calorie intake. It took this challenge to get me to rethink my fitness journey. Instead of watching my calories, I began to eat natural foods, more meals, and follow the regular workout routine for each week. Now, my friends and family say, “Wow, you’re arms are so much stronger-looking!” “Your calves are awesome! I’ve never seen them like that!” “OMG you actually have a butt!” The last comment was the best yet 😉
Throughout this journey, I knew that it would be difficult for me to stick to a workout routine, but since it was all planned out, I found it to be pretty easy. Sure, there were days that I did not feel like doing a thing, but once I got myself started, I found my energy levels to rise substantially. I have always been one to complain about being tired. I never knew why I was feeling so sluggish. I have learned through this challenge that my energy level was low because of my diet (processed foods most specifically). After changing to a clean diet, my energy levels have risen and continue to rise. This, to me, is one of the best effects from this program.
I joined this challenge with my over-stressed, over-tired mother and, together, we have completed the first and are happy to be moving on together to the next challenge. I am so proud of my mother – working 6 days a week managing a deli, taking care of her 85 year-old live-in grandmother, and still finding the time to lend an ear to all of her friends/family that need her—she has continued to work hard to achieve her goals in this challenge. She has been my push and my role model on this fitness journey.
This was a typical day for me before I joined the SKFitLife:
- 8 – 10am gym time consisting of 2 cardio classes (Body step, Body combat or attack)
- 1 fiber 1 bar and water
- 2 pm – 1 44 oz. diet coke
- 4 pm when my children come home from school – many Cheese-its
- 6 pm dinner including many helpings of chicken and potatoes and a little vegetable
- 7 pm to 11 pm as many snacks as I could find, After all, I didn’t eat much all day!
This was a normal day for me, I thought I was healthy and couldn’t understand why I was overweight. I have been working out since I can remember and have always struggled with my weight. I just kept increasing the amount of time that I spent doing cardio thinking that would be the key to my weight loss.
In November when I started the challenge I did it reluctantly. I had a friend who had much success in an earlier challenge and two other friends from my gym who wanted to participate. So I was talked into it. I knew it would not work for me. I had tried everything before. How could I lose weight and cut out most of my cardio? It just did not make sense to me.
I struggled giving up my cardio addiction. My friends and instructors would watch in horror and disbelief as I passed by the main studio where we have group classes. I would close my eyes and keep saying “just keep walking, just keep walking” in my head. I would meet my 2 fellow challengers in the back of the gym to do our strength or hiit for that day. I have finally learned to enjoy these challenging workouts.
But the harder addiction to break was my fountain diet coke addiction. The physical and mental symptoms I suffered were painful. But I stopped cold turkey. Eating clean 6 times a day was all new to me. Most of my diet consisted of processed foods. I had to learn what real food tastes like. I have started to enjoy that as well.
Now my diet consists of Ezekiel toast, natural nut butters, protein shakes, too many vegetables to mention, chicken, fish, oatmeal and fruits.
The changes in my body have been huge. 20 pounds lost and over 16 inches. I am thrilled with that but even happier that my family has benefited from these changes as well. I am so happy that my children are enjoying real clean food at a young age. I hope these habits I am teaching them will last their lifetime. I feel better than I have in years. I am 47 years old but feel much younger. I want to thank you for teaching this old stubborn dog new tricks!
I have learned a lot about myself these past weeks…
I have learned that I can do anything I put my mind to – especially exercises I never thought I would do…especially lift weights…and enjoy it!
I have learned (confirmed in this case) that I love routine! I have learned that relationships are what make the world go round. And I have learned that the scale doesn’t have to determine how I feel – both physically and emotionally.
This was my second challenge and I approached this one completely differently – I thought the workouts alone would be enough for me to lose weight during the last challenge but I was wrong.
For this challenge I tracked my food intake…learned what my weaknesses were (and are) and worked to overcome them. I tracked non-scale victories rather than watched the scale and there were many… mainly that I can now wear many of the clothes in my closet that simply didn’t fit! Success!!!!!
I didn’t see this as a 12-week program and then I’m done – this is a lifestyle…a community. I am continuing on to the SKFitGurls so I can continue to grow and I am looking forward to see what Stephanie throws my way. What an incredible business model for this program – Stephanie – you have the knowledge and the means to touch so many people and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you!
Let me start by saying that I am a bit of an extremist. I was the girl who would work out six days a week and eat a minimal amount in pursuit of my “ideal“ weight, but was never satisfied. Then there was the other side of me who would barely exercise and eat a lot of unhealthy food. This cycle repeated itself over and over again.
My bad habits really began back in 2010. In August 2010, I had a beautiful baby girl but my pregnancy took a huge toll on my body. Not only had I gained 42 lbs., but I also had to have a cesarean section which I thought was permanent damage to my abs and stomach.
I barely worked out during my pregnancy and with an infant and working full time as a teacher, I never felt as if I had time to fit it in and didn’t know how to juggle it all. I exercised here and there but was never really consistent. After having my daughter, I lost most of the baby weight but gained about 10 lbs. back due to unhealthy eating and minimal exercise.
Fast forward 16 months and I got pregnant again with my second child. In August 2012, I had my precious baby boy. During this pregnancy, I only gained 30 lbs. I lost the baby weight pretty quickly again but was still about 15 lbs. from my ideal weight and was feeling very unhealthy. That’s where the SKFitLife challenge came in.
I was contemplating doing the challenge since Stephanie first introduced it but was afraid that I wouldn’t be successful (and maybe wasn’t really ready to change my unhealthy ways). Three months after my baby boy was born, I decided I was ready to do it. I needed a push to get started, be healthier and loss weight. I needed to change my bad habits and I knew I needed support and guidance in order to be successful.
After the initial feeling of being anxious and overwhelmed, I was extremely motivated. For me, it was about feeling better and doing something positive for myself. This challenge gave me many tools to change my unhealthy habits. Most importantly, it has helped me to find balance in my life. It has taught me how to eat clean and incorporate reasonable exercise back into my life. It has given me guidance and support from other women who were fighting the same battles I was fighting.
Everything about this program has not only made me feel good on the outside but also on the inside. My mindset of being skinny has completely changed. I now strive to be healthy and comfortable in my own skin.
Now that the challenge has ended, I know that I have the drive to be successful in my journey of health and fitness. I have been given amazing tools and have achieved goals that I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish without the support of this challenge. I look forward to continuing what I have started, to making this a lifestyle change, and to keeping a healthy balance in my life for not only myself, but for my husband and my children. I am a better me because of the SKFitlife challenge and cannot thank Stephanie and the other challengers enough for all that they have done to help me throughout this journey. Here’s to a life filled with health and happiness. I look forward to what the next chapter will bring.
This is just the beginning of my transformation story! I plan on continuing this amazing journey of life changing habits. I wish I would have discovered how good I could feel, by eating right and exercising, years ago!!
I never wanted to exercise (even though my brother owned 4 health clubs and my older sister was a fitness nut!). It was my younger sister & myself who were the smokers. I finally quit 4 years ago and never looked back. Unfortunately, quiting smoking combined with menapause, and lack of exercise, caused me to gain more that a few pounds. I did not feel very good about myself.
My job as a deli manager is very stressful. It was always a demanding job, but I was always up for a challenge. My stress level increased dramatically last year, when my 85 year old mother, who was living in Florida, fell and needed surgery. She had been failing slightly for the last year or so. It got to the point where we did not feel that she should be living by herself. It was time to bring her home. She has been living with me & my husband since June. It is not an easy situation. On a good note, even though it is stressful, my daughter Lauren will be getting married in Key West, this June. This brings me to the start of my transformation!
My idea of course, was to loose a few pounds, by joining Lauren in the SKFitLife challenge. I wanted to look good for the wedding.
What I didn’t realize is that by having a routine and a plan to look forward to everyday, I would cut my stress level down considerably. It has helped me deal with my mom and all that comes with being a caregiver, while working full time. I look forward to my workouts and having that time for me….I deserve it!! I really would like to thank you, Stephanie, for helping me to maintain a positive outlook. You should be very proud of yourself. I have seen how you have helped people in small ways and some big ways. I am excited to see what I can do with the SKFit Gurls Challenge!!
I have cellulite and stretch marks on my thighs and belly. Those body parts look especially fabulous in a bathing suit.
I have fat upper arms, like my Italian great-grandmother. I have fat knees and tree trunk legs. Shorts run away from me, screaming. I have back fat. Bras and today’s form fitting shirt styles help to accentuate this awesome trait. I am not a good runner. I look like Velma from the Scooby Doo Cartoons when I run sprints on the treadmill. That girl looks like a gazelle when she runs…Velma versus Gazelle…you can guess who will win that race.
I turned 40 recently…that age does wonders for my metabolism. How come that girl can lift so much more weight than I can? Why do I suck at this? That girl has arms that are muscular and perfect…I want to hit her with my big fat great-grandmother arms. I can’t believe I just ate those M&M’s…why did I eat those M&M’s?? I deserve to be overweight, because I do stupid things like eat M&M’s. That girl can eat McDonald’s and Twinkies every day and still resemble a super model. I look at a French Fries and gain 7 pounds.
These are examples of the interior monologues that would race through my mind as I moved through the days of my life. Well, they WERE examples of my interior monologue before doing the SKFitLife Challenge. I have always worked hard to stay fit and eat healthfully, but I have always struggled with my weight, regardless of these efforts. And, as is apparent by the examples above, I have always struggled with self esteem issues, as well. As everyone knows, issues about weight are just as much a mental/emotional thing as they are physical/biological one.
Two of my biggest enemies (besides my own psyche) in the weight loss struggle tend to be the media and (perhaps shockingly) the mainstream medical community. Obviously, we all are inundated daily with images and impressions of how woman are supposed to appear physically, despite the fact that that image is often an airbrushed, photo shopped one that doesn’t really exist in reality. Or, as Stephanie has pointed out, no one walks around looking like they do for a photo shoot, a competition, or a movie roll EVERY day of their life…it’s just not realistic, yet, many of us strive to make that unrealistic goal our Holy Grail.
Besides the media helping to sabotage my psyche, I often feel like quite a failure when visiting my doctor. When I would complain about feeling fatigued, having sleep problems, being unable to lose weight, despite eating what I assumed was a healthy diet and doing countless hours of exercise each week, I got responses like, “well you’re a woman turning 40, get used to being tired and unable to lose weight,” or, “well, you clearly are not exercising and eating right.” Oh, and my all time favorite…”Well, I see you’ve succeeded in losing some weight…now you are in the ‘overweight’ category on the BMI chart…at least you are not in the ‘obese’ category anymore.” How uplifting. These are not responses that a person asking for help wants to hear.
I watched as a good friend of mine completed the SKFitLife Challenge with some great results…such great results, in fact, that she WON the challenge. What impressed me more than how she transformed her body was how she transformed her mindset about food, eating, and exercise. (Although, the way she transformed her body was quite impressive!) I decided that this Challenge was exactly the motivation that I needed to change my mindset about food, eating, and exercise, as well.
I didn’t quite realize until I sat down to write this, how much my mindset about SO MANY OTHER THINGS has changed, just because my diet and exercise mindset has changed! My cognition has changed, my perceptions have changed, my emotional reactions have changed, and my motivation has changed. This is quite a good thing, because….HELLO?!?! Did you read those interior monologues?? All of those areas needed some adjusting.
Another huge realization is the fact that this whole “living healthy” thing is a constant work in progress…just because this 12 week challenge has ended, this entire lifestyle hasn’t ended…this is just an opportunity to pause for a second and look back at my progress. For once, I am not relieved that this diet/exercise program is finished. I don’t want to stop this challenge and go back to old habits…I want to continue to live with these new habits. In fact, I wouldn’t know how to exchange these new and improved habits for my old ones, even if I wanted to.
Why would I want to change these things?
- I love how I constantly feel challenged in my workouts, and how my muscles never quite know what is going to be expected of them next.
- I love how I feel like I did a really challenging workout, but it only took 15 minutes to complete.
- I love the fact that I feel comfortable in my clothes, and am not stressing as much about bulges appearing where there shouldn’t be any. (Back fat, muffin top, etc.)
- I love the fact that I can eat a delicious, yet healthy combination of foods and actually feel sated, and not be craving junk food an hour later.
- I love the fact that I have very little desire to drink a diet soda ever again.
- I love the fact that if I eat that handful of M&M’s, I will not need weeks of therapy in order to get back on track with my healthy eating…I will declare it as my “cheat for the week” and move on.
- I love the fact that I now consider raspberries to be a tastier treat than any type of sugar based candy ever invented. I love the fact that my kids agree with that statement.
- I love the fact that my husband told me he was proud of my tenacity and refusal to stop doing this challenge, even when things got hectic and overwhelming in our lives.
- I love the fact that my husband lost 13 pounds during the time that he “watched me” do the challenge.
- Even more, I love the fact that I am not jealous of him, because I didn’t lose 13 pounds while doing the challenge.
- I love the fact that my kids cheered as their mom cranked out over 25 pushups on her toes in 30 seconds, 15 8-count body builders in a minute, and 70+ mountain climbers in a minute.
- I love the fact that, along with cellulite and stretch marks, I also have 2 surgical scars on my back, and despite those scars, (which are the reminder that I have a titanium cage and screws in my spine, instead of an L4-L5 disc), I was able to complete that advanced qualifier.
- I love the fact that I can go on Facebook at any time of day or night, and find some uplifting, motivating statement from someone in our Challenge group that will make me realize that I am not alone. I love that I have friends out there who I have never even met in person, but are more supportive of me than some of my “friends” who I see on a daily basis.
- I love the fact that I figured out how to cook Tilapia, and that the whole family fights over who gets the biggest piece.
- I love the fact that now, when I start to think negatively about my “fat Italian great-grandmother arms,” I can stop the thought, dead in its tracks…How? Well, this is when the magic of Non-Scale Victories comes in…a few weeks ago, I was at a party, and was wearing a fancy tank top…(not the typical wardrobe selection of a fat upper arm paranoid person, which, I guess is an NSV in and of itself)…ANYWAY, I was talking with a gentleman who said “How do you get pipes like that? What kind of workouts do you do?” while pointing to none other than my “fat Italian great-grandmother arms.”
- I love the fact that when I see a woman with a “great set of pipes,” I don’t have the urge to pummel her, rather, I have the urge to ask her about her workout routine, to see if she has any tips that could enrich my workout routine.
- I love the fact that the girl who can lift more weight than I can asked ME to help HER with her jump roping, because I “look like a professional boxer when I jump rope.” Imagine that…someone thinking that I do something well…I never thought of that possibility.
- I love the fact that I ran hill sprints with my friends and didn’t once picture Velma from Scooby Doo. I just worked hard and had fun…with my friends…even the one who runs like a gazelle.
- I love the ways that I have changed, even if the scale numbers haven’t changed very much…because, I realize now that it is much healthier to have a strong, muscular body that is nourished by real food, and healthy, challenging exercise, rather than a weak, nutrition deprived body that is fueled by negativity, frustration and a desire to look like all the emaciated women in the shiny magazines.
- I love how I can deal more effectively with upsetting situations that used to make me feel worse about myself. For example, the next time I go to the doctor, and (s)he starts to give me the “healthy diet and exercise speech,” (because the BMI chart will STILL put me in the overweight range), I will calmly suggest that the doctor and I have a push-up/8-count-body-builder/mountain climber competition…I wonder who would win?
I love the fact that these are my interior monologues nowadays…it’s a much happier way to go through life.
Thank you, Stephanie Keenan, for making this happiness a reality in my life!
WHERE ARE THEY NOW???
Megan started the SKFitLife Challenge almost exactly one year ago. She recently checked in with me to share some stats and I think you will find them to be extremely interesting…
August 2012 Body Fat: 43.5 Pounds
June 2013 Body Fat: 27.3 Pounds
OVERALL CHANGE IN WEIGHT: 7.2 Pounds
We cover the importance of aiming for “Non-Scale Victories” during the SKFitLife Challenge. The number on the scale doesn’t define you nor does it define your progress.
Read Megan’s Full Story Here:
For the past year, I felt like I was really spinning my wheels in all things health related. I still had about 10-15 pounds to get to my goal weight. I had always loved to exercise and thought I ate pretty healthy. But, the gym I had gone to for 8 years had a new owner and was changing its focus. Many of the group fitness instructors had left and I had just lost the passion for it.
Where diet was concerned, it was a huge cycle. I would buckle down Sunday night though Friday morning, and then end up in the same place when the next Sunday night rolled around. I counted points, counted calories, and then throw in the towel and say, “I just want to eat this and be happy!” I would beat myself up after making bad food choices. Add this to the stress of starting my own business where I mainly worked out of a home office with a 4 and 7 year old right in the next room, and it was all becoming too much to handle once it was all added to my regular life of being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.
Then I saw my friend Iris’ before and after pictures. She was a real person, not a TV ad! And she looked great. A few text messages and e-mails later, and I was ready to sign up. Of course, this was about 36 hours before the challenge started, so things got worse before they got better. Once I registered, I printed out everything and started freaking out. “I wasted our money! I can’t do this!” I cried to my husband. He urged me to stay the course and give it a shot.
The exercise was a welcome change and a total paradigm shift for me. I was a cardio addict and would spend 6-8 hours a week taking group cardio fitness classes. I had injuries, but I kept going because I felt working out like that was allowing me to eat the way I was and still remain in my jeans. But Stephanie’s workouts were totally different. I decided to dive in and embrace the change. I loved the challenge of trying to beat my time or reps in a previous round. I thought it would be hard to push myself without my friends from the gym around me, but it turns out that I am a powerful motivator for MYSELF!
I took on a challenge issued by a group member and went to a hot yoga class and loved it! If someone would have told me 12 weeks ago that I would dread a 60 minute step class and look forward to yoga, I would have told them they were crazy. But I honestly don’t see the need to be a slave to a gym schedule anymore. The freedom these workouts allowed me was just what I needed to gain some valuable perspective.
The clean eating was a bigger challenge. I was not a soda drinker and I didn’t eat foods that I just had to microwave for 3 minutes until they became a meal. But I had a MAJOR sugar problem. I could eat an entire tub of cookie dough before the oven could even preheat.
Anytime I allowed myself to have “just one treat,” it ended up being “just one entire tray of that treat.” I was also not big on leftovers, so prepping meals and reheating them did not appeal to me. However, I vowed this was the last straw and I was going to give it everything I had.
I was going to make a lifestyle change and LIVE it!
I learned how to make meatballs, roast Brussels sprouts, and cook chicken for a salad topping to last me for days. I even warmed up tilapia for lunch that was left over from dinner and liked it. This also saved me a lot of time.
Once I took responsibility for this diet change and did it, the eating just fell into place.
I had a plan and I had food ready for when I was hungry. Foods that I used to think were gross had wonderful flavor and the junk foods I was eating suddenly tasted like chemicals. My energy was higher, my attitude was better, and I had more time to do the things I wanted to be doing (which was not inputting calories into an app!). I started thinking of food as FUEL for the hard work I was doing in the workouts and throughout the day. It was no longer my nemesis!
I didn’t think I would like the Facebook group portion of the challenge. I am not a big touchy-feely person, but I quickly learned the Facebook group was a huge portion of my success. Instead of competing with these women, and I was getting to know them and celebrating their victories.
When I didn’t want to work out in the morning, I would roll over and look at my phone and see the people who had already worked out at 4:30 AM before their children got up. The people who pushed through when their husbands were deployed were inspiring to me. I found myself saying, “My friend ____ in the challenge…” to my husband as if I had hung out with these women for years! The recipes, motivation and support from the group were fantastic.
Along with the shift in thinking about exercise came a shift in thinking about weight. Around week 4 or 5, I really did stop “chasing skinny.” I would forget to weigh myself Tuesday morning, as I had done for years. I didn’t need to! Things were fitting! I felt great! I knew I was getting results, even if I didn’t lose a pound. Once week 8 hit, I knew I was getting there. Other people started to notice the change and it felt great.
My kids wouldn’t say that I was on a diet; they would say I was “making healthy food choices” and I would encourage them to do the same.
I want them to know that a positive self-image is important and that they are beautiful by being healthy, not skinny. I now look at the food I am going to eat and know I can eat it AND be happy.
Stephanie’s passion for life and life’s experiences is contagious. Along with the group, she really makes you feel like you can take on the world. She, along with the rest of the group, were so supportive and non-judgmental, and that was something I also started to bring into my life outside of the challenge more. I took the time to really understand why people around me said and did the things they did, instead of making snap judgments. I was happy for them instead of brooding about why that wasn’t happening for me. This program was more of a journey in becoming a better me than a skinnier me. Life is so much easier this way!
It was not what I signed up for, but what an added bonus!
Thank you Stephanie, everyone at SKFitLife, and especially my sisters at in the SK Challenge 0312 group! We rocked it!!!!
I smoked for 15 years and after I quit, I gained weight and realized it’s a lot harder to lose then when I was younger. I have exercised induced asthma especially in humidity and it scares the hell out of me. I want to help my body heal.
With this challenge I was hoping through exercise and clean eating to improve my attitude, appearance, and overall wellness. This IS absolutely what I got out of the last 12 weeks. I made a choice to become healthier and hopefully lower my chances of heart disease from all the crap I had been eating for 34 years.
SKFitLife helped me with this choice. I was super excited and glad the challenge focused on support and positivity. Clean eating was a completely new concept for me…I thought I could out train a bad diet. In April I started going to the gym 4x a week but still ate whatever I wanted. I lost a few inches and 2 lbs…in 3 months. There wasn’t much difference in my body. I was not reaching my goals. I was busting my butt at the gym and not getting the results I wanted. I started to think my body would not change and that I couldn’t do anything about it.
My good friend joined the SKFitLife challenge and asked me to join too. I refused because I wasn’t ready for that commitment level. I watched her change both mentally and physically and said to myself…if she can, I can.
She inspired me and I signed up. I was overwhelmed at first because there was so much information. I took it in a little at a time and gave myself the time to understand everything.
I love the support group of like minded women cheering each other on the good days and picking each other up on the tough days. I think the accountability pictures were really motivating and loved seeing every ones different recipes and clean eating ideas.
I started feeling better after about 2 weeks of clean eating. I was energized and more awake. I noticed I was getting stronger around 4 weeks. At week 6 I started having issues with food. I started falling into bad habits again. The group really helped me motivate myself to stay clean by posting food accountability posts and pictures. By week 8 I looked at my pictures and was AMAZED!
I was starting to not only feel the results but SEE the results too! My skin looked better, my waist had slimmed and I had lost 6 lbs. Clothes fit better and I went from a size 14 to a 12. The last 4 weeks I have had some health injuries with my back and illness. I was not able to complete all the workouts. I modified them to prevent further injury, and continued the clean eating.
Week 12 came fast, and I am down to a size 10. That’s 2 whole sizes in 12 weeks.
Total weight loss 7lbs. I also have abs!!!! After 2 kids, I didn’t think that was even possible. I have learned to believe anything is possible.
I am able to run further distances without my inhaler and feel stronger than ever. I know I am in charge of my body and my results and that if I give my body the fuel it needs to improve than it will. The SKFitLife challenge is like having a personal trainer all the time. It helped me stay motivated and mostly on track. It taught me to forgive myself if I binge and pick myself back up then learn from it. Don’t dwell on the past… Just because I ate an Oreo doesn’t mean “the day is shot…so I should…have 6 more…and restart tomorrow.”
I ask myself “What caused me to eat the junk…stress? Is it a lack of water? Is it un-timed eating? I gained the skills I need to improve my overall well being, improve my health and achieve an overall better body both on the outside and inside.
My next goal is to get better with the clean eating. I am about 70 percent clean in my eating these days. This was a huge hurdle for me since I now realize I was eating the worst possible things, all the time. My plan is to enjoy a snack here and there and move on. I am going to continue my workouts because I feel better when I combine them with the clean eating.
My biggest take away from this is the knowledge that I CAN CHANGE MY BODY! IT’S UP TO ME! I used to think nothing was going to work for me… so I’d give up and just continue with my bad habits…now I can see my progress through pictures and the support around the whole program is amazing. I’ve had a GREAT time and met GREAT people. I will continue with the principles and continue to improve my overall health and well being.
The past 12 weeks have been such an amazing learning experience to say the least! I’ve met many motivating people, learned proper eating, completed exercises I never thought I could do and last but not least learned so much about myself!
I came into this experience just hoping to lose a few pounds, but walked away with so much more!
I have also been a competitive athlete. I ate what I wanted and really didn’t think twice about it. I started traveling the country at the age of 10 playing softball. I learned discipline and dedication at a very early age.
Weight and confidence was never really an issue. I practiced hard to win big and if I didn’t win, I practiced harder to be better. During my senior year, I tore my ACL in the first round of the state playoffs. I was devastated; I never encountered something that I couldn’t just work through. I wasn’t going to let this be an exception to the rule. I was fitted with a brace 48 hours later and continued to play. And yes we did win the state championship! But my surgery was scheduled for the summer leading up to my freshman year of college.
After I had my ACL surgery my recovery wasn’t so easy. It was almost like I had to learn to walk all over again. I had trouble bending my knee and the recovery took time. During this time I had a hard time accepting that I needed help to do things, that I couldn’t do it all myself, that I couldn’t just “fix it”. Once I recovered I worked out but never went back to playing the sport I was known for. At the time I felt free….softball had consumed my life for so long, but looking back I was lost. I never really did anything else and trying to find the new me was harder than I thought. People would always ask, “Do you miss playing?” and I would always say no. I didn’t want them to know how I really felt.
In October 2004, I married my High School sweet heart! It was the best time of my life. In September of 2006 I became pregnant with our first child! We were both so excited! And although I knew being pregnant meant gaining weight was going to happen, I wasn’t prepared for how much weight I would gain. I gained 50lbs!! I never had weight issues before and I had a very difficult time accepting this. Once again I was always used to just working hard to get what I wanted but this wasn’t something that I could just fix. Although I was extremely happy to become a mom and I would make jokes to everyone else about how much weight I had gained, inside I was beyond mortified.
When May 22, 2007 came and my beautiful, perfect little girl was born all that concern about weight was gone….for a little while anyway. The weight kind of just went away, I didn’t really work out I guess I just got “lucky”. And when I finally thought about working out to tone up I was pregnant again. This time I gained 40lbs!
On March 2009 my second daughter was born. And I realized my body was just “different”. I hated hearing people tell me “well it happens when you have kids.” I loved my new family but I wanted to feel like me again and I didn’t. I wanted to work out and do something for me, but I always felt guilt ridden.
I had to take care of the kids, take care of the house, cook dinner, etc. By the time I got those things done I was just exhausted. As time passed I went back to work which only placed another thing I had to do and less time for me to fit in “me” time. If I went for a run I would make it as quick as possible because now I felt guilty leaving my kids since I worked all day. I just couldn’t find a way to make me as important as everyone else was in my life. And because of this I just wasn’t happy with myself.
Who was I looking at when I woke up and got ready every morning??? I was a wife, a mom, a sister, a daughter, a teacher…..but I still wasn’t satisfied. I strove to be the best mom, wife, teacher but I always forgot about myself. I needed something that motivated me, something that brought out that competitive instinct I always had! I knew I needed “me” time but I had to get over the guilt of allowing myself to have it!
My husband’s cousin completed this challenge and while she was doing it she talked to me about it, telling me how good it was and life changing. I thought about it over and over again and finally said, “If I don’t do it now I never will” so I joined.
I really didn’t know what I was getting into. I mean I knew I had to eat better. And I figured I’d learn some new exercises. But what I actually got out of this challenge was amazing! I found myself again! I found my inner happiness.
I realized that being happy with yourself only makes you a better person, a better mom, wife, sister daughter and yes, teacher! I found that competitive instinct I always wanted back. Not to be better than others but to be the best that I can be. I’ve realized getting “me” time might not be easy but I can fit it in. I get up every day at 4:30 in the morning and do my workouts before work and I love it! I start my day off better than I ever had before.
I started this challenge constantly watching the scale and wanting immediate results. I realized its not the number that matters its how you feel. And once I realized that the number on the scale seems to go down too! I eat better, I workout consistently, and I’m happy! My kids know I work out all the time so they even ask if I got my workout in for the day. I know now that it doesn’t really take hours at the gym to make you feel great, but maybe only 30 minutes a day and good eating decisions!
I’ve learned that I am important and I deserve “me” time because I’m worth it! This journey has been amazing and I am so appreciative for all those that I have met throughout the process. It has truly changed my life!
Thanks SKFIT Challenge!!
I am 27 years old, married, with two children. Joining the Stephanie Keenan FitLife Challenge was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Usually everything I do is for my family and friends, so it was nice to be able to do this for me. Growing up I had a wonderful childhood. My parents were fantastic to the three of us. I have a younger brother and a younger sister. I was always involved in sports and was always very thin and in shape. I couldn’t have asked for a better upbringing.
When you turn 21 you think it’s going to be the greatest year of your life, finally able to go out and drink and party. And that’s how my year started. My mom and dad threw me a huge 21st birthday party, then I and a bunch of friends flew to Vegas. My birthday is in January, the next few months were a lot of fun, until April hit. April 2006 had to be the worst month of my life. On April 14th my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The doctors told us there was pretty much no hope, at the best she’d live a year. Our whole lives were flipped upside down. I was just going into my senior year of college, my brother a senior in high school, and my sister was only in 7th grade.
The next couple of months seemed like a bad dream. I quit my job, so I could help take my mom to Fox Chase everyday for treatments. My dad was under a lot of stress and my mom was quickly weakening every day. On November 14th, my mother told us she had no fight left in her. We called in a hospice to help. My mother passed before the hospice even got things set up in our house. Losing my mother at such a young age has been very hard, but I always tried to stay strong for my younger brother and sister.
My high school sweetheart proposed to me a few months after my mother’s passing. We planned a May wedding, but planning a wedding without your mother is not much fun. I wish she could have been there for so many important things in my life, like my college graduation, my wedding, and the birth of my children.
After we got married things started to go back to normal. I was able to start a new life with my husband, who I’ve been with for 12 years now. Two years after being married we found out I was pregnant, we were so excited. Unfortunately, I had a miscarriage at 10 weeks and had to have an emergency D & C. It was the worst pain I’d ever been in and was so embarrassed to tell anyone about it. I am so lucky though to have such a supportive family. Within the same year I got pregnant again and found out we were having a little boy. He gave us quite a scare 2 weeks before he was due. He stopped breathing and moving so I had to have an emergency C-section. He was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Exactly two years later we were blessed with our little girl. Another C-section, but well worth it. I got very lucky with both my pregnancies. I only gained 23 lbs the first time and 17 lbs the second time. But having the second baby is what brought me to the FitLife Challenge.
When she was only two months old I just felt disgusted with myself. I had already lost all my weight from my pregnancy, but I was at my heaviest weight ever. That’s when I decided if I wanted to look and feel better I needed to do something about it. And it had to be for me, not to please anyone else. So of course I kept going back and forth between whether I should sign up or not. And at the last minute I submitted my form. Thank goodness I did!
I haven’t felt this great in my body since high school. I was able to lose 21 pounds and 5 1/4 inches off my waist during this challenge. Everyone kept telling me that I just had a baby and didn’t need to lose weight, I’m glad I followed my intuition and did it.
I am much happier as a person, now that I am happy with myself. I can’t wait to continue my life being clean and fit! Thank you Stephanie Keenan for all of your help and encouragement throughout these last 12 weeks. I know on my own I would have never made it.
Never did I think that a conversation that took place in a small hallway at my son’s preschool would completely change the direction of my life. I had heard one of the moms talking to another mom about joining a fitness challenge. A fitness challenge was definitely not for me.
The mom began posting adds about the challenge on her wall. I checked out the website and still had my doubts that this was for me. I knew I needed something, after all it was January and everyone starts a new diet in January. I hesitantly hit the PayPal button and I was a member.
Little did I know that this was a challenge against myself that would change mine and my family’s life forever.
We all have huge milestones that we look back on that changed the course of our life, wedding day, The birth of child. For me Jan. 30, 2012 the day of my first SkFit challenge would change the path of my life in so many ways.
My weight issues started as a child. I grew up in a loving home, but two parents that had a dysfunctional relationship. At a young age I learned to grow up very fast. I believe this led to me using food as comfort and led me to eat during times of stress. Having two parents who had bad eating habits didn’t help either.
I was always a very confident child so I think my mom thought I was comfortable in my skin. When in reality my weight held me back from a lot in fear of being teased. I began avoiding those situation as much as possible. In elementary school I began having anxiety about gym class and the time of the year you would be weighed. I would have my mom write notes so that I could be weighed privately, so I would not be subjected to being teased about my weight. In third grade my weight was beginning to cause issues. This set a path for the next 25 years.
Over the next 25 years I would go up and down, up and down. In 1999 I was asked out on a date by the most amazing man. By 2001 he would be my husband and best friend. We were happy in love, going out to eat, enjoying our time with food. During that time my father would disappear for days at a time, and other things were occurring that embarrassed me and angered me. We suspected he was leading a double life, but stayed in denial. In that two years I put on 40-50 pounds. This led me to be 100 pounds overweight.
Shortly after my wedding in Sept of 2001, I was dealt a major blow. My dad had been leading a double life. In the next coming years I had to deal with a roller coaster of emotions from my own, to my husbands, to my mothers, to my brothers. My mom had to sell the house and moved in with us.
Helping my mom go through the divorce process was very stressful and again I used food as comfort. I would add another 90 pounds to the 100 pounds overweight that I already was.
Over the next few years I lost 70 pounds, had my kids and put 40 pounds of the 70 I lost back on, which put me at 160 pounds overweight when I began my first SkFit challenge on January 30, 2012.
I started my first challenge excited, loving the concept of clean eating. Little by little I began to transform. During my second challenge I walked out of my toxic retail job. It was taking a toll on me physically and mentally. With the support of my SkFit sisters and my husband I began a journey into molding myself into a career that made me happy, but what exactly was that??
During the second challenge I got the courage to share my super support picture. The swarming amount of support was overwhelming, but in a good way. After the posting of that support pic, I began helping friends and family change habits to lead a healthier life. They began cutting out processed foods, some of them even began increasing their exercise levels. They were actually listening, it gave me so much joy to help others regain their health. That was it, that is what I wanted to do. It’s what I had a passion for. In Sept I enrolled in at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. My goal is to love what I do so it doesn’t feel like work. This is one of the greatest things Stephanie Keenan has taught me. My goal is to now have my own business as a certified health and wellness coach by helping families reach their health goals.
This challenge has transformed me not only on the outside but also on the inside. It has taught me to live life to the fullest, dream big, and set goals that are bigger and better. I have also became truly in tune with my body and my eating behaviors. I don’t regret anything about the last thirty-five years, it has made me who I am today. Time is ticking, so for me there is no turning back. My health, my family’s health, and the people that I will help in the future is too important.
Over the course of the last 3 challenges I have lost 60 pounds. Thirty of that sixty has been during the last challenge. It’s amazing how far I have come since January. With every challenge I become stronger. I thank God everyday for overhearing that conversation in my sons preschool, for Stephanie, for my SkFit sisters, and for giving me strength and determination to lead a happier healthy life.
Where to begin….. My transformation is so much longer than this past 12 weeks. BUT, it is, in this last 12 weeks that I have gained the most benefit and understanding. This experience has propelled me forward towards my lifetime of fitness started so long ago, which was lost somewhere along the way.
It’s not the usual story of, I’m a mom, I have kids, my life took a backseat etc. etc. It all starts with the 21 year old depicted below in the photo on the left. She was full of energy, coaching soccer, playing recreational sports, personal training, out and about and active. Little did she know that in 2-3 years she would meet someone that would rock the foundation of everything she knew and her life would take a major detour. As a result, fitness and athletics would all unknowingly take a backseat. Sure there were the occasional couple of months spent at the gym and then life would happen and it would drop off. This went on for just under 20 years. Excuses are the nails that build a house of failure, and I was living in one without even knowing it.
At the end of April 2011, 39 years old, I found myself awake (again) at 2am, fighting with another bout of insomnia. I was somewhat miserable and lost. To entertain myself I started surfing the web on my little iTouch.
To this day, I am not even sure how I came across what I found that finally jogged my memory of life in the past. The videos that I came across were from Lacey Stone in NYC who described herself as a celebrity fitness trainer. Sure, whatever, I hadn’t seen her on TV, and I sure did spend a lot of wasteful hours doing that. However, I remember her initial story of how she woke up one day, looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize herself.
Specifically, that she saw sadness her eyes, was overweight, felt disgusting and gross. She had been a division 1 athlete and was used to being active and healthy and not having eating affect her weight. Wait a minute? Is she telling my story?! Ok so I didn’t play division 1 soccer, but remember that 21 year old down there…. Yeah, I recognize her, but where did she go?
I felt lost with no direction and I weighed the most in my life at 157lbs. WTF, how does that even happen to…oh wait, no, I am NOT 21 anymore and eating pizza at 9pm is NOT a good idea. I have a body type that is good for hiding some extra pounds, but I knew it was there. So, I hired a trainer and started on a new path. That went really well for 3 months EVEN on vacation! I lost 12 pounds.
But then I got sick, a bad sinus infection that put me out for a few months. Once you break that cycle, the hardest part is getting back to a routine. There’s always an excuse, life gets in the way etc. But in Jan 2012 I jumped back in hard core because this was going to be my 40th year and I was determined to make it awesome. I had breast reduction surgery 2 weeks before my 40th birthday, but I could feel that spark still inside, I knew I had a month of recovery, but every day of it I felt the drive to get to the gym. I finally got back in at the end of February, starting slowly and trucked along for the next 4 months.
I knew Steph and had heard about the challenge she had going. I believed that this was what I needed to kick me into a new gear. That it did! While I have never been one to set goals and then work to achieve them, I find myself doing so all the time now. I now have a vision board, which anyone who knows me would likely gasp and say, you have whhaaatt?!
I have only lost a few pounds while on this challenge/journey and now weigh 139, I have found part of that 21 year old again…see her now at age 40 on the right in the photo below. Oh and yes… those are 35 pound plates instead of the measly 25 pound plates the 21 year old lifted.
I have come to realize that I missed being in a position to motivate and support others, I didn’t think I was that kind of person at all. I can truly now FEEL the change inside that has come about and look forward to the continued journey every single day. Oh and I’ve never slept better. Cue the AC/DC song…I’m back, yes I’m back, well I’m back, yes I’m baaacckk!
As my 1st challenge is almost over I took a few minutes to reflect back on how things used to be. I was a weight watchers kind of guy, give me points and I’ll stick to it, I succeeded in losing weight on WW, it was easy no problem.
Looking back I was eating a ton of “lite” and fat free goodies and treats and still lost weight. How could this be wrong? Millions of people are doing it so it has to be good right! Atkins diet?? Every guys dream right?? Well we all know what the Atkins diet does and it’s just not an option.
My wife joined her first challenge and was glowing with enthusiasm with her new food education, I then proceeded to get the “you know they have a men’s challenge also” speech. I thought to myself Uggggh I’m not doing this I’m sticking to Weight Watchers it works for me.
In the next few weeks she was relentless about clean eating and joining the challenge, so reluctantly I joined the challenge,had no choice really lol. I immediately learned what I was eating for so long was all wrong, my diet wasn’t balanced, and I was filling in the voids with items that are zero points but had zero nutritional value.
Joining the challenge has taught me what nutrition is about, giving your body the right fuel it needs to perform at its best. I enjoy working out and posting my pics, just posting pics keeps me motivated to stay in this challenge.
This 12 week journey has changed my life, I’m not on a diet, I am eating they way your are supposed to eat is what I tell everyone. I can’t wait to see my progress at the end of the next challenge, without a doubt I will reach my goal by next summer and be that guy other guys hate to see on the beach with the six pack abs. Lol
Join John in the next 12 week fitness challenge! Click here to register.
A couple years ago a family member fell to mental illness that caused a lot of stress for me and my husband as we are their only close family. Over that time the stress, poor eating habits and drinking more adult beverages than one should, we found ourselves with quite a bit of excess weight. For me, it was actually the heaviest I had ever been! I was always slender, never had to worry about my weight etc. I was miserable, did not like what I had become or how I looked. I knew I needed a change but going to the gym and sitting on the elliptical for an hour and doing some machines were not cutting it.
About 14 weeks ago I hesitantly signed up for SKFitLife. A friend had done the challenge and she looked great! I logged onto my workouts, read, watched videos and thought what the heck have I gotten myself into?? I panicked and sent Stephanie probably way more messages than needed to. I had a previous fall which led to me breaking my back in January of 2004. The damage had caused a lot of upper body weakness etc. I was scared and did not think I could do many of the exercises. Stephanie reassured me she would work with me and we would make alterations etc.
Week one I seriously thought I had lost my mind and I think my family thought I had as well! The workouts were the hardest thing I had ever done! I felt sick to my stomach and horribly out of breath. While I posted on the private Facebook page it seemed everyone was feeling the same as me. Everyone struggled as a group we all had good days and bad days some even bad weeks or months BUT we all stuck together and supported one another!
I sit here with so many emotions of gratitude for this most amazing journey I was blessed to be a part of. I went for a week-long vacation with 5 teenagers (only two of them are mine), my amazing husband, and my three dogs in week eleven. Before this challenge I would have sat on the beach and rarely got in the water. I would have sat on the side and took photos of them riding jet skis. This year I swam, I walked, I ran and YES I rode a jet skis. Much to my hubby’s chagrin he could not throw me off the back of the one we were on due to my new strong body! The best part of that vacation I actually put on a bikini for the first time in many years!
While everything I have mentioned so far have been amazing I want to share something else. My husband was diagnosed with MS in 2007. He did not do the challenge with me but he did do the clean eating with me as well as visiting the gym. About half way through the challenge he came to me and told me that his legs have felt so much better and had less spasticity. That was the best thing for me to hear in a very long time! Even with limitations, injuries, illnesses YES YOU CAN do this challenge! I am happy to report that my back is stronger than ever! My overall attitude about things is much more positive and I have learned that we are ALL human and to do the very best we can each day. This was truly the best twelve weeks of my life! I hope everyone is as lucky as I am to experience such positive life changing events!
When I started the challenge I thought “I could do with losing a bit of belly fat, why not give it a go?”. Little did I know that the fat loss would be the least significant part of what I gained from starting my SKFitLife Journey.
I’ve always been reasonably active, had a working knowledge of nutrition etc. but ultimately I had a pretty unhealthy relationship with food. I skipped meals and fed myself cheap processed rubbish when I was busy/stressed, telling myself it didn’t matter at the moment but what I was really saying to myself was that I didn’t matter enough to look after myself in the most basic way.
Doing the challenge has revolutionized the way I eat and view food, it has improved my training regime by making it more diverse and most importantly of all it has really made me examine why my sense of self worth isn’t strong enough to even bother nourishing myself properly. I’m not “fixed” but whereas before that would have made me anxious, now I just smile, because I know this is a journey not a destination and I for one am enjoying the ride.
Life is seldom easy. There is no such thing as luck and I’ve learned that you get out of life what you put into it. You must work hard for what you want and changes don’t happen overnight! Thus, I was hesitant when I heard about the SK FitLife Challenge. As a wife, mother of 3, and employee, I felt I had nothing left to give and that doing something for myself was selfish. Even if I attempted this challenge, I probably wouldn’t finish, for I didn’t have any extra time for myself. I had basically given up any hope that this was feasible in my life. Then I came across this quote, which has since become my words to live by, “It’s impossible, said pride. It’s risky, said experience. It’s pointless, said reason. Give it a try, whispered the heart!” I knew that before I could accomplish anything, I needed to make the decision to try, and I decided to listen to my heart!
When I first joined the challenge, my main focus was on losing weight. I was a “scale watcher” and was more concerned with the word “skinny” than “healthy.” I had an obsession with numbers and an unhealthy mindset that the number on the scale defined my self worth as a woman. I allowed that number to control my mood. I weighed myself constantly throughout the day. Not only was this unhealthy for my body, but for my mind. Little did I know that the SK FitLife Challenge would not only change me physically, but it would change me mentally as well. Stephanie Keenan’s motto is ” Life begins when you stop chasing skinny!” It is those few simple words that have changed the way I look at weight loss and fitness. I no longer wanted to be skinny, I wanted to be healthy…and happy!
Accountability and support seemed to be the main focus for success in this Challenge. I could not understand how this worked. How could I possibly connect with women all around the world, whom I would probably never meet? My question was answered the first week Stephanie invited us into the private FitLife group on facebook. I instantly had a connection with these women. We had so much more in common than fitness. We were wives and mothers dealing with everyday life struggles. We shared stories and heartaches. We laughed, we cried, and we picked each other up when we would fall. We gave each other inspiration, we gave each other hope. We held each other accountable. And when one of us was having a bad day, we’d listen and promise that tomorrow would be better. We became our own little FitLife family..we were sisters. I would not have been successful if it weren’t for these amazing women. I only hope that I did for them what they have done for me. I have a special bond with these women, which I will always treasure!
So how has this Challenge changed me? I’ll start with CONFIDENCE! I’ve done things during this Challenge I would have never done before! I call it, ” My 12 weeks of Firsts.” My FIRST time posting a picture of myself on a public forum, and not being embarrassed. Buying my FIRST pair of shorts, and not being ashamed to actually wear them! The FIRST summer I felt good in a swimsuit. And I even wrote my very FIRST blog about balancing fitness and motherhood!! These things may seem simple to some, but to me, they were milestones!! Fears I’ve been trying to conquer for years..and here, it only took 12 weeks! And to me, that is an amazing thing!
Secondly, I want to talk about MOTIVATION. I have never felt so motivated to accomplish my fitness goals. I give credit my SK FitLife sisters for that! On the days I would think of skipping a workout or throw my clean eating out the door, I knew I would not only disappoint myself, but my FitLife girls as well. On the nights I worked late, I would complete my workouts when I got home at 1 am. Not because I had to, but because I WANTED to! And I knew that the girls would be waiting for my late night check-in and accountability pictures. I did not want to let myself down and I did not want to let them down! I had their back and they had mine! And that type of bond is priceless!
Since completing this Challenge, I am a better person. I am a better wife, a better mother, a better friend. I have Stephanie Keenan and my FitLife Sisters to thank for that! I hope they know I will be forever grateful! I am happier, healthier, and full of life…and hope!! When I look in the mirror, I no longer see that chubby, tired girl I once saw. I see a girl who sings out loud at work, who dances at parties, and who still does the Electric Slide at weddings. I see a girl who has energy and vibrancy and who wants to shout to the world that the “SKFitLife Challenge has changed my life!”, because I want others to feel as good about themselves as I do!! I see a girl who is thrilled that her friends are going to be New Challengers because she knows that they are going to be so happy with themselves. I see the girl I’ve always wanted to be..and that girl is me!
I am looking forward to continuing this journey and can’t wait to see where it takes us. We are women, we are strong, we are beautiful and we are unstoppable! xoxoxoxo
The past 12 weeks have been such an amazing journey. I have met a wonderful group of woman who also ventured on the path on obtaining a healthier lifestyle. Coming in to this I knew I needed a change in my life.
Whenever things were stressful I turned to food. It could be a whole bag of Herr’s chips or a mouthwatering jumbo bag of Skittles. I needed to make healthier choices when eating. This was not only for me, but also for my children. What I supplied in my home was what my children were also eating. My easy way of cooking was to go get fast food meals. Our Sundays now consist of cooking as a family and preparing lunches and snacks throughout our week. It is such a great feeling to see my children go for a piece of fruit rather than a handful of candy. It is nearly impossible to keep fruit in my fruit bowl anymore. What a great feeling that is!
Also, routine exercises rarely existed in my household. Not only do I designate a time to work out, but my children have also found time to be active. I learned that you do not need to work out an hour or two at the gym. All it takes it 30 minutes a day. After a morning workout, I feel so much better and a “whosh” of energy ignites through me. I am ready to start the day with a feeling of strength. Usually in the morning, I hesitated to start my day and I was always extremely tired. I not only built a better eating and workout habit but my self-image has also improved. I never gave time for “me”. The SKfit Challenge has showed me the way and for that I am very thankful!
My younger years…
As a middle school and high school student I was very active. I played many sports: soccer, cheerleading, softball and basketball. When it was time to condition for sports I was ready and put 100% into it. Although thinking back, it was only during that time in which I was active. During the off season I never continued with running or training. I had goals and gave it my all. I also enjoyed riding my bike. This was a hobby that I loved and it was fun for me.
My college years…
After graduating high school I pretty much gave up on sports and focused on my future career. I never really thought about keeping my body healthy by exercising or eating right. I was interested in making career choices, working and my grades. I decided to begin college at a community college. My mom was a big inspiration to me and was my positive role model. Although at times we had our differences. My second year of college I met my husband Ron. It was instant connection. My mom adored him and I knew he was the one. I started sending out transcripts and letters to continue my education at a four year degree school. I was accepted to Rider University for the following year and I was extremely excited to go!
In the fall of 1998 I began my Education and Fine Arts classes at Rider University. Life was pretty electrifying. College was going well, my grades were excellent, and I was finally feeling set in life. My husband proposed to me so on top of everything, we were planning a wedding. My mom and I went dress shopping and she picked out my dress with me. On September 25, 1998 my life turned around. At the age of 49 my mom passed away of a massive heart attack. How could this have happened? Everything was going as planned. But in the blink of an eye she was gone. I thought my life was over. I was 21, in college, planning a wedding, how could this possibly be done without my mother? I was able to finish the semester, although I felt like I was in a fog. I began to look towards food as a comfort. Thank goodness I had the wonderful support of Ron.
On May 15, 1999 Ron and I married. I felt like I was on top of the world. Although I truly wished my mother could have been there to experience it with me. On top of being in college, I now had a husband, house, and another family.
I was excited to finally almost be done and ready to graduate college. My husband and I started talking about beginning our family. I wanted to lose weight before I was pregnant. In January of 2000 we found out we were having a baby. ( I did not lose any weight.) It was my senior year of college, I was pregnant, and I was student teaching in a first grade classroom. This year was very stressful, but I managed to get through it! In May 2000, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Fine Arts. The summertime was tough this year but I knew that in September we would have a baby. On September 17, 2000, we had a beautiful baby girl. They needed to do an emergency c-section because her heart rate was fluctuating. I was a little nervous at being a first time mom, but I knew I could do it. Arianna was my main focus now. Being overweight did not matter, I had a beautiful baby girl.
Everything was going well. I had a healthy baby girl and I was enjoying life. My college friend Jamie and brother in law Tim were planning a wedding in May 2002. I was excited to be included in this. I also found a job in a private school where Arianna could go with me. So I was making some money and being with my child at the same time. This year flew by.
In 2002, my husband and I started talking about expanding our family. I was excited and loved thinking about Arianna having a brother or sister. Once again, I wanted to lose weight before I got pregnant. I was around 165 pounds. Well, in March 2002 we found out we were pregnant.
I was excited to tell everyone. (Especially my sister in law because her wedding was in a few months. ) I was in it and we were going out to look for bridesmaid dresses. At this time I was not showing, but while we were trying dresses on I needed a size 11 / 12. I also felt that I should get it one size bigger in case my baby bump would show. So I ordered a 13 / 14 in the dress. A few weeks before the wedding I started getting crampy and I knew something was wrong. (I had a hunch things were not right.). I went to the doctors and found out that I had a miscarriage. How could this have happened? I was 13 weeks pregnant. I was very upset but on the other hand I had to keep a positive attitude because my sister in law was getting married. Om May 11, 2002, Jamie and Tim were married and I gained a wonderful sister in law. (Although in the back of my mind I was still confused as to the miscarriage.)
My husband and I went to genetic counseling to figure out why this happened. There was really no explanation. I kept saying that it happened for a reason, but to this day I do not know that reason. In September 2002 we found out we were pregnant again. This pregnancy was a fantastic nine months. At this time we needed to move to a bigger house. (Two children and two dogs, having a two bedroom house was not happening. Arianna was going to be a big sister! On May 20, 2003, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. ( my second c- section) Alyssa was a very happy baby. They weighted me on the scale before I delivered and I was 200 pounds. I couldn’t believe it. I did not think about my weight because I was excited to have another child.
Jamie decided to take me out shopping one day. I was excited to finally get out of the house. We went to the mall and went into many stores. I remember going into the store and I needed to get a size 15/ 16. I was in tears in the dressing room. I was done trying clothes on and just wanted to go home. I was in such a state of depression. I needed to do something to lose weight. I read many articles on different diets. So Jamie and I decided to try the Atkins diet. My husband Ron also wanted to try it with us. So in January 2004, all three of us started the diet plan. I also got a long term subbing position at a school. (Which turned into a permanent teaching job.) I was thinking a new career, time for a new me. Within a few months I went down to 125 pounds. This diet was no carbs and almost starvation. I thought that losing this much weight was awesome, so I continued this for almost 1 ½ years.
During this time of the diet, my youngest child Alyssa had developed a hole in her heart. The hole never closed properly when she was a baby. It caused extra blood flow though out the heart chamber. It needed to be fixed. She went in to Dupont hospital in Delaware for heart surgery to repair the hole. This was extra stressful because all I could think about was getting my child healthy.
Slowly, after the 1 ½ years of the Atkins Diet I gained my weight back. I began feeling depressed and I started having panic attacks. I also began an OCD disorder which causes me to pick at my eyelashes. I was really thinking that this diet may have caused a lot of stress on my body. So for the next few years I really focused on my job, coaching, my children and family. I did not want to cause any harm to myself with these quick fix diets. I also was not sure what to do to get myself on the right track. For the past few years I tended to fluctuate between 140 and 160 pounds. My friend introduced me to the Skfit Life so I decided to look more in depth and realized I needed to change. On March 2012 I began this journey to a healthy life style. It was the best choice I have ever made!
Thank you SKFit for everything!
My name is Angela, I’m 29, I live in Fairless Hills Pa. I did the college thing got my bachelors in accounting and then got married to the love of my life! I have 4 children…2 SETS OF TWINS…the older ones will be turing 4 in a month and the younger set will turn 2 in November! (That’s 4 kids under 4) I work part-time 25+ hours a week!! It’s the same company I’ve always worked for but given my unique situation they let me take my work home (so very fortunate!!).
As long as I can remember, I have always been one to “chase skinny” as Stephanie says. I was always the one that would OVER indulge in food and then OVER exercise it off. It was always hard for me to find balance in my life between my food and my figure. Before I would allow my weight to spiral out of control I would “fix” the problem.
I was either bingeing or starving….obviously neither being healthy (both being eating disorders). Aside from that, carrying the 2 twin pregnancies caused my abdominal walls to split down the center, vertically (Diastasis Recti, four finger width gap). I couldn’t even begin to explain the emotional impact that has had on just about every step I take, every thought I think ….all day, every day. Some people might think I’m being “shallow” but when you don’t love yourself, it’s hard to accept love from others. When the Diastasis got combined to my existing food and weight problems it made my confidence even worse.
With my body overwhelmed with emotions and having that lack of self-control and confidence, I knew it was time for a change much deeper than anything I’ve done, and just failed at before.
I started noticing the changes in all of my friends who joined Stephanie’s challenge (I’m not just talking physical either) and I was AMAZED! They had so much more confidence, energy and looked so much healthier…they’re skin, they’re bodies! I knew I had to give it a try!
The past 12 weeks in my challenge has been like no other! The friendship and support that was built is amazing! I learned how to eat healthy and stop craving the “junk”. I learned how to exercise properly, effectively and efficiently. Finding the time to exercise and learning to eat “clean” was anything but easy (especially in this house, trust me)! Throughout it all, I have changed in so many ways: My confidence, my strength, my body, my life. I didn’t want any more quick fixes… what I wanted was a new lifestyle…A TRUE healthy lifestyle!! And that’s exactly what SKFITLIFE has given me!
As a result of the Diastasis Recti, there were only some ab workouts I could do or else I could separate the muscles even further! But I’ve noticed a lot of improvement doing Steph’s workouts!! My goals for the next 12 weeks, is to keep a food log, lean out (hopefully no more UPstairs, yes I’m talking tata’s!!) and build some muscle baby!! I have always been one to workout…at times, a little excessive!! I’ve never had a “healthy” relationship with food!! Or should I say portion size, LOL!! I LOVE food….I find my self drooling and daydreaming all the time over food!! Most people dream of vacation and fancy things…I dream of food!! If I’m ever in a daze…and you ask me what’s on my mind…I’m probably contemplating what I’m gonna eat next!! LMAO…but not kidding!! “Clean Eating” is by far my BIGGEST challenge!!
Thank you Stephanie Keenan!!
Hugs and Kisses,
Hi everyone, my name is Rebecca Thomas; I am a 28 year old married woman with no kids. When I was 18, I started having problems with my weight. The short story is due to un-diagnosed diabetes I gained almost 60 pounds in 1 month, going from 137 to 194. To say the least I was shocked. After being diagnosed with Diabetes I learned how to eat healthier and eventually lost the weight. Since getting married in 2007 I have slowly put back on a lot of it.
When I started this challenge I weighed 153.8, my goal was to fit back into my wedding dress on my 5 year wedding anniversary. I did not make it. But somewhere along the way, through the motivation and education provided in the SKFitLife Challenge I noticed my mindset changed. I was no longer shooting for a short term goal, it became about a long term change which would result in a healthier me. After 12 weeks of hard work, I lost 8 inches off my waist (from 40” to 32”). My weight 153.8. No change in weight but a huge change in my body and my mind. Thanks Stephanie!
I’m 57 have osteoporosis, belly fat and not motivated to exercise. I knew I needed to find something to motivate me to make some changes in my life, for my health. I’ve joined gyms, took classes, watched videos and nothing lasted longer than a couple of weeks. I entered this challenge thinking “well, if i don’t do it, it’s no big deal, it’s not a big investment”! I never thought i would be so hooked on this program. I did slack off here and there but found my way back each time, mainly because of all the tremendous support from Steph and our “FB sisters”.
I’m sooooo happy with my results! I wasn’t looking to compete for prizes or against anyone but MYSELF. I learned that I CAN set some goals and follow through. I am eating cleaner, my mind is more alert, my posture is straighter, I can see muscles (I never thought I’d get those) and best of all people are noticing the changes!
I am doing SKF2 with plans to be more focused and take myself to the next level. YAAAY!!
Thank you, Steph for giving me this opportunity to push myself and take charge of my “fitlife”!!!
Where do I even begin? I have so much to say, however I want to keep this semi short and to the point. I decided to join the SK Fit Life Challenge for many reasons. First off, I am a mother of two beautiful children (which I had C-Section) and I want nothing more but to set a great example for them. Secondly, I am in nursing school and how can I promote being healthy, if I am unhealthy myself. The last and most important reason why I joined is because I wanted to prove to myself that I can be happy in my own skin.
As a child, I was always teased about how big my back side was, and for so long I hated the way that I looked. I always thought that being “skinny “was the only way to be beautiful. After I had my children, I never thought that I would ever have the motivation to work out, and the dreams of having a fit body were far-fetched. I just figured this is the way I was going to looked and “OH WELL”.
Then Stephanie Keenan came into my life. For as long as I can remember, she has always looked amazing. It truly inspired me as I watched her work so hard to reach her each and every one of her goals. Over the years we had so many conversations about “Moms getting back into shape after a C-section”. I know she told me that it was possible, but I just did not believe in myself. I never thought that I could have a body like “those girls”… When she told me that she was starting a challenge, I said if I was going to do it then it would be, “all or nothing.” I joined up not knowing what to expect, I was scared out of my mind. Being a major soda drinker, and junk food eater, I didn’t know if I would ever find foods that would taste good to me.
I had a very long talk with Stephanie, and she told me that this challenge would not work for me if I did not give up the “Bad Fuel”. So I knew that I had to give it up. It took about three weeks for me to withdraw from the amount of soda my body has been used to drinking. Those three weeks were a living hell. The headaches and mood swings were no joke. I stuck with it and after the third week of only drinking water, I started feeling better. HONESTLY! This was the best thing that I have done for my body. I have been 4 months clean of no soda or red bull and I don’t even crave it. It actually makes me cringe when I see others drinking it.
I never worked out a day in my life before I joined this challenge. I wanted to get a head start so about two weeks before the challenge I bought a treadmill. The first time I tried it out, I could not do more than 15 minutes. I was dying. I knew this was going to be a challenge itself. I was so out of shape. I was tired all the time and had no energy at all. I kept calling Stephanie and she kept pushing me. I stayed with it and every week I increased by 15 minutes. I crack up looking back on my pictures. Taking pictures kept me pushing myself harder and harder. When I would look at how unhealthy I looked it would make me work out harder.
The challenge started and immediately, my fears went away. Everyone in our group had the same fears. I was not alone. I just fell in love with the over abundant amount of support that I received from this group. My friends did not understand why I was joining a fitness challenge, and they had no interest so it was so hard to talk to them about it. I always knew that when I needed a lift I could depend on my group for positive reinforcement. This challenge became my rehab and changed my life forever.
I never missed an exercise. I put my whole heart and soul into this challenge and I love the results. I only lost 6 lbs. but I lost inches everywhere. I walk around with confidence and I just love them way I feel inside. I will be turning 30 this summer so I can’t wait finally wear a bikini on the beach. Thank you SK Fit Life for making my dreams come true. Your guidance and motivation, and my 100% dedication made my dreams become a reality. I love and truly enjoy eating “CLEAN” and I don’t see myself every turning back.
My transformation was about building muscle, toning up and being more consistent with my nutrition. I changed from working out between 2-3 times a week to consistently working out six days a week. I also packed my breakfast, lunch and dinner consistently five days a week. I used to eat out for breakfast and lunch all the time. I was just lazy when it came to eating right.
January 16, 2012: Who is this person in the mirror? She looks older than 35. She looks tired. She looks worn. Her hair has lost its shine; getting straggly. She has a few pairs of pants and shirts that fit, everything else is too tight. I don’t know this woman. But I should, it’s me.
It didn’t look like me. The woman didn’t act like me. I was the person excited to graduate high school because my life was truly my own. I thought “whatever happens now is up to me. I make my life. I write my story.” Then, I lost my pen.
I was the person who traveled abroad in college. I went to Australia! And when my older sister told me that was something she never thought she could do, my response was “I never thought I couldn’t.” Somewhere the negative “nots” slipped into my life.
I was the person who trained for her black belt in karate while pregnant. The person who went to class 2 days before labor started with her first child. I was the person who tested for her black belt in kenpo karate while 4 months pregnant with her second child.
Then the excuses came: I have 2 kids, then it was I have 3 kids, I work full time, I’m a manager, I have in-laws in poor health, I’m helping to take care of my mother-in-law who fractured her arm, I don’t have time, I don’t like working out at 9 pm, I can’t get up at 5 am to workout. The list goes on; I found many excuses of why I couldn’t have a healthier lifestyle. I found excuses of why my family and I ate not-so-great; a little nutrition with a lot of crap. I became so good at making excuses, they found a way into my everyday life. I had an excuse of why I wasn’t happy at my job; why I couldn’t clean my house the way I wanted to. If something didn’t go my way or was my fault I started giving excuses for that. The woman in the mirror was not me. I didn’t do that. I owned up to my mistakes, sometimes there was a reason, sometimes not- I didn’t blubber an excuse. To me, there was a difference between a reason for something and an excuse to make me “feel better.” I believe in integrity; I took hold of it deeply during my black belt training. My sensei used to say “No one ’has’ time. We are all given the same amount of time. You make time for things you want.” I had forgotten that. I had forgotten me.
That day in January I knew I was making a choice. One choice was to continue on the current path. I knew where it lead- more weight gain, less confidence, more medical problems that would be hard to treat, more loss of self- esteem. I would become a hypocrite; I’m a physical therapist telling my patients to exercise and eat better and not doing it myself. Ugh! Who is this person? Certainly not the one who wants to be like her grandmother. My grandmother took 1 medication, and I remember only 2 times she was in the hospital- once when I was in high school and the second was before she died. My grandmother always had a pull-up bar in her bedroom doorway, as long as I can remember. Each morning she would do a few exercises on it, not a full chin up but smaller ones. She loved walking everywhere; she never drove. My grandmother walked to her destination, walked to the bus stop or walked to the train station. Cars were not a convenience to her, only a necessity to get her somewhere that was too far to go on foot. She was on a step ladder cleaning windows 10 days before she passed away in 2006 at the age of 91. If I stayed on the current path, I was fairly confident I would not have her stamina and strength at that age.
I chose to stop the excuses. I chose to stop the doubt. I chose to stop listening to the negative. I chose to take back control, write my own story, replace fear with fearless. Control over what I eat and how much activity I do really is all up to me. I learned that in the last 12 weeks. I felt like my life was out of control; I started back by taking control of my body.
At first I had doubts I could really do this for 12 weeks, it seems like a long time. At first, I didn’t tell anyone except my husband about the challenge. I didn’t want to hear the negative: “you won’t last,” “how could you have time for that!?” “12 weeks? Are you going to make it that far?” “Isn’t that a little too much, all that working out?” “you’re eating rabbit food.” More importantly, as the challenge progressed on and I saw and felt success, I realized I didn’t want to tell people I was doing the challenge because I don’t like disappointing people. I thought I might fail and that may disappoint people. I told more and more people as I saw the differences in me- the inches of fat gone, the more tone in the muscle, better skin and hair. I only told them after success started.
In the middle of the challenge I struggled through many things including illness. My knees were “crunching;” I always knew I would get arthritis. I had minimal pain so I modified some things and continue to be careful. The pain is gone, the crackling is there a bit- in the long term exercise will help it. Also, I was experiencing more pain in my right wrist. In the beginning I thought it was a cyst, a harmless thing. As the pain grew worse I had a friend look at it again (he’s a Certified Hand Therapist). This time a more serious diagnosis- a torn ligament, probably from a fall I had 12 years ago. In the wrist it causes a problem because the bones move too much, which causes the pain, and there aren’t muscles around to help stabilize (like in the knee, hip or shoulder). He gave me some ideas to stabilize it- I use a splint now. Then there was the eye problem! Vision in my right eye has not been normal in 2 ½ weeks. I went to 4 different doctors. I have fluid around my retina, likely caused from stress- it’s also associated with Type- A personality which if you haven’t guesses, is me. The good news is it should resolve in 1-2 months.
So why tell about my ailments during the challenge? I was so concerned about disappointing people if I didn’t finish the challenge, if I let the excuses get in the way again, that I didn’t tell my friends or family about it until 6 or 8 weeks into it. Yet, I navigated around these physical maladies and never thought of stopping the challenge. I thought of how to get around it or work with what I have. The challenge allowed me to find my determination again, to find my fire and let it burn for all to see. The challenge also allowed me to see and feel the awesome power of support from my SKFit Life sisters. I no longer worry as much about disappointing my friends and family. They will always love me. I also know that when I am determined no excuse is big enough to stop me. And that there will be times I will fail, and that’s okay. I get up, brush off my knees, brush off my ego and go again.
The SKFitlife challenge could not have come at a better time in my life! I clearly remember the day I found out Stephanie was offering this challenge. It was early January in the parking lot of a Sears, which was going out of business. I planned to buy some weight gloves and any other fitness gear that might help to motivate me to get back in shape. I happened to check my FaceBook on my phone before getting out of my car, and I saw Stephanie’s announcement that she was starting the SKFitlife challenge. It sounded like it was exactly what I needed to get back into shape, and it felt like it was meant to be!
A year of personal illness and tragedy brought me to the point of needing this challenge. In July, 2010, my brother passed away. At that time, my world literally stopped. While trying to deal with my own feelings and emotions, I was also trying to help my parents in their extreme grief. Seeing them like that was absolutely gut-wrenching, and unlike any kind of sorrow I had experienced before. That experience left my family with a stronger bond than ever. Unfortunately, it also left me in a bit of a funk for some time.
With the residual sadness after my brother’s death, I kind of let myself slip a bit. About 6 months after his death, I decided to sign up for a class called “Marathon Training” offered at a local community college. It involved individual runs as well as weekly long runs as a class. The final exam would be to complete either a half marathon or a full marathon. My goal was to run the half. I had never considered myself a “runner”, and thought that this was what I needed to push me outside my comfort zone.
From the beginning, I loved the class. There were students from all kinds of backgrounds, from seasoned “barefoot” marathoners to beginners such as myself. I figured out quickly how much it helped to have a group of people from all fitness levels who were cheering each other on. I loved the comradery. I remember the first time I ran 5 miles continuously, which was something I had never done before in my life.
Unfortunately, during one of my long runs, I injured my knee. It had been bothering me in the weeks before, but I kept pushing on. During that run, it was injured to the point that I could no longer run, and I had to limp back to our class. Because of that injury, I had to take a couple of weeks off from running.
When I returned to my running, I instantly noticed that my endurance had sharply decreased. I had been running up to 6 miles before, but could no longer get through a full mile. It was extremely frustrating. Finally, at one of my long runs, I had to stop so frequently in less than a quarter of a mile that I finally turned around, walked to my car, and drove home. My endurance worsened overnight, and the next morning, I was having trouble with simple activities, such as doing laundry or feeding my dog.
I was discussing my symptoms with one of my friends on the phone, when it hit me. My symptoms sounded like someone with a pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in the lung. I went to the emergency room, and sure enough, I had multiple blood clots scattered throughout both of my lungs. The lower portion of my left lung showed evidence of necrosis, or tissue death. I was instantly hospitalized, put on bed rest, and given medications to prevent further formation of blood clots.
The doctors tried to find the cause of the blood clots, but they never could find the source. They discovered that I have a gene that increases my likelihood of developing blood clots. The doctors believed that the gene, combined with the damage in my knee from my running injury, was likely what caused me to develop blood clots in my leg, which then traveled to my lungs.
I had to drop out of the Marathon class, and let my body heal. It took several months for my lungs to heal to the point where simple tasks didn’t leave me winded. In that time, my fitness levels only deteriorated. When the doctors said it was okay for me to begin exercising again, I had trouble getting myself started. I realized how much I needed a group to help keep me motivated and inspired. Also, there was a part of me that was afraid to exercise. While it seemed so silly to admit that, I was worried that another injury could lead to blood clots that could be fatal. I knew deep down that my parents could not endure the loss of another one of their children.
All of these factors were in my mind, and that fear led to inactivity. When I started the SKFitlife challenge, I hadn’t worked out since I had been hospitalized, which was in March, 2011. I was the heaviest I had ever been, and was about to have to go up another size in my jeans. I was physically unhealthy and still in that funk that had taken over me since my brother passed away.
Initially, I focused on the nutrition component and the resistance training in the challenge. I took a while to begin the HIIT sessions, since I still had that nagging phobia of running. For me, the nutrition was the most challenging at first, but it was the most needed change. I had an 8 year addiction to a daily sugar-filled Starbucks drink. In this challenge, I not only stopped drinking Starbucks, but cut out my addiction to daily coffee and caffeinated beverages. I also broke the sugar addiction. These were huge accomplishments for me! In addition, I was able to switch over to the Clean-Eating diet. Rather than eating out at restaurants or eating prepackaged foods, I began planning and preparing healthy meals at home.
I discovered that I loved the resistance training. They not only pushed me during the activities, but I felt such a sense of accomplishment after they were finished. I actually looked forward to the next day’s training! Also, I finally got myself to begin the HIIT sessions. I was able to listen to my body (something I struggled with in my Marathon class), and ease into the exercises. I am happy to report that I have not had any injuries from this challenge.
At this point, I have lost a total of 11 pounds! The pants that were bordering on being too tight now slip easily off my hips while still buttoned, and I am down a size. I find this all amazing, since I didn’t follow everything perfectly! It just goes to show how highly effective Stephanie’s workouts are, and the impact good nutrition has on the body.
Aside from the physical changes, this has had a huge impact on how I feel mentally. I am finally out of the slump that I had been in for the last year and a half. I have my fitness “mojo” back! Furthermore, I am really learning to appreciate that taking care of my own physical and emotional self has to be a priority. This challenge has made me realize that the only thing that can limit me from accomplishing my own goals is me! I know that life will always throw in obstacles, but it is up to me to find a way to overcome them. I am the only person who is responsible for my own health and happiness.
I have also discovered that there is nothing wrong or shameful about dreaming big, and going after those dreams! If I don’t believe something is possible and I never try, then it automatically isn’t possible. But, if I do believe something is possible and I go for it, then it really is possible. It is up to me to decide.
The support I have received from Stephanie and the other participants in the challenge has been absolutely amazing, and crucial in helping me to be successful in this challenge. It has been a wonderful experience to be able to interact with women all over the word, each with their own unique background, but all with the same goal of improving their health and fitness. I feel like I have formed real and genuine friendships with Stephanie and the other challengers. This interaction has helped to inspire me to be the best ME I can be!
I have been so happy with the results of this challenge that I have decided to sign up for part 2 of the SKFitlife challenge. My goals are to continue to eat clean, to not miss a single workout, and to work up to the “advanced” resistance training exercises. This challenge has shown me that anything is possible, as long as I believe in myself! I am so excited to begin part 2, and I am eternally grateful to Stephanie for developing and offering this challenge!
I joined the challenge because I was bored with workouts and wanted Stephanie to give me specific workouts. I didn’t anticipate the wonderful support and the changes that happened. With 5 kids it is hard.
It is hard to stay committed without feeling like I am taking time away from my family. So I know how important it is to me to be healthy, but its also important to my family. So I started to include them. They love it!
I had to make it a priority, because I could use my five kids as an excuse, but that’s not an option to me! The food thought process has changed among all my children and they are experimenting more than ever. My husband has lost over 20 lbs as well. Additionally I have to say I hate workout programs… I really do. I think they are dumb and temporary… hence the reason I joined 2 weeks late. But this is truly a change in lifestyle and I love it. Love the motivation and accountability! So I will continue the challenge and I even brag about it to EVERYONE! Thanks!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE This challenge!!!
First 12 weeks:
Second 12 weeks:
First 12 weeks:
Second 12 weeks:
First 12 weeks:
Second 12 weeks:
It is difficult to put into words the amount of growth I have made in these past few weeks. A numerous amount of emotions pour into my head as I try to compose myself as I write my journey. These past twelve weeks have gone by so quickly and I can’t believe it has come to an end. I have never joined an on-line fitness group. My expectations were to get toned and in shape by summer swimsuit season. I can totally do this; it’s going to be easy. Just do a few workouts and I will be good to go!! Boy was I so wrong on that piece of the puzzle. Not in a million years, did I ever expect this journey to become life changing. As each week passed, I have changed my course of direction, vision, and goals for myself, and with that, I have done a lot of reflecting on who I am as whole person.
Throughout these twelve weeks, as we were to complete our vision boards, and answer Tuesday’s topics, I realized I needed to un-bury my demons. For these demons were the root cause of how I have developed poor thinking habits about myself and the way I react to stress in my life; my behavior not only affected me but also my loved ones around me! If I was going to really change my life , I needed to change my behavior to move forward.
A major obstacle in my life was going through infertility treatment. It was heartbreaking to watch all your friends get pregnant and be happy for them. I was always elated and shared in their happiness because I would never take that away from them; however, I would cry after each one would leave and say to my husband why not me? When you are the root cause of the problem, the pressure becomes a lot on a person and your marriage. I was going to allow the doctors to take every blood vial they needed, and stick myself with needles to inject drugs to allow my body to accept a pregnancy. During this time, I would eat to deal with stress and gorge to fulfill my void. Before my first child, I weighted the heaviest at 130 at 5’4”, and again I would internalize my emotions. After three years, we were thankfully blessed with our first child. Two year later, our second child was born. I now realize looking back on this experience, the timing in my life was not right to have children. My husband received a job transfer back to New Jersey where I was able to find a job with insurance that paid for all my infertility treatment. The expense of these procedures can be financially draining on a family. I would sit in the fertility doctors office listening to women pouring there hearts out about their experiences, and then the receptionist calling them to the front desk saying they owed 10,000 because insurance didn’t cover the treatment. Not only was my heart breaking for my own experience, but I internalized each women’s pain as well. I am very thankful everyday for the two gifts we were blessed with., but I will never forget this journey in my life and all the wonderful women I met along the way.
The latest obstacle in my life is helping our son who has been diagnosed with developmental tics (which is the non-vocal form of Tourettes) accept his diversity, and how we can help him as a family control these involuntary movements. Unfortunately, this past fall we had to medicate our 7 year old. This was not the option we were looking for, but when your child is crying it hurts so bad; it is heart breaking to watch, and you cry as he falls asleep lost because you have no control over the situation . On nights that were really bad, we would have to put him in the car and drive him around the neighborhood just so he would fall asleep because this is the only time the tics stopped. The medication has helped control his movements, however, it makes him tired, and we have to watch his blood pressure. Before the challenge, I began reading more about diet and helping children with tics. Unfortunately, not enough research has been conducted on this particular neurological condition, and to try to take all gluten out of his diet seemed so impossible; especially for a person who rarely used to cook. So I was floundering and struggling on where to start and what to do. I was not only lost for myself, but needed to find a way for our family, too!!
While dealing with these obstacles in my life, I have also tried to balance working full-time and moving our family several times. For the past 15 years of our marriage, we have moved five different times in various states due to my husband’s job. For awhile we were averaging almost every three years a move until we had children; we stayed eight years in New Jersey. Our last move was only two years ago. The first part of the move, Patrick went ahead to Las Vegas and I stayed behind in New Jersey. I finished working full time and having the kids finish up the last four months of school and their sports activities. By the end of June 2010, we were in our new home and by October, I was back to working full-time! The pace of my life sometimes feels like a roller coaster with twist and turns and the speed never ends.
I am a Special Education Instructional Facilitator and I oversee two middle school Special Education Programs and one elementary school. This is a job I am very passionate about. I love working with teachers and children and mentoring them. I have a wonderful group of teachers who are just as passionate about positively influencing children’s lives, and we make a wonderful team. However, the down side of the job is I want to be there for everyone and with three schools and close to three hundred students in the program; it is difficult to be in three places at one time. I am the type of person who won’t say “no” if you ask me for help; I will always help others and my work will be put to the side. The job is high paced and everyone always comes to you with a problem needing to be solved. In a sense, I am a firefighter putting out fires all the time. I think it is important to actively listen and help solve problems; however, I have realized my desire to help others achieve happiness has left me with internalizing my stress and taking the weight of these poor kids and teachers into my heart. I thought I was keeping things together; however, my behavior and my short amount of patience at home was starting to affect my family. I knew something had to change, and I just wanted to feel good about what I was doing. So how was I going to move forward and make this change?
My SKFitLife journey began with the universe aligning with a random experience. My husband met a wonderful person in the group Laura Lam Ortiz while flying on a business trip; they began talking about fitness and how I loved being active. Laura further explained how her friend Stephanie was creating an on-line fitness program, and I should consider joining. So before they left the plane, they exchanged information; Patrick and I talked about the conversation he had with Laura, and I was intrigued to see if she would contact me. A lot of people say they are going to do something but never follow through. Suddenly, a few weeks later in my in-box was an e-mail sharing the website information and Laura asking me to join. I knew at that point, I really needed to consider this because I am a true believer things happen for a reason! This was how I was going to move forward in my life. I was a point in my life I needed something for myself; I was feeling run-down and a bit lost. I felt this was the answer I was looking for to help me regain my confidence, and I would also along the way gain some nutritional information to help our son.
So the journey begins with a click of an acceptance button, a snap of a photograph, a Smartphone, and a sisterhood Facebook connection. My journey has changed throughout this challenge which I think is important. What I am learning is striving for something is important and goal setting each week and month really keeps you focused. It is one thing to understand this concept; however, another thing entirely different to really apply it into practice. This was the missing part of my life. I had ideas in my head I wanted to achieve, but it was so easy to just say the following things to myself:
- I’ll do my workouts later when I have time- then it is 9pm your exhausted and then the excuse becomes I’ll do it tomorrow.
- The dishes need done
- The house needs cleaned
- The kids have practice and homework
- I have work to complete
- Food needs cooked- which becomes take-out or something frozen to eat, and depending on stress level…the cycle becomes… I don’t eat all day or I gorge on fast food.
Prior to this challenge it was so easy to complain about how I didn’t like what my body looked like physically or what I couldn’t accomplish because all the above just kept getting in my way. I didn’t have balance nor was I prioritizing things correctly. I felt I wasn’t worth taking the time for, and I had to make sure everyone else was taken care of first then me. However, “me” never came because the hours never quite added up; this has always been the way I operated throughout my life; as the weeks past, I knew I had to further dive into understanding why I was creating such bad habits and why I wasn’t taking the time for myself. Ultimately, the reflection led me back to the obstacles in my life, and I realized I need to retrain my thinking in order to retrain my behavior. I wanted to become less moody and regain my self-confidence back!
The light bulb finally went off for me when we had to post our vision boards. The first one I created on my iPad was simple and really was only a part of what I wanted to say. I did it and completed the task, but it was also based on my old thinking. However, the second one was the most empowering for me. Putting it out there for the group to see and for me to really be proud of was a turning point for me in the challenge. Every motivational picture people would post that would inspire or touch me personally in some way; I would download and save to my phone. After awhile, they became my motivation/inspiration through my workouts. They kept me focused, and became embedded into my new vision board. I also added a bucket list to keep me focused as I will soon be approaching 40. This was the push I needed to really see the true picture of this transformation. Through my vision board, I began working on three parts of my life: nutrition, exercise, and emotional growth.
Through journaling, I can summarize after one month, I knew physically I could handle the workouts; however, the key for me was to withstand the training with time management and balance between work, family and myself. Prior to this challenge, I would always cheat myself. I would either get half way through my programs or stop around 10 weeks. I started to realize this pattern in my life, and I gave up on myself. I was a bit frustrated by this discovery; however, facing the truth was powerful. At week 5, not eating clean one weekend made me so sick; I thought I had the flu. At week 6, my emotional point was starting to spiral downwards simply because I was just overwhelmed by life; I went to the group for support and from all the positive words of encouragement, I knew I had to kick myself in the butt, and stop feeling sorry for myself and stop making excuses.
Exercise/Nutrition:Once I stopped making excuses, I first needed to address my eating habits/exercise patterns . I actually had to go the whole way back to my childhood. I have always been active since 5 years of age. I began gymnastics and competed till about 10. Still till this day, I remember, the older gymnasts having to make weight to compete. They would run then reweigh themselves if they weren’t at the weight they were supposed to be before a meet. For us younger gymnasts, we didn’t eat much before competitions, but then gorged on TAB soda and candy once our competitions were done. Along with gymnastics, I danced as well for those years to help me with form and my routines. By 5th grade, I began giving up these sports and moved into basketball and softball then went onto high school to play volleyball, basketball and softball. I was always very active growing up, but along the way, I ate what I wanted because I was active, I could burn it off. I could down a Big Mac without any questions and never thought twice about what I was eating. In addition, the only thing my mother taught me to cook was a great pie. I was so busy, fast food and not learning how to cook at home (it was not interesting to me at the time) definitely affected my eating habits as an adult. As I entered college, I gave up sports to work and put myself through school. I waitressed so eating was usually at a restaurant I worked out which constituted a lot of fried food and no more active lifestyle. This is where the rollercoaster weight gain and loss game began.
I graduated college, got married, and went on to get my masters degree and through the course of the years, I never learned to cook. If it wasn’t frozen, or it didn’t come out of a box or can, I didn’t make it. I have so many funny stories about how I have damaged food, I could write a book. My husband soon took over cooking responsibilities after the first year we lived together when I forgot to take off the cardboard bottom of the rising crust pizza; he knew then we were in trouble if he didn’t step in, then we would truly starve. LOL. However, long hours of work for both of us and travel, left us many times throwing in pasta and eating it with butter and Parmesan cheese, or we would just eat out at restaurants to save time!! It wasn’t till I joined the group, I began to appreciate cooking and understanding the balance between portion control (I could eat as much as my 6’2” husband-ouch), eating every 2-3 hours, and what is a good balance between foods.
As a 52 year old woman, I had convinced myself that my metabolism is now an enemy against me, that my aches and pains will only get worse if I work out too much and the list of excuses just goes on from there. Although I was not happy with myself and subconsciously knew that my relationship with food was unhealthy for many reasons, I did nothing about it. I tried to make myself believe that I am happy with my body and that my husband loves me regardless of what I look like. Besides, I had lots of co workers and friends my age who felt the same way and I actually believed they didn’t look as good as me so why should I change.
When Stephanie approached me about joining the challenge, I immediately started listing the excuses why it wasn’t right for me. The fear of being held accountable and being in a group with much younger girls was actually causing me anxiety. I really had to convince myself to take a blind leap of faith. Knowing Stephanie and believing that she would not ask me to do anything that she didn’t think I could handle or be successful at, was a huge compliment. I decided to turn my excuses into the exact reason that I should do this. The list went something like this…
- My age is only a number and will only hold me back, if I let it. So what that the girls in the group are younger…It will make me push harder to prove that women of any age can look and feel great
- Maybe doing a regular workout routine might just help the aches and pains
- Perhaps I should learn what my unhealthy eating habits are all about and how to choose better nutritional foods that are good for me.
- Prove to myself that I am better than an out of shape aging woman. I really want to turn back the hands of time and look as good, if not better that I did at 30. The more I thought about this one the more driven I became about this challenge.
January 30th approached and the excitement and anxiousness that had been building inside of me for weeks, was all but ready to explode from my body. The timer went off and I was running and not looking back. What I didn’t see coming was that this was more than just a physical challenge and that I was about to assess so many other things in my life.
Joining this group of beautiful women (of all ages) has made me appreciate that all women face the daily challenges and excuses and it’s not easy. It is a conscious effort to start each day and make it as good as can be nutritionally, physically and emotionally. It was not always easy but knowing that I had a community of sisters there each day that I could turn to for help and support made all the difference in the world for me. I never felt alone. We each brought different experiences and knowledge to the table and together we became a family.
We worked on vision boards, shared recipes and held each other accountable for what we signed up for. We talked about our goals and life challenges and what we could do to make it better. It was the most positive group of people that I had ever been part of. A place where you could feel safe and confident talking about the most personal things and know that there would be no judgment. We had some good belly laughs in the group and the little contests along the way sure did keep it from getting boring. I may never meet some of the women in my challenge but I will forever consider them friends.
I am proud to say that I have come to realize that the number really means nothing. I’m not only talking about my age but the scale. I have learned that I need to listen to my body and observe the direct correlation it has from eating clean and healthy food and proper exercise. I can also tell you that I not only feel much better and look better but I no longer have aches and pains. I now sleep a sound seven to eight hours a night and have begun to look at food as fuel for my body that I control rather than it controlling me. Don’t get me wrong, I love food, but I save those special “cheat” meals for a great dinner with family and friends rather than eat whatever I want, whenever I want.
Needless to say, I am completely thrilled with how the twelve week challenge turned out and am so pumped and excited to move to Challenge 2. My physical goals are being tweaked along the way as I begin to appreciate my new body. As for all my life goals, this too is a work in progress but I feel confident that I am in a better place to better handle change as I approach that challenge as well….. My life, “The Second Act”.
I have fought with body image my whole life, cycling between crazy fad diets and excessive cardio for as long as I can remember. I obsessed over achieving the perfect “fitness cover model” body. When I turned 30 in the summer of 2010 I decided to challenge myself to a 12 week training program and get into the best shape of my life once and for all. My goal was to look better at the age of 30 than I did when I was 20. I had a diet and weight training program laid out for me step by step, and I didn’t deviate from the plan one bit. The training program incorporated heavy weights, which made me feel strong and more confident. I quickly developed a passion for weight lifting. In the fall of 2010 I completed that challenge and accomplished my goal. I was in the best shape of my life up to that point! I felt confident and successful, and I looked fantastic! I had finally gotten my physique to the point I had always dreamed of, and I vowed to never again allow myself to slip into the lonely, unconfident, out of shape person I had previously been.
Going into 2011 I found myself beginning to struggle with my workout program. I had been successful in initially transforming my body, but I had no idea how to maintain or continue seeing progress and results. I thought my only option was to just continue on with the same weight training routine and diet plan. After all, if it had worked before it should continue to work, right? My workouts consisted of 75 minutes of heavy weight training, and a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio, 6 days a week. I was low on energy and having a difficult time with the monotony of the low fat, low carb meal plan. My results began to plateau, so I increased my workouts and began to excessively cut calories. No matter how much I worked out, and how many calories I cut, the number on the scale began to rise instead of going down. I began having a difficult time sleeping, and struggled to stay focused throughout the work day. What use to bring me happiness and confidence was making me unhappy and causing me a lot of distress. I had no idea what I was doing wrong! I was adding more exercise, and subtracting more calories, so why wasn’t I progressing anymore? With each passing day I was growing increasingly obsessed with my food intake and more and more frustrated with my workouts.
The last straw came in June of 2011, when my father unexpectedly passed away from a massive heart attack at the age of 61. This event, coupled with the stress I was experiencing at work, and the frustration I was feeling with my workout program, threw me into a downwards spiral. I couldn’t focus on my workout routines anymore and I found it near impossible to stick with my meal plans. I was burnt out, both mentally and physically. I quickly lost track of my fitness goals, fell into a state of depression, and became withdrawn. The physical achievements I had attained a year earlier deteriorated before my eyes, and I felt deeply ashamed that everything that I had worked so hard to achieve was gone. My life was completely upside down, and I was left feeling like a complete failure because I had allowed myself to slip back into the person I had vowed to never be again.
When I saw the SKFitLife Challenge in January of 2012 it was like a light bulb turned on inside me. I saw the program as an opportunity for me to get back on my feet again and challenge myself to gain back what I had lost. I wanted to be happy, have self confidence again, and to gain back the physique I had thrown away. Over the previous six months I had become withdrawn from the passions that made me happy, but I was ready to dig deep to gain all of that back again. All of a sudden I felt a renewed excitement about fitness!
The SKFitLife Challenge gave me an opportunity to meet a community of women with similar goals and interests in mind. In the past I had never had anyone aside from my husband who shared a common interest in fitness. Suddenly I had a forum filled with amazing women striving to become healthier, all while pushing each other to dig deeper and push harder. Over the past twelve weeks the women in this group have become dear friends to me. Their positive motivation is what keeps me going throughout my day. Their ups and their downs help me to realize we all have obstacles to overcome in our lives, and with support and nurturing, we can all continue grow and better ourselves.
The SKFitLife Challenge has taught me that I don’t need to spend hours in the gym each day, and that I don’t need to eliminate carbs and healthy fats from my diet in order to see amazing results. As a matter of fact, Stephanie explained to me that my previous meal plan had been too low in carbs and healthy fats, and that was what was making my mind cloudy, and attributing to my mood swings. She also explained there is a time and a place for low carb, but it is to be used sparingly in order to not destroy your metabolism. This was news to me because I had been fearful of fats and carbs for so long! No wonder the number on my scale had started to climb with the more restrictive I made my previous diet and workout routine. I was destroying my metabolism! I reincorporated starchy carbs and healthy fats back into my diet, and as a result, my mental health greatly improved! I feel so much more energetic and positive about life now!
I have truly fallen in love with the circuit style trainings and HIIT WoW’s that Stephanie has put together! They are intense, easily modifiable, straight to the point, and I am always drenched in sweat at the end. There is tons of variety thrown in to each routine as well, so your body never fully adjusts to the exercises. In the beginning I felt a little silly hopping around at the gym, than I quickly realized that I was getting better results with these circuit and plyo style routines, than I ever did with any past heavy lifting routine. The quick bursts of energy at the end of each weight set are intense and challenging. I absolutely love the rush! And I’m thrilled to say that I have greatly reduced the amount of time I spend on cardio equipment. My workout routines are far more focused now. I go into the gym with a game plan, and I leave feeling like I’ve gotten an affective workout in half the time I use to.
At the start of the SKFitLife Challenge I shared a photo of my previous 2010 results with the women in the support forum, and announced that my goal was to once again obtain that physique. I’m proud to say that I have achieved that goal through consistent diet, hard work, and amazing help and support from Stephanie and the other Challengers! I have taken away so much more from this challenge than just a new physique though. Along with transforming my physical appearance, I have transformed my inner self. It’s my inner transformation that I am most proud of! I view myself in an entirely new light. I no longer focus on my flaws. Instead I focus on my accomplishments, even the small ones. An extra rep here, and few extra pushups there… They are all small accomplishments helping me to reach my overall goal of a fitter, happier self. I have a new relationship with food that is no longer obsessive. I understand how to properly fuel my body, and no longer punish myself for enjoying the occasional cheat meal. I view my body as work in progress, a lump of clay I can continue to mold and shape. My energy and focus are directed towards realistic and obtainable goals now. I have come to the realization that I have wasted too much of my life worrying about obtaining the unrealistic, like trying to achieve and maintain a “fitness cover model” body. I’m now 100% focused on living the best life possible because every minute of every day should be enjoyed.
I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to take part in the SKFitLife Challenge! I’m energized about fitness again! I have gained the skills and the knowledge to continue on my fitness journey, and successfully maintain my physique this time around, with realistic approaches and techniques. More importantly, I’m walking away from this challenge with renewed self-esteem. Looking back on 2011, I can now see that all the challenges that I faced were blessings in disguise. Controllable and uncontrollable situations can happen to anyone, at any moment. I had let the physical achievements I attained in 2010 slip away from me due to some bumps in the road, but I had come to the point in my life when I decided that “enough is enough.” SKFitLife Challenge helped me to find that positive underlying motivation that drove me to push myself to become the happy, healthy individual that I longed to be once again. Transformations are tough, and they push you beyond your limits, but with discipline and perseverance, even the most impossible goal can become achievable again!