There is a moment in the life of us all when we know something has to change. We look at something in our life that is out of control and we decide then and there, enough is enough! In that moment, the motivation is high, the goal is clear, and, fiery with determination, we make a plan! Of the people that get started on their goal, 80% of them will quit. That's a large number! I want better for my challengers and I want better for YOU! How do you make sure that you stay in the 20% that succeeds? I have been interviewing people that have been successful to gain understanding about how to help increase that percentage! The interview I want to share with you today is with Ashley, one my challengers who had her first round of success alone after 4 pregnancies and two full term births. In the first photo she was 184 pounds and in the second photo she was 125. i wanted to understand her journey leading up to the weight gain and through out her health and wellness journey. Understanding where you have thoughts or beliefs that are untrue or unhelpful will help you transform from the inside out. Ashley has graciously shared with us her experience with negative body image and how she overcame!
Aubrey: At what age did you become aware of social beauty standards and how did that effect your self image?
Ashley: I guess I was about 15, when I started working in the retail industry, and people started referring to me as the "fat sister" and up until that l point I knew that my sisters couldn't share my clothes but I hadn't really thought about it and that's just when it hit me; when I realize that I was several sizes bigger than most girls around and everyone else noticed even if I didn't. I started wearing bigger clothing, looser fitting pants, and T-shirts. I stopped wearing shorts and tank tops. I started wearing a tank top over my bathing suit at the beach just anything I could do to try and hide the fact that I was bigger than what the standard of beautiful was at the time.
Aubrey: How did this realization affect your relationship with food?
Ashley: I became very aware of how it appeared to others. I was very uncomfortable eating in front of people, to the point that I was skipping meals at school or at work and then binge eating when I got home and no one was around or eating in my car alone. If I did h ave to eat in front of people, I would buy chips or a candy bar or something small to tide me over so that it didn't look like I was eating a ton of food. Basically though, I swayed between not eating at all and binge eating.
Aubrey: At the time this was happening, what was your approximate height and weight?
Ashley: I was about 5'8" and 140-145 pounds.
Aubrey: Looking back on it now, how did those comments affect your self worth and communicate to you what makes a woman worthy?
Ashley: Up until that point, I had never been self conscious. I just got up and got dressed, I wore bikinis to the beach. I didn't care, I didn't have thoughts, negative or positive, about my body, but once I started hearing those comments, I started analyzing everything about my body. I started thinking that the only "real beauty" was the super model appearance. That started sinking in, and changed my idea of how I viewed myself and I lost touch with feeling beautiful in my own skin.
Aubrey: Once your eyes were opened to how others might perceive you and that belief took over that you didn't measure up on the beauty scale, how do you feel that affected your other talents and abilities? Did that shake your confidence as a whole or just in that area of feeling beautiful?
Ashley: i think it definitely affected other areas of my life. I started tearing myself down and analyzing everything that I did trying to gain others approval. I had an interest in art, drawing, photography, and ceramics but I got so used to be criticized that I didn't feel like I could be vulnerable with things that deeply mattered to me, so I hid. I kept it to myself.
Aubrey: At some point in your journey, you hit a point in your weight that YOU were no longer comfortable with, can you tell us a little bit about how you gained the weight and what made yo uncomfortable with where you were at?
Ashley: At that point, I had gotten married. I gained ten pounds after I got married. I had two full term pregnancies and two miscarriages. The miscarriages were very difficult for me and I gave into a lot of emotional eating. I was binging on pizza, donuts, chocolate, going out a lot trying to make myself feel better. I started to realize, at a certain point, that I was on a gaining trend. My youngest child at the time was 5 months old and I weighed in 10 pounds heavier than I was at my 6 week postpartum check up. That was the moment for me, I got on the scale that day and I realized that it was just going to continue, that I was going to keep gaining if I don't figure out what's going on and get a handle on it. That day, I was 50 pounds heavier than the day I got married three years prior.
Aubrey: How was pregnancy for you? Was there relief in feeling like you could eat without being judged?
Ashley: I think because my husband didn't judge me, I didn't feel shame in regard to what I was eating. He liked to take me out and we were just having fun together and enjoying food. I would say that pregnancy did free of the opinions of others though.
Aubrey: I think your story is really unique, because once you decided you were going to lose weight, you really pushed through and did it on your own. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you and how you got started with your work out and nutrition plan?
Ashley: The moment I had that realization that I had 50 pounds to lose, it was a couple days before Thanksgiving and with the holidays approaching, I knew I had to start now. I called up my sister-in-law and our cousin, who had also had babies around the same time, and told them I wanted to lose at least 15 pounds and asked if they wanted to join me. They did and we decided to make the reward a girls night out if we hit our goal. I wanted to take it slow because I knew a lot of people that started fitness plans and fad diets and they ended up quitting after a few weeks or gaining the weight right back and falling right back into old habits. I started walking every morning. I would put the kids in the stroller, grab a jug of water and before I even ate breakfast, I would get my exercise in. The next thing I did, was cut out one type of unhealthy food that I was eating. The first for me was soda and then chips etc., things that I could cut out one thing at a time as I got used to not having it. The first 15 pounds that I lost, I had those girls along side of me but they didn't have as much to lose as I did so I was on my own, so I just started setting goals and planning out rewards for myself if I hit my goals by a certain date.
Aubrey: We have talked about this in another post, but when you really started getting into your health and wellness journey, you were met with some opposition, especially on social media. What do you feel like your biggest challenges were while you were pursuing your weight loss?
Ashley: The hardest part for me was that I started feeling really proud of myself, I was feeling good in my skin again. I was enjoying shopping and I was loving getting dressed and feeling beautiful. I started posting on social media about my work outs, some weight loss goals that I had met, but after awhile I started getting really rude comments from other moms. they were saying that I was making htem look bad, that not everybody had that kind of time, that I was being vain, that I was being self and taking time away from my family. That was really hard for me, because I was really proud of myself for what I had accomplished and their words started making me doubt the value of those accomplishments and WHY I was doing those things, exercising, eating differently, spending time for myself. I just stopped posting because of the backlash that I was receiving and that took a lot of the joy out of it for me because I was limited in expressing my excitement in my journey.
Aubrey: So really, you were getting it from both directions! On one hand you were being told you were fat and then you got it from the other side telling you that taking time to work on your body was selfish! How did that affect you mentally?
Ashley: It definitely affected me. I started wondering if I was being selfish and taking time away from my family. Most of the time when I worked out, my kids were sleeping and my husband was at work, so those comments didn't seem to hold water. My husband was my biggest supporter and when I would talk to him about it, he told me not to listen to them, that they didn't know what was going on in our family and in our marriage and that I should just keep going on my journey to be healthy.
Aubrey: I think that as a mom, we all struggle with shame and feeling like we aren't doing enough for our families when in reality, we aren't doing enough for ourselves and trying to care for others out of a place of depletion. What would you say to another mom that was struggling with shame and not sure whether she should pursue something like because of taking time away from her family?
Ashley: Giving myself this time to do something for me, to work out, to meal plan, to be healthy, is not only beneficial to me but to my family as well, because I have more energy, I am not fatigued and exhausted. I'm not waking up with migraines because of my food choices. When I get up and work out first thing in the morning, I have more energy all day long, I get more accomplished, I can keep up with my kids. I'm not falling asleep every night at 9 pm because I'm exhausted and I have more time to spend with my husband.
Aubrey: With the small goals you set for yourself, how long did it take until you felt you completed your goals and were maintaining and how much weight did you lose?
Ashley: It took me 15 months from the day I started and I lost 60 pounds.
Aubrey: After your 60 pound weight loss, you went on to have two more full term pregnancies. How did you feel about becoming pregnant after you had lost the weight? Did you have fear about falling back into old habits?
Ashley: I did! My third child, as soon as I got pregnant with him, I started panicking because I remembered I gained 55 pounds with my first pregnancy, with my second I gained 37 pounds and at that point in my health journey I hadn't seen the scale go back up, I had always been losing even if it was only a small amount. Seeing the scale go back up was really hard for me, but I just maintained my healthy habits and didn't let the fear stop me from taking care of my body and my baby. I decided to trust myself and stick to my goals and that helped me gained the appropriate amount of weight.
Aubrey: How were your last two pregnancies different? Did you have better experiences because of your healthy lifestyle?
Ashley: My last two pregnancies were much better! I was not nearly as sick in the first trimesters. I had a lot more energy. I didn't get the water weight and bloating that I came to realize were the results of bad food choices. I found that exercising lightly, I had to downgrade my exercise plan, but working out really helped me fight morning sickness and it gave more energy for labor and delivery as well. My deliveries were very smooth with the last two.
Aubrey: I will be honest and say, I was pretty surprised that you wanted to join our 21 Day Fix challenge group after your last pregnancy since you had been so wildly successful on your own. What about this program appealed to you?
Ashley: I did have success with the work outs I had done before and I was running races and getting cardio but I felt like my nutrition wasn't quite what it should be. What I like about the 21 Day Fix is that it really educated me about nutrition and I know I am getting what I need. I also saw a big increase in muscle definition. Most of the work outs I was doing were solely focused on losing weight and not gaining muscle. Gaining muscle definition was a goal for me that i wasn't able to accomplish before I started the 21 Day Fix.
Aubrey: What do you feel like you've gained form doing the program?
Ashley: When I first started, I was mainly focused on what the scale said. i could wake up and look in the mirror and feel great about myself and then step on the scale and if it said a number I didn't want to see, I instantly felt bad about myself. the biggest thing that the 21 Day Fix has done for me is that the number on the scale doesn't matter to me anymore. I look in the mirror and I see muscle tone and it makes me so happy that I don't even care and I do weigh a little more than what my normal used to be but I can tell that its all muscle. Also, my trouble areas, that I wasn't able to get rid of before, are going away! I feel very attractive and healthy and happy. After having four kids, I would think I would have things that bother me about my body but instead I am happier than I have ever been! i feel great in my own skin!
Aubrey: How has the nutrition plan affected your relationship with food?
Ashley: It has completely change my relationship with food! i was still struggling a lot with stress eating, skipping meals and this nutrition plan makes me be prepared so I am not too busy to eat. it makes me feel good and have energy all through our the day and I don't get tempted to reach for junk because I've waited too long to eat.
Aubrey: How has being part of the challenge group affected your fitness journey?
Ashley: The challenge group is great! I know there are going to be people waiting for me to say that I worked out, to talk about meals that I ate that day, to ask if I have gotten all my water in. Not only am I aware that others are holding me accountability but also throughout the day, I get notifications that others have worked out or have had their Shakeology so its a reminder through out my day to keep my fitness journey in focus! I have done it alone so I know how much more difficult it is to stick to it without others encouraging you and checking up on you. Having people on your journey with you that is only a text message or a phone call away and ready to life you up when you are struggling makes a huge difference!
Aubrey: As we close, what is something that you would like to share with someone that is in the same place you were getting started? If you could leave them with some encouragement or hope, what would you say?
Ashley: I have purchased and followed dozens of work out DVD's in the past six years and I have spent so much time researching diets and studies on how to eat for my body type and the 21 Day FIx is it! Its the workout program to workout every muscle in your body, to help you lose weight, to tell you what yo u need to eat for your body. It's the complete package. I wish that I had been able to start with the 21 Day Fix 6 years ago. I think that my journey would have been less stressful. It has everything you need to make it a lifestyle and have the support you need to stick to it. It's teaching you how to make your body healthy and break the bad habits and create new ones so that you are your best version of yourself. I love that about the program. If you are just getting started, I want you to know that you CAN do this! Don't listen to the negativity out there! Just set small goals and keeping going!
For some extra inspiration, here is a photo of Ashley's progression through her first round of the 21 Day Fix. The first photo was taken right after her 6 week postpartum check up, the middle halfway through her first round and the final picture at the end of the challenge. In these photos she only lost 2 pounds but lost 17 inches! She was breastfeeding and actually increased her milk supply during this time through the nutrition plan and Shakeology. Feel free to ask her questions below! To join us, click here!
"And Aubrey was her name. A not so very ordinary girl or name."(Or so says David Gates ;) I'm a wife to Phillip, a mother to Scarlett and Juliet. We live in the beautiful city of Thornton, Co. I'm a recovering red bull addict. I love to read. I hate to cook. I seek to be inspired and also to inspire others. I am a Beachbody Coach on a quest to be truly healthy mind, soul, and body and challenge others to do the same.