It's Week 8 of the Bikini Series - the last week of this difficult yet rewarding challenge to become the stronger, healthier version of me. Tone It Up members received an 8-Week Bikini Program to coincide with the Bikini Series. It's awesome because it has EVERYTHING laid out for you, which was great for a novice like me. I also created an IG account to help keep myself accountable and have fun while doing it (plus, you can win PRIZES for your check-ins?!). Trying to stick with the Bikini Program was tough, and I went through lots of emotions trying to do it: excitement, drive, obsession, disappointment, guilt, moderation, compromise, and balance.
- Week 1//EXCITEMENT: It took me a while to get into the gear of things, but I was going to STICK WITH THE PLAN TO A T! Meal planning took what seemed like forever. Groceries were crazy expensive. Workouts were hard, and having to wake up at 5:00 am for my "Bootycall" (what the TIU community calls morning workouts) was super difficult. But I did it, and it got easier and easier.
- Week 2//DRIVE: I'm ALREADY seeing and feeling a difference! My body is used to waking up earlier (and sleeping earlier!). I feel stronger, and I'm starting to lose weight! My heart rate has improved! Meal planning still sucks, but since I've seen so much progress, I'm going to keep pushing forward! Oh, yes!
- Week 3//OBSESSION: I HAVE to stick to the plan. No, I may not eat that piece of fruit because it's after 3pm! I MUST make the item that is listed on the Bikini Program or else I'll go off course from achieving my goals! This is where I started to lose it. Exercising and nutrition wasn't FUN anymore.
- Week 4//DISAPPOINTMENT: I was out of town for a weekend in a place where healthy food was not an option. I was spending the night in a small northern CA town and all that I had available to me were creamy potato salads, pasta salads, and lasagna with tons of cheese (my stomach doesn't do well with a lot of dairy). I ate what I could, and I felt SO disappointed with myself. When I measured my heart rate and saw that my heart rate had slightly increased, I broke down.
- Week 5//GUILT: This is where it got bad. I was still exercising daily and trying to eat right, but that weekend out of town completely set me off track and I just felt terrible. I felt guilty for not sticking with the plan. I didn't see myself in a good light. I cried to my husband after doing my measurements because I hadn't gone down in inches. At Bible study, I asked for prayer because I knew that I was idolizing my fitness goals. I was making healthy choices, while still having an unhealthy mindset.
- Week 6//MODERATION: After talking with my amazing husband, he motivated me to look at the new week as a clean slate. This week, there were more crazy things out of my control. I was in the midst of wedding planning for a friend, which meant ALL my time outside work was devoted to this wedding. The difference was that I was enjoying it. I didn't completely stick to the plan, but still tried to eat as healthy as I could while still indulging a little here and there. I even skipped 3 days of exercising because of the busyness, and *gasp* I was OKAY! I don't know what it was, but something just clicked. I was enjoying "non-TIU" foods in moderation, and I felt GOOD. I learned how to eat what I wanted, while still making good choices for my body. I thank God for the peace He brought me this week.
- Week 7//COMPROMISE: This was the week that I learned how to make compromises in my eating and exercising habits. I had been following the Nutrition Plan and Bikini Program long enough to gauge what worked for my body, schedule, and wallet. I don't feel the need to completely stick with the plan because I now have a general idea of the foods I should choose and how much to eat while still accomplishing my goals. I'm getting in my groove!
- Week 8//BALANCE: I cannot say enough about the encouragement from the TIU community and my Bikini Series accountability partner. What an amazing positive group of women! Exercising is now part of my routine about 6 days a week, even if it's just for 20 minutes a day. I enjoy waking up early and I feel like I can get so much done throughout my day due to a renewed sense of energy. I now have the desire to eat the indulgent foods that I LOVE every now and then, and not feel bad about it. I know how to listen to my body and give it what it needs. And now, I'm able to give more of myself to my husband, my family, and my students. I've learned to love and care for myself in a way that I never have before. <3
When you look at this transformation photo, know that behind that smile, was a broken, guilt-ridden perfectionist for much of the Bikini Series. Sometimes we look at these photos and it just seems like a highlight reel. I think if I looked at my "after" photo on Week 3, I would've been unhappy no matter what I looked like, but because of my spiritual and mental growth, I can say that I'm really proud of where I am. I will never look like Karena, Katrina, or that girl on Instagram. I look like me. Cortney. And that makes me happy.