When I started the challenge 3 months ago, when I was full, bloated, and sometimes even on normal days, I had to look at this. Not a beer belly, but a stomach lined with fat and the place holding everything bad I ate. It was the body place I was so self conscious about, and the sad part was even with Spanx sometimes I still could see it was there. It was to the point where even my viewers were sending in emails to me, suggesting I how much I needed to make a change because my clothes didn't fit right, and one went as far as telling me how gross I look on air and how embarassed she was for me in THIS dress one night on air:
When you are an on-air talent at a TV station, the community notices everything about you. I never really considered myself “fat” or “obese.” To me, those terms described people on shows like Biggest Loser who had to shed a massive amount of weight. That was until I read one of my emails from a viewer. After a show, the lady wrote “I felt embarrassed for you tonight in that gray dress. Everything from your panty line to the indent of your navel and all your lumps were revealed. Advice from one gal to another...appearance is everything when you’re trying to get ahead – especially on TV!!” Normally I move on from those sort of emails, but for some reason this one made me re-watch the broadcast. I was shocked: I did not like what I saw.
I realized the problem: I was living an unhealthy lifestyle. It consisted of eating whatever I wanted, unlimited happy hours, and constantly skipping workouts. I realized I needed help because NOTHING I tried in the past worked. As fate had it, a team approached me to take on the TLS “Find Your Fit Challenge” where I could potentially make a change to help me not just personally but professionally. The challenge consisted of following TLS's program for 12 weeks, which included following eating guidelines, taking all natural supplements to aid in the fighting of fat and working with a personal trainer to come up with a fitness plan to tone and be fit.
To win the Challenge, the judges will look at 2 things: writing an essay when it's over about what I learned and the before/after pictures from the front, side, and behind.
It was a tough first month, even the first week I was crabby and wondering if I could ever change my bad habits. I did one week of detox, consisting of drinking only water and eating as many veggies and fruits as I could along with taking TLS Weight Loss Solutions's Detox Kit.
From there on, for the next 11 weeks I followed the guidelines for one of the Transitions Lifestyle System plans: Rapid Results. It's one out of 4 programs they have for you to follow based on your needs.
- Lose up to 2-3 lbs./week
- Commited and ready
- High-protein, vegetable rich meals
- TLS Accelerators
- Weekly workouts that build intensity
I had people sponsor me in the competition, which together we called ourselves "Team Garofalo"
First, meet my nutrition coach and past Find Your Fit Challenge Winner Tamara Nazworth
She truly reminded me so much of my self before she committed to the new fit: an average woman who never thought she was "fat" or "obese" but just needed to tone and live a healthier lifestyle. So she worked with me on the eating and supplement part. I must admit, THAT was the biggest challenge of the challenge. I'm Sicilian, I LOVE cooking and eating food, but in portions that were pumping thousands of calories into my everyday diet and I was making such unhealthy choices what I was putting into my body. It was awful, and some times I even felt terrible at the end of the day based on what I ate. Plus I drank too much. It was several glasses of wine to a bottle some nights and I did not hold back at Happy Hours or while out with friends. For that first month, there was NO alcohol allowed. But that didn't stop me from going to bar with friends; I ordered soda water and lime, had water with lemon, and a salad with mostly veggies and protein.
The next three weeks (or the first month of the challenge) was probably one of the hardest times for me. In addition to my already insanely busy work and personal life schedule, I had to make a lifestyle change. The list of suggested foods to follow was 2 servings of fruit a day, unlimited veggies (mostly ones with low glycemic index worked best to achieve the results) lean proteins such as chicken, fresh wild caught seafood, tofu, TLS Weight Loss Protein Shakes (which are the best tasting yet in my opinion!) turkey, etc. I also was able to have non fat dairy like fat free cheese, nonfat Greek yogurt, and drank lots of Almond Milk. Still no booze or grains the first month, but was able to have my coffee back!!! Just used Stevia sugar and a little Almond Milk and even in Starbucks Coffee it was amazing :) What helped me too was making meals colorful and creative each time so it distracted me from feeling like I was detoxing ;)
The problem I realized my first month wasn't what I thought would be the hardest (which was eating more fruits, veggies, and healthier cooked food). It was portion control.
Here is the List of Foods I got to choose from and the correct portions. There were some things I skipped but in all honesty, I really didn't feel like I was dieting. Most of what I loved to eat was on here, and if it wasn't, it wasn't the healthiest choice :)
**TIP** For proteins, the perfect size should be the palm of your hand
I learned the easiest way to make sure I was eating healthy meals during the workweek (and savings LOTS of money not stopping for food and snacks!) came to preparing meals days in advance. If I made chicken, I would cut it up into three 2oz servings and one day put it over salad for lunch, the next day slice it up for lettuce wraps, and then the 3rd day paired it with a side of veggies.
Tried to be pretty consistent with my meals, so here's an example of a couple days of meals:
BREAKFAST: 1/4 cup egg whites with 2 tablespoons of salsa
LUNCH: Spinach salad with 1/4 cup fat free cheese, 2 oz chicken, salsa, mushrooms and onions
DINNER: 2 oz Lemon Pepper Chicken, small baked sweet potato, cup broccoli
BREAKFAST: TLS Shake with 1/2 banana and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
LUNCH: 1 cup brussel sprouts, 3 oz baked tofu, 1/2 cup mushrooms
DINNER: 2-3 oz tuna steak, 1 cup lemon pepper seasoned asparagus, 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
Plus, add in the TLS Tonalin and Core supplements, which not only made feeling full more noticeable, but also helped eliminate my belly fat, a first for me. I kept a journal through TLS of my measurements, what I ate and the calories per day I consumed along with fat, fiber, and grams of protein. It REALLY helps, and if you're low on calories for the day you can splurge a little later. Or vice versa, eat bad early, eat better later. Or just do good all the time as much as you can ;)
For snacks, I would eat within 2-3 hours after a meal, and consisted of roasted almonds, wasabi peas, fresh fruits (frozen grapes or green apples were the best and not that much sugar) or veggies (sometimes with a little hummus), dried veggies, half a serving of protein shake with things mixed in like kale or fruit, and granola after the first 6 weeks when I could work grains back into my diet. Take ideas from the list and get creative on snacking, and MAKE SURE you check out the amount of sugar on any product. More than 10 grams and that will turn right into fat and take away from your loss.
As far as drinking goes, no I did not have to give that up forever. Just cut back on my habit of overdoing it. After 21 days I was allowed to factor alcohol back in, but I tried to use it sparingly. A glass of wine maybe once or twice a week, or if I was out it was vodka and water with a lime.
Then there's good fats, I limited myself to 3 tablespoons a day. That's things like peanut butter, avocado, olive and vegetable oil, etc. Again for peanut butter, look for one with low amounts of sugar.
**FAVORITE TIP** One tablespoon of peanut butter before bed not only tastes amazing, but also is enough fat to keep your stomach full overnight. The body eats away at it all night so you don't feel hungry and sleep better. OR bake Kale in the oven, 10 minutes on 400° with a tablespoon of olive oil and lemon pepper, YUMM!!
Now, I'm pretty good after building good habits. Portions are cut down for snacks and meals, try to eat my foods with fat and carbs either right before or right after a workout, and stay consistent with the foods I eat. One type of food can be used in SO many ways, so HAVE FUN and GET CREATIVE when it comes to cooking or preparing meals. It won't feel like a diet, just a fun lifestyle! If you find yourself too busy to cook each day, prepare meals in advance, and refrigerate or freeze. I didn't give up some of my favorite not-so-best choices, I just made sure if I had them it was in a small entity and I ate decent for my other meals.
SO, hopefully you learned that what you eat is VERY important in creating and maintaining a fit and healthy body. The other part is fitness. Yes, the thing that can sometimes be so hard to get in some days yet so easy to make excuses to skip.
Meet Kristi Schalch Gutierrez, my AMAZING trainer who really knew what to do and how to push me to accomplish the toning part!
For me, when it came to working out, some days I would get lazy and just not want to do it. Or I'd do the same thing like TRX only a couple times a week, and certainly not that much cardio. I didn't have a workout buddy and I didn't plan the workouts into my already insane schedule, so I needed a change there. Kristi is a personal trainer on the Suncoast.. She is Certified in Ignite Performance Training (Formerly Combine360), TRX, and IFPA (International Fitness Professionals Association) She came on as my personal trainer, emailing me the weekend before a new week with a schedule to follow. It consisted of 2-3 days of cardio and 2-3 days of circuit training, consisting of total body, upper, and lower body workouts, TRX classes, or her boot camps. The other 1-2 days are rest days, where you can either do a little bit of cardio for 20-30 minutes or rest if you are sore. With cardio, we're talking about jogging outside, or in the gym on a treadmill or elliptical, or taking an hour spin class. When I started, for the first month it was for 30 minutes but then I worked my way up to 45 minutes to an hour, followed up with a quick core workout of crunches and other ab things.
What I loved the most about having a trainer was the workouts with her or classes with others who had the same goals and desires. A typical week with Kristy included meeting her for a private hour workout, which was either total, upper or lower body, which had cardio within it and also core workouts at the end. I could do that OR do a semi-private with another girl. Kristi keeps track of my progress and lets me know how I am doing, and changes and adjusts the workouts based on how far I've come and what I want to achieve. Then I had boot camp with her twice a week, one for an 1.5 (again, total, upper or lower body focus) outside!! We were by the water which made it more fun and tranquil too! For Sarasotans, it's by Bird Key Park OR under the Ringling Bridge by the gazebo. Then we do cardio for the last 30 whether it's sprints or a bridge run. The other class is a circuit style class called Bayside Challenge, a free hour total body workout 10:30-11:30 on Saturdays, incorporating 1 minute circuits and TRX intervals and a little cardio. I LOVED it!! Between Kristi and coaches Cody and Tim, we really get an AMAZING workout, burning around 700 calories and leaving there feeling stronger.
**VERY IMPORTANT TIP** Make sure within 30 minutes of a workout you consume protein. The BEST form is liquid, without much sugar and fillers, I found this protein shot which is only 120 calories and 25 grams of protein. I drink it right after a workout and I know I'm good to go.
Muscles will suck it up and get to work right away on the toning process. If you skip this, you just wasted your workout because in order to tone, you need to help build the muscles with the good stuff. Then you can eat your meal or another snack within the hour. The BEST time to eat carbs/sugars/maybe that not-so-healthy food is right before or right after a workout. So if you want some frozen yogurt or something sweet, do it at this time :)
If you can afford a personal trainer, I would highly suggest it, even if you use them once a week just to keep you on track and help you plan workouts even if they are not there with you doing them. Learn to love cardio even if you hate it, that is what helps tighten the body and strengthen the core in addition to toning workouts. Train with Kristi is one of the top in the area, I would highly recommend her to anyone with the same fitness goals with me. She is patient yet firm, Organized and helps you stay on track. She looks fab, that's a motivation in itself. She played a huge role in how I am today, so thank you :)
A HUGE thanks to my amazing team, they were the support system that got me into this mindset and pushed me through the finish line. Also to my friends, family, and of course, God :) You need a support system above all things, you cannot get to a place like I am now alone.
And the final pics are in...here are the before/after over a period of three months :)
Honestly, this has been an emotional and challenging 3 months. I did the work. I put in the sacrifices. I made the right choices MOST of the time. I fell in workouts. I cheated on my food intake several times. But you know what, I kept my eye on the prize: finding my fit, a body that I am happy to see in the mirror and on-air EVERY day. They say to accomplish things in life, to be happy, you have to first love yourself. And I did, but not as much as I do now. This challenge might be over, but my new lifestyle is just beginning.
The main thing here is have a plan. You plan your schedule each week, your meals, your workouts, then you are guaranteed to stay on track, no excuses. The minute you start making excuses the further away from your goal you are putting yourself. If you really want to change your body, you need to change your way of thinking. Consider what you are actually stuffing into your mouth. Don't think of yourself as on a "diet" but more of making healthier choices. Journal what you eat, track calories in the beginning and eventually you will know what you can eat each day and about how many you consume without logging them all the time. And keep track of your progress too from the scale to body fat to measurements! Oh, and PS, I love sweets, cakes, cookies, am I going to never have one again? No. If I have that kind of stuff it's now in moderation, or if I really want 3 slices of pizza and beer, you better bet I have an intense workout planned earlier in the day or later on. Anyone can do this, whether you need to lose 10lbs or 50lbs. It's the same ingredients for success. Hit ALL the areas from supplements to aid internally like the ones I have been Taking from TLS, a commitment to fitness every week whether it's a personal trainer, friend, or just writing your own, and control your eating and fill yourself with healthy foods. I am an average 26-year-old woman who now has an athletic body and a confidence level like I've never experience before. If you asked me what I did to get where I'm at today, you just read it. It was work. It was a positive mental attitude. And then, the results came. But I can't just go back to my old lifestyle and habits, no way! I love the new me from the inside, to the outside. Find YOUR fit!! Figure out what works for you and stick with it. We all are different, so plans vary but if you keep these principles and create your plan, I'll be "liking" your picture of the new you on Facebook :)
If you have ANY questions, please ask away! You can "like" my page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @WXChic327 and I will do my best to motivate you as well as give you any additional tips to help you experience a happy and healthy lifestyle. I'm a public figure, an icon in the community based on my line of work as a TV meteorologist, but now, I also want to be a positive role model and example for each and every one of you that no matter who you are or what your fitness goals are, you CAN accomplish them.
"You only live once. So do good unto others, but most importantly, don't forget to do good unto yourself."