I've briefly mentioned that I've been following the Tone It Up nutrition plan for the past several months. I'm not sure why I haven't been more public with this, because it has snowballed into an enormous part of my life! I guess I was originally nervous to share with the world because I didn't want to get all excited about this "brand new thing!!" and then set myself up for failure. Plus, I've been eating generally healthy for years and didn't join the plan to lose a ton of weight--I joined because I wanted a kick in the booty to finally clean up my act and hold myself accountable to my nutrition and workouts.
However, over the past several weeks I've been experiencing an enormous shift in my perspective, sense of identity, and vision, and people in my life have started to notice. I'm becoming more confident and driven in all aspects of my life. I'm realizing that my experiences and actions hold a lot of influence, and I want to share so that I can hopefully help others! Here is the beginning of my story.
What is Tone It Up?
Tone It Up is a fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle brand owned by two gorgeous and funny personal trainers, Karena and Katrina. Their website, www.toneitup.com, offers free workout routines, healthy recipes, and fitness inspiration. They also offer a range of products including workout DVDs, protein powder and nutritional supplements under the Perfect Fit brand, and a huge and extensive nutrition plan. They recently had their own show on Bravo called Toned Up, which you might have seen if you have cable (jealous!!). I discovered TIU a couple years ago through a summer shape-up feature in SELF magazine, and since I'm obsessed with fun new workouts and healthy recipes, I was hooked from the start. It took me a long time to finally cave in and invest in the nutrition plan since it's $150, but from the second I made the decision I have had absolutely no regrets. That purchase was hands-down the best money I have ever spent!
I'm not going to post a comprehensive break-down of what the plan entails, but I'd be happy to do so in the future if you're interested! Like I said before, I did not join to lose weight (as many women do), but I wanted to lean down and gain muscle---aka "tone it up!"
On the nutrition plan, you eat five meals a day, or three meals and two snacks. I love food, and I LOVE snacks, so this was really easy for me to adjust to. The secret to the nutrition plan is how you structure your meals. You don't deprive yourself of anything, but instead you eat certain foods at certain times of day to optimize your metabolism!
Here's a snapshot of my typical day:
- 5:30--Wake up, drink a juice/apple cider vinegar concoction and big glass of water, and workout for about an hour. (I take 1-2 complete rest days a week). If I'm starving I have a bite of banana or Larabar pre-workout.
- 7:00--M1, My fave! Currently I love oats/yogurt/chia mess, or protein pancake or waffle with fruit, sometimes scrambled eggs with extra whites and toast.
- 9:30--M2, Greek yogurt and fruit, or a healthy bar.
- 12:00--M3, Huge salad with lots of veggies and chicken/tuna, homemade vinaigrette, avocado/nuts, and an apple.
- 3:30--M4, Usually veggies and hummus with almonds, or celery and pb.
- 6:30--M5, Healthy dinner of lean protein and veggies.
- 8:30--If I'm still hungry I make a M6, usually plain Greek yogurt, stevia, and cocoa powder.
- 9:30--Try to be in bed so I can wake up psychotically early and repeat!
(all photos from my Instagram)
At this point you might be thinking: "Well that sounds obvious. Work out, eat healthy, why do you need to buy a program??" Well, the most powerful part of the Tone It Up nutrition plan is the community on social media. You're encouraged to post "check-ins" every time you complete a workout or eat a meal, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of other women to offer their support and motivation. The accountability component is so critical to long term success when you're adopting a new lifestyle! I log everything on my Instagram account @joyofanna, and I've actually forged some incredible friendships with the women I've met!
I would never have considered myself overweight, but I was never active and in college my weight hit close to 150 lbs via the typical story of eating and drinking. I slowly discovered healthy eating and working out, and gradually lost most of the weight over the years, with ups and downs along the way. There hasn't been a huge physical difference since I started Tone It Up, but I can see and feel the changes. My "squishy edges" have become toned, muscular edges and I am shaping curves with muscle instead of fat. Most importantly, I feel STRONG and capable of anything.
I've struggled with negative body image ever since I was in junior high, which is absolutely heartbreaking. Unfortunately this is a pervasive element in our culture and society. Throughout high school and college, my girlfriends and I bonded over fat-talk and picking apart what we perceived as our physical flaws.
"Ugh I feel soooo gross today"
"This dress/shirt/skirt makes me look fat"
"I hate my stomach"
"I ate a cookie and I hate myself"
"I'm going to need 3 layers of Spanx to pull this off!!"
"I can't believe I ate that"
"How did I get so wide?"
Why are we so critical of ourselves? What is up with this damaging cycle of guilt and comparison?
Why can't we just treat our bodies like the incredible powerhouses they are, love our shapes and sizes, and be happy?
Ever since I started Tone It Up, my most drastic transformation has occurred inside my spirit. I have literally STOPPED fat-shaming myself. I have not had a single "bad/gross day" in terms of body image. I know that I am doing everything I can to treat my body the way it deserves, and that's all I can do! I'm never going to look like a Victoria's Secret Angel, but why should that be a goal in the first place???
No matter how much you weigh, YOU ARE NOT GROSS!
You are beautiful!
I've finally reached the point where I have almost 100% self confidence in my abilities and my body image, the majority of the time. I will always be striving to work towards the best possible version of Anna I can be for the sake of myself and everyone I love, but I am very careful not to direct any negativity towards my own body. Even though I will never be perfect, this focus on positivity has been cascading into my spirit and the way I interact with the people in my life and the world in general. This is HUGE. I am not happy every single day, but a bad day does not equal a bad life. If you put yourself first, you will ultimately become a better person, better friend, better partner, better mother, it goes on and on.
To achieve this transformation you don't have to buy an expensive plan, but you have to really want to change your body, mind, and your life. You must be willing to put in the effort to make those changes. At first it's a lot of work, but soon it gets easier and eventually it will be your lifestyle. The physical changes are easier than the mental changes, and like everything else in life it's a constant process.
I've been doing an enormous amount of self-reflection this winter. Ben and I have finally hit stability in our lives--we both have jobs, are pretty much debt-free, and are starting to really plan for our future. Obviously life is never all sunshine and rainbows but we're in a really great place and I'm so so so grateful for all of our blessings. All the struggles and challenges I've experienced over the past few years as I've tried to find a job, find a home, find a "direction," and start a marriage have forged an incredible amount of strength and wisdom inside of me and created a person that I am extremely proud to be. I've started to share little bits of my experiences and knowledge that I've gained, and I'm discovering that the people I care about are truly interested and love to hear! So I'm finally ready to share.
I want to share what I've learned and spread this sense of confidence to other women and girls. Our society is brutal, and to fight back we need to start supporting each other and finding ways to love our bodies instead of picking apart our "flaws." I want to help people become happy and comfortable in their own skin.
I want to pay it forward and use my experiences to motivate and inspire other people to achieve their dreams and goals too. I want to spread joy!
2014 is going to be the year I END my cycle of worry, stress, uncertainty, and doubt and BEGIN a life of positivity, joy, gratitude, and empowerment.
I recently jumped on the opportunity to become a "coach" for Beachbody, the company who creates successful home fitness programs like P90X. My main focus in this new adventure is not to sell products, but to help people create and live healthy, fulfilling lives--whether that means losing weight or just getting healthier and gaining confidence. I am going to be running small, private, FUN fitness challenge groups on Facebook for women who want accountability and want to make a change, and I will be there to support and guide them every step of the way. My first groups are focused on a brand new program called the 21 Day Fix, which emphasizes portion control and weight loss. I am definitely going to be blogging my way through my 21DF experience starting next week, so stay tuned :)
I am literally bursting at the seams with excitement for this new journey.
Please let me know if you have ANY questions, because I would love to chat more about anything!!!
You can leave a comment or email me at email@example.com