I started out yesterday wanting to make a video for you all. The topic for the video was to be my WHY. Why do I do this? And why should you join me? As I ran through everything in my mind that I wanted to say, I started having a flood of thoughts that there was just no way I could organize into a coherent video presentation. To be honest, this may not even be a particularly coherent blog...but at least this way I can go back and edit ;). What sparked these thoughts, was a video that one of my fellow coaches posted on her wall. It was deeply moving. She talked about how she was at the gym and there were piles of sugary pastries and treats set out, and how much it bothered her, not because she is the food police, but because there are people that are going to the gym to ESCAPE those things, and to try and save their lives. You could feel the passion in her voice as she started to tear up when she said that the gym was supposed to be a place where those people felt supported because in many instances, that may be the ONLY place they can go to get refuge from unhealthy influences. It really moved me, and got me thinking...What am I that passionate about?
Now don't get me wrong, I certainly don't think it's cool to eat GMO's or shovel fast food burgers down your gullet (don't you just love that word?) each day at lunchtime, BUT my passion is not nutrition. I will always advocate eating lots of (organic if possible) fruits and veggies, not eating tons of sweets or white flours, and generally avoiding most processed foods. However, my heart is not 100% sold on that notion because for my fitness journey, that's never been what it's all about. If you've ever shared a meal with me at a restaurant, you will see that I eat with reckless abandon. I LOVE ooey gooey treats, and if I'm ordering a plate of loaded nachos, you can bet your arse that the only "nutritional" demand that I make is that there is no pork (I love my piggies). Again, as with a lot of my posts, here's where you ask yourself "...and how is this person a fitness coach?". Don't worry, I'll get there...My meals of that nature are few and far between. I enjoy one date night (sometimes two depending on his schedule) a week with my husband. During the rest of the week I am drinking my shakeology, eating whole grains and oats, fruits, and lean meats with veggies for dinner. I have worked very hard for my body, which even though I'm still about 12 pounds from my goal weight, I still completely LOVE. I understand that depending on lots of factors (type of exercise, bloating, etc), there will always be a fluctuation in my weight. It's important to me that I am HAPPY and love myself EXACTLY how I am right now, despite the fact that my ultimate goal is 12 pounds away. So anyways, back to my passion. Here it is. Well, I should say, there it is. I want other women to feel EXACTLY the same way that I do. I spent a good part of my life being "chunky". I was always active in gymnastics, and had a very muscular build, but did not ever do "cardio" until I started gaining weight in college. To be honest, I didn't even know "cardio" was a "thing" until my roommate told me that's how I could lose weight. I can remember thinking about summer and dreading being invited to pool parties...How would I explain the fact that I don't want to get in the pool? Do I say I have my period? Honestly...I would debate announcing to the whole world that I had blood running from my vagina just so that I wouldn't have to say "I'm fat and don't want you to see me in a bathing suit"...That may have been TMI, but it's the truth. Then there's wearing a shirt to the beach over your bathing suit and saying "I don't want to get sunburned". Come on lady, if people have their babies out in the sun you can slap on some sunscreen and disrobe. Here's the worst part. I KNOW that I'm not the only one who has contemplated this. I KNOW without a doubt that there is someone reading this right now who has done, and is already thinking about doing these things this summer. It's an awful feeling. It has taken me 2 years to shed 60 pounds, mostly due to my love of nachos. I started in April 2012. That summer, I stayed away from pool parties (I know now it was because even though I had completedINSANITY and everyone was telling me how great I looked with my clothes ON, that I didn't follow through on the nutrition aspect and didn't have as great results as I could have had). But guess what? I continued to work hard. I ran, I shaped up my diet (a little), and did Turbo Fire. The following May, when my husband and I got some time off together and finally went to one of our Texas "bucket list" locations, Schlitterbahn, I donned a new bikini....With no T-shirt on top!!! I was nervous, but when I got there, I realized that even though my body was far from perfect (at this point I was still almost 30 pounds from my goal weight), I had muscle tone, and CONFIDENCE because I KNEW that I had worked hard to get where I was. To my surprise, I looked at the other ladies in bikinis and realized that they looked pretty close to me! ***I didn't, however, compare myself to the 18-22 year old set...that's just not healthy for a 34 year old woman to do...Unfortunately I see A LOT of women get caught up doing so...I'm telling you now, STOP IT***
What I'm trying to get at here (I told you there were a flood of thoughts), is that where my passion lies is in that deep dark spot in many women's heads that says "I can't wear a bikini" or "I'm too fat for this dress". What I want people to know is that first of all, you NEED to be healthy, you DO NOT need to be skinny. Wherever you are in your journey, you should LOVE yourself for deciding to make a change and you should LOVE your body for the things that it's capable of. The other thing that I need you to know is that if you haven't yet made a decision to get healthy, and you don't want to spend another summer at the pool with a T-shirt over your bathing suit, YOU CAN CHANGE. I promise you can. You don't have to be at your ultimate goal weight to don a bathing suit. You just need to start TAKING THE STEPS to get there, and I cannot tell you how much your confidence will soar. I post A LOT of pictures on facebook. I am guilty of "fitness selfies". I take pictures of myself when I look cute. It's not out of vanity or bragging at my accomplishments. It's because when I look back for "transformation tuesday" pictures, I have VERY FEW to pick from. Not because I didn't spend a good amount of time being well overweight, but because I deleted EVERY bad picture of myself. The only ones that got kept were the ones that made me look SKINNIER than I actually was. I don't ever again want to quit documenting my life just because of my insecurities.
What I want everyone reading this to know is that you DO NOT have to put yourself out to pasture just because you don't have your "twenties" figure anymore. I started my journey at 32. I'm not saying that's old. In fact, I feel younger now than I ever have, but I also know that there are women out there who are thinking "I'm in my thirties, what's the point?" The point is two things. Your HEALTH and your WELL BEING. I'm of the opinion that being unhappy is just as detrimental to your health as a fast food drive thru, and unfortunately sometimes the two go hand in hand. I hope in some way my brutal honesty has spoken to someone out there and helped them feel that they aren't alone. If it has, please reach out to me. I've been there, and I know how hard it is, but I am also willing to commit to you 100%. If you don't give up on you, neither will I.
I've been on my fitness journey for 2 years this month. I started with INSANITY, then moved on to Turbo Fire, Les Mills Pump, T25, and the 21 Day Fix. Prior to starting these programs, believe it or not, I was an AVID gym goer, yet I was still over 200 pounds. I've lost 60 pounds to date. I get questions all the time about my "secrets." Well, if you're lucky enough to land on this page, you're in for a treat...Here it is!
The Compound Effect.
The what, you say? The Compound Effect is an amazing book written by Darren Hardy. Essentially, it discusses the little things that we do everyday, that may seem completely insignificant, and how they affect our lives. I literally recommend this book to EVERYONE WITH A FUNCTIONING BRAIN. That's how good it is. Until I read it, it never occured to me that I was using the compound effect to my advantage. You see, when I started my fitness journey, my goal was just to get back to being comfortable in my own skin. I didn't give a damn about getting healthy and I certainly wasn't going to be giving up my favorite foods. I didn't want "6-pack" abs (still don't!), and I wasn't going to train for a marathon (still not!). I JUST wanted to feel comfortable around other people without having to cover my fat rolls. A funny thing happened, though. As I started to lose the weight, immersed myself in my challenge groups and surrounded myself with healthy people, I really started to THINK about the food that I was putting into my body. I had noticed that the little substitutions that I was making (almond milk for dairy milk, oatmeal and berries instead of a breakfast sandwich), had all started to add up. I started pushing harder in my workouts. Running a little further each time or getting just one more push up in. What had happened, was that while I wasn't looking, I had become fit! I had also become healthy! It's no secret that I now drink Shakeology daily. Over the course of a few months when I first started, I not only had gotten trimmer, but when I went to get my cholesterol retested, my BAD cholesterol had dropped 42 points! THINGS WERE HAPPENING!!! Here's what else I noticed. I started to understand that there was a reason why the people who teased me about my "diet" foods (Shakeology, fruits and veggies) were always complaining about being tired, had to call in sick to work, or just plain looked like crap. Not trying to hate on anyone here, honestly. I totally respect a person's right to do what they want with their own body. But once I had stepped away from that lifestyle (I like to think I was never THAT bad, but still), I realized that those little decisions to stop at the Sonic Drive Thru every morning were the compound effect working AGAINST them. You see, to get in shape, you don't need to make some huge lifestyle change. You really just need to make simple changes and KEEP DOING THEM. That's where the "diet" people get it wrong. A diet ALWAYS has an end date. And that's why they don't see the long term progress. If you just continue to make those positive changes, you will get there. Which is why now, TWO YEARS after I my journey, I'm STILL a work in progress. I don't want to do some drastic juice cleanse or cut out my favorite foods. I just want to continuously work to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That's it. No abs for this girl. That goal may change, but for now I like my nachos too much ;) My point here is that it's really NOT THAT HARD. I promise, and I'll prove it...
Here's my step by step guide to getting healthier and maybe losing a few pounds:
1. Exercise. Get off your ass and get your blood pumping a few times a week.
2. Stop eating like an asshole. Eat healthy, whole, non-processed foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and complex carbs MOST of the time.
That's it. There's no secret trick and those steps really aren't that hard. But they WILL get you results...IF you stick with them. For me, I follow the 80/20 rule. 80% good food, 20% not so good, which means that I do not need to give up my beloved nacho cheese in order to have a body that I LOVE. It's all about TRUE moderation. Oh, moderation...that means eating so-so most of the day and then demolishing a pint of Ben and Jerry's at night, right? No. Not even close. True moderation is eating healthy ALL WEEK, and having ONE or TWO not so great meals during the weekend.
That's it. Honestly. No counting calories. No fad diets. Just eat wholesome foods without a bunch of artificial ingredients and I promise, the weight will gradually come off. Now, for my people who have a significant amount of weight to lose in order to avoid serious health complications, or someone with tons of motivation to get super fit, steps 1 and 2 do not apply to you. You will need a little bit more effort...You will need to follow a serious exercise regimen, focus hard on your nutrition, eating more like 95/5, and have lots of support. For the vast majority though, following a simple nutrition plan and incorporating a workout regimen into our lives is enough to get you to where you want to be. I promise...You just have to do it.
Not quite what you'd expected from a fitness coach, huh? Well, here's the deal. I AM passionate about fitness and I do love to exercise. Well, rather, I love the way I feel when I'm done exercising and I love the results that I get from pushing my body beyond what's comfortable. BUT, and here's a BIG but...I love to eat! And yes, we all know people who say they love to eat and that it's hard for them to be healthy too, but then they get all googly eyed over some avocado and a kale salad and you're like "oh, yeah, you are SOOOO bad". Well, I'm not that guy. I LOVE bad foods. And when I say bad, I don't mean just white carbs or too much fruit after 8pm. I love taco bell nacho cheese. I love fried chicken and biscuits. I even dabble in the occasional McDonald's fries. I love virtually anything that will clog my arteries (gross, I know). I'm probably talking myself out of a job right now, cause anyone in their right mind should be thinking "How in THE HELL is this girl going to help ANYONE?!??!?!!". Well, to be honest, sometimes I wonder the same exact thing, but I have been able to lose 60 pounds and keep (almost all of them...we'll get to that in a minute) off without any tricks or gimmicks and even with my love of disgusting goodness. You see, my fitness journey has not been an easy or quick one. I didn't wake up one day, rid my house of all junk and decide to adopt a 100% clean diet. I have gradually, fumbled my way towards a healthy lifestyle, always loving myself, and trying to constantly get better. About a month ago, I started an AMAZING program, called the 21 day fix. I am SO proud to say that I stuck to it and didn't cheat once. I lost 9 pounds and a few inches all over. On the 22nd day, my husband and I were reunited after being apart 6 weeks. OF COURSE a date night was in order. Then, the following day, we packed up our apartment. OBVIOUSLY we would need to order take out, because all of our dishes were packed. The following day, we loaded up our u-haul. We worked so hard, SURELY we deserved a last meal at our favorite taco place. The next day, we HAD to eat fast food for every meal, and when we rolled into our new town at 11:30 at night, PIZZA WAS A MUST. I think you see where I'm going with this. Here's my problem. I can stick with an exercise program. I can stick with a meal plan. BUT, inevitably, there will always be that time where life gets in the way and you either have a hard time staying committed because of your schedule or circumstances, or you have (excuse my language), a case of the "fuck its". For me, this past week was a little bit of both. BUT, here's my secret weapon. When things like this happen, I don't beat myself up. I remember what I tell my challengers when they have a slip up. Sometimes you make a bad call. Sometimes you go on a bender. But there always comes that point where you have no choice but to be honest with yourself. You look in the mirror and say NO MORE. This moment came for me last night when I was again getting ready to be squired about town by my handsome husband and I had one of those moments I hadn't had in MONTHS. I felt fat in everything I put on. Now, I know I know, I'm beautiful no matter what...blah blah blah. I worked TOO HARD during those 21 days to throw away my results. And I've worked TOO HARD over the past couple of years to take a ride down a shame spiral and just let myself go. So, this morning, I expressed my frustration to my husband, who was also feeling not so hot after our week long binge, and we decided to get back on the fix program. I decided after I finished my first round that I would adopt this program for a LONG time to come while still allowing some flexibility. My goal is to get these few pounds off that I put on over the past week and then use the fix style meals 80% of the time. I know that's a very un-beachbody coachy thing of me to say, because the people who have amazing bodies are the ones who commit to a healthy diet 100% of the time, but for me this is about a LIFESTYLE, not getting a 6 pack. I plan to use the fix as a guide, as it has taught me SO MUCH about proper nutrition, but I also still plan to enjoy my occasional plate of nachos every now and then, without worrying how many blue and yellow containers I've eaten. So, for now, I'm back to portioning out my meals according to color, and am loving every minute of being back on a routine. Every good thing that I eat is a reminder that I LOVE my body and am taking care of it the way that I'm supposed to again.
Hi! I'm Andrea Cummings. I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle that I can MAINTAIN and that still lets me feel like I'm not being deprived. I like to exercise, but I also love to eat (nachos!). My main focus is to be healthy, not skinny, and to help others do the same! I love Jesus, but I also say fuck a lot, so if you're offended, I may not be the gal for you.