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I was gifted T25 by a coworker in 2013. We were doing a “Biggest Loser” competition at work and my team decided to commit to one of Shaun T’s premier Beach Body programs. You may also know him for his “Insanity” program. Well, long story short, I never stuck with it for “Biggest Loser” and I started and stopped the damn program at least seven times in the last five years.
It wasn’t that it was too hard or too challenging for me, I would just always fall off the wagon for one reason or another. And for me, it only takes about a week for me to be out of the routine and then that week turns into months until I’m eventually back to the same starting place. My wake-up calls are typically being shocked and petrified by the number on the scale and/or struggling to zip my favorite pair of pants and/or back fat spilling over my bra… and/or etc. etc. etc.
It was last summer that I had reached an all-time high on the scale (164 lbs) and it actually scared me. I have always maintained around 150-155 lbs ever since graduating college, so the extra 10-15 lbs seemed astronomical to me.
For 4th of July weekend, I was at Smith Mountain Lake with my college roommate (#3, whose blog feature will be coming soon) and her family when I reached a true breaking point. I had packed three different bikinis and when I tried each one on, I remember being utterly disgusted by what I saw in the mirror and I couldn’t even blame it on poor lighting.
In the past, I had always been a bit “eh” about bikinis because my stomach has always been my problem area, but I had never been disgusted to the point where I wouldn’t wear one. All in all I had always been confident [enough] in my body. Never in my life had I been genuinely disgusted by it. So, this was an eye-opening moment for me, but I didn’t sulk, dwell, or otherwise. I opted for the same one-piece all weekend, knowing I had the ability to change those feelings of disgust with some hard-work and dedication.
Now this was around the same time that I had watched What the Health and decided that after July 4, I’d adopt a plant-based diet. (See my blog Reflecting On Being An “Almost” Vegan Turned Vegetarian for more on that).
So, soon after I became a vegetarian in the month of July, I started a short, 21-day HIIT program by Tiana Joelle, whom I follow on Instagram (@tianajoelle) and absolutely admire! She has an absolutely beautiful soul and is so passionate about her clients and their fitness journeys. And her body is just #GOALS! Definitely check her out!
These short at-home programs are my jam. I have always been able to dedicate myself to something for a short amount of time (both in terms of the length of each workout and the length of the program). So, when it came to T25, I was all about Shaun T “only asking for 25 minutes a day!” However, staying dedicated 6 days a week for 10 weeks just never happened for me between the years of 2013 and 2018. I believe the furthest I had ever made it was midway through Week 4 before I threw in the towel. Reasons varied and some were more legitimate than others (i.e., the difference between skipping workouts because you have homework for graduate school vs. my coworkers invited me to happy hour and I thought it was a great decision to get shit-housed in front of the people I’m supposed to be professional around.)
I did Tiana’s program during the month of August and it kick-started me back back into my running routine (3 miles daily), which I maintained through October. I don’t run once it gets cold. That’s not an excuse – just my body’s genetic makeup and I give major props to those who can run in the cold. I just am not one of them. So once November rolled around, I went back to Tiana’s program.
But then school and work grew obnoxiously stressful, Thanksgiving happened, etc. I fell off the workout wagon entirely. For those of you that read my blog That Time I Got Wine Drunk and Cut My Hair, you know that December was just… wine. I was on a two-bottle minimum on most nights. Not proud of this. Sure it gave me great content for a blog, but was I concerned for my well-being? Some days, I was. And then other days I told myself I was just going to finish out the shitty-ass year that was 2017 and nix the habit in 2018. In all honesty, my bank account wasn’t going to allow it to continue on much longer anyway.
Nonetheless, you can imagine that after all that drinking and the closest thing to a workout being me raising my wine glass – or bottle, on the nights when there were no clean glasses – to my lips… that my ass was severely out of shape. In fact, I was worse off than I was standing in front of the mirror in a bikini on the 4th of July.
With the new year starting and my wine supply completely diminished, I still didn’t immediately return to working out. In fact, I didn’t start T25 until January 15. For the two weeks that followed, though, I was inconsistent… missing days here and there and not making up for them over the weekend. I knew that if I wanted to finish this program, I’d have to really commit to it. Working out could not be a choice each day. It had to be a requirement.
So my official start-date became January 29, the same day my final class for my master’s degree started, which I knew would present a challenge for me, but I swear, if you wait to start at a “better time” you’ll be waiting around forever. Life is always going to be there. So, for the ten weeks that followed, I only missed one or two workouts and made them up over the weekend every time. And in terms of the workouts… well, I spent those ten weeks regularly cursing at Shaun T while simultaneously gasping for air.
Shaun T: “Don’t run from the work… feel the work.”
Me: “Oh, shut the fuck up!”
Shaun T: “No breaks! Air planks with a single-leg burpee! In 3, 2, 1…”
Me: “Yeah, you can go ahead and fuck off for a minute…” *chugs water*
Shaun T: “This is my gym and you’re gonna work!”
Me: “I’ll do whatever the fuck I want.”
I was definitely challenged physically and mentally, but once I started seeing results, it became addicting to the point where I looked forward to working out. I began to see “progress” in new ways… like when I realized I didn’t have to modify push-ups on my knees, I knew I was getting stronger. Or the time when I completed the “Total Body Circuit” (the most challenging workout for me in Phase 1) from start to finish without having to pause a single time.
I realized at the end of Phase 1 that I hadn’t taken before photos, but knowing that I was worse off than when I started Tiana’s program last summer, I decided to use those as a starting point. So below we have pictures taken August 1 (beginning of Tiana’s program), August 21 (end of Tiana’s program), and March 4 (end of Week 5 – Phase 1 of T25).
Of course, the lighting is a bit different, I’m in a different location in my living room, I’m not wearing the same clothes. And that’s just me picking apart the general composition of the photos, because I refuse to pick myself apart in this blog.
I’m proud to bare my flaws and my struggles because they are all part of who I am. And that’s such an important part of my blog… to show my followers every side of me, to include the sides that sometimes “disgust” me. I hope that in doing so, I’m giving others the courage to be loving, accepting, and the truest versions of themselves despite what the world may have to say about it. So sharing photos like this does not make me feel embarrassed, or vulnerable, or ashamed. It makes me feel powerful because I really couldn’t care less about what people might say about me and my body after seeing them.
So, I finished T25 a couple weeks back and honestly, I didn’t even bother to take a final “after” photo to pair with the one on the right, because after all these years of owning the program, here’s what FINALLY completing T25 has taught me:
My fitness journey is
not a short-term destination.
It’s a life-long commitment.
I made the decision when I started T25 to make my health a priority in 2018. No falling off the wagon for months at a time. No getting fit for my best friend’s wedding only to fall back into bad old habits immediately after. No allowing myself to drink my sorrows for a month straight because I had had a bad year.
Of course, before/after photos are a great way to track progress. I’m fully an advocate for them because many of us know all too well that the scale can be demoralizing and misrepresentation of the blood, sweat, and tears you have put into workouts. But for me, T25 made me realize that I need to be less concerned with how I look and more concerned with how I feel, especially during a workout.
Examples: I can do burpees without feeling like I’m going to cough up a lung. My quads have actual definition and I can see them contracting when I’m in a squat position. I’ve accomplished exercises that I literally could not do the first time I tried them. These are all recognizable wins that those pictures just do not show.
More importantly, focusing on the day-to-day accomplishments, as opposed to my “end-of-program progress pics” continues to remind me that I am not yet finished and never will be. Again, this journey is a life-long commitment that I must attend to every day.
In closing, I’m sorry if you thought this was going to be a review of T25. I can certainly do that if you all are interested, just leave me a comment below! Also, I want to hear from you! How do you measure “progress” in your fitness journey? What keeps you on track toward your goals when “life” happens? Do you ever feel like cursing at your personal trainer?
Part of me hopes that somehow this blog will get into Shaun T’s hands so he can finally hear, or at least read, some of the nasty things I screamed at him through the television. 😉 But also to say thank you for helping me find a new mindset when it comes to my health and fitness!