Hey everyone! I’ve been meaning to write this post since Saturday and am finally finding time to sit and take some time to write it.
So, as I have mentioned countless times before, I am a member of Tone It Up and have been for years. In case you have never heard of the Tone It Up (in which case… do you live under a rock?), it is business and community founded and run by best friends Katrina Hodgson and Karena Dawn. Tone It Up began as a Youtube channel and have since grown into a multi-million dollar company with tens of thousands of followers. K & K are unbelievable inspirational and have been my role-models since finding their Youtube channel in 2008. I could go on and on about how much I love them for forever, but instead I’ll just say that if you want to know more about Karena and Katrina as well as Tone It Up as a whole, you can read about them/it here.
This year marked the fourth year for Tone It Up’s Bikini Series, an annual challenge beginning in the spring and ending on the first day of summer. The goal is to get you into tip-top shape come bikini season (i.e. summer)!
Throughout the series, Karena and Katrina post weekly schedules for workouts on their website along with daily “Sunset Challenges” and post new toning routines each Tuesday. Participants are encouraged to check in daily via Instagram, Twitter, or in the Tone It Up Community with their meals and to offer encouragement to other Bikini Series participants!
(all from my Instagram)
For the sake of keeping this post from being obscenely long, you can read more about the Bikini Series here.
The Bikini Series is something that I look forward to every year and is something that I have been “participating” in since the very first one four years ago. Now, I put “participating” in quotations because every year I begin the series with good intentions… But every year, as I have mentioned before, I fail because I freak out and fall back into unhealthy habits.
This year, I wanted things to be different. I was/am so sick of constantly tormenting myself with guilt and fear and all of that other nonsense that prevents me from living the life that I want to. I want nothing more to be the image of health. I want to focus on eating healthy and nutrient dense foods instead of looking to get the least amount of calories in my meals. I want to be able to run fast and long and do it because I love it instead of doing hours of half-hearted workouts in hopes of burning as many calories as possible. I want to be fully recovered. I do.
It’s easier said than done… And more often than not, I convince myself that I don’t in fact want recovery… So this is my public reminder that I do want to be my best self, not my sickest self.
How does this ramble fit into the Bikini Series? Well, the Bikini Series was actually a huge proponent in my finally realizing just how badly I want to be a true example of a healthy and happy human being. The Bikini Series brings an unbelievable amount of beautiful, kind, and inspiring women together to work hard and support each other in a loving and positive community.
I really do have to say that I have never experience anything but positivity within the Tone It Up/Bikini Series community. Yes, I do realize that negative comments and statements are probably monitored and promptly deleted, but for the most part, I do think that the following surrounding Tone It Up is predominantly made up of kind-hearted people who genuinely want the best for all of the other women pursuing the same goal that they are: their best self.
Going onto my Instagram every day and seeing check in after check in of healthy meals and workouts and smiles from beautiful women of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds. Seeing all of these ladies succeeding in moving towards their best self really gave me the push that I needed on days where I would have much fathered skip lunch in favor of a calorie-free coffee.
In addition to the wonderful Tone It Up community, Karena and Katrina never fail to inspire me to strive for health. Like I said earlier, I discovered these two amazing ladies back in 2008 when I was just a self-conscious 8th grader who wanted to lose weight.
This may sound dramatic, but finding their videos on Youtube all those years ago truly changed my life forever. I found my love for fitness, I found my desire to pursue a career in healthy living (although I have swapped out my major in exercise science for journalism, I still want to personal train and be a fitness instructor more than anything), I found a desire to create Youtube videos to create and share my thoughts and ideas with the world (I finally worked up the courage to pursue that dream this year!)… I just can’t even properly explain to you how immense of an impact Tone It Up has had on my life.
I started this Bikini Series wanting to lose weight, although I know i probably didn’t need to, but not ready to dive in full force since I knew that I most likely would gain weight if I ate more.
I ended this Bikini Series focusing less on the weight and more on the mindset. I’ve been trying to think less and just live. Can I say that I’m recovered and now I can eat whatever I want without a second thought about how many calories are in it? No. Can I say that I allow my body the proper amount of rest that it needs between workouts? Unfortunately, no.. I can’t. But I can say that I am getting there.
For over 3 years not I have felt nothing but stuck. I wasn’t getting sicker, but I also wasn’t getting better. I gained weight without upping my calorie intake which caused my restricting even more out of complete terror that eating 5 extra calories would cause my weight to go up overnight again.
Yesterday, I weighed myself for the first time since my body completely betrayed me two years ago… Gaining almost 20 pounds in less than a month even though I was existing on less that 1000 calories a day and running competitively. I don’t know how I feel about the number… I didn’t feel much of anything about it actually. I wasn’t happy about the number, but it also didn’t cause me to workout an extra hour that day and skip breakfast. It was just a number.
I know it doesn’t seem like that is much, but it is everything to me.
This Bikini Series has put me on the path to a long overdue change that needed to be made. Don’t get me wrong, I am nowhere near where I need to be yet… But I’m closer. Even if I have only creeped an inch forward on the journey towards recovery, it is an inch more than I have moved in years.
I am so thankful to Tone It Up, the Bikini Series, and all of the incredible women who took part in the challenge for inspiring me each and every day to try to be my best self. I am thankful for the women who showed me that you don’t have to be perfect all the time, that you don’t have to punish yourself for a slip up, and that everyone is worth something.