There were two instances in my life where I lost 30 pounds from diet an exercise. The first time was when I was competing at the state level of the Miss America Organization and the second time was on my own accord during my first year of grad school. I have had many people ask me about my weight-loss journey, so I’ve decided to compile everything here in this blog post to help some of you who may be wanting to lose weight or begin a healthier lifestyle. Here’s the truth about weight loss and everything you need to know!
My weight loss journey has not been easy.
As a former dancer and pageant competitor, I have always struggled with wanting to achieve the “perfect” body type. There are standards that have been placed on both dancers and pageant queens that emphasize the importance of physique and appearance. I am in no way wanting to speak negatively of any dance or pageant organization that I have been a part of in the past- I am lucky to have made amazing friends and grown incredibly as a person through these organizations- but that does not negate the fact that being involved in these activities can put a strain on you physically and mentally.
It’s important for me to be healthy and look healthy.
My mental health takes a toll when I am not looking or feeling my best. This might sound vain, but because of my previous involvement in activities that rely on appearance and my own interest in health and fitness, my mood is heavily dependent on how I feel or how I think I look. If I am feeling down or feeling bloated, going to the gym or eating spinach helps me feel better. I know not everyone can relate to this which is totally fine, but I wanted to identify where I was coming from in writing this blog post. Also before I dive in to this, I am in no way a professional fitness coach or nutritional expert. Please speak with your doctor before beginning any sort of fitness journey or nutritional change!
This blog post has been broken down into three sections. Part 1 is for those who are looking for a short term weight loss plan and wanting to lose weight fast (losing weight for a vacation coming up or for competing in a pageant). For those who don’t have a time constraint and are looking to lose weight in a less drastic method, Part 2 is for you. Part 3 is an overview of my current exercise routine and eating plan. By providing you with what I have done in each different scenario gives you the freedom to find something that might work for you and your lifestyle!
Part 1: Quick Weight Loss
When I was competing for Miss Missouri, I lost 30 pounds in the few months leading up to the competition. I needed to lose weight fast, but the way I got there was not sustainable as a long-term plan. Here’s what I did.
The Workout Regimen
- 30-45 minutes of difficult cardio every day such as running, elliptical, or stair climber.
- Light weights every day to tone arms.
- Light abdominal workouts every day (5 minute abs).
- Stretch or yoga once a day. This is a great way to start or end your day depending on if you are a morning person or a night owl.
The Meal Plan
- Drink a gallon of water every day. This helps you stay hydrated and can help your skin clear up! This also helps reduce bloating.
- Avoid white starches and foods with excessive carbs.
- Cut out all processed foods. Everything you eat should be found in nature.
- Opt for lean meat and low-fat proteins.
- Eat lots of veggies daily and fruit once or twice a day. Be careful not to eat too much fruit as fruit has a lot of sugar.
- Do not eat fast food! If you must eat on the go, try to eat salad without dressing.
- No fried foods. Try to cook everything you can on the stove with as little oil as possible.
- To season your food, use pepper. Don’t add extra salt!
- A great example of a healthy breakfast would be egg whites, spinach, turkey, and black bean omelette.
- A few weeks before the event, try cutting out caffeine. This will help with bloating.
- A week before the event, try to limit your salad intake as salads can cause bloating as well.
These measures seem extreme, and that is because they are. As I mentioned before, this IS NOT a sustainable lifestyle and is very hard to master. I would recommend doing this only if you are planning on trying it for a month or less and if it’s because of a special event or competition. Any time frame longer than that and you will go crazy. TRUST ME!
Part 2: Gradual Weight Loss
The Gradual Weight Loss plan that I opted for when I was in my second year of grad school was to follow the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide. If you do not have access to a guide like BBG, I have created something similar that would work just as well.
The Workout Regimen
- Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: High intensity interval training focusing on legs, arms and abs, or full body for 30 minutes. You want to be able to come up with a circuit that has you sweating from start to finish. Only rest 30 seconds between each set. You want to optimize the 30 minutes and burn as many calories as you can in that time!
- Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday: Run, walk, go to a workout class, swim- do something that elevates your heart rate for at least 30 minutes. When I was doing this method I’d usually try to do something for an hour on these days.
- Sunday: Stretch and rest. You deserve a day off if you completed all of your workouts leading up to today! If not, catch up on a workout you may have missed.
The Meal Plan
- Aim to eat 6 small meals per day
- 6 servings of grains
- 5 servings of vegetables or beans
- 2 servings of fruit
- 2.5 servings of dairy
- 2.5 servings of lean meat, eggs, fish, or alternatives
- 2 servings of healthy fats
- 8 cups of water, tea, herbal tea, or coffee. Emphasis on the water!!!
- Try to make healthy choices as much as you can. This will make it a lot easier to have enough energy to complete the workouts and go about your day!
This method of weight loss is sustainable and doable. I did something similar to this for 12 weeks and saw incredible results. This is a great option if you want to make healthy lifestyle choices a part of your daily routine.
Part 3: My Current Routine
What I am doing now compared to what I was doing when I was actively trying to lose weight, as you will see, is very different. I eat pizza once a week and don’t do nearly as much cardio as I did before. Here’s what I am doing now for weight maintenance and what is working for my mental health.
The Workout Regimen
- Weight training 4 days a week
- running 1 mile 3 days a week
My weight training consists of legs, back and biceps, chest and triceps, and shoulders and abs. On the days I don’t go to the gym, I run a mile. I do these workouts with Luke and he teaches me how to weight train in the gym because before I was doing mostly body weight exercises with not a lot of weight training knowledge. It has been a nice change of pace to focus on strength and building muscle rather than trying to lose weight.
The Meal Plan
- I don’t really have one
I have been slacking pretty hard on the eating side of health and fitness lately! Usually I eat brown rice and chicken or pork, spaghetti with ground turkey, Chipotle, or pizza for lunch or dinner. Breakfast is typically an egg with half of a bagel and avocado if I’m feeling fancy or a protein bar.
I’ve been trying 310 Nutrition protein shakes and lemonades lately to have more healthy snacks throughout the day and that has been a game changer! You can check out 310 Nutrition here and use my discount code 310ASHLEY_MARIE for a discount on your order!
I will probably try to incorporate more cardio into my workout plan soon and focus more on nutrition, but right now I am enjoying the routine I’m in and I always leave the gym feeling satisfied so I will stick to this for a little bit longer!
It takes 21 days to make a habit.
If you can commit to living a healthy lifestyle for 21 days I promise something will stick! As long as you start incorporating more whole foods and more activity into your lifestyle, you will see results. The truth about weight loss is that it is not easy but consistency is key. All small changes are a reason for celebration and I know you can do it if you set your mind to it. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or need words of encouragement. Go out there and be awesome!
Much love, Ashley Marie