When my boss invited everyone to do a company-wide 30-day ab challenge, my first thought was, NOPE. Then he attached a monetary reward to it and the competitive spirit in me reared its ugly head.
Thirty-Seven Years of Skinny Fat
People hate me because I look like I’m skinny and, for the most part, I am. Up until the 9th grade I weighed about 80lbs and until I hit the lovely age of 30ish, I was able to eat whatever I wanted and do nothing and still look like I was thin and healthy. Underneath my clothes though was cellulite and a belly, which when bloated, rivaled that of a 4-month pregnant lady. Like many women, my body changed drastically after I had a baby. I gained 45lbs – mainly from eating dessert after every meal – and never really bounced back to a semi flat-ish tummy. Before baby, my abs were passable, never flat, and I always had a little muffin top. When I turned 37, I started running, thinking that I’d lose the weight, finally, and right away. After 300+ miles and five months, I looked worse than ever, but you couldn’t tell too much when I was fully clothed. Which since I live at the beach, actually isn’t an easy feat. Inside, I knew I was fat – an unhealthy, deep in my gut fat and it seemed no matter what I did, I couldn’t get rid of it.
Anyhow, the morning of the announcement of the ab challenge, I took a selfie of my abs in the bathroom. I was absolutely mortified and was certainly not going to post this unflattering view of myself. As the day went on, and people began bravely posting their photos, I was swayed to join in, and the competition began.
Four Weeks Later…
This is the after photo. Yes, there is a drastic improvement, but I’m a photographer; I know good angles and good lighting. I’m still a ways from where I want to be – I’d like to sit and not have rolls; I’d like to eat some carbs and not look more like the before photo the next morning. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely encouraging to see progress.
30-Day Ab Challenge: How I Went From Skinny Fat to Fit (ish)
During this time, I listened to numerous podcasts and noticed a common theme among the fat loss episodes. There are five things I implemented in these 30 days that I feel made the difference, finally, to me seeing some results.
1. More sleep
I aimed for 8 hours a night, and I think my average was 7-7.5 hours each night. I had a cup of Natural Calm Magnesium before bed every night and slept like a baby. There are scientific reasons why sleeping more helps you lose fat, mainly dealing with your hormones, but since I’m not an expert by any means, I’ll let you do your own research on that.
2. More H20
Water is so boring, but so very necessary to help our body function at its optimal state. I aimed for 100oz of water a day, which for me is a lot. My goal is to get to a gallon a day. If you want to read more about water and reasons to drink more of it, check out this article here.
3. Little to No Sugar
I have the worst sweet tooth. I, like many Americans, am totally addicted to sugar. And since sugar is in everything, this was one of the hardest things for me to overcome, especially since I am anti-artificial sweeteners (they are horrible for you). Even fruit has a ton of sugar in it (albeit natural but gives the same insulin spike!). I didn’t quit cold turkey, but I was able to severely limit my sugar intake. Here were my workarounds:
- Chocolate “pudding” – mix a scoop of protein powder (make sure there’s no sugar in your powder!) with unsweetened vanilla coconut milk, add a teaspoon or two of natural peanut butter (only 2g of sugar). On hard training days, I’d dip and apple in it, on other days, I just ate it with a spoon!
- Chocolate “Ice Cream” – In my Blendtec, I blended a frozen banana (which does have a good amount of sugar, so I only did this 1-2x a week, a scoop of chocolate protein powder, a tablespoon of unsweetened vanilla coconut milk and 2 teaspoons of natural peanut butter
- Chia Seed Pudding – I used 2 cups of unsweetened coconut milk (or almond milk), and 1/2 C of chia seeds and mixed it in a mason jar. In a few hours, it thickened up, and a drizzled a tiny bit of honey over it.
4. Little to No Dairy
When I started the challenge, I was eating Greek yogurt for breakfast, cheese in my salad at lunch and some ice cream a few days a week for dessert after dinner. As soon as I stopped eating dairy, (sad because I love cheese and ice cream), the bloating went down noticeably.
5. Changed Up My Workouts
Instead of solely running or spinning, I began checking out different workouts to keep my body guessing. The fitted membership gives me access to 45+ gyms in the Orange County area, each with different programs, trainers and workouts to keep me motivated and never bored.
That’s it. I ate fairly normally most of the time and the last week of the challenge, I ate more clean protein and fewer carbs. I also added an extra cardio session in here and there the final few days. Now that the challenge is over, the real challenge is sticking to these new habits and finally getting to my ultimate goal of having some great abs!
Oh, and I won 🙂