My story, like many a weight loss story I suspect, begins in a dressing room.  It was a lovely, high end Nordstrom dressing room with a chipper personal shopper and mirrors from every angle, but there I was in all my glory staring back at myself.  “It’s all we are left with in the end, isn’t it?” I remember thinking to myself.  The size 14 was an impossible dream that wouldn’t make it over my thighs, the size 16 was an unbearable sausage casing, the size 18 accentuated my back rolls with impressive focus, and- finally- it was the size 20 from the “Encore” plus sized department that I was left with. Because, really ladies, what is larger than an encore?  What says “enjoys carbohydrates” more than calling an entire department plus sized, as if it is a bonus add on to the normal folk sizes?  For all the sense that plus sized makes, we might as well just start calling the petite department “minus”.  I was coming up on my 34th birthday, staring down the barrel of a divorce with a transition to single motherhood, and giving myself a cold, hard look at my naked self in that dressing room set the stage for what would be the longest lasting, most monumental health change that I have ever committed to.  Here I am today, almost 4 months later, and I am here to tell you all of the details of how to lose 40lbs in 4 months.

GET YOUR HEAD ON STRAIGHT: There is no magic pill, no diet, no master cleanse that is going to give you lasting results. Every other time in my entire life that I tried to lose weight it was for the wrong reason: to lose weight. My rolls- the back fat that almost justified its’ very own back bra- and the gut that, even when I was sucking in as hard as I could (as I am in the first photo) rolled over my panties- were all just symptoms of a much larger problem. I was unhealthy. Not only was I unhealthy physically, but I was very unhealthy mentally and emotionally when I began this journey. I claimed to embrace my curves, to love my booty, and quoted phrases like “men don’t like bones”, but the hatred I had for “gym rats” and “salad eaters” was really self hatred for not knowing how I, too, could make those kinds of lifestyle choices without feeling deprived.  The harsh reality is that you need to consume less calories and burn more calories. Less cheeseburgers and more stairs. It’s basic math and it doesn’t require a personal trainer, a diet system, or a magic pill. Stop trying to lose weight and start trying to make one decision each day for living a healthier life. Order that salad, take the stairs, or just give yourself five minutes in front of the bathroom mirror to reset before taking on the chaos of the day.

WORK IT OUT: Make it a goal to sweat at least once a day. For the first month I worked out in the gym 3 times a week for 45-60 minutes each time. Every exercise was full body, so I didn’t have leg day or arm day. I had lots of burpees, plank, step ups, lunges, and squats. Honestly, you don’t even need a gym for what I spent most of my time doing that first 4-6 weeks. Just find a park and kick your own ass military style. On my days outside of the gym I went to the pool with my girls, but instead of sunbathing, I got in and played with them. My personal trainer calls this “active rest”, but I describe it as getting off my ass.  I took the girls to the park and kicked the soccer ball.  The unexpected side affect was that my house stayed cleaner because I was always up doing something and I quit leaning because it just felt better to stand tall with good posture.  After that first 4-6 weeks we increased to a more regimented 4 times per week with 3 cardio sessions and that’s when we dove into the heavy lifting. I started out lifting 5lb dumbbells and having a tough time getting through three full sets.  Today I did 35lb dumbbells and I am looking forward to getting to 40lbs next week.  My favorite thing to say now is that I lift heavy shit. 5 year old Mia calls me Wreck It Ralph and asks me to flex.  The muscle definition is insane, but the confidence is even more insane. I used to be so afraid of the weight lifting areas and the machines.  I felt so out of place, like everyone was staring at me because they knew the fat girl didn’t belong. Today, I own it and I am really excited to join a real gym to make gym friends. I feel like an athlete. I feel like I can do anything. Most of all, I feel that sharing with all of you that I believe you can do it, too.  If you need someone to kick your butt and you are really committed, you should give Allen Gaines at Making Gaines a call at (702) 750-5876.

FOOD, FOOD, FOOD: I refuse to even call it diet because I have failed at every diet on Earth. I got the lap band surgery, had liposuction, got a tummy tuck, tried phentermine, vitamin B shots, pretty much everything you can think of, I have been there, done that valiantly for about 45 days. For the first 60 days of my journey I did what I call “common sense eating”. I still ate the occasional In N Out burger, but I had one and didn’t order the animal style fries and chocolate shake to go with it. I dialed back my usual orders and made a point to cook dinners that were mostly lean meat, steamed vegis, and a small carbohydrate. At the 2 month mark I knew that I had to do something more, so I did a massive amount of research on every protein shake and diet system known to man kind. Advocare, Herbalife, Isagenix, Unicity- I tasted all of the shakes and listened to all of the pitches. Finally, I heard about a unique hydrolyzed collagen protein line that had a 95% absorption rate compared to whey protein’s 53% absorption rate and thought it had to be too good to be true. All of the other shakes gave me brutal gas or tasted terrible, but I started supplementing my breakfast and lunch with the Visi Nufinna shakes because they are delicious and only 90 calories.  For snacks, I have a healthy fruit or vegi, but I have started using the Visi Probita chews and, since hydrolyzed collagen protein is great for overall health, I have been giving the chews to my daughters, who have suffered with eczema since they were babies and their skin has almost completely cleared up.  Throughout the day I am taking a cleansing supplement called Rensa to kick the toxins from all the fat I am burning out of my body.  For dinner most nights I am cooking for one, so I bake a chicken breast, throw a can of green beans into the microwave, and bust out some delicious brown minute rice. I have played with broccoli and brussel sprouts, but if I am really being honest here, you can find me eating pretty much that same dinner 5 out of 7 nights.  I like the Visi line because it isn’t expensive- less than $200 per month- and it is tremendously effective.  For me, it was the easiest decision I made and I’ve lost 11lbs in a week, so the results speak for themselves.  If you’re interested in trying it, let me know or check out my site here.

A FEW THINGS THAT I HAVE LEARNED: At the 90 day mark I hit the longest that I have ever stuck with any lifestyle change in my entire life. This has outlasted the 2 months in high school when I lived on Gardetto’s snack mix and orange crush soda because I wanted to lose weight for prom or the almost 90 days when I tried the Dr. Bernstein injection program. Along the way I have learned that I have to track what I eat, how much water I drink, and what activity I do.  The free MyPlate application on my phone has been really handy for this. I figured out that early morning and late night workouts don’t work for me, so I schedule my workouts for 3PM each weekday and take the weekends as active rest days.  I surrounded myself with supportive people and silenced the people who did not give me the support I was looking for. I actively sought out inspiration on social media, becoming a raving fan of @staceyalxndr (she dances- it’s awesome!), @shauna_harrison (her how to videos are inspiring), and my personal inspiration @train2behealthy (her authenticity is motivating).  Try to have a goal that doesn’t involve a special occasion or particular size. For me, I am going to share with all of you my big, hairy audacious goal that I’ve only told my closest friends until now: I turn 35 at the end of April 2015 and by then I want to be competition ready. Yes, scary dark tan, teeny tiny bikini, and all, but I am going to do it. And here’s the truth: I still love my curves and my booty, but in a really healthy, happy way.