I literally CANNOT believe that I am showing you guys this photo. No seriously, I'm pretty comfortable with putting a lot out there but this was something I really battled with before deciding to do it. I took it yesterday morning and when my own loving, doting, supportive husband walked by and peaked in at me snapping "before" photos, I felt embarrassed and told him to leave.  But you know what? It has to be done. I need to put this out there and hold myself to my goals.

Let's back up. A little over a week ago I was scrolling through Instagram, and stumbled on a post by the Tone It Up girls. It was nothing revolutionary, just another cute post about healthy snacks. But for some reason, it was timely for me and it grabbed my attention. I've been following those girls for years and have watched so many new 8-week workout and nutrition initiatives come and go, and honestly never even thought about doing one. I just never felt like it was a good time to get on the Tone It up train. So many excuses, so little motivation. Yet I remained a devoted follower because I love what they're about. They radiate confidence, success, health, and happiness.

If you've been following me for the past couple of years, you might remember #thelifestyledfit, an initiative I started almost two years ago to get fit and eat healthier. I joined a gym, came up with a sort-of diet, and tried to make better decisions. I maybe lost a little weight and felt much better, but then I went to Italy where I ate whatever I wanted (duh), then came back and moved to a new apartment a few weeks later, and then it was time for the holidays. Then I started 2015 by doing Whole 30. During that, I got pregnant. Then, well, you know the rest. Here I am, 8 months postpartum and this is my body.

During pregnancy, I was a happy camper. I felt great, ate whatever I wanted, and gained a low-to-normal amount of weight. After I had Sailor, those feelings of greatness went away. Now, with no baby growing in my belly, I am just a girl with no excuses who feels fat and out of shape. There's feeling "OK I guess" when I look in the mirror and try to stand at the best possible flattering angle, but then there's taking a true before photo or accidentally catching a glimpse of myself in a window reflection to show me how unhappy I am with where I'm at. After the initial few pounds naturally came off with breastfeeding and such, I saw a steady plateau and started to figure out that the rest is only going to come off with one thing... #werk. And, well, if not now then WHEN?

So, my friends, it's time to Tone It Up. I've learned over the years of trying countless different things that majorly strict rules, restrictions, and lots of NO's don't work for me. I'm much happier if I focus on what I CAN eat rather than what I can't. I've also learned that losing weight is best done with an equal combo of diet and exercise, rather than a super hardcore plan of one or the other. It sounds so obvious, but it's something I needed to learn. It has to be all of the above, no question about it. Balance is key.

Another thing I don't do well with is diets that make me say goodbye to entire food groups. It's just not sustainable for me, and a good diet needs to be sustainable. Otherwise, what's the point?


SO there are a lot of things getting me excited about this 8-week Bikini Series. Here are the details, if you're curious...

I signed up for the bundle which includes a journal to track your progress, and 14 premium workout videos that they shot in Turks and Caicos and provide plenty of bikini inspiration. It's $170 to get all this and the nutrition plan which has 120 pages worth of recipes and an 8-week menu that lays out exactly what you can eat day to day, which workout to do, etc. But they also encourage you to make it your own by doing local workout classes and healthy meals. It's perfectly structured but also adaptable to life - the only way I could imagine committing to something right now. I already struggle to find the time for all my other personal priorities, so I'm nervous about adding daily workouts to the mix. So it'll be a real test of determination, that's for sure.

Here are the main things the plan focuses on:

CLEAN EATING. You can eat every food group, but you eat the leanest and cleanest of everything. Lots of lean proteins, greens and veggies, fruits, good fats, legumes, and yummy treats made with well-chosen clever, non-processed ingredients. You drink a ton of water, and avoid starches after 2pm. You CAN have coffee, you CAN have wine. Like a normal person. Thank God. The best is how they don't focus on what you shouldn't eat, but they lay out everything you can eat. The nutrition plan is filled with delicious recipes, so I don't find myself missing all the bad stuff. Though anything processed, white breads/starches, and red meat are mysteriously missing from the meal plan. But that's to be expected, and I'm too busy being excited about the yummy, healthy things that wait for me to notice or care. They are geniuses for positioning it this way.

WERK. The girls have made countless workout videos you can do at home with varying lengths that work different parts of the body. You can do these videos OR you can take a class, go running, walking, or whatever you goddamn want. Just work out. I'm working on setting up a fun space on our roof to do my workouts, and stocked up on all the gear (new yoga mat, weights, etc) so it's been fun before I've even started. I used to hate working out at home, but now it's kind of the only option to rely on with a baby in the house, and I'll take it and make it fun.

COMMUNITY. This is the part I'm kind of screwing up already because the series is actually meant to be started all on the same day (they started in April and are on their final week now) and you do check-in's on social media and see how the other members are doing each week. While it would be amazing to have that feeling of teamwork and support, I was way late to the party and decided to do it on my own. I think they might be starting a round two soon, which I'll be thrilled to sync up with, but it's not a deal breaker if they don't. I need to start now, regardless of what other people are doing.

I'm terrified AF right now. Terrified of failure, especially now that it would be failure in front of my whole little corner of the internet. Am I going to regret putting it out there? I sure hope not. But I thought, you know what? I can't be alone in this. I can't be the only non-size 2 girl out there, or first year postpartum mom looking to make a change. So, do it with me! Even if you're not specifically doing Tone It Up, do whatever works best for you and let's help each other! I'll be posting about my day-to-day progress on Snapchat and Instagram (#thelifestyledfit), so definitely follow along there and keep me posted on your progress and tips too!

It all starts TODAY.  Wish me luck, guys!