As of April 8th, it has officially been 3 years since I joined Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping (FXB),
my gym my fitness family, and began an “extreme” new chapter in my fitness journey. To celebrate my 3-year FIT-A-VERSARY (that’s a thing, right?), I collaborated with my lovely friend and amazing photographer, Lily (follow her on Instagram at @lolatakespictures), to share this year’s progress.
Last year’s fit-a-versary post told my “story,” shared my “why,” and outlined all of the specific changes I noticed and progress made. (Read all about my 2-year progress and 1-year progress if you’re new here, and if you like you can also take a look at my Farrell’s Instructor bio.) I’ll do a little of that this year too, but mostly I am going to let Lily’s photos tell my story.
Okay, let’s get the “before” stuff out of the way. Here’s a pretty typical photo of me between the ages of 35-45. Although I was very athletic in high school and continued to have athletic phases over the years, I never really stuck with anything very long. Why? Life. I had every excuse I needed to abandon one diet and exercise program after another: kids and their activities, full-time teaching job, hobbies, consulting work on the side, a never-quite-clean house, a dog, church committees, volunteering, and on and on. You name it, I used it as an excuse.
So when I joined Farrell’s back in April 2015, it was just the latest in a long line of diet and exercise programs. This one was “only 10 weeks” (hah!) so I figured I’d give it a go and move on to something else that I could do “on my own” when I was svelte and fit 10 weeks later. It was rough getting up at 4am to get to the 5am class 6 days a week (that’s the only class I could fit into my schedule), but I thought, hey, I could do it for 10 weeks. I had no idea at the time that I hadn’t just signed up for a 10-week program, but I had just been introduced to my future fit family, support and accountability system, and new, healthy mindset.
No AFTER; just DURING
I’m not going to talk about “after” photos any more because I realized there’s never going to be an “after” photo of this particular transformation, just a series of “during” photos as time goes on. My fitness journey is an ongoing process and I plan to keep it that way.
Here are my Day 1 photos and stats compared to my Year 3 photos and stats.
- Weight before: 164.6 lbs — Now: 147 lbs (down 17.6 lbs)
- Body Fat % before: 33.5% — Now: 25.5% (down 8%)
- Chest before: 37″ — Now: 34″ (down 3″)
- Waist before: 33.5″ — Now: 28″ (down 5.5″)
- Upper arm before: 12.5″ — Now: 12″ (down 0.75″)
- Thigh before: 24.25″ — Now: 21″ (down 3.25″)
- Hips before: 43″ — Now: 38.5″ (down 4.5″)
- Smile before: pathetic — Now: high-beam (up 100%)
In all I’ve lost nearly 20 pounds, which was my original goal when I started FXB (although weight is no longer a goal on my list). My biggest weight drop was between Year 1 and Year 2, after my body had finally adjusted to eating healthfully, drinking lots of water, and exercising nearly every day. My new goal is simple: do better (work harder, eat better, have better form, etc.) than I did yesterday. When I focus on improvement, all of those other things (fitness, inches, pants size, health) improve along the way. For instance, right now one of my goals is to be able to do 100 push-ups in one minute. The closest I’ve come so far is 92, but I’ll get there with practice. Another goal I’m working on is to get more “sculpted” definition in my abs and legs now that I’m starting to see signs of it in my arms.
If you just look at the numbers, my stats from Year 2 to Year 3 aren’t that different except for two: body fat (down 1.5% from last year) and pants size (down from a solid size 10 to a little less than an 8). My weight is about the same as it was a year ago (1.5 lbs higher now at 147), but I have gained a lot of muscle and definition and lost more fat, so my shape looks different than it did even just 1 year ago. And honestly, I feel stronger and healthier than I have in years.
No LOSSES; just GAINS
Instead of talking about what I’ve “lost” like I did last year, I’m going to share what I’ve gained.
- Good habits. Someone once said, “First we form habits; then they form us.” Truer words were never spoken. Except maybe “Fake it ’til’ you make it” because that’s kind of saying the same thing. It doesn’t matter if you have an occasional down day: it’s what you “usually” do that counts. For the past 3 years, I have “usually” exercised hard and eaten healthfully. And believe it or not, I still attend the 5am class 6 days a week. In my world, 5am is the one time during the entire day when nothing ever “suddenly comes up” to prevent me from working out.
- Crazy brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. Therefore, encourage each other and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11. I used to think I could do everything by myself because I do have a pretty strong will, and maybe I could, but why should I? It’s so much more fun and effective when you partner with positive people who help keep you motivated and accountable. My FXB fit family is the best! My whole life I’ve always compared myself to others (thought process: she/he does ____ better than I do, so I’ll try to out-do her/him). Since becoming a kickboxing and resistance training instructor 2 years ago, I have FINALLY stopped being jealous of other people’s progress and learned to be genuinely joyful about their success (that maybe, just maybe, I in some small way helped them achieve). The one single person I try to outdo on a daily basis is me, yesterday. It makes ALL the difference! “Find your tribe and you find your vibe” (okay, Jen, enough with the cliches).
- Pain relief. Like a lot of other people in their late 40s, I have a few aches and pains from past injuries. I’ve got an arthritic knee from tearing my meniscus a few times, achy feet and toes (more about that here), bursitis in my shoulder from years of softball and volleyball, and a few other pesky things like that. For a while I was getting cortizone shots in my shoulder and knee on a regular basis. Not anymore! I haven’t needed a cortizone shot for over 2 years now. News flash: when your muscles get stronger, they are better able to support and protect your gimpy areas. I have less knee pain now than I’ve had since I initially tore my knee at age 15 playing softball, and it’s all because my leg muscles have never been stronger. Likewise, my sore shoulder no longer wakes me up at night from sleeping on it. Go, muscles! I’m not saying exercise has “cured” my injuries, but I can definitely say it has given me a lot of pain relief.
- Three words: fitness instructor discounts. Fellow fitness fashionistas, did you know fitness instructors can get discounts at Lululemon, Athleta, Alo Yoga, Reebok, Prana, Ryka, New Balance, Sweaty Betty, ASICS, AVIA, and others? Oh I get why they do it: if you’re leading a group fitness class, people might notice what you’re wearing and ask about it. Still, that’s a pretty big perk for something I would’ve done anyway. Score!
So What’s FXB All About?
Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping (FXB) is a program that incorporates cardio kickboxing and strength training (with resistance bands) group fitness classes along with personal coaching. There is also a nutrition component, which is crucial to your success, but I love that you don’t buy any food or recipes or supplements from FXB. The nutrition is all on you making good choices. Essentially you eat clean and break up your daily protein and carbs up into 6 small meals. You get one “fun food” day per week to relax your nutrition, and that day has made good nutrition do-able for me. I used to do everything all-or-nothing, but when I’d fall off the wagon with nutrition or fitness, I often didn’t get back on. The FXB program helps you learn to eat to live, not live to eat.
The 10-Week Challenge
When you first join FXB, you complete a 10-week, 6 days per week, “challenge,” competing for the chance to win $1,000 for having the biggest transformation. For many people, including myself, that 10-week challenge eventually becomes a way of life.
The kickboxing workouts are SO intense and fun! You get to take all of your stress out on those bags for 45 minutes, 3 times per week.
Then the other 3 days per week you do strength training workouts using resistance bands. Those little bands look so innocent hanging on the wall, but don’t be fooled. They have the potential to push you to your “Level 10” as we like to say at FXB.
We rotate strength training days between lower and upper body, so you’re pretty much always sore somewhere.
One thing I didn’t think I wanted (I’m a loner, Dottie, a rebel), but now can’t imagine doing without is all of the other “Fit Members” who work out with me each day. We support each other and push each other to be better. It’s such a positive, inspiring atmosphere! Okay, I have to throw in another cliche here because it’s SO fitting for FXB: “We rise by lifting others.” Yep, that’s how they do it at Farrell’s.
For the record, what you see in Lily’s photos is the real me, no photoshopping. I definitely still have trouble spots (three C-sections have made my stomach area a little more resistant to toning, for instance), but instead of fretting over them like I used to, now I just have fun working out and pushing myself. Consistency is key, and if you keep making those good choices over time, things will keep moving in the right direction. My transformation has been s-l-o-w compared to a lot of people’s, but that’s because I am building a lifestyle, not just going all out for a quick fix. I’m 100% okay with that.
You rock, Lily!
You guys, weren’t these photos amazing? Sometimes you don’t realize how much progress you’ve made until other people point it out. At one point during the shoot after looking at an image on Lily’s camera display, I commented that the lighting in her photos made my arm muscles look really defined. Lily said, “Dude, they ARE. You look like an MMA fighter.” That made me feel pretty good, actually. Thank you so much, Lily, for somehow capturing the way I “feel” about myself and Farrell’s after 3 years!
What about you?
I used to see working out as a chore that I had to do to feel good about myself. Now I view working out as what I “get” to do for fun each day. My “why” back when I started FXB was basically to lose 20 pounds. My “why” now is simply this: because I love it. I’d love to hear about YOUR fitness journey. What keeps you motivated to exercise and take care of yourself? What are your favorite ways to work out?