What happens when your ‘after’ is worse than your ‘before’: a Tone It Up Bikini Series recap

If you follow my Instagram account, you probably noticed my #tiucheckins and #tiubootycalls for the Tone It Up Bikini Series Challenge lessened in frequency over the last few weeks.

I promise you I WAS doing the workouts (with a 5-10K run on the weekend and usually just chores on Saturday), but my nutrition was less than stellar over the past three weeks. You know that saying, “abs are made in the kitchen”… well, I want to know where this kitchen is that makes these abs, because that would be fantastic.

Delicious meal at Diner En Blanc!

Delicious French-inspired cuisine at Diner En Blanc!

All kidding aside, I struggled to find a balance these past few weeks. Usually I’m really good at eating well Monday to Thursday, living a little on Friday and Saturday, and returning to normal by Sunday. Maybe it was the onset of summer that triggered vacation mode and the desire to have chips, salsa and vino almost every night; the lovely patio we have in our backyard that just looks too inviting NOT to have family and friends over almost every weekend (hence more drinks and snacks); or all the events and activities we’ve been attending that involve even more drinks and snacks.

Patio dinner 1 of like 4 in the past week!

Patio dinner 1 of like 4 in the past week!

Part of me was fully enjoying myself, and being okay with it. Another part of me was deflated to see all that hard work I put in in the first four weeks come undone. As of this point, getting faster to BQ seems like even more of an uphill battle.

I preach balance with my clients and on this blog, and how being happy is always more important that how you look. But something else came up for me a few weeks ago that shook that foundation a bit, and I started to spiral down the hole of low self-esteem and feeling down on myself (not in the aesthetics sense, but in the healthy and fit sense). Surrounding myself with friends, fun distractions and food made dealing with this “thing” more bearable.

Whether we like it or not, we tie a lot of meaning to our physical bodies. It’s our vessel through which we experience the world, so of course we want to take care of it and keep it in good working order. Most of us deal with a health issue at one point or another in our lives, and know how depressing it can be when you do all you can to get better and you don’t.

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Finding balance. Photo by Penny Lane Photography

I’ve had a variety of health issues throughout my life – anxiety, GI tract problem, skin issues (a major reason for low self-esteem), viruses (including meningitis) and other random illnesses – but nothing life threatening (except for meningitis that thankfully was treated in time) or completely debilitating. And I am truly inspired by those who not only deal with but thrive with life-long conditions like Crohn’s, MS or autoimmune diseases. Most of what I’ve had to deal with pales in comparison to what some of my friends have had to deal with, and I feel silly for feeling down about my problems. But we all have our own battles and internal struggles, and I think it makes it worse by not giving ourselves time to work through these issues, no matter how big or small.

Summer of 2014 when I felt my fittest

Summer of 2014 when I felt my fittest

I know you’re probably thinking, okay, WHAT is up with you now?

To be honest, I don’t know yet. I had some blood work done to test for something I had suspicions about and the results were disconcerting. Unfortunately, I can’t get in to see my doctor for another month for a follow up, so I’m doing my best not to research too much into it. But from what I did look into, it makes sense for a lot of the other issues I’ve had. And is one of those things I’ve had this weird, innate fear about pretty much all of my adult life that for some reason I tie a lot of value and self-worth to.

It could be nothing, or it could be something I’ll have to deal with. I think it’s the “not knowing” part I’m having the hardest time with right now (hello, anxiety).

I won’t be sharing my before photo (I didn’t take an after photo) because how I’m feeling on the inside right now is reflected in how I feel I look on the outside. I’d love to champion self-love and positive self-worth, but I feel like I barely have enough to get myself through the day these days let alone to share with the world. I hope you can understand.

The point of me writing this two-fold: one, because I didn’t want to leave you hanging about how I did with the bikini series and I wanted to be honest about what happened with it. And two, because it’s therapeutic for me to get my thoughts out there and TALK (well, write) instead of being silent about stuff like this, when all I really want to do is retreat into a hobbit hole with books and tea and chocolate. The more we bring it up — whether it’s our fears, mental health issues or physical health issues — the less we have to suffer in silence.

As for what’s next, I’m doing a 5K run challenge right now for the next two weeks to get my pace back up a bit, and I’m doing round two of the bikini series because I really like the workouts and think they’ll be a great compliment to marathon training when that starts up again in the next two weeks (IF my doc gives me the go ahead to train). I’m thinking about trying the FIRST marathon program approach… have any of you tried it? (If so, what do you think?)

Have you ever done a fitness or health challenge only to end up worse off than when you started? Do you have a health issue (mental or physical) that you deal with everyday, and if so, do you have any coping skills to share? Are you a worrier or can you put things out of your head until you actually need to deal with them?

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Thanks Amanda for the link-up!