When I first committed to the Tone It Up Bikini Series in 2013, the brand looked a little different. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I knew the beachy fun vibes and confidence radiating from Karena and Katrina was something that I at least wanted to try – maybe I would even feel that way afterwards.
While not a huge transformation, that first challenge put me on a track to health and wellness that my life was heading anyway, but needed some guidance and a spark of new inspiration. I used all of their free content to find some fun workouts and try new recipes which after studying abroad, felt like I was taking some control back in my day-to-day life.
Years 2014-2016 were good, but I struggled to fully commit in the way I had that first year. I had joined the Nutrition Plan, loved the recipes, but felt like the Bikini Series was almost too large of a goal to tackle and that I would never see a dramatic transformation.
In 2017, something clicked. It may have been in part due to my life being in a much more stable place overall. I generally enjoyed working out, and I was ready to fully commit to the nutrition guidelines of the plan. This combined with the extremely high quality content of last year as well as having connected with so many Tone It Up Seattle girls in real life made the whole challenge feel like it was really my time to step up to the plate, hold myself accountable, and hit some goals.
I even impressed myself with that one!
Looking ahead to the upcoming challenge for this year, I’m looking to repeat if not push through plateaus in my progress. I am going to take many of the habits I built last year and apply to this 8 week adventure, but I’ve continued to learn since then and over the past 5 years can pin point the key behaviors that made difference for me and would be what I would say to anyone looking to embark on any kind of health/fitness challenge.
1) Get a journal! And write in it daily. For accountability, write down everything you ate that day. EVERYTHING. Down to each raisin. No need to count calories, but you’re looking for overall trends. Compare that quantitative information against how you feel each day, and also make sure to write down those feelings. After a couple of weeks, you may notice that eating a ton of greens and lean protein does actually make you feel pretty good. Or maybe you’re still feeling sluggish and the daily snack bag of potato chips is to blame. Your journal is the record of your journey so treat it as your tool to look back and then pivot moving forward.
2) Plan your workouts each week and stick to them. I love Karena and Katrina’s point about how business people wouldn’t cancel their meetings so why are you canceling your workouts? It’s a meeting with yourself to feel your best and meet your goals, you boss babe! Looking ahead to each week, be honest with yourself. Morning workouts are great for the metabolism and if you know getting yourself to turn down a fun activity after work that pops up last minute for you is just not going to happen, check that sweat session off first thing in the AM. If you have the ability to work out at lunch, plan for that but be sure to hold yourself to it. And if you’re an evening workout person, get after it. If you sign up for classes, no flaking. Remove all wiggle room for excuses that you don’t have time. If you go to bed 30 minutes earlier, you’ll be able to fit in a great 30 minute workout in the morning and that spring in your step is going to shine through!
Side note – humans were made to move. Our bodies need to be worked but sedentary lifestyles have dulled some of our senses to that internal desire to crave movement. You may have to try a few different workouts to find that desire, but I guarantee with all of the options out there, you could spend a life time trying something new every day and not get bored. While there are results-based benefits in following a specific program, if this is your first fitness challenge, take everything in with an open mind. Tone It Up has a ton of different styles of workouts now with lots of different trainers. You’ll immediately start to figure out what you’re drawn to and over time I promise you will crave your favorite workout.
3) Find Your “Why” More defined abs or a bigger booty or even pounds shed are fine goals but WHY do you want those things? Are you tired of feeling uncomfortable in your own skin? Do you want to rock a bikini this summer? Do you want to say YES to whatever comes your way? Dig a little deeper, get real with yourself and find the thing that is going to make you stick to your routine when you want to give up!
4) Meal Prep because it will save you! A couple of hours spent on the weekends and you’ll not only have your game plan set and ready but all of your meals ready to go. This. Is. Crucial. There is really no other way to say it.
5) Trust your gut with food because you know what you’re going to actually eat! If you’re following the TIU Nutrition Program, the 8 week plan is merely a guide or a suggestion of some ideas of what to eat. You are free (I wish I should shout this from the rooftops!) to make any substitutions to the recipes that still fall within the guidelines. Can’t swallow kale? Find a different green. Don’t want to shell out for spices you don’t have? Mix and match with what you got! You’re going to be frustrated and discouraged if you don’t actually like (and heaven forbid end up throwing away) the food you spent so much time making!
6) Be prepared to say “No.” To pizza. To candy. To another drink. To skipping your workout for a social activity. Only you know where your level of balance is at, you’ll have your journal for accountability, and if you’re choosing too many of these treats you will not see the progress that you promised to yourself. It is so hard (like the hardest thing) to turn down some of these treats but exercise that power! It’s your life. You get to choose how you live it.
7) You will (and should) slip up, so how do you recover? It is not realistic to believe you will work out every single day and not have a single treat during the next 8 weeks so let’s get that out of the way right now. More important is to be honest with yourself when that happens, give yourself grace, and again look back on your goals and tell yourself, “I’ve got the next one” — whether that be the next meal, the next workout, etc.
8) Celebrate every week! Girl – you are making some serious sacrifices every week for your goals and that should not go unnoticed… especially by you! How are you going to reward yourself (ideally not food related!) A favorite spa treatment? New clothes (workout clothes in my case, always)? Booking a special trip? You’ve earned it!
9) Connect with the local and digital babes. Finding your team on and offline is what made a HUGE difference for me last year. I have never had a bad experience with a TIU girl but I do know that my Seattle friends could really hold me accountable on my progress because I see them all of the time! It is so inspiring to see your friends crush it every day and be able to call them up when you need a little extra boost. You’re never alone on this journey even if it’s about becoming the best version of you.
To my tenured TIU babes, what do you think of this list? And to someone who is looking to join for the first time, I hope this breaks down some of my best keys to success. Reach out any time because I’m happy to walk through anything in more detail that I discussed here. See you on the other side of those 8 weeks! You’re going to be GLOWING!