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12 Weeks to Abs – Elizabeth Malone

12 Weeks to Abs / Week 1

keepcalmToday is Day 5 of the “12 Weeks to Abs” program. I have been weighed, I have been measured, and I have been found wanting. As it turns out, I have until June 4 to eradicate 13% of my body weight and turn this doughy mom-bod into a lean, mean, stage-ready physique. Easy peasy, right?

My name is Elizabeth Malone and I was one of two entrants chosen to participate in H&H’s “12 weeks to Abs.” I am a 39 year-old mom and wife from Peculiar, MO. Until you get to know me, I’m really pretty quiet — and maybe even a little standoffish. I have some issues with social anxiety, which I have been diligently trying to conquer over the last twenty-five years. I’ve dragged myself out of my comfort zone by way of acting classes, debate, and public speaking. This will, without a doubt, be the furthest I have ever pushed myself, but I think it’s important to show my daughter the importance of facing your fears head on rather than hiding from them.

In 2013, in hopes of alleviating some of my chronic pain, my doctor prescribed personal training to help strengthen the muscles around my rotten set of joints. I was born with a hip dysplasia, which required me to be in a brace until I was two. But I was still a little off, and over time I developed scoliosis in my upper back. Then, when it went untreated, I developed another curvature in my lower back. As a result, I have avoided athletics of any sort because they have always come with additional pain — that is until I started training with Christina. She gave me exercises I could do without joint pain and monitored my form to be sure this injury-prone girl didn’t hurt herself even more. I was never in training for weight loss, though that inevitably came along with my pain relief and increase in strength. What I had not anticipated was the vast increase in my confidence. That part was amazing.

So, to make this all work, I am food prepping every meal, doing 20-30 minutes of cardio six days a week plus strength training sessions three times a week, and practicing posing at the gym as well as at home. I need to work my butt off (quite literally) and never EVER cheat on my eating plan, not even a nibble. So far, I am just exhausted. Not sore, just tired as if every muscle in my body wants to yawn, roll over, and take a nap. As a plus, this means I don’t have any junk food in the house, so my family has also been benefiting from my food plan. I am eager to watch this transformation, as right now it seems to be an almost impossible mission.

12 Weeks to Abs/ Week 2

T minus 6 weeks until show time!

This week I triumphed in the face of adversity. Okay, really I just remained steadfast in my dietary goals while entertaining houseguests for the weekend. I’m fairly certain entertaining is one of the biggest challenges to our health and waistlines as we enjoy pulling out all the stops with decadent meals, desserts, and liquors. Between the generous gifts (Cambozola cheese, bacon, and bourbon — three of my favorites!), the spring festival in our little town, and dinner and cocktails in Historic Westport, I managed to keep it all together. My husband supported me by consuming my share of whiskey and bacon.

I still feel like this is Mission Impossible and my mantra continues to be “Trust Your Trainers.” Compliance with Christina’s recommendations has garnered amazing results time and again. I need to remember that and stay focused.

12 Weeks to Abs/ Week 3
elizabeth3I have this pair of jeans… I think every girl does. They’re the ones that we can’t bear to get rid of, even when we think there is no way they’ll ever fit again. Back when they fit — boy, did they fit! They hit all the right curves in all the right places. These jeans have been hanging on my closet door as a reminder of what I wore when I worked my hardest and ate my cleanest.

This week they fit! Not only did they fit, they were a little big in the waist. Every curve slipped in to those jeans like they were made for each other. Halleluiah! Now I’m feeling like I’m getting somewhere!

It’s not always easy to find something that is within my clean eating guidelines that the whole family will also love, though I think it’s really important to try so I don’t feel like I’m being deprived in any way. This week’s go-to meal has been chicken tacos. I could really eat them every day — and the fam loves them too. It’s easy:
1. Chicken – cubed, rubbed with Spanish Gardens Taco Spice (it’s the lowest in sodium) and browned in a skillet
2. One Mama Lupe Low-Carb Tortilla (though at night, when I can’t have the carbs, I put it in Romaine lettuce leaves and it’s really just as good)
3. Place chicken on tortilla and top with fresh chopped tomatoes, onions and cilantro.
4. If you’re feeling wild and crazy, throw in a touch of crumbled feta!

12 Weeks to Abs/ Week 4
This week I was finally brave enough to actually wear a bikini to posing practice. Up until now I have been wearing short shorts and a sports bra, but I figured it was time to take that next leap. So, I put on my brand new Wonder Woman bikini (yes, I AM a grown-up. Really.) and my clear vinyl shoes. I strutted my stuff and I didn’t die of embarrassment. Win!

I also got my very first spray tan this week. I am, by nature, porcelain pale and have never had a tan in my life — though I’ve had plenty of sunburns. It was weird and kinda cool to see a bronzed version of myself. While I can’t see myself spray tanning often, I could absolutely see doing it again for an event someday. (Something besides the competition, obviously.)

And finally, to make the weekend extra challenging, I went camping at an historical re-enactment, which has been my hobby since I was three years old. 18th century food isn’t exactly waistline friendly, but I cheerfully munched on my chicken and broccoli while everyone else ate from the potluck — which featured a pig roast. Sigh… I behaved. I didn’t have a single bite. There will be other pig roasts.

12 Weeks to Abs/ Week 5
Working out with a sinus infection is not any fun. At all. And doing cardio after taking Pseudoephed is NOT advisable. That’s my PSA for the week.

I had a really off day at posing — apparently I was not looking as toned today as I did last week. That means it’s time to analyze the old food journal. Harrumph. So I could either let all this get me down, or I could let it inspire me to push harder. I’ve made a commitment to myself and to Christina — so I know what I need to do. But even bigger than that is knowing that my 10-year-old is watching. She’s watching and learning how to handle set-backs, and I have to be sure she gets the right message. This is not all about me, after all.

Over the weekend we fired up the smoker. On the menu this week is smoked EVERYTHING. Chicken, salmon, and turkey breast, along with some roasted peppers. I’m so excited about this week’s food!

I was measured again for the first time since starting. I am down about 9 pounds and 9% body fat. I still have about 4-5% body fat to lose, but I think that’s a pretty good start for 30 days! I have 3 weeks to get rid of the rest. We’re coming into the final 3 weeks, and things are getting pretty serious. EEEEK!

12 Weeks to Abs/ Reflections

This year I was given a gift which I can never repay.  I was selected for the His & Her Fitness 12 Weeks to Stage program, and I am eternally grateful.  The personal growth, as well as the improvement in my appearance, strength and health was invaluable.  

I got started in the program a little late, so on the day I had my measurements taken, there were only 7 weeks and 5 days left before the show.  At that point I needed to lose 13% of my body fat, and I was feeling pretty hopeless.  That seemed like an awful lot to lose in such a short amount of time.  

I trained with Christina, Adrian and Merritt three days a week, and was at the H & H gym for cardio 6 days a week like clockwork.  Christina had laid out very specifically the foods I was to eat, and I faithfully kept a journal of everything I consumed.  Within weeks, jeans I hadn’t worn in years were fitting me again.  While I wasn’t losing a ton of weight, per se, the inches were coming off like mad.  

In addition to the strength training, I had to learn to walk and stand…in a bikini and heels.  This may have been the hardest part for me, but surely one of the most important parts for a self-conscious klutz like me.  As my training progressed, I began to feel more confident, and that was evident in the way I carried myself.  

In the time I was training, I had two historically themed camping trips (the food for which is not what one might consider waistline friendly) and guests visiting from out of town, bringing gifts of bourbon that would just have to wait.   Surely without Christina’s guidance in food prepping, I would have floundered for sure.   Fortunately, I am blessed with friends who were supportive and non-judgmental, regardless of not fully understanding what I was doing or why.  

The week of the show was intense and very busy.  There were gallons of water to drink, and then there was none.  There was tanning; something this ginger had never done.   The food became even more specific, but it was only a week, so it wasn’t so bad.  

The day of the show saw an early start.  I had my tan touched up and make-up and hair done, and then the waiting.  This was nerve-wracking and lovely at the same time.  Nerve-wracking because I knew I had to walk out on a stage in front of God knows how many people wearing a very small amount of fabric and heels, and lovely because we were encouraged to lie down with our feet up until the last possible moment.  

I competed in the Novice, Open and Masters Figure levels, and while I never came close to a call out, I still won.  I conquered a fear.  I did something I never thought I’d ever do.  I looked better at almost 40 than I ever had in my life.  I learned healthy habits for life.  I inspired my husband to begin work on his own fitness goals.  I taught my daughter about making good food choices, and how to work hard toward a goal and never stop once you hit that goal, but to just make another newer, harder goal.