57 days until the wedding. 34 days until we leave to head back to the States to get everything organised and I still have a LOT to do. Let’s just forget the fact that I’ve had zero dress fittings, don’t have any shoes and Rich has yet to order his suit, and focus on what has been going right – the gym.

This series has covered so much in what feels like a short time, I mean how is it July tomorrow? Half the year is almost over! What?!

In just 4 months we’ve covered themes like HiiT and frustration based exercises but we’ve also done specific ones like legs and upper body so this month we decided to bring you the oh so talked about ABS and CORE (and so I could use my cheesy crunch time pun). 

I have to say that I typically enjoy abs/core exercises because it feels like things I can do – it’s when Roslyn pulls out the kettlebells and tells me to do squats I’m like ‘are your sure?’ or prompts my favourite thing to tell her: ‘there’s a special place in hell for personal trainers’ – totally kidding, I love her. 

Fun fact, I did cheerleading for 3 years and my coach was SUPER intense (she was an ex-pro NFL cheerleader) and we used to have to do 200 sit ups at the start of every practice (along with the normal warm up stuff). Let’s just say from ages 12-14 I had a solid core because of it and ever since then I’ve really never had to do much to maintain my flat tummy. Admittedly I did carry on doing 200 sit ups every night until I was about 18/19 but then I moved to South Carolina for school and life quickly got too crazy and taking care of myself went on the back burner. All this to say, I thought I would crush this month’s abs theme but some of the exercises were really difficult – others (hello exercise ball sit ups) felt natural.

Killer ab workout

So why am I telling you all this and making this month’s post super long? Because, each month when I write this series it becomes increasingly clear that

I am getting stronger but not skinner and that’s OK.

I have been nearly the same exact weight for the last 7 years. The thing is, if you look at pictures (or even my clothes) from that time frame you’ll see a difference. Why? Well during that time I went from being an athlete with gym/practice everyday (sometimes twice a day) to someone who didn’t step foot in a gym for about 2 years. I tried to ease back into it with yoga on and off until that too stopped and I went about 18 months without any real exercise routine. Which brings us to recently where my routine consisted of lots of dog walks and hikes, eating low calorie meals and testing out the occasional fad exercise routine (the longest I lasted was 6 weeks for BBG). Until Fit Bride Bootcamp!

I can genuinely say it’s the longest I’ve stayed with an exercise regime and first time ever using weights. And guess what, I’m still the same weight range I’ve always been except now I can actually see faint muscles, my legs feel stronger, I can lift more and dare I say I might be getting the fitness bug back again after so long…

ABS, ABS, ABS | Brought to you by Roslyn & FlexFit Dance

Troublesome tummies. It’s the one thing that crops up with pretty much every single client. Especially now we’re getting into summer- the season of crop tops and bikinis. That one request I get all the time is “I want abs”.

I feel like the ‘fashion’ has changed quite a lot in the last few years as well. Once upon a time it was all about the flat tummy. Completely flat. Nothing there at all. But now, with the rise of women’s weight training and increased awareness from things such as the ‘strong not skinny’ campaign, women are wanting actual, strong muscle. Definition. AB LINES.

Which, quite clearly, is easier said than done.

Killer ab workout!

To be honest I was a little surprised when Staci made it a special request to have an “abs-focus” month.  She doesn’t carry excess weight around the midriff area and up until now has expressed much more enthusiasm for upper body workouts, back and arms in particular. I can also reveal that her wedding dress does not expose the midriff in the slightest!

Still, I was more than happy to oblige. The abdominals are one of my favourite muscle groups to train. It’s a satisfying burn that leaves you feeling exhausted but PROUD. There are tonnes of different exercises to choose from which means that your workout will always be varied.

I always make sure to include a couple of ab or core exercises in every single session, no matter what we’re training. This month though, a couple of sessions have been entirely devoted to training abs abs abs.

The thing to remember is that “abs” is a term that is thrown about- often incorrectly. The six-pack that lots of people desire is actually just one muscle, the rectus abdominus, which runs down the front of the torso. Three more muscles make up the “abs” and a whole bunch more are needed for what is usually referred to as the “core”. There’s a more detailed post on this over on FlexFit – but for now you just need to bear in mind that you can have a strong core, but not necessarily have a six pack. Equally, just because someone has six-pack definition, it doesn’t necessarily make their deep core muscles super strong.

Staci’s not on a quest for a six-pack, so our ‘ab’ workouts revolved around strengthening and stabilising all the different muscles that make up the ‘core’ equally.

Killer ab workout

There are four parts to this workout: Activation, Stability, Burnout, Finisher. Be sure to head on over to FlexFit Dance for more advice and tips about the how and why of each section!

A PERSONAL NOTE | 

For this month’s “commentary” and in the spirit of full disclosure, I wanted to pull some old pictures to share the differences. As it turns out, it was easier said then done as I started going back through and noticed that I didn’t actually have that many photos where I wasn’t wearing loose clothes or hiding behind something – something I did intentionally keep in mind.

2008 (I’d be 15 and have just finished cheerleading *second from right* but still playing sports regularly)| This is my heaviest weight, I hated bathing suits and wearing anything tight – this is literately the only photo (it was also only 1 or 2 bathing suits I owed for about 3 years because I refused to go shopping for them). What’s hilarious now is that I realise how great I looked, that weight was coming from my muscles! I would be so happy to have that definition now. If only I could go back and tell my younger self to stop being an idiot. Or if #strongnotskinny gained popularity sooner? For reference, here I’m 136lbs or 61kg 

2013 (Been doing yoga for about a year *on left*) | My first few years of collage I was around 125-130lbs (57-59kg) and it made me feel more confident so I started to wear form fitting clothes, even though really I was in worse shape then before. But yoga kept my arms and tummy toned and the number of the scale down so I was happy. Everyone talks about the ‘Freshman 15’ and gaining weight – from moving in August to moving home at Christmas I dropped an entire size and had to get new clothes. By the time I moved home from the summer I had lost 10lbs and gone from a size 4/6 to a size 2! (US sizes)
2016 (dog walks, hikes and low calorie meals) | Just last summer I hit my lowest ever weight at 122lbs (US size 0/2).

Since then I moved back to the States for a short period (9 months) and during that time I put on nearly 8lbs (damn Mom’s homemade goodness). Just goes to show how much walking around London really pays off 🙂

Today I’m a very happy size 4 and I truly do feel so much better. Even though I was reluctant when Roslyn suggested I eat so much food it has helped increase my energy levels and although I still love to nibble and snack while I do creative things (like writing this post or editing photos at work) I’m more conscience on what I snack on.

I guess what I’m trying to say is

don’t listen to the scale, I did for a long time and it wasn’t until I lived without one that I actually noticed what my body was telling me and learned to appreciate it.

If I could give one piece of advice to my younger self it would be to not be ashamed of your muscles, you worked hard for them, show them off and keep it up.

 

Roslyn and I have been talking about this topic quite frequently lately and we’d love to hear your thoughts on it – how do you listen to your body? What’s one thing you wish you could tell your younger self about body image/fitness/general lifestyle? Let us know in the comments or share your stories via email we’d love to hear.