Tell us a little about your health and fitness journey so far! Have you always been interested in fitness and working out? Were you an athlete in high school? What brought you to where you are right now?
I did not grow up as an athlete. I was actually extremely inactive until around my junior year in high school. Then I saw a picture of myself and a group of girls for a high school prom and thought, “Wow, my arms are massive compared to the rest of theirs.” Somehow I learned about calorie counting, and picked up a Billy Blank’s Tae Bo tape that I did pretty much every day. I continued to count calories and work out like this, and in my freshman year of college, my calorie restriction and working out became disorder like. I was able to justify my habits as “healthy” and became incredibly defensive when my mom and my now husband would point out that it was an issue. When I moved back home from the dorms after that first year, I stopped this behavior almost out of nowhere. Eventually I started a disordered binge-restrict pattern. I worked out at the YMCA, my machine of choice being the elliptical. I would avoid eating “bad” foods only to give in and binge on them, resulting in guilt and needing to spend more time at the gym to make up for it. Working out was a punishment, and I felt so much guilt for my eating habits. Fast-forward to about 3 years ago, I made my way into the weight-room at my gym. At this point I was following a lot of fitness people on Instagram whose bodies I strived for, and they were all lifting weights. So I decided to give it a shot. To go along with this, I decided to give counting macronutrients a shot too. I fell in love with lifting weights. I loved how strong I felt, how not being thin as a rail was actually a good thing, how my massive calves were being defined to just be “strong” calves, how empowered I felt. There was purpose to what I was doing instead of just endless hours on an elliptical. Counting macros was amazing too because I realized that there is no “good” food or “bad” food. It all just has different values. I could eat a donut in the morning without thinking that I ruined everything and eat 5 more. I could go out to eat with friends without the crushing anxiety that I was going to make a mistake and ruin everything. I am now at a point where I have untracked meals, or even untracked days without anxiety, which is a huge win for me.
What kinds of activities do you enjoy, tell us your favorite ways to break a sweat?
I love lifting weights, and my favorite body part to train is a toss-up between shoulders and legs/glutes. I have also run a half-marathon within the past year, so I enjoy getting a run in every now and then. I intend to start training for the next half-marathon in January. My husband has recently taken up cycling, so we have enjoyed doing that together as well. We also just recently tried CrossFit and kind of love it!
Take us through a normal day. How do you structure your time and balance your different responsibilities with your hobbies and interests?
I currently coordinate a foster care program and am an advanced-standing Masters of Social Work student so every day looks a little different for me! But I typically start off my day at the gym (shout out to Planet Fitness). This looks like getting up at 5:30, grabbing my gym bag and food for the day (packed the night before) and heading out the door. Recently, I have been focusing on the weight room, so I usually start off with a 20 minute walk on the treadmill followed by a 45-50 minute weight session. Of course, for the last month I’ve been getting those pushups in as well! Honestly, starting my day off with the gym is the best time for me. It helps me to wake up, it’s harder for me to argue with myself about going because I’m still half-asleep, and it puts my mind in a good space for the day.
As far as scheduling everything, I try to stay as organized as I can with lists and planners. I recently invested in a Passion Planner, which I am very excited about. It breaks the day down hour by hour, which is what I need in my life currently!
What advice do you have for people who are just getting started or are just getting back into it from taking time off?
It isn’t you against anyone else. You are fighting to be better than you were yesterday.
Also, a little bit is always better than nothing. Don’t start off too hard or with too much, because you’ll burn out quickly. Start with something, and keep building into what will become a sustainable way of life.
Who are your favorite people to follow on social media and why?
Kaytlinkatnissmma – What’s funny is that during my phase that I started really exploring Instagram for fitness inspiration, I stumbled upon Kaytlin Neil’s Instagram, and have been following ever since! She’s a BA and inspirational with some helpful fitness and nutrition information.
Aubrieb – She is a very positive profile with good workout sessions to follow, and gives a lot of good nutrition and fitness gear advice. She also started a cookie company with her husband, which I am all about.
Sarahbowmar – She is another profile with very straightforward helpful workout sessions as well as nutrition information. She tells it like it is, which is something that can sometimes be lacking the fitstagram world!
Em_dunc – She has previously competed and shares a lot of her journey with different phases of body composition that she is in. Her profile offers good workout and nutrition information, along with her precious dog, style content, and she is just all around a positive and real light on my feed.
Syattfitness –Honestly one of the most influential people I follow in regards to the healthy relationship that I now have with food. Also provides good content for fitness as well.
What is your biggest win (when it comes to your own health and fitness)?
I talked about it a little before, but I consider it huge that I can have a date night with my husband or night with family and friends that isn’t filled with anxiety about what I eat (or don’t eat).
In regards to fitness, my biggest win was definitely running the whole half-marathon. One of the best moments of my life, for sure.
Tell us about the hardships and challenges you’ve overcome and the lessons you’ve learned along the way. If there’s an experience that really shaped your journey?
I think I talked a lot about this in the first question. But some more general ones:
I’ve learned that eating less is not always the answer-our bodies need food for fuel.
I’ve learned that there is no such thing as “bad” food.
It isn’t about what you do some of the time, it’s about what you do most of the time. (One extravagant meal or one week off from the gym won’t ruin everything).
I’ve learned that no one else cares what you are doing in the gym. They are focused on what they are doing. So when you trip on the treadmill, or have to trade out some weights for lighter ones, no one notices. You’re there for YOU anyway.
What (or who) inspires you and why?
My husband is a huge inspiration to me. He always has been just because of his character and how incredibly compassionate and driven he always has been. But in the last 2 ½ years, he has lost 157 pounds. It was quite the journey, and I could not be more proud of him. You can check out his fitness profile at losttowin
In your observation, what do you think is the biggest roadblock people face when it comes to reaching their health and fitness goals?
Themselves!!! I think that people make it too complicated. They also put too much pressure on themselves. It is a marathon, not a race (especially if you are a runner). Reaching goals takes time and consistency, and it seems that a lot of people just give up on themselves so quickly.
If you help other women understand one thing about health and fitness, what would it be?
You deserve to take up space. That can be space in the weight room at the gym. That can be you physically, because you don’t have to stick-thin to have value in this world. Own who you are!
What makes you bad?
I have seen radical growth in myself, mentally and physically over the past several years. And I am not anywhere near done growing!
We’re super proud of Tif and her commitment to building herself and others up. Love stories like this? We’ve got more Big Bad Wins right HERE!