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The 6 Pillars of Losing The Freshman 15 (…or 30)

Workout video: Done!

Check one thing off the life list.

I found out pretty late in the game that the video was happening, so I ended up tacking on a 2nd 30-day challenge to January’s Keep Going 30-Day Challenge. I’ve been on more than a 60-day challenge! …well, I may have taken a couple days in between to have a few cookies…

I kicked my a** for this video. I trained unlike I’ve trained for anything else before.

Wanna see the results?


Bam. (Ok, horrible lighting, but at least you can see that I got the stomach flat!)

No magic pills. No fad diets. No supplements.

This here is the result of some freaking hard work and faith.

So all of you out there who are thinking, “I could never do that,” or, “she’s different than me because of X, Y & Z,” stop it. Cut that BS right now.

Just to prove it to you, here’s a picture from my not-so-fit days when I believed in magic pills:



Here’s another one from college where you can at least see the difference in my face (I avoided full-body shots like the plague) –>

I was never overweight, but I was definitely unhealthy. When I went to college, I gained 30 pounds!

And just to be clear, I look at these photos now and realize that I was beautiful then, even if I didn’t realize at the time.

I am not saying that I was fat, ugly or needed to change the way I looked. I needed to change the way I thought and lived.

I felt like crap. I was eating sugary junk all the time, drinking every night, and doing low-grade cardio as my workouts (if I made time to work out at all). I had no physical strength.

The first picture above was actually taken fresh off a very popular diet pill regimen. This is one of the many reasons I am an advocate for the clean, healthy lifestyle. Your body will rebel as soon as you go off any of those magic pills, and you may even take some memory loss with you like I did.

My journey to losing the Freshman 15 (or 30) was a long one full of ups and downs. I only reached a steady point when I started changing my negative thinking patterns and realized that I would have to put in the work.

When I first started exercising, I was trying to lose weight because I wanted people to like me. I knew I would get more acting jobs and maybe hot guys would deign to love me.

I didn’t realize that trying to lose the weight for others was a surface goal. I didn’t have a root goal deep enough to make it last.

Eating was my escape. I was fresh-outta-college broke and the only thing I would justify treating my hard-earned cash to were sweet treats. I didn’t know anything about nutrition outside of calorie counts, so I loaded up on 100-calorie packs, low calorie (but high sugar) snacks, and nutrient-void microwave meals.

I felt faint all the time. I worked at jobs that required me to be on my feet all day, and I remember walking slight inclines and just getting winded.

I couldn’t understand why I kept bouncing back from losing weight! I thought I just didn’t have the willpower other people did.

Does any of this sound familiar? Sadly, it’s way more common than a lot of people may think. I have quite a few clients with similar histories.

Well, today, I wanna spill the beans as to what made all the difference when I finally got it together to lose the weight (and keep it off). Here are my 6 pillars of lasting weight loss:


1. Find your root goals

If you’ve read Make This Your Moment, you know I am adamant about finding root goals. These aren’t the “I wanna look hot,” or “My Dr. said lose weight.” You have to go deeper than that to get to the goals that will drive you through the hard times.

Let’s use the example of, “I want to look hot.” Start going deeper by asking yourself “why?”

Have you been made fun of your whole life, and want to show them they were wrong?

Are you looking to gain more confidence after a recent breakup?

What do you hope to gain from being “hotter?”

You have to be completely open and honest with yourself to get to those core root goals, and they might not be what you think. Start journaling as you go deeper to make sure you have them to look to when the going gets tough.

2. Refocus, reframe, choose

If your focus is constantly on losing weight for the sake of losing weight, you’re bound to start obsessing and depriving. That, my friends, is a recipe for disaster.

Instead of focusing on all the things you can’t have and all the work you have to do, instead realize that this is your choice. You are choosing this healthier lifestyle over your old, negative habits.

By taking responsibility for the change you want to see in your life, the weight is lifted (no pun intended) off of you to escape. You don’t have to escape your choices. You either choose this, or you choose the other option.

Stop looking for a way out.

If you’re always saying, “Woe is me, I can’t eat ice cream,” you’re going to find someone to fire back at you: “Yes, you can. Your goals are stupid anyway.”

And you might just use that as permission to give up. Don’t let it be that easy.

Bring it back to the simple choice you made to live better, and move on.

3. Put your effort in the right places

Riding the tail wind of the last pillar, pay attention to where you’re exerting your effort.

Are you constantly looking to the latest fad diet, the supplement that Celebrity 3A used to lose 50 lbs, or the latest piece of technology that works muscle groups without you having to break a sweat?

Or are you committed to changing your actual habits? Have you yet realized that one spurt of hard effort isn’t enough to change your life for good; you have to keep going?

What I want to encourage you to do today is to embrace the latter. Spending time and effort looking for any other solution is a waste. Even Tim Ferriss’s short workout schemes are hard as hell because he knows that, without that intensity, you just won’t get the results.

To guide change in the direction of your choosing takes hard work put into the right places.

Focus that effort on your fitness regimen, cleaning up your diet, and getting your mind centered and grounded in those root goals. This is the effort that will pay off.

4. Eat to live

I’ve grown to know my system pretty well. I know that, if I eat kale, I feel like a superhero. If I eat pancakes, however, I feel like I want to go to sleep for 18 hours.

Finding the right diet for you takes some guess and check. I suggest starting to jot down in your food journal how you feel after each meal, and track the consistencies.

The basic guidelines seem to be this: stay as close to the source as possible.

What does that mean? It means that the more steps the food takes to reach your mouth, the worse you’re probably going to feel after you eat it.

For example: Apples= good. Canned apple pie filling= gut bomb.

All the additives and processing that apples go through to become canned apple pie filling make it less healthy for you. Your body lets you know when you eat things that don’t fuel it well; stomach aches, lethargy, jitteriness, headaches, faintness… The list goes on, but luckily you don’t have to go on discovering it that way.

Start with those close-to-the-earth ingredients (think: produce aisle & butcher counter), and test from there.

5. Who’s holding you up?

How do you like that double entendre? ;)

Your support system is almost as important as your exercise regimen. The people around us are going to either boost you up or hold you back.

If your friends start tempting you with unhealthy habits like skipping multiple workouts a week, drinking til you feel sick, or eating foods that make your stomach hurt, give ’em the lowdown.

Try this script:

“[Friend’s name], I’m trying really hard to turn my life around and I would really appreciate your support. Your comments make it difficult for me to stay on track, so if you could, please keep them to yourself.”

…or something along those lines.

If they don’t change and you feel like their negative influence is making you feel bad about your new habits or it’s sabotaging them, start minimizing your time with those friends.

They don’t necessarily mean to be unsupportive; it might just be all they know. If it’s really bad (verbally attacking you for not eating/drinking the way you used to or talking behind your back about how they disagree with your new goals), you may have to cut them off completely.

On the other side of the equation, start making friends with people who lift you up, encourage you and support you in your new healthy lifestyle. Steve just wrote an awesome post on this over at Nerd Fitness (click here to chickity check it out).

6. Acceptance

When I started practicing acceptance, I really started to make headway in my physical goals.

When I was unhealthy, I finally accepted it instead of trying to deny it away or justify it with other circumstances or blame. I saw my unhealthy habits for what they were and realized that there was no way I would change without changing those first.

By embracing any state as it was without judgment, I was able to better empower myself to move through and beyond it.

The same method can be used while in your workouts, or while changing your eating habits.

While you’re working out and it’s difficult, accept the pain as a sign that you’re challenging your body to change.

If you’re saying “no” to foods you used to eat because they make you feel horrible, accept that these cravings will come. Expect them, and see them from the outside as fleeting. They’ll go away.

Acceptance is the main key to achieving any major goal. In order to move past where you are, accept where you are. Then, set up the steps that must be taken to strive further.

So you’ve read all the pillars; now what do you do?

Take action.

I can tell you all the “secrets” to finally getting healthy, but it’s all for naught if you don’t do anything about it.

So today, choose to go DO.


30×30 Updates!

The tour starts in just a couple weeks and I canNOT wait to bring this hope and fire to you all!

Since my last update, we’ve gotten our tour stop list up to 21 cities!

Our newest additions are up on the map so be sure to check it out and mark your city’s stop on the calendar. I sure would love to meet you in person and take you through this beast of a workout!

Click here go to the map.

We’re still working on quite a few cities so don’t lose hope if we’re not yet set to come to you; we may be very soon. :)

Stay strong,


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12 responses to “The 6 Pillars of Losing The Freshman 15 (…or 30)”

  1. Olga King says:

    Way to go! And to write so well about it too. Had done it myself, recently as well – sadly seems that I had to be going back and forth often. No more – -because it’s now a family change, much easier to manage cooking.

    • Amy says:

      Yes! Good point, Olga. Once you have the cooking part down, it becomes much easier to manage your nutrition when cooking gets handled. And now you’re increasing the quality of life (and probably length of life, too!) of your family. Double win!

  2. Tammy R says:

    Congratulations, Amy. I hope to have my stomach that flat some day. 20 years ago, I put on the college 35, and at 41 years of age, I have finally lost all of it. The key was admitting that I was responsible for making it happen through healthy eating and exercise. No magic pills. No miracles. Just me and action! It feels lovely! So happy to have you cheering us all on!

  3. Simone says:

    Way to go!! Thanks for the motivation. :) I’m in between your first and second picture, and I’ve been developing an active lifestyle over the past year (crossfit, martial arts, and just started parkour!). It’s amazing to see myself gaining strength and confidence. I’ve also been trying to eat a more paleo-friendly diet (thanks Nerd Fitness!), but cooking/eating is definitely where my problem comes in. I’m stuck in the “I’m not an athlete” mentality with my fitness, and my “I’m not a cook” mindset in the kitchen. I’m slowly getting over the athlete part (signed up for the Tough Mudder this year!!) but I’m struggling to change my body composition. Because I’m “not fat,” I justify food I know I shouldn’t eat by telling myself that my diet’s far better than the average American and it’s no big deal — and then I sit here and wish I could SEE the muscles I can feel building, or have a flat stomach. I’m not trying to change the number on the scale; I’d just like to change my body composition, but I’m struggling with consistency (and impatience).

    Sorry for the life story. :)

    I guess what I’d love to know is what sorts of meals do you like to make for yourself, especially if you’re on the run? I’m finishing up school this semester, and as a commuter I need to bring lunch with me. I’d love some ideas!

    Thanks and congrats again! You’re an inspiration!

    • Amy says:

      Never EVER be sorry for the life story, Simone! That’s what we’re here for. :)

      It sounds like you’re doing epic things in your life with your fitness and health. Kudos, dude!

      Now, to keep getting those changes you want to see, keep exploring and trying out new things. Look at my lazy healthy meals (I’m not a cook, either) to get some ideas. Especially Lazy Healthy Batch Meals; you can make enough to bring with you to school and to warm up really quickly when you get home from a long day.

      Hope that helps! Welcome to the Strong Inside Out community. :)

  4. Janet says:

    i think you still look better in a bikini in your before pic than i do. but i’m going to start boxing/muay thai training to get in even better shape. i know i’m not fat or ugly but i have to change the way i work!! in college i gained 15 lbs. also didn’t help that i started working at dairy queen… ;) but i lost all the weight once i started taking up running in my early 20s. it was the first time i’d actually started ‘working out’ because i never did anything like that in HS and i have to admit, i need to get back into regular working out again esp. since i’m approaching 30! I’ve never had a flat stomach, even when I was down to 100 lbs. I still had what looked like the ‘last 5lbs’ of lower belly fat. I hated it and got too obsessed and I think 110-15 lbs. is where I tend to maintain my weight naturally. I think acceptance is key because back when I was 100 lb. I would berate myself constantly and still thought I was fat. :/ I realize I had a distorted body image, and a month later I was back to 110 lbs… and then my boyfriend would criticize me for gaining the weight when I was doing so good… ugh, good that we’re not together anymore. :P

  5. Mike says:

    There are so many false promises that are out whether it be a pill or a diet that has so many looking for an easy quick way. Lifelong lifestyle changes of eating healthy and consistent exercise , will give you healthy results. Great job on your success!

  6. Pat RIOT says:

    Great article! Always interesting to hear weight loss motivation from a woman’s perspective.

  7. Olivia says:

    Probably the best thing about this whole post is your quote:
    “I am not saying that I was fat, ugly or needed to change the way I looked. I needed to change the way I thought and lived.”
    Using this as inspiration to lose my freshman 10! Ten pounds doesn’t seem like much, but it’s more about the lifestyle change!

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