My life was consumed by numbers - counting every calorie eaten and burned, weighing myself multiple times a day, etc. I lost a sense of who I really was and what life was supposed to be about. I isolated myself from both friends and family, and really lost control of myself.
Turning Point - Diagnosed With AmenorrheaAfter being diagnosed with amenorrhea, the doctors read back my lab results and told me at the rate I was going (considering the 9% body fat I was at) I would never be able to have children of my own.
That scare was the first turning point for me. I finally realized I was causing harm on more people than just myself. This meant my parents would never be able to have grandkids, my sister would never become an aunt and so on. I would never be able to start a family; something that I have always wanted.
Having to gain weight from the start was a very difficult challenge to overcome, especially from a mental standpoint. I went from eating only 1,200 calories, to gradually increasing to over 3000 a day.
Eating the extra calories and not being able to compensate by doing extra cardio was extremely challenging. There were times when I would be sitting at the kitchen table in tears, feeling like I was force feeding myself just to finish a meal.
A 3 Pound Step ForwardMy first major milestone was on September 1, 2013. I weighed in 3 pounds heavier than when I started my "bulk" a month prior (115 pounds to 118 pounds). I look pictures comparing the two, and saw noticeable lean muscle mass gains.
It was the first time I could actually look in the mirror and have something positive to say about myself. My confidence began growing from there.
I took cardio completely out of the equation for 6+ months. This was a huge change for me, seeing as I used to spend 30-60 minutes on a treadmill doing HIIT intervals.
DJ Castano, the creator and trainer of Camp Swole, programmed a mass gaining routine for me which lasted about a year. The weights increased tremendously, and as a result my strength skyrocketed and I was seeing huge body transformations.
One of my biggest mistakes at the beginning of my training was overthinking. I would overthink all my lifts, and ultimately psych myself out because of it (especially when I was trying to hit a PR). I would mentally beat myself before I even attempted the lift, or sometimes even before I stepped foot in the gym.
Increasing Calories, Seeing Positive ChangesMy calories gradually increased by 200-300 every month, increasing from 1,200 per day (before my transformation) to over 3,000. The amount of carbs I was eating increased all the way up to over 300 grams/day.
Like I mentioned before, the calorie increases were a huge struggle to me. However, the hardest thing to overcome was moderation. I would weigh out every little thing I ate - vegetables included - to make sure I was hitting my macros for the day. I would never think about straying from my diet plan.
Little did I know, this was still me being overly obsessive. It lead to over-indulging (binges) at times where I did treat myself to something like ice cream, sweets, etc.
Life is made up of choices, every single day, which lies in your hands. Write your goals down. Make them known. Have someone to hold you accountable. Just START.As far as other supplements go, I take
- AdvoCare Catalyst (BCAA supp)
- AdvoCare Muscle Fuel and Spark (pre-workout)
- Dymatize Nutrition whey protein
- Dymatize nutrition casein protein
- Optimum Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate.
Mentally Stronger and Taking on All ChallengesMy transformation journey is nowhere near done. I'm constantly trying to better myself, whether it's during training, in my personal life, academically, career, etc. Because of the immense amount of mental strength I have gained during the last few years, I've become a much better person as well.
I have become a "go-getter", and am more determined than ever in other aspects of my life. I strive to give 110% in my relationships, my career, and most importantly I've taken what I have learned through experience and give back to others.
I reach out to people struggling with what I went through. Now as a personal trainer, I get to help change other people's lives both physically and mentally. To say I have finally "made it" would be false, because there's always still room for improvement.
Looking back at where I came from, it's taught me to be grateful for the life I have, be grateful for the support system I have and to never stop believing in myself. Because as my favorite quote goes, "The body achieves what the mind believes."
Lifestyle Changes and Staying PositiveThere will always be people who do not support the lifestyle I live. I chose, for the most part, not to drink alcohol, and to stay on a rather healthy diet 90% of the time. I choose to go to bed a reasonable hours to make sure my body is well rested.
For those who don't support my decisions, and who don't bring positivity into my life, I have chose to cut them out. My true friends and family will be there encouraging me all the way, and I've learned that life without negativity leads to a life with minimal stress. I surround myself with people that lift me up, and who want to see me succeed.
Do You WANT to Change?You will never change unless you WANT to change. If the desire and passion is there, don't hold back. The hardest part is actually starting.
Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. It's not going to easy, but the feeling of accomplishment and progress (whether it be after a single workout, a month, or a year) is what should keep you going.
Strive to find that inner motivation. Seek help. Ask someone with experience or knowledge for help with diet tips and workouts. Don't be ashamed of who you are, even if you aren't happy- because YOU are the only one in control of your life.
Life is made up of choices, every single day, which lies in your hands. Write your goals down. Make them known. Have someone to hold you accountable. Just START.
Remember, you are HUMAN. You will fall off track, it is inevitable. You will miss a workout, over-indulge in sweets, but how you pick yourself back up is what will lead to success. Don't punish yourself for these things, use it as a learning experience and keep moving forward. Look at the big picture of things, and sometimes the most important thing to do is take a step back and breathe.
Write your goals down and make them known. Hang them up in your house; tell your closest friends and family. This journey is hard to do alone, so having a support system will be a huge benefit.
Don't be afraid to ask for help or seek advice. Look for a training partner or a personal trainer to help push you. More than half the time, the only thing holding you back is YOU. Change your mentality, and the body will follow.
Lauren Kirschblum, Moving ForwardRight now I am a senior at The University of Connecticut, graduating in May of this year (2015) with a BS in Nutritional Sciences. I work as a personal trainer at G's Fitness and Nutrition in Waterford, CT, and by the end of this summer (Aug 2015) I am moving out to California to continue personal training and will be working with a company called PowerCrunch.
My major goal is to continue sharing my story and inspiring others. I want people to look up to me and be able to confide in me for support, because I know the struggles and I can relate. Some fitness related goals are just to continue working hard in the gym and increasing my (physical and mental) strength to reach new PRs, and challenge my body and mind. Daily goals are just to be happy, continue striving to become a better person- friend, sister, daughter, etc.
Currently I am pretty much maintaining my weight eating over 3,000 calories a day. I weigh 147 pounds and focus on enjoying my life and the people in it. Most importantly I strive to have a healthy balance in all aspects of life. I surround myself with positivity. I am lifting heavier than ever.
I just finished Camp Swole's 9 Point Powerlifting Program, and have transitioned into a 12 week Strength and Conditioning Routine. From beginning my transformation, my weight has went from 112 pounds (at 5 feet 8 inches), to 147 pounds a year and a half later. My PRs (1 rep max's) have nearly doubled, as my bench press went from 95 pounds to 175 pounds. My squat went from 135 to 225, and my deadlift went from 215 to over 325.
I believe in myself much more than I used to, and I have a huge support group everywhere around me. Between my friends, family, clients, co-workers, and my second family at Camp Swole, I'm always being pushed to succeed.
I failed previous time before because I didn't truly believe that I could make the changes I did. I wasn't aware that I am in control of my life, and every decision that I make. I contribute so much of my success to DJ and Camp Swole.
As a trainer, he's taught me that I'm capable of doing so much more than I ever expected. He's challenged me in ways that have bettered every other aspect of my life, and he has gone the extra mile to be there with me every step of the way, even at my weakest points. I don't let myself get in my own head nearly as much as I used to.
Today, I don't psych myself out before big lifts. If I fail, I move on. I use failures as motivation to work even harder so that I can get it next time. One thing DJ has taught me, which I will live by until the day I die, is it is never a failure unless you quit. And I will never quit.