Brides, Body Image and Building a Strong Fitness Foundation

I've had the pleasure of training many amazing brides and grooms over the years and most recently I started working with a young, successful and fierce bride-to-be who has infinitely impressed and charmed me. It's easy for clients to succumb to pressure (from themselves, the media, family, etc) to look "perfect" on the big day. Sometimes the quest for the ideal body can lead to negative self talk, unhealthy behaviors and mental and physical stress. What impresses me about Erica is her primary desire to BE healthy and happy. Of course she wants to (and WILL) look amazing when she marries Rob, but she wants to do it in a way that is safe and focused on longterm habits for sustained health and wellness. In this post she shares her journey and perspective with us on body image, building a strong fitness foundation and setting expectations.

Talk to us about your fitness journey and what your relationship has been in the past with exercise and nutrition? 

Oh where to begin relationship with fitness has absolutely been a journey -- a very tumultuous and moody journey. As the first born of two D1 athletes, I can't remember a time growing up where I wasn't involved in some kind of sport (most of the time I was on at least 2, often times 3 or 4 different teams). I came out of the womb an extremely competitive person so doing everything I needed to do to be the best at my particular sport wasn't a struggle. This continued through high school where I focused on volleyball with the expectation that I would be playing in college. Very long story short, my volleyball career ended 3 months in to my college career. 

So with no volleyball and no forced "workouts", my 18 year old self was living for the new found freedom! Freedom meaning I never worked out (because nothing was scheduled for me) and continued to eat the way I was when I had 10-15 hours of activity a week. 4 years of college later and I was unrecognizable. I struggled for the next 5 years with my body image (but still not consistently working out or eating healthy!). There was even a point in time where I was doing 7- 9 SoulCycle classes a week but still not seeing the changes in my body that you'd expect.

I've been learning so much about my body since meeting JJ (and doing all those tests!) and how my nutrition and exercise choices impact my overall heath and happiness.

What is your MOST favorite and LEAST favorite part of working out. 

Well besides seeing JJ several times a week, my favorite part of working out is the peace that comes with knowing I just spend an hour investing in myself. I'm in a very demanding job and having that time to just focus on me, is becoming more and more important. 

My least favorite part of working out is the time period for change that I had to reset in my mind. I thought that I could do 2 months of training with JJ and be down 15lbs no problem. While that might be true for some people, my body is NOT like that at all. I've had to learn to accept that 1) the physical appearance is not the most important thing about me, my health is, and 2) the work I'm doing now is building a strong foundation for the rest of my life and eventually, the results will come. 

You and your "hubby to be" have become meal prep gangsters recently. Is it helpful having him working alongside you? What are your favorite healthy treats to prep for the week?

Ha! We are gangsters when we want to be :) Having Rob as a partner through this process has been a dream. We hold each other accountable and motivate each other to make the best choices for our lives together. It's also so sweet for me to have a teammate when tackling a Trader Joe's in SF for grocery shopping (Pro Tip: he stands in line while I grab everything on our list!) 

My favorite things to meal prep is Salsa Chicken (1-2lbs of fresh chicken + 1-2 containers of Trader Joe's salsa + 9 minutes pressure cooked in the InstaPot = yummy lunches) and JJ's protein muffins.  We also have been using a meal prep service called Fourty-Four Love when we know we're going to be away during our normal meal prep time or we have an especially busy week. The food is so delicious and it lists all the macros online and on the front of the package. 

How does group fitness fit into your routine? 

Group Fitness is a really fun part of my exercise routine. All of my close girlfriends in SF go to JJ's Body Challenge class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Equinox Pine Street so we get time to socialize and catch up before class and in the locker rooms. We have a group text that usually starts buzzing around 5:10 am twice a week saying "Wake up and get to Pine Street!! Who needs a mat??" or "Owwww, JJ kicked my ass". 

As I mentioned, I have been a SoulCycle addict for a few years now and haven't been able to go as much as I normally would because of some of my DexaFit results (ask JJ if you want to know more). However, I try to go to a class 1-2x a month because it keeps me sane and is a version of therapy for me :) 

What would you tell a woman who wants to start working out but is hesitating because of fear (of being judged, of the financial commitment, of finding the time, etc)?

1) I'd tell her to look at this as time and $$ as an investment in herself.  If you don't make the time to do this now, it's almost guaranteed that you'll pay for it later with declining mental and physical health. Also, I'd consider myself in one of the most demanding jobs of all of my friends (Enterprise Sales) but I've realized that on the days where I skip a workout to work more instead, I am always less productive. I wasn't able to get my sweat on and it totally makes me slower during the day! As Elle Woods would say, "Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy!" and happy people are more productive!

2) I'd say f*ck the haters and those that want to bring you down. As women, we are always our own worst critic and very rarely do we think and say the mean things about others that we do to ourselves. But, if you think someone is judging you at the gym, you should feel sad for them (they clearly need it) that they need to be bitchy and judge-y to feel better about themselves and that they're wasting their time at the gym looking at you (#loser). You/we have every reason in the world to take care of the one body you get so what's the delay? You wouldn't go weeks or months without taking care of your car, apartment, relationships etc. so why are you any different??