"How did you do it?"

May 2021 to May 2022
To the few people reading this please know that you hold all of my secrets. It is here where I openly confide my emotions and provide all the details of my transformation. I tell you everything so that you have the ability to replicate any part of my journey should you wish.
As more eyes see my content on social media, the most common question asked is “How did you do it?”
How? Let me tell you everything.
In order of importance:
  1. Nutrition
  2. Weight training
  3. Cardio
There is one critical factor not listed. It is the desire from within that fuels the discipline required to be successful. You must want it so bad that you prioritize nutrition, weight training and cardio above most things in your life. It's not a question if you should do it today. It's a statement that you will do it everyday. There is no doubt in my mind that if you choose consistency and embrace this new lifestyle, you can achieve the results you want.
I started working out 5 days a week last July. I lost about 5 pounds over a 90 day period.  READ THAT AGAIN. I did not lose a significant amount of weight working out consistently for 3 months. Why? Well, my trainer made it very clear that I needed to change my diet to see results but I ignored his words of wisdom. I witnessed my body composition change but the scale did not move. To lose weight, you must be at a calorie deficit which is best accomplished through nutrition.  
Once I was finally ready to commit to changing my food, I hired a nutrition coach. Starting on 10/1/2021, I began to consistently track what I ate. It took several weeks to get comfortable with the puzzle that became my diet. I literally didn't know what the primary macros were until I started: protein, fat and carbs. This was also a drastic lifestyle change as I had eaten almost every meal out for years. I also used food for comfort and as a reward. I drank wine 6 times a week. My nutrition coach emphasized the importance of logging everything, even when it wasn't ideal for my diet. 
How did I go from eating every meal out to meal prep? I was able to do it because 1. I really wanted to change and 2. I did it in steps. 
When I first started counting macros I continued to eat from restaurants however I weighed my food to ensure I was eating an appropriate portion. For example, if I got Chipotle, I would ask for a kid’s tray instead of a bowl. All of the ingredients were then in individual spots so I could easily weigh them.
I recognize that it seems obsessive to weigh your food. I didn’t typically do this in public back then and nowadays I have a pretty good eye for portions so I don’t usually bring a scale. If in doubt, log higher. I do weigh food at home that I cook or if it is from a restaurant. The reality is that while it seems a little much, it is necessary. You must know your intake to ensure you are at a calorie deficit to lose weight. If you constantly guess, it is unlikely that you’ll have the results you want; especially if you didn’t cook the food.
I would prep lunch and dinner for a few days and then give myself the freedom to pick up a fast casual option midweek. See! I totally used food as a reward!
I did this for the first few months to break the restaurant handcuffs and you know what? I lost 2-3 lbs a week. If I ate out, I would hold water and usually tick up on the scale but it would fall within a day. 
If I drank alcohol, I would log it. I did have a few glasses of wine a week while losing weight. I was actively working to cut back but again needed to break established routines.
I also had a 'cheat meal' on most Fridays. I would enjoy some pizza and Caesar salad. Sometimes it was difficult to control myself but it got easier over time. I would return to my normal macros the next day and dismiss any guilt. A high calorie day lets your body know that you aren't going to starve it so it doesn't need to hoard nutrients. I also typically lost weight a few days after this meal. If you binge the entire weekend, you'll likely erode the week's progress so make sure your indulgences are within reason and logged so you understand how much you exceeded your nutrient goals.
I hope that this demonstrates that I wasn’t perfect but what I did do without fail was log. I logged it all and owned the consequences of the scale if I exceeded my macros.
Once I transitioned to 95% meal prep, I had a difficult time hitting my macros. I wasn’t consuming enough food and it was difficult to get enough carbs. It’s amazing how much you can eat when it’s clean!
MyFitnessPal clearly demonstrates how following macros enabled my weight loss. I lost 2 lbs a week for months. We didn’t change my macros until I went into prep however you must understand that macros are not a one size fits all. There are so many variables that affect it so it is important to find a nutritionist or at minimum use a macro calculator online. Follow your macros for a few weeks to determine if they are a good fit. Adjustments will need to be made during the process. If you aren’t consistent, it will be difficult to confirm if you have the optimal breakdown. Consistent logging is key. 
July to December 2021
October - started counting macros
Look at this chart! It's basically a straight line until I started counting macros where you can see the clear and consistent downward trend. 
The decisions that we make every day compound negatively or positively. I have distinct memories over the past 9 months where I made intentional choices which seemed insignificant at the time however, I know it is all of these decisions that added up to get me where I am today. 
When I traveled I would find a Whole Foods or grocery store to buy precooked grilled chicken and sides. I would make sure to schedule time for at least cardio if I couldn’t lift. I passed on alcohol at celebrations and had to bring meal prep to gatherings. I fought intense cravings but stuck to the plan.  It is exactly these types of choices that made the difference. You must choose consistency, not perfection. Not every meal will be perfect and you’ll miss workouts but for every meal that you eat that is clean and for every workout that you do, it will compound over time.
If you feed your body garbage and fail to workout, you won’t see results. It’s that simple. In my opinion, especially if you’re a woman, food is the most critical part of the weight loss mission.
Accept that losing weight will require a new lifestyle. You’ll have to make sacrifices. This is mandatory, especially in the beginning. As you lose weight and stabilize it is easier to indulge but to maintain we must be as consistent as possible.
You can’t give up on the process and do not dismiss the power of compounding.
November 2021 to present
March - entered prep for Bikini Competition
I started working out with my coach in May of 2021. We did 2 sessions a week and I would fail to do anything outside of those workouts. In July, I decided I wanted to compete in bodybuilding because I needed a goal. I wanted to lose weight but I needed something more to motivate me. I am an extremely task oriented person and needed a sense of accomplishment to drive me. I began training 5x a week and added one day of cardio. My body began to transform as I became consistently active but the scale did not move. After 90 days of not missing a workout (maybe one), I had only lost 5 lbs. It was evident that my body fat percentage had decreased and that I had put on muscle but there was no validation from the scale.
You cannot give up because of the arbitrary number on the scale. If it’s discouraging I recommend limiting weigh-ins and rely on measurements and progress photos. I did not see the results I wanted because I was not at a deficit the first few months not because lifting was failing me or 'making me fat.'
When I first starting working with Austin, I showed him pictures of me in 2015. “I have peaked already” is what I would say and I genuinely believed it. I never thought I would have a better body than I did during that time. I was older now and I had carried a child. I had accepted this as a reality but knew I could get in better shape.
These self limiting thoughts could have detoured my progress but luckily I was motivated to get in the best shape that “I could.”
Wow, did I prove myself wrong! I am 35 and in the best shape of my life. I swam in high school, played college rugby, ran several marathons and never looked as fit. I have real abs for the first time in my life which is a reflection of my combined efforts. I always hated my legs and now I appreciate all of those muscles.
One misconception of lifting that I had was that you needed to constantly change your workouts to yield the best results. I’ve literally been doing the same exercises (slight variations) by body part for over 7 months and continue to develop. You do get results by doing the same exercises. I recommend following a schedule and finding a consistent regimen. Here is mine for reference: 
Monday: Glutes 
Tuesday: Back + biceps
Wednesday: Glute + hamstrings
Thursday: Shoulders + triceps
Friday: Glutes + quads
Saturday: Cardio only
Sunday: Off
It’s truly been amazing to witness my own transformation. I will admit that I was happy throughout most if it. It was one of the only times in my life where I successfully celebrated being in the present versus looking forward to “the future fit me.” I felt fit long before I would have been considered it by others’ standards and I am grateful for this attitude during the process.
Once I started counting macros in October, the weight came off quickly combined with my workouts. Again, diet is critical to weight loss and lifting is necessary to tone. If you can only commit to one thing today, change what you’re eating.
Why is cardio last when so many push it as the solution to shed pounds? 
The intention of cardio should be to help ensure you operate at a deficit however it shouldn’t be the focus of how you lose weight. The best way to make sure you’re burning more than you’re eating is in the kitchen; not gym. This is why my weight loss was not focused around it.
I was doing minimal cardio last summer as my focus was on developing a consistent lifting regimen.
We upped cardio to 5x a week in October. 20 minutes on the treadmill at 8% and 3.2 mph after lifting.
Fact, I’ve never been on the stair master throughout this entire process. I’m not saying it’s bad but you should know I simply walked at an incline to achieve my results.
You’re probably wondering how I found time to do all of this. I made time by prioritizing it. I woke up earlier to get to the gym. If I went to the gym during my lunch I would complete as much as I could. This meant that sometimes I would have to do abs at home or return to the gym at night.
You can say you don’t have time but if you want to change, you make the adjustments needed to succeed. If you don’t, you won’t get your intended results or it will take longer. It really is as simple as that.
If I broke down my transformation into stages it would look like this:
Stage 1
First 6 weeks (May - June 2021)
Inconsistent workouts
No changes to food or alcohol
Starting Weight: 167 lbs
Ending Weight: 165 lbs
Difference: 2 lbs
May - June 2021
Stage 2
3 months of lifting 5x / week (July - Sept 2021)
1 day cardio (walk on incline)
Minimal changes to food or alcohol
Starting Weight: 165 lbs
Ending Weight: 160 lbs
Before after July to Oct
Difference: 5 lbs
June - September 2021
May - September 2021
Stage 3
5 month period counting macros (October 2021 - Feb 2022)
5x lifting per week
5x 20 min cardio per week
500 reps of abs per day / 6 days a week
Starting Weight: 160 lbs
Ending Weight: 132 lbs
Difference: 28 lbs
October 2021 - February 2022
Stage 4
2 months of prep for competition (March - April 2022)
Macros- decreased carbs / fat
5x lifting per week
5x cardio (slight increases 2 weeks out from the show)
500 reps of abs per day / days a week
Starting Weight: 132 lbs
Ending Weight: 126 lbs
Difference: 6 lbs
Total difference May 2021 - April 2022: 41 lbs
May 2021 - April 2022
Your body and goals are unique. Please recognize that if you've decided to commit to a transformation, this is your journey and it doesn't need to be compared to others. Document it for you but you don't have to make it public. I am only choosing to share my story in hopes of being a resource and show what is possible.
  • Define your goals
  • Log ALL of your food EVERY DAY
  • Do not obsess over the number on the scale
  • Take weekly progress photos for YOU (Before & After Blog here)
Up Next: Post Show struggles
Bicep Blonde
Personal Training: Austin Meason Scottsdale, AZ for in-person or online
Nutrition Coach: Nic Durso  Scottsdale, AZ for in-person or online
Macro calculators: online, cost effective way to get a baseline. Consistently log for a few weeks before making changes.
Meal tracking appMyFitnessPal (premium)

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I am inspired by your story. I want to try body building too as my goal before I turned 45 and I know it is not easy but it’s for myself. Thank you for the tips on nutrition and workouts that you have shared. Consistency is the key. I am following you on Instagram. :)

Vanessa major

I must say ‘I thoroughly enjoyed reading your journey, I’ve always thought having abs and being toned is for “every other lady but me! Food and I have never been best-friends
Where as I will drink my food, Yes easy but can I still get the same results?


What an amazing transformation! I really appreciate what you shared and can relate to the struggles you had in the beginning. Can you please share your macro breakdown and maybe a typical days menu that helped you move the needle? I have the hardest time figuring out the right combo to fuel my workouts. I know everyone is different but I’d love to know what worked for you. Thanks!


Thank you so much for posting your journey, you look absolutely amazing and have inspired me to make the changes necessary. I am turning 49 this month and have 15 yr old boy/girl twins. My weight has fluctuated over the years and I love how honest you are that nutrition needs to be #1 focus.
Thank you for inspiring ne!!


Sheila Mckinney

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