Pablo Lorenzo via Compfight

It’s always so cool when I get an email from someone in the L365 community sharing a success story, asking a question, or providing some insight that might help myself or you. A little while back I got a cool message from Monica that I thought might be relevant for some of you ladies out there.

I asked Monica if it would be ok to share the email with all of you and she was nice enough to give me the A-Ok!

So without further ado, I give you Monica and her boss email to me 🙂

Hi Justin,
I’ve only got a few minutes before I wake up my youngest son and head to the elementary school to pick up the older two.

Peter will be two in April, Timothy is turning six, and Jacob is eight; three very spirited boys.  I joke that I absolutely HAVE to strength train just to keep up with them!

About me: Hm…, where to begin?!  From the athletic/wellness standpoint, I wasn’t active in high school, but wasn’t overweight or unhealthy either.  I did start running in college – to stave off some of the dreaded Freshman 15, but also to stalk the lacrosse team when they were out training.  I just “happened” to be running the same route every once in a while… :)I continued running a bit after I graduated from college and taught English in Japan (I have to ask you about the rooftop? where were you??).

* Note from Justin: I was in Tokyo next to Wasada University 🙂

I even had someone take pictures of the crazy foreigner who was running around the local pond.  But again, it was just to burn some extra calories, really, and I liked it.

During graduate school, I was recovering from breaking my kneecap (no, not a mob hit, rollerblading without kneepads), but managed to get strong enough to run a charity 5k.  I came in second last, and the guy who is now my husband was the “sag wagon” on a bike. I remember him circling around as I plodded along. 🙂

Fast forward: Unhappy with my weight and fitness I did a five-mile run and then decided if Oprah can run a marathon, I can too.  It would be a “celebration” for turning 30.  Although I’m by no means a planner or follower of programs,  I trained for months for the Marine Corps Marathon, and accomplished my goal of  finishing with a big smile.

Ever since then, I’ve been an on again, off again serial racer and although I do like running, it’s the races that I really fell in love with.

Getting an official time and a free tee-shirt: PRICELESS.

Plus it’s  something measurable that I can track and be proud of.  Because motherhood can often feel thankless, tiring, and confusing because you just don’t know how you’re doing. I am usually in the  middle of the pack while racing, but that’s fine with me. I just love it.

Fast forward… a bit further this time: This past summer my family moved to a new town, and I was thrilled to find out that they had a local half marathon that started two blocks from our house. I had to do it,  but unfortunately as usual, I went out a bit too fast or too far in this case, and developed nasty shin splints.

I ended up Working with a chiropractor who does Active Release Technique (super cool and effective), and was healing well but not fast enough for my liking.  Race day approached, and I thought, hey, it doesn’t seem to be worse if I run or don’t run, so I’m going to go and see how I do.  It was a lot of fun, but the last mile seriously did me in.

After that race I didn’t run for three whole months.  Not a step.

So….. That’s how I got into lifting heavy stuff.  I decided I needed to ditch the muffin top once and for all, couldn’t run, and had read so much more about how people who just did cardio didn’t see the aesthetic changes they were hoping for.

Ugh.  Time to get the kids.  Sending this now, more later today…

* Note from Justin: A few hours later Monica emailed me back to finish her story. She’s a character right? Here’s the rest of that email.

All right, now I’m warmed up. 🙂

As I said, I’m determined to ditch this muffin top once and for all, and to look GREAT! Not just, “good for having three kids.” There is no reason why I can’t get in the best shape of my life.

To that end, I started reading more about diet and nutrition. It’s always been an interest of mine, and I feel like I’m perpetually trying to lose 10-15 lbs.

Got back to pre-pregnancy weight after each kid, then put ten pounds back on, dieted it back off, had another kid, sigh..

And yeah, each time it’s gotten harder and harder.  I started out reading Wheat Belly, then wanted to learn about Paleo.  Which is how I found your website…. free Paleo download, wooohoo!! 🙂   But wow, I hit the jackpot… not just a diet and exercise site… but a complete “live your best life” site!

Since I had just moved and joined a new gym, I had several free personal training sessions. I asked around about good trainers, and Rob was recommended to me.  Turns out he was a professional bodybuilder for over 20 years, and he knows all about losing extra fat because it was his job, LOL.

From the first few sessions, I was hooked. I felt energized for the rest of the day after only a half hour or so.  And although I had no idea what I was doing, and I carried my cheat sheet around with me for weeks, I was determined to make it a habit.

I try to get in five days a week. I drop off the older two at school, then drive straight to the gym.  No excuses, housework can wait.

I started reading more and more about strength training and fitness transformations. I love before and after pictures and the stories that go with them. If they can do it, I can too.  It’s sometimes frustrating because I don’t have lots and lots of weight to lose, but instead just stubborn areas of fat that seem to be resisting all my efforts.

Yet I have seen almost two inches of improvement in my belly, and definite sculpting all over. The progress may be slow, but it’s there!

While I can’t say that parenting my three boys has suddenly become easy,  I do know that I have more patience and stamina because of lifting weights.  And it is a hell of a lot easier to haul my 29lbs. Toddler around. I have definitely gained a lot of core strength.

I see a stronger, more determined Mom who is getting her groove back and kicking that muffin to the curb.  Baby steps to badass.  🙂


RemnantsCreative Commons License David Goehring via Compfight

After reading Monica’s email I had a couple of follow-up questions for her that I thought may come in handy.

QUESTION: What specific results did you see? Get specific and if you have numbers for the physical stuff that would be great. (physical, mental/emotional, etc…)

ANSWER: From the very first workout, I felt an awesome mood and energy boost, and it lasts for hours.  I won’t lie and say that I enjoy all the routine tasks and errands suddenly, but I’m much more focused and efficient on the days I work out.

I have also noticed a gradual increase in my confidence and posture in the gym. Not saying that I act like I own the place, but the girl who walks in there now has a purpose and feels like she belongs there.

And when I’m working out, I am forced to focus only on ME.  Which is unfortunately very rare, as a mom of three little boys.

Although my goal initially was to lose around 15 lbs (from 145 to 129 — to be in “the twos” 🙂 ), I am realizing that body fat is where it’s at, and my total body weight doesn’t define success.  I have lost five pounds since November (Note: I received Monica’s email in Late February), but my body fat is down 2%, with about an inch and a half off the dreaded “muffin top.”  I can definitely see the changes in the mirror – bye bye, back fat and “lunch lady arms.” There’s serious sculpting going on.

It’s hard because I’m SO impatient, but I know that the quick fix diets don’t get me anywhere. I can lose that last ten pounds by depriving myself, but it would only be a fleeting thing – been there, done that, again and again.

QUESTION: What strategies did you use to find time to get in your workouts even tho being a Momma and other responsibilities required your time?

ANSWER: Honestly, I just pushed it to top priority, laundry and dishes be damned. And made it part of my weekday routine.  I drop off my older two at elementary school at 8:30 am, then drive straight to the gym.  I told myself I had to go every day.  Snowstorms and sick kids have messed with that a lot this winter, so I am trying to figure out a good home routine. That’s MUCH harder for me, since my almost two-year old is high maintenance.  I’m trying to get away from an all or nothing attitude, though, and get in sets with barbells here and there when I’m stuck home.  He also thinks it’s funny when I do squats holding him.  My 29lb kettlebell, I guess!

QUESTION: What keeps you motivated to keep going?

ANSWER: The changes I see in the mirror, subtle though they are at this point, are very motivating. I also have set a goal of a bikini this summer.  There. I said it out loud. To the world. 🙂  That should help motivate me. Public accountability.

I am also very motivated by reading success stories and sharing information and strategies with other moms who are on the same quest.  I heard about the “No Excuse” mom, Maria Kang, when that story hit the news, and although I was annoyed at first, the more I learned about her and her “movement,” I realized that I could learn a lot from moms who have gotten in fantastic shape, and also help support those just starting out.

I also came across Busy Mom Gets Fit and Nia Shanks.

And, strange but true, I read the Over 40 transformation stories on  Even though I have no desire to compete in bodybuilding competitions, I love seeing the dramatic change in women my age, and seeing what’s possible.

QUESTION: What strategies have you used to balance learning (which can be overwhelming sometimes with all the info out there) and taking action.

ANSWER: Um, you got me there!!  I love research and reading and surfing, and…. yes, if I put even half of that time into extra workouts, I’d be a lot closer to my goals. 🙂

I think that having accountability helps me, though.  Since last June, I’ve led a private “Muffin Haters” FB group with some friends, and we’ve been weighing in weekly and reporting on workouts and healthy habits.

That’s one reason I’m so excited about the Limitless 365 Fitness Program. I love finding people to keep me honest. 🙂

QUESTION: What would be the 3-5 of your biggest tips to Moms out there, or anyone in general that is interested in started a weight training program and Paleo diet.

ANSWER: I struggled the most with this one, because I really am just starting out, but here goes:

  1. Make your workouts a top priority, and fit them into your daily routine. For me that’s heading straight to the gym once I’ve dropped my older two kids off at school. Makes it harder for me to skip – I’m already halfway there. 🙂
  2. Put blinders on in the weight room – don’t look around wondering if people are looking at you, or worse, judging you. They’re not.
  3. That being said, if you’re gonna lift heavy things, get help. Don’t risk hurting yourself. Make sure your form is right from the start.
  4. If you still look pretty when you’re done working out, you didn’t work out hard enough. Sweaty mess is the look you’re going for. 🙂
  5. It’s not my quote, but to sum up: “Train because you love your body, not because you hate it.”
  6. That’s the difference between “exercising” and “training.” People exercise because they’re told to, or think they have to. They train because they love how they feel and love the results.


1: She got started living healthier by participating in something that she loved. She didn’t worry about what exercise program was best, how many sets she should do, or whether or not she should start with cardio or weight training.

She liked to run so she ran. Monica then found a love for the competitive aspects that a race provided for her and her passion grew stronger.

2: She avoided the trap of validation: When she was running races she didn’t care if she was finishing in the middle of the pact. Instead of comparing herself to others she started comparing herself to herself. Monica wanted to know if she was getting better each day based on her own results, not someone else’s.

3: She invested in herself: After seeing before and after photos and reading about success stories related to weight training and the Paleo diet Monica invested some time into educating herself on the two. She read books, met with a personal trainer, and continued her education by asking questions and connecting with others (like me 🙂 ) who were interested in the same things.

4: She makes her health a priority: This was my favorite part of her email, “I workout four to five days a week. I drop off the older two at school, then drive straight to the gym.  No excuses, housework can wait.”

5: She has found other ways to measure progress and stay motivated: Instead of letting the scale decide how successful she is Monica uses other measures of progress like body girth measurements (two inches lost around her waist!!!). She can also actually see the changes in her body as she looks at her self. Monica has noticed more patience and stamina since beginning her weight training program. Lastly, she feels stronger while carrying around her 29 pound toddler… so cool!

A big thanks to Monica for letting me share this email with the L365 community.

Some other recommended articles just for the girls out there:

Are there any other ladies out experiencing progress or noticing big changes since starting the Paleo Diet or a weight training routine? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email. I’d love to hear all about it and possibly feature you on the site.

Live Limitless,