Life Stories Motivation

Fitness for Life

I’ve been reflecting and reflecting on what my first blog post should be after the news I dropped last week. The reality is, it’s not easy to go back to normal when paralysis is only one inch away from your spine. It’s almost impossible partaking in shallow conversations, and most of all, it’s unbearable to listen to groans and moans about every day struggles that are a part of the human experience. I started looking at life in general differently and will continue to unpack the emotional baggage that comes from experiencing something so insane, and surviving to tell the story.

My nature has always been to turn all of my trials and tribulations into triumph. This situation is no different.

The depth of the bullet beneath my skin forces me to think deeper.

It’s been three weeks since the accident, and it was hard to keep me on “light duty.” Five days after it happened, I was on a 14 hour trip back to Los Angeles. The very next day, I was grocery shopping with a suitcase, not being able to lift heavy weights wasn’t about to stop me from stocking up on all of my chocolate and veggie patties. And now, three weeks after my bullet and I were introduced, I officially made it back to the gym.

I’ve since been to a doctor here in the USA, and it was confirmed that I’m recommended to keep the bullet inside of me. The surgeon told me if I hadn’t walked in with the X-ray disc proving my story, he would’ve thought I was lying, since I was walking and acting perfectly fine.

How did I recover in three weeks?

If you’ve been keeping up with my instagram over the past few months, you might have noticed my intense gym sessions, and have wondered why I sweat so damn much. Damon and I both committed to fitness goals once we signed our individual leases. To us, it was a no brainer – we’re back to LaLaLand, it’s time to focus on more than just growing our business and channel, but to focus on our bodies for the obvious reasons – we prance around in bikinis and bathing suits all year round, and have the pleasure of editing our jiggles for hours at a time once a video has been filmed.

Ya’ll think I’m gonna stay on light duty? NOPE.

Little did I know that committing to fitness would not only tighten my body, give me more self confidence, but would ultimately be a huge reason as to why I’m not paralyzed today.

Rewiring the mind to focus on your goal.

before

Summer of 2016, me, thicker than a Snickers, weighing around 150 pounds, with almost 30% body fat.

I’ve never been one to step on a scale, to me, the concept of weight was bogus. Who am I kidding? It still is bogus, but it’s undeniably satisfying to see your weight go up and down from fat loss and muscle gain. When it came to nutrition, you’d be appalled at what I grew up eating; Oreos, grilled cheese sandwiches, carbs on carbs on carbs, chocolate after every meal, Ramen noodles with Kraft Singles cheese (cheese product, cause it’s not even real cheese) on top.

My whole life, I would wonder why going shopping for pants was such a hassle, why my arms would get choked by tight sleeves, and I couldn’t explain why my body ached; neck and back pain became a part of my daily life as a 20something. And while running regularly (shout out to those dreaded high school cross country days that formed at least one healthy habit in my life) kept me from hitting the overweight mark, I was constantly frustrated at how my body would never change.

It was so freaking obvious why it never changed. I never set goals, and stuck to them. Much like most people, I’d do everything the exact same, maybe eat one grape, or fattening trail mix that’s marketed as healthy, when really all you’re consuming is sugar, and wonder why nothing was changing over time. Then I just took a step back, and admitted that I was annoyed at myself, it was time to stop talking about how I could have the dream body, and make it happen. I took advice that I should’ve been implementing years ago: shut up and go work out and eat better.

In January, when I committed to the gym of my dreams – think eucalyptus towels and Kiehls products in the locker rooms, I also started eating consciously. If I was investing, I was going to fully invest. Grocery shopping became a game of how healthy and low calorie I could get, which meant actually reading labels, and avoiding buying processed foods, that are once again, marketed as healthy, but couldn’t be worse for you. Snacks went from fatty potato chips to organic puffed beans, bread was banned from my apartment, and I’d only let myself cheat on wine and dark chocolate, which I could never cut out because both have antioxidants, duh.

Becoming bullet proof.

Every week for the first three weeks I saw changes: I had more energy, my neck and back pain were almost non-existent, and my weight started to change. Week one started at 150 pounds, ending at 147. Week two ended at 143. Week 3 ended at 141, right up until I left to go to Brazil, where I continued working out wherever I could. I hadn’t seen myself weigh less than 140 since high school when I was running three miles a day for Cross Country practice. It seemed impossible to reach my goal of 135 in less than a year, and here I was, well on my way to reaching the goal in less than three months.

The keys to all the quick changes were eating 1270-1400 calories a day, including mostly lean protein, and alternating my workouts daily to a point where exercising felt like a renewing experience. I began working with a trainer to really get the results I wanted, and to learn how to get the most out of my workouts. The change was immediate; I’d be so sore that I’d simply have to drop myself into chairs during the first week. He’d ask me how I felt in the middle of our workouts, and all I could say was, “alive, my muscles are all alive.”

What a beautiful thing to feel right before I almost lost my life.

workout

The human body doesn’t get enough credit. It seems as though we only see the exterior changes; I remember the morning I woke up with abs, definition in my arms, and a slimmer waist. It all started coming together on the visual aspect and to celebrate the slimmer me, I kept dancing in the mirror like a crazy person. While I was thrilled about these changes, what I would end up appreciating more was what was beneath the surface.

Looking back, I was bitching about how hard it was to hold a plank for 2 minutes, and what I should’ve been doing was thanking my body for being capable of working out my back muscles and core. The bullet was lovingly hugged by my muscles, that were coincidentally stronger than they’ve ever been to withstand trauma like that. If that’s not motivation to get you to the gym right now, I don’t know what is.

Give credit where its due.

Our bodies don’t work for us, we work for our bodies. We need to treat them right, reward them with good food that have positive benefits, stretch and relax so our muscles get a break, and most importantly, remind ourselves every single day that while we can grow strength, we’re not invincible. Our minds trick us into believing that we are, just because we wake up every day to start again. But in order to thrive, and to be prepared for all the crazy things that can happen, like, say getting shot, for instance, we should give credit to our bodies by treating them with TLC.

fitness

progress

After two months of going to the gym, then getting shot, recovering for three weeks, and then hitting the gym again, I weighed in and still saw results. I went from 146 pounds on January 20th, to now 137 pounds on March 22nd, and dropped from 28% body fat to 23%.

Imagine the damage that could’ve been done, had my body not been prepared for the bullet?

I’m back to LA, and had chills while jogging on the treadmill for the first time. The phenomenon of the human physique is too rich to describe with words, so let yourself fall into the spirituality of connecting your mind to your body next time you’re active. The ability to walk shouldn’t be taken for granted, nor should the gift of sweating. We have this incredible potential to gain strength with consistent efforts, and that my friends, should be exercised daily.

Fitness isn’t just for the instagram pics, it can save lives too, and that’s something worth committing to.

My workouts have started again, and I’m slowly building back up to the pace where I was before the accident. Be on the lookout for some bullet proof workout tips. First session back at the gym post bullet.

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  • This is truly inspiring! I really admire that you’re just carrying on with your life as normal, and I think this story is really important! It’s definitely inspired me to carry on working out, no matter how hard I find it sometimes. I love that you’re still travelling and doing what you do – you go girl!

    http://thegingerambition.blogspot.co.uk

  • This is incredible Jo, I’m so happy this whole ordeal ended the way it did. I had tears in my eyes watching the video you made about it. Maybe I’ll think twice now before complaining about working out!

  • Elizabeth Botta

    I’m so proud of you for not letting this traumatic experience keep you down! Our bodies truly are amazing and you inspire me to make some serious changes in my life. Keep doing you!

  • What a motivating and inspiring post. Thank you for sharing!
    http://www.flareaforte.com

  • Sophia M

    I love love this blog post. I was recently in the hospital for 62 days because of leukemia. I was not allowed to leave my sterile hospital floor and sometimes not even my room. I stretched in my room and literally walked in circles to get my “exercise”. Now I hike more and I swim in the ocean and I want to travel so much more.

    Get outside and use your body! Like Jo said, Life can hit you fast! Experiencing the possible loss of mobility or autonomy is frightening.
    Keep up the blogging <3

  • Kelly

    Amazing post, by far one of the most motivating and moving blog posts I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a bunch).

    We’ve all heard about how fitness and exercise are good for us mentally and physically, but events that test our strength are what really makes it click – fitness and exercise are important and should never be overlooked.

  • Ally Sheehan

    Way to go Jo!
    It’s so darn awesome that you’re taking care of your body, and how it’s taken care of you in return (Iron Woman always). Just be careful eating (and promoting) such a low amount of calories. Medically speaking, under 1600 is considered starvation. While allowing yourself only 1200 will almost immediately give you ‘results’, it can also do serious damage to both your body and mind, including a slowed metabolism and the weight coming back on as quickly as it came off. Generally we need more than that even if we were simply lying in bed all day, so with your kick-butt workouts and daily life on top of that, it might be best to give yourself more fuel! Be kind to that life saving body of yours <3

  • lucy brown

    Love your post and the message behind it, but please eat more calories you need 2000 especially if you are exercising a lot. As long as your foods are low fat then you won’t gain weight from calories

  • btfldisaster11

    This article was so incredibly important. Thank you. And so happy you recovered so well.

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