I’m exceptionally excited to see our second group of stunning STRONG GIRLS about to step in front of the camera for their very first professional photo shoot. Having gone through this experience myself several months ago now there’s so many firsts that happened along the way and even more afterwards. Let me take you behind the scenes to understand the ups, downs and amazing things that happen when you take on making a dream a reality.

A few weeks before my prep began I was sent the following written by Jillian Michaels’:

“Why not you? Why not you to do something for work that you love? Why not you to have a healthy body? Why not you to have healthy love? Why not you to be, have or do anything you have ever dreamed? We are so quick to think others are deserving over ourselves. The truth is that we are all deserving. So why not YOU?”

Having personally struggled with believing in myself and knowing that I am worthy of great accomplishments this quote really stuck with me. I read it over and over. I said it to myself almost on a daily basis. It fueled my desire to build.

So my prep began. I got my nutrition and training plan. The goal was 14 weeks of sheer 100% compliance to the plan. 100% compliance was something I hadn’t achieved in this area for a while so this was the first obstacle to over come.

My first step was to sit down and adjust my schedule to make room for this committment. I discussed the adjustments I was hoping to make to my schedule with my husband to ensure he was aligned and supportive – which he was. The rest of family was equally as supportive knowing I would often be bringing my meals or eating on a different schedule. This meant earlier mornings to fit my training in. This meant cooking when I might rather go out to eat. This meant putting aside socialization that I normally would do in lieu of ensuring I got enough sleep.

A few weeks in I saw marked changes in my physique. This was all the more motivating to continue with my goal. With progress sometimes comes adjustments to the plan. Coach added some cardio. Ugh – Cardio. This girl loathes cardio because it’s so boring. But coach says it’s time to add cardio so…time to pivot and thankfully the warmer weather was upon us and I was able to benefit from the fresh air by getting outside.

I’m now about half way through and getting excited for shoot day. I’m committed and begin to correspond regularly with my fellow STRONG GIRLS shooting on the same day as me. At this point the mental game began. I began to feel more tired. I wanted more food flexibility. I wondered if I could actually attain this goal. My mantra repeated – ‘why not me…” I persisted.

A few weeks before the shoot I had made such progress Coach actually incorporated some FREE MEALS where I could eat a meal of my choosing. My internal monologue celebrated the nachos, burger and sweet potato fries I chose for that day. I also got to play with some fun carbs after training days – can you say Timbits and Ice Cream Cones? The most amazing thing happened…I actually woke up leaner and more cut after my FREE MEALS which surprised me. This is where I truly learned to allow my Coach to be the expert, guide me through the process and let go of the bro-science that I had previously thought was accurate.

This was also the stage I got to shop for my looks and begin to visualize the package coming together. I’m almost there and damn I have some abs starting to pop!

A few days before shooting is time to rest the body. No training, no cardio and keep the meal plan spot on. Truly this was a community effort. Family, friends, colleagues, coach and the rest of the STRONG GIRLS literally encouraged, supported, mentored me over this finish line.

Morning of the shoot. I’m so excited. I’m literally wanting to jump out of my skin. With so many other STRONG GIRLS we made it. Walking into my first professional photo shoot was completely surreal. Being dolled up by Cherry and her team. Laying out the myriad of outfits. Seeing all the blood, sweat and tears come together in this tanned and primped package ready to step in front of the camera. I felt like the best version of myself I had ever been able to create: beautiful, strong, sexy. Flashing bulbs, music blaring, surrounded by friends we celebrated our hard work.

So now that goal had been achieved…now what, you might be wondering? Well let me tell you the biggest surprise I received.

Here’s what I learned. After you reach a physique goal it’s time to bring up calories and reduce cardio. This allows the body to start using its own metabolism even more efficiently. Here’s the trick – your mind needs to remain strong enough to stay on your plan, trust your coach and allow the body to work its magic. I learned there is a natural course to the body and how to play in its favour to stay on the healthier side of the fitness industry. Now was time for the real work to begin and the photo shoot turned into Day 1 of an entirely new level I was playing in.

The past several months have taught me that there’s a time and place for every stage of my body and a corresponding look. There’s a photo shoot phase, a build phase and a phase where I can just be in my body and enjoy the effort, prioritization and love I give it on a daily basis.

While my first professional photo shoot will go down in history on my personal highlight reel of life I now know I can do anything I set my mind to and go far beyond it.

So…why not you?

Check out our 12 weeks challenge and give yourself the best possible gift this holiday season…