My Personal Transformation

by tinareale on November 26, 2011

I know a lot of this information may be old news to some of my loyal, long-time followers. However, when typing thinking a personal transformation page for this site, I realized I’ve never given you “my story” all in one place. So, here you go. I hope you enjoy it!

Growing up, I had a healthy body. I remained active with cheerleading and ate well-balanced meals.


I never struggled with my weight and certainly didn’t face severe body image issues.

My junior year of college, I got more involved with fitness. I had a healthy relationship with exercise and it served as a wonderful outlet for stress, anxiety, and other issues. Unfortunately, I also tried to control food during that time. I restricted my food severely for months, before I ended up falling into a binge/restrict cycle that controlled my life for years. While I never appeared unhealthy on the outside and always fell within a normal weight range, I was far from healthy on the inside. The constant roller-coaster in weight gain and loss took a toll on my body.

binge eating years_thumb[1]

I binged for years. I never felt comfortable in my skin, so would try to “diet”. Inevitably, the diet would fail because I tried to deprive myself too much…and the cycle would continue as I turned to food for comfort. You may read about my binge eating experiences in my Overcoming Binge Eating post and the Stuffed With Emptiness series I write.

Eventually, I took steps to overcome those challenges. My faith, support from loved ones, finding appropriate emotional outlets, working through the internal matters, and seeking a healthier balance with food all helped me gain strength and break free from binge eating disorder.Around this time, I also became pregnant with my daughter, Makenzie.


My pregnancy helped solidify more balanced eating habits that I carried with me after the pregnancy ended. I continued to enjoy exercise throughout the pregnancy and picked it up again right at the 6 week post-partum mark. Over the next nine months I watched my body change with consistent exercise and balanced nutrition.


At that point, I decided to go for a goal that had always loomed in the back of my mind. I had achieved a greater level of fitness than I anticipated and wanted to see just how far I could go. I signed up for a fitness competition.


I feel so proud to have made it through the training for that goal. While I learned through the experience that competing doesn’t fulfill me, I loved the experience and learned a lot. I trained myself and feel very satisfied with the package I brought to the stage just a year after birth.

fitness competition_thumb[1]

Following the competition, my husband and I knew we wanted to have another baby. We started trying to get pregnant right away. I had to take some preemptive measures to make that happen. During the competition training, I had lost my menstrual cycle and had to regain a good bit of weight quickly to get it back.

That time definitely challenged me emotionally to go from the extreme of fitness competition fit to no exercise and fearing losing control with my eating again. As I look back, I also know it helped confirm my thoughts on body image and self-worth even more deeply. Now, the importance of internal health and wellness means just as much to me as any other part of our physical wellbeing.

Around six months later, I found out I was pregnant. This pregnancy was harder, but I made sure to still maintain my fitness level and practice healthy habits. The weight still piled on more than before. I still lost energy and had much more pain.


I didn’t feel quite like myself, but it was all worth it to welcome my son, Braedon.


And after the delivery, I felt better than I had in months. Within a few short weeks, I felt ready to get back to the gym. With clearance from my doctor, I picked up the Couch To 5K program three weeks post-delivery. I eased into my fitness routines and gradually began adding in other forms of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training. I designed workouts that I would enjoy and that would continue to challenge my body in new ways. I remembered the changes a body can make with consistency, dedication, and determination. And patience.

I shared that journey through a series called “Body After Baby”, which I will conclude in a little over a month as Braedon reaches the one year mark.


1weekfront_thumb[5]Month 9 front_thumb[2]

During that time, I also took my fitness knowledge to new levels and picked up new fitness goals. I continue to train hard because fitness adds so much to my life. I continue to hit the weights, my first true fitness love, and also hit the pavement, with my new fitness love of running. I have raced one half-marathon, am racing another as this post publishes, and plan to go even further and race more next year.‘


As you can tell, I have gone through quite a lot with my fitness journey. I couldn’t even begin to go into all the details of every phase. Through this site, I plan to go deeper into the many things I learned along the way and promote the balance I sought after and continue to fight for every day.

I can’t imagine my life without fitness, a healthy lifestyle, and striving to treat my body well. I think we all can achieve so much if we put our hearts into it. I’m not only happy with a fitter, stronger, healthier body…but also for the healthy relationship I now have with food, exercise, and myself. It makes me a better person. I’ve come a long way.  I know you can to! And don’t forget – I’m here to help any way I can!

What’s a big transformation you have made over the course of your fitness journey? Any current goals?


1 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table November 26, 2011 at 8:39 am

I love your transformation pics – it’s incredible how efficiently you lost the “baby” weight and I am still impressed by your dedication and good balance between fitness and allowing the occasional birthday cake. :)

2 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health November 26, 2011 at 8:48 am

Wow, when I was reading this I realized that I hadn’t ever read your full story, so thank you for sharing! I was a cheerleader too :) . It’s so incredible to read your story and know that you have overcome something that can be so challenging mentally and physically. You are such a strong and amazing woman Tina! I hope you had a great holiday!!

3 Heather @ Better With Veggies November 26, 2011 at 11:16 am

What a great story, I can’t believe how far you have come and how well you balanced exercise and healthy habits to get back in shape after your kids. It’s a great inspiration! :)

4 Lindsay @ Lindsay's List November 26, 2011 at 11:54 am

Awesome seeing it all in one place!
I hope that you’re whoopin’ or have whooped that half marathon today! That’s actually my next goal: to race my second half. Possibly signing up for the one in Atlanta in March/April? Publix?

5 Heather (Heather's Dish) November 26, 2011 at 1:01 pm

i never get tired of reading your story :)

6 Kerry @ Half Healthy, Half Nuts November 26, 2011 at 3:51 pm

This is so inspiring! I love reading about your journey to/from/to health and fitness! It makes me want to get out there and run a few miles and lift some weights after my lethargic holiday weekend. And your body after baby pictures are truly inspiring. :)

7 Lauren November 26, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Thank you so much for posting this! It really struck a cord with me on a personal note. I had no idea how many women struggled with regaining their period after a time of extreme fitness. That is currently what I am dealing with and I’m working so hard to get over this but it’s so much harder (emotionally) than I thought. You are such an inspiration my dear.

8 tinareale November 27, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I’m always here if you need me! ;)

9 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey November 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Loved reading this – it definitely reminded me that personal fitness might not always look the same for every person, or for just one person throughout a period of time!

10 Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn November 26, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Ahhhhh! New domain! New bloggy look! Girl you STEPPIN UP your game! Also this post really touched me. Love you chica. Such a good momma role model.

11 tinareale November 27, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Lots of changes indeed! Hope to keep seeing your pretty face here, my friend. ;)

12 Shannon November 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Loved this post. I really enjoy reading about other people’s fitness journeys because they are all so different but share the same desire to get healthy! Great job!!!

13 tinareale November 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm

It always amazes me how different things are for each person as well. We can all do so much and have our own special gifts. :)

14 Danielle November 26, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Wow, that’s quite a transformation and very inspiring.

15 Corey @ Learning Patience November 26, 2011 at 7:42 pm

TINA – ILOVE you’re new site….LOVE LOVE LOVE it! SO exciting….way to go! Still catching up from the cruise and my bestie visit. So excited for you… :-)

xoxo from Trinidad

16 Paige November 26, 2011 at 7:43 pm

You’re a rockstar, Tina :) Your story is so inspirational and I think it’s great you’re using it and what you’ve learned to live your passion!

17 TC November 26, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Thanks for sharing your story. I can sure relate to a lot of what you said. You are an inspiration!

18 Lauren @ What Lauren Likes November 26, 2011 at 9:29 pm

You are amazing! Great story :)

19 Brooke November 26, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Can I just say that I love that you aren’t stick thin now?! You are strong and healthy, just like a mama should be….despite all of the peer pressure we choose HEALTH, and that is what is most important!

20 tinareale November 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I’m much happier with where I am now too. I have more energy, don’t stress over food, and just feel strong. Health is definitely where its at!

21 Melissa @ Live, Love, & Run November 26, 2011 at 11:05 pm

You know…your body after baby transformation makes me look like I’ve been sitting on my ass for 2.5 years. LOL You’ve done an amazing job getting to where you want to be. I’m really happy for you. It’s weird to see your competition pics again. I see those and I think, “Wow. That’s Tina?” Is it weird to say it looks like you…but doesn’t look LIKE you? Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading (and maybe not so actively commenting on) your blog for so long and have read your thoughts so many times that I can’t even see you as a “former” figure competitor. Does that make sense? I mean, obviously you rocked it and it’s a major accomplishment, but you’ve come so much further since then. It’s amazing to me. :)

22 tinareale November 27, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Sometimes I even forget that that is me in those pictures. It’s like..”woah. I was that person before…really??” LOL

23 Karolina November 26, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I’m so happy for you that you’ve been able to find a happier and healthier balance in your view of food, weight, and body image! You look so healthy right now, and have so many amazing talents and qualities that make you an amazing person!

24 [email protected] Palate November 27, 2011 at 2:55 am

First of all…loving the new site and congrats. On the post…you are a true inspiration. I’m not sure were you find the time to get all you get done done, you seem to achieved the perfect balance throughout your life. Just keep going lady, you’re a star! :)

25 Dawn November 27, 2011 at 11:35 am

Thank you for sharing your story. You have taken a good journey to be where you are today and living a healthy lifestyle will help your childern learn what being active and healthy is all about. I wish I had that growing up.

I strive to be a good role model for my daughter now. I want to compete in a figure competition next year and I am working towards that goal now.

26 tinareale November 27, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Even though I realized I didn’t lvoe competing, I always encourage anyone who has it as a goal they would regret not doing to go for it. It is quite an experience! And amazing to see the changes a body can make. Good luck on your journey! :)

27 Julia H. @ The Petite Spiel November 27, 2011 at 11:56 am

Very inspiring story…and wow, what a journey. I’m amazed by those competition photos! You still look great now, though..glad you’re enjoying fitness and found balance!

28 char @ char on a mission November 27, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Great story, Tina!! You’ve done some amazing things – which will keep continuing I’m sure ;)

29 Errign November 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Loved reading your story all in one piece Tina. It really is awesome and remarkable and I love it! Also, I can’t believe Baby B is going to be a year old soon!

30 tinareale November 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I can’t believe it either!!!! Time really does go so fast. So cliche, but so true. Gotta cherish it all, which I know you do. Have a great day, my friend!

31 Laury @thefitnessdish November 27, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Tina, congrats on the new site and the certification! It looks great around here!!!! I loved reading your story all in one place! You are truly an inspiration my friend!

32 Marian November 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Wow, the new site is lovely Tina! I’ve read your story before but it doesn’t stop me from reading again. Your story is so touching and so relatable in so many ways. So, thank you! :)

33 Marty November 28, 2011 at 12:15 am

I saw your transformation on your previous blog, but I must admit the way you laid it all out in one post, with the pics side by side…wow! You have come such a long way. Congratulations on being in such a healthy place in your life. It’s must be such a wonderful feeling.

34 tinareale November 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Thanks! It is crazy seeing it all in one place. Makes me really appreciate everything – the good…and the bad.

35 MizFit November 28, 2011 at 6:13 am


36 Shayla @ The Good Life November 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Finally back from vacation and wanted to say how much I’m loving your new site! Congrats on your certification and all that you’re achieving here – can’t wait to follow you along this wonderful new journey of yours!! xoxo

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