Hi, I’m Kandace. I’m 27 years old, and this is my story.
It’s 2015, I’m 26 years old, and I just quit my full-time job. I am moving to the Bay Area from Redding, CA to live with my husband and 2 dogs. I’m moving to a brand new city, building a business, and I’m nervous and excited. This is my dream.
I’ve spent the last 4 years struggling with health, fitness, and personal development. And finally, I truly feel like I have rediscovered myself. I discovered that I like being different and I embrace my uniqueness. I feel healthy, fit, and happy – for the first time in my life. But the most profound discovery of all, was my self-confidence. I don’t need validation, I don’t need to compare myself to others, and I can take care of myself.
I’m here because somebody once believed in me, more than I believed in myself. Now, I believe. I’m following my dream and I’m investing all of my time and energy into helping others do the same.
Your first impression of me may be that I’m already fit/skinny/toned/etc, but don’t let that fool you. I haven’t always been this way. The old me was unhealthy, unhappy, and uninspired. The old me thought dreams were something that happened when you went to sleep at night, if you were lucky. Dreams were better than reality, because reality was just an unsettling monotonous routine. I was always thinking that there had to be more to life, but didn’t know where to start.
I’m here to share with you my journey — hard work, struggles, and triumphs — and all I ask is that you keep an open mind. Hopefully, by the time I’m done, your new impression of me will be: “Wow she is super fit, dedicated, healthy, happy, positive – she must have worked really hard and came a long way physically and mentally!! I want to be a part of HER journey.”
It’s 2011, my pants are tight, I am hiding in baggy clothing, I am all around uncomfortable in my own skin. Why are my clothes so tight!? They must be shrinking. Maybe the brand just runs small now. Someone tells me I look like a penguin when I walk because I waddle. Oh gee, thank you kind sir. Someone else tells me I look like a chipmunk when I smile. Just great. I laugh and shrug it off, but how does that make me feel? Terrible. I feel sad, defeated, and lost.
It’s funny because I never even realized I let myself get to that point. Not until I felt so far gone that the path back seemed near impossible. One day I just woke up and thought, how did I get here and how do I get back? I looked back through pictures from highschool and thought, well I was skinnier then, what happened?
Truth is, I was making poor choices, nutrition and exercise wise, on a daily basis, and I didn’t even know it. I felt ashamed and embarrassed about certain parts of my body. I was pretty good at disguising it too, often making excuses rather than facing reality. I hid behind other people in pictures or would beg people to delete “unflattering” photos of myself – which were basically all of them unless I was taking a selfie and very strategically placed the camera. I also became the queen of cropping off arms, legs, whatever I deemed necessary to disguise my weight gain.
Let’s be real, I am not going to sit here and say I was obese, because I wasn’t. But I was unhappy and unhealthy, and I certainly wasn’t fit. So while my “unhealthy size” may be someone else’s dream of a “healthy size,” that doesn’t matter. Size does not matter, weight does not matter, HEALTH MATTERS. Everybody is different, every body is different. I can’t stress it enough.
It’s 2012, my clothes are still tight, I’m still uncomfortable in my own skin, and I’m drinking a lot. I notice I have a drink in my hand in almost every photo. So I like to drink? No big deal. CROP! When I’m not partying, I’m working a sedentary job at a local car dealership answering phones, sitting on my butt all day long.
Looking back, one thing that really stands out is the alcohol. I never realized how much I was drinking until I went through the difficult process of digging through old photos to write this story. My husband and I threw big parties every chance we got. At that time, that was the only way I truly knew how to be in a social setting with friends. Although I thought I was having real fun, I was always left feeling very sick. My body sore, bruised, achey. I would spend most of the next day puking and at one point I even questioned if I had some sort of allergy to alcohol, but I kept on repeating the habit. That could certainly explain some weight gain and poor nutritional choices, but it was truthfully only a small piece of the puzzle.
My attitude (ya know, my fear), was the real problem.
While I was working at the car dealership, I met one of my greatest friends to this day, Leah. She would constantly ask me to workout with her, and I would decline, saying “no, that’s not my thing.” Looking back, it sounds ridiculous. Excuses! Again. I finally realized that I was saying no, not because “it wasn’t my thing,” but because I was afraid. Afraid to fail, afraid to commit. Once I realized this, I decided to face my fear, and I finally agreed.
I am forever thankful for Leah’s persistence in asking me to workout with her. My “no” clearly meant “not right now” and she was there for me once I came around. Like most people, I just needed time to make the choice that I was ready to take control of my health for me and for no one else. It’s a scary commitment. It means you actually have to be completely responsible for your life and you can’t blame others for your failure. All of the things I blamed for my weight gain — shrinking clothes, genes, family, eating healthy is too expensive — whatever it was, I had to let it all go.
Leah was my greatest support system, and that support kickstarted my journey to a healthier me. She convinced me to join a local program called the “Skinny Jeans Bootcamp.” She even went as far as paying for both of our classes ($150 each for 5 weeks). Of course I paid her right back, but I think she did that to make sure I actually stuck with it. Nobody thought I would stick to this. Why would they? I never stuck to anything. My family was supportive but I just felt like no one really believed that I would or could do this. I didn’t tell any of my friends. If i didn’t tell anyone, and I failed then no one would know. There’s that fear again.
On the first day of bootcamp, I specifically remember thinking, “OH MY GOD I AM GOING TO VOMIT.” It was only the first day! I thought there was no way I would ever be able to stick to this. No way in hell. I had no idea how they kept me coming back, but they did. And then something crazy happened a few weeks in, I started gaining wrist strength and having less knee pain. People were telling me my waist looked smaller. My muscles started to become more defined. I never noticed the changes in the beginning, but once I did, I was hooked.
Shortly after doing the bootcamp for a few months (still paying $150 every 5-6 weeks), I decided to complete a mud run with my cousin Celine. Although we walked most of the way, we still went through all of the obstacles. Through the ice cold freezing pools, climbing over walls, crawling in tubes of mud and under ropes, over netted walls and jumping over pits of fire. As hard as I’d been working, I had no stamina or endurance!
It’s 2013, my clothes are starting to fit better, I’m more active, and yet I’m still struggling with my weight and body image. I get so frustrated sometimes! Why can’t I get this right? I’m trying to eat better, but I hate counting calories. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Finally, I realize that nutrition (not calories) is the key, but where do I start?
Well, I started with a random protein shake that I found at Wal Mart, not actually knowing anything about them. It just tasted like chocolate cake. I like cake. Unfortunately, it probably had the ingredients of an actual chocolate cake.
Leah and I continued doing bootcamp as we tried to learn about clean eating. This was the first I had ever heard of “clean eating,” but it sounded legit. We experimented with recipes from clean eating websites and Pinterest. We would try to substitute our current foods with healthier “clean” versions of things. Progress. I was learning, and I thought I was on the right track, but I had no idea about portion control.
Like most people, I defaulted to calorie counting because I didn’t know what else to do. I downloaded some app that helps you count calories by logging your workouts and eating habits. That damn thing would tell me I ate too much every single day, but I was starving! This made no sense to me. I found myself getting SO MAD and frustrated. There had to be another way.
Later that year I started working at the hospital, and was suddenly surrounded by unhealthy people. It appalled and inspired me at the same time. That alone really puts things into perspective and life becomes all the more precious. But what to do?
At the end of 2013, I decided to quit the local bootcamp as I was not seeing any further progress, and the cost aspect was getting a little crazy. Although I felt like my fitness was great, my body had basically plateaued. Shortly after, I signed up for a local 24 hour gym and started just doing my own thing, whatever that was. I would arrive, go straight to the treadmill and run for however long I felt appropriate, usually barely a mile and I was panting. After that shit show, I would then move to the leg machines. No routine, rhyme or reason. I felt like a DERP walking around in the gym aimlessly, pretending like I knew what I was doing. Often thinking to myself, “Old dude, stop looking at my butt while I do this awkward weighted kickback butt burning machine. Yea, I see you.”
I still felt like something was missing from my newfound routine, so I kept trying new things. I played around with a local pole fitness class. It was fun until I developed tendinitis (“golfers elbow”) and had to stop. Shoot. I lost all progress I had previously gained in my arm and wrist strength. Suddenly incapable of using my left arm for lifting, I looked for something more suitable. I decided to take up barre class, which is cardio mixed with ballet. Barre class helped me gain endurance and also gave me my very first shin splints!
I looked up to the barre instructor, Michelle and how fit and muscular she was at her age. I asked her what she ate and how she managed to stay so slim and toned. She told me to stay away from basically all dairy and all bread. She explained how when she eats bread she notices a decline in her progress and it begins to make her muscles look “soft”. That is when I started paying close attention to how my body reacted to specific foods and began implementing this into my daily lifestyle.
It’s 2014, my husband started a new job and is working for a company based out of the Bay Area. He stays away from home during the week and travels home each weekend, leaving me alone for the week with our 2 dogs. With all of this newfound free time, what do I do?
For months I’ve been seeing this thing called “Beachbody” posting all over Facebook. I’m watching the community like a hawk, eagerly seeking more information about all of these “success stories.” I want a success story! I’m skeptical, but curious, so I start asking questions to a friend of mine who’s a Beachbody coach. She never pesters me to buy anything, but is always there when I have a question. She thinks I would be a great coach. I believe her, I think, but I’m scared. Scared to commit. Scared to fail. Scared to succeed.
Once again, I found my fear getting in the way of progress. I hated the idea of committing, let alone being held accountable for my everyday choices. That meant I had to once again let go of all excuses and realize I was 100% responsible for my life.
First things first: injuries. Between the tendinitis and shin splints, I realized I had a lot to learn about avoiding injuries while working out. That tendinitis ended up lingering with me for about a year and left me feeling handicapped. It affected my job, my workouts, my strength and my attitude. I struggled with it for a year before I finally sought out proper treatment from a local sports therapist. Telling the sports therapist how I acquired that injury was awkward to say the least. “No, its pole fitness, for exercise, not a high paying job.” He was great, and in addition to healing my tendinitis, taught me the importance of foam rolling and stretching before and after workouts.
Fast forward to July 6th . . . My great friend Milly messaged me and told me she was sending me the cash up front that I needed to sign up as a Beachbody coach because she KNEW I would succeed and just needed a kick in the butt. Having the money right there at my fingertips left me with no more excuses! She was sure I would rock this. And I finally started to believe it too. I accepted her kindness, joined, and messaged Colleen right away to tell her the great news.
I was so excited that I told everybody I knew, only to find that many of my immediate friends and family were not nearly as excited as I was. My husband was very supportive but also very skeptical. I heard all of the negative crud in the book. I understood that trying to transition my life from who I use to be to who I wanted to be was a huge shock to everyone around me. No more excuses. I was going to prove them wrong.
To me, being a coach was about leading (and inspiring) by example. My personal fitness goal was to reach beyond the plateau I’d been riding. I wanted to be lean and toned, and to recover the muscle and strength I’d lost in my wrists/shoulders from my injuries. So I started with the basics, committing to a workout program and better nutrition. Remember: I was still learning!
I decided to start with a brand new program that had just launched, PIYO, which consisted of moves inspired from both pilates and yoga. Honestly, I was worried about working out at home. That I wouldn’t be motivated or disciplined enough to make myself complete the workouts without going to a gym or class. And then I would think back to that old dude staring at my butt in the gym and decided that working out in the privacy of my own house didn’t sound so bad afterall.
For years I struggled with nutrition, and knew that I was not getting the appropriate nutrients that my body needed daily. In my poor attempts to get the proper balance, I ended up with mounds of vitamins A, B, C, D, fish oil, calcium, iron whatever looked “good” in my cupboard. So with that, I also committed to drinking Shakeology, an all-natural, nutrient dense, meal replacement shake. I was apprehensive after past experiences with shakes, but did my research, and decided it was worth trying. Oh, and it came in chocolate!
After I successfully completed PIYO I felt accomplished, strong, flexible, proud. It was the first at home program I had ever committed to and finished. I was a little in shock that I was seeing results, real results. My butt became lifted! I would often find myself walking around the house touching my butt without realizing it. (You can even look back to some of my past piyo videos I posted and see me doing it while working out too!)
I tried to consistently continue my clean eating while doing PIYO, in addition to my daily shakes. The shakes were BOMB! But, I will honestly admit that I did not follow the PIYO meal plan because it wasn’t simple enough in my eyes.
Continuing my at home workout routine, I decided to dig deeper into my health and find out what would happen if I started a program that was based on dialing in nutrition. I began to learn how to properly portion every single food category down to the nitty gritty. I thoroughly read the directions (because they were very clear and simple), separated all of my food groups and favorite foods from each group and posted my plan to the fridge so that I could successfully abide by it daily. If said food item wasn’t on it, I simply did not eat it. Winning!
Shortly after I started coaching, I started getting daily messages, texts, comments, emails from people telling me that I inspired them to make a healthier choice in their life that day, week, or month. Whether that be swapping out a candy bar for a bowl of fruit, or pressing play on their workout that day. These messages impacted my day in such a huge way. They made me realize that by sharing my journey along with my struggles, I am helping others realize that they can also push past their own self-limitations! When people are inspired by me, I get inspired in return! It’s literally a never-ending cycle of paying it forward.
It’s 2015, and I’m sitting here writing my story to share with the world. I’ve come so far, and I’m just barely getting started.
Follow my current RV Lifestyle journey HERE!
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”