Tone It Up didn’t work for me

tone it up beginner

Let me begin with a quick disclaimer — I am in no way denouncing all the hot new fitness communities. If they work for you and make you feel good, great! They didn’t do that for me. And I felt like I was the only one in the world that felt like shit about myself while trying to be a Tone It Up Girl. And I don’t want anyone else to feel that alone, so I wrote this blog.

Good reasons to work out? Because I genuinely enjoy being active and doing things that are physically demanding. Because I want to be stronger so I can do fun things like trail runs and ski and ride my horse. Because I want to be healthy. Not so good reasons? Because I want to “look good” in a bikini.

Despite the positive and self-loving messaging of Tone It Up, I couldn’t help but get sucked into a negative thought cycle. And hating myself for not working out everyday or for eating cheese was no way to live.

I first found Tone It Up through a girlfriend’s social media. I actually started it while I was in a boot for tendonitis. Since I couldn’t hike (or really walk around anywhere outdoors thanks to snow and open-toed boots not mixing well) I thought I could at least workout in my apartment.

At first, their ready-made workout schedules and positive attitudes gave me the structure and support that I needed to start being a bit healthier. At first.

But I got out of the boot, and my ankle wasn’t holding up to the high-impact workouts that are a hallmark of Tone It Up. But each new fitness challenge that came around was my chance to do it right, to finally follow through, to not be a quitter, and to keep up. And look good in a bikini.

Image result for bikini body step one have a body
Credit: The Toast // Kendra Wells

I started a special TIU Instagram account to hold myself accountable. I got back on board with the daily workouts. I started eating chia seed pudding and other TIU-approved meals. And really quickly, I actually started feeling worse about myself.

It’s actually really difficult to work out every single day when you work full-time and have other hobbies. When I started falling behind on workouts, even just missing one out of seven for the week, I felt like a personal failure.

Because look at all these other women that were doing it! Women with harder work hours, kids, and way more complicated life situations than me. The community that was supposed to be offering me support and building me up was instead making me feel like a failure for not being able to keep up with them.

Instead of feeling good that I was eating healthier and getting more physical activity, I just stared in the mirror and hated everything I saw. I had scrawny legs. My arms were equally lanky. I had a stupid bum ankle. I was skinny fat.

Almost every meal became a vicious cycle of deprivation, then eating Oreos until my stomach hurt, and then feeling like an utter failure for binging. Pretty soon, I wasn’t actually eating better because I was so obsessed with what I “shouldn’t” be eating that I just binged on those foods anyway.

And I was exercising because I needed to stick to the schedule or I was a double failure. I needed to look different. I needed to look amazing in that theoretical bikini and I was going to be a fatass AND a failure if I didn’t workout today!

I don’t want my life to be driven by an article of clothing or ideas of what my body should look like. I want to workout because it gives me joy, because I like getting stronger, because doing even just one thing that’s physically difficult gives me an incredible feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Credit: Upworthy

Working out as an act of self-love is actually one of the biggest messages I got from Tone It Up, but for some reason, it became twisted into something very different for me.

Fortunately, I ultimately realized enough was enough. Instead of continuing to blame myself and feel like a failure for falling off the wagon, I realized that working out every day is not realistic for me. Three times a week was a more realistic goal. And that was okay. I realized that food was not the enemy, but something that gave my body fuel to do cool stuff. That my measure of success as a human was not a before and after photo series in an effing bikini.

TIU has helped thousands of women feel like a better, more empowered version of themselves. And I’m genuinely so happy for all of them. But if it’s not working that way for you, that’s okay too. You’re not alone and you’re not a failure. You may not want to quit cheese, and you can“quit” Tone It Up.

Published by Laura Cardon

Laura Cardon moved to Colorado as an adult and quickly realized how difficult it was to get started exploring the outdoors in a state full of experts. She founded Outdoor Beginner in 2014 to fill the gap in beginner-friendly content for camping, hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities. In addition to Outdoor Beginner, she coaches beginner trail runners and works at Runners Roost in Golden, Colorado, where she lives with her spouse and toddler.

7 thoughts on “Tone It Up didn’t work for me

  1. This post means so, so much to me. I started Tone It Up in May to try and kick start my body after feeling burnt out in the gym. At first, it was so fun and motivating, but then, like you said, I became consumed by worrying about missing the workouts. And the GUILT that would follow from missing workouts – it was like I thought I would instantly gain more weight by missing just one. I also became more focused on the outer goals of working out instead of the inner goals. I was so focused on hitting that perfect progress photo, I lost sight of why I really wanted to workout – to get healthy, to challenge myself, and to empower myself. I had been feeling so alone in my experience and so appreciate your post. I am so happy it works for others, but it does not make me lesser than that it does not work for me. And that’s okay.
    Thank you.

    1. Adelaide, thank you SO much for your kind words. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that this post helped someone else. I know exactly how you feel and am glad you know you aren’t alone!! Sending you lots of love!

  2. This post hits really close to home! I went to school for exercise physiology, but when I was an undergrad I stumbled upon Tone It Up and was all jazzed to get their nutrition plan and eat right. And. I. Hated. It. The community online seemed so strong but I kept beating myself up about things. You have to make fitness and diet work for you – I LOVE working out by getting outside, and when I can’t get outside I go to the gym THINKING about how it’ll help me outside. 😉 But that bikini mindset is no good for me!

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