Getting Physically & Mentally Fit

I have gone back and forth a few times about writing this post mainly because I wasn’t sure where to start! Like I said on Instagram, I am definitely not an expert and I will never claim to be.

Almost 8 months ago Braun and I made the decision to start working out and doing something with our mornings that would set us on the right path and help us have more energy. I think every person who crosses the threshold of a gym has their goals in mind. Weightloss, bulking, toning, energy…no two reasons the same and no wrong reason.

I seriously applaud anyone who gets up the courage to workout. It’s scary!

While my goal wasn’t to lose weight, I was definitely rocking a bod that wasn’t doing me many favors.


After struggling with gluten and arthritis for more than a decade, I found myself with really low energy levels, an uncomfortable level of softness, and daily pain/discomfort. I was diagnosed with arthritis and really high levels of inflammation in my teens and I’ve dealt with the side effects of it throughout my teen/adult life. It’s one of those things that is hard to see on the outside but definitely wreaks havoc on the joints and ligaments of the body. There’s a definite disconnect when how you look on the outside doesn’t match how you feel on the inside!

Compound that with my digestive issues and there were a lot of  years I wasn’t a super happy camper. I remember when I was pregnant with Dash (7 years ago) and having to brace myself to even go up the stairs. My joints were giving out on me and I was MISERABLE. A day didn’t go by where I didn’t have to take some sort of medication. I was always trying to fight off a migraine or coax myself to go up the stairs. That isn’t a fun way to live.

Many of you know that Braun and I went on a trip last January and used those few days to talk to one another and set goals for our family. We talked about each of our children, our hopes and goals for us as individuals and for us as a couple and even plans for our home. We didn’t leave anything on the table!

This included our health.


• • •

With Braun being on the road so much of the year, taking care of family stuff falls to me a lot of the time in the off-months and I gotta admit, working out is the last thing I wanted to do. But Braun and I made it a goal this year to be more physically fit. Not so we could rock our swimsuits with pride (I’ve been told that even the most physically fit people in the world have body confidence issues when it comes to rocking a swimsuit) but so we could keep up with our kids and so maybe for once, I could be free of pain.

For me personally, it was about strengthening my body and giving it the attention it needs in order to work best for me.

I have been fairly fit throughout my life thanks to cheerleading and chasing after 4 kids but I hadn’t done much in the way of working out once I had a few kids. It just wasn’t a priority anymore. But thank heavens, that finally changed.

So that first morning waking up to go workout was a doozy!


Braun and I decided to join Orange Theory Fitness. This is what they say on their website:

Orangetheory is a 1-hour, full body workout, focused on training endurance, strength, and power. We use heart-rate based interval training, which burns more calories post-workout than traditional exercise. When wearing our exclusive OTbeat heart rate monitors, your real-time results are displayed on large screens throughout the studio. Intensity is based on your individual heart rate zones, making the workout effective for all fitness levels. To top it off, our certified coaches lead the workout to prevent you from over or under training.

In Tara talk, this means that they kick your butt for an hour and you compete to get splat points – the more points, the better. The kicker is that the more physically fit you get, the harder it is for you to get splat points because you have to push your body to the next level! It’s fun, it’s exhilarating, there’s more than a few mornings when I came home sore, but more often than not, I’m so thankful for the new things I discover that this body of mine can do.

There are a few things I love about working out at OTF:

  1. It’s geared toward ALL levels of fitness, and everyone is encouraged to go at their own pace.
  2. There are options available to you if a certain body part is off limits for you – their trainers are trained to help you work at your own pace doing a movement that is right for your body.
  3. You get to work out with people that are also going at their own pace, doing their thing, who don’t care what you look like, how hard you’re working, or if you’re better or worse at an exercise. You’re all just in there, trying to get your splat points! 😂

Another perk is the people you rope into doing OTF with you! This is my sister and she attends the same local class Braun and I do, along with a few other friends, and we have a blast!

Plus, I have loved that it has locations  all over the U.S. so missing isn’t a worry because you can always hit up a local gym! We have gone in Hawaii, New York City and Braun finds them when he travels back east for work too.

But the best part of all, is the change I’ve seen and experienced in myself. I love to workout now. Who would have thought?!?

Seriously, I actually look forward to getting in there and sweating! (Who am I?)

Yes, there are mornings that I’d rather be in bed…but they’re far less than the mornings that I can’t wait to get active!

I would also like to note that initially, I had to dumb down A LOT of the workouts. If people were running, I started with power walking at an incline. Some people were lifting heavy weights and I started with 10’s. Was I embarrassed about that?? NO!! Everyone starts somewhere. Did I feel stronger immediately? No. Did my joints kill every day for the first few weeks? YES! Did that eventually go away? YES.

That body above? That’s me, in August. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of this body. It’s given me 4 healthy kids, been through a killer car crash, has taken me all over the globe, and still takes a beating.

But this body was tired. This body had very little energy, and this body was throwing me curve balls right and left with flair ups, pain, inflammation, indigestion, migraines…all sorts of surprises.

And it was time for me to start taking care of my body if I wanted it to continue to take care of me!

This is 3 months ago at my first check-in:


• • •

This is me today:


Fast forward 8 months and this body probably doesn’t look crazy different than the one in August but I can feel a difference and that’s what really matters. I can’t tell you my measurements because I don’t know them. I can’t even tell you I went down a few sizes in clothing – because I didn’t.

But what I can tell you is that I don’t want to take a nap at 3 pm every day (ok, maybe I still do but it’s because naps are amazing, not because I’m fighting to keep my eyes open!)


• • •

My body doesn’t hurt. I don’t wake up with aches and pains. My fingers don’t swell so bad or as often as they used to. I feel less puffy (arthritis people will totally understand this one).

And I haven’t had a migraine in months! This alone is enough to get me into the gym every chance I get.

The small things are what has made the biggest impact. Not only is my body stronger than ever before, but I’ve grown stronger mentally, as well as spiritually. How? By learning a new discipline, committing to something hard, keeping my mind sharp and focused, and finding peace within myself when some days I felt “less than”.

I know the struggle is real – I can’t even imagine going back to where I was 7 months ago. But there are a few other things that I’ve learned along the way that just might help you with your journey:

  1. Drink lots of water – simple enough, right? Guys, this was so hard for me! I cut out Sodalicious and have carried my Hydro Flask around with me non stop!
  2. Make a healthier choice – notice I didn’t say, “make all healthy choices.” Just make a healthier one. Have one scoop of ice cream when you want two. Swap out your french fries for oven baked sweet potatoes. Go to bed instead of having that snack at 11 PM. Going cold turkey is rough – some people can make it happen – but I recommend being mindful about every choice. Ask yourself if there’s a healthier option. If there is, give it a try! You will notice that I still enjoy my treats. But I always start off my day with a good protein shake, I try to have healthier options for lunches and dinners too. I plan on doing a clean(er) eating blog post in the future too. So hopefully it will be helpful.
  3. Start Moving – If you don’t move, you fuse. It’s gospel. The more sedentary you are, the harder it is to move. Get up and go for a walk, jump on the trampoline, do yoga (I even do this and just watch a video from YouTube! There are so many helpful videos on YouTube if getting to the gym isn’t possible!) Like I said before, my joints were SO bad. Years and years of wear and tear + inflammation had really gotten me in a bad place. It took a few weeks but as my muscles got stronger, my joints did as well. I honestly never notice joint pain anymore. I literally never thought I would be able to say that in my entire life.
  4. Find A Partner – This isn’t a must but sometimes it’s helpful to have an accountability partner. Someone to drag you out of bed when your bad judgment gets the best of you! Braun has coaxed me from my bed on more than one occasion!


So I’m challenging You. Yes, YOU! To do something different in 2019. To make yourself a priority. To move. To Feel. To be more.

I am freer this year physically and mentally than I have been in a long time. I’m so thankful for this body of mine. It’s a work in progress – just like my mental, spiritual, and overall health.

And not having a “mom butt” anymore is a definite perk!


xx Tara

P.S. I’d love to hear about your journey! If you’re making positive changes in your own life, tell me below!


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  1. Tara, thank you for sharing your story! I’m a mom of 3 daughters and my youngest, who’s 20, is in pain but she’s not active. She’s complaining a lot of the pain she’s in and I tell her to move and she doesn’t believe that when I say you’ll feel better if you do, but your blog proves it!! Any suggestions on how you can help a momma out, would be appreciated!! Have a grand time in Hawaii!

    1. One thing I learned from this is that I was the only one who could get myself out of bed and to the gym. The pain was enough for me that I knew something had to change. I think of a bike that hasn’t been ridden in a while and how it gets rusty and has a hard time moving – same with our bodies. It was either going to be my disease defining my life or living my life so I defined the disease. My best advice is to move with her – get her to go on walks, even jumping on a small trampoline/rebounder in the house will help!

  2. What do you do with your kids while you’re gone? My husband still goes to the gym most mornings, but now that we have a 5 month old, I feel like I can’t go anymore!

    1. ahh, a 5 month old would be hard! I would tag team with the hubs or have a family member or close friend come over for an hour. But working out in your home is sooo doable! I do it all the time!

  3. Tara,
    Thanks for this! I wonder if it is too late for this 64 year old woman. Do you have any discount codes to Orange Theory?

    1. NEVER! I’ve got a friend who’s mom and dad are well into their 70’s and her mom just taught her first yoga class! It’s never too late. And I don’t! Bummer, right?

  4. Thank you SO much for sharing!! I have been waiting for this blog post since you first started talking about it. I started working out a few months ago and have learned to LOVE it! If I don’t start my day out by exercising, I have no energy and just feel all around crappy. It’s amazing that something you don’t think you will ever enjoy can become something you look forward to every day! I loved that you added in the fact that your clothing sizes haven’t changed but you feel amazing. I feel like that is a huge point for everyone to realize that it doesn’t really matter what size you are, as long as you are taking care of your body and feel great in your own skin thats all that matters. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

    1. It’s addicting, right? And size (like age) is just a number. I gauge my health by how I feel!! Love that you do, too! We need more #bodypositivity

  5. Thank you for this! I’ve been waiting for your update and this was great! You look great! But more then that you gave such helpful ideas to just feel overall better with really attainable ways!

  6. I love OTF and i love that you are your hubs go together. My question is HOW? right now my husband and i tag team so one of us stays with the kids… is your oldest old enough that you can go together? I cant wait for that day!

    1. My oldest is now old enough to stay home in the mornings alone with the kids! We’re gone for an hour and it’s honestly that hour that really helps jumpstart our day! Glad you love OTF as much as I do!

  7. Tara this is awesome and gets me so motivated. You look amazing and even better, it sounds like you FEEL amazing! A few years ago I developed plantar fasciitis that used to be soo painful, every single day. I’ve come to learn that while I do other things to keep it in check (wear supportive shoes, roll it out when I need to, etc), one of the things that has helped the most is being active! So while it might sound counterintuitive, I totally believe that staying active helps heal the body. My mom also has RA and I know staying active and doing a workout every day helps keep her symptoms to a minimum. It’s a beautiful thing. Keep up the good work!

    1. Alyssa – your message is so appreciated and I love the encouragement! It’s seriously soo true: If you don’t move, you fuse!

  8. Love hearing your story Tara! I started going to the gym in January for the first time EVER and I love the difference it’s made in my life already!! My favorite part was how you said to try and make the healthier choice.. I will never be a health nut! But it really is all about the small choices we can make daily!

  9. I love following your Instagram and I also love my clothes from Poppy and Dot! I found you by accident threw another person I follow and look forward to your posts.!

  10. I enjoyed reading this post. I’m an almost 49 year old woman and I am in pain a lot!! I am very active and am still in pain. I feel like I’m “swollen” and just achy. I will still keep moving but sometimes I just want (and do) stay in bed or on the couch. I have weight to lose as well but I’m trying to do what I can, in spite of my aches and pains. I’ve tried yoga and I’m SO inflexible it’s not even funny but I’ll keep at that as well. This sounds so mopey but I really have a great life!! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  11. Your description of the workout & feelings you experience before, during & after are spot on! We love having you & Braun in our Family & I am looking forward to taking a workout with you again in SoJo!

  12. Love this!! I’ve JUST started my own journey to being healthier, and it honestly scares me to death. I talked way too long on my IG stories yesterday, to tell my story, and how I’ve gotten to where I am. I quit drinking Diet Coke three days ago, and I’m actually doing pretty well with that, but I’ve got a long way to go! Thanks for sharing your journey!

  13. Tara this is awesome!! I am so happy you got up and set a goal and started moving!! I attribute staying active in the gym and keeping my healthy eating habits to keeping my joints and body in less pain!! I have severe arthritis as well and cancer. I have been doing different chemos for 5 years trying to get to remission and since I have leukemia it messes with my bone barrow. So I have so much pain all over my body! To top all that off I too suffer from migraines. It’s the worst. But little by little I find that staying active, choosing wise food options and having people that help push us and actively cheer us on is the best thing possible!! Thank you for always sharing your life and great tips!!

  14. Hey Tara! I love following you on Instagram and love your blog so much good here!! I love hearing how far you’ve come on your health journey and seeing your results that are amazing! I recently made a commitment to workout 6 days a week for at least 30 minutes and I’m at that phase where I want to quick because I’m tired but I know that greatness is just on the other side of this and your blog post has proven that. Thank you for sharing!! ❤️❤️❤️

  15. Thanks for the inspiration! Your progress is so good. Mom of two here so in home workouts are most convenient. I use and LOVE Fitness Blender on YouTube. It’s like working out with a trainer and friend in one. So many workouts to choose from alk varying in skill level, duration, style, etc. I put the workout on mute and turn up my music of choice. Cannot recommend Fitness Blender enough.

  16. You look great! Killer work on the progress! (My sister in law teaches at a few OTF locations in Salt Lake county).

    I needed an outlet (and regular exercise) and about 5 years ago started running. I hated running in my younger years. Then two years ago I added Plexus supplements into my health regimen. I share because they target healing our bodies from the inside out and are plant based supplements. They help with gut issues and inflammation. And a slew of other things. Love them. There’s no such thing as a magic pill but these supplements have changed my life. Just another tool in my health regimen. (I have a long way to go. I’ve got plenty of flab on this mom bod. 4 kids like you, and I don’t do much strength weight training which is so important.)

    Anyway, GREAT WORK! I love following you on Instagram. You are the cutest!

  17. Great progress! I have lost 45 lbs since Aug, and my husband 70! An OT just opened in my town. I’m really wanting to join and can’t wait to see my progress with those workouts. Keep up the good work. Love watching/listening to you on IG

  18. I so appreciate you sharing your journey. I just had my 4th baby seven months ago and shortly after he was born my body kind of shut down. Just recently I was diagnosed with Lupus and then it was changed to some kind of arthritis with connective tissue disorder? So I’m very much in the process of learning and honestly it’s been a scary process; worrying I would never be able to do anything without the aid of medicine scared me the most. I appreciate you sharing. It’s funny because I feel like it’s always been the answer but when you’re trying to figure out how to just get up the stairs, or unbuckle a car seat, it’s crazy how impossible working out seems. But I’ve started walking and stretching again and just that has helped a ton. I would love any help in the nutrition direction for inflammation. That’s a whole rhelm of unfamiliar for me. Thanks so much!

  19. Hi Tara I have chronic inflammation in my knees from high school sports. On top of that I am not a morning person. I’d rather sleep till I’m rushing out the door to get to work each morning than do anything beneficial like eating breakfast or washing my hair most days. It’s partly depression I think too. I’ve also always required more sleep than anyone else. But I’ve definitely realized in my thirties and not working out that I want more sleep and I’m always tired which makes me very lazy and unproductive after work.
    Do you find that you need less sleep than you used too before starting your workout regime? It seriously sounds so daunting to start working out during the week. Im a veterinary technician and work 10 hours a day. But I easily strain something when I’m trying to hold onto or pick up a big dog. I’m also weak too. And my knees ache when ever they want also due to the fluid in my knees. I’m full of excuses to not work out but if I can expect extra energy then i really should just bite the bullet.


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