When Ashleigh Brown moved to San Francisco four years ago, she and her new boyfriend loved exploring the city’s great restaurants. What she didn’t love? The effect all that eating out had on her body. “I packed on 30 pounds quickly and I didn’t realize it, because I gained weight evenly. I didn’t really see it,” the 34-year-old talent acquisition specialist and owner of Compliments 'N Coffee told TODAY.
In early 2019 Brown’s boyfriend proposed, and she decided she wanted to get in shape before her wedding in July. “I hated the way I was feeling. I was wearing the same clothes all the time and only taking photos from the waist up. I only had six months to get in shape and I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
Looking back, she can point to a couple of roadblocks that were in her fitness path. First, she wasn’t educated about fitness. “I thought in order to lose weight you had to be on a treadmill doing cardio for an hour a day.” That wasn’t something she could see fitting in with her busy work schedule.
And even though she had a gym membership, she wasn’t using it much. “I struggled with going to the gym. I felt like everyone was looking at me — gyms gave me anxiety,” she said.
Brown decided to try Livekick, a virtual program that offers one-on-one, at-home workouts with a personal trainer. She signed up for three 30-minute sessions per week, which she felt she could manage with her schedule.
Since she started working out, Brown has seen a significant change in her waist, as well as definition in her back, abs and glutes. She went down from a size 10 to a size six in jeans. “Dropping those four jeans sizes from a toning perspective felt awesome!” she said. “And losing the inches made me more confident and more in control of my life. That spilled out into how I carried myself at work and the confidence level I had at meetings.”
She also told TODAY that she felt amazing on her wedding day. “I felt wonderful in my wedding dress. My father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and I wasn’t sure he’d be at my wedding. That moment I got, for him to walk me down the staircase in San Francisco City Hall, to feel that beautiful and have that moment with my dad — I’ll always remember it. It’s very special to me.”
Here are some of Brown’s tips for getting fit — and losing weight.
1. If you don’t like the gym, try virtual workouts
Brown and her trainer were able to connect via iPad — or via cell phone, if Brown was traveling. “We talked about my goals and how I wanted to see my body,” she said. “[My trainer] showed me curves are beautiful. You can tone up and keep your curves. I wanted to hold on to those curves, fill out my dress and accept my body. She taught me how to add fitness and not obsess over losing weight for my wedding.”
2. Don’t put all the focus on your weight
Brown’s trainer gave her three options for tracking her progress. She could monitor her weight or her measurements, or she could see how her clothes fit. “I didn’t want to get on the scale. I wanted to see how I felt in my clothes — that is right up my alley,” she said. “I never actually weighed myself throughout the process because I really wanted to focus on how I felt in my skin and my clothes.”
3. Add variety to your exercise routine
Brown’s workouts focused mainly on resistance training and HIIT cardio. “I love HIIT cardio—it’s more effective and not as repetitive and mundane as the elliptical machine,” she said, adding that her trainer also tailored her workouts to her needs. “If she saw I was stressed in the morning she would say, ‘Do you want to do some yoga?’”
4. Pay attention to food choices
When it came to eating, Brown said that becoming “more mindful about choices” also helped. “[My trainer] taught me not to wrestle with limiting myself to keto or fat-free, but to listen to my body.” As a result, Brown cut back on sugar, red meat and dairy, which she discovered made her feel bloated and sluggish. She now eats more fish, chicken and vegetables, and drinks water when she feels hungry to make sure she’s properly hydrated.
5. Be kind to yourself
During this process, Brown also learned to be positive and speak kindly to herself. “I could see improvements over time, but you don’t see everything in the first week,” she said. “I had to be patient with myself and not beat myself up. After three or four weeks I was seeing results. I didn’t want to go out at night and grab a cocktail because I was looking forward to working out in the morning. I wanted to keep going.”