A Week in Review and Week 3 of the Reverse Diet

Last week was the third week in my reverse diet to maintenance. I’ve already  surpassed the macros that were prescribed when I was 3.5 weeks into my reverse before surgery. It’s pretty damn exciting to see what the body can do when it has proper nutrients. It’s also crazy to see how much food one can actually consume. Obviously the foods your selecting determine the quantity that you’re eating, but regardless, I’m eating more and maintaining my weight. Well, I was until the end of the week.

Let’s review shall we?
This was the week of the big move. Stress levels were high, I cried more than a normal person should and I had a little more fun with my food than I normally do. But it did start out good, well kind of.

If I could ignore Sunday I would. Holy hell, what a cluster fuck. We started to load the larger items into the storage unit to then break the key in the lock and get locked out of our storage unit. Way less than ideal and led to tears and yelling.

But then something kind of cool happen in the midst if that. A bunch of my Instagram followers have started using my coach as their trainer because a lot of them have seen my progress and then done their research on her. Cool and weird, but maybe it’s a sign that she’s a great coach. Someone gifted me a month of free training with her. I had already paid until July, but now I’m good until the end of August when we start prep. I cried because 1. I was already frustrated, but 2. How freaking crazy is that? Someone told her that I was inspirational and impacted them so this was their way to pay it forward – not the exact words, but yeah. I say it all the time- I’m by doing anything special, and I’m still always surprised when people say things like this. Maybe one day I won’t be so surprised, but until then I’m just going to be in the corner with my jaw on the floor.

Sunday night resulted in burgers and calamari. We had our first date at this place, it’s called Brew City. They have the beer selection for draft beers, but after the Sunday we had beer was not happening. From sweating through the day and trying to keep up with water both JP and I threw off our electrolytes. So salty food was slightly necessary and that point we didn’t really care about tracking.

It’s equally possible that we didn’t care so much that we also picked up a cupcake to share too… Oops, #sorrynotsorry.

I’ve moved on from my lack of tracking and I hope you do too. Anyway, Monday.

Monday was A BIG DAY because I got cleared to resume everything. My surgeon doesn’t want to see me until April 2017. We will take photos then of the progress. I was also cleared to not wear my garment unless I felt like I needed it. This made me so excited. I would be able to run again and not die in the 80 degree heat this summer. Everything is healing nicely and my scar looks great. However, I have decided to wear it during hard cardio because the impact of hitting the ground during a run or sprints is pretty damn uncomfortable at the moment. I also wore it while we moved because I swell with the heat and last week was HOT.

Tuesday was a more eventful day in a positive way at work; I had a luncheon in downtown and that meant I got to throw on my heels and put on a fancy dress. I bought this dress in March, when I was 135 pounds and toward the end of competition prep. It was at that point I knew surgery was what I wanted. I love this dress, but wearing it in March, in Florida with spanx on underneath was not ideal. I didn’t want that to be my normal. Wearing this dress on Tuesday made me feel like a million dollars. It fit how it should and hugged where it should. I never felt weird wearing it except when I had to remind myself that sitting down wasn’t making me look bad.

Tuesday night we cupcaked! After a successful day at work, this seemed right. I’ve become friends with the owner of Kadoodles near Worcester and after seeing her Heath Bar Crunch cupcakes over the weekend I was like I need to obtain those this week! I posted on their Instagram asking if they would have more, so she made two for me and JP and set them aside. So Tuesday we had 1.5 cupcakes because I didn’t realize the gave me two Heath Bar and I picked up a Samoa Cupcake too. Well, you can never have too many cupcakes, right? We had these while we took down the Christmas tree. We both were a little emotional about the tree coming down unwillingly, but this was the perfect way to celebrate. So we packed a lot on Monday and Tuesday we packed some more and the tree came down. Close to that chapter. 

Wednesday was a standard rest day. I wished I was at they gym in the morning, but instead I cleaned and packed. Then we celebrated Waffle Wednesday. I’m weird and I don’t care who knows it. I think Waffle Wednesday, Taco Tuesday are life. I have Pancakes EVERY Monday too. Yes, Pancakes get capitalized. As soon as these were devoured, we cleaned and packed away the waffle iron. It was a sad moment.

I had a work retreat during the day, which made the day go by fast, until out of nowhere I was exhausted. Maybe it was the packing and lack of sleep finally catching up to me. The stress certainly wasn’t completely released at the gym. Mid-week was kind of rough. But I stuck to my guns and packed my snacks and lunch.

My coworkers watched me eat 5 different times and drink 100 ounces of water. One clapped when I finished the jug off, he was impressed. My boss looked at him and said “you know she does that every day, right?” I laughed because I do drink a ton of water daily, but we all have offices so it’s not noticed as much, however, they all know I eat a lot of food.

Wednesday night was still as warm as it was during the day and we needed to escape the apartment. It was soul sucking to say the least. We took a 2 mile round trip walk to the grocery store. Picked up a diet soda and Powerade and then walked home.

My second leg day falls on a Thursday and during the move I wasn’t super thrilled to be leg lifting, but it needed to get done. So I threw on my crazy clothes and fit in my morning workout before the day got busy.

On the way to the storage unit we stopped for coffee because that’s what helps make the world go round. InHouse Coffee is a gem that many don’t realize exists. They make their own grounds and have ridiculous flavors like: Brownie Toffee Crunch. What do you think I got in my cup? So good and helped kick off the morning.

More craziness ensued when the bank started being difficult, but we had also stopped by the post office on the way home to find a lovely package from Alicia with the perfect note and goodies to get us through the next week. I’ve already tried two of the bars she sent me and I’m planning the others for this week.

As it turned out, the bank’s errand runner couldn’t come on Thursday after all, since the agreement never specified that I needed to be out by 11 am on Thursday, instead of the afternoon like had been discussed. We were able to stay another night and get the rest done on Friday. That gave us more time and meant more could be moved directly into the apartment. We wouldn’t need to get a hotel room like we thought we might and stress could go down a little bit. To relax, we showered then headed for the Farmer’s Market and dinner.

At the market I found a mermaid Cristina cookie and yes that’s what I am calling it and have been calling it since I saw it.

Since we knew dinner was going to be heavy, we decided to not eat it Thursday and instead we had it on Friday. The prettiest sugar cookie ever and it tasted amazing too! Dinner was from Mezcal, a restaurant also in Worcester. They have the best guacamole and even though we kept saying we didn’t need it, it came down to “Fuck it, I want it.” So we picked buffalo chicken guacamole out of a plethora of flavors to choose from. Sadly, it wasn’t spicy enough so we asked for some hot sauce and I poured it on. Sometimes I just want my mouth on fire.

My entree was my alternative go to – chicken fajitas. Typically, I eat all the meat and veggies. I don’t eat the tortillas, or I’ll only have one. I usually kill the salsa and guac too. That’s exactly what I did because yeah, I had already gone over my macros for the day, but I had also walked almost 7 miles and lifted for 10 hours. No reason to add more damage to the nutrition, but I also couldn’t get too mad at myself either.

See FitBit stats from Thursday below.

See? I really couldn’t be mad.

Friday was THE BIG DAY. After my workout, I came home to find JP already packing the van and cleaning. We were rushing around and I was already exhausted. My workout had invigorated me and then I felt knocked down again. I made breakfast, which was a special treat. I had ordered Doughbar Doughnuts and they had come in. So these were quick and easy to eat along with our egg whites before really getting the show on the road.

After some crap and people being ridiculous, we were out and at the new place around noon. We unpacked a ton and got a lot set up. We stopped by Birchtree for lunch and to pick up bread because they are closed this week for vacation. It’s very sad, my heart is breaking. We both agreed to keep it lighter for Friday night dinner, so we had Panera. Salads for both of us with chicken for protein.

We were so close to being able to relax. Then I checked my FitBit.

Yeah, thank God that was bed time for us.

Saturday. Well, I have never liked rest days and I had never been more thankful for one. So naturally I slept until 6 and woke up. I mean that’s late for me since I’m up at 430 during the week for the gym. Sleeping in is actually tough for me.

I did my check-in with Alaina keeping in mind macros had been shit the second half of the week. And aside from some lower swelling from the heat and lifting boxes all day, I felt ok enough. I think the photos weren’t too bad.

The scale, however, reflected the swelling, the increase in sodium and lack of proper balance with hydration.

Whatever, it’s one week. Shit happens. The guacamole was good. The cookie was good and my legs were sore AF from everything we had been doing. Something had to give a little and this was going to be it.

Surprisingly, Saturday’s meals were excellent, water was better and because EVERYTHING was moved into the new place, we had a lot less to worry about.

FitBit check?


And somehow 7 miles happened on a light day.

We did take a break from unpacking and cleaning to shower and check out the local car show that JP had been talking about for a few days. It was pretty cool. It’s mostly muscle cars. Lots of Mustangs in lots of colors. Of course, whenever something looked interesting JP stuck his head in to see the details of the interior and the engine.

After a day of not being as stressed, along with a much better following of my nutrition, I felt like a lean bean on Sunday when I woke up. I weighed myself just to see what the difference was and it was a pound. So down a pound from the morning before and up a pound from last week’s check in.

While I’m excited about my reverse, I emailed Alaina the Sunday weigh in from my phone and suggested that we hold of this week from an increase because I wasn’t hitting my nutritional goals last week and I know that if I do this week, it’ll balance out. I have new workouts in hand, I had emailed her in the middle of the week asking to add some specific exercises back into the routine and great minds think alike because she already had added almost everyone I asked for.

It’s going to be a better week. Last week, all things considering wasn’t terrible, just stress levels were high, I wanted to cry and there was more yelling than normal. I am still tired and slightly cranky like a 5 year old who missed nap time, but I’m optimistic about this week.

I dropped JP off at the airport a few hours ago and I’m actually sitting in a cafe in Wegman’s writing this. I do need groceries and I promise I bought a snack so I wouldn’t mooch their internet. It felt good to sit down and just brain dump the past week.

So overall – macros: on point until Wednesday and not so much again until Saturday. Workouts: pretty solid every day. My body kind of caught up to the pain on Saturday, but thankfully leg day on Sunday did help with stretch the muscles again.

I’m meal prepping some things tonight so nutrition can be on point. Bella is with my backpack so she can help pick out snacks. It’s weird not having JP here, but I guess this was our normal before and hopefully it won’t be our normal for too much longer. I’m heading to check out and see what Halo Top flavors are available. I hope everyone had a great Monday and that your Tuesday doesn’t drag ass like Monday’s normally do.


❤ Cristina



Social Media and an Increase in Cyberbullying

It seems like as we connect to each other online more, cyber-bullying is more prevalent. Kids have been making fun of each other forever, and even adults have been caddy within their friend groups. But as I’ve been more active on social media, it seems like the golden rule has been thrown out the window. I’m not the only one that has experienced bullying or harassment online. Again, watch the news and you’ll see. Even a few weeks ago, a fellow instagrammer took his account down temporarily because of the nasty comments he was receiving for his 200+ pounds transformation photo.

I know many of you will read this and say 1. ignore them – I’m pretty sure I was told the same thing in grade school; 2. block them – I do that, trust me I do that. 3. back to number 1 and don’t engage with them.

Well, here’s the problem. So many of them think they’re telling you something you don’t know. Many of them don’t seem to have an issue with being rude or mean to a stranger. Many of them don’t even care about you, your story, etc. So if they’re going to put themselves out there in that way, why shouldn’t I at least acknowledge that they exist? I was teased and made of as a kid. I was pushed down the stairs and called names. Teachers told me to ignore the bullies because it would stop. It wasn’t until I was in middle school and actually swung back, resulting in a suspension, that the kids in my grade stopped messing around, until we moved to a new school district – same thing all over again. But that fight, I remember that fight. I remember when my dad told my nanny to take me to dinner, anywhere I wanted because he was proud that I finally stood up for myself. The second fist fight didn’t end in pizza, but they were still proud that I stood up for myself.

So online. I have a public profile because I want to share my story. I have nothing to hide. I have told you about my history with binging. I have shared ups and downs. I have shared competition prep and meals and my boyfriend and surgery with you all. This started as a blog because I love writing, but many don’t read, they just see. It’s not hard to jump to conclusions when you don’t read a caption, but only like or see a photo. There’s a reason I post on my visual blog (IG) when I have a new post on my blog.

Below is an exchange from today on this morning’s progress photo.

I am feisty because seriously, who gives a shit that much to tell someone that they need to wax or shave or “be kept” – whatever the hell that means. Now, am I truly expecting her to have seen last week’s progress photos where I actually said I can’t wait to see my waxer? No, I’m not, but at the same time she’s just talking to talk, so why can’t I? It’s clear that she doesn’t follow me, but that’s something that I think is important to emphasize. I’m not making anyone follow my journey, look at my photos, like or comment.Also, I love that little middle finger emoji, I don’t use it enough. I also appreciated the opportunity to say vagina. VAGINA. There I said it again.

For someone who doesn’t follow me, it’s interesting that her initial comment says I always looked unkept.So clearly, someone doesn’t have Saturday plans because she must have dug back into my feed. For someone who doesn’t follow me, she felt compelled to say something. She also failed to read because you all know I’m moving and that’s why the apartment looks worse than normal. You also know that I do a lot of travel for work so I don’t typically care how the place looks – I just need a path to the bathroom and fridge and back to bed again. But I guess I can relate to her, I hate when people have better lives than I believe my own to be, I sit there and pout and think of all the ways to be a dick instead of all the ways I can improve my own life.

*please note Tracie is being ridiculous in response to this woman’s ridiculousness… I don’t actually color on my crotch like Tracie suggests.

Cool, so now we attack the only true visible feature on my body. Beautiful. Like I say in my response, there’s more to life than dwelling on imperfections. I have had so many women tell me that they are scared to have surgery because of the scaring. Not all scars look great. Not everyone heals perfect. But if I had let the possibility of poor scaring prevent me from surgery then I would be unhappy. I ultimately would always feel that I couldn’t enjoy the body I had worked hard for. I wouldn’t want to compete anymore. Being intimate would still be terrifying. I would still be stuck in spanx in all kinds of weather, not that my compression garment is much better at the moment, but I know it’s not permanent.

She states that my butt is flat, well I can assure you that it’s not. It may not be as big as Kim K’s, but mine is real and I built it with squats and deadlifts and carbs oh my! I can shape my body by working on features that do displease me, but those who choose to be nasty to strangers have a lovely black heart and a strong dislike for themselves. You can’t make someone develop self love, especially when they don’t realize that the hate they spread is a result of self hate.

I have blocked her account along with so many that can’t just see a photo and keep scrolling. We all make judgements, but many of us know when to keep our opinions to ourselves.

I may open up myself to comments because I’m a public account, but people like this open themselves to being acknowledged because they started it. That’s really all there is. That rubber and glue stuff can only go so far. It’s been pretty stressful the past few weeks, I haven’t hid that from you at all. So yeah, I may be more feisty than normal because there are other things going on that are stressing me out, but as a 27-year-old I’m going to stand up for myself and let people like this know that their words have an impact, even online and even to strangers. Someone else may not say something back, but I believe I owe it to my 7 year old self and my 12 year old self and my 16 year old self. Fuck, I think I owe it to Cristina from 2009 when she was 20 years old. Bullying never ends, but if you never speak up people will never start reflecting on what they say to others.

So speak up, if not for yourself, for the person you see being bullied.

❤ Cristina

How I calculate my macros when there’s no concrete information

I get asked all the time how I count macros when I go out to eat. There’s a few ways to answer this. In many states, most chain places are required to post their nutritional information for the public to access. There are a few things that determine if a restaurant qualifies for this requirement. Some of my favorite chain places are:

A few months ago, I wrote a post tracking my work trip to Washington DC. While the structure was for traveling, the tips are still useful for those who want to eat out. So how do I count or track when I’m out and I’m not eating at place listed above? I research the menu and determine from what I know to be true about the items in the selection my macros. Yeah, it can be a pain, but it doesn’t have to be. Even if you’re new to tracking or macro counting, you probably have an idea of what 4 ounces of chicken looks like, or what a tablespoon of peanut butter is. I use what I know and a little research to figure out what I want to loosely track.

Here’s how I break it down.

Donut: Union Square Maple Bacon Donut

Other Donut Brands:

  1. Krispy Kreme
  2. Dunkin’ Donuts
  3. Tim Horton’s

Other Donut Brand Nutrition:

  1. KK Maple Iced Donut: 11F/31C/0P
  2. DD Maple Cream Donut: 19F/49C/3P
  3. TH Maple Dip Donut: 6F/29C/4P

Now what do I know about bacon? 1 slice of bacon is about 6F/0C/3-5P – at least the bacon I buy is.

So I figure, if the highest fat donut was 19 and the lowest was 6 and the donut I want will be topped with bacon, but probably not a whole piece, I want to set aside roughly 12-14F. You can adjust when you actually have the donut in your hand. For carbs it’s the same idea, 49 is the highest and 29 is the lowest, you can probably be safe with 35-40C. Because protein is scarce in donuts, but their specific recipe can make a difference, I usually take the higher end if it sounds reasonable – so 4P.

Maple Bacon and Brown Butter Hazlenut Crunch Donuts from Union Square Donuts

This past Saturday JP and I shared the Maple Bacon from Union Square and the Brown Butter Hazlenut Crunch. We estimated based on the amount of bacon on the donut and the size; also the fact we each eat half that setting aside 14F/50C/4P total was reasonable. You’re not going to be perfect when you guess, but it’s pretty close and if you really want to track these items it gives you some wiggle room if you over estimate what to set aside.

Is this a pain in the butt? I mean, it can be? But you can also just look what other donut companies use and say okay, I” use the Dunkin Donut macros for a basic maple cream donut because it’s the highest and call it a day. You can be as detail oriented as you want. For me, it’s important to hone in on my macros to make sure I’m eating enough. I’m in the 3rd week of my reverse and by being very detail driven it allows me to see how much I can consume and continue to maintain my weight. The more I can consume now and the more fun I can have with food, the higher my cut will be in the future when I go into competition prep again.

When I’m interested in having something that may be harder to compare to I do a few things:

  1. check out the menu and pick a few items that sound good to me
  2. call the restaurant to ask questions like how many ounces is in the entree i.e. how big is the fish, chicken, beef. Can I get the meat prepared without sauce or can I get it grilled instead of baked, etc? Can I make a substitution?
  3. get to googling nutritional guides from the USDA

There’s a restaurant called VIA Italian Table. It’s fantastic. Some of the items are super heavy because it’s Italian, but some of the menu entrees are pretty light. Their dinner menu has a Tuscan Herb & Crumb Crusted Haddock listed as a seafood entree. It’s served with Tuscan roasted potato and green beans sauteed in garlic and cherry tomatoes. This fish weighs usually around 8 ounces according to the hostess to double checked with the chef. A raw piece of haddock is roughly 1.5F/0C/42P. That’s what google tells me. If the entree is baked then they use the breading and usually butter – that’s what baked is for many restaurants and Italian cuisine. I ask to have it broiled and without the breading. I actually am not a fan of the breading and without butter I save fat. The greens don’t have a ton of nutritional value and I prefer other greens, so I ask if I can substitute for asparagus. The asparagus is sauteed so there’s a little oil and the potatoes are roasted so again a tiny bit of oil. Since I’ve had this dish before I will either eat only half the fish if I want to have other protein throughout the day or I’ll eat the whole fillet and keep my carbs a little higher over protein. This dish taking what I know about red potatoes, asparagus and the fish I’ll set aside about 10F/20C/42P.

Again, it’s guessing and hoping that you’re eyeballing some of the meal appropriately, but unless you are in a competition setting there’s no need to beat yourself up over a few grams here or there.I figure, if I’ve made good choices the rest of the day, I can have a treat and not feel guilty about it. There are a million things to be stressed out about and having dinner out for date night shouldn’t be one of them.

There are a ton of things I make in the kitchen often enough like chicken, rice, broccoli – even slicing tomatoes that I know some of the information off the top of my head. Guessing is allowed and there’s more to being healthy then being perfect. I mentioned above that for me being as accurate as possible is important, but I also eat donuts and cupcakes at least once a week. A little extra digging gives me piece of mind and the flexibility to do that.

As I find more nutritional information, I will put links in the Because It Fits Tab for quick reference.

Happy counting!

❤ Cristina




Back into the swing of things: reverse dieting week 2 recap

Nothing has been more exciting in the past few months then receiving an email from my coach with my workouts, macros and feedback of my progress thus far. I think it’s partial validation that in busting my ass in the gym and in the kitchen, but it’s also the excitement of how else I can I challenge myself? What else can my body handle? 

Before surgery I was three and a half weeks into my reverse diet post show, during recovery we dropped my macros to adjust to medications and activity. Last week was my first full week back at the gym and today starts my third week of my reverse. As of today, my new macros have surpassed the macros I had been using at three and a half weeks post show. I almost squealed when I saw the changes for this week. As far as workouts, we’re going from zero cardio days to two: one steady for 20 minutes and one interval day at 15 minutes. While I can’t do hard cardio like running or sprinting, I can walk and possiblily stair step; the recumbent bike may come into play if I feel the motion won’t pull. We also increased my macros by 3g of fat and 12g of carbs. I am pushing the 200 club on daily carbohydrate intake and I’m over here counting the cupcakes and oats I can consume. 

The science behind macro counting is interesting, the balancing of workouts to nutrition and how much can the body handle continuously surprises me. I know I say that all the time, but it’s true. The body is a weird thing and it makes sense that numbers and balance make it happy.

I am so excited for this week as my exercises stay the same, but with hope that my weights increase slightly. Since cardio is being reintroduced I’m hopeful that my macro increase will be successful and I’ll feel good throughout the day. Aside from my workouts, Alaina always asks how food makes me feel – am I bloated, starving, content, etc. As we’ve been increasing macros, I haven’t had any issues with feeling heavy and any problems with bloating are related to specific foods not the amounts I’m consuming. Even this past week as we increased my fat and carbs, I was able to incorporate foods that have been difficult during recovery, I’ve also been able to have larger servings. We have some fun plans this week for dinners and desserts to keep it interesting. We’re going to try incorporating some of the fruits we bought at the BostonPublic Market yesterday.  I’m back at work for my second full week and won’t be eating lunch and mini meals together, but that also means I have some flexibility to eat things that JP isn’t in the mood for or doesn’t like as much as me. 

Here’s a recap of some of the things that we were able to fit this week. 

It’s going to be a good week and I foresee cupcakes in our future! 

❤️ Cristina 

I’ve been pretty damn open 

Today I’m 24 days out from my surgery. I feel pretty damn good as far as mobility. Some days are a little tougher. I notice that if I’m seated for a long period of time that I get stiff and tight, which can be painful. In the office last week, I tried to get up and move around so this wouldn’t be a problem. I also made sure that I was walking as much as possible because I recognized that walking at a normal pace was helping minimize swelling throughout the day.

As so many of you know, I started speaking with my surgeon about this procedure back in April. It took me 3 days to be approved for financing and my surgery was scheduled a week after my consultation. I even debrief my consultation with you and you can find that video here. I also had two pre-op appointments; one with my surgeon and another with the facility. Those debrief videos can also be found on this blog. I brought questions to my surgeon that I wanted answered, I also asked a list of questions that my coach, Alaina, wanted answered in regards to my training and the abilities I would have post-surgery. JP had a few questions about after care since he would be my caretaker. I had even reached out online and asked fellow Instagrammers to comment what some of their struggles were and how they over came them. I brought some of these concerns to my surgeon as well.

Since my surgery, I have had four post-ops and I have a fifth in two weeks. At my third post-op I was cleared to go back to lifting and work. She advised light cardio like walking around and said that I could add it back in slowly after a few weeks. All the videos from those post-ops can be found on my blog if you go through June’s catalog on the right side bar.

I am also a big proponent for alternative medicine and chiropractic care. I have been going to my chiropractor for almost 4 years – since I really started losing weight. I had noticed that I was having discomfort in my sleeping position and during exercises. I learned that while I was losing weight it was forcing my body compensate in my sleep, which ultimately was dislocating my left and right hip -depending on the side I feel asleep on. Since my surgery I have had one chiropractor appointment and a massage from one of the therapists in my chiropractors practice. I get adjusted regularly, but we were focusing on the side of my body that had been working the hardest during my first days of recovery – my left side. From rolling to get up and out of bed as well as the V position I was in for 12 days, my upper abdominal and left side were engaged most of the time. This prevented them the opportunity to stretch and relax. I have experience muscle cramps in my side similar to when you run long distances, I also was experiencing mobility issues in my delt and shoulder from rolling and laying flat on my back for so long. The adjustment helped losen the muscles slightly, but mostly put my frame back where it belonged. The massage therapist worked on working out the knots and stretching out the muscles from just under my left rib to my mid-thigh. We worked front and back and she also gave me some stretches I can do to help elongate the muscle and prevent cramping.

This is some of the information I have given you along my recovery. What I kept from you was the more graphic information such as details about the circulation issues I was experiencing that put me on bed rest.

So let me preface this with saying, I have done my research, I have asked many questions. As issues or concerns came up I never hesitated to call my surgeon. The latest we called her was on a Friday night at 10 pm on her cell phone at home because JP was worried about some bandaging.

Here’s what my belly button and stomach looked like a week after surgery. The red area and blisters are what caused me to go on bed rest and have heart medication added to the list of medications I was already prescribed. My first post-op was 5 days after my surgery and this was a concern we brought to her. Not only was there a red spot, but the blister was even larger than this photo. I was also concerned about how my belly button was healing because the last belly button I had was deep and surrounded by loose skin. I don’t even remember what my belly button looked like when I was thin in high school or at the beginning of college.

Every appointment I have had with my surgeon we talk about concerns I have and she will look over the now scar. I have a few tiny bits of scab left, which is in the vicinity of where the blisters were, so I’m not concerned that they haven’t fallen off yet, but I know they will and then heal soon.

Aside from my doctors, I’ve been in communication with my coach. Her check in’s are already pretty thorough, but I also write books when I check in with her. Especially this week being my first full week back at the gym, I took notes after all my workouts. I could tell her on “x” I couldn’t do superman holds, my abdominal muscles were too tight and wouldn’t let me pull up, but I could do a plank instead. I can tell her that I felt swollen after “x” upper body day, but I wasn’t super concerned about it. If I tell her how I feel she can adjust my workouts to ensure that I am working effectively and not hurting myself. Checking my weight on the scale allows us to see what water retention and swelling look like and helps her determine my macros, even with a 1-2 pound fluctuation.

I post these facts to share my journey because every recovery is different. The information I received from women that had this surgery before me helped me ask questions, but my recovery was so different than all the stories I had heard. I was grateful for the information they shared with me, but it also reminded me that like fitness journey’s every single one is unique. We will all be told different information based on our specific bodies. My body weighed 130.0 the morning of my surgery. I had been lifting for two years and had just come off a competition cycle. I am the fittest person my surgeon has ever performed this surgery on. While surprising to me, this meant that my recovery time would be faster than most, but I still had some risks. My risks were a little different because I had been so active before. Many have the ability to clot if they don’t have their legs elevated, I also had the ability for poor circulation because I went from being very active to not active at all. Which is why the photo above happened.

I have never loved how I look more than I do now even with the imperfections like my scar. But hell, it’s symmetrical and beautiful in its own way. Loving myself like I do doesn’t mean that I don’t still have mental hurdles to overcome. I was heavy for so long and even at my fittest prior to surgery, I wasn’t used to seeing a flat stomach or my belly button. It’s still a lot of effort to remind myself that 1.this isn’t a dream, 2. yes I did have surgery, 3. this is the body I had worked so hard. So please remember that even with excitement there are still days that are tough because I’m getting used to a new me.

Yes, I have a blog. Yes, I have a public social media profile, but that doesn’t mean I’m asking everyone to comment or give me advice. I sometimes have to think twice about what I want to comment. We all have word vomit from time to time.  Just please watch what you say because you never know what’s lost in text translation that would come off differently in an in person conversation.I speak my mind and it’s clear I’m not afraid to comment back.


❤ Cristina


20 days post surgery – first week back to work

Last Wednesday I was cleared to go back to my routine. This was exciting because it meant that I could go back to the gym. Obviously not as extensive the first few days, but I would be back and moving around a bit more. This also meant that I could restart my reverse diet – something that I was loving so damn much after competition season. Maintaining your weight is a whole new monster and I was getting the hang of it. For a reminder- we cut my macros during recovery because 1. I wouldn’t be moving as much so I wouldn’t really need as much fuel. 2. There was potential that I wouldn’t be able to hit those goals since I was going to be on medication cuts appetite, but also makes you sick. Lastly, being cleared means going back to work. Am I thrilled? I mean, if I could eat and lift every day and not have to worry about money I would eat and lift every day and probably travel around to find new donuts and cupcakes across the country. But, money helps us live and I like living.

Today was my third day back work and it wasn’t terrible. The second day was ok and the first day I was like “oh, yeah this is happening.” I know that makes it sound not great, but while I’ve been active and moving around, I haven’t been driving far or staying in a seated position. My first day back kicked my ass. No questions. My second day was better and mostly because my co-worker and I walked a grocery store for 20 minutes finding her a snack and well, I found a cupcake. On the way home, I caved and stopped at the second rest area between the office and home to stretch. Today, I stopped on the way to work.

Being seated causes me to tighten up. There’s no swelling at all, but I get very stiff along my scar. Monday I was stiff slightly above my belly button – it sucked.

We can ignore the 5 am gym sessions, that’s normal. Even after not being in the gym for two weeks, getting up at 430/450 for the 5 am opener doesn’t phase me. Today was my third day getting up that early and I had no issues at all. However, I work an hour away, so a two-hour round-trip is exhausting. Not only do I commute an hour each way, I work a desk job. From 9 to 4 my booty is in a chair, granted I take a lunch and I do try to move around, but for the most part I’m seated much more than I am moving around. I find myself slouching even when I’m trying to pull myself up and have better posture.  I learned my lesson Monday and immediately, I asked JP if we could go for a walk around the city since I knew my overall movement for the day was low, but also because moving around loosens me up. I am a high active person and sitting still just isn’t my thing. After our walk, the tightness was almost gone and that was exciting, but I was definitely exhausted. As many of you know, there are some external stressors going on as well, so I was in bed around 8:20 on Monday. Yeah, grandma status.

Today isn’t that bad. I went to the gym this morning and had a great workout. I did stop on the way to work to stretch like I said earlier, but today was very normal and I like that. I had a donor visit over lunch – the best part of my job and sitting at the high top didn’t bother me much. I will say though, I am thankful I parked a few blocked away from the restaurant – the after lunch walk helped a lot.

Like so many of you, I wear a Fitbit. The Human Resources team at the school I work for gave them away for free to employees who wanted them, so I figured why not. When I started this job last July, it meant I had the ability to quit my part time retail job. The salary increase was enough that I didn’t need a full time and part time job. However, the downside was the 10 miles I was deducting from movement weekly – yeah, retail provides a TON of steps. My thoughts on the Fitbit were that I would have a much better idea of my movement and this would help with progress. I lowered the goal of 10K steps to 7K because I do sit at a desk most of the day and if I’m traveling I’m still seated mostly. Even on days with cardio hitting 7K steps can be difficult. My Fitbit has helped a lot the past few months and even more with recovery. I could look at the app and think about how I was feeling after a specific number of steps had been achieved. This was great after I got off of bed rest.

This is my first full week back at the gym, my first week back to work and my second week with a macro increase. It’s nice feeling slightly normal again, having my routine and being more independent.There are two more days of the work week and I have two more workouts this week (tomorrow is a rest day, but Friday and Saturday). I’m excited to see how I feel the next few days. My energy has increased, but again, I’m slightly tired at the end of the day. My next post op is in two weeks and my hope is that I will be less fatigued by the appointment. I’m also hoping to be told that I won’t need my compression garments at all. I’ve already been told I can use stage 2 compression wear – they should be on my doorstep tonight! But being told no compression wear at all will make me feel more free and I want all the freedom I can take.

I know that my recovery isn’t necessarily the average recovery, but that doesn’t mean it’s not normal. So many have commented about their surprise at how fast I recovered, but I was super healthy prior to surgery and this was my end game. That doesn’t mean that waiting as long as I did is the only way to have the surgery because that’s not the case at all. Waiting until I was done losing was right for me and resulted in a quicker recovery, but  not everyone can wait until their done. Surgery is very subjective and there are WAY TOO MANY factors that determine how long someone should be in bed, wear their garments, stay out of work, stay out of the gym. We are all different. I hope that people can see my journey and learn, but also know to not assume that what I went through is what everyone will go through. Different people, different bodies with different doctors. For 20 days out I feel really good. I can’t wait until next week and the week after that and the week after that.


❤ Cristina

I don’t like answering subjective questions

One of the things I have loved about my journey is the number of people I have been able to connect with along the way. I have had a TON of conversations with people of many ages, at different points in their journeys, with different goals and definitely different histories. I have learned a lot from these conversations, but I have also learned a lot from just observing those around me – or really those on social media. 

While I love these connections, there are times its overwhelming and I don’t always know what to say or how to help. Trust me, I want to help or at least point people in the right direction. I feel like my start would’ve been easier if there was someone that had done that for me, but there are questions I get that I can’t answer because they’re very subjective. 

What should I eat when I go out? 

This is a great question, but it’s too general for me to help with because I don’t know your day. However, here are some questions I ask myself when I want to eat out:

1. Am I planning in advance? 

If I am, then I can make better choices during the day. I can also look at the menu ahead of time and make a selection. 

2. Is nutritional information available to me to assist with my decision?

This isn’t always available. Different states have different regulations and a locally owned place is less likely to know and provide this information. If I do have this information, I try to find things that I like that area healthier options – using the term healthier in a loose way. If I don’t have this way I try to make a decision based off of description such as getting grilled chicken and steamed veggies or a small cut of steak and a side salad with no dressing. 

Not knowing nutritional information can make decisions tough, but not impossible. You need to be able to trust yourself to make good decisions. I macro count and there are many times I just guess because that’s the best I can do.

3. What are my concerns?

Some people eat high fat/low carb, some are gluten free, some macro count – if you track and you have questions call the restaurant. I do all the time. I’ve asked how many ounces the cod weighs in the dinner entree and can I get this dish without butter. Most places, especially those that are higher end or busy around dinner would rather receive a call asking about a menu item than have the server running back and forth from the kitchen. This also helps you plan.

I’m eating out, I can’t figure out nutrition, what do I do?

 I’ve asked my coach to assist and usually I’ll send her a menu with the description prior to even having the meal. She’s helped me with roughy estimated before, but I’ve gotten better on my own. The hardest part about answering this question is I didn’t eat your meal or see it.

When I know I need to make an estimate I ask myself:

1. Is there another brand or restaurant that has something exactly the same or similar I can look at. A good example is going to get a bagel at a locally own bakery. You can look at nutritional information for Dunkin Donuts or Krisy Kreme, you can also look at store brands. If you have an idea of the nutritional value they provide you can make a more educated guess. 

2. Have I made something similar at home and what do I know about the nutrition?

If you’ve made chicken before you know that lean chicken breast is between 1-3g of fat and 22-26g of protein for 4 ounces depending on the brand (which may mean the cut is slightly different). If you are able to get the weight of the chicken in your meal, you can make a better guess of the nutritional value. Sometimes you need to eye ball it, like with veggies. 

What should I do in the gym?

This question is a little more general than what I get, but it’s going to make a point. It’s hard for me to help because I’m NOT a trainer with excess knowledge about the science behind workouts. I know what has worked for me in relation to my goals at the time, but even now I used a trainer. You need to ask yourself what your goals are and what you’re willing to do to get there. 

Some of the more target questions are about toning and shaping body parts. Well, toning is a hype word, you’re really losing fat over the muscle to show off what you’ve had all along and then building the muscle to make it bigger. I don’t really know what toning is supposed to mean. I’ve been lifting for two years, I’ve increased strength in this time, I’ve changed up my workout structure too, but mostly I am now showing off the muscle I’ve always had. Before my coach, I did the work on my own. I asked myself what body parts do I want to work on, what muscles are in those groups, what exercises work those muscles, and I would develop my workout from there. These are the same questions you should ask yourself before heading to google. If you want to lift your butt, you need to also lift weights. Cardio will burn fat, but it won’t shape your body. That’s why it’s important to do both. There’s no size or weight requirement for lifting, but I also understand there is some difficulty if you’re not used to moving around much or if there are health concerns surround weight. If you’re concerned talk to your doctor. If you’re unsure about exercises that can be done, there are great resources online where you can search by muscle group and it will provide a list of exercises that target them. Equipment is a concern? A lot of them will tell you what you need, so if you workout at home you can still continue to do so. 

In this journey though, you need to be fearless and daring. Unwillingness to try something new will only hurt your progress. There is also something about learning information to better yourself rather than just taking a direction. Whether it’s with nutrition or exercise, I want to know why I am doing something and how it’s helping my body. If I understand why it’s beneficial I am more likely to stick to it than just taking someone’s advice or directive. I also feel empowered and more in control of my goals because I know what is needed to accomplish them and why. 

Should I have surgery? 

Most recently, with my surgery I have received a lot of questions, which is great because I have asked and continue to ask questions about mine. I will say that I hope by sharing my experience it helps others determine if they want to have surgery. I know it’s scary for some, but if you’re a little prepared it’s not so scary. I have been asked if I thought people should have the surgery because that are a certain weight, body fat, pant size. I can’t tell you want to do and I don’t want to. You know your goals and your journey. For me, surgery was essentially the end game for that chapter. I knew I wasn’t trying to loose more weight, I was just trying to show off the body I had worked hard for. This isn’t the case for everyone, which also means everyone will have a different recovery. So I want people to learn from my perspective, but don’t assume that my experience is what the average experience is or what yours will be.  Having a consult allows you to ask questions and trust me I brought a list! The surgeon wants you to ask questions and wants to provide you with information. They will be able to give you specific answers because they will be able to see you in person and take photos of the areas of concern. 

Also with that, don’t compare our experiences because it’ll leave someone upset or feeling hurt. I’ve received a few messages from women telling me that it’s not fair that I went back to the gym and they can’t. Not only are we different people with different bodies, but we have different doctors and have been told different protocols. Think before you speak, while I need to do this sometimes to, I have received more messages of people sounding ignorant because they assumed everyone would be the same, which results in them sounding like an asshole when they tell me that my progress almost hurts their feelings. I’m sorry you’re taking notes a stranger’s experience personally. 

The list of question I get is a lot long than this, but I think this makes a point: you know yourself a lot better than a stranger online is going to. You know your goals, your motivation, what puts you in a funk. Use what you already know to assist you. Don’t take the easy way out, ask questions when appropriate, but research as much as you can. I read everything. Is there conflicting information? Oh hell yes. But it doesn’t hurt to read both sides. We all have different perspectives and different opinions of what works and what doesn’t – take it all with a grain of salt and experiment to figure out what suits you best. 

❤ Cristina 

Post-surgery recap: The first 10 days

Yesterday marked 10 days post-surgery. It’s a solid milestone and it was a really good day. Surprisingly, the difference between my stance from Saturday to Sunday was drastic. I standing much straighter yesterday and I didn’t feel as much pulling, so far this morning, I’m feeling pretty damn good as well.

I know healing takes time and as the days add up I will feel even better. The scaring will eventually fade and the numbness in my midsection will also dissipate, but thinking back to just last Wednesday, which was probably the worst day of all of recovery, I can’t believe how much a day means in this process.

The first couple of days weren’t great, don’t get me wrong they could’ve be a WHOLE LOT worse, but after coming home from surgery, I mostly slept and the anesthesia had knocked me on my ass. According to JP, I had asked for a candy for us to share and then announced the peanut butter cups are an excellent choice because there’s two and there’s also two of us. Whether he was just trying to make me feel better and bend to my wish or he truly thought I really wanted peanut butter cups, he brought some home after running out to pick up a few things. This made for a great story on Day 2 when he brought home more peanut butter cups to cheer me up… 1. not only do we have a TON of chocolate in the freezer, but 2. I don’t remember ANY of this. My surgeon had an RN come to the apartment for my day after check in. I don’t think she was very happy with us and because it was warm outside, it was warm inside and I had a slight fever for a few hours. I understand the concern, fever after surgery is a big concern, but she was also kind of an asshole to JP when he was trying to understand his role and how to help me such as how to change the bandaging and dressings. The RN also left us confused when she questioned practically every medication my surgeon, that she works for, prescribed to me. Needless to say that was the start of a few phone calls to my surgeon.

For the most part my appetite was still hanging around and I didn’t have much nausea at all; however, there were a few mornings when I dove into my breakfast with such excitement to just leave half on the plate. In some cases, we could leave it on my nightstand and I would pick at it throughout the day, but in others trying to go back at it after it was in the fridge left me less than thrilled and not wanting it. Hands up for the oats that lost their lives. Since my activity level obviously drastically decreased from six days of lifting and three days of cardio to zero, Alaina and I discussed decreasing my macros and creating a goal for me to strive for that would be realistic during recovery. I only started hitting this at the seventh and eighth day, so if I kept my reverse dieting macro goals, I would most definitely fail.

Three days out I discovered my ability to Quasimodo myself to the bathroom, however, getting out of bed had a great deal of assistance and actually, I needed a lot of help getting in and out of bed for the first eight 8 days. I did figure out that if I brought my knees to my chest as much as possible and tucked to my side, I could get out on my own, but for the most part having help was necessary to 1. not hurt myself 2. not create a problem with my incision site and recovery 3. not make JP upset. M friend Jules came over and hung out with me for a bit. She made us lunch while JP ran some errands and got other things done in the area. I do truly have the greatest friends.

Sausage with onions, peppers and zucchini with ketchup
JP and I also had a real fun experience when we realized that I may need some assistance when I was able to start pooping again. Yeah, he gets the boyfriend of the year award, but in that moment I just wanted to punch him.

At four days out I used my new skills of tucking and rolling to escape my bed while JP ran an errand and I caved. I washed my hair. The braids I had were SUPER helpful and kept everything out of my face, but laying on braids for days makes them frizzy and knotty. I just felt gross, which is something so many told me would happen, I mean you’re laying in bed for days and can’t shower. It’s inevitable that feeling this way is bound to happen. Since I was hunched over anyway, going head first into my bathroom sink wasn’t very hard and it felt AMAZING. I wasn’t cleared to shower at my first post-op because there were a few issues with oxygen and blood circulation to the section between my belly button and incision site, which created a red spot and a few blisters. So instead of a shower at five days out, I was able to take my first shower at six days out. I WILL NEVER TAKE SHOWERS FOR GRANTED AGAIN.

To help combat the issue I was having with blood circulation, I was put on bed rest at five days out, not that I had left my bed much anyway. My legs were to be propped up at about a 45 degree angle with the part of my leg from the knee down bent like a table top. My upper body was also propped at a 30 to 45 degree angle, depending on how my pillows slumped. This was my life for the rest of fifth day out to eight days out. I was also put on a medication that would help dilating the blood cells. For those competitors who have used fat burner before, think of this medication similarly. If you’re not hydrated enough, the medication similar to a fat burner can create a VERY RIDICULOUS headache, I think it would be safe to call it a migraine. My normal water consumption sits between 180 to 200 ounces of water when I’m active. My water consumption was roughly 120 to 160 during the beginning of recovery. Six days post surgery, which was Wednesday was the worst day because while I thought having about 40 ounces of water in my system was enough, the 10 ounces of coffee worked against that resulting in a headache between at the back of my head, making it hard to feel comfortable laying on my back.

I felt as though I couldn’t drink enough water fast enough. Even though I was on Percocet, I was okayed to take a Tylenol and after an additional 100 ounces of water and three hours, I fell asleep and woke up to my head not hurting. Lesson learned, water consumption would be one of the most important things to watch during recovery. This was also the same day that my friend Jessica came over to lend us a hand.

I have received a ton of messages from women who want to get a tummy tuck for excess skin and are nervous and curious. What I’ve been telling them is that the first few days were the toughest, but overall this was a big decision. It’s going to be worth it. I’ve also said that they should research what they can without scaring themselves and compile questions for their surgeon for the consultation. I also had a list of my reasons for having the surgery because I knew the doctor would ask me why before she would actually take a look at my body, but every surgeon is different. They all have their own style and their own way of prepping for surgery, developing a recovery plan and checking in with their patients. Keep in mind that no matter how many conversations you have with women that have had this surgery, you probably won’t be prepared for your own experience.

This was a lot of us to handle. We knew it would be, but like I’ve said before, JP is excellent at taking care of other people, but he then forgets how to take care of himself. This led to a cycle of frustration between the two of us. Jessica helped us with small stuff, but it truly was the biggest help and it was the end of the bad days. Also, somewhere in there JP built a $100 Lego Ferrari to keep himself calm and occupied. I mean those rough days were rough.

If you ever wanted to know what a $100 in Legos look like
Day seven, was pretty boring and honestly that’s not a bad thing at all. My friend Cindy came by and Cristina-sat me while JP had a job interview. We mostly laid in my bed and talked. She watched me hobble a bit and then back to bed. Seriously, a very uneventful day, however, I started watching Worst Cooks in America – that is entertainment. Anyone will feel like a gourmet chef just watching the season opener. The following night we cupcaked – cupcaking: action verb and how a makeshift date night while I stayed laying in bed. New rule: after abdominal surgery, no movies that make you laugh. You will want to die.

Day eight was the most exciting since day five because it meant my second post-op AND National Donut Day. The post op was successful and the plan was if I got the okay to get my butt out of bed then we would head to Boston to get a donut and then to JP’s grandparents where we mostly sit around and talk anyway. I not only got the green light to get out of bed, I got my drains out too. She was impressed with out my recovery was going and the areas that we were concerned about were healing really well. We had a good feeling, but getting the doctor to say so was much better than a gut feeling.

While I was disappointed that when we got to the donut shop they were sold out, JP and I decided to have our own spin on donuts and got dosants – the magic that happens when a croissant and a donut meet – at a local to us restaurant later that night.

Peanut butter and Fluff dosatns. Chocolate and caramel dosants.
Saturday, I obviously had the most movement and ultimately was exhausted, but it was so nice to be out of bed. I did lay down, but if my hips hadn’t started hurting I wouldn’t have laid down. I know I’m going to have a love/hate relationship with my bed for the next few weeks. Saturday was also the last day I had any Percocet at all. I’m completely on Tylenol now, which is a excellent feeling. I also did a mini check in with my coach, Alaina since I could stand slightly more upright.

This far out from surgery my scabs are starting to fall off and a nice purple scar is starting to show. Like I mentioned can the area of my belly we were concerned with started to really clear up. So think about when you get a cut and it finally starts healing, there’s no pain, but it scabs and may be slightly itching from skin regeneration.

Sunday was definitely the best day and like I said, I know that as the days add up I’m going to feel better and things are going to be healing more, but I just couldn’t believe how good I felt yesterday.

I’m excited about today. We’re going for a walk. I know that sounds silly and as a lifter being excited for a walk feels weird, but from going to laying down for eight days to being allowed to move to being much more upright, I am so damn excited for our walk. I started wearing my FitBit again so I can track my movement and kind of analyze how I’m feeling with the amount of movement. It’s going to be a good day. Two more days until my third post-op. Six days until I’m back at the gym for upper body only restriction.

I hope everyone else crushes their Monday and enjoys their week!

Some photo recap of the first 10 days:


We never forgot to feed me

Hanging out with the kiddos

I read a lot of Food Network Magazine

The first shower – Day 6

Hobbling to the bathroom – Day 7

No donuts for Cristina – Day 8


We split a breakfast sandwich at Birchtree to kick off our Saturday – Day 9


We adventured and got new protein bars at Vitamin Shoppe – Day 9

We went to dinner – day 9

❤ Cristina