Abby Pollock is a 23-year-old fitness lover living in Toronto, Canada. Although she's got a stellar bubble butt and a body she's damn proud of, she hasn't always been this strong and confident.
In 2012, during her first year of engineering school, Abby was 20 pounds underweight and struggling with symptoms of anorexia and bulimia. She was unhappy in her relationship and feeling enormous pressure to secure an engineering internship when she found out her father had cancer. It was like every aspect of her life was out of her control — except when it came to her diet. "Food was my safe space, in some weird and twisted way," she told Cosmopolitan.com.
Using MyFitnessPal to track her diet, Abby says she used to eat the bare minimum to keep her brain functioning: 900 to 1,000 calories per day. She grew obsessed with losing weight, taking on increasingly restrictive diets plans that progressed from simply eating "clean," to eating paleo, then vegan, then raw vegan.
"I told myself I was following these diets for ethical reasons, when really I was using them as a means to further restrict and cover up my disordered habits," she now admits. On a typical day during her lowest points, she'd drink a green smoothie for breakfast, and carefully portion out salad ingredients for lunch and dinner. She'd sometimes snack on raw veggies during the day, but only if she got to the point where she thought she'd pass out if she didn't eat.
In 2013, she suspected her boyfriend had cheated on her and found out her father's prognosis had progressed to terminal. Instead of continuing to use food to gain some semblance of control, Abby finally reached out for help. "I decided I was done playing victim, done breaking myself down," she says of her decision to employ a holistic nutritionist and personal trainer. Their first order of business was to gradually increase Abby's food intake to 2,000 calories per day.
"Eating 1,000 calories a day took constant willpower," she wrote in a recent Instagram post. "I was physically drained from eating so little, I was mentally drained from obsessing over such a trivial part of my life."
Now, Abby follows a much more flexible eating plan, eating whatever she wants so long as it fits into her daily calorie allotment, (now 1,700 calories, as determined by her nutritionist and current fitness goals) and daily goals for protein, carbs, and healthy fats.
On a typical day, Abby will eat about four meals, beginning with a high-protein egg scramble made with ground turkey and eaten with a side of veggies for meal one; an apple with baby carrots when she feels like snacking; chocolate oats made with oatmeal, egg whites, almond milk, cocoa, and stevia for meal two; spaghetti squash with ground turkey, veggies, and cheese sauce made from almond milk and shredded cheese for meal three; and finally, a post-workout protein "ice cream" made with protein powder, a banana, almond milk, and ice.
While she tends to stick to whole, minimally processed foods, and eats the same meals throughout the week since it requires less mental energy to stay on track, the only thing Abby really restricts are her eating hours. She practices intermittent fasting, which means she fasts between 16 and 18 hours each day. It's an eating strategy that may improve insulin sensitivity, helping your body churn out more sustainable energy from the food you eat, according to emerging research.
"It has helped me repair my relationship with food, become more in touch with my natural hunger cues, and it has allowed me the lifestyle flexibility to eat larger (even restaurant-sized) meals while still making progress toward my goal," Abby explains, adding that she's currently training for obstacle course racing, where she runs races broken up by various physical challenges.
At least once a week, she'll deviate from her diet plan with a favourite food like frozen yogurt or sushi. While she's not a big drinker, she'll still indulge every once and a while.
And now, instead of feeling guilty over every calorie she consumes, Abby sees each meal as an opportunity to fuel her body to be stronger — physically and mentally.
So it's a good thing Abby's recovery team also helped her overhaul her fitness routine, which, when she wasn't healthy, once involved doing up to two hours of cardio per day. Abby cut back to two shorter cardio sessions per week, tacking on four weightlifting sessions during which she began lifting as heavy as possible without feeling like she'd have to compromise her form until the end of an exercise set.
Once she started lifting heavy — something she'd always avoided out of fear it'd bulk her up — her body changed in a surprising way. Instead of inflating her whole body, she noticed her butt lifting while her waist was getting smaller for an overall hourglass effect.
Now, Abby spends an hour at the gym four times per week. She'll spend one day working her back and biceps, one day working on her shoulders and triceps, and two days working on her lower body, practicing standard moves like weighted squats, deadlifts, step-ups, hip thrusters, and calf raises.
Her strategy is to use a slow and controlled pace when releasing weights on exercises involving contractions. On a bicep curl, for instance, that means spending 4 to 6 seconds bringing the weight down from its highest position.
She sometimes tacks on 30 minutes of cardio, but only after she's spent the bulk of the day on her butt. She has less time for the gym now because she works long hours on her company, TransformNation, a motivational education platform.
And if you're wondering if her new diet and weight-lifting plan led to weight gain? The answer is, yes it did. At 5 feet 7 inches, Abby weighs 152 pounds — a number that once shocked her since she used to worry when she fluctuated above 125 pounds. But now, that doesn't scare her in the slightest, particularly since she feels more athletic and happier than ever before.
Now Abby's priority is to help others kick-start their own fitness journeys."Transformation does not come from finding the 'perfect' moment, training plan, or diet," she says. "It comes from taking action and choosing to learn through your failures, rather than give up." And she'd know.
Via: Cosmopolitan US