Alli Ferguson® is an international fitness and health coach committed to helping you build a healthy body and creating a balanced lifestyle.
I grew up a chubby kid and I battled my weight from a young age, around 9, when my mom tried me on crazy diets to try to get a handle on my weight. She had me on fasting diets, juicing diets, Suzanne Sommers diet, all with short-term success, but long-term disaster. Each time I gained back a little more than I lost. I got teased by the kids in my class because I was bigger than the other girls, and that experience made me so insercure about my body that it took a good 15 years to start to change my identity. When I was growing up, my identity was one of a chubby kid with huge thighs and butt. I spent half of my summers body surfing at the beach and skied in the winter, so it’s not like I wasn’t active as a kid.
I believe it was lack of teaching me proper nutrition as a kid, coupled with the fact that my mom wasn’t the least bit athletic, made for a poor example of exercise habits. The lack of a regular exercise routine made it difficult to get anywhere long-term with any of those diets. Finally, the fact that my dad was a good example of exercise with no diet, and my mom was an example of diet with no exercise, made it difficult to decipher what should have been combined for maximum effect. I’m sure that if that had been done, I wouldn’t have lived with such a negative identity regarding my weight for so long.
Do you ever feel like that ?
Like you're cursed to be the weight you are right now ?
I'll tell you, it wasn't true for me and it's not true for you.
One day my mom decided to enroll me in a dance team, and that was the turning point. I continued the dance team into high school, where I made the Drill Team, and my fitness really took off from there. The practices were Monday through Friday for 2 hours, and Tuesday for 3 1/2 hours. For the first time in my life, I could eat whatever I wanted and I lost weight. I ate junk for lunch and a ton of sugar, and still dropped weight. I was LOVING this!
I got into good shape, BUT still had the “fat girl” identity in my head. So when boys expressed interest in me, I didn’t understand why and thought they were actually making fun of me, so I ran from them.
It makes me want to cry thinking about all the kids who get bullied for their weight. And then even when someone is trying to be nice they still hear in their heard “FAT.”
Did you get teased and builled when you were younger? It sucks and it creates so much negative self talk that lasts for years and years.
When I decided to move in with my dad and stepmom at 16, I was no longer on a competitive team (and team sports didn’t interest me much), so I joined a gym and began to work out every day. I worked out 6 days each week for a half hour by swimming a mile in the pool. That was good, but I wasn’t dropping the body fat I wanted to shed. So my dad, a biology and chemistry teacher at my high school, told me to hit the cardio and weights section. And that began my education and love for fitness. It was amazing to me to that by doing the opposite of what I thought I should do, I got the results I wanted! He said lift weights 3 days each week, working your whole body, and do cardio 3 days each week.
My Dad never came into the gym to show me, he just told me what exercises to do and to do 3 sets of each. In my mind I thought, “Isn’t that going to make me bigger?” But quite the opposite happened: my tummy got flat, my arms and legs got toned, and I could run for an hour on the treadmill or the Stairmaster. I got down to 14.8% body fat and only lost 5 lbs.
Even thought I made great strides with my body, my identity was still of a “fat girl” trying to shed the weight that made me feel “ugly.” It has been a long journey to change my identity to one of a fit girl, and it didn’t happen in my head first by loving my body. The change in my identity came about by changing my body first, and then I believed what I saw.
I was never one of those girls who liked to run long distances, or ride 40 miles on a bike. I’m genetically built for power (short bursts of massive energy) combined with longer and slower endurance activities. That must be why I enjoyed dancing so much; I could jump and leap pretty well, just not for 30 minutes straight. I also get bored super easy with long endurance activities, and need to change it up every minute or so… or the next 5 minutes will feel like 5 hours. Competitive dancing does that, and so does weight training… well, at least the way I do it.
So by the time I got into college, I knew I wanted to make money spending time in the gym, so getting certified as a personal trainer seemed like the logical choice. I got certified and got a job at Family Fitness, which is now 24 Hr Fitness. I was a biology major at the University of California, Irvine at the time, so much of what I learned in my major was instantly translated into fitness in my head. In fact, my favorite class was Biochemistry, because I loved learning how the body burned fat! I was taking a full 18 units of classes, and teaching aerobics classes and personal training for a gym and a chiropractor at the same time. I felt I had no time to work, work out, and study, so I got a job at a gym teaching aerobic classes so I would get paid to stay fit.
I was dead-set on never being that “fat girl” again, and I couldn’t afford a gym membership, so it made sense to me to teach classes. What could be better, right? It was a well-laid plan until I got certified and hired, and had to strap on a microphone and do this in front of people! I was terrified for the first couple of weeks until that became my new comfort zone, but the point is that I wanted so badly to NOT be the “fat girl” that I was willing to do whatever it took to stay on the right path, and not deviate. As a result, I didn’t gain the “freshman 15”; instead, I got more fit.
It was then that I learned of all the things my dad had wrong.
He had the very basic fundamentals correct, but I’ve learned so much in the 20 years since my journey began, that I’ve come to realize very few trainers or experts have the whole picture correct.
To begin with, most men don’t understand women in general, so how can they really understand what a woman is going through in this journey?
Men’s weight is viewed differently by society than womens’ weight, so how can we expect men to understand why we shove cake in our faces at lunch when “that’s not part of the program”? They don’t think the way we do, and they shouldn’t; they are men, and are supposed to think like men. There are some exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, they don’t understand womens’ psychology, which is a good portion of the fitness battle.
I tried all the weight loss supplements and diets out there in an attempt to find a better, faster way to drop body fat, and that’s why I wrote this guide. None of those things are the answer and will cost you money, time, and frustration as you come to the same conclusion that I did: eating clean and training mean is the only life-long answer!
After college, I went on to train at a high-end health club in Fullerton, California, which I was getting a Master of Arts degree in Psychology. That’s when all the pieces of the complicated “women’s weight loss” puzzle began to fall into place. I was the only one in my class who had a background in science and a passion for fitness. As I worked with clients on their fitness goals, and analyzed how my own thoughts fluctuated on the matter, I was able to see how obviously all these pieces fit together. When that happened, I became the #1 trainer in the club for years until I finally left.
It’s not just “eat less than you burn,” it’s really “eat the right foods, at the right time, for the activity level at the time, in the right percentages based on your body type, your goals, your preferences, food availability, and systemically change how you think about food and exercise” to get life-long, lasting results.
Now I'm the creator and founder of BrideBod. I'm passionate about helping every Bride look fabulous on their wedding day in the dress of their dreams.