I am thrilled to have had the chance to interview Mandi Castle for the second installment of my new series, where I interview moms with big, scary, sexy fitness goals. Mandi is a 37 year-old married mom of two, ages five and nine, living in Dallas. She recently published her first novel, Dear Stephanie, (which btw, I cannot wait to read. It looks sexy, suspenseful, and totally compelling). She blogs at Cellulite Looks Better Tan, and you can also find her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Mandi got her six-back back after having two kids- and she’s maintained it. When I found out about Mandi’s strong core, I was inspired, but but after she answered my questions, I was seriously blown away. Her level of commitment is insane, in a good way. It is embarrassing how often I’ve found myself wondering, “What would Mandi do?” lately. Here is the inside scoop on just what it takes to get and keep killer abs. As Mandi explains, it’s not a simple case of good genes or luck. It’s work and it’s a choice that she makes every single day.
[bctt tweet=”Here is the inside scoop on just what it takes to get and keep killer abs. “]
But it’s worth it. Mandi says she feels better when she exercises and she loves her body not just for how it looks (and it looks good!), but for what it does. I love that.
PM: Tell me a bit about your background as an athlete, pre-kids.
MC: I have always been athletic. I grew up playing outside and rode my bike everywhere. In the summer, my street was where kids played. We had basketball tournaments that went on for days, and when we were sick of basketball, we had wiffle ball tournaments. I rarely went inside.
PM: In what ways (if any) did your fitness routine change after having children?
MC: I knew right away that I wanted to “get back in shape” after having each baby. With my first, I started working out at six weeks. My sister-in-law was a fitness coach for Strollerfit, so I enrolled and started as soon as my doctor released me. Once I completed that course, I made going to the gym part of my routine. With my second child, I slowly started back to the gym. I would do 15 minutes on the elliptical machine and almost die. I hate cardio. I added five minutes at a time. When I could go 45 minutes, I knew I could go back to my cardio core class, and I’ve been going to that two to three times a week since then.
PM: Where do you work out? Has that changed since becoming a mom?
MC: I have been a member at the same gym for fourteen years. My rates are cheap, so I’ll never leave, and they offer childcare. They don’t allow babies under six months of age, so that was a challenge when my second child came along. I left her with her dad to work out at the gym, and when he was unavailable, I worked out from home. There are great workout videos online, and I found some that worked for me.
PM: I know your goal was to bring your six-pack back. I am assuming diet played a major role in getting there and maintaining it. Can you tell me what a normal day of eating looks like for you?
MC: I have one major rule I rarely break. I do not eat after 8:00 PM. I also skip breakfast. Some call it Intermittent fasting. I usually do not eat from 8:00 pm until around 12:00 pm the next day. I exercise in the mornings (usually at 10:30), so I eat as soon as I finish my workout. I’ve never been a breakfast eater anyway, so it wasn’t a difficult decision for me. Having said that, I’m pretty strict with what I will eat, and I eat a lot during my “eating” hours.
I try to eat mostly vegetables, some meat, and some carbs. I like to have fish at least twice a week. For lunch, I tend to eat protein and vegetables, so a typical lunch for me is tuna with spinach or a veggie omelet. Dinners are usually my biggest meal, where I add the carbs. I am not a dieter. I just choose healthy food. I drink water more than anything else. I probably drink a minimum of 96 oz of water a day.
I’m not always good. I love tacos and cheeseburgers and pizza. I still drink coffee with creamer (I won’t give that up), and I allow myself something if I want it. I refuse to do a “you can’t have this” diet, so I will eat chocolate, but instead of having a full candy bar, I go for a bite sized one. Sugar is my biggest weakness, and on days when I’m less strict, I can put down some chocolate. I usually will work extra hard at the gym the next day if I’ve allowed myself to “cheat” on healthy eating. I’m also much less strict on the weekends. This is now though, that I’ve met my goals. When I was working toward these goals, I was very strict. Very little sugar, very little carbs, lots of protein, no unhealthy snacks, no drinking alcohol. I drink an occasional glass of wine during the week, and I’ll let myself have beer on the weekend. I think what works best is the rule: everything in moderation. But if you want to LOSE weight, you have to stay out of the fridge and the pantry. That’s the first trick.
PM: What motivates you to work out?
MC: I love my body. I like what I see in the mirror, so I want to maintain it. Of course, the health benefits are also a huge motivator. It’s funny. I eat healthier when I work out. I sleep better when I work out. I am in a better mood when I work out. Exercise is no joke. When your body is healthy, everything else seems to be as well.
[bctt tweet=”Exercise is no joke. @MandiCastle”]
PM: How to you stay motivated even on days when you don’t feel like it (not interested, too tired, time-crunched, etc)?
MC: I never actually WANT to go to the gym. Like anyone, I can come up with a thousand better things to do with my time. I remember when I was writing my book, I would be in the middle of a really great scene, and my alarm would go off to leave for the gym. I hated to stop, but it never fails. I always feel so much better after a good workout, so I go. At least three times a week.
PM: When do you work out? How do you fit it in to your schedule?
MC: My typical routine was:
Monday: Thirty minutes of basketball (just shooting, not full court playing) one hour of PIYO (a combination of yoga and pilates)
Tuesday: core workout at home (crunches, burpees, planks)
Wednesday: Thirty minutes of basketball (same as above) One hour of cardio core (pilates on speed)|
Thursday: leg workout at home (squats, lunges, donkey kicks)
Friday: Thirty minutes of basketball (same as above) One hour of cardio core
Saturday: one hour of yoga
I started working full time (after nine years of being a stay at home mom) in December. This was the biggest challenge for me. Before, I usually spent two hours at the gym, and that didn’t include the 15 minutes it took to drive each way and check the child into childcare, so making time to exercise was a must.
I fit it in. I work from home, so I spend my lunch breaks at the gym. I do online classes. I sit on a stability ball at my desk (it makes me keep my core engaged all day long). I walk as much as I can and climb as many stairs as I can. And every chance I get, I go to my classes. I usually get to at least two a week.
PM:What were your biggest barriers to achieving your goal and how did you overcome them?
MC: At the beginning, the biggest barrier was the sheer fact that it seemed impossible. I had a lot of flab after my baby, and my body did not bounce back. Every time I looked in the mirror, I could say “You’ll never make it,” or “You got this!” I chose “You got this!” It was a lot of work and it took a lot of will to achieve my goal, but accomplishment feels so much better than failure.
[bctt tweet=”I could say “You’ll never make it,” or “You got this!” I chose “You got this!” @MandiCastle”]
PM: How old were your kid(s) when you achieved your goal?
MC: With my son (my first), I think he was about eighteen months. I have a picture of us on the beach, and you can see my abs. It took longer with my daughter. I didn’t drop my last 10 pounds of baby weight until she was close to two years old.
PM: How has your fitness routine changed (if at all) since you met your goal?
MC: It hasn’t changed. I have to maintain. If I slip even for a week, I can see a noticeable difference.
PM: What advice would you give women who are intimidated to set a big, scary, sexy post-baby fitness goal?
MC: You can do this. You have to make a commitment to change. You can’t JUST exercise or JUST eat healthy. You have to do both, and you have to have realistic expectations. I don’t think weight matters. I think the most important thing for all of us is to like ourselves, our bodies. Be proud of what we have done but also what we are capable of doing. We made babies. We are superheroes. Who says we can’t look like them?
[bctt tweet=”We made babies. We are superheroes. @MandiCastle”]
Some of Mandi’s Faves
Pre-workout fuel: Er..coffee?
Post-workout meal/indulgence: My favorite lunch is tuna mixed with boiled egg and mayo over spinach leaves. I probably eat that two or three times a week.
Training resources: I love the Beachbody PIYO workouts. My instructor at my gym is Melissa McAlister, and she has a demo on YouTube that is a great start. If you like a good impact workout, there are PIYO dvd’s available online.
Favorite music to listen to when you’re working out: Pop upbeat top 40 stuff. I have Kesha on my workout playlist and Kanye West. Don’t hate me. [Pam’s note: I don’t! I play Katie Perry when I teach spin class!]
Thank you, Mandi for giving us the real deal on what it takes to get and maintain your toned abs. Whether your goal is a six-pack or not, Mandi’s story is a great reminder that over time, consistent hard work and dedication pay off.
[bctt tweet=”Are you a mom who has achieved a big, scary, sexy fitness goal? “]
Are you a mom who has achieved a big, scary, sexy fitness goal? I want to hear about it! If your goal was daunting at first and made you feel like a rock star when you met it, then it’s big, scary, and sexy enough for me. Click here to get in touch and talk about being part of this series.