When I first met Caitlin Hutcherson, I never would've known she struggled with weight gain. After all, we met at Equinox, and she's totally ripped! At first glance, you wouldn't realize that just a few years ago, Caitlin was beginning a healthy journey that would change her life for the better.
Growing up with a fitness-focused family and a dietitian mom, Caitlin was exposed to to a very healthy lifestyle from an early age. "I had a trainer from the time I was 15 and used to track my weight daily," she told POPSUGAR.
She noted her stricter, healthier upbringing as a "catalyst for a bit of rebellion" as she entered her college years. Through social drinking, eating out, and lack of attention, Caitlin gained weight that made her less comfortable with her body. That's when she found the Tone It Up program, which opened a window to a more sustainable, positive, and healthy lifestyle.
POPSUGAR: What made you decide to start?
Caitlin Hutcherson: The effects [of weight gain] left me just not wanting to be photographed, feeling like I couldn't wear certain clothes, not feeling attractive in social settings and with romantic partners; I knew I had to change something. I began just being very aware of what I was eating and started cooking more and taking food with me to work.
I also limited myself to a glass or two of wine per week. I started dropping some weight, but my repertoire in the kitchen made my food get pretty boring. I had watched Toned Up on BravoTV and fell in love with these girls, Karena and Katrina from Manhattan Beach, CA. They had infectious personalities, were gorgeous, and were relatable. I immediately went on to their site and became a member. It wasn't until a little over a year ago that I decided to just commit to one of their eight-week challenges. I had gotten out of a relationship and was ready to start fresh.
PS: How did the Tone It Up program change things for you?
CH: The TIU community was a total support system for me and still is. The women in the community are incredible and will support, encourage, and listen as you go through whatever journey you're on. These women share through pregnancies, losses, marriages . . . it's not just weight, but the emotional factors that usually are the drivers of our bad habits. I went to the Tone It Up retreat 2015 where I got to meet a bunch of the women I felt I already knew from following them on Instagram, and I am so happy I can now call them my friends.
PS: What's your favorite way to work out?
CH: I can't pick one thing, but I LOVE group classes. I find that I push myself harder if I'm surrounded by others; there is more of an accountability factor that I don't have when I work out at home. I will also try anything — being active doesn't look like just one thing to me. I like to get outside if it's a nice day, go for a run or bike ride or even SUP or hiking. See? I can't pick!
PS: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
CH: I work out six to seven days a week. I realize this sounds a bit nuts to some. I tend to do Orange Theory three times per week, which is super challenging and pushes me to my max, then I do SoulCycle one to two times per week, which is just really fun for me, as I love to cycle and I love music and dancing — and I don't have to talk to anyone. One day is always low-impact: yoga/Pilates/barre, and then there is usually a boxing class, too. This changes if there is a race, outing with friends, etc. I just feel the best when I have started my day with a good sweat.
PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?
CH: I can't subscribe to one thing, and it has to be something I enjoy. I participate in challenges and races. I have found that when I subscribe to [just] one thing, I don't stay committed. Some people do one thing that they are really into and get really good — I'd rather try a bit of everything and keep my body guessing.
PS: How much weight have you lost?
CH: I have lost about 25 pounds. The Tone It Up eight-week challenge was the last 10 to 12 pounds of that.
PS: What was the first big difference, other than the number on the scale, that really made you feel proud and excited?
CH: TONED MUSCLE. My body is prone to building muscle, especially in my arms, shoulders, and back. Before, there was muscle there, but it was just looking thick and bulky (to me). I started seeing the definition and that was so cool.
PS: How do you track your weight loss?
CH: For a while I was weighing myself, but like most women, I got really obsessive about it — I still do sometimes. It wasn't until I put on a pair of dress pants that were actually falling off of me that I changed the true indicator. I track it based on how I fit my clothes.
PS: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
CH: I always eat breakfast with protein in it. This could just be eggs, or if I'm home, its a scramble with tons of veggies, a smoothie bowl with Perfect Fit protein, or protein pancakes/waffles. Snacks are usually fruit, veggies, nuts, or a bar like Squarebar or RxBars that I love. Lunch is typically a salad with chicken or fish on it — lots of veggies. Dinner is typically a protein with veggies and maybe a little quinoa depending on how hungry I am. If I'm still hungry, I may have a cookie or some fruit as a dessert.
PS: What's the range of calories you eat per day?
CH: I have no idea! I try not to count and to feed myself what feels good and not obsess over numbers. If I had to guess, it is likely between 1200 to 1500 calories, which I find works best for my body.
PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?
CH: Almond milk, apple cider vinegar (introduced to me by Tone It Up), Clearly Kombucha (or their new Clearly Botanicals — yum!), the individually packaged grilled chicken breast from Trader Joe's — for nights I don't have the energy to cook — apples (favorite fruit), and lots of veggies.
PS: How do you strategize for meals out?
CH: I honestly don't really strategize. I'm allergic to dairy, so that helps keep things pretty clean, but I try to allow myself to eat out and trust myself to choose options that I know will allow me to feel good afterwards, and to stop when I'm full. I try to just check in with myself like, "Do you really want that?"
PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?
CH: Be so kind to yourself, and trust your body will respond. This is true for food and for activity — if you have traditionally fed yourself food that is unhealthy, or if you are deconditioned or not very active, your body is going to need to adjust.
Try hard to practice positive self-talk and to allow yourself to go through what you need to. This is something I still have a hard time with — I tell myself that I'm not as pretty or my body isn't as nice as someone else. The truth is that we are all challenged in some areas and excel in some areas, and we cannot compare. Just know you are meant to be you, and you should love just that, and remember your WHY.