After 12 weeks of committing to Instagram star Kayla Itsine's Bikini Body Guide, our challengers are ready to reveal their "bikini bodies", and reflect on how the workouts have impacted their health, fitness and wellbeing.
I've been dreading this week. Not because it's the last week of BBG 1.0. I'm pretty pumped we've come to the 12th week, keeping up with months of push-ups and burpees as best we can. And also keeping up with multiple loads of laundry after all these exercise sessions.
This week, or today specifically, causes dread because our editor asked for something that I just very conveniently decided to forget about. She wants a before-and-after bikini body shot. I would rather take some shots instead. Anyone got some tequila handy?
But I committed to BBG and I committed to blogging these 12 weeks. I didn't care about sharing sweaty selfies or other less than flattering pictures. Why should I start caring now? Because I still feel self-conscious about baring my body and soul on the internet.
For my bikini body selfies, I picked a bathing suit I thought was super cute, but not all that flattering. I really did not want to throw that back on for my week 11 BBG selfie. I'd rather show you my ultra-flattering black bikini. But that wouldn't be a fair comparison. And I have a rather good sense of what's fair, even if it's to my own detriment.
So here we are. A January 2016 selfie on the left: Body by Christmas buffets and lots of bubbles. Now on the right? A March 2016 selfie, after 11 weeks of BBG.
Unflattering bikini aside, I see some ab definition and better posture. Success! I can't believe there is ab definition there, seeing as I still struggle through ab workouts, often ended up with a thud on the floor after one rep.
I'm trying to be more empathetic with myself. I'm over 30. I don't have the metabolism of a twenty-something, and I know my body is going to change much more slowly than someone younger than me. But I'm happy with slow progress. It's more sustainable. And if I keep going, maybe I will look like a twenty-something again.
For all of you have that come this far in your BBG workouts, I hope you will appreciate what ever [muscle] gains you've achieved. Even slow progress is progress, and that is something worth celebrating.
This is it. The final week. Week twelve. I can't believe Tina and I have made it this far. Twelve weeks of gruelling yet somewhat enjoyable challenges that pushed me beyond what I ever thought I could do. Sure, I'm excited about this. Anyone who has completed, is currently completing, or is even thinking about completing Kayla's BBG would be excited to see the final results.
This encompasses every other nosy person (including myself) who is interested in seeing those results. Because 1. We like to motivate ourselves by others' success and improvements, and 2. Everyone kind of wants to see how fat you were prior to completing your transformation.
This is the part for Tina and I, where the excitement dwindles. Because I have to show you all what my body looked like before, and what it looks like after. Kind of nerve racking, I won't lie, it's not every day that pictures of you in your underwear get posted to one of the nation's biggest news platforms.
And it's not every day that there two photos up for everyone geez at and compare how slim my hips have gotten or how much fat I've lost off my belly.
When it comes to your judgment or praise, I couldn't really care less. Getting through these twelve weeks has been the biggest accomplishment, regardless of how defined my abs are now compared to twelve weeks earlier.
More than just the physical accomplishment is the mental achievement. It's about how I've learned to push through the fact that I felt too tired to go and complete a workout, but I went and did it anyway.
It's about how I've learned to change my diet so that I eat cleaner and healthier, in moderation of course - because who doesn't love a McDonald's combo every now and then? It's about being healthier and happier as a whole, rather than just looking in the mirror and analysing my progress every day.
So feel free to judge and sit in awe of how I, Tessa Stockdale, managed to drag my sorry butt through twelve weeks of exercise and clean eating to get to where I am now.
To all others at the start, in the middle, or near the end of the guide - keep going. You can do it. You will do it. But just remember that the final image at the end isn't everything. In the least cliché way possible, it's about the journey that got you there.