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Krystina Holliday

Battling chronic fatigue and other health issues, this mother of three has made huge strides through training and diet.

Krystina Holliday

Written by Krystina Holliday 

At the very beginning of my fitness journey, I just wanted to feel happy and healthy. At age 34, I hadn’t lifted a weight since around high school. My body had slowly been shutting down over the years, and I felt like I was on a downward slope.

My “before” photo was taken a few weeks before I first started working out. That was a forced smile in that picture. I was suffering from severe anxiety with frequent panic attacks, PTSD, frequent stomach discomfort, and sleeping disorders, all of which were negatively interfering with my daily life.

I started seeing various doctors for all my problems and was prescribed six different medications. Nothing resolved my problems. I finally realized that NO ONE would fix me — and it’s not their responsibility to do so. I needed to make the choice and put all the work in myself to be healthy. I decided to start exercising as my first step.

Starting Her Journey

At first, it was very difficult since I was dealing with chronic fatigue. I didn’t think I had enough energy to even drive to the gym. I’m also a busy full-time nurse, wife, and mom of three active children.

“I just don’t have the time to exercise,” was my go-to excuse. However, I was determined to make a change, so I forced myself out of the house and to the gym.

I started out doing the StairMaster at the gym for 10 minutes, twice a week. I noticed some positive changes in my body and mood within weeks. I was hooked.

I started going to the gym more often, adding weight lifting to my regimen. I realized that I have always had the time to exercise; it just took a little rearranging and prioritizing to make it happen.

Now, three years later, I’m at the gym (currently my home gym) 5 to 6 days a week, starting at 5:30am.

Surprising Body Transformation

Since beginning my fitness journey, I’ve gained a few pounds, which was surprising to me at first. My starting weight was 124 pounds and my end weight was 128 pounds. However, my body shape has changed for the better and I dropped one pant size. I had to buy a new wardrobe because all of my clothes were too big.

It took me a few months to achieve this. When I first did a dumbbell biceps curl, I struggled to get a set in with a 20-pound bar. My first Jim Stoppami program was Super-Man. After completing it, I curled a 50-pound dumbbell 7 times. It was then that I knew what real progress I had made with my strength.  

I found Jim on Facebook with his New Year’s Challenge. I entered, thinking, “I’ve got nothing to lose.”

I was intimidated by the program at first and almost dropped out, but I’m so glad I didn’t! Using Jim’s program really took my fitness to the next level. I made more progress with strength, muscle gains, and fat loss in five weeks than I had in the two years prior.

Jim’s programs helped bring evidence-based structure to my workout regimen, which helped me get closer to my goals than I could on my own.

The Jim Stoppani app was like having a personal trainer with me in the gym, guiding my workouts and showing proper form and technique with videos and photos. I was also able to track my progress in the app, which helped me identify areas I needed to adjust.

Better Nutrition, Better Results

Jim’s nutritional articles helped enhance my diet according to my fitness goals. I felt that I was well-versed in nutrition, but Jim taught me important things to consider which really made a big difference.

For instance, I didn’t know how important post-training carbs were, but Jim does a good job explaining the science behind this. I think the nutritional component that most contributed to my transformation was following an intermittent fasting plan.

I did an overhaul of my diet, which began with a detailed food log with nutrient calculations. I also completed an elimination diet. I thought I ate “healthy,” but realized that I wasn’t eating the best foods for my body.

It was a lot of work at first, but I’ve gotten to the point now that I don’t need to track my foods so much because it just feels natural to eat the way I do. I eat in an 8-hour window each day, and I eat most of my carbs in the morning around my training time.

I also follow a whole-food plant-based diet. I eat mostly plant foods and make most of my food from scratch. I found that cutting back on processed foods and sugar made a big positive impact on my digestion and mental health.

I suffer from food allergies and intolerances, so this limits what kind of supplements I’m able to take. I currently use pea protein and hemp protein powders mixed with fruit smoothies.

To be honest, it’s not hard to stick to my nutritional plan. It’s sustainable and I allow flexibility to cheat on special occasions. I feel great eating this way and I enjoy my food now much more than the food I used to eat.  

Battling Fatigue through Exercise

I didn’t have time after work to get to the gym as much as I wanted, so I switched to working out in the early mornings. This was a huge change for me, since I have always struggled to even get up at a normal hour.

I struggle with chronic fatigue, so getting myself to go work out when I really wanted to nap was a huge obstacle. I forced myself to go to the gym, sometimes yawning as I was warming up. But once I started lifting weights, I felt alert and energized. My chronic fatigue became a tougher obstacle when I switched to morning workouts.

Much to my surprise, my fatigue symptoms decreased greatly after making the switch and I have a much easier time getting up in the morning than I used to. I feel like I’m much more awake and alert after getting a good workout in before starting my day. And now there’s no excuse to miss a workout since nothing else is happening at 5:30am!

Krystina's Biggest Motivators

My biggest motivation is being able to have fun with my family. My kids and husband enjoy playing basketball and other sports, and now I have the energy and mobility to play with them. I am no longer a slave to my medical issues. Most of my symptoms are nearly completely gone without any medications and I have energy to enjoy life. I am on an upward trajectory, improving and growing daily.

At times, I’ll remember what I used to feel like before I exercised regularly (fatigued most of the time), and this memory keeps me on the right track because I don’t want to feel like I used to.

I have tried many different things and kept what worked and got rid of what didn't work. I set specific and high (yet attainable) goals and make a plan with specific steps to achieve them. I regularly take time to assess how my progress is coming along to see if changes are needed. I celebrate even small victories; every step counts.

I forgive myself if I take steps back or hit a plateau. I have a workout partner and we keep each other motivated, which is especially important when we feel like we’ve hit a dead end. She reminds me how far I’ve already come so I don’t need to be discouraged.

  I’ve been told that my story is an inspiration by many people. My friends say that I motivate them to exercise more. My husband is very proud of me and he has gotten back into weight training after taking some years off.  

Krystina's Advice for Others

Don’t try and copy someone else. Be creative in your own uniqueness. Explore different things that other people are doing and find what works best for you and your goals.

Please don’t give up if you aren’t progressing or if you slide back. This is a normal part of the process from time to time. Be patient.

Listen to your body and take a break, or re-evaluate your game plan if needed. Keep showing up, keep trying, and you will reach your goal. Keep your eye on the prize!

Crushing Her Goals At Home

Since coronavirus closed my gym, I have been working out at home, which has helped me explore different ways of working out.

It’s been challenging but fun. I’ve done a lot of bodyweight exercises during this time and I’m also working on improving my mile run time. I’ve never been a runner, so this is new for me.

I’m to planning to start Jim’s Super Shredded 8 At Home program next week, and I am looking forward to more gains!


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