My name is Ashley Monzon, and I’m 37 years old. I live in San Diego, California, and am a mom and a freelance trainer for OPTAVIA, a holistic health program that focuses on creating healthy habits. Before starting Program, I a personal trainer trying to prioritize my well-being routine. I was gaining weight and feeling overwhelmed. Eventually, with the help of OPTAVIA, I found the structure I needed to take small steps every day to continue with a healthy lifestyle.
Turned on and off for 10 years, I danced full time for a professional football team. Since training, practice, and staying in shape were part of my job, I generally did not struggle with a sense of confidence. But after 10 years, I turned off the pumps and started working as a certified personal trainer.
Despite everything I knew professionally, I had an all or nothing mentality that made it difficult to stick to any kind of treadmill. I was demonstrating exercises in client sessions but not leaving time aside to do my workouts. And when I actually made time for fitness, I would push myself beyond beyond effort. I also lost focus with my diet. When I ate prepared food or macro count, I lost a few pounds, but eventually I hit a plateau and felt stuck.
My health started to deteriorate and I started to get worse. I’m only 5’2 “, so every weight I gained made me feel aware. But even worse, as a personal trainer who is supposed to know exactly how to stay in shape, I lost my health and started to feel like a cheater.
I knew something had to change.
During this time, my brother had started OPTorVIA, a holistic health and well-being program that focuses on creating healthy habits. It includes prioritizing not only achieving a healthy weight, but also things like sleep, stress management and daily movement. Proper nutrition is also part of it OPTAVIA you have six controlled meals a day. Five of your six meals a day are OPTAVIA products, called Fuelings, which contain high quality complete proteins. (Think: bars, protein, pasta dishes, pancakes and cereals.) For your sixth meal, you cook what is called a Lean & Green meal with the ingredients you buy in the supermarket. These recipes consist of lean protein, non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats.
I saw my brother undergo a massive transformation – he lost 60 pounds * and was the happiest I had ever seen. With everything I had already gone through, I was skeptical that it would work for me, but I knew I needed a new approach to well-being – one with real change and structure. So in 2015, I decided to start my own OPTAVIA Travel. I hooked up with a trainer, and she helped me master small, achievable healthy habits and inspired me to keep improving my health one day at a time. (TBH, this was the component of this program that I did not know I needed.) Before working with it, I had been on an island trying to do everything myself and constantly feeling like I was failing. But my coach offered a change in perspective. She celebrated my small victories (like training for just 15 minutes instead of going through the gym completely), which gave me the confidence to build on those small changes. I felt amazing!
My husband and I then decided we wanted to start a family.
After undergoing two abortions, we were thankfully able to conceive for the third time. We had a healthy pregnancy and welcomed our son, who is now 16 months old and the love of our lives. But between miscarriages, pregnancy and postpartum life, I had gained about 45 pounds and was motivated to get back on track after recovering from my C-east surgery. So once again, I turned to him OPTAVIA. I was still implementing the lessons from the first time in the plan and eating small, frequent meals, but, like most people, my life changed drastically after the birth of a child. As a young mother facing the overwhelming task of making my health a priority, I felt lost again.
In the early days of motherhood, there were days I didn’t even know if I had brushed my teeth! So having a coach to check on was beyond help and I relied on the support and structure I know worked. She reminded me that I did not need to be perfect to make progress, and she cheered me on when I took steps in the right direction that kept me motivated.
I also relied on Fuelings and Lean & Green recipes to give me the food I needed. I like that the dishes are so light that even when my son crawls nearby, I can still get dinner at the table within 30 minutes. Also, having the structure of the program has been such a salvation.
Now that I have reached a healthy weight, here is what I usually eat a day:
- Breakfast: I actually have two breakfasts. I start my day with one OPTAVIA
Fuel (I like Chocolate Mint Bar or Caramel Macchiato Shake). Then, when my son wakes up, I have a toast omelette, granola yogurt or a smoothie.
- Lunch: A large salad with Roma lettuce, lots of vegetables and pre-cooked chicken.
- Snacks: Vegetables with humus or fruit.
- Dinner: or Weak & green meal (5 to 7 ounces of lean cooked protein, 3 servings of non-starchy vegetables and up to 2 servings of healthy fats). My favorite is Pizza with chicken crustwith
- Dessert: An apple with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter or another OPTAVIA Fuel. One of my favorites is the Brownie with Greek Yogurt Chips.
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(Here’s what you can expect to eat while you plan to lose weight, BTW.)
I lost 25 pounds in 4 months – and I learned to celebrate my big and small victories.
Losing weight after giving birth to my son has boosted my confidence, of course. But more importantly, this program has helped me build a healthy relationship with food and shifted my mindset all or nothing. Now I have the mantra, “progress on perfection” and I make my goals one small step at a time.
OPTAVIA has also given me the power to create a life that allows me to become the best version of myself, in order to give my best for my son, my husband, my family and friends.
Thanks to the tools integrated in this program, I have the mental stamina to overcome adversity, while also giving myself grace along the way. My son is learning to walk now. Watching it rise after it falls is a beautiful process that reminds me that I can always get up during my well-being journey. And while it is also full of progress and failure, it is a lifelong journey worth the effort.
* Average weight loss in the Optimal Weight Plan 5 & 1® is 12 pounds. Clients are on weight loss, on average, for 12 weeks.
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