• Take pictures, take pictures, take pictures!


    •How long have you been on this journey?

    I’ve been EM2WL for about a year. I recently started my official “bulk” – eating at a surplus, with limited cardio, and weight training as my primary focus – in August 2013.

    •When did you first learn that you needed to eat more to reach your goals? What was your original response?

    I learned this last year after reading some of my MFP friends posts about TDEE. I was actually eating below my TDEE for a few months but didn’t know it. (I was eating approximately 1400-1600 calories daily, depending on my workout, but I should have been somewhere around 1950 calories.) I was nervous to increase my calories, especially since I still had about 10-15 more lbs to lose. But the risk of compromising my metabolism, plus I found myself getting hungrier, made me increase my calories. I did it slowly though, as I was very cautious. Each month, I increased my calories by 100 until I hit 2000. I continued to lose weight until I hit 2000, which was perfect for me because by that point, I had reached my weight loss goal and I was at maintenance.fitness

    • How did others around you act about your decision to discard the usual low cal methods for weight loss?

    As I increased my calories from about 1600 to 2000 many of my close friends and MFP friends followed suit, especially when they saw that I was still losing weight. They experienced similar results. Now with my decision to bulk, I received mixed responses. Even split with health conscious folks – some gave me the “more power to you, but no way I’m trying that because I refuse to see the scale go up,” while others, primarily those that are about this weight lifting life, agreed “it’s the way to go if you want to put on muscle and transform your body.” Everyone was shocked to see me indulging in bread regularly!


    •How did your body react to the initial increase in cals?

    Gains! In the gym and on the scale. My energy during my workouts skyrocketed. My bootcamp instructor noticed it immediately; I was able to keep up with the “stars” in the class. I was able to lift heavier and my endurance increased. I gained 1.25 lbs steadily for the first 2 months and went up a size in pants. Going into month three; the weight gain has stalled a bit.


    •What results have you seen from sticking to it and “trusting the process?”

    fitnessThe biggest change has honestly been my overall mood. Along with the increase in calories, I changed my macros. I used to carb cycle so my macros were 20c/40p/40f with 1-2 days a week where I would double my carb intake to about 200g (instead of the usual 70-100g). With the increase in carbs, came an increase in serotonin. And while I’m not doing a “dirty” bulk; I’m not as strict with my eating as I have been in the past (I was following paleo/primal), which has taken a lot of the stress out of eating, especially when I’m at a restaurant with my family and/or friends. So, overall, I’m a much happier person; my family and co-workers have even noticed it. People actually like to go out to eat with me now. We can all indulge in bread together!

    The second biggest change I have seen is my body. When I lose weight I tend to look “straight” and immediately lose what little curves I have. Now my curves are accentuated and my muscles, particularly my biceps, are bigger. My shoulders are also more pronounced. I can’t fit any of my cap sleeve shirts now. And I love it. My quads are bigger than ever. And I finally have a tush!

    •Can you describe your typical weekly workout schedule and a sample day of meals (or macros)?

    fitnessI weight train 4-5 days a week with about 2 hours of cardio per week and eat about 2300-2500 calories on average, loosely following Tosca Reno’s eat clean plan. Macros 40c/30p/30f

    Typical workout schedule
    Monday – Back and Cardio (Kickboxing)
    Tuesday – Chest and Shoulders
    Wednesday – Legs
    Thursday – Biceps and Triceps and Core (Jillian Michael’s 30 minute ab workout)
    Friday – Rest Day
    Saturday – Boot Camp (45-50 minute full body circuit workouts with weights, 5-10 minutes warm-up/cool down/stretching)
    Sunday – Rest Day

    Sample day of eating

    1 C Oats with blueberries and walnuts
    4 egg whites
    1 slice nitrate free bacon

    1 oz planters mixed nuts

    6-8 oz grilled chicken breast seasoned with Mrs. Dash fiesta lime seasoning
    1 C sautéed kale with sliced garlic and ½ TBSP olive oil
    1 medium baked yam with cinnamon

    1 medium granny smith apple with 1 TBSP all natural peanut butter or almond butter
    1 hardboiled egg

    fitnessSnack (pre-workout meal)
    Ezekiel English muffin with 1.5 TBSP cream cheese and ½ TBSP low sugar smuckers strawberry preserves

    Snack (post-workout meal)
    2 scoops protein powder mixed with 3 C baby spinach, ½ C vanilla unsweetened almond milk

    6 oz ground turkey mixed with celery, peppers, taco seasoning, kidney beans, shrimp
    ½ C marinara sauce
    1 medium baked yam with cinnamon

    Chocolate chip cookie dough Quest Bar
    In the spirit of transparency, on the weekends and during my TOM, my nutrition isn’t as clean as I’d like:

    • fitnessBreakfast is usually gluten free protein pancakes with dark chocolate chips, butter, and 100% maple syrup or IHOP pancakes or a Dunkin Donuts croissant with egg and cheese with a glazed sour cream donut
    • Lunch may be a bacon cheeseburger with ketchup and pickles and sweet potato fries with bbq sauce (Red Robin, Chili’s, or TGI Friday’s)
    • Dinner is usually pizza (local pizzeria or Pizza Hut) or shrimp fried rice with a shrimp roll (Chinese local takeout) with a cup of Breyer’s butter pecan ice cream and two (warm) Mrs. Field’s semi-sweet chocolate cookies for dessert

    I have no issues going to the gym and getting my workouts in; in fact, I have to make sure I keep track of my workouts to make sure I take 2 rest days. I would have no problem working out 7 days a week (but we all know muscles grow during rest periods so I make sure I rest 1-2 days a week, sometimes three if I’m suffering from DOMS). Nutrition is where I struggle and work to improve on a daily basis.

    fitness•So…what led to the bulking decision?

    After the birth of my third child who is currently 21 months (my twins are 8 years old), I gained 70 lbs. I lost all the baby weight and dropped down from a size 16 to a size 4. I was content with my size but not my body composition. Even though I was size four, I was still 26% body fat and really didn’t have much muscle definition. So, I decided to bulk in an effort to gain muscle and muscle definition and increase my strength. I also decided to bulk because the carb cycling was making me crazy. I was excited to switch my macros, making complex carbs my highest macro percentage.


    •What changes are you hoping to see from bulking?

    muscle, muscle, muscle!

    •What are your biggest bulking fears?fitness

    gaining too much fat in my midsection and not enough muscle everywhere else

    •Do you have a specific look you would like to attain, or are inspired by?

    My Fitspo?
    Alicia Harris
    Katie Chung Hua
    Lindsay Kaye Miller
    Britney Spears (MTV Awards 2000)
    Ruthie Bowles
    Kiki <what’s your last name?

    Ultimate personal goal would be 18% body fat

    •Any parting words of encouragement to those who are new to eating more, or struggling with the decision of whether or not to fuel properly?


    I’m one of those people that love to try different eating plans, fitness workouts, etc. to see what works for my body and how my body will respond. Everyone is different; therefore, our bodies will respond differently to eating plans, macros, and workouts. If you were willing to try low-carb, low-cal, primal, paleo, etc. and were unsuccessful, you might as well as try the EM2WL method and see how your body responds. Do research, connect with other EM2WL folks, and ask questions! And once you start, before you decide to abort the process, give yourself 2-3 months to adjust/respond and take notice to the changes. Take pictures, take pictures, take pictures – before and after! You will be surprised and pleased with the way your body transforms and the gains that you will make in the gym. And if you’re not happy with it, try something else and keep trying/tweaking until you find the plan that works for YOU.

    •Thanks SO much for your time! How can our readers hear from/see more of you?

    IG – http://instagram.com/erikasagekelley


    Have an EM2WL transformation to share? Willing to let us tag along on your journey? We’d love to see it! Be featured on our Transformation/Journey page by submitting your story to Success@EM2WL.com




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10 Responsesso far.

  1. Thanks, Megan and Kelle! : )

  2. Joan says:

    A Simply spectacular transformation!! You rock my dear!!

  3. Kelle Thorpe says:


    I have been following this site and on Instagram for a few months now. Although I have no interest or motivation to workout, I try to stick with it and do “fun” stuff like Dance DVDS. I eat healthy overall. However, I don’t get the results I would like. Now amittedly, I could definitely work out a little more, but I also think I don’t eat enough. My problem is since I am very ignorant when it comes to all of this, I have no clue what’s the appropriate balance in a meal plan to bulk. Does the start-up kit come with a meal plan and workout guide? Yes I need someone to tell me exactly what I should eat and what exercises I should do….LOL

    • EM2WL says:

      The starter kit covers the basics of why you need to eat more, and the dangers of not doing so. It tells you how much you, personally, should be eating, explains the metabolism reset, determining if you need one, and how to go about it. It gives guidelines, macronutrient ratios, and suggested foods for increasing cals appropriately, but does not give an exact meal plan because EM2WL is all about using the foods that fit your lifestyle and goals. Making it fit your own lifestyle preferences is key to being able to stick with it for the long haul. If it feels like something you can only do temporarily, it will be. Free workout plans are available on this site, but it sounds as if lifting is not your thing right now? Perhaps alternating a lifting DVD with your dance DVDs to help promote the changes you seek. You definitely want to keep your fun items in there, but those (alone) will not bring the physique changes that you seem to desire. ;)

  4. Megan B. says:

    I have been reading and keeping up with Lucia and Kiki on My Fitness Pal for the last year or so, but have yet to actually eat to my TDEE cut! I love reading thses stories and realized that if nothing else has worked for me, I need to really focus on EM2WL knowing that I am feeding my body what it needs. Just like she says I need to really focus on nutrition, I could go to the gym every day if needed..it’s the clean eating part that needs work!

  5. Thanks so much, Jamie! That means a lot. Especially coming from you. Hope when I cut, I’m left with abs like you : )

  6. Jamie Brunner says:

    Love this!! You have done your homework Erica. You know what your body needs and when it needs it. I have loved seeing you drop the weight right into maintenance and following you on your bulking journey. You are having awesome results. I envy your braveness to enter into a serious bulking phase in order to build that sexy muscle!! Cannot wait to watch you cut!

  7. Totally humbled – thank you so much. And I have no doubt you will reach your goals. Consistency and patience is key. Can’t wait to see your results!

  8. WOW! Seriously THE best transformation story I’ve read ..and I’ve read a lot of FAB-ulous ones. You look terrific. Happy, strong and SLEEK. love how you shared a ” day in the life” with your food. That’s keeping it Real. When I read this, I KNOW I can get to my ultimate level of sleekness if I put in the extra work in the gym and keep my food in line with increased training. Anyone can. Gotta want it and BRING IT! ultimately it’s about what u want and choosing to change some things up. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to follow up on IG. I’m GetWithItJEN