Twenty-year-old Lucy Bergin's 6-month transformation has gone viral on TikTok and it's making us all put down the cookies and pick up our running shoes.
Read on for the whole story...
Now, the pandemic saw many of us gain a little weight and become increasingly grateful for our bodies to carry us through and keep us strong...
And after the world started moving again, we were all hankering to get our bodies active.
Well, over the last 6 months, personal trainer Lucy Bergin has been documenting her weight loss in a now-viral TikTok video that shows what half a year of eating right and exercise can do.
Starting in November of 2020, Bergin took a photo in front of a calendar in a maroon bikini.
The video shows her taking a photo every day in the same bikini with each day crossed off on the calendar right up until April of this year.
At the beginning of her journey, she weighed 168lbs, and at the end, she was 140lbs - a striking difference on her 4-foot and eleven-inch frame.
However, Bergin told TODAY that this wasn't her first time trying to slim down.
She explained how she had been overweight as a child and the weight began to creep back on during college.
"I struggled with a few things and life hit me really hard. I wasn't expecting it," said Bergin, who lives in Tampa, Florida.
"Growing up, I was homeschooled and so I didn't play any sports. I have siblings, but we didn't really do anything active and so I turned eating into an unhealthy habit. When I was feeling sad, I would eat."
When Bergin was eleven, she was diagnosed with scoliosis and had to wear a brace for 22 hours a day for a whole year.
By the time she was seventeen, Bergin weighed 215 pounds with a body mass index that put her firmly in the obese category. When she started working out, Bergin became certified as a personal trainer to make sure she wouldn't hurt herself, she said. Still, slimming down was a challenge.
"I've tried to lose weight over the years and I was never able to stay consistent with it," she noted.
When Bergin began training for a bodybuilding competition last fall, she saw other TikTok transformations and decided to create her own.
She explained to TODAY how she lost 28lbs in 6 months.
She said that while she spends almost every day at the gym lifting weights and doing cardio, there was a big focus on what she was putting into her body.
"It really did come down to my diet because you can't outwork (a bad) diet in the gym."
She explained what worked for her was consuming around 1,600 calories a day and meals consisted of things such as:
Breakfast: Oatmeal, protein powder, and blueberries with peanut butter mixed in.
Lunch: Chicken with vegetables and rice
Dinner: Salmon with asparagus and rice.
Snacks: Rice cake with peanut butter and a protein shake.
Bergin was adamant that no one plan will be successful for everyone and you have to figure out what works best for your body. She went on to explain that her best friend, Aly, lost a similar amount of weight by doing the Keto diet, while Bergin preferred to do a more carb and protein-focused diet.
The young woman also explained how many people fall into the trap of not eating enough.
its just so funny how tiktok motivates me to lose weight hahahahaha yes you red it right im losing weight for tiktok HAHAHHAA— hiace (@eys_twt) April 11, 2020
She explicated how many women make the mistake of eating too few calories - 1,200 (less than what a toddler eats!), which could send the body into starvation mode and make it hold onto fat as it doesn't know when it's going to be getting another meal.
"I was eating a lot more food actually during the 6-month challenge", she recalled.
She also described that exercise is still an important part of shifting the pounds.
Bergin's go-to exercise regime meant attending the gym 6 days a week, with each session being around 2-and-a-half hours a day for the first 3 months of the challenge. This included an hour of cardio and an hour-and-a-half of weight training.
"I was going extremely hardcore," she said. "I didn't have a job at the time so I had a lot of time on my hands."
She said she began to view the gym as she would brushing her teeth or taking a shower: a must-do task that had to be completed every day.
Finally, she expressed the importance of remembering you are not alone in your journey.
She said she gained a lot of motivation through her best friend who was also losing weight and training daily. Bergin ended by explaining how the impact of social media can leave you feeling like you're on your own and the fitness models have always been that way.
"We decided to help other girls know that they're not alone and know that they're never at a place where it's too late to start to put themselves first," said Bergin, who has gained about 10 pounds since the end of the viral video.
"I didn't know that we'd be able to touch so many people and it makes me want to cry."
Nutritionist Victoria Bell explained why we all gained a couple of extra pounds during those stressful lockdown months.
"There is a physiological reason why we've all succumbed to a fair amount of comfort eating, and perhaps pushed our average alcohol intake up over the past few months. When we're under immense stress or anxiety, we can spend a great deal of our time in fight or flight mode, which is also known as operating within our sympathetic nervous system (SNS)," she explained on her website.
"Your brain, exhausted by the stressful event that you may have been going through, is unconsciously told by your SNS that a threat is still there and that it needs to stay alert. So it will look for the quickest fix of energy in the form of sugar or carbohydrate-rich foods such as pizza, bread, crisps, and chips, all coincidentally containing salt."
She says how the loss of physical contact we all had to endure also made us reach for the cake.
The lack of physical contact, which would normally stimulate the release of oxytocin, the love or bonding neurotransmitter, leaves our mood a little lower with some even feeling depressed.
"So now, you have a drop in your moods for more prolonged periods, even when you're not in the grip of an acute negative emotion such as fear or panic. We soon find ourselves looking for artificial highs in the form of sugar, alcohol, and caffeine."
"Take your time and don't put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect all the time. Having room for a little of what you class as "treats" in moderation is the best way to move towards a more balanced diet without feeling like you've failed every time you eat something that isn't 100% healthy. One change at a time will get you to those goals, and you will start to feel better in yourself as you make more healthy habits part of your lifestyle. You've got this."