Name: Caroline O'Toole
Location: New York, New York
Why I decided to transform
I decided to transform because I reached a point where I was crawling in my own skin. I was lightly active as a recreational soccer player during high school but paid no mind to nutrition and didn't follow a structured exercise regimen. I didn't look or feel healthy.
I hopped on and off the fitness bandwagon for years and stocked up on women's fitness magazines for motivation, but it only lasted for two weeks at best. A few weeks after high school graduation, I reflected on the changes that came about when I left for college.
The following fall, I was at a new school with new people to meet, places to go, things to learn, and experiences to have. I wanted to use my fresh start to become the best version of myself. On July 1, 2012, I took progress photos and decided to change my life.
How I accomplished my goals
For the first month, I did at-home workouts with online videos and started eating clean. The videos were based on interval training with plyometric movements, Pilates, and yoga. I had fun doing the workouts and believe that was the kicker to make exercise stick. I wasn't slaving away on an elliptical; I was moving my body with dynamic exercises that kept training interesting.
I started running after the first month of at-home workouts, following in the footsteps of my father, who's a triathlete, runner, and NYC Marathon finisher. I was a passionate and determined runner for the duration of my freshman year of college. When I came home that summer and got a job at a gym, my training went up a gear.
Although running helped me lose fat, it also burned lots of muscle. I loved running but put my hobby to rest in the best interest of goals. A few trainers at work showed me how to perform basic compound movements and I went home that night and researched weight training routines on Bodybuilding.com.
Packing away my running shoes and entering the weight room was the hardest obstacle to overcome during my journey. I quit the cardio-bunny lifestyle cold turkey and lifted six days per week. It was a difficult decision, but it was one of the best choices I ever made.
I took my dedication to the next level in April 2014 when I competed in my first NPC bikini competition. Being on stage and feeling comfortable knowing that I put every ounce of effort and determination into my physique was one of my proudest moments. I plan to relive that moment in the future.
I credit a great deal of motivation to social media, specifically Instagram. I started my account at the beginning of my lifting journey to connect with others going down the same path. I also learned new recipes and got lifting tips from like-minded people around the world.
I went from barely being able to rep out one squat with the bar to squatting 185 pounds consistently. My aim is to be a better, stronger, and faster version of myself.
What aspect challenged me the most
Making the switch from cardio bunny to weight training was the most challenging aspect. I watched many people on social media and blogs achieve phenomenal results with heavy lifting and minimal cardio. It looked like they truly enjoyed the process, so I had nothing to lose. Taking the risk was a leap of faith that paid off big time.
My future fitness plans
I plan to compete in NPC bikini with the possibility of crossing into figure. I also found a passion for weightlifting and want to pursue my strength goals and set new PRs.
Suggestions for aspiring transformers
I tried Pilates, yoga, running, boxing, CrossFit, and powerlifting. At the end of the day, consistency was the key to achieve my goals. If you do something you love, you'll be consistent and continue to pursue your passion.
How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals
When I first started weightlifting, Bodybuilding.com was my guide. It's where I learned the basic moves and gained knowledge necessary to construct my first lifting split. The articles and recipes keep my routine fresh and interesting. It's my go-to shop for protein and supplements.
Caroline's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Riot Rhythm" by Sleigh Bells
- "Power" by Kanye West
- "Survival" by Eminem
- "Antidote" by Swedish House Mafia vs Knife Party
- "Born For This" by Paramore