How I Got This Body: Using My Fitness Instagram Account to Keep Me on Track While Losing 20 Pounds

All photographs courtesy Sarah Yudkin.

Welcome to How I Got This Body, our look at some of the amazing things the human body is capable of and the Washingtonians who put their bodies to the test. Want to share your transformation story? Email

Who I am: Sarah Yudkin (@sweatwithsarah_), 24, a Hilton account manager from Arlington

What inspired my change: Back in 2012, I began following Kayla Itsines on Instagram and was blown away by the transformation photos I saw on her page through her program, BBG. I was envious of the transformations I was seeing, but nonetheless, continued through four more years of fad dieting, binge eating, and yoyo dieting. There wasn’t one moment I can pinpoint which sparked this transformation. It was a collection of the days, weeks, and months that I spent feeling sorry for myself. I knew that I finally needed to make a real change. I was sick of my ‘diet starts Monday’ mentality where I’d eat anything and everything on the weekends while telling myself I’d get a clean start in the new week. More importantly, I was sick of not loving myself. After being inspired by so many of the transformations I’d seen from the BBG program, I decided to create a fitness Instagram in January and make a transformation of my own.”

How I transformed: I’ve lost 22 pounds and roughly 10 percent body fat throughout the last 20 months. My stamina and strength has improved tenfold. While my overall health has significantly improved, what is most noteworthy is my mental transformation—that is what I am most proud of. Before this journey, I went to the gym as punishment for eating poorly, whereas now it is a habit and natural part of my week. As my progress continued, I slowly realized that the number on the scale no longer controlled me like it used to, and I felt free from the old pressures I used to place on myself.”

How long it took: I think the most noticeable transformation is my 18-month progress. That said, my transformation is not over yet. I think it’s important to remember that when you make health and fitness a lifestyle, you have the opportunity to grow and transform for the rest of your life.”

Before this journey, I went to the gym as punishment for eating poorly, whereas now it is a habit and natural part of my week.

My exercise plan: For all of 2016, I was doing Kayla Itsines’ BBG guides. This consisted of six total workouts per week; three high intensity interval days a week (typically one leg day, one arm day, and one abs or full body day), and three-plus cardio sessions per week. In 2017, I have switched my routine up. I no longer follow a workout program, but make sure to get a sweat session in anywhere from three to six times a week. My workouts consist of anything and everything ranging from weight lifting in the gym to a boutique studio class.”

My healthy eating plan: My diet has improved dramatically over the last couple years. I try to ensure I am getting enough protein in my diet and supplement it with healthy fats and carbs. Some of my favorite meals throughout the work week include spaghetti squash marinara with grilled chicken and avocado (balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats) and ground turkey with taco seasoning, paired with a side of grilled zucchini and sweet potato fries. Oh and Halo Top ice cream—if you have not tried it yet, you’ll thank me later! The thing I enjoy most about my ‘diet’ is that it’s not a diet, it’s a balance of foods that will help me reach my goals and feel great, but also foods that I truly enjoy.”

How I feel now: “I am happier than I have ever been, and feel in control of my body and my choices. I respect my body and take care of it through exercise and healthy eating, but know when to relax and let loose. My relationship with food and my body image is infinitely better than it was two years ago, and I am so thankful for that.”

How I stuck to my goals: Getting involved with a community of like-minded people made all the difference for me. Through the friends I’ve made through my fitness account (many of which are local to DC/VA, many of which I have communicated with but never met in real life), I found a support system that has not failed me! It definitely helps to have people who are supporting your journey.”

One piece of advice: Be patient with yourself. While you may see initial results in a month, two months, even 6 months – remember this is the start of a lifestyle change, not just a quick fix. Like I said before, I have lost 22 pounds in 20 months, which only translates to one pound lost per month. Slow and steady wins the race.”

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.