Meet Ashley: Two Year Fitness Journey to Reshape Her Body
What kicks off a life change? Is it motivation? Is it being fed up? Is it a promise to yourself? Ashely Walsh figured just how powerful a combination of all three could be. Two years ago, right round New Years, she said to herself “I’m going to actually do this. This will be the last year that my resolution will be to lose weight”. And that's exactly what she's done. On her own terms and in her own way, Ashley moved #upwardalways.
Introduce yourself a bit.
I’m Ashley Astrella. I moved to Maui 7 years ago from South Carolina. I work at an incredible Italian restaurant where I am literally surrounded by amazing food and sweets all day. I’ve been married for almost 3 years and my husband is into fishing and not into working out at all. During my free time, you can almost always find me hiking or at the beach with my dog, Maaji.
When do you first start out on this fitness journey? What brought you to that place?
I had gotten into hot yoga in 2015 but my real journey into fitness didn’t begin until 2016. All the gals at work were standing around talking about New Years Resolutions and, as usual, we all wanted to lose weight. I remember saying to myself “I’m going to actually do this. This will be the last year that my resolution will be to lose weight”. I joined “Yoga with Adrienne” for her annual Yoga Bootcamp. Learning to commit and show up for myself every day was THE most important thing I have learned through my whole journey. Better than motivation, I learned to be disciplined. After I finished the program, I found a free 5-day FitnessBlender challenge on YouTube and completed it. Then I did another one, and another until the next thing I knew, I had been working out for 3 weeks straight. From there, I purchased one of their month-long programs. I took my first year of working out one month at a time. I did it all at home on my own with just a few sets of dumbbells. In case you’re curious, my resolution this year has been to replace anything I use up with something 100% organic and natural.
How do you stay motivated after two years?
This is such a tough question for me because I don’t actually consider myself to be motivated. I can be very stubborn and focused when I want something so that’s what kept me going in the beginning. Now, its habit. A little trick I use is to never have set rest days. I only workout 5 days a week so if I have a day off and just want to lay on the couch and binge watch “New Girl” I can without any guilt because I can get back at it the next day.
What are you most proud of?
Losing body fat while gaining muscle at the same time. I had a body scan done in January of 2017 and found I was almost 29% body fat and considered to be in the “obese” category. I was only 124 lbs and had been working my butt off for a year so it was devastating. In the beginning of this year, despite having only a 5 pound loss, I had another scan done. My reading showed I was 21%. I had surpassed the “normal” range and moved into the “strong type”. We compared my 2 scans and found I had lost 9 pounds of fat and gained 4 pounds of muscle. Once I was alone in my car, I actually cried. Having it on paper that all the craziness I had been through over 2 years had actually worked was the most amazing feeling.
Why post so frequently on social media?
It’s purely selfish. When I have rough days I flip through and can see the progress I’ve made. I don’t have a separate fitness account because I figure my workouts are just as much me as are my beach days or date nights. Most of my fitness stuff is in my stories and its usually me flexing and grinning like a fool or sharing some fun foods. The “Queen Team”
also had a private Facebook page and we all post there quite a lot for advice.
How does the Queen Team keep you motivated?
Living in Hawaii I’m always “behind” which means when I wake up most girls have already finished the workout. The first thing I do every morning is check my Instagram Stories and the girls recapping the workout gets me so excited to take it on. That’s been huge for me, actually. Some nights when the workout looks really good it feels like trying to sleep on Christmas Eve.
Have you ever gotten any haterade?
Yes, but not on social media. A close male coworker said he liked me better before. In his words “not when you were chubby, but when you first started and were skinny, not with muscles”. I died laughing and said “Thank goodness my hubby isn’t intimidated by a strong woman”.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
What doesn’t challenge you, won’t change you! It’s a cheesy quote you see every where but it’s true. Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. Your mind is not nearly as strong as your body so when you want to quit do a check-in with your body. I will ask myself “am I in actual pain/at risk of getting hurt or is this just really hard?” I can think of 3 specific Alexia Clark workouts where I may have cried a little but I didn’t quit!
What would you do differently in hindsight?
I was very hard on myself in the beginning. I had days where I would cry
because my stomach wasn’t perfectly flat yet. Only very recently have I realized how unimportant the look of our bodies really is. I was chatting with my hubby and said “Why do I need abs? I’m not a fitness model. They won’t make me a better person or even happier.” I never ever want to look back and regret missing out on all the fun life stuff like drinking beer on vacation or having dessert with dinner just to chase a “perfect” body. Now I focus on what my body can do more than what it looks like.
For more realistic approaches to fitness, follow Ashley on her Insta @ashleyastrella. Plus she posts pics of her adorbs pup in his natural habitat of Hawaii.