How fitness trainer Erin Oprea transformed her body composition at age 44

After a lifetime dedicated to fitness — 27 years of personal training, nine years in the Marine Corps and two years in Iraq — I never imagined my personal strength transformation journey would begin at 45.

I started personal training at age 18 (I’m a Nashville-based celebrity personal trainer and founder of beautiful muscles fitness app), and my fitness philosophy has been very simple: Learn to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle that you can always maintain. Fitness is not a crash course. You can learn to love life while working on being your best self. slow and steady wins the race.

I’ve always been stable. I have never participated in fitness competitions. I never had any goals to transform my own body — that is, until a series of injuries inspired me to embark on a major strength transformation journey.

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In November 2020, I had surgery on my left heel pad, which suddenly separated from the middle of my foot without any explanation.

it was horrible. To treat it, I went for stem cell therapy and did three platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy sessions. Also fat was injected into the heel pad to help. Then, in June 2021, I tore my ACL for the third time. In September of that year, I tore my ACL while rehabilitating from my previous surgery. However, this time I also broke my knee cap in two. I was going from surgery, to surgery, to surgery. (Plus, I had a boob lift too!)

For about a year, my multiple injuries meant I didn’t do any cardio. I was still weight training six days a week, but I was also going through perimenopause (the stage before menopause when your body starts to transition) — so my body was going through a lot. But I didn’t decide to make a big change until one night my son Hunter asked me a question. It was the question that would start my personal strength journey, challenging me to build lean, strong muscle and get back to where I was before the injury.

My son asked me a simple question: Would I like to run a half marathon with him? I knew I couldn’t live with a “no” answer.

After four ACL tears, a torn knee cap and pins in my knee, I was told I would never run again. I was (and probably always will be) in physical therapy when I decided to start my journey. My 22-year-old son came to me at the end of June 2022 and asked if I wanted to run a half marathon with him, I said, “Man, I can’t run anymore. I’m out.”

But later that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I told her, “I can’t run.” I used to be a runner, I used to do marathons. Running has always been a big part of my life.

I’ve never been a massive person and I prefer to focus on how I look and feel, but I wanted to be able to run in that half marathon with my son, I was back there I wanted to go where I was before, and I wanted to get stronger and leaner too.

So, the next morning I woke up, and I got on a treadmill. “Let’s see if I can’t Run,” I said. I told myself to run three-quarters of a mile and see how it felt. I finished that short jog, and I felt amazing.

I took things slow and steady but didn’t give up.

I took a day off before attempting to run the full mile. Then, I ran 1.5 miles, then two miles…I told myself, “If I can run seven miles and still feel good, I’m going to do a half marathon.”

Once I realized I could win these short runs, I was on a mission. To prepare, I built up to running six to 10-miles five days per week, while continuing my strength training 6 days a week. I wasn’t running for time, I was running for distance.

In October of 2022, I ran my first half marathon in years.

After completing my run, I wanted a new target to zero in on. So I embarked on a strength journey, where I also adjusted my diet to change my body composition.

This meant, for me personally, going from an average of around 3,000 calories a day to between 2,000 and 2,100 calories a day — but I still made sure I had *plenty* of fuel for my workouts. (USDA guidelines recommend a range for women between 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day). I also cut my starch intake in half. (Work with a nutritionist to find a calorie intake that best suits your needs.)

While I don’t use anything specific to track what I eat, I do eat the same thing about 99.9 percent of the time. Breakfast, lunch, dinner – everything is exactly the same.

Pre breakfast:

  • 20-30 oz water
  • AG1 supplement powder
  • Black coffee with almond milk, cinnamon and 2 scoops of collagen
  • 1/2 peanut butter protein bar.

Breakfast:

  • Crockpot Steel Cut Oats are made with water, and topped with blueberries, strawberries, and cinnamon
  • 6 egg whites

Breakfast:

  • Chocolate Protein Shake with Water and PB2

lunch:

afternoon snack:

  • Vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, broccoli)
  • Jalapeno Honey Hummus

dinner:

  • Sweet Green Kale Mix
  • Poppy Seed Dressing
  • Walnut
  • ½ pound ground turkey

late night snack:

  • ¼ pound ground turkey with coconut aminos
erin oprea

Erin Oprea is on a body transformation journey.

Carla Lynn’s Photography

Since I’m bent over, my muscles aren’t necessarily visible, but you can see them in a more defined way. And I can run like a MOFO—that’s what I’m really proud of.

I’m seeing results in my running times. I have reduced my mileage, and either run three to four miles a day, or I jump rope for 30 to 45 minutes. Now, my goal is to get my speed back and hit my Marine Corps running time.

I test myself every week, and last week, I hit 21 minutes and 20 seconds during a three-mile run. For context, when I first started running again, I was clocking three miles in 29 minutes—I’m really proud of how far I’ve already come! My goal is 20 minutes and 15 to 20 seconds, so I’m getting there.

Living a very structured life has helped me achieve my goals.

Everything is on a schedule, and I love it. I’m very active throughout the day, from 4 in the morning until bedtime (which is usually around 8:30 p.m., but has been closer to 10 p.m. lately). I usually fit in 20,000 to 25,000 steps each day. I’ve also always been big into stretching and foam rolling, and I Always Use my Theragun.

For fun, my husband and I go dancing on Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. One of my favorite DJs plays at a bar on Broadway, and we get home before dark.

My strength transformation helped my health and perimenopause journey.

The best thing about my transformation has been the impact on my perimenopause journey. I used to have massive vomit-inducing cramps. But three months after my trip, I realized that I was having regular periods without any side effects, which is amazing. I have zero pain and zero cramping in my breast.

I have also noticed a reduction in inflammation. I’ve been battling tendonitis in both elbows- sometimes I can’t even hold my phone because my elbows hurt so much. I attribute this to cutting down on starches and being more disciplined about food sensitivities like yeast (which I tested). My body just feels good. In fact, my joints feel better now than they did when I was 30.

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Going forward, I want to keep where I am—I feel like a million bucks right now.

My energy level is high – and everything is great. I’ve rediscovered my love of rollerblading!

I want other women to feel that if you want it badly enough, you can do it. And at *any* age. People are very quick to find excuses and then they don’t get results. this is easy? No, but is it worth it? Absolutely.

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