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

I started personal training at 18 years old(I am a Nashville-based celebrity personal trainer and founder of Pretty Muscles fitness app), and my fitness philosophy has been pretty simple: Learn to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle that you can maintain forever. Health is not a crash course. You can learn to love life while working on creating the best you. Slow and steady wins the race.

I’ve always stayed steady. I’ve never competed in fitness competitions. I never had a goal to change my own body—that is, until a series of injuries led me to start a big strength transformation journey.

A post shared by Erin Oprea (@erinoprea)

In November 2020, I had surgery on my left heel pad, which had suddenly separated down the middle on my foot with no explanation.

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

For about a year, my many injuries meant I had done no cardio. I was still weight training six days a week, but I was also going through perimenopause (the phase before menopause as your body starts to transition)—so my body was going through a lot. But I didn’t decide to make a big change until I was spurred by a question my son, Hunter, asked me one night. It was a question that would jump start my personal strength journey, challenging me to build lean, strong muscle and get back to where I was pre-injury.

A post shared by Erin Oprea (@erinoprea)

My son asked me a simple question: whether I wanted to run a half marathon with him. I knew I couldn’t live with an answer of “no.”

After four ACL tears, a broken knee cap, and pins in my knee, I was told I would never run again. I was in physical therapy (and probably always will be) when I decided to start my journey. My 22-year-old son came to me in late 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 had told him, “I can’t run.” I used to be a runner, I used to do marathons. Running had always been a huge part of my life.

A post shared by Erin Oprea (@erinoprea)

I have never been a big scale person and prefer to focus on how I look and feel, but I wanted to be able to run that half marathon with my son, I wanted to get back to where I was before, and I wanted to get stronger and leaner too.

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

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

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

Once I realized I could conquer these shorter runs, I was on a mission. To prepare, I built up to running six to 10-mile runs, 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.

A post shared by Erin Oprea (@erinoprea)

After I accomplished my race, I wanted a new goal to zero in on. So I started a strength journey, where I also adjusted my diet to shift my body composition.

That meant, for me personally, going from an average of about 3,000 calories per day to between 2,000 and 2,100 calories—but I still made sure I had *plenty* of fuel for my workouts. (USDA guidelines recommended a range for women between 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day). I also cut my starch intake by half. (Work with a nutritionist to figure out a calorie consumption that fits your needs.)

A post shared by Erin Oprea (@erinoprea)

While I don’t use anything specific to track what I’m eating, I eat the same thing pretty much 99.9 percent of the time. Breakfast, lunch, dinner—everything is exactly the same.


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


  • Crockpot steel cut oats made with water, and topped with blueberries, strawberries and cinnamon
  • 6 egg whites

Morning snack:

  • Chocolate protein shake with water and PB2


  • Cut Da Carb Delicious Low Carb Flatbread with two eggs, four egg whites, a slice of pepperjack cheese, and veggies

Afternoon snack:

  • Veggies (peppers, mushrooms, broccoli)
  • Jalapeño honey hummus


  • Sweet Green Kale Mix
  • Poppyseed dressing
  • Walnuts
  • ½ pound ground turkey

Late-night snack:

  • ¼ pound ground turkey with coconut aminos

Since I’ve leaned out, my muscles aren’t necessarily bigger, 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 time. I’ve decreased my mileage, and either run three to four miles a day, or I do 30 to 45 minutes of jump rope. Now, my goal is to get my speed back and to hit my Marine Corp 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 doing three miles in 29 minutes— I’m really proud of how far I’ve come already! My goal is 20 minutes and 15 to 20 seconds, so I’m getting there.

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

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

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

My strength transformation helped with my health and perimenopause journey.

The coolest thing about my transformation has been the impact on my perimenopause journey. I used to have massive, puke-inducing cramps. But three months into my journey, I recognized that I was getting regular periods without side effects, which is amazing. I have had zero boob soreness and zero cramps.

I’ve also noticed reduced inflammation. I’ve struggled with tendonitis in both elbows–sometimes I can’t even hold my phone because my elbows hurt so badly. I credit this with cutting down on starches and being more disciplined about my food sensitivities like yeast (which I had tested). My body just feels good. In fact, my joints feel better now than they did when I was 30.

Moving forward, I’d like to maintain where I am—I feel like a million bucks right now.

My energy levels are high—and everything is great. I’ve even rediscovered my love of rollerblading!

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

Source: Read Full Article