Having health issues can affect our life and make us realize how important it is to take care of our bodies, inside and out. A year ago, I became severely sick after my appendix burst while on a trip to Mexico. I developed a blood infection called sepsis and was kept in the hospital there for over a week. My parents were extremely concerned, so was I. We feared the worst as my brother sadly died from sepsis when I was young.
A week later, as soon as I got better, I flew back to the United States. Only two weeks after returning home, I suffered from a second sepsis infection with massive abscess in my abdomen. Admitted urgently at NYU, I was bedridden with abdominal tubes for a month. Over that time I gained 35 lbs and my stomach muscles were atrophied.
Recovery and fitness
As soon as I recovered and got better, I set my mind to losing weight and rebuilding my muscle strength. I started slowly with pilates and then switched to a local high-intensity interval training (HIIT) studio in New York. It was a challenging journey to get back to a healthy body. Today I feel so grateful to be strong and healthy again. This major health challenge allowed me to get into fitness and also meet my boyfriend Ethan, a HIIT instructor and trainer, who worked hard with me to gradually improve muscle mass and re-shape my body.
Change does NOT come without effort. I strongly believe in setting goals such as beating personal records and benchmarking myself with my own previous results to grow and reach new limits.
I love to time myself holding a plank or a wall sit, counting the number of pushups or pull-ups while adding a little bit of time gradually. If I don’t hit my personal record, however, I don’t beat myself up. There is always tomorrow! At least moving and getting blood flow circulating is helpful. Drinking lots of water is always good, too.
My purpose is to enjoy life as much as possible. The key is finding an aspect of fitness that is enjoyable and creating new modifications so it doesn’t become monotonous!
Due to my internal clock and appetite, I’ve unintentionally started to do intermittent fasting. I found that it works well for me. Although I am not sure that it can be for everyone, we must simply listen to our body. I never deprive myself when I am hungry and don’t reach the point of becoming light-headed.
Cooking at home is easier in terms of knowing how many calories and what quality ingredients go into my foods. But if I do eat out and want to stay healthy, I LOVE steamed chicken and broccoli with brown sauce from asian restaurants.
Finding a yummy whey protein shake after a workout is also ideal. I like @insanelabz strawberries and cream whey protein for smoothies.
I absolutely love Caliloko. The compression of this brand is the next level. I own a pair of Oceanside Recovery Tights (love the green one) that I wear for after my workouts or to hang out in them; Santa Ana Camo Tights which I enjoy for their gentle support and wear the Yosemite Blue Active Tights for workouts to perform stronger when I focus on legs. It’s true athletic performance clothing AND fashionable. I feel sporty yet sexy in Caliloko. As for my typical “cutesy” gear - I also like Alo Yoga and Adam Selman Sport.
My tips to prepare your booty for the summer
While we all want great bodies for the summer, it’s so important to love ourself and be kind to the body. There is ALWAYS time to improve - it isn’t a speed race! Don’t compare yourself to other people or unhealthy instagram photos. Go by how YOU feel, inside and out.
Try and cut unnecessary things out of your diet. Cut back on dairy, carbs and bad fats. Find anything that motivates you (a person, a playlist, a mantra.) If you can’t work out with a friend in person, do a FaceTime workout! Try to move every day for at least 30 mins even if it’s only walking on those days where you feel too tired to do a full workout. Not only will it help you physically but also mentally, coming from someone who suffers from a lifetime of chronic depression and anxiety.
Home Work[out] with Caliloko
Most recently I’ve accepted to join Caliloko’s team of fitness trainers. I’ll soon be getting my certification as a trainer. It motivates me to start teaching now, even if it is virtually. It is another challenge but quite rewarding as I learn something new every time I go LIVE. Come and join my LIVE sessions, I like to focus on Glutes and Abs: Saturdays at 10 AM via @calilokosports LIVE. Follow me on Instagram as well @mollyaoconnell and even DM if you want to share your fitness goals. If you want to mark your calendar, simply click here and you will receive a reminder for my LIVE workouts. ♡
Molly O'Connell is a professional model in New York. Runner up on America’s next top model tv show cycle 16, participant in runway for project runway season 18, appearances on RHONY and Southern Charm Bravo tv shows and fitness enthusiast - current NASM cert student for training and group classes. 4 years pre-nursing at GSU. Molly had a health crisis last year that propelled her fitness journey. Her appendix burst in Mexico and it cascaded into a series of health problems. For this reason, she loves to share what she has found works for her. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.