Pilates for Toning Your Body

As many of you already know, I lost 150 pounds in 11 months and have kept it off for over 6 years now. What many of you don’t know is that during my weight loss journey I didn’t exercise… at all!

I’ll touch on the importance (or lack thereof) of exercise in weight loss later in this article, but let’s talk about how to tone up your new healthy body after your weight loss, or even better, while you’re on your weight loss journey.

I’ve recently become a Pilates fanatic, and I’m currently writing a 6 part series of articles on the exercise. I’ve touched on Pilates for Stress and Anxiety and Pilates for Pain Relief so far, but this week I want to talk about something more fun.

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Best aerobic exercises to reduce belly fat

Building abs, strong arms (that famous trainers complement you on!) and toned legs that make you feel confident in that bathing suit. Let’s dive in, and tone up our bodies…

The equation of losing weight

Chances are you’ve heard the equation of 70/30 so far. Weight loss is 70% what you eat and 30% exercise, and Lose Weight by Eating is a testament to that.

Thousands of readers who couldn’t exercise have lost weight and kept it off just by hitting the kitchen, instead of the gym.

Exercise is great, I’m not knocking it… but what I want to stress here is that you have to eat healthy if you want that scale to move. And by “healthy” I mean all natural wholesome food. You can find 100’s of recipes here on our website, and in my best selling all natural comfort food cookbook Lose Weight by Eating.

Now that we’ve gotten the math out of the way, let’s talk about what exercise is good for. Exercise is key for overall health, toning up your body, living longer, feeling more confident, building strength… I could go on and on.

No doubt, exercise is important… just don’t expect it to do all the weight loss work for you!

My experience with using Pilates for toning my body

Audrey Johns Pilates Pose

After a 150 pound weight loss I needed to tone up. Pilates helped me turn my newly thin body to a lean, tone body.

Building strength and confidence

I started Pilates to build strength and gain more mobility, I suffer from a nerve disease called CRPS/RSD. After months of being bed ridden I found pain relief, mobility and strength with Pilates. Thanks to Pilates I’m currently in remission. More on my Pilates for Pain Relief journey here.

Pilates has given me so much strength and confidence. Wanna go on a tough hike? I’m in… Need someone to help you carry something heavy and I’ll roll up my sleeves. I stand taller (well, I’m 5ft 3” so tall for me) and have more confidence in my late 30’s than I ever did in my teens and 20’s!

Building muscles and toning up

A few weeks ago my daughter asked her Daddy “what are abs?” and his response was “ask mommy to show you hers!”

Yep, I have abs… and I’m so proud of them!

A few months ago Bob Harper complimented me on my buff “Pilates Arms”… yeah, the Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser! I’m buff, but Pilates creates long, lean muscles, and dare I say it I actually look taller. No I did not “grow” but I do look taller and leaner thanks to Pilates.

What have all these muscles done for my overall body? They have toned me up, big time!

After a weight loss journey there is always (and prepare to get uncomfortable here) a bit of sagginess. I know, we don’t want to talk about it, but it is part of the deal.

Many people have asked me (well, usually whispered to me) “what about extra skin after weight loss?” I always give a list of tips, and at the forefront is always EXERCISE! Muscles pull it all up, tighten everything and highlight a toned physique.

Better posture and overall health

Pilates also helps your posture, which sounds like it won’t tone you up… but it does! Sit taller and you’ll look leaner, stand taller and you will look slimmer. Pilates has taught me better posture, which helps your muscles engage all day long and tone you up.

How do you like the thought of firming up your tummy while you sit at your desk, or your legs while you wait in line at the store? Pilates teaches you better posture and more body awareness so you look thinner, and while you do that the muscles also tone you up.

Of course we all know that exercise promotes better health. What I love about Pilates most is that it’s an all body workout, and by all I mean your body and mind. Pilates uses breath technique, similar to yoga. So you’re also strengthening your lungs and challenging your brain.

All the stretching and exercise that comes with Pilates hits all the big and the little muscles, including the muscles around the joints giving you a stronger body and better movement.

Other ways to tone up after weight loss

Pilates Water

I’ve tried it all to help firm up, and my magic combination is: Pilates, firming food, lots of water, dry brushing, and a good daily firming cream. Work some of these into your daily life and watch your body tone up.

Drink Water!

Drinking more water is key to healthy, firmer skin. Drinking water will flush your body of toxins and gives you a more youthful glow. Keeping your skin moisturized from within will promote firmer, more radiant skin.

Try adding some of the fruits highlighted below to your water, try out some of my Infused Water Recipes to add more firming fruits to your water.

Firming Food

Did you know certain foods can actually help you firm up?

Not kidding, try working some of these ingredients into your diet:

  • Citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes)
  • Vitamin C fruits (berries, cantaloupe, pineapple, apricots, guava, papaya and kiwi)
  • Peppers (bell peppers and jalapenos)
  • Cruciferous Veggies (broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage)
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, macadamia and cashews)
  • Fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, trout and sturgeon)

Have you heard the saying “beauty starts from within”?

Eat beautifying, firming, skin healthy ingredients and your skin will thank you and boost collagen!

Dry brushing for beautiful skin

Dry brushing, the practice of brushing the skin towards the heart with a dry brush, is a great way to exfoliate for smoother skin. Some claim that dry brushing also reduces cellulite, though there is no scientific proof at this time that it does.

I like to dry brush in the morning, before my shower (better in the AM as it can increase energy). I use a natural bristle brush with a handle, I start at the bottom of my feet and work my way up my legs brushing towards the heart, this helps stimulate better circulation.

Then I brush the palms of my hands, working again, towards the heart. I brush my entire body and then I jump in the shower and finish my morning routine.

Sure, this will add about 5-10 minutes to your morning, but you’ll be left with super smooth, exfoliated skin, lots of energy and better circulation. Plus it feels really nice!!

My favorite firming products

There are a lot of products out there that claim to firm up the skin, now I’m not saying I’ve tried them all, but some of the more inexpensive products have made it into my shopping cart and these are my favorites.

  • Aveeno Positively Ageless Firming Body Lotion– I love this stuff, practically no smell, I can find it at the grocery store and it’s inexpensive. I use this as my daily moisturizer, it goes on right after I jump out of the shower.
  • Nuance Dark Cacao & Coffee Firming Body Cream– For a long time this was my go to, and I do still love it… but I no longer have a CVS close to my home (which is the only store it’s sold in) and that means I have to order it online. It smells amazing, almost like a faint chocolate fragrance. Just as the Aveeno, I would add this right after my shower to the entire body.
  • Organic Rosehip Oil– I love rosehip oil, I use it on my face, elbows, neck and chest after every shower. You can use it all over, but it’s more economical to use one of the above creams for the entire body. I attribute still getting “carded” at 37 to Rosehip Oil. If I was filthy rich I would bathe in this stuff, but for just $10-$15 per bottle I can use it daily for about 4 months per bottle, without breaking the bank.

Patience, time and learning to love your new body

Listen, I’m not going to lie to you and give you the illusion that you will look like a Victoria’s secret model after weight loss, but I can tell you that the earlier in life that you lose the weight, the faster your body will bounce back. So get on it now! My free Weight Loss Program can get you started.

Have some patience with yourself, it will take time for your body to bounce back. Start with some exercise, add some firming foods to your diet and find an outfit that you feel like a million bucks in.


Pilates helped me firm up and strengthen my new body, it can do the same for you. Try a mat or reformer class at your local Pilates Studio or gym.

Don’t forget to drink lots of water and eat your firming foods to tone and firm up from the inside, out!

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