Slimmed Down for the Gown: A Bikini Series Review


If you’ve been following our Bridal Boot Camp series, you know that I tried the Tone It Up Bikini Series in order to lose weight and fit into my wedding dress again after 10 years. (More about that HERE.)

Here’s what I’ve learned about myself and my fitness along my journey.


Losing weight starts in the kitchen. Seriously. It’s all what you eat. I know that it sucks to hear that, because I love food, but I can honestly say that I lost over 30 pounds by just eating healthier. (I wasn’t great about following the workouts, but more on that later.) When you sign up for the bikini series, you get an email with a few healthy recipes, but I found most of my recipes on Pinterest. 🙂


Foods that you should expect to eat during the Bikini Series are all supposed to be lean, clean and green. No additives, no junk food and very little fat. Some of my favorite recipes are:
COCONUT KALE BEAUTY SMOOTHIE for a quick and easy breakfast!

TURKEY MEATBALLS with ZUCCHINI NOODLES is an awesome and easy dinner that can double as lunch the next day!!!

CHICKPEA SALAD SANDWICH is a delicious salad that I make at the beginning of every week and eat for lunch when I don’t have leftovers from dinner. (I mush the chickpeas a little more so that it’s more the texture of tuna salad.)

My favorite snacks are hard boiled eggs, protein bars, almonds with Craisins and even apples with natural peanut butter.

Tone It Up has a nutrition plan you can buy, but I didn’t use it. I found that I could find plenty of healthy recipes on my own. My recommendation is to skip the meal plan. It’s pricey and although I’m sure it’s helpful, I did just fine without it.


The workouts were AMAZING. Everyday there is a 10 to 15 minute workout to do. It’s quick and targeted so that each day you workout one muscle group. I looked forward to the daily workouts and enjoyed several of them.

Some of my favorite workouts were:





Overall, I enjoyed the Bikini Series. I love the online community on Instagram and felt both encouraged and inspired by the entire Tone It Up team. Checking in on Instagram helped hold me accountable and I think that I’ll continue to use my Instagram account for that purpose.

The food I ate, while not technically part of the “Tone It Up Nutrition Plan,” followed the same guidelines as the plan (lean, clean, green) and I never felt hungry or deprived. I drank alcohol, ate chocolate and pizza, and even had a piece of birthday cake. After eating clean for so long, I didn’t crave those bad foods and actually felt a little sick when I did indulge. I will definitely continue to eat this way, although I will probably start to eat larger portions when I reach my goal weight. (Still have 3 more pounds to go!) I don’t feel that buying the nutrition plan was necessary.

I plan on using the workouts in the future. Probably not everyday, but I like that I can find a quick workout when I need one. I learned that I REALLY enjoy Pilates and so I plan to continue Pilates classes while working in some chosen Tone It Up workouts here and there.


At the start of this journey, I was very excited and couldn’t wait to get started. As the program went on and the stress of life began to creep in, I would skip workouts and found it was hard to get started again. I hit plateaus, I gained a little and then would lose it again, I felt sore from the workouts and tired from all of the running I was doing. (I learned that I am NOT a runner.) But I kept going. If I messed up, I started again. I just picked up wherever I left off.

If you’re thinking about starting a new workout plan, I would HIGHLY recommend at least googling Tone It Up and trying some of their workouts. (There are a TON of free ones on YouTube.) I wouldn’t purchase the nutrition plan. I found a lot of information about the plan for free on the internet and I just ate mostly organic, clean foods.

After doing the Bikini Series (even with all of the cheat days and skipped workouts) I feel stronger, healthier and more confident. I’m ready for our ten year anniversary pictures, and I’m proud to say… THE DRESS FITS!!!

How I Ate Food and Lost Weight (20 Pounds in 3 Months!)

Eat less? Bite me.


You’ve heard it before. Eat less, move more and you’ll lose weight. I hate that advice. I tried that advice. After a whole day of being good and “eating less,” I would put my kids to bed and stuff my face. Because I. Was. STARVING!! 

When I had finally had enough of being overweight, I did a lot of research. After looking at Paleo, Whole30, Veganism and even a diet where you ate basically whatever you wanted on some days and starved yourself on other days, I was confused and overwhelmed.



Choosing My Own Path

Deciding to listen to my own gut, I chose to take what I liked about each diet plan and ignore the rest.  I started eating less processed foods and shopped just the outer edges of the grocery store. I stopped eating dairy because the calories were too much and I could eat MORE of something with fewer calories and feel full. After a few weeks, I ended up eating mostly eggs, vegetables, fruits, and lean meats. I lost weight quickly and without much effort. I was pleasantly surprised that the new diet was working and that I wasn’t feeling hungry at the end of the day.

What I Eat

I eat about 5 meals a day. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and two snacks. I aim for a balance of 35% Carbohydrates, 30% Fat and 35% Protein for the entire day, eating most of my carbs before lunch. (I track the percentages in a fitness app.) I’ve never been a big breakfast eater, so sometimes I will have a “snack” first thing in the morning and my “breakfast” later in the morning. Lunch is usually a salad, my afternoon snack is almost always veggies or protein and my dinner is usually lean protein and vegetables.

Breakfast/Morning Snack Ideas (These can be eaten interchangeably)

  • Overnight Oats ( has yummy recipes here.)
  • Egg White Muffins
  • Avocado Toast
  • Yogurt and Fruit
  • Green Smoothies

Lunch/Afternoon Snack Ideas (Also Interchangeable)

  • Chickpea of the Sea (Think Tuna salad sandwich with no fish. Seriously yum. The recipe is all over the internet.)
  • Salad
  • Veggie Wraps
  • Black Bean Burgers with Romaine Lettuce “Buns”
  • Veggies and Hummus
  • Hard Boiled eggs with an apple

Dinner Ideas

  • Fish with roasted vegetables
  • Lentil Tacos
  • Vegetable Stir fry
  • Sheet Pan meals with lean protein and vegetables (You can find these recipes all over Pinterest.)


After 3 months, my face is so much thinner and I’m starting to look like myself again!

The Next Level

As the weight fell off, I looked for a new challenge. I found Tone It Up and saw that the nutrition plan was basically the same as how I was already eating! I began to follow Tone It Up (TIU, for short) girls on Instagram and found a community of women (and some men!) who were losing weight, toning up and encouraging each other. It. Was. Awesome. It motivated me to work harder and so I joined the Bikini Series (read about that here).

The Bikini Series is an 8 week program of eating right and working out and it starts on April 24th. In order to stay on track, I created a “Weekly Meal Plan” so that I can keep track of all of my ‘Booty Calls’ (they’re what the TIU community calls their morning workouts) as well as my evening workouts. I can plan for my whole week and grocery shop and meal prep accordingly. IT’S A LIFESAVER!

Free Weekly Meal Plan Printable

Here it is. Print it out and fill it up! When you start out planning meals, it’s OK to repeat the same meals over and over. I almost always have the same 3 things for breakfast or eat the same salad a couple of times a week. Keep it simple and don’t feel like you have to fill every box with a different recipe!

Click on the photo below to begin your FREE download!


Sweating for the Wedding (Dress)

I Can’t Zip Up My Wedding Dress!

Okay, so I’m already married. I have been for almost 10 YEARS! (And yet, I’m only 25!) <<<That was a joke…

Anyway, I’m getting in shape so I can fit in my wedding dress again. After 10 years and 2 kids, bodies change, people! I have been watching what I eat and going to the gym, but I am signing up for a new Bikini Series on April 24th to push me to that next level. (Because I can aaaaallllmooooost zip that dress up, but I probably wouldn’t be able to move much!)

What is a Bikini Series?

The Tone It Up Bikini Series is a FREE workout and nutrition guide that lasts for 8 weeks. Karena and Katrina will send you a plan each Sunday that tells you which workouts to do each week and they usually include some fun freebies or recipes as well.

In order to complete the Bikini Series, you just need to do the recommended workouts each week and eat lean, clean and green. (I’ll post another post about what I eat later.)

So, THAT’S IT! Sign up, follow the workouts and eat right! EASY!!! (NOT!)

I know it’s so hard to eat right when you’re planning a big event like a wedding. The tastings, the parties, the stress eating while watching wedding shows on TLC… (well, maybe that was just me, hahaha.)

DON’T WORRY! We’re here for you! I’ll post helpful hints and printables to keep you on track and you can follow @castlehallcreative to see what we’re doing to stick to the plan.

Join Team Castle Hall for the Tone It Up Bikini Series

I hope you guys are getting ready to Tone It Up with us! If you haven’t signed up yet, you still have time and can sign up here. As you post your photos on social media, tag #teamchc! We’re in this together!

Once you sign up on the Tone It Up website you’ll start getting informational videos and emails with recipes to try, tools you’ll need, and workouts to complete each week.

I’m ready to get in this dress and celebrate! I can’t wait to see what YOU post!

I’ll post later this week to show you what I eat and how I meal prep and meal plan to stay on track!

Until next time,






Get Ready, Get Set…


Drop those extra pounds with Castle Hall Creative’s Sara Metka in our Summer Bridal Boot Camp

Hi all! Sara here!

I am so excited to share with all of you the changes I’ve been making in my personal life.

How I Started My Tone-It-Up Weight Loss/ Get Fit Journey

About three months ago, I decided that I needed to make a change and start taking care of myself. I began by downloading a fitness app that helped me to track the amount of calories I was eating vs. how many I was burning through exercise. I’ve done that before and it was working alright, but it just felt so… mathy. HAHA!

I wanted working out to feel fun and I wanted to try new recipes that were as tasty as they were pretty.

Finding ToneItUp

I went on Instagram and quickly found @ToneItUp. It’s a nutrition plan designed by @KarenaDawn and @KatrinaaScott. They send daily workouts and weekly motivational newsletters with workouts, recipes and inspirational stories. I was hooked! After three months, I had lost 20 pounds!!

3 Months & 20 Lbs Down!

Now that I am down 20 pounds, I am motivated to share what I’ve learned and bring others along with me on this journey.

@ToneItUp is starting a new Bikini Series on April 24th and I AM SO READY!

It’s an eight week program that is FREE to join!
Just sign up on their website at and you’re IN!

Your fellow Castle Hall Creative Team (Pattie, Jamie and I) will be updating our Instagram accounts with recipes and workouts that we’ve done along the way and we’d love for you to join us!

Follow us on Instagram here: @CastleHallCreative @MermaidMesses @BriarRoseExpressions and on Facebook at CastleHallCreative.


Win this Beach,Please Decal!

Now for the fun part… A GIVEAWAY!!!!

In order to be prepared, everyone needs a cute water bottle to take into the gym. Gotta stay hydrated, right!?!

I’ve designed this decal with my beach body in mind. The suntan, the long, wavy hair, the totally defined abs…  Luke Bryan… Sorry, back to the GIVEAWAY!

If you’re dreaming of your beach body and want a decal to put on your yoga mat, water bottle, fitness journal, etc. Just share this post (don’t forget to tag us!) with the hashtag #TeamCHC on your social media and tell us where you’ll put the decal to keep you inspired. 

Then — if you’re up for the challenge, follow us and join us for the #tiubikiniseries!

What’s Next?

In my next post, I’ll show you what I’m doing to prepare for the Bikini Series and what you’ll need in order to follow along at home.

Beach, Please!