We have come to the end of another Oxygen Challenge.  The third one I have attempted in three years. And this one was a total FAIL. If you missed them, go back and read my updates from Month 1 and Month 2.  I just read my month 2 recap and I am cringing at how I was determined to get back on track, now that I know it just didn’t happen.

Oxygen Challenge 3 (OC3)

So what is the Oxygen Challenge?  OC3 is a 90 day program hosted by Oxygen Magazine.  It includes a 3 month nutrition plan, exercise program and access to a private FB group.  This is my 3rd year to attempt the challenge and this year, Jamie Eason is my online trainer.  Again, I entered the optional Cover Girl challenge for the chance to be featured on the cover of Oxygen Magazine. 

Month 3

Read about why Stephanie failed the @OxygenMagazine Challenge. Click To Tweet

I am going to start this Oxygen Challenge 3 – Month 3 recap a little different from the others. Up front, I am going to tell you that I lost all motivation, inspiration and desire to participate in this challenge.

  • Yes, I had a choice and I took the easy way out by quitting.
  • Yes, life was busy and chaotic and crazy and I used that as an excuse to give up.
  • Yes, I am disappointed that I didn’t finish.
  • Yes, I wish I had stuck to the program.
  • Yes, I am envious of all the women who have great “after” photos and are posting them online for voting.
  • Yes, I still want to be on the cover of Oxygen Magazine one day.

If you are a friend, blog reader, or follow me on Instagram – you know that I have been on the struggle bus for the last month. At the end of August, I took a last-minute flight to West Virginia to visit my sick grandparents.  Then I flew to Norway for work, and travel issues led to four flights that took almost 24 hours to get home.  The day after I got home, we had to say goodbye to our sweet 12-year-old pug, Cocopuff.

Each of those events alone were not a big thing, but when you add them all together in one month, it was a lot to manage. I was tired, emotional and overwhelmed. So I quit the challenge.  It was not necessarily a conscious decision, it was more of a gradual “I give up.”

Over the last week, I have thought about why it is so easy to give up sometimes. Especially when I was so committed at the beginning of the program.  Then it finally hit me… it stopped being important.  During the last month when I was dealing with the potential loss of my grandfather and the actual loss of our 12-year-old family pet. So trying to lose body fat to earn a chance to be featured on the cover of a magazine seemed LESS IMPORTANT than what was happening in my day-to-day life.

This is not to take away from anyone who actually finished the challenge and who is competing for the cover right now. I wish I was right there with those 200+ ladies who are asking for votes. But this year was not my year, and I have accepted that.


Whenever I visit my hometown in West Virginia, I want to eat my favorite foods and this time was no exception.  During my five day visit, I ate my favorite pizza, ice cream, hot dogs and donuts.  The sweetest part of my trip (literally), was staying up late at night eating dessert with my Mama in the kitchen. After a long day at the hospital, she would come home and eat a late dinner. Then we would sit at the table together and eat blueberry cheesecake that a friend had brought by while we talked. My sister and I agree that we both got our sweet tooth from our grandmother.

International travel is also hard on both my sleep and eating habits.  With the seven hour time difference in Norway, I would often wake up hungry at 2 AM and have a snack before going back to bed. At the end of a long day of meetings, we would meet for drinks in the bar followed by dinner at a local restaurant. One night, our clients treated us to an incredible four-course dinner with wine pairings.  I was not going to turn down a fabulous wine dinner, that would have just been rude!

Back at home, I cooked comfort foods for my family.  After several months of healthy meals, it felt indulgent to cook chicken casserole, fettuccine, mac & cheese, and corn & potato chowder. I also baked a chocolate cake for my husband’s birthday! Cooking is my love language and I wanted to love on my family this month.  However, my husband and I agree that we both feel better when we eat healthier, so we are slowly getting back to cooking healthier meals.


While I did not make it to the gym very often, I did go running a few times.  I even ran a race for the first time in almost a year! My favorite Dallas race, the Tour des Fleurs, is held at the Dallas Arboretum  every September.  This year I ran the quarter marathon (6.55 miles), so I got in a few long training runs during the weeks before the race.

I noticed that once I got out of the routine of going to the gym at lunch, it was easy to find excuses to not go back. Instead of going to the gym, I would work through lunch or go grocery shopping. Many times I decided it would just be easier to work out once I got home, because I didn’t want to change out of my workout clothes and get sweaty at lunch.

All of these were excuses. I know how much better I feel when I go for a walk/run in the park or when I go to the gym to lift weights.  So I am adding workouts back in my schedule, starting with at least 3 times a week.


I’ve already touched on this, my emotions were the main reason I quit the challenge.  I felt like I could not handle all that was going on in life AND stay motivated to complete the challenge.  Looking back, I am glad I allowed myself to quit.  I can always go back and do the challenge in a few months, when I am not so busy and overwhelmed with work/life/emotions.

Also, the challenge was just a small part of my overall choice to living a healthy live.  Several years ago, I made the decision to eat whole foods, cook more meals at home, to exercise so my body is strong and to have more energy.  It’s not like I was only committing to eating healthy and exercising for those 3 months. I look at the challenge as a way to practice healthy habits that I will use the rest of my life.

Progress Pictures

September 15th was the deadline to enter my “After” pictures for the cover photo contest for the Oxygen Challenge. I debated for a few days about if I wanted to take pictures, but eventually I decided against it.  So I have no progress photos to show you.

This was the first year I didn’t bother to take pictures or measurements at the end of the challenge. However, I did weigh myself and I weigh the exact same as I did when I started. 132 pounds.

Final Thoughts

Yes, I would do it again. I love challenging myself to be a better version of who I already am. So getting stronger, trying new healthy recipes and being a part of a supporting, empowering group of women was a huge benefit of the challenge. Also my coach, Jamie Eason, was so engaged with the group and always willing to answer questions, give us new exercises, and encourage us to trust the process. She posted live videos every week to the Facebook group, even when she was dealing with her house in Houston flooding due to hurricane Irma!  (You can check out some of Jamie’s FREE programs on Bodybuilding.com)

There were also some drawbacks to the Oxygen Challenge.  Comparison is fairly common in a fitness challenge, so when other participants would post progress pictures (when I have not made progress), I would be envious. I also didn’t care for the negative posts about how the challenge was run or how unfair the voting process was (because you use social media to get votes).

Have you ever participated in a fitness or weight loss challenge? Did you complete the program? What did you learn along the way?


  1. Trisha Pulling Reply

    I’m so proud of you Steph! Because I don’t think you “failed”. I know this will only make you stronger in the long run. Emotionally, physically, spiritually. I know you had a rough month. I love you and am praying for you! ?

  2. I am really encouraged by your honesty and sometimes life really does get in the way, but I admire your willingness to try it again too! I have completed a few TIU challenges but I remember being so busy at work or at home and really struggling to keep up with it all. It happens but we keep trying! I’m sorry to hear about your sweet dog and grandparents. I hope this next month is better for you!

    • Thank you Kylie! We miss our sweet pug but we are healing and talking about getting a new puppy in a few months. Also, we have a family trip to Disney World planned at the end of the month and we are getting excited about our vacation!

  3. I can’t imagine dealing with everything you listed and still making time to make health a priority! I think it’s awesome that you still went running and that you’re committing to get back to cooking healthy meals. You’re a rockstar! I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • Thank you so much! It has been a difficult month but that also means I have been making a point to spend more time with my family (which is always a good thing).

  4. I love your honesty here. Too often I set out to do a challenge and give up, but I just choose to ignore it. I like that you took it head on and admitted defeat, but moved on. I know the last few months have been so crazy for you. Way to maintain your weight!

    • I know that we can all relate to “giving up” on a challenge or goal. I will go back and do the challenge again when the timing is better.

  5. Priorities in life really do emerge during the toughest of times. I’m so sorry about the tough few weeks you’ve had but I definitely believe you didn’t “quit”. You just chose to live your life and I commend you for that. Most people would have wallowed in the fact that they seemingly gave up so easily. I would undoubtedly choose dessert and late-night heart-to-hearts with my family over macros any day.

  6. I really loved reading this blog. I think it’s so real and relatable. We are allotted a certain amount of emotional energy and life happens. I’m happy you gave yourself grace, focused on what was important and didn’t beat yourself up for taking care of yourself and living life! You look amazing everytime I see you anyway, progress pics or not. I heart you!!!

    • Thank you! It has been helpful to get all these positive comments from my fitness friends. Also, I know my long term health is more important than a short term challenge.

  7. I have heard about this challenge from you before… and with so much going on in your life, I’m so glad to hear that you honored your emotional needs instead of stressing over the challenge… such a honest post on many levels.

    • I am glad that I took the time to be honest about the challenge, instead of blowing it off and NOT writing about it. I think many of us can relate to not completing or reaching a goal, but I know I did the right thing by putting my family first.

  8. Loved your honesty here and enjoyed reading this. Honestly don’t believe you failed at all. You are so strong and proud that you decided to focus on whats important to you and didn’t put too much pressure on yourself.

Write A Comment

CommentLuv badge