During moments when your self-esteem suddenly nose-dives, it’d be nice to snap your fingers and — POOF! — see some changes. To remind you just how unrealistic that is, Aussie influencer, certified trainer, and nutritionist Cassandra Olholm, 27, recently posted side-by-side photos that show how long it can take to sculpt abs of steel: FIVE YEARS(!!!). Although her transformation clearly didn’t happen overnight, her post received more than 12,500 likes — more than twice as many as her average photo — in a day.

People say to me "oh you're so lucky that you're so fit" or "you're so lucky that you're so strong". The thing is luck doesn't get me out of bed at 4:00am morning. Luck doesn't put my trainers on. Luck really doesn't have anything to do with it. To be brutally honest it comes down to the combination of two things – hard work and consistency. It's not easy. But what ever worth having is easy? Feeling strong isn't something that happened overnight. Some of you many not know this but I come from a pretty competitive running background, so when I walked into a crossfit shed for the first time about 5 years ago, I was completely out of my comfort zone. I remember thinking "what have I gotten myself into?". I had little to no upper body strength. I could barley do a push up on my knees let alone my toes, and the idea of doing a pull up was just insane. But the very combination of those two things is what has earned me the strength I have today. So if I can do it, you can do it to. The hard truth is that it will take time, it will take energy, sweat, tears and maybe even a little blood, but the feeling of being able to say "wow, I couldn't do that last week" will be worth every bit of it ✨

A post shared by Cass Olholm (@cassolholm) on

“Many people don’t realize the time it takes to increase your muscle strength, shape and size and unfortunately set unrealistic goals,” she says of the sentiment that inspired her to post. Although you can sculpt some abdominal definition in as few as two weeks, it took much longer for Olholm to get the core strength she has now.

The trainer and nutritionist was a competitive runner before she first stepped foot into a CrossFit studio about five years ago. Having just run her first half marathon, she had a new goal that had nothing to do with her appearance: “I just wanted to know what it felt like to feel strong,” she says, referring to everyday efforts like carrying groceries or lifting a suitcase.

Her first shot at strength training shook her: “I was completely out of my comfort zone,” she wrote. “I had little to no upper body strength. I could barely do a push-up on my knees let alone on my toes, and the idea of doing a pull-up was just insane.”

Five years later, she’s mastered both moves:

This week I have literally felt zero nerve pain in my back, shoulder and elbow so I thought I would put them to the ultimate test with pull ups ? After doing next to no upper body strength for months I wasn’t sure how I would go. I knew I should at least be able to do a couple but just how strong/easy these would be, I wasn’t too sure about. As I’ve mentioned before, I train for performance rather than aesthetics. So with all of this time off training, rather than being worried about any potential gain in fat mass, what I have been worried about is the loss of my hard earned strength. And even though I have lost some upper body strength, I still managed to get out 6 STRICT PULL UPS!!! And if I’m being honest I probably could have done one or two more reps but I was just too excited that my muscles were playing the game. Cannot wait to get back into training next week, gently of course ?‍♀️ Wearing: @lornajaneactive Song: Wolves- Selena Gomez x Marshmello

A post shared by Cass Olholm (@cassolholm) on

Now, Olholm works her muscles four times a week for 45 minutes to an hour, doing the moves above plus deadlifts, rope climbs, and more. She also eats more than she did as a straight-up runner. “I’m always hungry,” she says. “The increased muscle mass demands more calories.”

And when it comes to her abs? She doesn’t harp on them too much. “I never actually do any abdominal specific or focused exercises,” she wrote in a post. “No sit ups, no crunches. Just the odd plank here and there. My abs are the result of a combination of consistently good nutrition (key!!!) and a workout routine that involves a lot of movements with weight overhead, which causes me to have to constantly activate my core.”

Now that my elbow is back in action, it’s time to work on getting my strength and fitness back. The other week (5 posts ago to be exact) I put up a post explaining how nutrition controls your body fat mass and how keeping my nutrition consistent was how I was ensuring that my body wouldn’t change too much or “blow out” whilst I was out on injury. Although I didn’t gain fat mass, this wasn’t exactly my biggest priority anyway. What I was actually worried about was losing my strength and fitness. Especially after knowing how hard I had to work to earn it in the first place. But I am just SO excited to be able to exercise the way I love to again that I’ve decided I’m going to use this as motivation to get back to where I was, plus some. I know that it’s not going to be easy, and will probably take more mental strength than anything, but I also know that I’ve got this ? Side note: A little in love with the colour and fit of this @lornajaneactive crop. These bad boys may be little but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be supported too ?

A post shared by Cass Olholm (@cassolholm) on

Because Olholm still wants to get stronger, fitter, and faster, her fitness journey isn’t over yet. “If I can do it,” she wrote, “You can do it too.”

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