“I realized that I couldn’t be at the front of the fitness studio because I was still significantly overweight,” the fitness blogger, 34, tells PEOPLE. “I had my first on-camera interview about the studio and I saw how huge I was, and I realized it wasn’t just about being cute — it was a health issue. I needed to fix my life.”
To get serious about weight loss, Adeniyi-Taiwo had to own up to her less-than-healthy eating habits.
“I had to come to terms with what my real issues were, and it wasn’t about going to the gym,” she says. “The gym has never been an issue for me. I had to be honest with myself — it’s not my trainer’s fault, I have four children, but it’s not because they had a busy month — it’s you, it’s what you’re eating and what you’re making time for.”
The Chicago-based mom-of-four says she ate take out every other day and rarely cooked fresh meals.
“When I think back to what I used to eat, I get so disgusted with myself,” she says. “I would feel guilty because I realized not only was I eating badly, I was feeding my children this way.”
So she completely overhauled her daily routine.
“My diet now is a complete 360,” she says. “I don’t buy frozen food unless it’s non-GMO and free of preservatives. I eat a lot of Greek yogurt. Sometimes I find myself making two or three trips to the grocery store because of how fresh the foods have to be that I cook. Even the meats that I cook, I look to see that they are antibiotic-free and hormone-free. Before it was more about convenience and what tastes good.”
WATCH: Oprah Reveals How Her Weight Loss Is Improving Her Relationship With Stedman
Adeniyi-Taiwo also upped her gym time from three days a week to daily, and sometimes twice daily workouts.
“Before I used to schedule days to go to the gym, and now exercise is an everyday regimen,” she says. “It’s something that’s part of my schedule. I get up in the morning and do at least 30 minutes of cardio and I also plan late-night lifting sessions after work.”
Since changing her eating and exercise habits 11 months ago, Adeniyi-Taiwo has dropped an incredible 96 lbs. While sticking to her new lifestyle is certainly more challenging, she stays motivated by remembering how far she has come.
“I always think to the times when I had severe back pain and I couldn’t get up, and my kids wanted to go out and play and I didn’t want to do those things,” she says. “I wanted to sleep all day if I didn’t have to be at work. I turned down invitations from friends to go out because I felt trapped in my body. When I think back to how I used to live and the quality of life that I have now, it motivates me to keep going.”
Adeniyi-Taiwo also stays on track by looking ahead to her ultimate weight loss goal: losing another 45 lbs. and competing in a national fitness competition.
“I have a lot of work to do!” she admits, but she’s proud of how far she’s come — and so are her children.
“The best part of losing the weight is having my kids tell me how proud of me they are,” she says. “I have a set of twins that are 16. I realized that I didn’t want them to be like me, crying because they can’t fit into a dress or because they look in the mirror and they don’t like the person they see. The best part of my journey has been being able to inspire my daughters.”