Sloane Davis
Source: Sloane Davis/Instagram
Gabrielle Olya
November 16, 2016 05:08 PM

Sloane Davis had always considered herself healthy, but was frustrated because she couldn’t seem to get a toned tummy.

“I was always taking exercise classes, but I really wanted to see my abs — as silly as that sounds — and I was always told that abs were made in the kitchen, so I thought that by getting leaner and leaner I would be able to see them,” Davis, 45, tells PEOPLE.

The New York-based mom-of-two said she was losing weight but wasn’t seeing the results she wanted, so when she was 40, she decided to seek out advice from a professional.

“He told me that I was ‘skinny fat,’ that I wasn’t eating enough, and that I needed to build muscle,” she says. “That’s when I found flexible dieting, [which involves tracking your] macronutrients, which are proteins, fats and carbs.”

Davis says she actually wasn’t eating enough carbs to gain muscle tone.

“I learned that carbs fuel your energy and your workouts, and if you don’t have enough you can’t fuel a heavy workout,” she says. “I learned that food is fuel. Instead of always trying to negate what we eat, I learned to use it to fuel a heavy workout.”

Davis also began adding weight lifting to her workouts.

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“Over time my body definitely changed,” she says. “Muscle takes up less space in your body, so you’re able to become much leaner, smaller and tighter all around. Muscle burns more energy while resting – the more muscle you have in your body, the more energy you’re burning. The only way to truly transform your body is by lifting weights.”

Davis’ transformation was so stunning that many people began asking her how she did it.

“I really didn’t have any credibility to tell anybody what to do, but I felt like I had a little secret inside of me that I wanted to share,” she says. “I went back to school, and got [certified to advise on] nutrition and personal training. I started a business on social media, and have over 200 clients now in a year and a half. It’s been great!”

People frequently ask what made me start doing what I do in the first place. Truth is, I wanted to see my abs and was always told that they were made in the kitchen. So I thought by doing endless amounts of cardio I would get skinnier and skinnier for them to finally show, only to learn that when I reached out to a professional in the industry he told me I was "skinny fat". It hurt to hear those words but it made me interested to learn that in order to see my abs I needed to build muscle. That because I had no muscle mass, it didn't matter how lean I was I wasn't going to see them! That was the picture on the left. I was eating about 1200 a day of only "clean" foods and of course no carbs. I had never picked up a weight heavier than 8-10 pounds in my group fitness classes and spun my wheels every minute I could doing cardio thinking I had to negate every calorie I ate. Little did I know I had a damaged metabolism from never feeding my body enough food and actually couldn't lose a pound no matter how little or "clean" I ate because of it. Fast forward the right. I have not done cardio in over 2 years. I lift heavy in the gym for about 45 minutes a day, 4 to 5 days a week. I now eat 2000-2500 calories a day with 55% of it from carbs. I enjoy pasta, bread, rice, ice cream, pizza and whatever else I feel like eating, and NOT feeling guilty because it's going to make me fat. Yes, I still love my vegetables and make sure to hit my fiber each day, but I am finally at peace with myself in knowing that if I take a day, or 2 or a week off from the gym my body isn't going to change. Lifting weights and eating enough food to support a healthy metabolism was finally the solution to achieving the abs I always wanted. Do I care about a six pack anymore? Not at all. But the process of getting out of a damaged metabolism, building strength and being stronger than I could ever imagine, as well as being able to enjoy food and not feel guilty is the biggest gift of all that I have given myself. Now, the next phase, and certainly the most rewarding part is, that I am able to teach others how to have a healthy relationship with food. #tuesdaytransformation #abs #oxygenexhale

A post shared by Sloane Davis (@pancakesandpush_ups) on

The Pancakes and Push-Ups founder assures her clients that they are never too old to get healthy.

“It’s never too late,” she says. “And I think weight lifting is even more important as we get older.”

She also advises her clients on how to eat well — not less.

“People don’t need to starve themselves in order to lose weight,” she says. “When you make healthier choices, there’s more volume in the food. You’re able if you want that half a cup of ice cream at the end of the day. There’s no foods that are off limits, so there’s no reason to have an unhealthy relationship with food.”

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