Fitness Update: June 2020

Hey everyone! Today I wanted to share a fitness update with you all because it has been a while since I talked about my personal journey! I am going to be sharing my current workout split, new fitness goals, healthy eating, and how I am motivating myself to work out during a global pandemic.

I have been working out for about 4 ½ years now, which is absolutely crazy to say. Time really does fly. I feel like it was yesterday that my dad was teaching me all of the basics of weight training. In reality, I have grown so much since my first time in the gym.

The last time I spoke about my personal fitness journey (not just sharing tips and tricks) was in February for my 4 year anniversary. Well, a lot has changed since then. Very soon after I got back from my trip to France in March, COVID cases were spiking and states across the country were telling people to quarantine in their homes. This virus led to the closing of restaurants, stores, and of course, gyms.

Fitness

I was never one to enjoy at-home workouts. I always felt that I lacked the motivation to get through them. When I am at the gym I feel so much more focused. I had to learn to push myself, especially on days when I wasn’t feeling it. This was actually a somewhat difficult transition for me. It took some time, but after a few weeks I got so used to working out at home, and it just became a part of my daily routine. It’s like forming any habit; if you continue to do it daily, eventually it will become a part of your daily routine. Once I got into that routine of simply working out at home, I decided that I needed to change things up and make it a bit more exciting.

 There are many different forms of exercise. What I’ve found works for me is a combination of weight training and cardio. Since I do not have any cardio machines at home, I have been incorporating HIIT into my routine even more than I used to. Before, I would go to the gym, stretch, do cardio, and then begin weight training. Now, I’m doing something a bit different. Instead of doing HIIT before or after weight training, I’ll do it at the same time. For example: if I am working out my upper body and I finish one set of shoulder presses, I will quickly get up and start doing something like jumping jacks, or I will run in place. It is somewhat hard to explain, so I’ll leave it to Google.

According to Google, HIIT is “a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods, until too exhausted to continue.”

I hope that makes sense! But basically I alternate between a set of weight training and then I’ll complete a HIIT exercise for 30 seconds, and repeat.

My workout split

Luckily, I own a workout bench, weights, and resistance bands, so I have access to a bit of equipment which has been extremely helpful. My dad actually bought a set of weights that range from 5-25 pounds, and I’ve been using this during every session. I know that many people don’t have any gym equipment in their homes, but there are always alternatives!

Keep in mind that my schedule does not look exactly the same every week. I like to change things up, but also listen to my body and what it needs. Also, this is a schedule that works for ME. Find what works best for you, and go by that! Here is an example of what I do in a week:

Sunday: HIIT

Monday: Back + biceps (with HIIT)

Tuesday: Lower body (glutes, quads, calves + hamstrings)

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Chest, shoulders + triceps (with HIIT)

Friday: HIIT

Saturday: Full body (with weights)

The reason you do not see abs or core anywhere in this schedule is because I have been doing yoga every day. In many of my yoga sessions, I am working on my core and my abs!

Yoga has actually been very surprising to me. In January of this year, I told myself that I would try a new form of exercise, and yoga happened to be what I chose. I started using a program that has a variety of workout guides and videos, so I have been using this to learn yoga. I watch a different video every day, and I follow along with the instructor. I have been doing yoga for 10 weeks now. I feel so much more toned, and I have been getting better at the practice! I made a post all about my experience starting yoga, so if you’re interested in that, you can click here after reading this post!

I am a very determined person and I am very easily motivated, so I am proud that I have been able to stay on track lately. Somehow, even while quarantining at home, I’ve managed to become even more physically active than I was before COVID!

Healthy eating

I’ve never had a bad relationship with food, and I’ve never had any issues relating to my weight, but to me, eating healthy is still the most challenging part of living a healthy life. I feel like I have been doing ok this year, but I could do better. Any time we make a grocery trip, I have a list of my go-to items that I eat every week including: apples, yogurt, grapes, and salmon, to name a few.

I normally do not have a problem keeping my main meals of the day healthy. For breakfast, I’ll often make eggs or oatmeal. I may also eat a banana and some multigrain toast with avocado or peanut butter (depending on what we have). My lunches are pretty random, but I’ll usually eat an apple, some turkey, and a salad. For dinner, there are some days when I will just eat whatever my mother makes, however there are quite a few days when I will make my own healthy version or a completely different meal.

 I also snack quite a bit during the day, and while I try to keep it healthy, sometimes I’ll crave some chips or even a bit of ice cream. I often allow myself to indulge in my cravings, however I try not to go overboard. My addiction to chocolate and ice cream is as strong as ever, but I am learning to limit myself and have some self control.

I never really tracked my macros or kept track of my daily food intake, partly because it stresses me out and sometimes (depending on the person), it can lead to a negative relationship with food. At this point, I feel like I know what works for me and what doesn’t. I just try to listen to my body and eat as healthy as I can while still enjoying my favorite meals/snacks at times.

On the weekends, my breakfasts and snacks stay the same, but my family likes to eat out on Saturdays and Sundays. Many restaurants are allowing people to dine in now, but we don’t feel comfortable doing so just yet. We’ve been picking up our food and eating out at different parks. I have to admit, I enjoy eating outdoors when we have nice weather.

I stopped drinking soda in 2018, though I do drink it on special occasions. I’ll occasionally drink juice, but water is my go-to. I drink 4-5 bottles of water a day. This used to be such a challenge when I first started, but now I can get through it with no problem. Working out definitely helps me drink more water, though this also means more trips to the bathroom…

My current fitness and health goals

Since gyms will most likely be closed for a little while longer, my goals right now look a bit different. Usually one of my biggest goals is to gain muscle but right now I’m focused on maintaining the muscle that I have. I am going to continue doing 20-30 minutes of yoga everyday as well. And lastly, I am trying to eat as healthy as I can. I am not being too hard on myself and I have been listening to my body and what it needs. This is enough right now.

I am very proud of the progress I have made on my fitness journey so far. While I do feel that my progress has been slowed down a bit due to the closing of my gym, I am doing everything I can to be physically active at home, and it feels really good! I am going to continue with my routine and even if my gym opens soon, I will not be going yet (just to be safe).

I hope you enjoyed reading this fitness update! Stay safe and healthy!

I Did Yoga Everyday for 1 Month, Here is What I’ve Learned

Earlier this year, I said that I wanted to try new forms of exercise, and yoga just so happened to be my choice. Now, I never plan on giving up weight training (it is and always will be my favorite form of exercise), however I think it is good to try new things. I was not sure if I would like yoga, or even stick with it when I started it a month ago.

A family member recommended this program to me and it includes a variety of workout videos. Out of everything I saw, yoga was, for some reason, the one I chose to try. I think this is partially because my workouts are often a bit more fast paced and not really relaxing or slow, so I was looking for something different.

At first, I honestly thought that only flexible people could do yoga. I would not exactly use this word to describe myself. I don’t think that I am necessarily stiff though either. Somewhere in the middle… I guess? Anyway, I had my doubts when it came to yoga. I can honestly say that I do like it, but I’ll get to that later.

Some of the many benefits of yoga include: increased flexibility, weight reduction, improved respiration, and increased muscle strength. The benefits however, are not just physical. I feel that this could be said for many forms of exercise. When I work out, it gets me out of my head and it allows me to simply focus on me and my body, which I love. Some of the mental/emotional benefits include: an increase in body awareness, relieves stress, sharpens attention, and calms the nervous system.

A couple of my family members decided to join me for yoga every single day for the month. We would roll out our mats in the living room, and we would set up the program on the TV. The program we chose is a 3 week program; each week focusing on something a bit different. That first week, we focused on foundation. The point of this first week was simply to build a strong foundation for the weeks to come. I was introduced to a ton of yoga poses (most of which I was unfamiliar with). I found that I really liked downward dog, low crescent (and crescent twist), wide legged fold, and reverse tabletop. Some of my least favorites? Chair pose and chaturanga. I have a love/hate relationship with the warrior poses and goddess pose. I also really liked the relaxing poses such as child’s pose and shavasana.

I quickly realized that yoga is not 100% relaxing, at least not for a newbie. It really is a workout, and before I started doing it, I honestly didn’t feel that it was. I found myself out a breath at some points, and I did modify a couple poses at times. The timing of each practice varied, but most of them were around 30 minutes long. I really began to look forward to our evening yoga because it gave me some time to stretch and relax (both of which, I don’t think I do enough).

For week 2, we were focusing on expansion. Something that I learned from yoga is that expansion and length are incredibly important, not necessarily height. Obviously, slouching and hunching is not going to help you in yoga, or in the long run! In poses where we had to reach up or away from our bodies, I would lift my spine and stretch. I became much more aware of my posture and where I was holding tension in my body. I tend to clench my jaw without realizing, and it has led to soreness in my jaw and the use of a mouth guard every single night. I really tried to focus on where I was sending my energy.

It was in this week when we began incorporating some balancing poses. I found that balancing is challenging for me at times, and I’m not going to lie, I got frustrated when I would just topple over again and again. One thing that has always helped me is focusing on an inanimate object. I actually learned this when I used to take dance classes. If you are about to spin or balance, stare at something that is not moving. This tip was very helpful to me in yoga. I did realize that one leg was always easier to balance on than the other (my stronger leg seems to be my right, which makes sense since this is my dominant side).

In week 3, we focused on progression. As the weeks went on, the poses definitely got more challenging. We would hold the poses for a bit longer as well. Throughout the weeks, we would focus on something specific each day. For example, some days we would focus on core, other days we would focus on stretch, and then other days we would do a flow. I really enjoyed flow days because it was pretty much constant movement, which I prefer over sitting still for too long. It was also a bit more challenging.

Once the 3 week program was over, we decided to do it again to see if it would get any easier for us. As I am posting this on my blog, we are currently in week 2 again! I wanted to do this daily for a month before writing about the experience and sharing it with you.

One thing I noticed is that I really struggled to relax. I just recently finished up my junior year of college, so it’s not like I have a ton of work to do. Plus, we’re all quarantining at home. Normal stressors in my everyday life are not exactly present right now, so I don’t know why I found it so hard to just be. I guess what may have hindered my relaxation was the fact that the instructors would talk pretty much the whole time. I was also learning all of the poses as we went, so I had to look up at the screen multiple times. I think that once I know what I am doing, I won’t necessarily need an instructor and I won’t have the distraction.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with yoga. I didn’t really think that I would enjoy it and I even thought that the practice was silly at times. I’ve learned that it isn’t just about stretching or contorting your body in strange ways. It is about letting go of stress, relaxing, and simply focusing on your body. While I do feel a bit more flexible and more aware of my body, I think I still need more time to practice.

I plan on continuing to learn yoga, though I may not do it every single day. I am hoping to learn to relax a bit more, and gain more flexibility. I am glad that I decided to get out of my comfort zone and try something new because it has introduced me to a new form of exercise that I actually enjoy. I wouldn’t say I like it more than weight training though 😉

I always recommend trying new things, especially when it comes to exercise. Sometimes, doing the same thing over and over can get boring and repetitive. I like to change up my workouts from time to time to avoid this. I am excited to say that I can add another form of exercise to my list. I enjoy weight training, HIIT, dancing, hiking, going on walks, and now, yoga.

Go and try something new today, and as always, thank you so much for reading! (And check out my Instagram, @sacchere14 to watch me flow!)

My Go-To Healthy Meals

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am in no way a dietician, a nutritionist, or qualified in any way to discuss nutrition. I simply wanted to share some of my favorite healthy meal ideas. I am not saying that this is what everyone should be eating; this is just what I enjoy! I eat pretty much the same things every day (on the weekends I change it up a bit). Also, I definitely don’t make my food look pretty all the time (I did that for the photos)!

Today’s blog post is all about food; one of my favorite things 😉 I started eating healthier in January of 2018, already 2 years into my fitness journey. I realized that while I was seeing some results with my body due to the gym, I was still eating the same way. I was never someone who ate a ton of unhealthy food or junk food, however I knew that I could do better. I made small changes and I’ve been trying to eat healthier ever since. I’ve never had a bad relationship with food, but it was hard to change up my diet. I was trying to gain more muscle, which meant I had to eat a bit more than I was used to. I had to eat more protein, fruits and vegetables, and I also needed to drink a lot more water.

You are probably going to notice that these meals are very simple and easy to make. I am no chef, but I can cook pretty basic foods. You don’t have to learn crazy difficult recipes in order to eat healthy. I find that not only is it easier to make these meals, but they can be put together very quickly, and they are nutritious.

 Let’s start with the most important meal of the day; breakfast!

I was never the person to skip breakfast, though my breakfasts are much more filling now! Typically, I like making breakfasts that are quick and easy, but also healthy. For today, I am sharing a favorite of mine! Oatmeal is a great option because it provides vitamins, minerals, fiber, and even antioxidants. (If I don’t feel like oatmeal, or I am running low on time, I will opt for eggs instead). When I make oatmeal, I like to add milk and a bit of brown sugar as well. To top it off, I will either add flax seeds or chia seeds, both of which have many great health benefits. On the side, I like to make some multi grain toast. I will switch it up at times, and either go for peanut butter or avocado. Today, I decided on avocado toast. I simply cut an avocado in half, mash it up and use it as a spread for the toast. I’ll sometimes add a pinch of salt to give it a bit more flavor. It is important to eat fruits or vegetables at every meal, and while I do not do this every day,  I do try! One of my favorite fruits to have for breakfast is a banana.

Lunch time!

When it comes to lunch, mine is often all over the place and random. Today, I decided to share a salad, however I added a few things to make it more exciting. I try to eat salad most days, but if I am honest, some days I simply don’t feel like eating it. Like I said, my lunch can be pretty random. I’ll often eat a sandwich, fruit, or salad. It really depends on the day and what I am craving. For the salad pictured above, I included romaine lettuce, broccoli, turkey, feta cheese, and avocado.  I know that dressing is not very healthy, however I enjoy it so I added a bit of Italian dressing. I haven’t exactly found a healthy substitute that I like. If you have any recommendations for a healthy salad dressing that tastes good, let me know in a comment! I also like to eat a bit of fruit such as grapes or an apple at this time.

Dinner time!

I would say that out of all of my daily meals, dinner is the one that I change up the most (though I still eat the same foods pretty often). For dinner, I enjoy salmon, chicken, pork, or beef (yeah… I could never be vegan). Today, I am sharing another go-to meal: salmon. I made pink salmon with broccoli and basmati rice for my sides. I like to switch up my sides between broccoli, rice (brown, jasmine, or basmati), or potatoes. To add some flavor, I’ll add a but of garlic powder or salt to my sides as well.

As for drinks, I really only drink water. I am not a coffee or tea drinker, and I stopped drinking soda (except on special occasions) in 2018. Before I started working out, I would drink 1 or maybe 2 bottles of water a day. Cut to over 4 years later, and I am drinking 4-5 bottles a day (4 bottles = 8 cups). I’ll typically drink 1 bottle around breakfast time, 1 during a workout, 1 around lunch time, and 1 around dinner. I keep water with me at all times, and I’ll sip it often throughout the day.

I would like to mention that this is not ALL I eat in a day. I definitely like to snack, and I like to enjoy something sweet pretty much daily. I don’t want anyone reading this to think that I eat 100% healthy 100% of the time because that is not at all true. While I am proud of how I’ve changed my diet thus far, I am not perfect, and I am still learning. I struggle with self-control when I know we have ice cream or chocolate in the house, and honestly, sometimes I’m just craving some chips or some buttery popcorn, and that is ok! I allow myself to indulge (though I try not to do it all day everyday). It is important to listen to your body. Feed it healthy and nutritious foods, but don’t forget to enjoy your favorite dessert once in a while too.

 Eating healthy has always been the hardest part of my fitness journey, but once healthy foods are incorporated into your daily routine, it becomes so much easier. Not only is this helping me reach my fitness goals, but it makes me feel really good as well. Remember that what you put into your body is either going to boost your energy or drain it. Make small, subtle changes and incorporate your favorite healthy foods into your daily meals. You are eventually going to see the changes you want to see. It takes dedication, commitment, and hard work.

Thank you so much for reading! Until next time!

10 Things I Learned When I Started Weight Training

Hey everyone! I love talking about fitness and health because it has become such a big part of my life in recent years. In February of 2016, my dad taught me how to lift weights, and thanks to him, I have been living a much healthier life ever since. I am in the midst of my 5th year of weight training, and I love it just as much as I did on day 1 (although it looks a bit different now since gyms are closed). My fitness journey, although not perfect, means so much to me, and I have learned so much along the way. Today, I want to share 10 things that I have learned since I started weight training.

  1. Your appetite will change

This is something that I was actually not expecting. I started weight training when I was in high school, and I really didn’t eat too much during my school days. After school, I would go straight to the gym, and by the time I got home I was starving. Weight training does change your appetite. Your body needs nutrients and weight training takes a lot of energy. Eating the right amount of food is going to help you. If you want to gain muscle, you need to be eating a bit more (you may even gain a bit of weight). If you are trying to tone up and stay slim, you won’t be eating as much. Be careful when it comes to your diet, and please don’t do anything extreme without speaking to your doctor first. Make small changes, and go from there!

2. Your clothes may not fit you the same

The human body is truly incredible in that it can go through many changes. My body has changed quite a bit since I first started training. This has not been too much of a struggle for me personally, however finding jeans and even some athletic leggings that fit my thighs is still a bit difficult at times! You won’t have to buy an ENTIRELY new wardrobe, but certain pairs of pants or tops may not fit you the same way anymore. Some may even fit you better!

3. Motivation comes and goes (and that’s ok)

If someone tells you that they are motivated 100% of the time, they are 100% lying to you. No one is motivated all the time, including me. I have gone through periods of serious dedication where I felt like I was reaching all of my fitness goals and seeing amazing progress. On the other hand, I’ve also gone through those awful periods where I felt so unmotivated and like I didn’t want to go to the gym anymore. We’ve all been there, you just can’t give up on it. If you have to change up your workouts, try a new form of exercise, or even take a break, do it! I promise you, your motivation will come back.

4. You’re going to make mistakes

Luckily, my dad taught me how to lift weights. I went by his instruction for a couple years and then when I started college, our schedules conflicted and we rarely went to the gym together after that. I wanted to try some new exercises, so I went on YouTube and Instagram for inspiration. There are some exercises that I failed to do correctly, and it has taken me some time to learn that if you practice and you really focus on the correct lifting form, you will get it right. Be careful when trying new exercises because lifting with incorrect form can hurt you and possibly even cause lifelong damage. Start slow, and start light. Take your time. The same thing goes for food. It took me so long to realize that just by eating healthier, I would see even more positive results and changes in my body. Living a healthy life does not just mean exercising; it involves eating healthier too.

5. Staying consistent is how you grow

If you are working out sporadically and you’re not creating a workout plan for yourself, you are not going to reach your goals. Consistency really is key, so if you aren’t making time for fitness and you’re not committed, you are not going to get the results you are hoping for. Even when you are consistent, it still takes time to see change.

6. Patience is key

I know that sometimes it can get frustrating when you’ve been working so hard in the gym and in the kitchen, but you’re still not seeing the results you want. Trust me when I say it takes time and patience. I have been working out for over 4 years now, and there are days when I still get frustrated. Keep going, and keep pushing yourself. Results will come with time and hard work. No one said it was easy, but that is what makes the end result so rewarding!

7. You should take progress photos

I wish I knew to do this earlier on! When I started weight lifting, I did take a few progress photos. I didn’t actually take many more until 2018! Take a ton of photos, because if you work hard, you will eventually see the changes in your body, and it is incredible to look at your progress over time. Without photos, you may not see all of the amazing changes that your body goes through.

8. Sometimes it is necessary to switch things up

After doing the same exercises and routine for almost 2 years, I ended up getting a bit bored in the gym. This can lead to a lack of motivation, and we do not want that! I turned to the internet to find some new exercises to try, and this was really helpful (just make sure you are doing the exercises correctly). I felt excited to try something new again!

9. Comparing your journey to someone else’s won’t end well

This can be really challenging at times. I think we have all done this before, but please don’t do it! Focus on your own journey, and understand that everyone was born in a different body. No matter how hard you push yourself, you are not going to look like that Instagram model. You just won’t. You are going to look like a stronger and more confident version of YOURSELF. You can’t make your body look like anyone else’s, so focus on your own health and do NOT compare your journey to anyone else’s.

10: You’re going to gain so much confidence

In 2016, I had no idea that I would stick with the gym, but I am so grateful that I did. I fell in love with weight training, and I’ve been doing it ever since. I did not realize that working out would make me feel so much more confident in myself, but it truly has. I think that the gym is actually one of the biggest things that brought me so much confidence. Taking care of my body by staying active and eating (mostly) healthy has changed my life in the best way.  When you prioritize your health, amazing things can happen. It all starts with you and the choices that you make.

Thank you so much for reading! I am still growing and learning everyday, so these are just some of the many lessons I have learned so far. Whether you are just getting started on your fitness journey, or you’ve been doing it for years, I hope that you found this post helpful!

At-Home Workout Guide: My Tips & Tricks

Hey everyone! With all that is going on in the world right now, I wanted to share something that may be helpful to my fellow gym lovers! Sadly (yet understandably), many gyms are temporarily closing due to the outbreak of COVID-19. This means that many people are either skipping their workouts, or working out from home.

 For me personally, I prefer working out in a gym because I feel more motivated to get through a workout this way. When I choose to workout at home, it is a bit more difficult to get through it! Well, now it looks like we don’t have much of a choice, so at-home workouts will have to do!

Today, I wanted to share some tips on how to have a great workout in the comfort of your own home! I know that not everyone has dumbbells or resistance bands lying around, but if you do, it will make your workouts even more challenging! For those of you who do not have these items at home, or cannot purchase them right now, there are alternatives! For added weight, you can use soup cans, milk jugs, bags of apples and even bags of pet food! If you plan on purchasing resistance bands or dumbbells, Amazon has some great options at a variety of prices (although you may not be able to purchase anything right now).

Since my university has moved all of our classes online, and I have been staying home more often, I have had a lot of time to myself. When I have some free time, I really enjoy pampering myself, writing, watching Netflix or YouTube, and of course, working out. I feel lucky that I am one of those people who actually enjoy working out (most of the time). Although I prefer the gym, I have gotten experimental with my at-home workouts and I have found that you do not need to go to the gym to get a great workout in! Here are some of my tips to get you through your at home workouts:

  • Purchase gym equipment OR use everyday/common household items

As I mentioned previously, having resistance bands, dumbbells, and a workout bench can be extremely helpful for completing a workout at home. However, I am aware that not everyone has this equipment at their homes, but there are alternatives (see above).

  • Make some room

Try to find an area in your home where there is enough space. Depending on where you live, this may or may not be easy. Work with what you have, and if needed, move a few things around!

  • Get experimental (find new ways to workout)

When working out at home, you are going to very quickly realize that you may not be able to do every single exercise you would normally do at the gym. For example, when I am doing a pull day, I am working my back and my biceps. If I want to do seated rows or use the lat pull down machine, I cannot necessarily do this at home. This is when you need to get experimental. YouTube and Google can be very helpful for finding new exercises. If you want to replace seated rows, for example, try taking some dumbbells and doing bent over rows. If you love weight lifting, but you’re finding it difficult to do this at home, you can find other forms of exercise. I personally love doing a combination of weight training and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Also, don’t underestimate the power of bodyweight exercises!

  • Get outdoors

Since so many of us are staying indoors right now, I think that some fresh air is especially essential. Even if you aren’t working out, I would recommend getting outside every day (even if it is just to your back yard)! If you’re able to, I would recommend working out outdoors every once in a while. Whether you want to run, lift weights, or practice some yoga, your body will thank you.

  • Grab a friend

I actually prefer to work out alone, but for some people, having a friend by their side makes exercising more enjoyable. By working out with a friend, they can help you avoid distractions, keep you motivated, and keep you laughing!

  • Blast the music

Every time I work out at home, I like to blast my music. Anything upbeat and loud usually helps me push through my workouts and keeps me moving… or should I say dancing?

  • Put your phone down

I think that one of the reasons I find working out at home to be a bit more difficult is because I am more tempted to take longer breaks/look at my phone. If you have to, turn off your ringer so you won’t hear any notifications going off. While you should absolutely take breaks in between sets, they shouldn’t be more than a couple of minutes. If you look at your phone after doing some shoulder presses, you may find that you’re on your ex boyfriend’s girlfriend’s sister’s cousin’s Instagram page 20 minutes later. Trust me, you don’t want to fall down that rabbit hole. Get a great playlist going and PUT THE PHONE DOWN.

I hope that you found these tips helpful! I know that having to stay in our homes can be frustrating at times, but please remember that by doing this, we are stopping the spread of COVID-19. Even if you are strong and healthy, you could still potentially pass on the illness to someone who isn’t as strong. Take some time to focus on your health, and hopefully sometime soon we can all go back to living a normal life! Thank you for reading!

4 Years of Weight Training

I am very proud to say that today makes 4 YEARS that I have been weight training! It truly feels like yesterday that my dad took me into the gym for the first time and taught me how to lift weights. Little did I know then that weight lifting would become so much more than a hobby. I was 16 years old, and I fell in love with it so quickly. I fell in love with the way it made me look, but more importantly, I fell in love with the way it made me feel.

 I’ve learned so much about myself and what my body is capable of in these past 4 years. My fitness journey has not been perfect. I have made some mistakes and I have gotten off track a few times. What matters is that I’ve stayed consistent. I’ve stuck with it. There is power in taking control of your health. In loving yourself. This is one step I took that led me to feel so much more confident.

When I first started weight lifting, I had no idea if I was going to like it or stick with it. My goals were to simply tone up and get to the gym 3 days a week. Now, my goals look a bit different. My schedule is a bit hectic right now, and to be honest, I haven’t been getting to the gym as often as I would like to. I was never one to work out in the mornings, but now, because of my schedule, I have been doing this twice a week. My current workout split is not ideal for me, but I have been working out at home when I can’t get to the gym. As of right now, I am working out 3-4 times a week. I have very long days, so finding the time to get to the gym with my new schedule has been a challenge, but I’ve managed to do it because it is a priority to me.

When it comes to healthy eating, this has always been one of the most challenging parts of living a healthy life for me. I first started eating healthier in January of 2018, and while I did really great that year, I got off track a bit in 2019. Now, I have been getting back into eating healthier meals, but my biggest struggle is and has always been sugar. I find it so difficult to avoid foods like ice cream, cake, or cookies. Sometimes we just have these foods lying around and it can be very tempting. I have really long days at school, so I have been eating big and healthy breakfasts, packing healthy lunches, and making myself dinner every night. On the weekends, my family likes to eat out for lunch, so I allow myself to enjoy whatever I want for those meals. (I plan on making a post all about my favorite go-to healthy meal ideas in the near future!)

Sometimes, I forget how far I’ve come. Sometimes, I struggle to see my progress. I think that because I am very hard on myself, I don’t always see how my body has changed. This is something that I am working on. Lately, I have really been learning to love my body for exactly what it is in this moment. And it feels good to feel this way. Yes, there are days when I eat a few too many cookies, or I skip a workout or two, but missing a gym day or eating a little too much sugar is NOT going to derail my progress. It is not going to make take me back down to zero.

When I stop and look back at these last 4 years in the gym, I really do feel proud of myself. I feel lucky that I am one of those crazy people who actually LOVES to workout (most of the time). I have always been a very motivated and determined person, but motivation comes and goes, and not every workout is amazing, and that is ok.

When I first stepped into the gym, I had no idea if I was going to enjoy working out. I didn’t know if I’d commit to it. I always like to thank my dad because without his guidance and support, I would not be celebrating my 4 year anniversary today. He is always the first to lift me up and remind me how amazing my progress has been. I’ve always been close with my dad, but the gym has helped us bond even more, and I am very grateful for that.

My fitness journey does not end here. Weight training is something that I plan on continuing for the rest of my life. I am also hoping to try out new forms of exercise once in a while (such as boxing). I am thankful that I got into this healthy lifestyle when I did. I truly do feel stronger, happier, and more confident than I ever have, and while I give my dad and the gym a lot of the credit, I credit myself above all else.

Thank you so much for reading. My fitness journey is personal to me, and I love sharing this part of my life with you all. As I continue on this journey, I will, of course, share more fitness updates and tips with you. Today, I just wanted to share my 4 year anniversary with you all and let you know that you really can do whatever you want to do in life. If you have a goal you desperately want to reach, go all in, and when your reach those goals, make new ones and keep going. Have patience, and most importantly, believe in yourself. I promise you, when you really work toward what you want, it will come to you. And when you come out on the other side, you are going to feel unstoppable.

Hiking Essentials

As many of you are aware, I enjoy living a healthy life. My fitness journey has not been perfect and I have gotten pretty far off track, but I have been doing a lot better lately. I know that exercising is not often described as fun, but I believe that there is something out there for everyone, whether that’s dancing, boxing, weight lifting, or running. I quickly fell in love with weight lifting as well as hiking, and after doing this combination for quite some time now, I have learned quite a bit about what to wear and what to bring for both occasions. Today I am sharing some of my hiking essentials (some of these may not be seen as a necessity to some of you. These are just some things I like to have with me. I like  to be prepared for anything). Hopefully, if you’re hiking with a friend, they can carry a few of these items as well. These are some items that I believe everyone should carry in their hiking bags.

  • Hand Sanitizer

Some people may not feel that this is necessary, but I definitely do! You never know what you may end up touching, and the bathrooms at public parks are not always incredibly clean. If you are anything like me, I suggest keeping a small hand sanitizer in your bag.

  • WATER

Never ever forget to bring water on your hikes! It doesn’t matter if it is cold or hot out; I always bring a couple water bottles with me. Not only should you be drinking 8 cups (or more) of water a day, but you should especially drink water when exercising; this includes hiking.

  • Snacks

Unless you plan on camping overnight or having a picnic, you do not need to bring a ton of food. A few simple snacks such as nuts, granola bars, or fruit should suffice. I always bring a couple snacks just in case. The hikes that I go on are not always very strenuous or too long, so it is not always an essential but you never know what may happen! Also, if you’re bringing a furry friend on your hike, make sure to have some food and water for them!

  • A portable charger

If you are going hiking, especially on a longer hike, I recommend taking a portable charger. I never really use my phone on hikes unless I am taking photos, but if your phone were to die, or if you were to get lost, it is important to have a charged phone. I like to let other family members know where I am just in case, but you should make sure to start your hikes with a fully charged phone and a portable charger.

  • Headphones

As I mentioned, I really do not use my phone when I am hiking, but if you do, and if you’re alone, you can always bring headphones to hear some of your favorite music to get you through those difficult hikes.

  • Hair ties

I always like to have my hair up and out of my face when exercising, whether that’s in the gym or on a mountain. You will rarely see me without a hair tie on my wrist! I always bring one with me anywhere I go in case mine breaks or it gets lost somewhere!

  • First aid

When you’re out hiking, there is always a chance of injury. Even if you just got a cut on your leg or finger, you should make sure to take care of it quickly in order to avoid infections and for it to heal sooner. I would recommend at least carrying a few band aids with you. It is better to be prepared, plus, band aids won’t take up any space and they won’t weigh you down.

  • Personal hygiene products

I really do not bring many personal hygiene products with me when hiking, but if you are the type of person to sweat a lot, bringing a small deodorant may be useful to you. Also, for all my ladies out there, bringing a couple feminine hygiene products with you is always a smart move.

  • Sunscreen

I think we often forget just how important it is to wear sunscreen daily, I know I do! To be completely honest, I really only wear sunscreen when I am going to be outside for a long period of time in the summer. I am trying to wear it more often all year round, but even moreso when it is sunny out. When I am hiking, I could be outdoors for anything from an hour and a half to three hours, and I want to protect my skin as much as I can. You do not need to carry this in your bag, but you should make sure to put some on before you leave the house!

Thank you so much for reading! Leave me a comment below and tell me what your hiking essentials are!

Indulging Over The Holidays

Today I wanted to share an important message with you all. I think that this is something people should hear more often, especially around the holidays. Living a healthy life is not always easy. Luckily for me, I enjoy working out most of the time, so this is not much of a problem for me. What has been difficult however, is healthy eating. I made the decision to start eating healthier in January of 2018, and while I would say that I have done pretty well and stuck to that decision, I have definitely gotten off track this year, and I have mentioned it on my blog before. I have never struggled with any kind of eating disorder and for the most part I would say that my relationship with food is pretty healthy, however it is not perfect.

Even when I first started to change my diet and eat healthier, I always allowed myself to indulge once in a while. I would eat mostly healthy during the week and then on the weekends I would allow myself to go out and enjoy lunch with my family and when I got home I would try to snack on healthier foods for the rest of the day. This is a plan that I decided to stick with and I am still trying to go by it today (I found that this is what works for me, but it may not work for you, so find what works for you and stick to it)! Even though I feel that I got off track with food and even the gym at times this year, I deserve to enjoy the holidays, and so do you.

Whether you have been working extremely hard in the gym and the kitchen this year, or you got off track like me, it is 100% OK to let yourself enjoy those holiday treats. Obviously, you should still try to eat healthy and workout during this time of year, but having some Christmas cookies or missing a few workouts will not derail your progress. For me personally, I don’t workout on holidays and around Christmas time especially, I want to spend time with my family so this means skipping my workouts  a few times. Even if you feel like you didn’t make a ton of progress this year, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. This is something that I am still trying to learn, so if you are feeling the same way, you are not alone.

You do not necessarily have to avoid foods that may be described as “unhealthy” or “fattening”. Yes, you should remember to eat these foods in moderation, but avoiding them completely is somewhat unrealistic, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying them from time to time. If you are trying to eat healthier, remember that changing your diet is a process and it is one that takes time, so allow yourself that time.  

This isn’t just a message that I am sharing with athletes, this is for EVERYONE: let yourself indulge every once in a while. If you know that you are going to want to enjoy the sweet and delicious foods around this time of year, leading up to the celebrations, just do your best to eat healthy and when the time comes, enjoy yourself. I personally feel that the food is one of the things that makes the holidays complete. Don’t feel guilty for wanting to eat what you want to eat. Living a healthy life is important and I am working hard to get back on track, but trust me when I say that this holiday season I am going to enjoy all of the hot chocolate and cookies with no shame because I deserve it, and so do you!

I hope that this message sticks with you today and every day, and I hope you are all having a great December! Christmas is coming so quickly and although I am excited, I also don’t want it to end! I have some exciting blog posts coming up before the New Year, so stay tuned for those! Thank you so much for reading… now I am going to go find some chocolate!

Workout Essentials: What’s in My Gym Bag

Hey everyone! I am so excited to share this post with you today! If you are an avid gym goer like myself, you may or may not be aware that there are certain things that you can add to your workouts that will help you reach your goals, big or small. These items can also help you feel more comfortable in the gym. Today I am going to share what is in my gym bag, and why each of these items are essential for me to have!

  • Headphones

This one is pretty obvious, but there have been times where I have forgotten my headphones at home, and it was AWFUL. (If you are an iphone user like me, and you are using headphones that aren’t from Apple, make sure to bring the headphone jack with you!) Even though the gym is always playing music, I prefer to have my own playlist going while I work out!

  • Cell phone armband

While I am working out, I do not want to have to worry about where to put my phone. I always keep an armband in my gym bag so that I can place it on my arm, and if I need to change a song or text someone back, I can still use my phone while wearing the armband.

  • Resistance bands

If you are weight training, resistance bands are game changers (particularly for lower body days)! Resistance bands are used to add resistance to your exercises. Your muscles will work against the resistance, which in turn makes exercises more challenging, but more effective as well. Using these will also help target your glutes, so I use resistance bands during glute activation and for various exercises on lower body days such as hip thrusts, squats, and fire hydrants. If these sound like they would be useful to you, I highly recommend looking into buying them. They can get expensive, but I would not recommend buying the ones made of rubber latex, because they can roll/slip, and I have had one break on me before. Try buying ones that are labeled “non-slip” and made of a stronger material. Make sure to buy a pack that includes bands at different levels (light-heavy).

  • Velcro ankle straps

The cable machines add constant tension to your exercises and they help you control your movements. Ankle straps can be very helpful for cable machine exercises such as glute kickbacks, lunges, hip abductors, and hamstring curls. I do not use these every lower body day, but trust me when I say that you will FEEL it in your muscles when you use the cable machine!

  • Personal hygiene items such as:
    • Deodorant/perfume
    • Lotion or hand sanitizer
    • Razor
    • Hair ties
    • Feminine products

It is so very important to make sure that you are heading to the gym with personal hygiene products. Before I go to the gym, I always put deodorant on, and I spritz on a tiny bit of perfume/body spray. I like to keep a mini deodorant in my gym bag just in case I ever forget to put some on, or if I need to reapply while at the gym (if you are the kind of person who sweats a lot, using a bit of baby powder on your armpits can keep you dry longer)! You DON’T want to be the person who smells like body odor, but you also don’t want to be the person who reeks of cologne (we all know these people). A little can go a long way, but just remember to be aware of and take care of your personal hygiene.

I keep lotion and a razor in my bag just in case. My legs tend to get very dry, so if I am wearing shorts or cropped leggings, I like to put on a bit of lotion. I also wash my hands after every workout since I am constantly touching dumbbells or machines that other people have touched. If you want to carry hand sanitizer instead, you can definitely do that!

There have been times when I have walked through the doors of the gym and I realized that I didn’t have a hair tie on me. I had to ask at the front desk if they had hair ties, but all they could offer was rubber bands (if you have ever put a rubber band in your hair, you know it is not fun to take out).

Don’t ever forget feminine products. I always have something on me just in case.

  • Water

I always try to drink 8 cups of water a day. It is extremely important to drink water, especially during a workout. I always bring 2 bottles to the gym with me (I usually drink at least one of them during my actual workout). In total, I drink 4 water bottles a day.

  • A quick post-workout snack

If you aren’t going to eat a full meal after a workout, you should still try to eat something. Eating after a workout is very important, so try to get something in your stomach and eat a full meal as soon as you can. If you are going to grab a snack, make sure it is healthy and that there is a decent amount of protein in it.

  • Towel

I always bring a clean hand towel to the gym with me because you never know who was using the bench or machine before you. You should always make sure to clean the equipment after you use it, and if you feel the need to, you can clean it beforehand as well. I place a towel wherever I am going to lay my head down, and I make sure that the side that is facing the equipment does not ever touch my face or my head.

  • Lifting gloves

If you don’t want calluses or rough hands from lifting, you could always wear gloves. I used to wear them when I first started working out, but I don’t really care to wear them anymore. The lifting gloves can also help with your grip. If you are a beginner, or you just want to try them out, I recommend it.

  • Barbell pad

I actually do not have a barbell pad at the moment. My gym does have a few, but I would prefer to use my own. Barbell pads are great for protecting your neck and shoulders when doing any exercise where a long bar or barbell is going to be over your shoulders. They can also help when doing hip thrusts and they can make performing exercises much more comfortable. I am asking for one for Christmas so hopefully I will have my own soon!

Thank you so much for reading! Leave me a comment and let me know what your gym bag essentials are! If you feel that I missed something and want to recommend it to me, I would love to know in a comment below!