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!

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!

Fitness Update: October 2019

Today I wanted to share a fitness update with you! I plan on sharing these every once in a while just to give you a bit of insight on where I currently am on my fitness journey and to keep myself on track!

I hate to say it, but this year I let myself lose my motivation and I have seriously been struggling to get it back. I won’t blame it all on school and being tired, but those have been a small part of why I haven’t been feeling my best when it comes to fitness and health. In 2018, I was in the gym four times a week, doing new exercises and feeling great about all of it. I worked really hard, but then all of a sudden after months of hard work, I started to crash. It was around September-October last year when I started to fall into a fitness rut. To go from lifting four times a week (and working out for a total of six) to not wanting to do it anymore was devastating and confusing. This has happened to me before as well. After my two year anniversary of weight training I noticed that I was losing my motivation a bit so I changed my workouts and started to eat healthier, leading to amazing progress in 2018.

I thought that I could do what I did in the past and it would work again. If I changed my workouts and focused, I’d get back into it. Well, that didn’t really happen. I think that there have been multiple factors that have led me to this point this year. School and school work have always been one of my top priorities, so this sometimes takes precedence over the gym. During the school year, I do not always get enough sleep (depending on my schedule) so there are days when I just do not feel like I can get through a workout. I also share a car with a couple of my siblings, so a car is not always available for me to take. I won’t make excuses though. I need to make the choice to get my workouts in. I need to change my attitude again. I hate that I let myself fall for so long because it just got easier to make excuses as to why I couldn’t get to the gym. I can’t believe that I’ve been feeling this way for about a year now.

Even though I haven’t been feeling up to it for quite a while now, there were days when I would tell myself “you’re going to kill this workout”, and I would. I had great days. Great weeks even. But none of it seemed to last. I feel like I wasn’t making much progress this past year. I would say that during the school year, I was getting to the gym 2-3 times a week, if that. I would try to workout at home at times but it’s a bit harder to get through it when you’re not at the gym. Eating healthier was also starting to feel more difficult. Although I’ve stuck with it pretty well, I seemed to be more tempted to eat too many sweets and I would let myself eat some things that aren’t too good for me.

I think it is important to be honest and to be real with people because although I love weight training, there are still times when I don’t feel like doing it. There are still times where I make excuses and lose my motivation. After looking back at this past year, I want to do better. I want to be excited to be back in the gym again. My health is important to me, and I am happy to say that I feel like my motivation is coming back. I don’t really know what brought it on, but I have been enjoying my workouts a bit more lately. I am starting to make new goals for myself, and I am going to try to change things up a bit. I am not too sure where to start, but I think that maybe I should start with my attitude. Right now, my goals are to get stronger, eat healthier than I ever have before, and get to the gym whenever I can because there IS always time, even with my schedule. I’ve talked about it in a blog post before, and I will likely say it again and again, but your attitude affects everything. I am always trying to better myself, and I don’t want to get so far off track again. I can’t take it back, so instead of focusing on my failures, I am just going to move forward and do better. I am proud to say that my 4 year anniversary of weight training is coming up in the next few months and I can’t wait! If my 16 year old self could see me today (even with the setbacks), I know she’d be proud. Even though I got a bit off track, it didn’t take away all of the progress that I’ve made for the past 4 years. A couple things that have been helping me get back into it are my dad, because he is the one who got me into this healthy lifestyle, my attitude, making the right choices, making new goals, changing things up, and showing up, even when I don’t want to.

Thank you so much for reading. Sharing personal things like this always makes me a bit anxious, but I know there are people out there who can relate. I want to tell you that no matter what setbacks you go through, know that you can always push past it. You WILL get through it. Living a healthy life is not always easy, and you are going to have difficult moments, just don’t stay stuck. Find new ways to feel excited about working out and eating healthy again. Try something new, and don’t give up. Remember that you started for a reason, and as you continue on your fitness journey, you’re going to look back and be so proud of what you’ve accomplished. I know I am.

(If you want to know more about my fitness journey, check out the “Fitness and Self-Care” section of my website, and read the blog post titled “My Fitness Journey”.)

The Importance of Nutrition + My Experience with Healthy Eating

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that I am not a dietician, nutritionist, or qualified in any way to discuss nutrition, however I wanted to share my journey with food because it is a big part of my love for fitness and health. This is just MY experience so far, and I do not believe that anyone should copy it exactly. Take my story with a grain of salt, and if you do decide to make changes to your diet, start slowly and talk to your doctor. Take care of yourself!

You know that saying, “You are what you eat”? Well, I didn’t realize just how true it was until I started to change my diet. When my two year anniversary of weight training came around, I felt so strongly about trying something new. I was doing the same exact exercises every week, and I continued to eat whatever I wanted, and although I saw results in my first two years in the gym, it got to a point where I felt like my body started to plateau. I felt like I needed something to boost my motivation again. So, in January of 2018, I decided it was time for a change. I slowly started to change my diet (SLOWLY being the key word here).

I never really had any body image issues, but I wouldn’t say that I completely loved my body. I think that everyone goes through periods where we don’t necessarily like our bodies, and that’s ok, but we should work toward loving them daily. I’ve never had any eating disorders but if I am being honest, when I changed my diet, I realized just how dangerous diet culture can be. (I didn’t make any drastic changes, and I didn’t do anything unhealthy or anything that could hurt me in any way. But I could definitely see how people could get to that point when it comes to food.) When you’re trying to reach a certain goal when it comes to food and eating right, you CAN NOT be hard on yourself. I am always hard on myself, but I am learning to relax a little and just do the best that I can (in all aspects of life). I also wanted to mention that you do not need to focus on a number on the scale. As long as you know you are healthy and doing your best, THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS. If weighing yourself gives you anxiety or it makes you feel insecure, don’t do it unless your doctor asks you to, and if you are concerned about your health, speak to them.

When I first changed my diet, I would say that my goals were to eat less sugar, to eat to build muscle (this meant eating a bit more than I was before), to cut out processed foods, and to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and protein in my diet. Before I made any changes, my diet was not terrible, but definitely not very healthy. In the mornings before school I would eat cereal or toast with butter, for lunch I’d have a turkey sandwich with chips and a chocolate covered granola bar or cookies, and for dinner I would usually eat some kind of meat like chicken or beef, and a side like mashed potatoes or rice. I definitely snacked between these meals as well. I absolutely LOVED ramen noodles and those frozen pizzas which are processed foods. In the beginning, I was so determined to turn things around, and I did. I didn’t reach my goals right away, and honestly I haven’t completely reached a couple of these goals; there are still a couple processed foods that I eat. Did I mention I have a MASSIVE sweet tooth? This is going to sound absolutely ridiculous, but I am so addicted to chocolate that I truly feel like I need a little bit EVERY DAY or I’ll go insane. Ice cream is also a problem for me. It is very hard for me to avoid sugary and sweet temptations, but I try. What I have done that seems to help me is I will take a few pieces of chocolate rather than eating an entire bar. I don’t always have to eat the entire chocolate bar in one day (but there are still times when I do). Some of the foods that are always on our grocery list now that I’ve changed my diet are broccoli, carrots, salmon, chicken breast, oatmeal, and quinoa to name a few. My meals are almost the exact same everyday now, particularly my breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Dinner is usually different depending on what my family makes and if I like it. One of the biggest differences I noticed when I changed my diet is that I was feeling SO much better. I feel like I have so much more energy when I am eating right, and it makes me feel a bit more confident knowing that I am taking care of my body even more now than I used to.

Even now, I am still learning to love my body for exactly what it is today. Not for what it will be in a few months or a few years. It isn’t easy but we need to try to love our bodies. Think about what our bodies do for us every day. It is truly incredible. Your body is working so hard to keep you alive, so you should love and appreciate it. So many older people tell me that I’ll look back at my body when I was 20 and wish I looked like that again. Realistically throughout life, our bodies are going to change. When I am 40, I won’t necessarily look the way I did when I was 20, but that is ok. I want to learn to love my body at any stage in my life, and as I get older, I think I will be better at eating healthier. As a full time college student, it isn’t always easy to eat healthy. I don’t have much money, but I do still live at home, which helps! Lately I’ve been lacking motivation and I haven’t been feeling as great, so for now I am trying to focus on getting back on track with my gym schedule and with food!

Some quick tips to start eating healthier:

  • I’ll say it again, start SLOW. You do not want to rush into changing your diet. What you eat can really affect you in both negative and positive ways. If something is going to negatively affect you and your health, such as a trendy diet, do some research and speak to your doctor.
  • Understand that cutting out something like carbs is not exactly good for you. Eating carbs is NOT going to make you gain a ton of weight. As long as you are exercising frequently and eating things such as pasta and bread in moderation, you’ll be fine! A balanced diet is important.
  • Try to snack on things such as fruits or nuts instead of chips or candy. Because of the natural sugars in fruits, this can actually satisfy that sweet craving often!
  • Don’t copy anyone else’s diet. Just because you see someone who looks very fit and healthy, that does not mean that their diet is what is going to make you healthy. You need to look at your own personal goals and go from there.
  • I wouldn’t recommend following any of those “90 Day Fat Loss” challenges or anything like that. I personally feel like when you make short term goals for yourself, once you reach that 90th day, you kind of feel like you don’t have to try anymore. Make long term goals. Eat healthy because you want to live a long and healthy life, not because you want to be “skinny for summer” or “beach body ready”.
  • Give in to your cravings sometimes, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Remember to make goals for yourself that are attainable. Try to be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Look at where you are in your life, and see if you should even be making any drastic changes. If you are an avid gym goer like me and you want to see results, they WILL come! It takes patience and hard work in the gym and in the kitchen.

I hope that you learned a little bit more about me through this post, and I hope that I was able to help you in some way! Thank you so much for reading!