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!

Holiday Outfit Ideas

Whether you are attending a holiday party or you’re simply spending time with family and friends like me, you may be unsure about what to wear. I know that for some people, the idea of dressing up can be a bit stressful, especially for bigger events, so today, I am here to help! I have put together three different holiday outfits to wear for any occasion! Whether you would describe your fashion sense as “casual” or “classy”, these three outfits should spark some inspiration!

This first outfit is for those of you who prefer a more classic look. You can never go wrong with black and white. I think that these two colors always look good together, and this outfit may be my favorite of the three! I first took some simple black pants and paired them with a long sleeved black top with pearl accents. I then took a white peacoat to wear on top. Lastly, I wore my black knee-high boots (which you will see me wear quite often in the winter time).

Next up, I have an outfit that is for those of you who don’t really love to dress up and prefer a more casual or comfy look. First, I took a pair of dark wash jeans and paired them with a simple white sweater. If you are a fan of color, and you want to stand out a bit more or feel more festive, a red or green sweater would look just as nice! I then took a pair of faux leather boots to match the outfit. With a simple outfit like this one, I recommend accessorizing with a shiny pair of earrings or a nice necklace. You can also add a scarf to the outfit for a cozier feel.

And lastly, this outfit is for those of you who like to have a bit of fun with fashion, and would describe your style as “girly” or “trendy”. This is a beautiful red off the shoulder dress with a scalloped neckline. I wore this dress a couple years ago for Christmas Eve and I still adore it to this day. I paired it with the same knee-high boots from the first outfit!

Whenever I want to wear dresses or skirts in the winter, I’ll typically pair them with my knee-high boots. Since it can get pretty cold where I live at times, I always wear knee-high socks with my boots to stay warm. Even though it’s not much, it still helps (plus, I don’t spend a ton of time outside in the winter anyway, so when I do, I bundle up and rush inside!)

I hope that these outfits gave you a bit of holiday fashion inspiration, and I hope that these tips were helpful! And if you still want to wear sweatpants and hoodies instead, trust me, I feel you! Let me know which outfit is your favorite in a comment below. Thank you so much for reading!

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!

Gym Tips for Beginners

I remember how I felt when I first started going to the gym. I felt like everyone was watching and judging me, and I was a little nervous that I was doing something wrong. Luckily, I had my Dad right by my side to teach me everything I needed to know. I know that not everyone has someone to head over to the gym with and I can imagine that going by yourself would be a little nerve wracking at first, so I am here to give you some tips to get over that fear today!

  • Go with a friend

As I just mentioned, going to the gym alone can be a little scary at first, so if you can, grab a friend, parent, sibling, or whoever you feel comfortable with and work out together! This way, you will be more focused on you and your friend and not on everyone that is “watching you”. Most of the time people are at the gym to better themselves, not to watch others and laugh at them. I have to say, I have met many more kind and supportive people at my gym than judgmental and rude people.

  • Plan your workouts ahead of time

YouTube has so many helpful videos that demonstrate the proper way to perform any exercise. (I would try to find videos of someone reputable and trustworthy. You don’t want to hurt yourself or perform any of the exercises incorrectly.) Watching videos and practicing the exercises at home will help you feel more confident when you’re in the gym!

  • Find the form of exercise that you love the most (or one that you can at least somewhat deal with)

There are so many different forms of exercise, and just because weight lifting is my favorite way, it does not mean that it will be yours too. You do not have to have a gym membership to get a good workout in, or to be healthy. Running, lifting, hiking, dancing, yoga, and participating in sports are all great ways to work out! Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to try new things!

  • Create a playlist

Another way to combat nerves is to have a fun workout playlist! Pick your favorite upbeat songs to play while you kill it! Not only will hearing your favorite songs make you less nervous, it can also help you focus and get you through difficult exercises!

  • BREATHE

This one may seem obvious, but I cannot tell you how many times I will forget to breathe properly during my workouts.  As you exert energy, exhale. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.

  • Start slow and start light

There is absolutely NO reason to lift 50 pounds on your first day at the gym unless you want to injure yourself. There is nothing wrong with taking the 5 pound dumbbells and using them for your entire upper body day. If you feel like 5’s are way too easy, try the next number up. Don’t forget to go slow and control your movements.  (Remember that although the 5’s may seem easy on your first set, as you get to your second or third, it may get more difficult. Don’t get ahead of yourself.)

  • It’s not a competition or a race (unless it actually is)

If you are heading to the gym with a partner, whether they are more experienced in the gym or not, you do NOT have to use the same weights they are using, or go as fast as they are on the treadmill. Unless it is actually a competition that you are participating in, there’s no need to focus so much on the other person. Don’t compare yourself to someone else. Although healthy competition is good for us at times, in many cases it is better to simply focus on yourself and do what is best for you. (Use these people as motivation; you will get to where they are one day!)

  • Designate a small corner of the gym for your workout

I have been going to the gym for almost 4 years now and this is something I still do to this day. If you are uncomfortable working out in front of a bunch of people or you just like a more private workout, try to find a corner of your gym where no one really goes too often and do your exercises over there (preferably near a mirror so you can see what you are doing).

  • Wear what makes you comfortable (but follow your gym’s dress code)

If you are most comfortable in leggings and a tank top, wear it! If you are more comfortable in an oversized t-shirt and shorts, wear it! If you are constantly tugging at your clothes and walking around uncomfortably, you are not going to get a good workout in.

I hope that you found some of these tips helpful and before you know it you’ll be walking around the gym like you own it! I am planning on posting a fitness update sometime in the near future so be on the lookout for that! Thank you for reading! Now go kill it!