Fitness Update: September 2021

As some of you may know, fitness became an important part of my life in February of 2016. Truthfully, I started working out just to see if it was something I could stick with, and I ended up falling in love with weight lifting. My dad trained me for a couple years before I started working out on my own and learning new things. My best year of my fitness journey was definitely 2018. I decided to start eating a bit healthier and trying new exercises in the gym. I felt unstoppable that year. In 2019 I felt like I needed a bit of a change, and before I could really act on anything, 2020 came around, and we all know how that year turned out. Since I did not feel safe or comfortable at my gym (and I don’t think it was even an option to go), I decided to start doing yoga. I was starting to get used to at-home workouts, and for a while I was doing pretty well! I was continuing with my weight lifting and HIIT while incorporating yoga every single evening. Toward the end of 2020, I felt very unmotivated with working out. I kept doing yoga, but I was not lifting as frequently. 2021 rolled around and my feelings about working out have pretty much remained the same. I felt/feel like I’ve been struggling with a lack of motivation when it comes to weights and HIIT/cardio. And that takes us to today’s update…

I told myself that I would never stop working out; that there would never be a good enough excuse to just stop completely, and ultimately I still think this is true. Yes, breaks are super important because sometimes our bodies simply need to rest and relax for a while. I highly encourage anyone who is super active to take a couple weeks to a month off from time to time. This will not only give your body a chance to rest, but it will also allow you to get creative and find new forms of exercise or workouts to try when you get back to it! Plus, your body will not change very much by taking a little break (trust me, you’ll be fine). Weirdly enough, I feel like I am in that in-between stage of not being incredibly active, but also not taking a full rest. I still work out (mostly doing yoga), but I feel like there are definitely times when I am not putting in 100% of the effort. I’ve read a quote recently that said something along the lines of “it’s better to show up and give 50% than to not show up at all” and this stuck with me. At least I am trying, and I give myself credit for that.

To be honest, I really miss the feeling of loving a workout. I think I am kind of over at-home workouts at this point, and I am so ready to get back into the gym. I feel like I worked harder in that environment and I always felt strong, empowered, and like my best self any time I walked out of the gym. At this point in time, I do feel like I would be comfortable going back to the gym (I am fully vaccinated which makes me feel better about it), but my lifestyle does not exactly line up with my fitness goals at the moment. I’ve been and will be doing quite a bit of traveling, and it is difficult to find the time and motivation to do a complete workout while being so far from home. I need to get creative and find new ways to stay active while traveling, even if that means trying something completely different from what I am used to (ex: working out at a different time of day, completing short but intense workouts or long and less challenging ones, experimenting with new forms of exercise, etc.). I am actually looking forward to doing this, and my boyfriend has been incredibly supportive. We even plan to workout together when I go to visit him.

I think it all comes down to dedication and commitment, which are two things I’ve always been capable of. I refuse to let any of this bring me down or stop me from truly enjoying my workouts. Anyone out there who is passionate about fitness will probably understand my current struggle. I want to do anything and everything I can to feel motivated and excited about working out again. I’ve never stopped believing in myself, and I truly am proud of how far I’ve come. I have been on my fitness journey for a little over six years and I’ve made so much progress in that time. While there are ups and downs to any fitness journey, I know that there is no such thing as going backwards.

I haven’t been doing the absolute best when it comes to healthy eating, however this has always been the biggest challenge for me in relation to living a healthy life. I want to get back on track, but I think it is important to make small, attainable goals first. Baby steps are still steps after all. Even if it means incorporating a few healthy snacks into my days more often, I will do it. I’ve always felt that balance is important in every aspect of life. I don’t want to be too strict with food or fitness because I know that I deserve to enjoy the sweet things in life from time to time, as well as rest days.

I will also make it goal to start working out with weights slowly and doing it more often over time. For example, maybe instead of weight training for five or six days a week like I used to, I will start with two to three days a week, and as I start to feel better about it, I’ll go from there. Or, if I am traveling and do not have the necessary equipment, I can always do HIIT/cardio or yoga. I just want to keep my body healthy and moving. Living a sedentary life isn’t good for anyone, and after being active for many years, it just doesn’t feel right to me. I almost feel guilty when I sit down for too long!

I truly believe in making certain changes in your life in order to be your best self. For me, some of the things that make me feel good are writing/journaling, being outdoors, spending time with those I love, and of course working out. There is nothing like powering through a challenging workout and feeling resilient, powerful, and strong. Even when my legs were shaking from all of the glute and quad work and I was dripping in sweat after cardio, I loved knowing that I completed a workout. Another goal of mine will be to get back into the gym as soon as possible so I can feel that once again. I also want to really do something different when I do go back. Doing the same exercises over and over again for too long gets boring and repetitive for me.

I really wanted to share this fitness update to let you know that it is ok to feel burnt out, or like you don’t want to work out for a while. It’s ok to need a break or to take some time to come up with new goals for yourself. As you grow and learn, it would be silly to continue doing the exact same thing anyway! I am so ready to enjoy my workouts again! I will change my mindset. I will push myself. And I will be stronger than ever before. I will speak it, pray it, and manifest it into existence. Most of all, I will believe in myself. I highly encourage that you do the same. We’ve got this!

Thank you for reading!

My 5 Year Fitness Anniversary

Today makes exactly 5 years since I first began weight training! I truly can’t believe that so much time has passed, when it feels like just yesterday my dad took me to the gym for the first time and taught me how to lift weights. I was 16 years old, and now I am 21. Last year, I titled my anniversary post, “4 Years of Weight Training”, however in my 5th year of my fitness journey, I began exploring other physical activities that have become a part of my daily/weekly routine. While my 5th year was a bit unconventional (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), I still wanted to share what changes occurred, how I felt, and any progress I noticed throughout the year. If you have read any of my fitness posts over this past year, you may already know some of the things I will be discussing today, so I’ll try to keep it (somewhat) brief.

The last time I worked out in a gym was in early March of 2020. Since then, at-home workouts became the new norm, which was difficult to adjust to at first. Once I got into a routine that worked for me, I really enjoyed my workouts. I would say that I lifted weights around 3-4 times a week and did HIIT 3 times a week. I was on top of my workouts for the most part, however, toward the middle of the year, I started to become a bit bored with my usual workout routines. This has been a common pattern for me over the past 5 years. After doing the same thing for so long, I easily get bored, thus, leading to a lack of motivation and less excitement when it comes to fitness. So, I did my best to change things up. While I never quit weight lifting, I did enjoy experimenting with new forms of exercise.

In April of 2020, I began doing yoga daily. A couple of my family members have been doing it with me, which makes it even more enjoyable. I made it a goal of mine to never skip a day, and I am proud to say that I’ve stuck to it. Even when I went away to the beach and to the mountains with my family, I still did yoga every evening. Even on days when I wasn’t feeling too great, or I had a lot on my plate, I still completed my practice. I like to do 10-30 minutes of yoga a day. I wasn’t sure that I would ever enjoy yoga, but honestly, it is so beneficial for so many different reasons. I wrote an entire blog post on the benefits of yoga (click here to read). Not only does it give me a chance to unwind and relax, but it is also a great way to work out and challenge myself. Despite what many people think, yoga is not always relaxing and easy. You can definitely work up a sweat and gain strength in your entire body. Yoga is not just about the core. I have noticed incredible improvements with my balance, my strength, and even my mindset. I also noticed that I was toning up a lot! I reached my goal of finding a new form of exercise, while still sticking with weight training, and I am very proud of this. I am also very interested in boxing! Although I’ve never really tried it, I think I would really enjoy it! Maybe sometime soon, when things are safer, I can try to find a place to box! I know this is something my dad would enjoy too, so maybe we can do it together!

Also, since January of 2019, I have been going on monthly hikes with my uncle (and sometimes my brother). I made it a goal of mine to go hiking at least once a month, and this is something I’ve really been enjoying! Some hikes are more moderate whereas others are more intense. It is so nice to get outside and exercise, especially since COVID hit. It is peaceful, and we are often rewarded with gorgeous views during or at the end of our hikes!

I also wanted to briefly discuss food, because this is an important part of staying healthy as well. As some of you may know, eating healthy has always been the most difficult part of living a healthy life for me, and I think many people can relate to this. In 2018, I did really well by changing up my diet and drinking more water. In 2019, I struggled with my motivation a bit more, and I wasn’t as focused on eating healthy. At this point, I am honestly still struggling with food, but I am trying to stick to healthy foods that I enjoy, while limiting some of the sweets that I tend to enjoy just a bit too often. It’s going to take some time and patience, as well as some serious dedication, but I am not someone who gives up easily on things that I want, so I am going to continue pushing myself. While I have never struggled with an eating disorder or an unhealthy relationship with food, I still think it is important to remind people that food is not the enemy. You have the control, and you can stop from giving in to temptations. Life is all about balance, and food should be enjoyed. So, it is completely ok to indulge in some of the foods that aren’t necessarily healthy once in a while. Just remember to limit the amount of these foods. While it can be very challenging to change up your diet, it is such an incredible feeling once you start to put healthy and nutritious foods into your body, and this is something I need to remind myself of more often. The way that working out and eating healthy makes me feel is the most powerful form of motivation. We all want to feel our best, and when I am taking care of my overall health, that is when I do.

My current workout split is not very strict. I’ve been listening to my body and what it needs a lot. Right now, I am weight training and doing HIIT 3 times a week, I am doing yoga daily, and some days, I will go for walks around my neighborhood. I am eager to get back in the gym, but for now, I am thankful that I have some of the equipment that I need at home. I have been looking to the internet and social media to get inspiration and motivation (which I recommend), and this has also helped me find new workouts to do to keep things exciting.

I always like to thank my dad for introducing me to the world of fitness. I was never very athletic and I felt that working out just wasn’t for me. Things changed when he taught me how to lift weights because I found not only a new hobby, but a new passion. I made goals to strive for, and I pushed myself during every single workout. Without his guidance and support, I probably would not have fallen in love with fitness, at least not at that time. I am very grateful for him and for our bond. Fitness brought us even closer, and even though I stopped going to the gym with him after my first couple years, I still think of all that he’s taught me, and how proud he is of me. I am also so glad that I recognized the importance of taking care of myself at such a young age. While there is no age limit to starting your fitness journey, it’s always amazing to get a head start.

I am very proud of how far I’ve come in these past 5 years. While I did not make a ton of progress this year, I am looking forward to working harder and disciplining myself even more for my 6th year (and hopefully getting back in the gym soon too). I wanted to remind anyone reading that your health matters. You have the power do incredible things, and taking care of your body should always be a top priority. Even when it is difficult and all motivation seems lost, keep going. Trust me, you’re going to be so glad you did! At this point, I can’t even imagine giving up, so I never will. I am going to continue on my fitness journey, and work toward reaching new goals! I always say that people should find some form of exercise that works for them; something they enjoy. For me, that happens to be weight lifting and yoga, but everyone is different. Find what works for you, and stick with it. In time, you will reap the benefits which are so incredibly rewarding! Not only will your body start to change, but your mindset will too!

Thank you so much for reading! I plan to continue sharing updates, tips, and changes throughout my 6th year, so I hope that you will follow along and join me! Check out my Instagram, @sacchere14 to see a video I put together using clips/photos from the past five years!

Until next time!

A Guide to Glute Growth

Disclaimer: I am in no way a personal trainer, nor am I an expert on this topic. I just wanted to share my experience with lifting and shaping my glutes, and talk about what has worked for me! I have been weight training for around 4 ½ years, and even though I have experience, I do not know everything. What I am sharing with you today are some things that I have learned over the years. If you want to learn more about the glute muscles, what a calorie surplus/deficit is, or what any of these exercises are, I highly recommend you research them further, and make sure the information is from a reputable source. (I am aware that many gyms are still closed due to COVID-19, including my own, but you can still work your glutes at home!)

While it can be difficult to lift and shape your glutes, you WILL get results so long as you are taking the proper steps (keep in mind the the gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body). When I first started weight training, I didn’t really have a set goal in mind. I just wanted to learn how to lift weights correctly. After a couple years of learning and creating new goals for myself, I decided that I wanted to start changing things up a bit. I started going to the gym on my own and changing my exercises as well as my workout split.

I’ve found that shaping and lifting your glutes takes a lot of hard work and discipline. While I have seen great changes when it comes to my glutes, I am continuing to learn and work harder to get to where I want to be.

Here are some tips that I wanted to share with you:

  • EAT (enough)

If your goal is to grow your glutes, this tip is especially important. When I first started trying to grow my glutes, I had no idea that I would have to eat more than I already was. I was also surprised and a bit discouraged when I learned that it’s not very likely that you will grow your glutes and flatten your stomach at the same time. I have often heard that if you want to grow your glutes, you need to be in a calorie surplus. At first, I really did not know what this meant. I haven’t looked into it very much because I prefer not to track my calories. Through trial and error, I have found what works for me and what doesn’t. I allow myself to trust and listen to what my body needs, and I often go by that. Since I started working on my glutes, I have been eating a bit more than I used to, but the change was not too drastic. Decide what your goals are, and decide what you want to focus on right now, and go from there. Just make sure that if you are going to be eating more or less, to do it safely and make sure to eat healthy foods that will help you reach your goals!

  • Mind to muscle connection

My dad taught me this very early on: when performing any exercise, you need to think about the muscles you are targeting. If you are targeting your glutes, really think about your movements and think about working the right muscles. If you are simply squatting without much thought, you will most likely not get the results you are hoping for. Mind to muscle connection is a very real thing for any exercise, so make sure you are focused on what you are doing.

  • Slow down

All too often, I see people rushing through their workouts. While I understand some people want to squeeze gym sessions into very busy schedules, rushing through a workout will not lead to great results. Not only that, but you can hurt yourself in the process. If you are running low on time, try to pick a few exercises you know you want to complete that day. By doing this, you can take your time and really focus on your movements.

  • Glute activation

Glute activation is when you perform quick and repetitive movements in order to wake up your glutes. Many people do not work these muscles on a daily/weekly basis, so activating them can be difficult at first. Resistance bands have been very helpful to me for activating my glutes. Before I start any lower body day, I grab a resistance band. You want to place the resistance band right above your knees and you can warm up by doing glute kickbacks, fire hydrants, squats, etc. I use a resistance band for most of my lower body exercises. They help you target your glutes and it makes the exercises a bit more challenging. I wouldn’t recommend using these at first. Learn how to correctly perform the exercises and practice it for a while before using any resistance bands. You will still be able to activate your glutes a bit without them.

  • Hip thrusts

This exercise has absolutely changed the game for my glutes. I’m not going to lie, this exercise is going to look and feel pretty awkward and maybe even a little uncomfortable. I would recommend practicing it at home beforehand.  Make sure that your form is correct before doing this exercise in the gym (this will make you feel much more confident). I felt and sometimes still feel awkward when performing this exercise, so if you can, go to a corner of your gym and do your hip thrusts there. Make sure your movements are controlled, and that you are breathing through it properly. I would also like to say that when starting any new exercise, you should always start with lighter weight. However, you should have a goal to continue to add more weight over time. If your goal is to grow your glutes, you will need to be lifting heavier, just don’t overdo it.

  • Hip abductors

This is another exercise that will help grow your glutes. Many people do not realize that we have three muscles that make up our glutes: the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. Many people are familiar with the maximus because it is the largest muscle of the three (and in the human body in general). If you are only activating your gluteus maximus, you may not see the results you want. You want to be doing exercises that target all of these muscles. The medius and minimus make up the top and sides of your glutes. Hip abductors are just one way to target them. By using your legs to push the weight outward, you will be targeting your medius and minimus, leading to better overall growth.

  • SQUEEZE

Squats are probably one of the most popular exercises for your lower body. What some people don’t know is that squats are a compound movement, meaning that your entire body is working hard during this exercise, not just your legs/glutes. However, squatting is really great to incorporate on lower body days. When you are coming up from a squat or deadlift, squeeze your glutes together. By doing this, you are activating the muscles and engaging them. Don’t neglect them, because even though you will see that your legs are getting stronger, your glutes will not be on the same page. You want to have a balanced proportion.

  • Be patient

Ugh, I know, but hear me out. When I first started working on my glutes, I wanted to see results right away. Obviously that is not going to happen. It takes hard work and time to grow any muscles. In order to lift and shape your glutes, you need to be eating enough of the right foods, performing the correct exercises, and working hard in the gym frequently. It is going to take time, but you WILL get there. The tips mentioned above have been so extremely helpful to me over the years, and I have seen incredible results! Work hard and don’t give up.

Thank you for reading! Until next time!

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!

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.

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!

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”.)