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”.)