Category: Health

Physique Update: 1 Month

One month into my new fitness routine. Updates, results, physical changes, and what I plan to work on this next month. 

Update

February 2nd marked one month from getting back into my consistent training routine for the new year. A month ago I stepped on the scale to measure my weight, body fat percentage, and skeletal muscle mass. My results were shocking to me. I didn’t think I had that much body fat in me! This really motivated me to start working hard in the gym and in the kitchen again.

I decided that January was going to be the month I focus on keeping a consistent gym schedule and to work on creating a workout schedule that worked for me and what I want to achieve. February is when I’m going to kick it into gear with the foods I eat.

Each month I was told to weigh myself and check my body fat percentage. The trainer at the gym told me I should get down to 19-20% body fat, from my original weigh-in at 28% body fat.

Results

I stepped on the scale and my weight remained the EXACT SAME down to the decimal. I still weigh 133.7 lbs. I’m 5’4″. My body fat percentage is now 24.9% so I already lost 3% body fat. I was pleased with these results because like I said, I haven’t been as strict with my nutrition as I want to be.

I’ve been really lazy about meal prepping my lunches for the week and rush around in the morning grabbing a protein shake or a complete cookie as a meal replacement. But not anymore!! I want to be mindful about what I’m putting into my body and what nutrients I need throughout the day.

Physical Changes

I haven’t noticed many physical changes but with my body fat decreasing only 3%, I’m not surprised that I can’t see a lot of results. I do see that my thighs are starting to get more defined than they were.

Dropping the 3% really motivated me! It’s just proof from all the hard work that was put in over the past month. I want to preach this as much as I can: this just goes to show that the number you see on the scale shouldn’t be the sole reflection of your progress! Take pictures, measure your body fat percentage, assess how you’re feeling mentally and physically. There are so many changes occurring on the inside before you can see it on the outside.

Beginner Upper Body Workout

In the past, I’ve been horrible when it comes to working out my upper body. I love training my back but I have never been too thrilled to train my biceps, triceps, and shoulders. This year, one of my “resolutions” or something I want to work on is training my upper body. I decided the best way I can do that is target all the different sections of my upper body in the same session. This way, I won’t get bored just doing shoulders or just doing biceps. I added in a back superset since that’s my favorite and would motivate me for the rest of the workout.

I created and performed this workout last week and it left me fairly sore which is always a great feeling. It’s more for beginners because it includes a bunch of basic movements that you can do with light weights. It consists of 4 supersets. A superset consists of two exercises performed back to back with little to no rest in between. You will do 10-15 reps of exercise 1 in the superset then immediately move on to performing 10-15 reps of the second exercise.

Even though I labeled this as a beginners workout, it can be transformed to a more intermediate workout by increasing your weight. The workout has basic moves but everything can be adjusted according to your skill set and strength.

Between sets, you should rest 1-2 minutes before moving onto the next one. You don’t want to wear yourself out all at once and you want to make it through the entire workout. Give your body the rest it needs to keep pushing. Take this time to get your breathe back and drink some water or on BCAAs to help muscle recovery.

All of these exercises use dumbbells and the tricep dips can be performed using a bench at the gym or your couch if you’re doing this at home.

Please remember to warm up before going straight into the workout. Get on the treadmill or elliptical for a quick cardio warmup or jump rope for 5 minutes.

Use this as your next upper body session!

StairMaster Workout

The StairMaster is a great way to get cardio in and work up a serious sweat! Some may be intimidated by it and some may hate it, but you should definitely give it another try with this workout! I used to hate the StairMaster and couldn’t make it longer than 2 minutes when I first tried. I started doing longer and longer workouts to build up my stamina. Now it’s my favorite form of cardio!

I normally do this workout as a warm-up before leg day. It’s great because you can go through the workout as many times as you’d like depending on how long you want to workout for! I usually go through it once or twice as a warmup.

I put a range of speeds for most of the different exercises. Your speed depends on your skill level and should be a framework to go by, not something you need to stick to exactly. For me, normal walking speed is at least 10 or above but that won’t be the same for a beginner.

Give it a try next time you’re at the gym!

Beginner Kickboxing Circuit Workout

One of my favorite forms of cardio and exercise is kickboxing. I love how energized you feel and how strong you become! Some of my most sore days have been after an hour kickboxing class. And the best part is, you lose track of time because it’s that much fun!!

It’s important to find some form of exercise that you just completely enjoy and look forward to doing. You never want to be in a “funk” when you dread going to the gym or dread going for your daily run. You’ve burned yourself out to the point where you don’t like something you’re doing and that’s going to get you off track from your goals.

Living a healthy lifestyle, it’s easy to run into these funks. It can happen more often than you think. When you get in this rut, you need to change up your routine! Go for a swim instead of jogging. Practice yoga when you have pushed your body too far. Give your body a break and listen to it! Do something active that makes you happy! You may need to keep changing it up and that’s okay – just don’t give up

I created a beginner at-home kickboxing circuit workout that will only take you around 20 minutes to complete. It’s two circuits that have 4 exercises in each. For each circuit, you will complete all exercises back to back, doing each exercise for 30 seconds. Once you complete all 4 exercises in the circuit, you will rest for 30 seconds. That’s one round. You will complete this process again until you’ve done 4 rounds of circuit one. Then you get a 1 minute rest before doing the same thing with circuit 2.

Be mindful to even out the workout on both sides of your body. I prefer standing in Orthodox position. This is a fancy boxing term for left foot forward, right foot back. For exercises like Circuit 1, exercise 1, you will want to switch your footing position between circuits so you’re not constantly just working the one side of your body.

I don’t jump rope in my apartment so I just pretend like I’m jumping rope. It’s the same movement so it will work in the same way!

Remember to have fun, work hard, and get out of your comfort zone!

Healthy Breakfast Idea: Salted Caramel Protein Smoothie Bowl

Quick and healthy smoothie bowl to start your morning off tasty and balanced! 

How To:

This morning I was in the mood for a smoothie for breakfast and remembered I had the Olly Slimming Salted Caramel Protein Smoothie Powder in the pantry. I decided to mix this with 1 frozen banana, 2 TBSP peanut butter, 1 TBSP chia seeds, 2 TBSP cacao powder, and 1/2 cup of almond milk. It was so tasty! I topped it off with Bear Naked Granola in the Cacao & Cashew Butter flavor and fresh strawberries.

You can find the Olly Protein smoothies at Target in the health section!

Strawberry PB Oat Smoothie

Smoothies are the fastest and easiest way to get in some nutrients into your body early in the morning. I love trying out different recipes and altering existing ones to match my taste preferences. Smoothie boosters, like probiotics, lean protein, or slimming ingredients, are great to add in as well to get those benefits!

My favorite smoothie flavors are: strawberry banana, mango, mixed berry, and acai bowls. These were my go-to flavors until I stumbled upon Domesticate Me‘s website and found the PB&J smoothie recipe. I made my first couple ones strict to the recipe but after some time, you’ll know how much of each ingredient to toss in to suit your own preferences.

I used to use my blender almost 3-4 times a week, which became super annoying to continuously clean up after. I recently got a NutriBullet and haven’t looked back since. This thing is incredible and super easy! I love that it accommodates personal sizes and you can start drinking it straight from the container when it’s ready! The cleanup is a hell of a lot easier, too. I would definitely recommend purchasing one of these. 5 out of 5!

The smoothie recipe can be found here.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  1. 1 banana
  2. Strawberries
  3. 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  4. Honey to taste
  5. 1 TBSP chia seeds
  6. 2 TBSP nut butter of your choice (I use peanut butter)
  7. Almond milk/milk of choice

Directions:

  1. Toss all of the ingredients into the blender, blend it all up, and enjoy!

I’m so accustomed to making this smoothie that I just kind of eyeball the ingredients and toss them in. I use a fresh banana and then grab a handful or so of frozen strawberries. Tip: try using a frozen banana to make the smoothie colder and thicker. When my bananas start to look a little rough, I peel them, break them in half, and store them in a Tupperware in the freezer. I usually either use a frozen banana with fresh strawberries or frozen strawberries with a fresh banana. I rarely ever use both frozen fruits because it seems harder to blend, in my opinion.

The only ingredient I actually measure is the oats. Then I take a regular tablespoon from my kitchen utensils to drop in two dollops of peanut butter (I use natural peanut butter, like Justin’s Natural Peanut Butter or the Whole Foods brand). I scoop some chia seeds in there. Drizzle down some honey and fill up the container 1/3 or so of the way with almond milk so it can blend easily.

Most of the time I pour it out of the NutriBullet container into a glass and use a straw to drink it. If I’m on-the-go, I pour it into my mini Blender Bottle and I’m out the door.

This is such a simple and fast breakfast for those of you who “can’t fit breakfast in” or who “don’t eat breakfast”. There’s a reason why they call breakfast the most important meal of the day. I used to be like that, too. A smoothie is such an easy start to the day without feeling like you’re forcing a heavy meal down. It’s so important to start the day off with breakfast, to get your metabolism to wake up with you and fuel your day so that you’re not fatigued or feeling sluggish halfway through. When I have zero time in the morning, I whip up this smoothie and usually grab a granola bar of some sort to pair it with, just to help my body get going.

Look out for more smoothie recipes in the future! For now, it’s easy to play around with ingredients and see what works best for your tastes and meal preferences. The possibilities are truly endless!

Sticking to a New Year’s Resolution

A little late, but Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a fun a safe holiday season! Much like years that have passed, I’m sure you’ve come up with at least one resolution for 2018. And much like years that have passed, that resolution tends to only stick around for a couple of weeks or if you’re lucky, a couple of months, and then disappears completely.

The million dollar question is: how do you turn these resolutions into lasting an entire year…or longer?

I’ve failed at my resolutions each year I’ve made them. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even create them anymore. Instead, I make small goals for myself and once I achieve them, I strive for something bigger. This brings me to my first tip for sticking to a New Year’s resolution.

1. Start Small.

Nothing is more intimidating than setting such a large and broad resolution for yourself and all the pressure that comes with trying to achieve it flawlessly. You can’t just have a resolution of “I want to be healthy”. Sure, that’s a great goal to have but there’s so many components that go into that. Simply, it’s too broad. And also, like I’ve said before, being healthy is a lifestyle and should be something that is fluid for the rest of your life. Going in at 110% all at once sets yourself up for failure shortly down the road. Let’s say you currently don’t have the best nutrition, hardly ever exercise, and have a horrible sleep schedule. You make the resolution to be healthy and go to the gym 5-6 times a week and totally cut out any and all unhealthy foods, it won’t last long. I’m not saying this to discourage you. I’m saying this because it’s realistic. Your body won’t be ready for this drastic change and you’ll feel discouraged and give up or begin to swerve off this path you’ve set for yourself and get back into your unhealthy routine. The best thing to do is start small and work your way up to where you want to be.

Start with a small goal that will contribute to the larger goal you have for yourself. Is your resolution to eat better? Start with drinking an extra glass of water with each meal. Do this throughout the week and increase the amount of water intake each week that follows. You won’t want to snack as much throughout the day when you’re consuming enough water. A lot of the time we think our bodies are hungry when actually they’re dehydrated and need water. Water is also great for bloating and flushing toxins out of your system. Do you see what I mean? This is such a simple and easy goal to obtain!

Do you want to get healthy in 2018? Start with a goal of going to bed 30 minutes to an hour early each night. Or try to wake up early to make time for your workout. You can also try to meal prep for one week and see how you stick to it. Achieve these small goals, master them, and then move on to bigger goals.

This doesn’t just apply to fitness-related resolutions. If you want to watch less TV in 2018, start off by reading a magazine instead. Find another hobby to do and try doing it for at least 30 minutes a day in place of watching TV.

2. Make it a Habit.

Research has shown that forming a habit can take at least 20-30 days. This is not necessarily a concrete number to live by as we are all different and have different strengths and weaknesses. This should, however, be a framework for how long you need to do something consistently for it to become a good habit. For some, it may take longer and for others a little shorter. Try to do what you’re trying to accomplish each day for at least a month and see how you’ve done. It may be waking up in the morning to exercise. Wake up each day for a month and this may already become routine for you. It will get easier and easier each day and start to feel more automatic after time.

3. Don’t self-hate or self-doubt.

Doubting yourself or being hard on yourself if or when you make a mistake will just bring yourself down. You’ll only hurt yourself by squashing your motivation. It’s okay to make a mistake or two, we’re all human – it happens! Instead, move on from it and keep working towards your goal. I know I have eaten one too many cookies in a day. I used to get discouraged and thought this would totally hinder any progress I could make. I realized that this isn’t a healthy way to react to slipping a little bit. Move on from it and keep going!

4. Share your progress. 

Share your progress with your family, friends, or coworkers. Anyone who loves and supports you will support you in your new goals and resolutions. They will want to help you reach your goals and even motivate you to do so. And if you have friends that aren’t supportive in your goals or stray you from where you want to be, you need to let go of them. Let go of any negativity in your life and block it out. This will only hinder your progress and you won’t ever be able to get to where you want to be.

For fitness-related resolutions, document your progress. Take progress pictures. Continuously weighing yourself isn’t the best way to measure your progress. Muscle weighs more than fat so the scale might not say what you are expecting it to. Take pictures throughout your journey to getting fit. Compare pictures over the course of months and see what has changed. Actually seeing the results will motivate you to work even harder!

I hope these tips will help you conquer your 2018 resolutions!

Two Important Lessons About Fitness

Entering the fitness world and changing your life for the better is a bit intimidating. Tack on the new gym, meal prepping, finding workouts to do and I can see why people fall off track. Taking on a completely different lifestyle is challenging, but you can’t get anything if you don’t work for it.

I’ve been going to the gym most of my life but I really got serious about in within the last two years, after graduating college. I started getting into weight lifting and HIIT at the gym and using BodyBuilding.com and fitness YouTubers as resources. I did the meal prep thing and have tried some dieting. There are two core pieces of advice that I heard and have learned along the way that drastically changed my mindset about fitness and health.

This is a lifestyle.

These words made everything click in my head. I would always get in really motivated moods now and then where I would be super strict with what I ate and diligent about going to the gym for at least an hour, most the time even more. After a few months, something would happen and I would quit the schedule I set for myself and go back to working out sparingly and eating whatever I wanted. This cycle would continue over and over and I would continue to get discouraged because I obviously wasn’t getting any results.

When I heard that these healthy habits are part of a lifestyle, everything made sense. Hearing those words really resonated with me and I hope they resonate with you in the same way. Eating well and exercising are something to integrate into your life, something to commit to and make time for. Focus on preparing healthy meals with foods that fuel your body. Make time to go to the gym and give it your all.

Once you realize this is part of a lifestyle, you’ll learn how to make it work for you. You will learn what types of meals work in your schedule and what type of exercise you enjoy. This will be through a lot of trial and error, but you have a lifetime ;).

Putting this into a lifetime perspective, there is room for balance and moderation. You can allow yourself a cookie once a day, or twice, if you want! Anything you’d like to eat, as long as it’s in moderation. This won’t affect your fitness goals in any way. Balance these treats with your healthy meals and you’ll be good to go as long as the bad doesn’t outweigh the good!

Listen to Your Body.

Have you ever pushed yourself so hard that you make yourself sick? Have you ever forced yourself to work out when you’re really not in the mood and then waste your time at the gym?

I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of both of these. I have finally learned that’s what NOT to do. Your body knows what’s best and knows how to show it. We all need to stop and listen to our bodies to know what’s good for it. If you don’t feel like working out, you probably shouldn’t and give your body the rest that it needs. Don’t force it if you’re going to feel worse afterwards or if you’re going to go to the gym only to end up doing nothing the whole time. Are you trying to weight lift just because everyone else is but you hate it? Switch your exercise type to something you do enjoy! Maybe you love swimming or yoga. There’s more ways than one when it comes to fitness. It’s all about enjoying yourself and fitting it into your own personalized schedule.

The bottom line is you’re not going to have the best results when you’re forcing yourself and your body to do something you’re not feeling or that you’re not into. Take the time to listen to your body and you’ll know what to do.

Starting Physique: December 2017

Fitness Background:

  • Played sports from elementary to high school
  • Focused on cardio workouts throughout college
  • Started weightlifting about 2 years ago
  • Started incorporating more HIIT and circuit workouts into my gym routine

At the end of December, I went into my gym to meet with a personal trainer to get my body measurements. I’m 5’4″, weigh 133.7lbs, and my body fat percentage is 28%. My goal body fat percentage is at least 19-20%. My focus isn’t going to be on my weight because muscle weighs more than fat. I’m predicting my weight will remain the same or even increase a little.

 

Pizza Under 400 Calories!

Over the weekend, my boyfriend and I took a trip to Trader Joe’s to do some light shopping. This became very dangerous very fast. We ended up spending over $50 when we went in to get only a couple items. But when does this not happen?? There’s just so many items we wanted to try out! One of my favorite purchases was the Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl cookie butter. OMG if you like sweets, you need to buy this and try it! It’s like the best combo of cookie dough with Nutella. Be mindful though – it’s 90 calories per Tbsp.

Back to the point. I was looking at the pita bread and offered up the idea of making personal sized pita pizzas for dinner! Little did I know how brilliant this actually was.

We came back and cut up our toppings of choice: red onion, green pepper, grape tomatoes, and basil leaves. We topped our pitas with some leftover pasta sauce we got from Aldi (so delicious!) and went to work on making the pizzas, topping everything with shredded mozzarella cheese and oregano flakes. Fun fact: I used to work at Pizza Hut for 4 years so I’m a bit of an expert when it comes to making pizzas ;).

I logged all the ingredients we used into the MyFitnessPal app and was shocked to see that it was only a total of 395 calories! It tasted so great too!

Pita pizzas are awesome because you get to tailor it to what you like and to fit your dietary needs. Be sure to load up on the veggies and protein if you can!

Recipe

Ingredients:
  • Pita bread
  • Pasta sauce or pizza sauce
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim based)
  • Toppings of choice
Directions (pretty self-explanatory):
  1. Cover your pita in the sauce leaving enough of an edge for the crust.
  2. Sprinkle some mozzarella on the sauce.
  3. Fill in your toppings.
  4. Top with more mozzarella cheese, parmesan, and oregano if you’d like.
  5. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until toppings and cheese have cooked.