Category: Health

Project Comeback and Setbacks

I’m here to show you that life’s setbacks can transform into major motivation into your very own comeback. 

Setbacks

Just when you’re on a roll with crushing your goals and feeling great about everything you’re achieving, life seems to get in the way. Life happens, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing!

At the beginning of the new year, my boyfriend and I started to set each other accountable for our workouts and our meals. It’s always great to be on a fitness journey with someone else so the two of you can stay motivated together! The past 4-6 weeks we really kicked things into gear to prepare for our Miami/cruise vacation we went on last week.

Before going on vacation, we planned to go to the gym on the cruise at least 3 times during the week. How many times did we actually go? 0. And I packed my small resistance bands and everything!!

We also weren’t prepared for the amount of food served on board. There was food available 24/7 and dinner every night was a 3-course meal including a starter, main course, and dessert.

We had an unlimited drink package on the cruise that we definitely took advantage of as well.

I knew we would indulge a little here and there on vacation but we definitely over-indulged.

I wanted to write this to show how easy it is to have a set back or a misstep when it comes to obtaining your fitness goals, that’s why it’s called a lifestyle! It’s more fluid than being one set, determined path to take.



Vacation is a time to indulge and take advantage of being in new places, especially if you’re traveling abroad! Don’t be so hard and restrict yourself! Don’t hold back from tasting the foods or wines, etc., from your destination because you might miss some pretty important memories. This goes for working out, too. If you have time to squeeze in a quick workout – go for it girl! If not, don’t stress! You’ll have more time to enjoy yourself and your surroundings! There is plenty of time to get back in the routine once you get home.

Project Comeback

And this brings me to what Sarah’s Day would call a “Project Comeback”. Basically, I’m aiming to get back in my healthy, everyday routine and stick with it. My goals are:

  1. Workout at least 5 times a week, with at least 1 rest day
  2. Meal prep each week to have healthy meals ready
  3. Get back to my skin care routine (failed at this during vaca)
  4. Consistency with blog posts and creating content

These are my personal goals and you should tailor your goals to match what you want to see in your own Project Comeback. I just want to be more consistent and get back to where my routine was previously because I really enjoyed where I was at.

I hope this holds me accountable of my goals and helps someone start their own Project Comeback! It’s never too late to start back up after taking some time off. We’re all in this together and there’s no day like today to get fit!

Stay tuned to read about my trip and watch a little vlog of what we did!

At Home/Outdoor Leg Circuit Workout

An easy and effective, minimal equipment leg circuit workout that can be done at home or outside.

With the weather (finally) starting to get nicer, I like to try to come up with workouts I can do outside and with minimal equipment. These kinds of workouts are also perfect if you’re running low on time. This leg circuit is very intense and effective – I was definitely sore afterwards!

Since I live in an apartment complex, I have lots of staircases around to take advantage of. You can also find a staircase at a park near your house, bleachers at the local school, or even the one inside your house!

For the circuit workout, I added in a band to go around my thighs. If you don’t have a band like this readily available, you can still do the workout without it! It just adds more resistance and activates your glutes.

Warm Up:

Stair Sprints – 3 sets of 10 sprints up the stairs. Walk or jog back down the stairs



Circuit Workout:

Perform each exercise back to back and complete 3-4 sets of the circuit for the complete workout. Use the stairs for these exercises.

Exercises:
  1. Banded Squat Walks
  2. Banded Sumo Squat Jumps
  3. Banded Side Steps – Left Side
  4. Banded Side Steps – Right Side
  5. Lunges or Jumping Lunges (20 total)
  6. Stair Sprint

After this circuit workout, I usually throw in an additional superset or two to finish off the workout. A superset is when you perform two exercises back to back with little to no rest in between.

Superset 1 (3 sets):

This superset is performed without the staircase.

  1. Banded Sumo Squats – 20 reps
  2. Banded Narrow Squats with Added Pulse – 12 reps

Superset 2 (3 sets):

  1. Banded Step Ups with Glute Kickbacks (performed on the stairs) – 10 each side
  2. Side Lunges – 15 each side

Enjoy & get sweaty!!

Fitness YouTubers You Should Know

Providing you a list of my favorite fitness ladies to follow (and subscribe to!) on YouTube.

These ladies provide so many workout ideas, a lot of motivation, meal prep recipes, and just all-around positive vibes! Here’s some in-depth information of my Top 3 YouTubers and then some others below for you to check out.

Whitney Simmons

Whitney Simmons is a fitness YouTuber and Gymshark athlete based in Utah. She focuses on weightlifting workouts, HIIT routines, meal prep ideas, with some beauty and clothing hauls thrown in the mix. She has such a high energy and is easy to relate to. Whitney really helped me get into more of the weightlifting scene at the gym. She has so many workout ideas that can be found on her Instagram or YouTube channel. Instead of vlogging like other fitness YouTubers, Whitney’s videos are short and to the point. They get straight to the workout which is awesome! I love that you don’t have to scroll to find the workout part of the video. All the exercises are listed in the description box of the video for quick access or to screenshot it for the gym!

She has started a merchandise line and a collaboration with Tula as well!

Sarahs Day

Sarah Stevenson is the Austrailian vlogger behind Sarahs Day. She believes in natural, holistic remedies to conquer any sickness she’s facing, as well as improving her hormonal acne (which is how her channel started!). She’s a Paleo-based eater and all the recipes she shares are normally gluten-free, dairy-free, mostly vegan and refined sugar free. Sarah focuses more on bodyweight movements and plyometrics in her workouts as opposed to strictly weightlifting.

She has her own workout e-book called Sweat It To Shread It, which is an “8-Week active lifestyle challenge”. I have purchased this myself but haven’t had a chance to do it yet! Once I do, I will post a review of it, but I’m sure I will love it!

Sarah has also just recently released a fitness line with White Fox Boutique.



Blogilates

Cassey Ho is the creator of this fitness empire, Blogilates. Blogilates started out small and has taken over the Internet! Cassey is filled with so much positivity that radiates out from her videos. She posts Pilates videos and no equipment is necessary, just a yoga mat if you have on! If you sign up for her newsletter on Blogilates, she sends you a free workout calendar every month. This calendar has the different YouTube videos to watch and complete on that particular day.

In addition to her YouTube channel and her blog, Cassey also has a PIIT28 fitness program and a 28-Day Reset Nutrition Program available for purchase. The PIIT28 program is like HIIT, but with Pilates moves. Each workout is only 28 minutes long. The 28-Day Reset is similar to the Whole30 program in which you eliminate all dairy, gluten, alcohol, processed grains, and added sugars. Each of these are slowly added back into your diet. From this, you are able to tell which foods cause issues with your stomach and start eating in a way that eliminates that!

And if that isn’t enough, Cassey has her own fitness clothing line called POPFLEX Active.

Other Fitness YouTubers to Follow:

Tone it Up

Power fitness duo Karena and Katrina run this huge Tone It Up Community! Check out their workouts on YouTube that uses minimal equipment or check out their app!

Brittany Dawn Fitness

Has all the Starbucks secrets! As well as workouts, meal ideas, the works!

Nicki Blackketter

Another fitness vlogger that’s part of the Gymshark family!



Boho Beautiful

For the yogis looking for full workouts!

BodyBuilding.com

An all-around great resource for all things weightlifting: workouts, meal prep, supplement information, exercise dictionary – they’ve got it all!

At Home Total Body Workout (Apartment Friendly!)

A total body workout designed to be done at home with little to no equipment, and NO jumping moves so it’s apartment friendly!

Happy Snow Day! At least to us who live in the Northeast. I was super excited to see this much precipitation because I haven’t had a snow day yet this year! I still had to work from home but I was able to multi-task and get a bunch of stuff done.

Since I was stuck indoors all day with no access to my gym, I decided to throw together a full body workout and film it for you guys, too!

The best thing about this workout is that it’s apartment friendly! This means no jumping moves that bother your downstairs neighbors. I like working out at home but I do a lot of jumping moves and always feel so guilty for disturbing my neighbors.

Second best thing is that this workout targets all your main muscle groups: upper body, lower body, and abs. What can be better than that?!

I’ve separated the workouts by muscle group in case you’d like to mix and match and not complete them all. All exercises use body weight and can be modified to use added weight.



Lower Body Circuit 

I found this lower body circuit workout from Kelsey Wells, the developer of the PWR program on the Sweat app with Kayla Itsines. I’ve been incorporating it into some of my leg days at the gym and it’s killer! This is only the activation phase of the workout…in other words, the warmup. It definitely gets your heart pumping to kick off a workout!

Directions:

Set a timer for 10 minutes. Complete each exercise back to back. See how many sets you can complete before the timer is up!

Exercises:
  1. 10 Glute Bridges
  2. 20 Sumo Squat Pulses
  3. 10 Stationary Lunges (each side)
  4. 10 Reverse Lunch & Knee Up (each side)
  5. 20 Sumo Squats with 2 Pulses

Booty Burn

This booty burn part of the total body workout focuses on more Pilates style movements to really target the entire glute muscle.

Directions:

Perform each exercise back to back. Rest. Repeat 3-4 times.

Exercises:
  1. 15 Glute Bridges
  2. 10 Glute Kickbacks each side
  3. 15 Glute Kickback Pulses each side
  4. 20 Donkey Kicks each side
  5. 10 Rainbows each side

Ab Attack

For this Ab workout, I used my sliders. These sliders were cheap and can be found on Amazon. You can use the sliders on hardwood floors or on carpet. If you don’t have sliders, you can use cloths underneath your feet on hardwood floors.

Directions:

Perform each exercise back to back. Rest. Repeat 3 times.

Exercises:
  1. Knee Tucks
  2. 20 Mountain Climbers each side
  3. 20 Oblique Side Crunches each side
  4. 20 Plank Jacks



Upper Body Workout 

This workout was also inspired by Kelsey Wells. It was adapted and slightly modified from one of her Instagram posts and uses resistance bands. You can swap the resistance bands for dumbbells and can adjust the number of reps as necessary.

Directions:

Complete 12-15 reps of each exercise back to back. Rest and repeat for 3-4 sets.

Exercises:
  1. Lateral Raise
  2. Tricep Extensions
  3. Reverse Fly
  4. Front Raise
  5. Upper Row
  6. Bicep Curls
  7. Tricep Kickbacks
  8. Upper Back Row
  9. Squat to Shoulder Press

Hope you enjoy this workout! The how-to video will be coming shortly 🙂

 

Slim Legs HIIT Workout

HIIT

HIIT is the best way to get your heart rate pumping and to burn fat in the shortest amount of time as possible. A good HIIT session can be done in as little as 10-15 minutes and will leave you feeling a great burn. It’s the perfect sweaty sesh to get you going before a workout or as a burnout afterwards.

Personally, I like to use HIIT as a warm-up exercise before I start weightlifting. And since I’m looking to decrease my body fat percentage, I try to incorporate HIIT into my workouts at least 3 times a week. I try to match the moves in my HIIT routines to what I’m working out that particular day. Here is an example of what I’ve been doing as my HIIT routine for leg day.

For this HIIT routine, I use a step with two of the risers on each end. If you’re a beginner or don’t have this piece of equipment readily available, there are certainly modifications that can be made. Try taking out one of the risers so that there’s only one per side or you can take them out altogether. You can also remove the step entirely if you’re doing this at home! For more of a challenge, add risers to each side or shorten the time of rest between exercises.



Timing

You can time yourself however you feel comfortable. Some HIIT is timed with 40 seconds working (performing the exercise), 20 seconds rest. I like to do 30 seconds working and 30 seconds rest.

There are 4 exercises in the routine. Complete the exercise in the working time of your session, then rest. Then move onto the next exercise, then rest and so on. Complete this for 3-4 rounds so that the workout is a total of 12-16 minutes.


Exercises

PSA: I don’t believe these are the technical names for these exercises but they made the most sense in describing the motions. See the video below for a how-to.
In and Out Squat Jumps

Start in a narrow squat position with both feet on the step. Jump out from off of the step to a sumo squat. Keep jumping back and forth between positions. Try adding pulses to the squats!

Jump Overs

Begin with your right foot on the step and your left food off of the step. Jump onto the step with your right foot then with your left. Once your left foot hits the step, your right foot should be off the step. Jump back to the left the same way.

Toe Taps

Similar to the all-familiar soccer drill: bring each toe up to the top of the step and gently tap each toe. Keep alternating each toe/foot that is tapping the top of the step.

Skaters

This is the only exercise performed without the step. I like to face the step on its length side so that I can measure how far I’m jumping during this move. Jump to the right with only your right foot and left leg should curtsy almost behind you. Jump to the left with your left leg and your right foot will be behind your left. This movement mimics the moves that inline skaters make on the rink. I try to jump laterally so that my foot aligns with the end or past the end of the step on each side.



Perform these back to back for a total of 4 minutes per round. Remember to repeat for 3-4 rounds to complete your HIIT routine!

See the video below on how to perform each exercise. Trying to type out what to do might be a little difficult to understand!

 

Veggie Taco Recipe

Healthy veggie tacos in under 15 minutes! 

veggie taco two completed veggie tacos

The Importance of Veggies

Sometimes I feel like I’m not getting enough vegetables in during the day…is that just me? According to the USDA, women ages 19-30 and 31-50 are supposed to get 2.5 cups of vegetables per day. It doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re only consuming vegetables for dinner, it can be pretty hard to meet that requirement.

Even further, the USDA recommends that each week women should consume 1.5 cups of dark green vegetables, 5.5 cups of red and orange vegetables, 1.5 cups of beans and peas, 5 cups of starchy vegetables, and 4 cups of other vegetables. Now that’s a lot of veggies!

I don’t think I’m anywhere close those numbers during a normal week. I’m making a conscious effort, however, to incorporate more plant protein into my diet.

That’s why I’ve been starting to pick up more vegetarian foods at the grocery store, like the Gardein and Morningstar products. You can find these at almost every grocery store in the frozen section.

I picked up the Gardein Ultimate Beefless Ground which I thought was easy enough to incorporate into veggie tacos. I hardly eat red meat as it is so I thought this would be the perfect type of meatless meat to try out first, since I’m not accustomed to a particular taste.



beefless ground, tortillas, and salsa

The Recipe

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup Gardein Ultimate Beefless Ground
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped pepper (red or green)
  • Taco seasoning
  • Tortillas
  • Toppings of your choice: shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, lettuce

taco mixture

Directions:
  1. Combine the Gardein Ultimate Beefless Ground, onion, and peppers into a skillet with some olive oil. Heat on medium and cook until all contents are heated through. Sprinkle in some of the taco seasoning until your desire and stir thoroughly.
  2. Heat tortillas on a flat cast iron pan or in the microwave. One serving of the beefless ground makes about 3 tacos.
  3. Put a spoonful of the taco mixture into each tortilla. Top your tacos with toppings of your choice! My favorites are salsa, shredded cheese, lettuce, and cilantro.

flat veggie tacos

And just like that, you scored some ultimate veggie points with this meal! Enjoy!

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!