Tag Archives: Fitness

Damn, Girls…

Damn, Girls...

These ladies are fierce. Enviable. Strong. I always forget that people like them had to WORK for it. They were not born looking like that. So if they can do it, why can’t anyone else?

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Loving Myself and Conquering The Brain

No external change can happen without a true internal change, and as most of us know, that is the biggest challenge. It’s not really a matter of whether or not you can run a mile (trust me, you can) or 10 miles (you will, if you train) or if you can lift 5 pounds or 50, or if you can finish a 5k or a marathon or an Iron Man. It’s not even if your body is capable of losing 5 pounds or having abs or having a firm butt. All of that is possible. All of our bodies, more or less are built quite the same. If all those people filling up your Pinterest “Fitness” board have achieved those incredible bodies, honestly there isn’t any reason why our bodies aren’t capable of our own versions of the same. After all, we all do have a six pack somewhere in there and glutes and biceps and thighs and all the same muscles as all of those people. So, really, why not me? Why not you?

[Anecdote/afterthought: You may know I like running. I recently ran a 10k, and I’ve run several before. I’m hoping to run a half marathon this year, and maybe a marathon next year. Running has become a huge part of my life. But, fun fact: I used to hate, hate, HATE running. I couldn’t run a mile 3 years ago. Couldn’t and wouldn’t. I’d rather die. But I had a personal trainer for a while in college and she forced me to run a mile with her once or twice a week, and slowly but surely, running became a part of my life. IT IS POSSIBLE. The end. Back to regularly scheduled programming.]

Thats the easy part. Getting your body to look like that is easy when you look at it factually: Eat lean, clean, natural foods, lower your calorie intake, and exercise. Its a simple equation. To lose one pound of fat in one week, you must lower your calorie intake by 3,500 calories in that week. That means that you need to lessen your calorie intake by 500 calories a day through a combination of exercise and healthy eating (perhaps you burn 200 calories in exercise and you cut out 100 calories from breakfast, 100 from lunch, and 100 from dinner). Honestly, that doesn’t sound too bad, right? All of us are capable of achieving the body and the health that we desire. It is in our genetic makeup to be able to achieve that.

So… why in the hell is it so goddamn hard??!

If I really try hard, I can do enough bicep curls to have killer lady guns. No biggie, right? My body is capable of doing exactly what I want it to do. But my brain is the hardest muscle to reshape. The struggle for self control and stronger willpower seems to be so much more challenging than the 80 burpees I did on Monday (more on that later). And even doing the burpees isn’t even the real issue… I know my body will do them. My legs can jump and my arms can do push ups and my lungs can breathe and my heart can pump blood. I’ll be exhausted, but I can do it, eventually. But why is it that after doing 5 of those burpees, my brain says, “No, don’t do it, don’t do it! Noooo!” It requires turning off those thoughts (so hard to do) and forcing your body to do things that your brain doesn’t want to adjust to. Whether its burpees, 10 miles of running, weight lifting, or not eating the tempting food or choosing to eat salad instead of whatever you normally eat, it’s entirely a mental choice and our brains are so, so resistant to change.

Not only that, but I feel my brain being swarmed daily with conflicting ideas and advice about how to achieve the change I really want, and I’m constantly torn between different ways in which to get started. Should I focus on building healthy habits outside of health and exercise, and maybe I’ll get fit along the way? Should I focus on becoming vegan and then it’ll just be so much easier to lose weight? Should I focus on just exercising more, that way I’ll be happier and have more energy and be more motivated to make changes? Should I focus on writing more about how I feel about my current state so I can start to analyze my thoughts and behaviors from a basic, psychological level? Should I focus on doing more yoga and meditation to be centered and strong at my core? Should I focus on self love before changing anything about my lifestyle so that my heart is in the right place? Should I maybe just start with one thing and not overwhelm myself, and let everything else in my life stay the same for a bit so the change isn’t so striking?… AM I OVER THINKING THIS?

These are the things that go through my head constantly. And I haven’t quite found a balance between any of these thoughts, but the best answer to myself is… maybe its just a little bit of everything? I’m too distracted and ADD to be able to just do one thing. I need variety. Or at least variety is what has sustained me up until now, and I think it would be foolish of me to try to change that part of my personality. I need to learn to work within my own personal “constraints” in order to find the answers that are right for me. So taking a little from each of those thoughts and I suppose just patching it all together and “making it work” is the best, maybe the only way for me.

BUT ANYWAYS… what I was getting at was this: The body is easy. The mind is the real struggle. And even if I don’t always believe or truly internalize all the things I want to believe, as a friend (who happens to be a therapist) has said to me many times, “In order to achieve those deep-rooted cognitive changes and mental reframing, the trick really is just to fake it until you make it. Ultimately the subconscious doesn’t know the difference.” So, I suppose thats a great place to start. Similarly, a friend recently sent me this intriguing article explaining the effects of positive self affirmation, and how phrases like “I’m awesome” don’t really do much but something like “I am a great runner” are much more effective because they are direct, tangible, and easy to believe and internalize.

So, I want to focus on reminding myself of things that I know I’m good at and things I already like about myself, and I encourage you (whether you prefer privately or better yet, share it in the comments!) to do the same.

A few things I love about me:

I am an excellent dancer. It’s my greatest love, my greatest talent, and my greatest source of joy.

I am a great swimmer. 12 years of competitive swimming has made me a strong little fish, for life.

Thanks to swimming and waterpolo, I have strong shoulders and killer legs. My legs might be my favorite body part.

Hourglass figure! I’ve learned to love it as my love for fashion grew and I realized I could wear so many sexy, feminine pieces, like high-waisted skirts and belted dresses. I have a womanly body, and I like that.

I’ve always loved my hair. Though I have been caught complaining about the frizz (probably because every girl needs to find some aspect of their hair that they hate because its taboo to like your hair), it has always been a lie. I love my hair. Always have. Always will.

I like my eye color. Hazel.

I’m assertive and a natural leader. I love dealing with people, helping people, and teaching people and I love that about my personality.

I’m optimistic.

I speak 3 languages and I’m proud of my ability to learn languages with relative ease.

So there… a few things that I love about myself. I may make another one of these lists later, along with another list of accomplishments from the day. I found that to be a nice reminder to myself that things really are going well, even if I’m inclined to find the reasons for why they are not. Ultimately, things are GOOD. Things are great. I am healthy and strong, even when I have moments of weakness. Must learn to remind myself of this daily. Things really are just fine.

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Killer Workout

Todays workout was killerrrrrrrr and now I’m a killer so watch out.
I ran to the park, about 10-15 minutes away, and found myself a nice spot on the big grassy area and spent probably an hour doing all sorts of body weight exercises. I had (following what my friend and I did in Brussels) previously written down all all the exercises in this Zuzana Light video (featured below), and after finishing all 3 rounds (barely!), I went wild and made up my own exercises. I did lots of kickboxing, earning me plenty of stares from the others in the park (apparently kickboxing alone in public is “weird” here? Anywhere?) and more push-ups, burpees, lunges, and as many ab exercises as I could handle. I hate doing abs. Absolutely hate it. Whenever I’m doing them, my brain is saying, “Stop! Keep the belly! Do not continue. It’s not worth it.” And, more often than not, I listen   :-/ . Any tips for enjoying ab exercises, or at least not wanting to kills self after 5 crunches?? I need to learn to like those.
Anyway, after about an hour of working out with a good level of intensity, I ran back home, this time challenging myself to do short sprint intervals. Not only were my legs feeling like lead after my workout, but the way back is slightly uphill and my legs hate it. But finishing felt SO good and when I finally got home, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride over my hard work. It was not easy, but so worth it. There’s nothing like feeling the sweat from your forehead drip into your eyes and your mouth, making you burn and cringe at the same time. Now THAT is hard work! I should make that a goal every time I exercise: “Sweat so hard your eyes burn and you go momentarily blind”.
This is the written version of Zuzana’s killer workout:

10 Dive Bombers (like downward dog pushups)

5 full burpees

20 (each side) squat leg lifts – squat, down, come up, lift one leg out, repeat on other side

5 burpees

10 side plank lifts (each side)

5 burpees

10 pistol squats (each side) – one legged squat

5 burpees
Repeat 3 times total

 

Sweat your heart out!

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Healthy Weekend!

This weekend was such a success! I was traveling, again, this time visiting friends in Brussels, and overall, I’m pleased with my choices. This is one of the few times I’ve come home from a trip and not felt entirely guilty, so I’d call that a small but significant traveling accomplishment.

On the bus ride from Paris to Brussels, I brought a few healthy snacks with me, like a banana (note to self: bananas do not travel well) and some nuts. When we made a quick pitstop, I went to buy some food but of course, as with all gas stations, everything offered was pure filth. Chips, nasty pre-made bacon sandwiches doused in mayonaise, soda, candy… things that people have somehow been allowed to call “food.” (Honestly I don’t know how this stuff looks appetizing to anyone. It’s repulsive. It’s not food! Its like, hey, why don’t we go eat some concrete-flavored sandpaper and dip it in liquid mercury. Yum! Seriously… Unbelievable that processed food-like edible items exists, much less get eaten by billions. Barf.) I found some pre-sliced apples in a package (not ideal, as they have preservatives to keep them fresh… I hear these are often cancer-causing. Eek), but I figured sliced apples was probably my only safe-ish bet, so I ate that, and cringed at everyone on the bus fussing with that packaging that was keeping them from their wholesome, nutritious, life-giving Doritos.

On to the rest of the trip…

One of the friends I was traveling with (who reads this blog and shares many of my same feelings and goals – hello friend!! I see you!) was entirely on the same page as me the whole time, which helped both of us stay on track for the most part, while still allowing ourselves little indulgences along the way. We agreed before the trip to work out in the mornings and to share any heavy meals/treats we might consume, since often times all we really crave is just a bite and not the entire thing (like for example, with Belgian waffles), and we did exactly that. Our first morning we all got a late start so exercise didn’t happen, but at least we walked a lot that day and did not overeat. We shared one Belgian waffle between 3 girls, which was actually perfect (those things are so big and sweet anyway that eating a whole thing makes you feel like dying), we had a small burger for lunch (like, a correctly portioned patty, no bigger than 3 or 4 ounces) which my friend smartly ate without the bun (I ate half of the bun) and for dinner our friend and host made us some pasta with veggies and ground turkey and a little bit of red wine. That night, while out at a bars, we shared a beer and later a mojito (no need to drink the whole thing…), which was perfect. We got the taste, but none of the bad side effects. Not bad for a day of travel, where most of the time I spend too much money and calories on eating out and drinking at restaurants.

Day 2 was started off on the right foot when we set our alarms earlier and went outside to exercise, enjoying the surprisingly sunny weather in the process. We started with a short walk, then a 15 minute run to warm up. When we got to the park, we did a series of running sprint intervals, and after this exhausting set, we buckled down for a short HIIT routine before walking back home. (Our exact workouts are featured at the bottom of this post). After exercising, we bought some pineapple and water and fresh squeezed orange juice and refueled before setting out for the day. Our sightseeing was accompanied by a few healthy snacks (nuts, protein bars, green tea, etc) and of course, a few bites of a Belgian waffle. We shared our beers that afternoon, and all four of us in the group shared a few macaroons, and at dinner time, we allowed ourselves to indulge in our first and only true Belgian meal. I ate a chicken stew with veggies and potatoes and for dessert, a waffle. I’d like to think this was my only real indulgence of the trip, which is slightly amazing and really exciting that I didn’t indulge more than that.

Monday, day 3, was our last day, and I left at around 1pm. In the morning, my friend and I went out for another quick workout (featured below). Before leaving, I ate a panini (not the best choice, but also not the worst) and I took a banana and a raw, all-natural granola bar for the drive back to Paris. Dinner with my host family was, surprisingly, a healthy salad! I was so happy to be eating greens!

As I type all of this, I’m realizing that while its hard to have a perfect weekend, or a perfect trip (with regards to health), it is SO possible to make good choices given your constraints and to not completely blow it in two days. Surely traveling isn’t ideal for staying healthy, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing! This is a big lesson I am just now starting to learn. After my travels through Belgium and Spain a few weeks ago (and my many indulgent moments therein), I’m seeing that it is still possible (though not easy, I admit) to be healthy while exploring the world and having fun with friends.

Another wonderful thing about this weekend was the power of friendship! Having someone who shares your goals and who understands your struggles is such a blessing. Not to mention, having that person be a great travel buddy… it makes all the difference. I know for a fact that I would not have worked out once if it were not for my friend, and its likely I would have eaten a whole waffle (or two, or three), several beers, plenty of fries, etc. But having someone to share the journey with (and to keep you accountable) was what truly made this weekend a success. Thank you, dear friend, for accompanying me on this journey!!

I feel proud and pleased. I had a great time, and food did not consume me nor did it cause me to feel any guilt, and that is something worth celebrating today. I hope all my trips can be as healthy as this one!

***

And now for a recap of our workouts, in case anyone wants to try it out. We came out sweating and sore in every possible way, so give it a shot, if you dare…

Workout 1:

Warm up: jog/run for 15 minutes

Jog (normal pace, resting pace) 1 minute

Sprint (all out, 90-100% effort) 20 seconds

Repeat 12 times

Then, do this circuit:

To warm down, walk or jog for 15 minutes.

 

Workout 2… We did both of these videos:

Then this one

To warm down, walk or jog 15 minutes.

***

Trust me, your ass will thank you after finishing these workouts. I know mine is.

 

Hooray for a healthy, fit weekend!!

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Doomed

How do some people make it look so easy?? They’re like, “I woke up one morning and was fed up with blah blah blah, and I just decided to make a change! I worked hard for it, and now look at how great I am.”

This is so bullshitty to me. I’ve woken up plenty of mornings and been like, “I’m done with this crap, I’m making a change” and guess what… NOTHING EVER CHANGES.

Is it really that simple? Can regular people with struggles with motivation, willpower, and self control actually achieve the same successful changes that other, more driven, organized, and gritty people can? Do they think about it as much as I do? Do they feel consumed by their struggles, sometimes even doomed by them, as much as I do?  I often feel like I’m forever going to be excluded from the successful people category because of my type-b personality. I’m too lax, too lazy, too disorganized, and too distracted to ever be one of those people that forever changes their life for the better. At least thats what I always end up thinking to myself. Whenever I see a before-and-after picture like this one I recently posted, I am filled with two opposing emotions: an overwhelming sensation of “If she can do it, I can too!” and an equally overwhelming thought, “…but her personality is probably way better suited for change than mine. She’s probably much more intense, much more strict, and much more of a perfectionist than I am. Maybe I’ll never be like her because maybe I can’t. Maybe my personality will never allow me to be.”

And yet, I have had moments of success in my health and fitness… I’ve managed to lose weight and get fit quickly several times, but none of those changes have ever lasted. I just always question if I’m cut out for that type of change, enough to make it last for good, or if maybe I’m destined to be a forever-fluctuator, always wishing, trying, and maybe succeeding momentarily, and then crashing and burning, only to start all over again. Is this my fate?

If not, when will it end? 

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Now I’m Free From French Fries

This video by The Happiness Project, sent to me by a good friend, reminded me of something I have heard repeatedly through my mild obsession with reading health and fitness blogs. Most successful fitness and health people will all live by this particular mentality: instead of saying “I can’t eat cookies,” they say (or think to themselves), “I don’t eat cookies.” This small linguistic change shapes their entire perspective for their health and fitness goals as it frames their actions as choices that they made as free-willed individuals and not as things that they were deprived of by forces beyond their control. Its as if by changing one critical word “cant” to “don’t”, you are taking control over your life and your actions and living by a code of healthier, empowered choices and freedoms.

Personally, I don’t steal, I don’t cheat, I don’t drink soda, and I don’t eat fast food. I’m still working on developing that kind of power towards sugar, but its a work in progress and I think I’ve come a long way over the past few years. I need to start reminding myself that I am strong and empowered and that dessert (or whatever other temptation) does not have control over me, so when I see a dessert, I won’t be so quick to gobble it down.

What are you “free” from? What food/behavior do you just simply not do, for the sake of your health, self esteem, and self control?

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Habits

I’ve been thinking about some of the habits of highly successful people (as far as fitness and health), and I’ve realized that they are not just disciplined with their food and exercise, but with everything in their life. I suppose part of my journey here is to develop stronger self control, but it hadn’t really occurred to me that this extends beyond just food and exercise. My room is always messy, I’m easily distracted, and I rarely finish all the millions of little projects that I start. In order to build healthier habits over time, I need to work on all of the habits that are holding me back from reaching my potential, such as cleaning my room, clearing out my inbox every day, walking with better posture, going to bed at the same (early) time every night, etc etc etc.

I want to be stronger than I have always thought I could be, and I want to be more disciplined, not just with my food, but with everything, because I can’t slack off in other areas of my life and expect to see a change with my attitude towards food and my goals to have a better, healthier body and mind. So I want to start challenging myself to make small changes outside of just my eating and exercise habits. Changing your body or your health is not an isolated event or goal – it all relates to how disciplined you are with other areas of your life, so to expect to change one part is to force yourself to change other parts. Its a ripple effect and discipline/willpower are like muscles, so the more you use them, the stronger they get. For example, working out in the mornings is great because it gets your motivation and discipline going so you’re more likely to succeed the rest of the day.

In an ideal world, I would like to:

– clean my room/home every day

– practice yoga every day

– take 5-15 minutes to meditate every day

– disconnect from my computer at least 30 minutes before bed every night

– work out before work every morning

– have better posture

– respond to all my emails right away and always have zero unread in my inbox

– read 30 minutes a day

With the start of this new month, I want to start building and breaking habits beyond the ones that are directly related to health, fitness, and wellness. A friend of mine recently sent me this link from zenhabits about adjusting your definition of “normal” and I am using it as inspiration to slowly develop “a better me” with new ‘normals’ and new, healthier habits. I realize that I cannot change everything all at once, but I can start with one or two things and build from there. This month, I am going to focus on keeping my room clean by putting away all my clothing every night. I am also going to focus on going to bed earlier (my goal will be no later than 11:30pm for now, eventually I’d like to be going to bed at 10:30pm).

To accomplish this process of creating a new normal, zenhabits says:

You can do this with anything — exercise, meditation, procrastination. Gradually adjust what feels like normal to you.

Here’s the process:

  1. Start small. What’s the smallest increment you can do? Do this for at least 3 days, preferably 4-5.
  2. Get started. Starting the change each day is the most important thing. Want to run? Just get out the door. Want to meditate? Just get on the cushion.
  3. Enjoy the change. Don’t look at this as a sacrifice. It’s fun, it’s learning, it’s a challenge.
  4. Stick to the change. Notice your urge to quit. Don’t act on it. Keep going.
  5. Adjust again. When the change becomes normal, make another small adjustment.

This is the process of creating a new normal. It’s beautiful and simple.

Starting today, I will clean my room when I get home from work, and I will set myself up for an earlier bed time (which will hopefully lead to earlier wake up time, giving me time to exercise in the morning, which will give me energy and endorphins for the rest of the day, so any other task I have at hand will be slightly easier, I will be slightly stronger, and more likely to succeed in my goals, big and small, all day long… see, positive cycle!). I won’t try to tackle all my habits at once – maybe I won’t get off my computer 30 minutes before bed, or maybe I won’t have time to meditate or clear out my inbox, but I’m taking baby steps, and that is better than nothing.

***

I encourage everyone to think about what parts of your lives you can be more disciplined in, and set goals for how you can improve those. It may make your body-related goals a lot easier to reach!

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Tone It Up

Some of you may have heard me mention Tone It Up here and there, but for those of you who don’t know, I’ll give you a brief synopsis. (Please note, I have no financial or any sort of incentive whatsoever to be talking about Tone It Up. I just really like them and want to spread the word!)

Tone It Up is a fitness, health, and lifestyle blog… or dare I say movement, that emphasizes positivity, self-love, teamwork, community, and flexibility. The two founders/trainers are Karena and Katrina, two real-life best friends and fitness professionals who have taken a really fun, carefree spin on wellness by encouraging their followers to get healthy through friendship and a friendly, relatable attitude. The success of Tone It Up can be largely attributed to how easygoing and normal these two girls are. Many fitness professionals take the intimidation route, where they yell, push, scare, and generally try to light a terrifying fire under your ass in order to achieve success. Karena and Katrina are not like that. They are silly with each other and with their viewers and it really works. Personally, I’m all about it! (Plus they’re really cute California girls and their whole vibe is very beachy and warm and incredibly inviting).

I first heard about them about a year ago, when I was buckling down to get fit for a friends wedding. I came across Tone It Up (TIU for short) on Pinterest, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I started by just following their blog and their Youtube Channel and eventually I registered (for free) in their community to be able to interact with other TIU members and to get encouragement from others who were working hard to reach their goals. I love the support network and the sense of family and I think this was one of the most important aspects of Tone It Up for me. Often times I didn’t feel that I had the full support or understanding of my close friends or family, so I looked elsewhere for people who understood my struggles and who cheered me on through every up and down of becoming healthier and fitter. I really love the community and I still use it, though I haven’t been as active since I’ve been in France. I’m hoping to dive back in soon! They are also all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media, and followers can interact with them, and with each other everywhere. You can also find plenty of regional TIU groups, where other TIU followers in your area can get together to exercise (or do whatever you want) together, extending the support network out of the internet and into real life. It’s super inspiring and I’m a big fan.

I also purchased the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan last summer, which I mostly use for recipes and nutritional education. I haven’t been following it very strictly in France, but when I get home I will hopefully get back into the swing of things quickly. Essentially, Tone It Up is all about 5 small meals a day, and the nutrition plan gives you everything you need to know about that lifestyle in order to achieve the greatest health success.

Best recipe ever… Protein Pancakes!

 

This is Katrina, one of the TIU girls… She’s a big inspiration because even though she’s a fitness professional, she strugged (and still does) to get fit and healthy. Her transformation is impressive and reminds me that anyone can do it!

Anyway, the reason for this post was to share the big “Bikini Series” that Tone It Up does every spring. It was through this series that I first started really following TIU and now, a year later, I’m excited to follow the Bikini Series once again. My resources are limited and my schedule is more complicated than it was last year, but I’m going to try to get back into my Tone It Up routine for the next 8 weeks, at least as much as I can! And I want to invite anyone out there (and it does not have to be just for women!) to join me in this years Tone It Up Bikini Series. There will be great recipes, workouts, education, and plenty of motivation to keep you on track for your goals, whatever they may be. If you are at all intrigued, be sure to check out the website and learn more. Once you sign up (all you need is your email address), you’ll get a cute little “starter pack” with recipes, and a few workouts to get you going from day 1.

Summer is coming… lets make this a good spring, together!

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Preparing to Fail

I may have quoted this before, but I keep thinking this in my head when I have days like today where I waste a bunch of time, and thus don’t accomplish all the things I wanted to accomplish, i.e. a decent workout. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

This is kind of how things end up happening for me…

I live abroad, so I stay up late (1, 2, sometimes 3 am) talking to friends and family back home and winding down from a long night of work (I end work at around 9pm). I don’t get much done on the internet late at night, but I can’t seem to convince myself to just turn my computer off and go to bed at a decent hour, because I feel like I need that time to disconnect from work before sleeping, and eventually the night gets past me. As a result, I wake up late the next day, usually feeling a bit of remorse for staying up late, but rarely enough to get me to bed earlier. I generally plan my eating and exercise around each other, such that I’ve eaten the right types of foods before and after exercise, giving myself enough time to digest properly before working out, but I somehow manage to get lost in whatever it is I’m doing, and my exercise tends to get pushed back, further and further, until I’m down to very little time before I have to shower and pick up the girls from school and thus start my work day. On days like today, since I woke up late, ate late (and too much, thus forcing me to wait even longer before I felt ready to exercise) and didn’t plan my time properly, I missed my workout entirely and felt shitty all afternoon because of it. My exercise was walking up and down the stairs a few times throughout the day and walking to the school to get the girls, and that was it. My body feels stale and tense and my brain isn’t functioning as I wish it would, and emotionally I’m not feeling as lively as I know I can… and what kind of way to live is that??

As far as food choices go, I think its all entirely related. Woke up late, felt anxious about it, ate a little too much for breakfast and with the first poor choice I made in the morning, I set the tone for the rest of the day. The moment I reached for a small handful of granola, I knew today would be difficult. Was it my knowledge of my upcoming “failures” that led me to “fail” (I don’t really like using the word “fail”, but I can’t think of another word to use…), or was it just an honest acknowledgment of my weaknesses in the hopes that I would overcome them? I don’t really know. But I knew I was setting myself up for trouble by making poor choices in the morning, and thus continuing that behavior all day long. It was a small handful of granola in the morning, and by 5pm, I had, over the course of the day, managed to eat several cookies, bread, granola, and all sorts of terrible nonsense, without even realizing it. Without my necessary exercise to raise my motivation and self awareness, I didn’t feel compelled to stop myself from my poor choices, and I spent all day with the mentality that I had already failed, so may as well continue to do so. Because I didn’t plan my meals, snacks, workout, and work schedule properly, I didn’t succeed in any of them and allowed the failures of one to hugely influence the behaviors in another. I know I didn’t eat enough protein today, which may have encouraged the constant snacking (because I didn’t feel adequately full or nourished by my food) and I know I ate too many carbs, which similarly did not keep me full long enough to feel satisfied. I allowed allowed myself to “fail” today by not being wise about my preparations for my day, by not setting intentions for the day, by not visualizing my goals, and by not weighing the consequences of my actions. I’m beginning to see the relationship between seemingly unrelated behaviors and how they are all actually very much interconnected in the definition of my life and of my self.

On a more positive note, I’d like to share some inspiration from a friend that recently sent me a picture to show me how they are preparing for success this week. Many people will praise the habit of preparing all/most of your meals for the week on Sundays (or whenever works best for you) so that you don’t have the excuse of not having enough time or not having the right ingredients to make good choices when all the stress of daily life comes at you during the week. Even if it doesn’t involve cooking entire meals, at least having vegetables chopped and meat pre-portioned can help save so much time when you are in a rush or getting home late and feeling lazy. I have always wanted to get into this habit, but living in my current au pair situation doesn’t allow me that flexibility. I was so pleased when I received these pictures from a friend who really made an effort to avoid failure this week.

photo (13)

A grocery basket full of clean, raw food. Nice!

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They made 2 different dishes, full entirely of vegetables and lean protein. Looks delicious.

 I have to forgive myself for my mistakes today and use it as an opportunity to learn. I want to set my intentions for tomorrow and I hope you will all hold me accountable for them! I will wake up earlier than I did today and I will run 4 miles (my usual short run) first thing in the morning so that I don’t have an excuse later on in the day not to exercise. I know myself and I should have known this today, but I chose to ignore it: I need exercise in the morning, because I know I will get lazy later on in the day. By working out first thing each day, not only have I started the day on the right foot, but I’ve also gotten my workout out of the way and I don’t have to worry about it later. This routine works for me when I find the motivation to wake up early enough, but I have to remind myself “If its important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” I’m so tired of making excuses for myself! Tomorrow is a new day, and tomorrow, I’m grabbing that shit by the balls and doing what is best for me.

Fuck yeah.

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Just Do It

Really, just fucking do it. Stop over-thinking it, and go. When it’s over, you’ll be glad you did.

That can be about anything, but today, for me, it was about exercise (as usual). Spent all day feeling tense and agitated, like a dog that needed to be walked, and I was getting annoyed at all sorts of stupid little things. I had plenty of excuses not to work out (there are so many things to see on the internet!) and I didn’t have much time, but I stopped thinking about it and I just mindlessly/robotically put my workout clothes on and head out the door. I considered doing a workout in my living room, but I know myself and I know when I’m feeling unmotivated and hungry like I was, I would find an excuse to stop and head straight to the kitchen halfway through my workout, so I decided to go for a run instead, because I know that way I have to finish my workout if I ever want to get back home. So I did.

The run started okay, but still, my brain was too involved and I kept whining to myself about how I should just go back home and eat a bunch of shit, but I forced myself to turn off all thinking whatsoever, and just run. 45 minutes and several sprints, stair sprints, pushups, and crunches later, I was back home, run was done, and I wanted to break windows and punch people cus I felt/feel so FUCKING good.

Just DO IT.

Also, I have no relation to Nike whatsoever. Their slogan just so happens to be fucking rad and relevant. Deal with it. And I do not advocate consuming Jersey Shore in your diet.

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Awareness

I have started to learn lately that in the search for personal change and improvement, whether it is for health, for greater levels of fitness, for work, for school, personal life… whatever it may be, one of the most important steps to achieving lasting change is to have a true and honest sense of personal awareness. Change does not happen over night, and even if it does, it cannot last without a deep internalization of where you’ve been, and where you strive to go. Being aware means coming to terms with every part of yourself, not just the apparent ones that you hope to improve. If it’s a lifestyle change you are after, then it’s an entire life that you need to come to terms with.

This is something I am realizing lately, as I write this blog and examine my methods and motives for improvement. I have fluctuated with my weight, my dedication to my health, and my body image for years, never quite reaching a stable and lasting change, and I’m starting to see why. Each time I become incredibly motivated to change, I jump on it immediately and within a week, or even a day, all my habits are different. I am strict with myself, I follow all the rules, I am excited, and admittedly overzealous, and it started to dawn on me this week that perhaps this was the reason for my continued “failure”. I just simply changed things too quickly and I didn’t properly examine what I wanted and what it would take within me to really make that happen. I certainly achieved some results in a short-ish period of time, like losing 10 pounds in a few months, but the weight always comes back with a vengance and I could never understand why. Not to say that I suddenly do understand, but I think I’m starting to look at things differently and to be more honest with myself, and perhaps that is a better place to start. Losing 10 pounds isn’t really hard as it is… losing the insecurities, negative self talk, anxiety, stress, and confusion about your relationship to food and exercise, that really represent the true challenge. That’s the part that requires introspection, awareness, honesty, bravery, and quite a bit of humility. Without that, change won’t stick and old habits will sneak back eventually, because what is at the core of those habits hasn’t undergone the necessary therapy in order to truly change.

A friend recently told me (that day that I was dealing with intense anxiety) that things will get worse before they get better. I see that as a process in which you come face-to-face with your personal “demons”… insecurities, fears, anxieties, traumas, histories, etc, and accept them into your life not as enemies, but as very real, honest parts of the person that you are. Coming to terms with one’s weaknesses is the first of a long set of steps that need to occur before change can take place. Before jumping ahead of ourselves (like what I have always done), we need to take time to simply become aware.

What this translates to for me in my quest to find my own personal strength in food, exercise, and health is that before I can expect to see any improvements, even before I start making huge changes in my lifestyle, I need to simply reflect and become aware of my habits and of the emotions associated with them. What am I feeling before, during, and after an intense battle with food? What motivated me to get up and exercise today, and how did I feel immediately after? 12 hours later? What is going through my head at dinner time with my host family?

And in a deeper way, what was my relationship with food and exercise like as a child? As a teen? What is my parents’ relationship like with food and exercise and how has that shaped me? Have I had any traumatic or memorable experiences relating to food or exercise?

And moving beyond just food and exercise, because I know these are ultimately just superficial expressions of a deeper state of being, I need to ask myself things like: What is at the root of my anxiety? How does my ADD affect my ability to finish a task? How have my parents positively and negatively affected my sense of self? Which of my parents’ insecurities or personal struggles has been passed on to me? Which insecurities are entirely my own? What am I afraid of? What do I hope to achieve as a person in my life?

These are my own questions to ponder, though I encourage anyone (even if you’ve already achieved your goals and you’ve got alllllll the answers) to take a moment to reflect on similar, but personalized, questions about your own state of being. It doesn’t matter what change you are hoping to achieve… I am starting to realize that it all starts here. Awareness.

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Great Run

Great run great run great run!

It’s really amazing how exercise can make you feel so much better, instantly. Endorphins!!! It’s like crack, only cheaper.

I’m following through with my intentions from earlier and I’m allowing today to be a good day. I had a great run just now, slow and steady, mixed in with a few impromptu exercises like running up and down stairs (workout below, for those of you that want to replicate) and using whatever I could find for push ups, crunches, etc. Followed by my daily bowl of oatmeal (I was feeling wild and decided to try it with bananas instead of apples today. What can I say, I’m a thrill seeker…), and now the rest of the afternoon will be spent adventuring around Paris with a friend. Like I said earlier… Life is good!

What will you do today to be stronger than yesterday? How will you remind yourself of your own power?

*** Stair workout ***

It’s easy. Find some stairs. Run up. Run down. Repeat.

Run up every step at 70%, keeping your arms strong as leverage. Run down.

Sprint up every other step (90-100% exertion), starting with your right leg. Run down.

Sprint up every other step (90-100% exertion), starting with your left leg. Run down.

Run up every step at 70%, keeping your arms strong as leverage. Run down.

10 push-ups

Repeat that whole set 3-5 times through.

If you happen to have a play structure near by, or a park bench, or a fence or whatever you can get your hands on, try to add some push-ups, pull-ups, and crunches to your run. Your upper body will feel tight and strong as you continue running the rest of the way.

* Remember peeps, I ain’t a personal trainer or qualified professional of any sort, so consult your doctor or whoever before listening to anything I say. For all you know, I could be full of shit!! Ha.

But really though…

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Free Exercising

I wrote in an earlier post about using the internet as my “gym”, since I don’t have money to spend on a gym and I’m not going to be living here long enough to want to spend money on lots of equipment. So, I have my convenient resistance bands that are light and compact (great for traveling) and versatile enough to provide some intense strength training, and I have YouTube, for a plethora of amazing exercise videos to give me inspiration.

This morning I was able to squeeze in a 30-minute HIIT run, and I found myself with an extra 15-20 minutes later in the day, so I took advantage and did another quick workout. I wanted to work my upper body today since 2 days ago I killed my lower body and I know its best to give each muscle group a decent rest after an intense exercise, so I went searching through the internet for good upper body resistance band exercises. I came across this great video below by Stuft Mama which gave me some new tips on how to use my resistance bands in a similar way to using weights or machines.

I then followed this brief work out with another DailyHiit workout:

I only went through this video once because I was running short on time, but even once felt great, considering I had already worked out quite a bit earlier.

Another successful and FREE workout day, with some great meals (so far… lets see how dinner time goes with the family) which were all easy, quick, and super healthy.

Feeling pumped on life! Woo, bring it on, bitches.

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HIIT Running

Today I wanted to go for a run, a steady, easy long run, but my morning got past me and I found myself with only 30 minutes left for running before I had to be back home, so I decided to make the most out of my run by making it a HIIT run, which means High Intensity Interval Training. I adapted my intervals based on a running workout I found a long time ago online somewhere (I wish I could find the link to it!) which looked essentially like this:

5-minute warm up

Repeat the following interval 8 times:

1-minute normal pace (slow to medium jog)

30-second sprint (all out, 90-100%)

After the 8 intervals have been completed and you’re exhausted:

5-minute cool down

 

Simple enough!

Since my sports watch died (battery is dead and I haven’t been able to find a new one here in France), I don’t really have a good way of keeping time while running, so I adapted this general interval running routine to fit with my music. I ran at a normal pace with the timing of the verses of each song and I sprinted through the chorus, or, if the song didn’t lend itself to this pattern, I would use visual markers ahead of me that looked around 50-100 meters away (roughly) and I would sprint all the way to those. By the end, I had finished my 30 minute HIIT training and I had run a distance of around 3.25 miles, so not too shabby for a short workout!

Exercise doesn’t have to take up your whole day if you know how to exercise a little smarter. 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym (while mindlessly reading a magazine or watching tv) and 15 minutes with pussy weights (5 pounds? Come on, I know you can do more than that) won’t do much if you’re looking for visible results, but half of that time spent doing a short HIIT routine and heavy weight training will go much, much farther. If you don’t know where to start, just search Youtube for HIIT videos and you will find plenty to get you started. There’s no excuse to not exercise!

Get off your ass and move, every day. If you have time to be reading this blog, then you have time to work out. Go.

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Mix-and-Match Workout

Yesterday I didn’t run because I don’t run 2 days in a row (and I ran on Monday), so instead I did a mix of a few exercises in the family room, in front of my computer. Since I don’t have a gym (I’m broke as shit, yo!), my exercising has consisted mostly of running and free videos online. I want to become proof that exercising and getting in killer shape can be free and can be done at home, so stay tuned to see how my progress goes between now and summer, aka bikini season, aka every girls worst nightmare (except the rare few that can’t wait to show the world their abs. #hatethem, #wanttobeoneofthemoneday).

I was introduced to BodyRock.Tv and the sister site, DailyHiit by a friend a few months ago, and I just recently started incorporating these workouts into my routine, and I fucking love them. They push me (as long as I push myself, of course) pretty damn hard and they are efficient and quick, which I like a lot since my schedule doesn’t really allow for a lot of time to spend working out. You go through each circuit a few times (they will tell you how many), so you press play, do a short but intense HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) routine, and when its over, you just hit replay and continue until you’ve finished. You’ll come out dripping sweat and loving yourself for accomplishing such a great work out.

Yesterday, I did this video twice:


And then I did a variation on this Ham & Glutes workout by one of my favorite fitness bloggers, Muffin Topless. Since I don’t have a gym or any weights, I used my adjustable resistance bands that I bought at Target (before moving to France) and used a both medium and heavy bands at the same time to add enough resistance for those large lower-body muscles to really work hard. For the parts of her workout that required a machine, I did whatever variant I could come up with using my bands, and I ended up skipping some exercises altogether because I got lazy and wanted to be done (yes, I admit it). In between each set, I alternated between different cardio or strength exercises, like jumping jacks, high knees, push ups, speed punches, roundhouse kicks, fast feet, burpees, etc and in total, my workout lasted about 50 minutes.

I finished dripping in sweat and I felt amazing. I followed my exercise with my tuna lunch (which I posted about earlier), and a really long, guilty-pleasure shower. Felt great the rest of the day (minus after eating those 3 cookies)! Amazing what exercise can do for your spirit.

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