The Highlight Reel in Reality

Happy New Year! 🥳 I’m looking back because I realized something after I posted on Instagram and here about how great 2019 was.

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2018 had some wonderful highlights too, but overall it was personally very difficult. I was dealing with the worst parenting struggles (I still can’t even talk about without crying!), a mysterious running injury that I battled for months, and general depressive feelings from those things. So when 2019 started out with a bang and continued to have so many highlights, it was easy to see the year in a positive light. That said, every year has its struggles and I don’t want to paint the picture that life is perfect and everything goes well all the time….’cause life is messy! Right?! That said, I still stand behind my post because it was my fitness highlights and favorite moments. It wasn’t meant to show the moments of doubt, confusion, and uncertainty between races (like this one), it wasn’t there to show my eagerness to heal from burnout, or the occasional struggle I faced with body image as I intentionally gained weight bulking. There was just SO much more good in 2019 for me than bad, and I hope 2020 is just as amazing…filled with happy moments, and yes — even those moments of struggle that teach us all resilience.

Just a reminder that even a successful, joy-filled year can have struggle and dark moments. They help us grow and help us to appreciate the good moments even more. 🙏

Wishing you all a year filled with health, happiness, and resilience for those tough times! ❤️

Full-body Workout Benefits

Ever wake up so sore you couldn’t even imagine working out? 🙋‍♀️ Been there! Who hasn’t?!

But, following a different workout structure has allowed me to almost never get sore, and build strength and muscle! It sounds magical, doesn’t it?! 😆 I mean, I’ll get that feeling like I can tell I lifted sometimes, but it’s never terrible and never limits me from performing the next days workouts to 100%.

Someone asked about my training plan when I was early in this type of training, and I said I couldn’t imagine doing speed work after one of these workouts. I didn’t think it would be runner friendly. But now having experienced it for a few months, I see I was just in that transition phase. I haven’t been running, but my legs aren’t too sore to do so if I wanted to. I think there’s just a period of time needed to adjust to training changes before making any decisions about if you feel it’s going to work for you or not.

Once you pass that period of time, you’ll likely see the beauty of full-body training. One muscle group is never fully taxed, allowing you to recover faster, and progressively overload your muscles each week (with a deload week every 4 weeks).

When I was transitioning to full-body strength training a few months ago from mostly body split training, I wasn’t sure I liked it at first. It took a little while to adjust. I kept thinking, “I am not even getting sore anymore!” When in reality, that’s how it should be. If you’re getting super sore, it’s evident you’re changing your workouts too often to really make any progress with them. So if your goals are strength or hypertrophy, it’s better to have less variance. But keeping the same basic exercises each week is important, even just 3 sets one day a week will maintain your progress of that exercise, allowing you to change your focus to other things.

I recently experienced some pretty intense soreness…guess why?! I had been substituting the lying leg curl machine (increasing the reps, decreasing sets) for Nordic ham curls in the previous months. I finally found a good setup for Nordics last week and did the 5×3’s. My hamstrings were on fire for almost a week! 😳 A week later that workout day was repeated and recovery was great! I didn’t even feel like I had done any hamstring work, when just the day prior they had taken a beating! You might experience soreness for a short time if you’re doing new-to-you exercises, but your body should adapt quickly and you should be able to progress in the following weeks.

Dani Krshka recently did an Instagram post about this very topic, and all I could do was nod and think, “Yaaaas girl! Amen!” I felt so stalled out for so long. And this programming switch I truly believe was a big part of the magic sauce in my new success (that and more food)!

She said, “If you want to look more fit, you need to add muscle. If you want to add muscle, you need to get stronger. If you want to get stronger you need to be consistent with your workouts & the exercises you’re doing [so] you can improve them little by little each week.”

So no matter your goals, be it strength gains or aesthetics, a progressive and well thought out weekly full-body plan that’s repeated for approximately 4 weeks is worth considering!

That food diary post I’ve mentioned before is coming next week…finally! So until next time friends! ❤️

1 Month Bulking Update

This week marks 1 month of bulking! What is bulking? It’s essentially eating in a caloric surplus, while focusing on progressive overload weightlifting, to gain muscle. Some fat gain happens, so there’s a “cutting” method that happens after bulking to uncover the gains made by keeping protein high, but reducing caloric consumption to deficit slowly, and continuing same lifting strategy to preserve as much muscle mass as possible.

It’s been quite the experience already. I started with the goal of a “lean bulk” — gaining .5-1 lb. per week. But my fear has been underestimating my total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and under fueling my body and not getting results. *I used a few different online calculators and went with an average.* So I’ve been definitely fueling more on the aggressive side…aka eating constantly. 😆 I will likely do a post on how my diet has changed since bulking and what’s a normal day for me as far as food choices and overall intake. I just need to be better about photographing my meals 😜.

I track everything using MyFitnessPal and try to weigh myself daily to see a better picture of the trend. Weight fluctuates, so I try to not get in my head too badly about adjusting calories, but with this being new to me it’s definitely easier said than done. Ex: I weighed myself this morning and was down a full pound. I freaked out thinking about if I ate enough to put me in surplus and wondering if what I thought I burned on my walk was off (or if my watch was off — I actually believe my Garmin is pretty accurate!). Anyway, there’s all kinds of things that can cause weight fluctuations and seeing this graph just shows that it’s not a straight line increase. It’s up and down with the general trend being up, which looks like I’m on track. As you can see, I’m currently up 4lbs.

So, I’m just sticking with this plan for now as it seems to be working. I am weightlifting 5x a week (3 full body, 2 glute/abs), and getting at least 10,000 steps a day for heart health. I love my morning walks, but am making it a priority to just move in general throughout the day. I cut biking because it’s just more calories I’d have to eat a day. Come the fat loss phase though, I’m back on the bike!🙌

My lower stomach and legs are first to show fat gain, and it’s definitely noticeable that there’s more there now. That said, normally if I gain even 3lbs. I feel uncomfortable….and I’m not feeling that way right now! Honestly this is mostly just mindset though, because the “fluff” is definitely there…but I just don’t care! I’m stealing the “Thick and thriving” mantra from some bulking girls I follow on Instagram 😆. Keeping my eye on that spring goal! So, I’m hopeful that this whole process is already working and I’m truly building quality muscle under this fat! It’s really just one big experiment and I’m here for the results next Spring!! Worst case scenario is I don’t look different after all this work (because noticeable muscle gain is my goal!), but I know it’s a learning process too and that means I’ll be taking what I learn here to future bulks!

As far as performance goes, it’s been incredible! I’m reaching new PR’s every single week (except when it’s a deload week, of course). So that is definitely something to celebrate, regardless of if physique goals are met, I see that my strength is increasing! 🎉

I’ll be trying to do a monthly update here, to continue tracking this experience.

Have you ever done a bulk? What was your experience like?

Transformation Tuesday

My transition from processed food and sporadic cardio to whole foods and regular exercise!

College years to now…so much has changed! I’ve evolved not just physically, but so much mentally as well.

I didn’t make the conscious change to make healthier choices until 2013 when I started running regularly to start my health and fitness journey! I changed my diet much before then, but it’s been an ever changing process figuring out what makes me feel my best as I learn new things (hello food sensitivities!). I’m no saint. I still have treats occasionally, but it’s that commitment to health and longevity that keep me here. I’ve learned what works for me in having some balance.

I found myself starting to exercise as a means for getting in the best shape of my life. And I did! But this isn’t over. It’s a lifetime commitment! I lost approximately 15lbs, and gained muscle. Most of the muscle growth happened in the last year as I started lifting weights more regularly. As the years passed, my goals were more personal best time focused for my races. And then in July this year, I started my break from running after meeting some long standing race time goals that left me feeling completely fulfilled in the sport. I also needed a break from racing because I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself that ended up manifesting itself into loads of stress and gastrointestinal issues (which I have under control now!). 🙏

I dove head first into weightlifting, and I’ve learned sooooo much! As a runner, I loved myself and what my body could do for me, but I still preferred the look of more defined muscles and knew I loved feeling stronger from all the lifting I did while running and decided to shift my priority from running to weightlifting. So here I am, challenging myself each week lifting all the heavy things, and loving every second of this new adventure!

Mentally, I’m grateful for everything running taught me. I know now I’m always capable of more than I can imagine. With hard work, consistency, and the desire to meet a goal anything is possible! And running will always be there for me when I feel the pull to lace up those shoes again.😊 Running showed me that there’s always ups and downs, but if you keep focused your dreams can become reality!

I love hearing everyone’s stories! What was your turning point?! Was there a specific moment you decided to live a healthier lifestyle? Did you grow up as an athlete? I didn’t (choir girl!). So I’m surprised as anyone with how interested in fitness I am.😆