Friday, October 30, 2015

Catching Up

Well. It is hard to believe that it's been so many months since I've been on here! Where do I even begin on describing the twists and turns my fitness journey has taken? Sadly, between starting back college, dating, and the typical time-consuming things in a day, I have veered off track. There are no excuses for it, however. As I've said many times before, if you get yourself into a rut, a few days of skipping out may turn into a few months before you even know what's happened. I hope you all have had better success with your healthy lifestyles and that you're having a great Halloween weekend!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

So You've Gotten Out of the Habit

It feels like it's been months since I've been on here! The last few weeks have been crazy, and on top of neglecting this blog, I've been neglecting my fitness routine as well-- with the exception of the last few days. That's why the topic of this post is so appropo for me.

So... You've gotten out of the habit of working out. Gasp! The horror! How on earth are you going to get back into it?

This isn't a totally uncovered area on this blog, so if I get a little repetitious of a few of my other posts, please forgive me. Let's get started.

You really do not feel like it. C'mon, you've just gotten off from work, gotten in from the hot sun, been out all day long with friends, etc. You're tired and really do not feel like doing anything except planting your butt on the couch. Believe me, I have been there everyday of my life. So here's what I did:

1. I thought about it when I woke up.
2. I thought about it when I drove to work.
3. I had a hearty lunch in preparation of working out later.
4. I thought about it when I drove home.
5. I tried to talk myself out of it and fall asleep on the couch.
6. I forced myself to do 50 squats.

That's all I did for my first day of getting back into it.

The next day, I thought about what I was wanting to target. So I did 5 minutes of core, 5 minutes of back-strengthening yoga, and 2 minutes of cardio. That's about 12 minutes of exercise. Not so bad, right?

Just try to increase the time you spend by a few minutes each day. Get back to it! Have fun with it!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Athletic vs. Fit

When I see someone who is really fit, I immediately think, "Wow, she (or he) must be athletic." Because I'm tall, people tend to assume that I'm a basketball player, volleyball player, track athlete, etc. However, if they ever have the misfortune of seeing me attempting to play any sport, they quickly realize that I am uncoordinated. I'll meander for a second and tell you a slightly entertaining story. A few days ago, one of the kids that goes to the summer camp that I work as a counselor for looked over and saw me supervising as the kids played basketball. He came over to me and said, "Hey Ash-a-leigh [every kid I work with adds an extra syllable to my name for some reason], come shoot some with me." I make no bones about it, I'm not athletic. I told him that I wasn't any good, and he responded by taking hold of my arm and pulling me out onto the court with a "I'll teach you!" Five minutes and three epic failed shots later, I made one basket. One of the male counselors that I work with was practically rolling in the floor laughing at my sad attempts, but I left that kid feeling pretty accomplished, having made one shot and all. So let's make a distinction here: if you are athletic, you can be fit; if you're fit, you can be athletic. But, they are not mutually inclusive. So, if you see someone who is fit, try not to immediately make the assumption that they are also athletic. Likewise, if you see someone who you wouldn't consider to be fit, try not to assume that they aren't athletic. Some of the most athletic people I know don't look fit in the least. I hope this post doesn't seem pointless; it was just something that has been on my mind. Hope you all are having a great week!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

When You Just Don't Feel Like It

I started my new job a few weeks ago. As a summer camp counselor, I am pretty much exhausted by the time I get home at night, what with kids always wanting to play and the hot sun beating down. So, how do you get a good workout in once you get off from work?

Protein! Protein throughout the day will keep you going. I bought some mixed nuts that have a lot of protein in them and snack on them throughout the day, which is important for two reasons. The first is that it keeps my energy up; the second is that in order for your stomach to maintain its calorie-burning capacity, your body can't go without food for more than three hours. You hear that, my weight-loss people? You can continue to eat and lose weight! Win-win, no? However, I highly recommend snacking on nuts, string cheese (only 50 calories and packed with protein), a protein bar, or another healthy alternative. Eating a candy bar probably isn't going to do it for you (sorry).

Get plenty of sleep! Duh, you say. With a good night's sleep, you can tackle your day and a workout after.

Breakfast. Eat a hardy breakfast. I drive an hour to get to work, and believe me, having time for anything other than remembering pants is a miracle. Sometimes I only have time for a lowfat greek yogurt, some of my mixed nuts (I'm slightly obsessed), coffee, and maybe a banana. If you don't have time for a four-course breakfast, that's okay. Just have something to keep you going.

Drink plenty of water! Shoot for nine cups a day. If you're the kind of person who really doesn't like having a lot of water, you can buy something to flavor it or just pace yourself. Have a glass every hour for eight or nine hours.

Think about it. On your drive home, think about what you'd like to do for the rest of the day. If working out isn't a top priority, do one thing you really want to do, then push everything else back behind your workout. For instance, on my drive home (like I said, I have a ton of time) I'll think about how good planting my butt on the couch and watching The Simpsons for a mind-numbing four hours sounds. Usually dinner is on my mind as well and definitely a shower to wash a day's worth of grime off my body. The Internet also calls my name and I think about my Instagram, my Pinterest, and this blog, along with a ton of fitness sites I peruse often. Once I get home, I'll eat dinner, workout, then relax to some crude humor, take a shower, and do everything else that I need or want to do. Find a place and time to squeeze in that workout!

Just do it. After you think about it, stop. Clear your head and just get into it. Even if you're exhausted, you'll feel better after you move your body and sweat a little (or a lot). So... Just do it!

However, if there's a day that you feel like you just cannot make yourself workout, don't feel down about taking a rest day. If you still don't feel up to it the next day, try to do something, even if it's a leisurely stroll around your neighborhood or backyard. Try not to skip more than two days in a row--it makes it so hard to get back into it! I hope you all found this helpful!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Workout Apps

When it comes to working out, I like switching it up. I feel like after a while of doing the same exercises, the muscles that are worked are so used to that range of motion that it isn't as effective; to combat this, I use various exercises to target different muscles. As such, I have tried several different fitness apps. I'll discuss a couple here.

  1. Sworkit- I downloaded this app yesterday and went through several of their exercises. Once the app is launched, the screen is split into four categories: Strength, Cardio, Yoga, and Stretching. I started out my workout with Cardio, selecting Light Warm Up Cardio for five minutes. Don't be fooled; "Light Warm Up" is not a walk in a park but a series of fast-paced exercises designed to get your heart pumping. By the end of it, I was pretty sweaty. I then went to the Strength category and chose to work with Core Strength for another five minutes. Their exercises are fairly challenging but not ridiculously hardcore. With the ability to chose how long you wanted to spend in each given area, the customization was really nice. Also, the app is free and without very many limitations from the paid version. I don't know about you, but I'm not a fan of launching into a workout app and getting into it only for a little window to pop up saying that to continue I'd need to pay for the full version. I mean, I understand why app developers do that, but... There are a ton of workout apps out there that are free.
  2. Nike Training- Probably my least favorite part of this app is having to download the workouts. Other than that, I do like it as it gives a variety of "goals" such as "Get Lean," "Get Toned," "Get Strong," and "Get Focused." I think it's safe to say that most people exercise with different intents as to what they want out of their workout (beyond of course the universal goal of being healthy). I also really like the workout suggestions that appear as soon the app opens; the particular workout that is being suggested tells you what it's for, how long it takes, and how many are participating in it. I'm not sure about you, but I like knowing that others are sweating it out too. This app also gives you the option of creating your own 4-week program, and as an example, I chose Get Toned at Beginner level with Running to build endurance. For the first week, it gives me five days of exercises, including a 30 minute workout, a 3-mile run, a 45 minute workout, another 3 mile run, and finishing up with a 15 minute workout. If you're someone who needs consistency, I highly recommend this app (and particularly the program feature of this app) to you. 
And that's all I've got for you at the moment! Do you have any workout apps that you really like? What are the benefits/pitfalls of these apps in your opinion? Feel free to comment your thoughts! I hope you're all feeling awesome and ready to kick some butt in your own fitness routines! As for me, I'm off to "Swork" Out! [Excuse the silly pun]

Monday, May 25, 2015

Escaping the Rut

I seem to have fallen into a rut lately. Blame it on the night studying for exams, prepping for a new job, summer.... It really doesn't matter what caused it; what does matter is how to get out of it. So, how do you get out of a hole that was so insidious that you never saw it forming beneath your feet? 

Allow me to explain what happens to me when I 'fall into a rut.' 

  1. I feel tired and restless.
  2. I don't want to work out.
  3. My insecurities creep up on me tenfold.
  4. Eating becomes an afterthought. I don't eat too little or too much, but find myself feeling sluggish as if anything in my stomach is weighing me down [weird, I know].
  5. My emotions either are out of hand or nonexistent.
  6. Overall, I feel terrible.

Here's the main problem with these [excuse the term] symptoms: if I feel bad, feel tired, don't feel like working out, then I don't do anything. When I don't do anything, I feel worse. It's a cycle, and a very bad one if I don't break out of it. So back to the question I posed earlier: how do I fix it?

Exercising is honestly the best remedy for everything almost anything you can think of [if you're realistic]. I am not a health professional, but from personal experience, I can attest to the fact that exercising during the day gives you a better night's sleep, a healthier appetite, a better view of yourself, a more balanced emotional state, and a more positive outlook on life. So why have I not exercised 'lately'? Refer to symptom #2. So working out is the answer (for me anyway) and yet one of the problems is that I don't want to. How do you make yourself motivate yourself to work out? 

  1. Use a little fitness inspiration. I've cautioned against overusing Pinterest and other sources of "fitspo" but a little isn't so bad.
  2. Buy put on workout gear. I strike through 'buy' because while discussing this topic with my sister, she made the valid point that she certainly wouldn't buy workout clothes that she doesn't feel like wearing. Put them on and get to it, as she would say.
  3. Set goals/deadlines and use a reward system. You should work out for the ultimate goal of being healthy, but at the same time, treating yourself to something special after a rigorous workout session isn't a terrible idea.
  4. Get outside. Toss around a baseball, jump rope, chase some birds, just do something to get your heart pumping and your sebaceous glands secreting!
  5. Do a little soul searching. Figure out what started your slump and try to work through it or get past it. Sometimes it just takes a little time to heal your wounds, whatever they may be. But in the meantime, try to stay healthy.
I'll definitely be using some of these techniques. It's good to also use your support system as well [my sister in times like these bears the majority of my complaints and insecurities, and she does it mostly like a champ]. Sending love from the hole I'm climbing out of! Hope everyone is having a wonderful Memorial Day and enjoying the ever-approaching summer.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fit Versus Skinny: The Battle of Societal Pressures

This isn't a completely uncovered topic on here, but I often come back to it. I mean, all you have to do is take a look around at our society. Let me ask you something however: What are the benefits of being fit? I chatter about "living a fit and healthy lifestyle" without truly discussing how why it's important, and that's an oversight on my part. Hopefully I can remedy that now. First, let's discuss the benefits of being skinny.
Benefits? You say, staring at your computer/tablet/cell phone. What benefits?
1. Typically you look pretty good in clothes. Out of clothes? Let's not talk about that.
2. Your grocery bill isn't very large.
3. You feel accomplished that while others have to "work" at maintaining a slim physique, you do it without much fuss.
4. While others agonize over being "too fat," you can relax knowing you'll never be one of those girls.
Societal pressures have given birth to concepts like the one above.

Lies. Particularly #4. This is coming from personal experience, but I feel pretty confident in saying that if you are or ever have been someone who has to stay skinny, you're never satisfied. Oh, you're a size four? Too fat, you're taking up too much space. Size two? Um, hello, zero is the new size two. This line of thinking is not healthy. I do not, do not, support this thinking.

Let's talk about the benefits of being fit.
1. You typically look great in clothes, but out of clothes? Major bonus!
2. Your grocery bill usually is bigger (healthy food isn't cheap), but your body will thank you.
3. You feel accomplished every time you look in the mirror. You remember where you started, see where you are, and set goals of where you want to be.
4. Being "too fat" isn't really a concern. Being healthy, feeling and sleeping well, staying positive, and wondering whether you can increase your reps by ten today are your main concerns.

I have been a "skinny girl," and I am working hard to become a "fit girl." One of the greatest benefits of adopting a fit and healthy lifestyle is looking feeling amazing. Believe me, my confidence took a major boost as well.  I have slept better, had more energy, and been much happier in the last few months than I ever have been before. I hope everyone is feeling great! I'm sending much love to you all.