Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sample Workout (Chest & Abs!)

I am probably going to end up in bodybuilder hell for this, but chest day is my absolute least favorite day of the week… That being said, I know it’s necessary and I try not to let my general dislike of it affect my training – I hit is just as hard as I would any other body part and last night was no exception!  As you will see in a moment, I also train abs when I train chest – I know I said chest was my least favorite, but I take it back, abs are my least favorite.  Yes, I combine my 2 least favorite body parts on the same day, what can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment…

Here is the chest & ab workout I did yesterday – it lasted about an hour:
This is why I absolutely REFUSE to train chest on Monday!
Superset Cable Flies & Toes to Bar:
I can’t remember the weight I used for the flies, but I did 4 sets of 10 each – for the toes to bar I did as many strict as I could, and then finished up to 10 for each set with regular straight leg raises.
Bench Press:
95 for 10, 115 for 8, 135 for 6, 5, 4, 115 for 8

Bodyweight Dips:
10, 8, 8, 8, 8

Superset Dumbbell Bench Press & Dumbbell Pullovers:
Press: 45’s for 8 – 4 sets total
Pullovers: 25 for 10 – 4 sets total

Superset Hammerstrength Super Incline Press & Ab Wheel Rollouts:
35’s for 10, 9, 9, 8 drop to 25’s for 6
12, 10, 10, 10

To finish, I ran sprints for the first time in months (I am recovering from a foot injury and sprints have been off limits for awhile).  My gym has an indoor turf area – I have no idea how long it is (maybe 120 feet?), I ran down & back twice – and then did 5 handstand push ups.  I did that combo 3 times, and then spent a little more time practicing handstands and doing some planks – I have been doing a LOT of handstand practice lately because I am obsessed with them and want to be able to do them without a wall by my birthday (in about 3 weeks) – I think I will be able to – I have the strength part down, I just need to learn how to balance!

I hope you enjoy these sample workouts – I typically switch things up a little every week, but for the most part my workouts are always pretty similar and incorporate the same movements.  I change things like weight, reps, sets, and the order of some things – to keep it interesting and avoid plateaus.  I like to share these workouts to help keep myself accountable, and to hopefully help you with your own workouts.  It you’re looking for a new chest workout – give this one a shot – just change the weights/reps to accommodate you, and let me know if you like it!  And please, don’t get discouraged by the numbers, everyone is different and everyone has to start somewhere – the important thing is that you start!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bi-weekly check in (#2)

Time for another bi-weekly check in!  My progress lately has been slow and steady – my goal is still to increase my lean muscle mass and get my strength up – since I stopped competing I have lost a lot of muscle and strength and I am working on getting them back!  Slow and steady progress is good for me, it means that my gains are quality and that they will be much easier to maintain in the long run.  I have been eating more, doing less cardio, and decreasing my reps and those 3 factors seem to be working in my favor.  I have also been taking a lot of rest days to allow my body to recover and grow.

My workouts for the past 2 weeks:
Wed, 2/11 – Chest & Abs
Thurs, 2/12 – Legs
Fri, 2/13 – Rest
Sat, 2/14 – Shoulders & Arms
Sun, 2/15 – Legs
Mon, 2/16 – Rest
Tues, 2/17 – Back
Wed, 2/18 – Chest & Abs
Thurs, 2-19 – Legs
Fri, 2/20 – Rest
Sat, 2/21 – Shoulders & Arms
Sun, 2/22 – Legs
Mon, 2/23 – Rest
Tues, 2/24 – Back

I have really grown to enjoy this lifting schedule – Mondays are my LEAST favorite day to train because the gym is always crazy busy, and I like to take Fridays off to hang out with John, it’s been working out really well so far!

My diet has been good, lots of “bro” foods (chicken, sweet potatoes, rice, broccoli, oatmeal, tuna, STEAK, protein powder, eggs, etc…) plus poptarts and ice cream, because, gains. I always, always, ALWAYS eat poptarts after I train legs – that’s my secret… Well, that and heavy squats!

My measurements for this check in:
Calf: 14.75 inches
Quad: 22.5 inches
Hips: 36 inches
Waist: 27 inches
Forearm: 11 inches
Bicep: 13.5 inches
Weight: 135

That’s all I have for today, check back tomorrow for another sample lift (chest!) and anything else I come up with between now and then.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Starting a Fitness Journey...

I know there are a lot of people out there just starting their fitness journeys, and it may seem like way too much to handle all at once, that’s why today I wanted to share some tips and tricks to successfully starting (and continuing) a fitness journey.

First and most importantly is simply starting.  Everyone starts somewhere and no matter where you start from, you can’t make any progress without starting.  Don’t be intimidated by how far you have to go, hell don’t even think about it at first, just START!  Put one foot in front of the other, take it one meal and one workout at a time, and just focus on now.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew – I know it’s easy to get over ambitious and start out doing a lot more than you can handle – the problem is, if you are trying to change too much too quickly you are more likely to burn out and quit sooner.  Start your exercise program slowly and really give your body a chance to get used to it – give yourself plenty of rest days and don’t try to kill yourself with every workout.  Over time, it will get easier and your body will adapt as you add intensity… Give it time, no good change happens over night.

Ask questions!  And do your research – really take the time to learn about what you are doing and why, don’t just go through the motions.  WHY are you eating more protein? WHAT is the difference between a front squat and a hack squat? HOW MUCH cardio is enough and how much is too much?  By learning these things, you are really setting yourself up for your future success.

Realize you are not perfect – everyone has bad days, and that is OK.  Don’t beat yourself up over it, just accept it and move on.  On the other hand, if you seem to be having a LOT of bad days, try to figure out the cause – are you stressed with work/relationships/life in general? Is the diet not realistic (i.e. foods you hate/constantly starving/etc…)? Are you trying to do too much too quickly?  Or are you just not finding yourself motivated enough to tackle it all?  No matter what the reason may be – identify it, and try to fix it.  But don’t beat yourself up over it.

Focus on you, and what you want.  This is a lifestyle change and it is important that you realize that from the beginning – and also that the people that matter  in your life realize that too.  Having a strong support system is key to your success, whether it be from family, friends, workout partners, or a trainer.  Somedays are harder than others, and at some point you may need a little extra motivation or support from someone else – if you have someone in your life that wants to start a fitness journey with you, that is great!  You can offer eachother motivation and accountability which definitely helps to make things a little easier – a trainer can help with this as well.

And last, but certainly not least: if you’re sick of starting over – STOP GIVING UP.  This is your life, and your goal, and if it’s truly important to you, find a way to make it work.  People with far less time/money/resources/etc… are doing it. You can too!

Monday, February 16, 2015

What I Ate ... (Sunday 2-15)

I wanted to share another What I Ate Wednesday Sunday post today – these are fun for me and I think help people realize that dieting doesn't have to suck all the time – as long as you are getting the right macro nutrients for your body and are putting in work in the gym, you can afford a few treats here and there without gaining a million pounds!
This is everything I ate yesterday (Sunday) – it was also leg day and since I am really focusing on putting size on in my legs I try to strategically plan a higher calorie day around my leg training (and post workout poptarts!).

Breakfast was a slight variation of my favorite egg pizza – 8 egg whites, Parmesan cheese, ketchup (I am weird, I know), plus 60 grams oatmeal, cinnamon, splenda, and peanut butter.
About an hour and a half after breakfast I trained legs – I had a really good lift and am finally starting to see some progress in my legs.  Slow progress is better than no progress!  It was a very squat-heavy workout, I threw some conventional deadlifts in too – along with leg presses, hip thrusts, extensions, and pushed the sled around for a few minutes to finish.  Hoping I can finally get my wheels back by lifting heavy and eating for gains!

Immediately after my lift I had some Smores poptarts – 99% of my leg lifts are followed with poptarts (either smores or chocolate peanut butter) – the fast digesting carbs work wonders in helping my legs grow.
An hour or so after my poptarts, I fueled my body with some more substantial food – sweet potato, chicken, goat cheese, and hot sauce – seriously one of my favorite meals, I eat it almost everyday!  I usually use Parmesan cheese, but couldn't resist some goat cheese today.
I spent the next few hours cleaning, doing laundry, meal prepping, and cuddling with John and Lily – Sundays are seriously my favorite day of the week – so relaxing!
I started to get hungry a few hours later, and had some broccoli and chicken, topped with cheddar cheese and Stubb’s BBQ Sauce – I had a pickle too while I was waiting for it to heat up – pickles are my favorite!
We finished off the night watching Walking Dead (do any of you watch it, we are obsessed!) and caught the tail-end of the SNL 40th anniversary special.  And I had some Ben & Jerry’s to end the night..
Everything came in at around 3000 calories, which is a little low for a leg day (for me), but seemed to do the trick.  I want to take a minute to stress that this diet works for me, and my body – it may not work for everyone.  Will 1 bad meal make you fat, no – in the same thought, however, one healthy meal will not make you fit.  It is all about knowing what you want, and actively working towards that goal everyday – don’t expect one healthy meal and one workout to make you healthy – and don’t expect one bad meal to make you fat.  No change happens overnight.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Five Things Friday

I saw this post for the first time last week on Meg’s blog – and decided I wanted to start participating as a nice way to recap some of my favorite things from the week – thanks to Clare for hosting!

1. Favorite Meals:
Breakfast lately has been oatmeal, a scoop of chocolate protein, and peanut butter – this is a long time favorite of mine for sure!

My burger at Houston's on Saturday is definitely worthy of mention too – it was amazing!  Beef, Canadian bacon, hickory barbeque sauce, and more freshly grated cheddar cheese than I have ever seen on one burger!  I wish I would have taken a picture – it was insane!

2. Favorite blog posts:

3. Favorite songs:
Honey I’m good by Andy Grammer – I am obsessed with this song right now!  And the video is adorable..

I have been listening to a lot of Girl Talk lately too - I used to love him back in the day and his mash-ups have been making a comeback in my life!

4. Favorite Exercises:
I am really loving front squats lately and have been incorporating them in my legs days more often to hit my quads a little harder.

Handstands!  I have been really trying to work on these for a long time – I am fine against a wall, but I am really set on working on my balance so I can do one without a wall – I want to be able to get into and hold a handstand with no support by my birthday (March 21) – wish me luck!

5. Favorite quotes:

*What were 5 of your favorite things from this week?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bi-weekly check in (#1)

Today I wanted to do a little check-in on my progress – I take my measurements & weight every other Monday (I was running a day late this week though), along with progress pictures.  I do this for ME, as a way to track where I am, where I came from, and where I’m going – like I have said before I don’t have any real long terms goals right now, other than to consistently be a better version of myself, so I like to do little self check-ins as a reminder of that.

I have decided to start sharing these check-ins on here, just a little recap of the previous 2 weeks in terms of diet/training and where I’m at!

My training for the past 2 weeks has been a little whacky, lately I haven’t had as much structure in my routine as I’m used to – it’s been nice but I’m ready to get back on a schedule.

Mon, 1/26 – Legs
Tue, 1/27 – Shoulders
Wed, 1/28 – Rest Day
Thurs, 1/29 – Legs
Fri, 1/30 – Rest Day
Sat, 1/31 – Back
Sun, 2/1 – Chest & Abs
Mon, 2/2 – Legs
Tues, 2/3 – Shoulders
Wed, 2/4 – Rest Day
Thurs, 2/5 – Back
Fri, 2/6 – Chest & Abs
Sat, 2/7 – Rest Day
Sun, 2/8 – Legs
Mon, 2/9 Rest Day
Tues, 2/10 - Back

As you can probably tell, I am really focusing on legs lately – I am trying to build them up because I feel like I am getting a little top-heavy, and I like to stay as proportional as possible.

My diet has been pretty spot-on – as I've stated before my weight was starting to drop so over the past 2 weeks I have upped my calories and dropped cardio – and it appears to have worked.  I am not training for anything in particular, just trying to put on some of the muscle I lost in the 2 years since I've been on stage (has it really been THAT long?!).  I have also been taking rest days a lot more often, they are incredibly important in any training routine!

My measurements for this check in:
Calf:  15 inches
Quad: 22.5 inches
Hips: 36 inches
Waist: 26.5 inches
Forearm:  11 inches
Bicep: 13.5 inches
Weight: 132.8

And, of course, some progress pictures:
Taken 2/10/15
Just for comparison sake, my previous 2 check-ins:
Taken 1/26/15
Taken 1/12/15

Monday, February 9, 2015

Bodies: The Exhibition (Atlanta, GA) - not for the faint of heart!

On Saturday John and I spent the day in Atlanta – we ate an amazing meal at Houston’s (which I should have taken a picture of – you wouldn't believe the mountain of cheese on my burger!), wandered around Atlantic Station, and saw Bodies: The Exhibition.  I am sure many of you may be familiar with this exhibit, but for those that aren't, a little background from their website:

“Since the earliest efforts of ancient Egyptians to distinguish individual organs, humankind has been fascinated with uncovering the secrets of the human body. The study of human anatomy remains a cornerstone of medical education. BODIES...The Exhibition provides millions of visitors around the world with unprecedented access to anatomical detail historically only available to medical professionals.
BODIES...The Exhibition offers an intimate and informative view into the human body. Using an innovative preservation process, the Exhibition allows visitors to see the human body's inner beauty in educational and awe-inspiring ways. Our Exhibitions have over 200 actual human bodies and specimens meticulously dissected and respectfully displayed, offering an unprecedented and wholly unique view into the amazing body.
Specimens in the Exhibition are prepared through a revolutionary process called polymer preservation, in which human tissue is permanently preserved using liquid silicone rubber. This process creates a specimen that will not decay, offering thousands of unique teaching possibilities for educators at all levels. Preparation time varies: a small organ may take only a week, while a full-body specimen may take up to a year to prepare. After quality preservation, specimens can last for decades.
Look deep inside the systems of the human body: Skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, digestive, urinary, reproductive, endocrine, and circulatory. Come explore, experience, and celebrate the wonder of the human form at BODIES...The Exhibition.”

Going into this I have to admit I had no idea what was in store – I was somewhat familiar with the concept, but for some reason I just couldn't quite grasp that what I was about to look at was real, actual human bodies.  Crazy!

Now, I may be the most squeamish person in existence (seriously), but I have to admit this was possibly the most interesting thing I have ever seen.  You are given a chance to look at what is inside of people, real people, and not some plastic model.  And surprisingly it’s not gross – I was only really grossed out by one thing in particular (a heart, of all things) but the rest even I could handle.  If you are squeamish, however - you may not want to look at the photos at the end of this post.

There were models of all of the bodily systems, entire rooms dedicated to digestion, circulation, reproduction, etc… and it was all absolutely fascinating.  Seeing what is actually inside of us, the things that we work so hard to keep fit and healthy and in working order is something I would highly suggest to anyone given the opportunity.  There is an audio tour available as well, but most of the information is listed in the exhibits themselves, and luckily my tour guide (/boyfriend) was very knowledgeable :-)

We weren't allowed to take any photos inside, but I have found some online I wanted to share.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Importance of Rest Days

I know I give rest days a hard time (see how to survive restday) but the truth is, they are SO important!  I have spent most of my bodybuilding career not taking enough of them, and I am finally starting to realize just how important they really are – so in an effort to help you learn from my mistakes and not suffer the problems I have, I wanted to talk a little today about why rest days are so important and how many you should take a week!

First of all, you do not build muscle in the gym, you build muscle while you rest!  Well, that is not entirely true – you have to tear down the muscles first (i.e. lifting weights) but in order for those muscles to grow you have to allow them ample time to recover – they are actually doing the growing part while you rest, not while you are lifting.  So, you need both aspects (obviously), and you need to make sure you are treating your rest days with the same importance as your workout days.

One of the most important aspects of rest day is your diet – in order to allow your muscles to properly recover and grow, you need to make sure that you are properly fueling them not only on the days you work out, but also on the days you don’t.  Make sure that you are getting all of your macro-nutrients (fats, carbs, and protein) that your body needs!  Just because you didn’t work out on a certain day does not mean that you don’t need to eat!  My rest day nutrition is typically identical to my work out days, and sometimes I actually eat MORE on my rest days to help my body recover and to prepare myself for the next day’s lift.

A rest day means just that, allow your body to rest.  After putting in work all week, your body deserves it – my rest days are usually spent on the couch and 90% of the time result in a nap – sleep like a baby, grow like a monster!  But seriously, you can incorporate ‘active-rest’ into your routine, but I can’t stress enough how much good a day of doing absolutely nothing can be.  I don’t recommend multiple days of doing absolutely nothing, but if you are really pushing yourself in the gym I fully believe that one day a week of complete rest will work wonders for you.  As far as active-rest is concerned – this is typically low impact activities like walking, yoga, or other light activities that still allow your body much needed rest – I highly recommend both yoga and walking actually – they are not only good for your body but are amazing for your mental health.

So how many rest days should you be taking each week?  That is really going to vary from person to person, but I think 2 is a good starting point.  Again, this depends on each individual and their training habits, goals, recovery time, etc… Some people can thrive off only 1 rest day a week, while others do best with 3 – personally, I take 2 a week and it works really well for my body.  Listen to YOUR body, learn how to better understand what your body needs and go from there.  I know it may be hard to take time off the gym, trust me, I used to be the worst when it came to rest days – but in the long run your body needs them, and it will make you stronger in the end.  Please respect your body, it works hard for you, give it some much needed rest.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

#TransformationTuesday - My Transformation

My transformation has brought me from a life of too much partying and a lot of unhealthy habits, to a strong, healthy, motivated, and determined person – fitness taught me how to grow up and grow out of some of the bad choices I was making, and focus on goals that would improve the quality of my life.
Same person, new priorities
My new version of 'happy hour'
I started working out as a way of overcoming a rough point in my life – the gym gave me structure and balance that I desperately needed.  I was spending my free time exercising instead of partying, and every aspect of my life began to improve greatly.  After I had been in the gym for a few months, I decided I wanted to try out a Figure competition.  I got on stage for my first time in May of 2010 – the picture on the left below is from that show.
2010 - 2011 - 2013
The picture in the center is from my first NPC Figure Competition and marked the point in my life when I finally decided I needed some help with all of this – I needed a trainer.  Up until this point, I had been training myself – which for some people may not be a difficult thing but for me (and a lot of other people) it was just too much – even trainers need a trainer!  I cannot even begin to tell you what a huge difference having a trainer made in my life – Kimmy taught me more than I can ever thank her for and offered motivation and accountability – and she helped me reach my goal of competing on stage at the Arnold!  Not only that, but I gained a best friend out of the deal – can’t beat that!

When I was training myself, I was overtraining and undereating – maybe not to an extreme, but it wasn’t good.  I had a very unhealthy relationship with food and the gym and Kimmy helped me overcome that.  After training with her I learned not to be afraid of food and not to be afraid of rest – it was only after learning these things that I was finally able to reach my full potential as a bodybuilder.
2011 (undereating and overtraining) to 2013 (more food and more rest days!)
My transformation has been a 6 year process – and it is nowhere near over.  I have no real end goal, just small goals along the way – I train for life, and I train like there is no finish line – because for me, there isn’t.  There isn’t a stage or a meet or anything else in my near future – just me kicking my own ass day in and day out to constantly be a better version of myself.  Bodybuilding for me is a lifestyle – I eat, sleep, and breath it – and I truly love what I do.  It has changed my life in so many aspects, and has made me who I am today.

Fitness is my passion, and I am honored to be able to share my passion with anyone and everyone who wants to learn more about it.  If you are interested in starting (or continuing) your own transformation journey – feel free to contact me, I would absolutely love to help you reach your goals!