What it’s like to be an insecure athlete

Not an athlete, but a totally badass hilarious chick none the less.

Not an athlete, but a totally badass hilarious chick none the less.

Hey blog-o-sphere.  I’ve missed you.

So SO much has happened since I’ve last been around, probably the most important of which is that I started a new job with arguably the most incredible company out there.  I’m working as a camp enrollment guru for Triathlon Research.  If you’re in the Tri world and on Facebook like, at all, you’ve heard of us.  We’re the ones who do the camps with Crowie and Rinny and Gwen, and you totally want to come to one.  Just admit it.

This is what we do!

This is what we do!

As it turns out, I’m so amazing at talking with athletes all over the world about the sport I love so SO much that I earned my way into our upcoming camp in just three weeks in Kona, HI with Craig Freaking Alexander.

I’ve never been to Hawaii.  I’ve never had any formal triathlon coaching, short of a few amazing swim lessons with a coach when I was first starting.

Oh, and did I mention I’ve gained 30 pounds back since I started this job?

To say I’m nervous is a bit of an understatement.

In fact, I think it would be fair to say that I’m equal parts nervous and excited, and let me tell you, I’m REALLY excited.

It’s not so much that I’m concerned that I won’t be able to do anything we will be doing at the camp.  I am pretty much intimately familiar with what to expect, and I know that while I’m slow, I’m more than capable of swimming, biking and running the workouts we have planned.  Even more than that, I know that I truly NEED the coaching I’ll get over the course of the week, because my form, technique, workout design, nutrition and transitions are abysmal at best.

If I were to be totally honest, what I’m actually nervous about is the fact that I don’t “look” like a triathlete.

Heck, even 30 pounds skinnier I didn’t look like a triathlete.

A girl who loves wine?  Sure.  A girl who really really loves cake?  Abso-freaking-lutely.

But a girl who can haul her booty over the finish line of a triathlon?  Not so much.

Do I realize that’s a dumb thing to think?  Of course I do.  Body confidence is something I’ve spent the better part of my life working on.  You know, once I was old enough to realize I had a body and it didn’t look like everyone else’s.  Typical girl here.

But knowing it’s a stupid thing to be concerned about, and actually NOT being concerned about it are two different things.

I actually had a near panic attack when I stepped on the scale one day last week and realized I was up ANOTHER two pounds, and I walked out of the bathroom and told my husband I wasn’t going to go.  I actually had it all planned out.  I was going to email my boss and fake an injury, just so that I wouldn’t show up at camp and meet all these athletes who I helped register looking like a sausage who got stuffed into a casing that is too small.

After about 10 seconds of having those thoughts, I gave myself a mental bitch slap, and asked myself WHY?

This struggle is real kittens.  And I know I’m not alone.  Ya’ll know that most of my posts are just sharing little pieces of my life.  Whether they are hilarious, inappropriate, or just plain sad, it always helps to know that I’m not the only one out there.

And if you’ve ever questioned if you should or could do something because of an insecurity about your body, know that you’re not alone either.

Let’s keep giving ourselves mental throat punches and remind our inner voices that we are SO MUCH MORE than what we look like.

Downhills and tailwinds kittens…

Apparently I was accidentally bulking

Confession time.

My nutrition has been, er let’s just call it “sub optimal” for a few weeks now.  And by “sub optimal” I mean wine and Chinese food and Easter candy like a boss.

Pretty much every morning I would wake up and say, “ok today is the day I get my shit together.  I can’t keep eating like this or else I’m going to start gaining weight,” but things would fall apart once I had a hard workout in the morning, arrived home starving for lunch, and raided the leftover takeout food containers.

Yeah, I know I should have just thrown the crap out and gotten it out of my house, but that’s such a waste, no?

So here’s the good news.  It’s not like I’ve done so much damage that I’m back to where I started.  I’m up a few pounds and feeling more fluffy than I have in months around my middle, but I’ve done a great job with meal prep this week and have actually given myself the tools for success.

What’s more, I’ve been working out like a freaking beast.  Other than taking a few days off last week to let my body recover from everything I’ve been putting it through, I’ve been extremely consistent and am seeing some darn heavy weight come off the ground on all of my lifts.

Today I took progress pictures just to gauge where I’m at, and honestly in part to make myself feel better that I haven’t completely ballooned up.  I mean, it’s not like I can actually see the jelly beans hanging off my thighs or anything.

But I noticed something surprising in my pics.

Whereas when I first started this weight loss journey, I was eating at a pretty solid calorie deficit to help my body to shed fat, over these past few weeks I’ve been eating at a pretty even calorie balance, and some days in surplus.

And let me tell you, I’ve got GAINZ.  Like for real.  My arms are looking jacked, and my booty is more HELLO than I’ve ever seen it.

Seeeee?

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 2.05.47 PM

So not all is lost with my junk food binge.  Yeah, it’s time to stop putting crap in my body and get my pie hole under control, but putting on a little muscle in the process was a surprising and not entirely unwelcome side effect.

How is your nutrition going lately readers?  Anyone want to be accountable with me and get yourself back on track?

Repeat after me: It’s ok to take a rest day

rest day

My workouts have been awesome lately.  I’ve had several solid weeks of training, and have managed to fit in not only my runs in preparation for the upcoming half marathon I’ll be doing, but several rides, and weight training 5x per week.

My diet has been, uh, ok I guess, but given my activity level I’m getting away with eating a lot of things I normally wouldn’t and still maintaining my weight.  Anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight can probably tell you, gaining it back is among one of my biggest fears, so I’m happy that I seem to be holding pretty steady.

Yesterday I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed just like every other day, but within about 10 minutes of getting out of bed my energy was zapped.

My entire body hurt.  I mean, I’ve been sore daily for the past several weeks and the level of ouch was about normal, but for some reason, yesterday it was hitting me particularly hard how sore I was.

And I was tiered.  Even after my usual cup of coffee in the morning I was still dragging, and just didn’t have it in me.

I made the executive decision to skip my morning Yoga class, and it was a good one.

By 3 o’clock I was ready for a nap, and my body told me without hesitation that I would not be riding that night.

I won’t lie, I tried to pep talk myself into it.

I mean, it’s only Wednesday.  I can’t skip a workout this early in the week.

And I ate rice with lunch.  RICE!  That’s carbs, I need to work that off, right?

And what about cross training?  I mean, riding my bike is great cross training for this run I’m doing and I don’t want to take a step backwards in my fitness, do I?

And oh my god, the CALORIES!  If I don’t workout how am I going to burn at least 500 calories over what I eat so I can continue losing weight?

So yeah, I’m more than a little crazy.  But after a few hours of playing this game with myself I finally said ENOUGH.

My body needed rest.  Even today, I’ve decided to postpone my long run for the week (9 miles) until tomorrow to give my body just a little more time to recover.

Sure, there’s a million reasons for me to train, but sometimes we also need to realize when our bodies are actually trying to tell us something.

There’s a definite difference between being lazy or unmotivated, and legitimately needing rest and recovery.  It took me awhile yesterday to realize and understand, I’m on the recovery end of that spectrum.

So the moral of the story for today, kittens, is that it’s ok to take a rest day.  Learn from my inner struggle and listen to your body.  It’s the best way to prevent getting burned out, prevent injury, and ensure that you love your training every day.

Anyone else have a hard time taking an unplanned day off?  How do you cope?

5 Ways to Lose Fat, Not Muscle

fat-cartoon

All in all, weight loss is pretty simple.  Last week I talked about my top 10 weight loss tips, and as you can see, none of them require anything fancy to get the job done.

That said, there are a few key things that you can do in the gym, and out of it, to ensure that the weight that you’re dropping is actually the body fat you’re trying to lose, and not the muscle that will rev your metabolism and give you the lean look you’re going for.

1.  Don’t do too much cardio

Yes, cardio is an important component of overall fitness, but when it comes to fat loss, doing too much cardio can actually be counter productive.  Studies show that cardio workouts over 45 minutes can sometimes result in increased cortisol levels, muscle loss, overuse injuries, and decreased power output during your workouts.

For the best fat loss results, keep your cardio sessions shorter and intense.  High intensity interval training (or HIIT) is a great way to get in a hard as hell cardio workout in 20-30 minutes that will melt fat but not muscle.  Check out this treadmill workout for one of my favorites.

2.  Lift weights

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, lifting weights is CRUCIAL for fat and weight loss.  If you’re going to start somewhere, start with weights.  In this article by Fitness Rx for Women they site a research study that found that combining calorie restriction with cardiovascular exercise can result in your body using your muscle for energy instead of fat.  However, the same study said that by lifting weights your body would be able to maintain it’s lean muscle mass, and lose weight.

We all know that weight loss means you take in less calories than you use in a day, but without lifting weights it’s possible you will not lose fat.  Lift heavy, lift often.  When you only have time for a short workout, choose weights over cardio.  Your metabolism will thank you.

3.  Eat enough, and eat it in protein and veggies

Now that I’ve said to cut calories, I feel like it’s important to note that this isn’t an example of a scenario where a little is good and a lot is better.  Yes, you need to consume less than you burn on a daily basis, but do not take that to an extreme.  Rapid weight loss will not equal rapid fat loss, so it’s important you still eat enough to fuel your workouts and daily activities.  Get the majority of your nutrition from proteins, vegetables and healthy fats to help give your body the nutrients it needs to build muscle, and burn fat.

4.  Take a chill pill

It might surprise you to learn that being stressed can actually make it harder for your body to let go of your fat stores.  High stress levels can lead to an increase in the hormone cortisol.  While cortisol in normal levels is important to healthy functions within your body, when you get all jazzed out for days or weeks at a time and your levels spike it can create nasty side effects like elevated blood pressure, increased abdominal fat, reduced fat burning abilities, insulin resistance, and put you at cardiovascular risk.

Not all stress is controllable, but try practicing deep breathing, meditation or yoga to help your mind unwind.  Work through your stresses as best as you can, and most importantly, be sure to get enough sleep every night to help give your body and mind the time it needs to recharge and reboot.

5.  Stop being such a wine-o (or beer babe, or whatever your drink of choice is)

I really, truly attribute most of my weight loss to the fact that I cut back my alcohol consumption dramatically and now only have a drink (or two) once a week at most.

There’s a host of scientific reasons why that’s probably true, but here’s my version of it.  One, booze has a lot of calories.  Two, when you drink booze, french fries and pizza suddenly sound like an amazing idea.  Three, the day after drinking an entire bottle of booze you desperately need something greasy to make your stomach feel better.  And four, combined with all that nonsense, alcohol actually surpasses your metabolism in the process so not only are you consuming entirely too many calories, but your body is slowing down while you’re doing it.

I’m all for having treats and going out and having fun, but if you are like I was and drinking most nights of the week, cut it back and reap the rewards.


I am a cardio queen, so I still struggle the most with getting in my lifting on days I just don’t want to.  What about you readers?  What’s your biggest struggle in trying to lose fat?

March Goals

goals

Holy crap it’s March already.

Well, I mean, it’s almost March already.  It’s close enough that it’s time to take a minute and plan out my goals and decide exactly what I want to achieve for the month.

I’ve learned a lot of things along the way on this journey of mine, not just about weight loss but about overall success, and the most important thing is that I function better with goals and a plan.

Not having a traditional 9-5 job anymore means that I need to be especially motivated every day, and for me, the best way to do that is to have a clear idea of what I want to accomplish for the month.  From there I break it down into manageable chunks, and get it done!

March is going to be a big month for me from both a fitness and a professional standpoint.  I have my first official race of the season coming up on April 11th, so training will be particularly important, and I have a few professional ducks I want to get in a row to continue to advance my career as a health and wellness writer.

Here’s a break down of the big picture of what I’m going to accomplish next month.

March Wellness Goals:

  • Follow my half marathon training plan in preparation for the Iron Girl Clearwater 13.1 race on April 11th.  Generally speaking, this means 3 runs per week with my long run increasing in distance to 11 miles by the end of the month.
  • Maintain my strength training schedule.  Generally speaking this means 5x per week lifting weights.
  • Continue incorporating yoga a minimum of 1x per week with a stretch goal of 2x per week during the month.
  • On non-running days, ride my bike (2x per week).  The focus this month is continuing to build my base for the season, longest rides will be in the 40-50 mile range.  Continue to increase my strength, speed, and comfort riding with a group.
  • Continue to hone my nutritional efforts with a goal of a bit more fat/weight loss overall.  This means 5-6 meals per day to fuel my workouts, heavy on the veggies and protein, and no more than 1 “cheat meal” per week.  Booze no more than 1x per week.

March Professional Goals

  • Develop editorial calendar for my personal blog and post a minimum of 3x per week.  (Ya’ll may have noticed I’ve been slacking lately, and it’s because I have so much paid work coming in I get distracted).
  • Continue to work to develop my niche as a fitness/health/wellness/beauty blogger with a totally questionable sense of humor, and focus my personal writing in those areas.
  • Begin studying for and register for my personal trainer certification.  (As a fitness blogger, it would be awesome to have some creds to back it up, right?)
  • Explore other certification options that may be relevant to my professional development, and opportunities that might exist with these certifications (i.e., group exercise- are there opportunities to teach classes locally?  Yoga?  New OrangeTheory opening soon…)
  • Continue to grow my social followings with the goal of becoming a FitFluential Ambassador.  Goals- 50 more followers on Instagram for the month and 100 more on Twitter.  Do you follow me?  You totally should, I’m hilarious.  Check out the side bar to follow my pages!

While there’s a thousand more things I would love to accomplish, these are the goals I’ve set my sights on for March.

So now it’s your turn!  What are you going to accomplish this month?  Share your #1 goal with me, and upcoming race you have, or heck, anything else you want to chat about.

I want to know people!

10 Weight Loss Tips You Totally Know but Probably Aren’t Doing

vigorous exercise

To date, I’ve lost nearly 50 pounds.  Yes, yes, feel free to applaud.  I’m darn proud of it.

It seems like every time I turn around, someone is asking me how I did it.  Once I tell them, they’re usually somewhat disappointed.

Why?

Because as it turns out, there’s no magic trick, shake, fitness program, or abracadabra to make the weight fall off.  It’s a combination of all of the stuff we’ve heard a million times, doing it consistently, and sticking with it even through temptations and challenges.

For a long time, I was one of those people.  I would ask, “how did you lose so much weight?” or “how do you stay in such great shape?” and when I was told I would think, “ok well, I’m not going to do THAT, so what else did you do?”

I’m glad I’m not doing that anymore, because I’ve finally seen results.

So without further ado kittens, here’s 10 things that I do every single day to lose weight and stay healthy.  Remember, it’s not any one thing that will bring success, it’s a combination of healthy habits that make all the difference.

1.  Drink lots and lots of water.

I average around a gallon per day.  It keeps me hydrated allowing me to push hard through my workout, and also helps to manage hunger and cravings.  Sometimes when you feel hungry, you’re actually thirsty.

2.  Eat veggies at every meal.

I mean it, every meal.  They’re nutritionally dense, full of fiber, fill you up, and are the key to getting all the vitamins your body needs.

3.  Eat protein at every meal.

Like your vegetables, protein has a whole host of health benefits.  Lean protein can keep you full and help you build muscle for starters, and is absolutely essential in your diet.

4.  Sleep at least 8 hours a night.

While this number is a little different for everyone (I NEED at least 8 hours, hubs is actually better on 6.5 to 7), the moral here is to get enough rest.  Your body needs sleep to recharge, as well as manage hormones and other essential functions.  Getting enough rest is also crucial to avoiding over training, so make sure to make time for sleep every day.

5.  Move as much as possible.

I would say to exercise every day, but I feel like that sets an unrealistic expectation.  I workout vigorously *most* every day of the week, but on days when I have deadlines or other commitments, I still make sure to move.  I never sit in one position for more than an hour at a time, and will take frequent stretch breaks or do jumping jacks or squats or just move around to get my blood flowing.  Even a little movement is better than none at all.  Avoid being chained to your desk for hours at a time.

6.  Lift weights.  Often.

I’ll be honest, I prefer doing cardio.  (I know, *gasp* the horror!)  But to build your metabolism, especially women, NEED to lift weights.  If you only have 30 minutes to do a workout on a given day, skip the cardio and lift weights.  I know, it sounds like blasphemy to some of us who grew up in the Jane Fonda era of the 80’s where cardio is golden, but for the best weight loss results you need to build muscle.  No, you won’t get bulky.  And if you do it right, you will elevate your heart rate enough to get fat burning benefits while you’re pumping iron.

7.  Cut out alcohol, refined carbs, sweets and treats.

I feel like this is the point where I lose most people.  Up until here everyone thinks, “ok, yeah, I can do that,” but as soon as I mention that you need to stop drinking folks seem to say, “well we don’t need to go THAT far, do we?”  And trust me, I get it.  I was that person for a very long time.  To that, I’ll simply say this.  Is there a physique you admire?  Is there a goal aesthetic you’re looking to have?  Does that person drink regularly?  (or eat cupcakes, or cookies, or grilled cheese sammiches or whatever your vice might be?)  Yeah, didn’t think so. It’s simple, what do you want more?

8.  Keep track of what you’re doing.

Admittedly, I get a little neurotic if I use a calorie tracker (like MyFitnessPal) to track every morsel of food I shove in my piehole, and for me that’s actually counter productive.  I do, however, keep track of my meals and number of servings of protein, veggies, fats, starches and fruits I have in a day.  This helps me to make sure I’m eating enough, the right things, and to stay accountable.  Find what works for you, but be sure you’re tracking your nutrition and workouts to not only follow your progress, but ensure you’re following your program appropriately.

9.  Eat breakfast.

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I’m just going to agree.  Eat it.  I know everyone is rushed in the morning, and sometimes it’s hard to plan a meal that includes protein and a vegetable and you can stuff in your face and still make it work on time, but it’s important.  Find a way, not an excuse.

10.  Take pictures.  In your undies.  Every week.

Early on this was the most mortifying part for me, but as the weeks progressed it became the most motivating piece of monitoring my success.  Strip down to your skivvies every week and take a pic of your front, side, and back.  There is nothing better than watching the inches melt away and watching your body transform.  I take mine every Monday, which helps me track my progress and keeps me honest over the weekend.


Like I said, nothing life changing, but hopefully something that was helpful to you.  So what say you readers?  Did I miss anything?  What is the one thing you feel like contributes most to your success in a quest for a fit, healthy life?

Non-Scale Victories

It’s Fitness Friday and I’m in the mood to celebrate!  With the holiday season in full swing, I’m doing what most of us are and working hard to try to maintain balance with my fitness and nutrition, and all the fun going on around me.  I don’t ever want to get to a point where I’m not living life and enjoying it because I’m worried about gaining a pound.  And as someone who has now successfully lost over 40 pounds, I’m really working to understand not only how to keep these healthy changes I’ve added into my life, but how to maintain the weight loss as well.

Enter non-scale victories.  Sure, I still weigh myself and take measurements to ensure that everything is moving in the right direction, but the proof is in the pudding as they say, and lately my pudding has been delicious!

First up we have this killer Beast Mode pic from last week at the gym.  Have you ever posed for a flexing pic before and had people say, “ok but now make a muscle?”  Yeah, that was me for the longest.  Not anymore:

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 11.15.50 AM

The highlight of my week, however, happened just yesterday.  While getting ready for a bike ride on a beautiful day I ran across my most favorite pair of tri-shorts in my dresser.  I haven’t worn these since 2011 when I did the Florida 70.3.  I remember this because pretty much immediately after doing that race I stopped doing anything and started my slow and steady gain of close to 50 lbs that I’m still struggling to lose the last of.

Needless to say, the shorts haven’t fit in a long long time.  I tried them on back in October and still looked like a tasty triathlete sausage stuffed into a spandex casing and had some serious gut dun-lop going on.  (As in, my gut dun lopped over my pants).

Yesterday I decided to give them another go.  The results are below:

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 11.15.26 AM

TA-DA!  Those are some shorts that fit people.  And fit well.

It really is the little things that make this whole journey worth while.

So how about you guys?  What are you up to on Fitness Friday?