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?

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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?

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Spicy Treadmill Hill Interval Workout

hamster wheel

Today I’m suffering from one heck of a sunburn after a charity ride this weekend.  Now that all my northern followers want to punch me in the face, I will continue to complain because I need to get in a little run today, which means doing it in the treadmill.  If there’s snow and ice where you live, my bet is you’ve become more than a little familiar with this torture device over the winter months.

If you’re like me, you might refer to these as “dreadmill” workouts.  I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t love running on my own personal hamster wheel at the gym.

To keep it spicy and interesting, I love this thirty minute hill interval workout below.  I’ve added in my own personal (and oh so eclectic) playlist based on the beats per minute that will match my running stride.

Feel free to use it, and if you don’t like the song suggestion check out this website to find another with the same beats to keep your heart rate up and your legs moving.  I’ve included songs from every different genre out there, so hopefully there’s something you love, and maybe even new inspiration for your playlist!

For the workout, the effort is based on an RPE, or a rate of perceived exertion.  This is based on a scale of 1-10, 1 being an easy peasy stroll through the mall and 10 being a level of effort you couldn’t hold for more than a few seconds.  You’ll notice I ramp it up and hit all the way up to an RPE of 9, so while puke isn’t eminent, it is possible.

I didn’t include the speed, as we’re all different at what pace we run (read slow as shit here), so  use the RPE as your guide, and be sure to use the incline to really give your legs and heart a spicy little workout.

Once you’ve given it a try, don’t forget to let me know what you think!  Leave  a comment, a favorite workout song, or post your own boredom busting treadmill routine for me to try.  I’m always looking fun new ways to shake it up!

 

Time

Effort

Incline

Song

0:00-3:00

Warm Up RPE 2

1%-3% (Increase 1% each minute during the warm up)

Maroon 5- Maps

3:00-7:00

Jog RPE 5

3%

Jeremiah- Down on Me

7:00-11:00

Hill Run RPE 8

5%

Taylor Swift-Shake it Off

11:00-15:00

Jog RPE 5

3%

T-Pain- Church

15:00-18:00

Recovery RPE 3

1%

Meghan Trainor- All About that Bass

18:00-22:00

Hill Walk RPE 7

8%

Luke Bryan- Country Girl Shake it For Me

22:00-24:30

Hill Run RPE 9

8%

Slipknot- Wait and Bleed

24:30-29:30

Hill Walk RPE 6

6%

The Who- Baba O’Reiley

29:30-32:00

Cool Down

1%

Kelly Clarkson- Stronger

Does it still count as running if turtles are lapping me?

Here’s a surprise.  I can run over 3 miles and not pewp my pants.  At least, that appears to be the case so far.

On Wednesday, this happened:

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Now, I’m not actually sure that it counts as running since I’ve seen little old ladies in my neighborhood power walk faster than a 14:20 mile, but whatever, I got it done.

It was beautiful and sunny and a day that couldn’t be missed, and I was grateful to spend so much of it outside.  Sweating.   And smiling.  But sweating none the less.

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Why am I doing all this running, you ask?  (Or maybe you didn’t, but hey you’re reading and I’m enlightening so go with it…)

Because this girl is officially signed up for the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Clearwater coming up on April 11th!

iron girl

While I haven’t been posting about it much, I’ve been diligently following Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training Program for novices, and am really starting to get excited for the race.

While nearly 7 miles didn’t feel good by any stretch, it felt possible.  And even the last mile or two I was still jogging with frequent walk breaks.  My legs were tiered, but not completely spent, and I am starting to build the confidence that I will be able to keep moving forward for over 13 miles.

With just over six weeks left until race day, this is where things get serious.  My long runs increase a mile every week, so the next few weeks have me peaking at the 10 mile mark.  I’m also supplementing heavily with cycling, which is amazing for cross training my cardiovascular system while giving my knees and ankles a break.

And, of course, I’m still weight training every day.

This is the first time in a long time that I’ve felt this strong and healthy. Here’s hoping before race day I also start feeling a bit fast.

My goal for this event is to finish in under 3:15 with a stretch goal of finishing in under 3.  The last time I did this event was in 2011 (good God has it been that long?!) and I finished in 3 hours and 47 seconds.  My cardio isn’t as strong this time around, but who knows what improvements 6 weeks will bring?

And let’s face it, I’m really just in it for the t-shirt and medal anyway.

iron girl medalAre any of my readers training for a spring race?  What are you running?  How is your training going?  Fill me in dudes and dudettes! 

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?

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?

Spring Fitness Fashion

Spring is right around the corner for most of you (in Florida today it’s going to hit 80 so I think it’s safe to say Spring is here for us), and with it comes a reason to break out the shorts and bright colors and start taking our workouts outside.

Personally, I find nothing quite as motivational as a new outfit to workout in.  Cheesy?  Sure, but it’s what works for me.

With spring fitness comes spring fashion, and I’ve got my eye on a few trends that I’m dying to try.  Here’s 5 of the top fitness fashion trends for spring, and my favorite picks that I’ll be adding to my wardrobe to keep my sweaty butt dressed in pretty colors while I’m saying Om and crossing the finish line.

Interesting Details

It seems like every fitness clothing line is doing some fun things with details in their up and coming styles.  I’m totally loving the interesting draped back in the Taylor Tank by Fabletics.  It’s sort of the mullet of yoga tank tops, all business and comfort in the front and a pure party in the back.

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Fun Prints

2014 was totally the year of the printed exercise pant and capri, and I’m a junky for the trend.  I actually had to try to find a pair of plain black leggings for a costume recently and only own one pair.  Everything else is plaid, flowery or bedazzled, and I love it.

For spring I’m totally going to pick up the Wailea Chaturanga Capri by Athleta to channel my inner amazon vibe.

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I’m also in love with the Existence 7/8 Tight by Lorna Jane for a little quieter of a statement.  Lorna Jane is a new to me brand that has some seriously amazing stuff in terms of both fashion and quality.  Because I totally need one more brand to lust over constantly.

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Mesh

Mesh came on the scene in a big way over the winter, and it seems like the ways it’s being used just keep getting better and better.  I am in love with the concept of mesh cut outs in leggings and capris, and while I already own a pair from Lululemon, I NEED their Mesh With Me Crop.  I can totally see myself running more than once race in these sexy babies.

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Bras with Sexy Backs

With all the backless shirts out there, I am thrilled to see so many super hot options of bras to wear under them.  I need them.  All of them.  First on my list is the Vimmia Spirit Bra from Carbon38 to wear with my new Fabletics top!

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High Visibility

Sure, part of fashion is about being seen, but when I’m running or riding in the evening I actually want to be seen to avoid being, oh I don’t know, killed for example.  For that reason, I tend to wear a lot of bright colors, and for spring bright and bold is all over the place.  I’ll be adding this Mesh Racerback Tank  from Victoria’s Secret to my closet for my late night or early morning runs.  Can’t miss me in this, huh?

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Ok readers, what look are you going to invest in for spring?  Be sure to let me know in the comments!

Maybe not so boldly going where I haven’t before

Lately I’ve been having more “cheat” meals that I strictly should given what my goals are.  This morning I spent some time asking myself why?

The goals I have physically and aesthetically for 2015 are damn clear in my head.  I know what I want to accomplish, and thanks to amazing coaching by Colleen Gallagher I know EXACTLY how to get there.  Weight loss and performance is truly a science, and if I just stick with the plan I will see my abs by this summer.

So why am I randomly eating ramen noodles on a Friday night when I have loads of healthy food in the house?

Here’s the thing, as it stands right now I am pretty much the smallest and leanest I’ve ever been.  Even if we go as far back as high school, when I was on the dance team and extremely active, I was the size and a similar shape to what I am now.  In my glory days of college where I taught group exercise classes and honestly couldn’t afford to stuff my face regularly, I was this size.

I’m more muscular now, but this is about it for me in terms of what I know my body is capable of.

But I want MORE.  I’ve never seen my abs before.  Ever.  And no matter how tiny I was, I never had a perky butt.  Those are both on my goal list this year, as part of my mission to continue to cut body fat.

So maybe part of the reason I’m cheating so much lately is because my body is at a place where I’m moderately content?  I’ve never known anything “better” than this.  I’ve never known anything leaner than this.

Is it possible, absolutely!  But it’s a place I haven’t been before.  Maybe I’m a little afraid to push myself there.  Maybe part of me just wants to rest on what I know I can achieve and comfortably maintain?

I’m not entirely sure what the reason or the answer is here.  But taking a minute this morning to just realize and uncover these feelings has me refocused for the day.  And really, isn’t that what working towards our goals really is?  Taking it one day at a time and finding success in every good choice we make.

Here’s why I’m NOT annoyed that I can’t get a squat rack at the gym

Well happy New Year kittens!  I hope everyone got through the holidays without needing Xanax or considering stabbing their caroling neighbors with scissors while they were wrapping gifts.  Not that I did either of those things.  No, not me.  Never.

2014 was a great year for this Wonder Woman, and 2015 is going to be even better.  I know this, because like every one of you, I’m in charge of my own happiness and success this year.  Pretty sweet action.

The gym this week has been crazier than I remember it being.  Trying to get a squat rack is like being one of the monkey’s in the zoo going after the lone banana, but I’ve got to say, I’m really proud of all the newbies I don’t recognize getting in there and working towards their goals.  Yeah, I realize that not everyone will develop a fitness habit, but if even a few of them stick around, I’ll deal with the crowds without complaint.  After all, I was once the fat, out of shape gal who just had a goal of doing something every day.  Everyone has a chance at success.

So here’s my first 2015 challenge for you, my readers.  Don’t be that person on Facebook or Twitter complaining about all the new people at the gym.  Instead, be that person who says “hi” to someone you haven’t seen before, or offers to let them work in a set on a machine you’re using.

Whether you’ve been doing this for 15 years or 5 minutes, we’re all just trying to get stronger, faster, and reach our goals right?

Be the positive person in someone’s day.  You never know what kind of impact it might have.

The Fitness Games- App Review

There’s nothing like a little extra motivation when you’re gearing up for a lifting session, a hard run, or a bike ride.  If you’re a bit competitive like me, working out with a group is always a great way to go to push yourself just a bit harder.  The Fitness Games has taken that same sprit of competition and developed an app to help you push harder, go farther, and track your progress while doing it!

The app is available for iPhone and and Android, and has a slew of cool features.

fitness games in app store

You can challenge anyone, anywhere to a workout and the app will let you know who was the victor.  You can post selfies, videos, and progress to have a real time social media stream of accomplishments from you and your other competitors.

I downloaded the app on Friday and have already given in a try.  Not only is it super user friendly, it actually incorporates different workout types into the mix.  You can choose from Strength, Cardiovascular, Full Body or Cross Training challenges, and it links to Facebook to make it easy to find friends and connect with people through the app.

fitness games screen shot

As a final awesome touch there is an option to upgrade to a paid version of the app and access workouts on your phone.

If you’re looking for a fun new fitness app, I really recommend checking out The Fitness Games and giving it a try!

fitness games logo

**Disclaimer- I am being paid to review this new app.  That said, the review and opinions are all my own and are in no way influenced by the company.**

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:

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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:

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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?