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…

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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?

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.

Training for Aesthetics VS Training for Performance

I’m embarrassed to admit that for close to two years I was the girl who wanted to lose 20 pounds and then followed an exercise program designed to help me lift more weight.

At first glance, you might not see anything wrong with that.  In fact, there is definitely a method to that madness.  Lifting weights is an absolutely crucial part of a well rounded fitness program, and is especially important for women.  Increasing muscle mass is a good thing, as more muscle equals more calories burned at rest and a faster metabolism.

So then why didn’t I ever lose those 20 pounds?  Why didn’t my thighs ever get smaller?  Why didn’t my booty get bigger?  Why didn’t my body magically look how I wanted it to?  Why?

Here’s the deal.  We’re all setting goals for 2015 and since changing my programming just under six months ago, I came to an interesting conclusion.  One that is, by the way, backed by all kinds of science.  If you want the smart version, feel free to google it, but here’s my dumbed down two cents.

If you have a goal, you kinda need to train for it.

So if you want to be a faster runner, it makes sense to follow a program designed to *gasp* make you run faster.

If you want to lift big weights and be super strong and max your squat this year, again, follow a lifting program.

But if what you actually want, like I did, is to reshape your body, then you’re going to need a plan to do that.  At the moment, I don’t do a lot of Olympic movements, and yeah I admit it, I do biceps curls, but it’s because my goal right now is to actually achieve a specific look.  Looking a certain way is more important to me than how fast I ride my bike, or how much I can squat.

Sure, those numbers might improve as I cut body fat and train for aesthetics, but they also might not.  And as much as I hate to “lose” any of my fitness or strength, I have to be ok with that because my aesthetic goals are more important.

So here’s the moral of the story kittens.  Set your goals for 2015, but do yourself a favor and be really honest with yourself.  If your goals don’t support each other (i.e., run my fastest 5k and put on 20 lbs of muscle, or lose 20 lbs and increase my back squat), decide which you want more and train for it.

And don’t misunderstand me.  Regardless of your goals, there is a place for cardio, strength training, and mobility in your fitness routine.  How much and what types of each, however, will vary depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

Trust me, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you haven’t reached any of your goals or like you aren’t making any progress.  And it’s really not fun when you realize it’s because you’re doing things that are counterintuitive to what you really want.

We can’t have it all.  But if we decide what is really, truly important to us and work daily to achieve it, we can have the things we really want.

So get after it.  And tell me, what are you goals for 2015?

Don’t be jealous

weight loss

I admit it, I’m a bit of a hermit.  Sure, I go out once or twice a week, but it’s totally normal for my friends to only see me once a month or so.  Most of them just stalk me through social media, and love me anyway.

Lately I’ve been making the rounds and keep getting told how amazing I look.  *Brushes shoulders off* thanks peeps.  But even more than that, friends are reaching out to me privately to find out what I’m doing to see such great success.

Just this past week I’ve had five different people text or message me asking how I’m doing it.

I think sometimes regardless of how much we know about how to be successful in our weight loss and fitness efforts, it helps to have someone who is doing it tell you the things you already know.

So I tell them.  I’m eating healthy.  Lots of protein and veggies at every meal.  Healthy fats, starchy veggies for carbs.  I eat a lot.  I don’t drink.  I’m very active.  I lift weights every day.  I rarely eat junk food, and if I do it’s as a special treat and in moderation.

Basically, I do all the things we all know to do but always find reasons why not to.

Yesterday when talking with one awesome friend who recently popped out a  human from her vagina (ok actually she had a C-section, but really, it’s the growing the human part that’s hell on the body), she told me:

I’m super jealous.

Boy do I get that.  Before I started seeing my own success I remember trolling Instagram on #transformationtuesday and looking at all the amazing before and after pictures.  I remember wishing desperately that was me.  I would get angry with myself for not being strong enough to get there.  In some of my worst moments I would wish I was actually fatter and completely inactive so that I could do something “easy” like just walking around the block to lose weight.

Yes, I was that stupid.

But let’s face it, we’re all our own worst enemies.  And for a long time, I was mine.

My advice to my friend?

Don’t be jealous.  Do something about it and be your own success story.

 

I don’t have all the answers.  And lord knows half the time I still don’t know what I’m doing.  But I’m doing something, and you can too.

So readers, if you’re seeing success let me know.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing from you.  And if you’re struggling, lay it out there for me as well.  I will totally break out my pom pons for you.

Uh dude, it’s not your body

Lately I’ve had some of the strangest comments made to me.  Now sure, I’ve heard of shit like this happening to other women before, but I guess I was never fit enough that I fell into the category… until now.

Obviously, I’ve lost some weight.  I’m at 36 pounds and counting, and my body looks different.  Like really crazy there’s an entire oompah lumpa gone different.  I’m not “skinny” kids, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m getting smaller.  And it’s pretty common knowledge that I’m not done yet.

I have no idea what my “goal weight” is, but I am aiming for a goal aesthetic.  More than that, I have some performance goals I’m working towards.  And imagine that, getting faster and stronger also equates to getting physically leaner, and in my case, smaller.

So I’m trucking along.

But lately people, especially men, have found it not only appropriate but necessary to say things like:

Don’t put on too much more muscle, you’re going to start looking manly.

Or perhaps even more ridiculous and offensive:

Well whatever you do don’t lose so much weight that you lose your boobs (or sometimes your ass).

Husband, thank God, hasn’t said anything so idiotic.  I think he knows that I would smother him in his sleep.

But somehow, that makes it even WORSE.  These are random dude friends who somehow think that they have a right to not only make these types of comments on my body, but that I actually give a shit about what they think or how they feel about the way I look.

*sigh*

Sure, there’s a part of me that wants to be attractive to others.  But kittens, I’m not doing this for anyone else but me.  If I were, there would be no way I would be this successful.