Cardi-no

For years and years I’ve tried to love cardio. I’ve done all the stretches to make running easier, I’ve downloaded 1000’s of upbeat playlists, I joined the track team in school, I’ve tried cardio classes and I’ve tried to just do the damn thing everyday until it becomes a habit. There is just something about forcing myself to run, bike, climb stairs, or use an elliptical everyday that makes the idea of going to the gym horrifying.

Most recently, I just tried to do the damn thing everyday for about a month and I ended up ditching the gym for almost 2 weeks after. It’s not a question that doing cardio is good for you, but if forcing yourself to do so ends up with resentment over even going to the gym, is it really worth it? To me the answer was no. There are different ways to get in cardio throughout the day that doesn’t ruin my gym time. To me making it to the gym everyday is much more important that logging miles on a treadmill.

Here’s how I plan on sneaking cardio into my days and workouts in the future-

  1. HIIT- High intensity interval training is a great way to mesh strength training with cardio for a fast pace, killer workout. Here’s a great example you can do at home (or traveling throughout the upcoming holiday season)
  2. Holiday Shopping- I can’t be the only one who thinks pushing a full shopping cart through the grocery store should be considered cardio… Instead of doing all my shopping online, going to the stores and taking a nice stroll around will do!
  3. Active dates- The holidays are coming and this means more outings with friends and family. Instead of meeting at a bar for drinks try something more active like bowling, ax throwing, or Wii sports.

At the end of the day, make sure your workouts are something you enjoy not something you feel resentful or is a punishment.

Give Yourself a Break

I go through phases where I can’t get enough of the gym. I love the feeling of getting sweaty, working hard, digging deep to push through that last set you didn’t think you could do. I love feeling like I’m making progress, that I’m making a better version of me. I love progress.

But right now, I’m not there, I’m not living for the gym or fitness. I have to push myself to pack a bag in the morning, it’s become more of a habit than a desire. I don’t get the rush when I see a open weight bench, cardio seems like more of a chore then doing laundry, and the only place I want to go at the end of the day is back to bed.

I believe that the most important thing in living a healthy lifestyle is balance and being healthy in all respects, this means mental health too. The weather is getting colder, there’s less daylight, and work projects are starting to pile up. Not to mention, the holidays are coming up fast, and sick office season is already here. All of these things make life just a little more stressful, and sometimes it’s just too much.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing a break when life gets a little hectic or you’re feeling under the weather. Taking a few days off or just doing some less intense or shorter workouts will not eliminate all your progress. Health or fitness isn’t only going to the gym consistently, it’s taking care of your body and your mind.

So if you’re feeling unmotivated, like me, give yourself a break and practice some self love. Here’s a few of my favorite things to do when I’m needing a break from the usual-

  • Yoga/stretching- I usually follow a video from YouTube rather than trecking to a class
  • Bubble bath- candles, a bath bomb from Lush, or Epson salts are highly recommended. (Personal favorites are linked)
  • Netflix- start knocking out that never ending watch list, go wild and eat some junk food too! Less wild, do some abs or a body weight workout while watching.
  • Journal/Planner- I would be lost without my journal/planner thing. I love taking some time to write out all the things I want to do in the coming months and dates I can’t forget.

Sleep

There are many things that most people believe are required to be fit. Proper nutrition, a workout regimen, lots of water; but one thing that often gets forgotten is sleep. I know for me whenever I think about trying to improve my fitness lifestyle, sleep is NEVER the first thing I think about. I always think about the food I’m eating and how I can make that healthier, I think about cutting sweets out of my diet (yeah right…), getting more steps in my day, or just drinking more water. But when really thinking about it, sleep is the number one thing I need to work on.

Being sleep deprived has a multitude of negative effects on our bodies. These three are, in my opinion, the most important to note.

-First,  when we are sleep deprived we aren’t giving our bodies the chance to heal itself. During sleep our bodies will repair our muscles that are damaged from our workouts. Lack of healing will, of course, negatively impact fitness progress.

-Second, lack of sleep leads to lack of concentration. For me, I notice this most significantly at work. When I don’t get enough sleep I can barely get through my email without getting distracted. Having this lack of focus can lead to less productive gym time and possibly injury.

-Lastly, when lacking sleep the body tends to fatigue easier. When fatigued we may not push ourselves to finish that last set or last circuit, therefore losing productivity in the gym.

Also as a side note, motivation to actually workout is significantly decreased when sleep deprived! So if you’re struggling to find the determination to make it to the gym every day, I recommend taking a look at your sleep schedule and see if that may be a factor.

Morning Workouts

Who else has a love hate relationship with early mornings? (Please tell me its not just me…)

There are some days where I spring out of bed ready to go, and there are others where leaving the warmth of my blankets takes me an hour of convincing. Everyday I have the goal to do at least a small workout in the morning, sometimes it goes great and others not so much. But through trial and error, there a few things I’ve learned over the last year–

First, I totally sleep in the clothes I’m going to workout in. Since I do my morning workouts at home, a sports bra and a pair of shorts is my go-to. If I am going to the gym in the morning on the weekends, I make sure I have all my gear together before going to bed. This include the clothing I’m going to wear, water bottle(with pre-workout), lock, wallet, everything. The less I have to think in the morning, the better. Its also one less excuse I have!

Second, find a workout that you actually want to do in the morning. Some days, especially after a really heavy weight day I’ll do some yoga so I’m not so sore and tight throughout the day. Most days though, HIIT is my go to. Not only does it wake me up REAL QUICK, but I can also do most with no special equipment which = less thinking for me! I also find that its the most time efficient for me, I can get an entire workout done in about 20 minutes.

Third, music. For me music while working out is absolutely essential. Finding or creating an awesome playlist the night before makes it way easier for me to crank through my workout in the early hours. By the time morning rolls around I’m usually excited to put my headphones on!

Lastly, reward yourself!! You just did something amazing while most people would still be sleeping! I have a special flavored coffee that I treat myself with when I do a morning workout, but a food, juice, or special protein shake would work too.

Morning workout are hard. There’s no getting around that. But with these little trick, I’ve found they’re getting a little bit easier. (we’ll see what happens when the cold of winter returns!)

Nutrition rant-

Over the weekend I spoke with a gentlemen who told me that he was going vegetarian because it was healthier for him. He refused to eat any meat on the basis that he read an article that said how terrible all meat was for your body. Now personally, I am not a huge meat eater simply because I do not enjoy the taste or texture of most meats. In fact, I was a vegetarian for a very very long time. So whenever I meet someone that also doesn’t eat meat I feel absolutely compelled to speak to them about it. I want to know what they use for a protein source, how they make up the nutrients ect. It’s something I’m very passionate about and I’m always looking for meat free protein options.

So of course I ask him “what do you use for protein?” Now being someone who has spent countless hours researched different proteins, meat alternatives, and making sure I’m getting all 9 amino acids from the plant based proteins I use daily; imagine the shock on my face when he tells me that the Red Baron pizza he ate at dinner has about 30 grams of protein so he should be good for a while…

Now I’m not trying to be an asshole to this guy because I totally believe in letting people do whatever the heck you want to do with your food and body. It just shocked me that this man was preaching about how much healthier he was than the rest of us because he was not eating meat without any real evidence to back it up. And truthfully (without any research here) I can’t image eating an entire pizza can be very healthy.

In this day and age, there are so many articles about fad diets and misinformation about nutrition circling around that I think things like this happen far too often. Now again I will say, do your own thing because I have absolutely no place to say what anyone should or should not be doing with their lives.

But I will stand on my soapbox and scream until the end of time that everyone needs to do their research before making a major change in their diets.

I do not believe in going keto because you saw a post on Instagram.

I do not believe in going vegan because it’s the hip new thing.

I do not believe in cutting out all dairy because you heard a friend say it’s great.

Simply I do not believe in cutting out ENTIRE food groups without a way to replace those nutrients. Food is fuel and our bodies require certain things in order to be able to function. It is absolute insanity to me that people are willing to eliminate half the food they eat because they read it could be bad and don’t think for a second about the effects this could have.

The reason I scream on a soapbox over this is because I’ve been there. When I was young I decided I was done eating meat and dairy and I just stopped out of the blue. I cut them out completely, I did nothing to replace those nutrients and it was the WORST thing I could have done. My bones started getting weaker, my muscles stayed sore for days longer than I was used to, I bruised much easier than ever before, and my energy level was lower then I could ever imagine. Being a highly competitive skater, these things were incredibly detrimental to my training. Thank goodness I went to a doctor before anything too terrible happened.

I guess in the end remember that just because you’re following the latest and greatest diet doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy, and neither does cutting food groups out. If my rant means anything to you, please take this to heart; do your research about what you are and are not going to put in your body, do what is best for you, not anyone else, and please talk to a nutritionist before making a major diet change.

*End rant*

Weight

I began figure skating at age 3, and I loved it. Growing up and moving up in levels, more and more things began to be determined by my weight. I could be lifted in synchro because I was small, I was a great candidate for pairs because I was small, I was a great jumper because I was small. It was drilled into my head day after day that the more weight I had, the more I had to lift into the air, the more it would change the way I spun; the worse off I would be.

Since then, weight gain has been my biggest fear. I never wanted to see the number on the scale increase. If it did, I thought I had failed, that all my hard work on the ice would have been for nothing. Obviously being so young, weight gain wasn’t something I could avoid. I was growing up, getting taller, growing into a new body. It was horrifying and shameful.

It took me years to give up the scale. I truly couldn’t tell you what my weight is currently and I’ve never felt better. I am stronger then ever before both mentally and physically, and I am proud of the body I live in now. It has been through so much, so many injuries, so many grueling workouts, hours of physical therapy; and yet it still caries me through the day.

Pants.

If you ask me, finding the perfect pair of workout pants is harder then necessary. Will they be good for running? Squats? Sweaty workouts? DO THEY HAVE POCKETS? Over the years I’ve tried way too many different brands, and been incredibly disappointed with most. I’ve resorted to reading any review that I can find about a pair of leggings prior to purchasing and thanks to other people’s reviews and recommendations, I’ve found my favorite leggings for all my workouts. Personally I only wear leggings to the gym, and I am extremely critical of them because I need to be able to focus on my workouts not my clothing. With that in mind I’ve wanted to write a bit of a review of my favorite leggings I’ve found.

Before continuing, my apologies for the terrible quality mirror pics. And yes, my cat is in every single one… Another point I’d like to make is that many of these are (in my opinion) expensive. I am all about finding the best value and making sure I’m buying when an item is on sale, the broke college kid mentality never truly goes away. I’ll be adding my recommendations on when to buy and what sales to look for.

VSX- Knockout tight $69.50

I’ve had these leggings for quite some time, they’ve become one of my favorites during workouts. I own these blue ones, a black and a grey marble pair. They have side pockets that fit my phone as well as a pocket in the waist band for my gym lock key or credit card. They hit right above the top of my hips so they stay in place very well and have a drawstring in the waist so I can make them tighter if needed. They’re also not see through, even in squats. The only downside I have is they’re not very sweat wicking, after a sweaty workout you can’t see the sweat but taking them off and putting them back on is a workout in itself. In my opinion, the price is a bit high, but if you keep an eye out Victoria Secret has sales on their workout gear rather frequently. My favorite are their workout outfit deals!

Ho-Fi legging $16.99

My favorite Amazon find! For the price these are some awesome leggings. They’re as smooth as butter, they stay put rather well, and they have pockets on the sides and in the waist band. These have become my go-to black leggings. They can handle any workout from a run to weights and I can wear them for any activity outside the gym without the fear of wrecking an expensive pair of leggings. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, this is the way to go! Added bonus, they’re part of Prime!

Gymshark-Fleur $45.00

HOLY HIGH WAISTED. I’ve never had a pair of leggings go above my belly button so this was quite a new experience. I love the seam details around the knees and bum, they’re also as cozy as can be. Downside- no side pockets, only a waist pocket that I dislike due to the extra high waist. On me, they fall down quite often, therefore, these aren’t my favorite for a leg day or run but I do still like them for arm days or a weekend cozy outfit. My recommendation is to wait for one of Gymshark’s sales, usually in the summer and Black Friday so you can try these for yourself without paying so much. During the summer sale I was able to snag these for almost 70% off!

Gymshark- Flex $50.00

Again, holy high waisted. But these Flex leggings stay put much better then the Fleur, still not as well as the VSX pair though. For leg days, HIIT, and booty confidence these are my go to. I love the way these feel and fit, I just wish they had pockets. I truly have nothing bad to say about these leggings, I now understand why so many ladies have them in the gym. Again I would recommend waiting for a sale just to help with the cost a little bit. Since the Flex is a more popular collection they usually only go down about 30%.

Others~

Lululemon– Lulu used to be my go-to for ice skating. Their Wonderunders are a bit thicker so they were perfect for the cold. On me, the wonderunder leggings are a bit longer so it was perfect to go over a skate boot, but not so perfect to wear on their own. They now offer a great variety of colors, cuts and designs from when I first started buying Lululemon that fit much better. Nowadays, I just can’t justify leggings that are around $100 each but I wish I could!

Old Navy– Recently I’ve seen more and more Old Navy active wear at the gym. They too have some really neat designs and colors of leggings, and the price is much lower. Personally, I am not a fan of these for workouts. Their leggings easily show sweat and don’t endure the abuse I put them through very well. Much more of an athleisure or weekend legging for me. Their workout tops though, big fan. Some tanks are as low as $5 and their jackets or sweaters are very cute.

Overall, I think gym wear is very personal. It really depends on what you’re going to be doing that day, what you’re comfortable in and what fits your body the best!