Showing posts with label fitness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fitness. Show all posts

10 Things I Learned From Losing 20 Pounds

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Okay, so as promised, here's my little spiel about losing weight last year. Bear with me, these thoughts have been floating around in my head all week so they might be a little disorganized. Therefore, I think a list is best to get organized and hopefully offer a few average-girl tips from what I've learned.

Last February was BANANAS. Between my kids' birthdays, our Disneyland trip, family coming to visit, and a baptism, I got a little lax on my eating habits. And by that, I mean I ate like two teenage boys instead of one out of pure convenience sake. And I didn't really think much of it, because sometimes you just eat a lot, right?

But when I had an OB/GYN appointment in March, I was totally shocked when I hopped on the scale and realized that I had seriously put on more than just a few pounds. And then, I saw a few pictures of myself from February and wasn't super happy with what I saw. The thing about being generally good at dressing yourself is the fact that you're really good at wearing stuff that flatters, so it kind of sneaked up on me.

But that's the thing, right? I wasn't super overweight and I've always been good about working out, but honestly, I simply didn't like where I was headed. That's the real reason I decided to start poking around the world of nutrition and fitness. Because I wanted to do better and I knew I could, simple as that.

So, here's some of the coolest/most important/most helpful stuff I learned along the way. I'm not a fitness guru: There are enough of those on Instagram. But I do think as a working mom of two with a mild interest in fitness, I have a unique perspective on this.

So, let's go and fitness motivation and such!

1. Being Fit is Empowering to Me.

When I started looking for a way to get back into shape, I focused specifically on methods that would build muscle. Look: I've been skinny. I have, genetically, a great metabolism, hence the 29 years of eating like all of my brothers combined. But I was over it and wanted to add muscle because you know what? Being strong makes me feel awesome. I like knowing I can throw weights around.

I chose to follow a plan called If it Fits Your Macros, or IIFYM. If you're interested, there's tons of resources online, but basically, it focuses on eating the right nutrition for your body and building muscle. I eat tons of protein and plenty of carbs and fat and all of that has been totally instrumental in building muscle.

The reason IIFYM appealed to me, besides the fact that it would help me build muscle, was that there's really no restriction whatsoever. No "safe" foods or "bad" foods: If it fits your daily allowance of carbs, fat, and protein, you eat it. That being said, it's a heck of a lot easier to meet your requirements when you eat good food, but it also meant that I could eat a sugar cookie without feeling like a total failure.

Sugar cookies eaten with a Diet Vanilla Coke are one of life's happiest things. I can't afford to lose that.

2. The Right Diet Plan Shouldn't be Life-Changing

I won't sit here and tell you I changed my life over three months. But I don't really think a wellness plan should be life-changing, really. Instead, I chose a method that was pretty close to the way I naturally eat. I like food. I didn't want to restrict anything. So tracking macros or nutrients was a way for me to continue eating almost as usual without overhauling my entire life and eventually slipping back into old ways.

Changing your life is super admirable, but not if it's completely unrealistic.

3. Protein is my Friend

I eat my weight in protein grams each day. That's a lot of protein. But it's definitely what made the difference for me. I'm a carb girl through and through, so I did have to learn to add protein to all of my meals. I prefer to get most of my protein from natural sources, but I do end up supplementing once a day. I love this brand of protein powder: I use it in shakes, stir it into Greek yogurt, and even use it in pancake batter. Sneaky!

4. I Hate Cardio, So I Stopped Doing It 

I've never been a fan of cardio, another reason why IIFYM was ideal for me. Because it works best with weightlifting, I was able to almost completely transition to weight-centric workouts with only one or two sessions of cardio each week. A spin class here and the elliptical there, but nothing too crazy.

Instead, I focus heavily on weights for 25 minutes a day. That's it. I focus on one area of the body each day so I also give my arms, legs, abs, and chest plenty of time to rest in between workouts, and I do one Pilates session a week for overall toning. is my faaaaaavorite site for weight workouts and the occasional HIIT. I just choose a challenging workout and go for it. Seriously, it's 25 minutes. I can push through just about anything for that amount of time.

5. There are Opportunities to Move Outside of the Gym

I don't have a gym membership. I've had one like, once in my life and I never used it. I did everything at home with three sets of dumbbells, a kettlebell, and a yoga mat. But more than my 25 minute workouts was just finding opportunities to move throughout the day, whether it was playing soccer with my kids or whatever. One of my younger brothers works out with gymnastics rings, so the last time I was home we brought them to the park and tried ridiculous tricks. I totally woke up sore the next time, so it counts.

6. My Goal Weight Wasn't My Ideal Weight

Ask my friends: I was obsessed with the idea of weighing 125 lbs for three months. I thought if I reached that, I'd be happy. And I did reach that goal weight, but honestly, it was a pain in the butt to maintain. My body seems to be its happiest at around 128, so I had to learn that this goal I'd set for myself wasn't some magical elixir to happiness and fitness. And, since I've been able to maintain for so long, I'd rather maintain a few pounds heavier than struggle at a lighter weight. It's a number on a scale, people.

Also, let's remember that the scale isn't the only measurement of success here. I don't know about you, but my weight fluctuates based on EVERYTHING, from sleep to stress to Papa John's pizza. Check the way your clothes fit, your energy levels, and before/after pictures (which I strongly recommend with IIFYM – the scale always goes up when I lift heavier, even though I look better).

7. Do the Work and Don't Feel Guilty

Another reason I wanted to build muscle: It torches calories. When I have muscle on my body, eat well, and exercise, I don't feel guilty when I pig out on the weekends or go out for burgers with my friends. Not only do I not feel guilty, but it doesn't affect the way I look. A handful of Cheetos won't make you fat. A handful of Cheetos coupled with a lack of exercise and processed food on the daily will. I, for one, hate feeling guilty. Lay the right groundwork and a Saturday night feast doesn't totally derail your progress.

8. Meal Planning Makes it Easy

I suck at meal planning. I definitely don't make my meals in advance. I do, however, punch my day's worth of meals into MyFitnessPal each morning for two reasons: First, to make sure my macros are on track so I can adjust them if necessary and second, I'm less likely to dive face-first into a pint of ice cream if my phone already says I'm supposed to snack on fruit.

Also, I found that when food isn't easy, I default to easy processed stuff. It costs more, but buying pre-chopped fruits and vegetables, buying a cooked rotisserie chicken, or using vegetable steamer bags makes healthy food just as easy as eating crap.

I also find that I eat a lot of the same food. I don't mind, it makes it easier for me. I know exactly how much protein is in a Costco turkey burger or their lime-cilantro shrimp (staples of my diet) so it's a no-brainer.

9. Fitness is Not Reserved for Fit People

My diet sucked in the past, but I've always been pretty good about exercising. Still, swapping out cardio for weightlifting was intimidating at first. Seriously, Instagram is packed with jacked women who dedicate their lives to this. I have 25 minutes tops.

But the thing is that fitness isn't only for fit people, even if it seems like everyone at the gym is Arnold quality. I freakin' love this commercial for This Girl Can. I don't care if you jiggle, if you can't fit into your skinny jeans or you feel like a complete idiot in your group workout class, find something you love and move your butt.

A couple of weeks ago I heard about a type of yoga and I decided to try it in my living room. Little did I know, it was yoga mixed with like, African dance and extreme pelvic thrusting. I laughed my face off, did a 30-minute workout, and shelved it forever. I felt like a complete idiot but guess what? I still got a workout in.

10. As Much as it Sucks, Nutrition Really, Really Matters

I was deeeefinitely in the "work out to eat" camp before. I used to proudly proclaim that I did 60 minutes of cardio so I could eat bread. But yeah, nutrition matters. These days, I down about 1,700 calories made up of about 40 percent protein, 30 percent fat, and 30 percent carbs. Once I cleaned up my nutrition, my workouts were so so so very much more effective. It was like my body was saying "Oh, that's what you were trying to do?"

Really, 20 pounds wasn't that much in the grand scheme of things. I'm a couple sizes smaller and a little lighter, but more importantly, I'm way more conscious about what I do to my body. I loved learning about nutrition and reading up on various theories and seeing hard work turn into something real.

Here's a before and after comparison. Like I said, 20 pounds didn't make or break me. I'm not suddenly wildly happy or a fitness guru, or making goals to run triathlons. I'm just really glad this dress fits better.

Does that make me shallow? 

3 Tips for Buying New Workout Shoes

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Okay, I know this isn't a fitness blog, but since I'm currently in the throes of finding new workout shoes that are awesome for you know, fitness and still cute, I thought I'd clue you in. I love the workout shoes I have now, but I can tell they're starting to wear and it's time to kick them to "strictly wear with yoga pants to the grocery store at 11 pm status."

In the meantime, I do have some tips for picking a pair of workout shoes -- both for function and because I'm really vain and like my workout shoes to match my clothes and look pretty. Also, can I point out that while swimsuit season is technically over, working out now shifts from looking good in swimwear to looking good while still consuming copious amounts of fall food, like pie and pumpkin muffins. Ohhh I cannot wait.

Ahem. Moving on.

1. Choose specifically for the sport/fitness you do.

There's actually a pretty huge difference between say, a basketball shoe and a running shoe. Shoes made for specific sports or types of fitness have different features, like supportive sides for lateral movements or light soles for faster feet. Because I vary in my workouts, I look for a good, all-around cross-trainer with light soles and mid to medium side support. Whatever your workout du jour, there's probably a shoe for it -- there's even a line of Reebok Crossfit shoes for those of you working on your WOD every morning. Also, if one of your sports or fitness is running, you'll need a completely different shoe -- don't try to run like, 13 miles in your cross-trainers or weight training shoes.

2. Try them on.

This might sound like "duh," but if you see a really good deal on fitness shoes online, beware. Workout shoes are on your feet for long periods of time and through tons of movement. The last thing you want is a hurt-y tag or lace to drive you insane when you should be focusing on burpees. I only buy online if it's a model I've already worn. Otherwise, it's a gamble -- some fitness shoes fit more snugly, some might have varying levels of arch support -- just trust me and head to a store and actually try some on before you check the Internet for deals.

3. Make it fun.

 My personal motto for workout gear is that the cuter it is, the more likely I am to work out. I know it's completely shallow, but nothing motivates me quite like some new leggings, adorable workout shoes and a new tank top. In the last two or so years, fitness shoes have gone from evil necessity to freakin' awesome accessory. Like, wearable outside of the gym and I love it. Neon is still pretty big right now, as is patterns on your shoes. So make fitness shoe shopping as much fun as shopping for heels and you might have more motivation to actually wear them.

(Not going to lie, I'm leaning heavily to the leopard ones)

Anyway, thought it might help if I Shared my process with you. I love shoe shopping, no matter what type of shoe it is. Now, help a girl out -- do you have a fave cross-trainer that I should check out?

10 Reasons to Invest in Cute Workout Clothes

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bonus post today before I head out to -- you guessed it! -- a workout! I've got kickboxing today and then I have big plans to gut my house, which I'm bummed about. But summer officially starts tomorrow and I refuse to start it with a messy house overflowing with toys. So I have to do one of those cleanups where it gets way worse before it gets better. Awesome.

But first, workout. Can we talk about the cuteness level of your workout clothes? No, a cute pair of capri-length leggings won't make you lose weight faster, but it definitely makes it way more pleasant. And less jiggly! And, as the ever-multitasking mom, my workout clothes have to do a lot more than make me look good whilst doing lunges.

Therefore, I present to you: 10 Reasons to Invest in Cute Workout Clothes

1. Because there's a good chance that you'll have to run to the grocery store afterward. I swear, 4 out of 5 times after I'm all sweated up, I end up having to run somewhere else before I can officially hit the showers and get ready for the day. And looking sweaty is one thing. Looking sweaty and super frumpy in your husband's sweatpants? Something else entirely. DO NOT WANT.

2. Because it motivates you to get moving. Look, if your pajamas and your workout clothes are one and the same, you're gonna have a bad time. I notice a 180 turnaround once I change out of my sloppy clothes and into actual workout clothes. They make me want to do wall sits rather than watch wedding shows on TLC. Mind over matter, people.

3. Because thumb holes. Thumb holes are amazing. Albion Fit sent me this amazing top (shown below) and it has thumb holes and that automatically makes me love it more. Good for cold workouts or just looking like a pro even when you have no idea what you're doing in yoga class. And to be honest, when doing yoga, I put the thumb holes on and then roll down the sleeves under my palms for a little extra padding when doing wrist-heavy poses, too.

 photo 004-10_zpsaee0f70e.jpg
(My fave workout outfit for Piyo and weight days -- leggings, flowy, wicky top from Albion Fit and my ever-present headband and Nikes)

4. Because you're sweaty. And sweaty shows through normal clothes. And while that's totally like "I am woman hear me roar" it's not particularly comfortable. I like mesh-based clothes that don't show every sweaty crevice, thanks.

5. Because your regular bra is not a sports bra. And we've talked about jiggling before. Also, I can't stand clasps and metal stuff when I'm trying to get my zen on.

6. Because different workouts call for different clothes. Not every piece of workout wear is appropriate for every type of fitness. And if you have workout ADD like me, you do more than just one thing. So stocking up on different options for different types of fitness makes sense. I don't wear yoga clothes to do cardio because I want my clothes to function in different ways for each activity.

7. Because they aren't that huge of an investment. I've gotten amazing deals on super cute workout clothes that made them uber cheap. Okay, if you're a hardcore marathon runner, you might want to spend more on high performance stuff. For the rest of us mere mortals, a $15 of shorts is fine. Some places where I find killer deals on clothes include Ross and TJ Maxx, GAP, JC Penney (the leggings above are from there) and even F21 for easy yoga stuff and sports bras. I have little boobs, don't judge.

8. Because you should feel good about working out. Most gyms have lots of mirrors. If you don't know where they are, just look for the muscle head guys -- they'll be checking themselves out and taking selfies. I don't know about you, but I want to see myself in the mirror and be like "Oh heyyyy" and not "AVERT THE EYES!" Cute workout clothes can make you feel a little more confident when you're still working on your fitness goals.

9. Because form is important. When doing workouts that include weight lifting, body weight exercise, Pilates, yoga -- basically anything -- you'll need to check your form or risk getting hurt. It's really, really hard to check your form when you're exercising in that oversized T that your husband's work gave him. Your clothes don't need to be skin tight, but they should be form fitting enough that you can check your core, see your posture and allow your instructor to critique your form.

10. Because you're grateful that we no longer work out like this. For one, it's weaksauce and for two, was no one concerned about wedgies? No one?

Although I will admit that the music is so 80-tastic and I love it.

Now, all this being said, it's time for me to suit up and get man-sweaty in like 10 minutes. And I just did laundry so I have infinite clean workout clothes possibilities YAY.

Fitness Tips from a Semi-Fit Mom

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Before I write this post, you should know that I am NOT a fitness guru. And I love Big Macs. And it is with that love of Big Macs in mind that I exercise. Because I like to consider myself a moderate kind of gal. Sure, I'll eat the french fries, but I'll also do an hour of strength training. But it wasn't always like this.

... let's go back in time. Back when I was a teenager. And hadn't had the BLESSING of body-ruining children. And just naturally had six-pack abs despite the fact that one of my friends worked at Burger King and got me free Whoppers. And then I'd go for a 5-mile run with my friends who were both named Katy/Katie and it was nothing. Ah yes, those were the days. I want to go back in time and tell teenage Jae "Enjoy that bod, Jae. enjoy those 5-mile runs where you barely broke a sweat and enjoy those Fluff on cookies binges! For meeeeeeeeeee."

Then came baby numero uno. I remember seeing my post-baby body literally five minutes after giving birth and being like "I'm a MONSTERRRRRRR" because obviously, I still looked pregnant. Luckily, the baby weight went away quick, but I had to actually exercise for the first time. And by exercise I mean I'd walk my baby around in a stroller a couple of times a week and do some crunches while she was playing on the floor.

 photo pregjae.jpg
 (Someone notify the authorities I think this woman ate a baby!!!!) 

Then, second pregnancy and six weeks bedrest. While I had a physical therapist come and work with me to keep some semblance of muscle tone -- I was only allowed out of bed for showers, to use the washroom and for one daily wheelchair ride -- my body was WRECKED after that. For real, it took forever to get back into pre-preg stuff. And even then, I could tell that my body had completely changes.

 (This was when I finally realized that the baby weight wouldn't magically disappear again.Also, I gain weight in my face first. Why can't I gain it in my boobs? WHY?)

This is when I started thinking more seriously about getting into better shape. But honestly, I didn't know where to start and I felt stupid and then I'd get all gung-ho about something and stop two days later. I joined a commercial gym. Hated it. I took some classes there. Not a fan. I paid a lot of money to feel guilty every time I looked a treadmill.

Finally, something clicked when my son was about 2 and I've been a regular exerciser ever since. I wanted to give you some of my fave workout tips that have contributed to me being in semi good shape. Am I a Victoria's Secret model? Nope. Am I happy with my body anyway? Yup.

Post-workout grossness and I don't caaare!

1. Get Social

Easily the most effective way for me to get my tush moving was to get some friends in on the action. I'm a hyper-social person in general and working out solo wasn't doing it for me. Not only does working out with friends get me the downlow on all of  the gossip I can handle, but it also brings out my competitive side. I'm much less likely to stop a workout and start eating Cookie Butter when I'm gauging my performance against my friends. I mean, I still eat Cookie Butter... just after I'm done.

2. Be Accountable

I'm SUPER easy on myself. When I'm not accountable, I won't work out, period. Like, ever. And then I start feeling like crap. And I know that not everyone has a group of friends who happen to like to exercise together, but that's where online friends come in handy. Blog about it. Get a Facebook page going. Use MyFitnessPal on your smartphone. Anything to put it out there that you have a goal and that you really, really want to reach it.

3. Make it Quick

When I work out with friends, it's usually an hour. And I'll admit that sometimes, an hour seems like a HUGE chunk out of an already super busy day. But when I work out alone, it's much faster. Because guess what? Exercising for 15 minutes is pretty much 100 times better than sitting there justifying to yourself that you don't have time to exercise. Two tools I love? Skimble, a workout app where you can plug in your time limit, equipment and type of workout you want and you can choose from like a zillion quick workouts. I also love's DailyHiit website, where they do high-intensity workouts that are never longer than 12 minutes. Awesome.

4. Trick Yourself

For me, working out is definitely mind over matter. Most of my battle is talking myself into actually doing it and then looking for the results. One of my favorite tricks is to get into workout clothes the second I get out of bed in the morning (tomorrow I'll show you some of my faves). Once I'm in workout clothes, it only makes sense that I would actually ... you know... work out. It takes away excuses.

Another trick I use is that I don't weigh myself. Ever. Last time was 6 weeks after my son was born and he's 4. I know that I would obsess over a number that doesn't present a clear picture of my effort and progress. Instead, I use clothes and performance to gauge how I'm doing. I want my clothes to fit and I want to get stronger. I'm proud to announce that yesterday I did 16 "bro" pushups, where you do a regular pushup and then hit your shoulder with the opposite hand each time you come back up. I felt like a champ, especially because a few weeks before I was doing them on my knees.

Screw the scale. You have bigger fish to fry.

Mmmm fish.

5. Give Yourself a Break

One of the things that derailed my progress was before was the idea that I either had to be the most amazing fitness enthusiast in the history of time, or nothing. Look, there are two types of people out there. 1) The live-to-exerciser who wants to spend all her time at the gym and take gym selfies and eat a crapton of quinoa. 2) People like me, where exercise is kind of a drag and something that I don't love to do, but I do it because I want to give my body a little credit and look good in a T-shirt.

Psst: You don't have to be all GO HARD EAT PROTEIN WEAR SWEATBANDS type to get your workout on. Give yourself a little break here. If you can't exercise today, whatever. Do it tomorrow. Missing one day doesn't give you permission to never exercise again. It does give you permission to rest up, spend a day eating chips and watching Real Housewives and then getting back at it again tomorrow. I think that was one of my biggest downfalls before -- I felt like if I couldn't give fitness 100 percent, 100 percent of the time, that I shouldn't bother. But giving like, 60 percent, 75 percent of the time still burns calories and makes you stronger than 0 percent, 0 percent of the time, right?

Right now I'm mixing up Turbo Kick, Piyo, which is a Pilates-yoga mix and HIITs for when I'm short on time. Now, spill -- what are your tricks for sneaking in a workout? Or did I just make you start craving a Big Mac?



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