But Really Tho What Do I Need for the Gym?

But really tho, I haven’t always been good at working out. Need proof? Here’s my first ever blog post about trying Blogilates PIIT28 post grad. Growing up I danced and did gymnastics but after high school I only dabbled in fitness when I had a RunDisney race sneaking up on me. In college if I did work out – I only did cardio. 

There’s nothing wrong with loving cardio or choosing not to lift weights but my 30 minute stints on the stair stepper while watching the Daily Show didn’t get me where I wanted to be physically. After I started doing PIIT28, everything changed. I started getting targeted fitness influencer content and through my own research I learned that lifting weights was the best way to lose fat and change my body in the way that I desired. Now that I’ve learned the error of my ways via fitness influencers like Nikki Blackketter and Whitney Simmons I’ve retired my cardio bunny lifestyle and started pushing heavy things around. My fitness goals went from being small to being strong. 

Now that I’m a regular on the weight room floor, a place that can be SUPER intimidating for women, I’ve learned that there are quite a few items I wanted or wish I purchased earlier throughout this journey. None of these items are essential, especially if you go to a gym that has extra resistance bands laying around, but they help me feel more prepared and confident for my workouts. I’ve broken this down into two lists: equipment and clothes. *Denotes an affiliate link.  

Equipment: 

Barbell Pad: https://amzn.to/3czHpoS *

If you’re trying to get a booty you will need one of these bad boys. This foamy cushion wraps around barbells to protect your hips while doing hip thrusts and your neck while doing squats or lunges. I refuse to do hip thrusts without one of these because they bruise my hips. 10/10 helper to booty gains. 

Lifting gloves: https://amzn.to/2vMDTHh *

I love lifting and I hate blisters so I adore these lifting gloves. They prevent blisters, help me maintain my grip on heavier weights and they prevent my super sweaty palms from dropping things. For a while I was using Brenton’s old lifting gloves and I recently was gifted a new pair and they are a MAJOR improvement. There are a lot of options out there so don’t hesitate to shop around for your perfect fit. 

Wireless Headphones: High End https://amzn.to/2VRZ7Ov * Cheaper Option https://amzn.to/333EbWC *

Much like weightlifting, I held out on wireless headphones for a bit. I have a very hard time finding headphones that fit on my small head and I didn’t want to go all out on any that I would be upset if they got hurt at the gym. After wrapping my Apple headphone cord around my neck at the gym one too many times I decided to give the cheaper ones a try. I love them. They adjust from my small head size to Brenton’s larger noggin. They have a really good sound quality and while they are not completely noise cancelling they’re pretty close.

Resistance bands: Long loop: https://amzn.to/3aAPuIb * Short loop: https://amzn.to/2xcxbKW *

Resistance bands are a god send. Long loop bands are perfect for full body resistance work, core work and assisted pull ups. Short loop bands are ideal for glute activation, added resistance on leg days and hip thrusts. The short loop bands I linked are fabric instead of rubber; I find rubber bands super uncomfortable as they either roll up or start to tear. We have had our fabric bands for two years and they show minimal wear and tear.

Rocking my wireless headphones and lifting gloves

Clothes: 

Clothes are a major confidence builder for me. I love to walk into the gym knowing that my outfit is on point and that my leggings won’t rip down the crotch again (you can visit my TikTok if you want to learn more about the tragic Gymshark leggings tear of 2020). 

Leggings: Queenieke https://amzn.to/38AABnQ *

Queenieke is my tried and true cheap legging brand. Are they as soft as LuluLemon? No. Are they durable? Yes. Are they 10x’s cheaper? Yes! I’ve purchased a couple different styles and I’ve loved all of them. My personal favorites are my all black ones but you can go wild with the mesh detailing and colors. 

Bras: Adidas https://amzn.to/2TMjPNd *

WARNING! I am president of the ibtc so if you have bigger ladies my advice here may be absolutely useless. Adidas sports bras are my go to and I really love that they are marked down on Amazon based on color. I personally love a loud color which makes this a no-brainer for me. 

Shoes: Adidas https://amzn.to/2PWcmKy *

I love Adidas because I have weird, wide, flat feet. Their cloud foam shoes are the only ones that support my archless life without giving me major ankle pain. If you are new to lifting and you want to do heavy leg days I highly recommend using a shoe like this for cardio/upper body days and a flat sole shoe for leg days. Old converse or vans are perfect for this but if you must buy a new pair might I recommend classic converse.

There are so many more fun things you can buy to feed your gym addiction but I consider these the essentials! Check them out, let me know what you end up buying and tell me if I missed anything in the comments. 

Fitness Program Review: I Tried Natacha Oceane’s CUT

I’ve flirted with many fitness programs. I’ve tried PIIT28, BBG, instagram booty builder workout splits (no judgement on these, they gave me some of my best results prior to this program), yoga and everything in between. Over the last couple years I have fallen in love with the weight room because of the results it gave me.

My newfound love of weight lifting led to started following fitness influencers. One of my absolute favorites is Natacha Oceane. As a former gymnast, I am a huge fan of plyometric movements to get my heart rate up and Natacha emphasizes plyo. After following Natacha on instagram I began throwing in a few of her functional or plyo moves in to my workouts with B. He tolerated them, so after a few months of adding box jumps and HIIT to our split we decided to take the jump and purchase Natacha’s 10 week CUT fitness program.

CUT is marketed as a program that will help you burn fat, gain muscle and not jeopardize your metabolism. I personally was interested in this program because I want visible abs and this seemed like my best option (Natacha is absolutely ripped!). After completing this program for the first time I do not have visible abs but I have gained strength and did not have to change my eating habits at all.

CUT is a unique fitness program. The workout split is broken down in five workouts, with an optional and a mandatory rest day. The workouts are broken into plyometrics, upper body & HIIT, lower body, total body and HIIT. Each week the moves in the workouts change but the pattern stays the same. These workouts are KILLER and the upper body & HIIT day is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. My favorite thing about these workouts is the variety. A total body day can go from pull ups, to jumping lunges, to push ups without skipping a beat. I get bored by doing the same moves every week so I loved that the variety kept me going through the 10 week program.

To complete CUT I had to purchase the following items because my gym did not have them.

**The following links are Amazon affiliate links.

Long Loop Resistance Bands

Needed for pull up assistance, glute kick backs, etc.

Barebell Pad

My gym does not have these available and without them I refuse to do hip thrusts

Cons

There are only two cons to CUT as a fitness program.

The first is that you have to have an hour or more to dedicate to the gym for each workout. This is great for endurance but can be difficult when you work a regular job.

The other complaint I have is that I was constantly running across the gym for the next move. I was running from squat rack, to a plyo corner, to leg press, then back to the squat rack for most of the workouts. This is fine if you go to the gym at 6am (like we usually do) or in the middle of the day BUT if you have to work out during peak hours this does not work. The few times B and I had to go to the gym after work we had to switch up the order we did the moves in so we could utilize equipment while it was open.

Contrary to my complaints I absolutely LOVED CUT and am already jumping back into it for a second round! Have you tried CUT or another workout program that you love?

But Really Thought Tries – Barry’s Bootcamp

I love to dabble in fitness classes. When I lived in SB I took Barre classes all the time but since the move I haven’t been frequenting the studios. I’m currently opting for a weight lifting gym sessions during the week. I’ve started to get a bit bored so I decided to expand my fitness horizons and take up classes again. Recently, this has taken the form of a tumbling class, which has the added bonus of rekindling my love for gymnastics

The cardio queen in me was feeling a bit underwhelmed by all this lifting and flipping so on Saturday morning, so I dragged B to the hardest cardio I could think of – a Barry’s Bootcamp class.

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Cardio Queens Unite 

Barry’s Bootcamp is self-described as a high-intensity interval workout (think HIIT) with “killer music” and “signature red lights”.  Upon arrival, we were eagerly greeted at the front desk, were given a locker and met the instructor. The instructor talked us through the workout split as the class requires specific moves to be performed at specific intervals/timing. We started on the floor with resistance bands and weights, then we moved to the treadmill, then back to the floor for arm, then off to the treadmills we went to finish the class.

Barrys Image 2
In my head this is what the red lights looked like…in reality they were just red light bulbs instead of white. 

Highlights included:

  • The treadmill and and the single touch option to switch incline/speed
  • The red lights
  • Full length mirrors to check form

I truly enjoyed the class but it was insanely challenging. I know that fitnesses classes work for me because someone else provides the rules. It’s easier to slack when I pick the pace for my HIIT so having someone tell me what to put the treadmill on and for how long prevents me from cheating myself.

I will definitely be taking another class at Barry’s but I will not be doing their recommended 3-5 classes a week. I love that the class gave me workout inspiration and I can now create a similar workout for myself at the gym (saving me a cool $40 per class).

Have you tried Barry’s? Did you love it or is it not for you?

Flirtations in Fitness: Trying New Workouts

I’m bored. Not with my job, friends or life – no, I’m bored with my workouts. My boredom has lead to a lack of fitness motivation that nearly rivals my former lifestyle choices with my main man Dom(inos).  

Luckily, I haven’t let this boredom completely deter me from my running/lifting schedule but it has made waking up in the morning to get my workout in damn near impossible. Because of this consistent boredom I decided to shake things up. Over the last month I have tried out multiple public and home fitness programs. I’ve officially gone from bored to sore. Below are my thoughts on the programs I’ve tried.

barre3
Image belongs to barre3.com

Barre3

Barre3 is a cardio and strength building class that takes place in what looks like a ballet studio. Since I assumed, from the look of the room, that this class would be mostly ballet with some mat work I decided to take this class on a lunch break. Barre3 is nothing like ballet. Barre3 is the hardest cardio class I have taken to date. The entire hour is filled with upbeat pop music. I started sweating about three minutes in and left drenched. The lunchtime class crew was beyond friendly. The instructor took the time to make sure I understood the moves and it was the most enjoyable cardio I have ever done. The downside to Barre3, like most workout studios, is the price. Even though the class was $22 I will definitely be taking advantage of their new student deals and buying myself a class pass.

 

 

cardiobarre

CardioBarre

I walked into my beginner CardioBarre class thinking it would be a lot like Barre3. Once again, my assumption was amiss. CardioBarre is taught by former dancers, making it slightly lower energy and insanely more difficult on my calves. The relives killed me!  The studio is carpeted but beyond that is the same as a true dance studio. The CardioBarre studio I went to had a slightly less fun loving attitude about it than Barre3 but what it lacked in energy it made up for in strength training. I would highly recommend CardioBarre to any former dancers, like myself, who want to get a good workout in while triggering nostalgia of their dancer days. The only negative about CardioBarre is that the beginner class was insanely difficult; I would be terrified to try the advanced class. Or I am horribly out of shape. It’s probably the latter.

 

 

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Don’t these abs inspire you? They inspire me!!!  Image from Pao’s Fit World. 

SSBM by Paola Marquez

SSBM is an acronym for “Strong & Sexy Body Method” a guide by Paola Marquez. I have Paola’s guide as an ebook on my phone and there is only a one time fee of $69.98 to purchase the book.  The pro to the ebook is that you can click on the assigned moves from the workout and watch Paola demonstrate the moves. The workouts vary between HIIT training and light weight training. The plan is for 6 days a week with 5 days of planned workouts and a sixth day of LISS cardio. This workout plan is good for those who want to start light weight training and need help on where to begin. The workouts are succinct and definitely work, but by week 3 I was beyond bored of the workout style. I still use these workouts to supplement my usual routine and for days when I don’t want to lift heavy.

 

 

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Actual footage of me trying to keep up in CardioBarre and Barre3 – at least I’m having fun! 

I’m insanely proud of myself for turning to new workouts instead of the couch. Its super important to love your workout, or at least enjoy it, to stay motivated. This little experiment has reminded me that I do really well in group fitness classes and I am more likely to challenge myself when I feel like people are watching me. My competitive side has come back out along with my new love of Barre classes. Although, this former ballerina is still getting her ass kicked in them.

What are some of the ways you get out of a fitness rut? What are some of the fitness classes you’ve tried?  I’m thinking kickboxing may be next on my list. Self-defense and a workout in one sounds like a bargain!

 

Post Grad Problems: How to Take Your Life Back

As grad season approaches I’ve taken some time to reflect on the emotions I felt this time two years ago.

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I could have been best described as terrified, stressed and very lost. I picked a very broad major, English, and had no inkling as to what I wanted to do career wise. I had a part-time job but I was terrified I would never find a full-time position doing something I didn’t hate. I panicked. I took almost any interview and position presented at me and I became an unorganized mess.

Once I got a temporary full-time job the panic continued. Not only was I at a company that I was unhappy with, but I also hated sitting in an office for eight hours a day with limited mental stimulation. I was bored and worried which created a whole new level of chaos in my life. I also struggled to adjust to spending 40 hours a week doing the same thing. In hindsight it doesn’t seem that difficult, but at the time I rejected everything about working the typical office job.

If panic stricken Em had known then what she knows now she would have never worried. Now I have a job that I love at a company that treats me like the magical human that I am and I know I can handle anything thrown at me.

How did I go from stressing about this giant change to cool and collected?

By getting organized. I have always been an orderly person but the chaos of college had caused me to forget about the joy I get in ticking things off my to do list. Once I got a temporary full-time job and the fear of starving to death out of my mind (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, baby) I was able to channel the girl who used to make a pro/con list for everything and pull my life together.

Here are some of the ways I started taking my life back from my post grad panic.

  1. To-Do Lists with attainable goals. I made a new list everyday with everything I needed to do on it. This included things like washing my hair, buying groceries, calling my Grandmother and exercise. If I didn’t accomplish everything on my list I didn’t beat myself up over it, I just moved it to the next day.
  2. Prioritized my mental and physical health. My panic phase took a toll on my body. I gained weight, stopped exercising and my skin broke out like crazy. I ate horrible things, remember my dominos lover from my earliest exercise posts. This is where getting organized really kicked in. It is one thing to say you are going to eat healthy and exercise, it is a whole different beast to actually accomplish these things. So I started slow. Read this post if you want the intimate details of my starting place. I wrote down monthly goals like “add one Blogilates workout to my yoga schedule” or “swap out takeout for a homemade Chipotle bowl” and allowed myself to slowly adjust to my healthier lifestyle. This took the majority of 2016. It was hard work, but it is so worth it to look in the mirror, or hit that new yoga pose or run 3 miles without stopping and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. My current workout schedule looks like this but that was not my starting point. Don’t try to start in the middle.
  3. Practiced leaving work at work. When I go home for the day, unless something absolutely absurd happened, I try not to think or talk much about work. I love my job and the people I work with but after spending 8 hours a day somewhere I don’t want to focus on it anymore. This takes a lot of mental strength and patience but now that I’ve got the hang of it it is so nice. (This will also help you ease those Sunday Scaries we all get).
  4. Prioritized finding happiness through hobbies. Stress happens. Life gets hard, but once I took a step back from my freak out frenzy I realized it was going to always be there…maybe not as heavily but anxieties will arise and I have to be able to cope. The best way for coping with stress it to create your own happiness, which is why I am so keen trying to find joy, it’s also why I started this blog.Starting a blog may seem like more work, and it is, but I love reading my finished posts and looking at the work I’ve created. You don’t have to start a blog though, but if you do send me your URL I would love to check it out,  hobbies like journaling, coloring, painting, doodling or reading all relieve stress and bring joy. Find what makes you happy and make time to do it.

Those are the ways I combatted post grad panic. It look a while, but I’m so proud of how far I’ve come since then.

What are some of the ways you combat stress from big changes in your life?

Trying the Fitness Diet

My March goal to take action was intended to mostly be political but being a type A- personality I had to one up myself mid month and make it physical.

 

I’m an amateur runner. I’ve done a couple half marathons, 10ks and hikes but I am not the perfect example of a runner. Every weekday after work B (boyfriend) and I go to the gym. B and I run 3 miles at the gym at least twice a week and a mile every other day when we go in to do weight training. While this is great and my body is getting fitter, it is really wreaking havoc on my social life. I want to skip happy hours and other engagements to go the gym and after the gym I barely have time to make dinner and hang out before bed.

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This is not at all what it looks like when I run, but an image of the MOON didn’t seem aesthetically pleasing.

So, after months of careful fitness consideration and many failed attempts before I am COMMITTING to getting up at 6am to run or do yoga every weekday (allowing more time in the evening for weight training and hanging out). I have recruited B as my inhouse accountibilibuddy and Kate as my over the phone motivator. I kept a daily diary accounting the results and difficulties I’ve faced during the first seven workouts below:

 

Day 1:

I started this on a Thursday to allow myself a couple days of getting up and then immediately reward myself with a weekend. This morning wasn’t the worst. Waking up when the sun is still sleeping is hard and running in the cold is semi-uncomfortable but finishing 3 miles before 7am really jump started my day. B had time to make us coffee in the morning, I had time after the run to do my makeup and not feel rushed. Most importantly I had that high that only crazy people who work out in the morning have. I only had one cup of coffee the entire day and I was still pretty energetic.

 

Day 2:

My arms were sore from the gym this morning. My lungs did not want to cooperate and some monster flowers are in bloom so I only made it 2 miles this morning…but I did do it…and I didn’t complain too much when B woke me up. TGIF my friends.

 

Day 3:

I have decided on a MWF running schedule with a TR yoga/rest day/weight training after work. B has agreed because he is always a good sport about these things. So run it is. Sunday night I had horrible, mundane but exhausting, anxiety dreams. I woke up exhausted, confused and mad at B for waking me up (how dare he make me follow through with my commitments). I somehow managed to put on running clothes and run (albeit a little slowly) our 3 mile loop. My only motivator was coffee this morning and boy was it not worth it. I remained weirdly groggy at work all day until around 3pm when I finally got my head in the game. I’m praying for rain on Wednesday so I can get out of my new “diet”.

 

Day 4:  

Thank the Lord it is YOGA DAY. Waking up was still insanely difficult but climbing onto my mat was so much easier than preparing to go outside. I was still a little sleepy throughout the day and had a significantly lesser high from yoga than from running but I think I’m slowly adjusting to this lifestyle.

 

Day 5:

I begged B to let me stay in bed this morning. I prayed for rain…but no…there I was at 6:15am halfway down the street giving B the silent treatment for “making” me get up (I warned him before we started this that he would have to force me from bed every morning and apologized in advance for the dramatic comments I make when the alarm goes off). By mile 2 I had forgiven him. I was thrilled that by the time we finished our 3 mile loop the hardest part of my day was over.

 

Day 6:

Today my plea for 5 more minutes was greeted with a rather rough no…so I got out of bed and dragged myself to the yoga mat. The YWA video we chose involved a lot of half moon/ balancing practice so I had to do a lot of yoga for the brain to keep myself standing and awake at the same time. I may have spent a vinyasa or so in child’s pose…but I did it! B chanted “Day 6, Don’t Quit!” at me after we finished the video and giggled at his own rhyme so I guess getting up was worth it.  

 

Day 7:

I officially have bragging rights after finishing my Friday morning run (and evening leg day) although I tried to hide my head under the covers and pretend that I was part of the bed. This did not fool Detective B who TOOK THE COVERS AWAY (monster, I know) and refused to let me have another 5 minutes. I was too tired to put up much of a resistance and before I knew it I was a mile into my run.

 

I DID IT! A ginormous thanks to B for making me get up. If it takes 28 days to make a habit I am ¼ of the way to this being a permanent part of my life.

 

Action packed March is almost over, crazy, right?

 

How are you doing on your goals?