Improved Magazine Workouts for Better Results

One thing that’s really been driving me crazy lately is how women’s fitness is portrayed in magazines. From Fitness, to Self, even to Muscle and Fitness Hers, everything shows a girl doing ridiculous workouts, often decked out in a pair of five pound ankle weights.

Everything claims “if you want to tone this part of your body, this is the best exercise to do that!” meanwhile, the exercises have bizarre names and even stranger “choreography” if you want to call it that.

The outrage started when I saw something called a Princess Pushup in an issue of Fitness Magazine. First of all, what is so wrong about doing a regular pushup? Lack of upper body strength is not an excuse as there are so many modifications that you can make until you’re able to do them.

Also, in this video, the demonstrator says “for all you ladies out there who aren’t a fan of the push-up”. Chances are, if I didn’t do everything that I wasn’t a fan of, I wouldn’t be doing very much at all.

It makes me absolutely insane that all of these “trainers” out there are teaching women that these are the exercises that they need to do to get the bodies they want. I’m even willing to bet that the girl in that video didn’t get her body from doing Princess Push-ups, or any other of the exercises that she demonstrates.

As a solution to this new pet peeve, I’ve decided to start modifying workouts in popular fitness magazines to make them actually beneficial for women to achieve their goals. I’m not a trainer, and I don’t claim to be. I live with my boyfriend who trains hundreds of athletes each week and who writes all of my programs. I read a lot to educate myself on exercise and nutrition. I’ve dropped 7% of my body fat in three months lifting heavy weights and eating good food.

So while these certified trainers may have a piece of paper showing that they passed a few tests, I’ve learned what works for me and several of my friends through trial and error, and with the help of the people around me.

My goal is to bring workouts that work to women who want them, all without the purchase of a pair of ankle weights.

KBF

The Argument Against Scales

Yesterday, when I was weighing myself at the gym, a woman was standing behind me. Usually this bugs me. If I’m weighing myself, I probably want some space and not for someone to be looking over my shoulder.

I got on the scale first and I saw that I weighed 142 pounds. The woman behind me looked at me and said “where do you keep that! I’m bigger than you and I only weigh 130″. At the time, this was not a flattering statement.

I don’t really like the fact that I weigh 142 pounds, three months after I stopped taking steroids. I’ve been working out and eating really well so I keep getting upset when I notice that the scale doesn’t even slightly budge.

I’ve noticed that I look like I’m making progress and I definitely fit in my clothes better, but I was still bothered by my weight staying the same.

Then, this morning I took my body fat percentage.

Three months ago I weighed 144 pounds and was 27% body fat. I was in the “acceptable” range, even if it didn’t feel like it. Today I am 142 pounds and 21% body fat, putting me in the “fitness/athletic” range.

Realizing that I put on about 6 pounds of muscle made me feel a lot better about the weight on the scale. While I’ve been trying not to weigh myself for the most part, sometimes my curiosity gets the better of me and I check anyway.

Taking my body fat percentage today made me realize that there really is no point in weighing yourself to determine your progress, especially if you’re lifting. From now on, I’ll be tracking my body fat percentage, with a goal of 18%.

So today I say goodbye to the scale once and for all. Wish me luck!

KBF

Healthy, Not Jacked

Every time I start to diet, I get into the same rut. I’ll restrict myself so much that I get sick of what I’m eating and I end up binging. That binge will result in me diving face first into a tub of ice cream, never to be seen again.

What I’m realizing lately is that there needs to be a balance between “I’m going to be so strict with my diet” and “eat all the carbs!”

The biggest problem that I’ve had so far with my “dieting” is that I force myself to eat things I don’t like. It turns out that I really hate eggs. I hate the smell, I hate the texture, and I hate the taste. There are very few things that I can put in eggs to make them taste good, and after forcing myself to eat them for about a year now, I just can’t eat them at all.

I ate eggs because I felt like they were the only breakfast food that was packed with protein. Now that I’ve pretty much sworn off eggs, I’ve been drinking protein shakes for breakfast with yogurt and peanut butter. I’m usually sort of nauseous in the morning, so drinking my breakfast is probably the best option anyway.

I also was eating a ton of plain grilled chicken and vegetables. I like grilled chicken, but it’s by no means my favorite food. Besides being bland, raw chicken freaks me out and slightly overcooked chicken is rubbery and gross. I’m not a bad cook, but I’m also not overly attentive when grilling.

My new solution has been to find alternative protein sources that don’t disgust me as much. Chicken sausage and chicken meatballs have been a pretty solid option, especially because you can buy them precooked from awesome brands like Applegate naturals.

Chicken also started to get kind of played out because I was ordering it in restaurants. Billy doesn’t eat seafood, so I never make it when we eat at home, but I’ve been ordering more fish and shrimp when I go out now to mix up the protein I eat.

The biggest thing that I’ve been trying to do is to not deprive myself, but to not just say “screw it, I’m eating this”. I used to not eat hummus because I felt that it was too high in carbs, and now I basically eat some every day. I also wasn’t eating fruit because it’s high in sugar, but I’ve been buying more lately to get extra fiber and nutrients.

I still eat dessert sometimes, and probably more often than I should, but that’s okay. I was so focused on losing the most weight I could, as fast as I could, as I wasn’t enjoying the process. Every workout was calculated and every meal was selected meticulously.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I won’t have a six pack in two months, or maybe not even ever if I don’t want to. I would rather eat food that tastes good and be in good shape, than eat boring, bland food and be shredded.

KBF

How a Change in Priorities Can Lead to Progress

When I first started to work out, my main goal was always “skinnier. get skinnier”. I mean, isn’t that what everyone’s goal is at first? 

I got down to 114 pounds from taking about 8 spin classes a week and being a vegetarian.  I thought I looked great, but I’ve heard that at that point I was too skinny and even looked unhealthy at some points.

Between taking steroids and not going to the gym frequently for a few months, I was pretty discouraged at what I looked like. Actually, at one point I was up to 148 pounds, a realization that made me cry in the gym.

As I keep working, I’ve come to a few realizations. The first is that my priorities have definitely changed. If I was trying to get down to 110 pounds again to be as skinny as possible, my method just wasn’t going to do that.

But I don’t want that again. 

I want to be strong and look strong. I want to be able to sprint and pick up heavy things and move like an athlete, even though I’m not one. How many athletes do you know (besides long distance runners) who are just skinny? I don’t know many.

My second realization is that I am not built to be skinny, truly skinny. There are girls out there who are long and lean and who can get away with being thin girls. I’m not one of them. I have bigger legs and an overall “thicker” frame, as much as I hate that word.

People can tell you all they want that everyone is built differently, but until you’ve seen your body at all stages, you’ll never actually believe it. You’ll continue wanting to look like whichever Victoria’s Secret model is currently dating Leonardo DiCaprio, even though you’ll never be 6 feet tall with a 26 inch waist.

It’s once you become realistic about how you’re built and what your goals are that you’re able to make the most progress.

I will never be 114 pounds again, and I’m damn proud of that.

KBF

Carb Cycling and Other Revelations

For a few weeks, I was attempting to eat 100g of carbs a day. This made me feel restricted and somewhat angry at times.

Then Billy told me that I could carb cycle so I could eat more carbs on days where I actually needed them. This led to the construction of a chart, based around workouts:

Monday: Lift (100g)
Tuesday: Conditioning (80g)
Wednesday: Lift (100g)
Thursday: Conditioning (80g)
Friday: Lift (100g)
Saturday: Off (60g)
Sunday: Lift (175g)

By having a couple of low days and medium days during my week, I can have one much larger day to reboot my metabolism and just have fun with what I eat. Yesterday we had an unexpected date day, so I ended up eating 175g on Friday instead of Sunday.

It worked out though because I had 60g on Thursday, positioning a low day before a high day as originally planned. 

The biggest thing yesterday was that I didn’t overdo it. Usually when I have a heavier carb day I feel like death for a few days after. I had a really big lunch of shrimp tacos and chicken nachos, with a margarita for good measure. Then we went to the movies and had popcorn and half of a bag of Reese’s pieces between the two of us.

Usually, when we would get dinner after, I would figure my whole day had gone to hell so why not just get a huge plate of pasta. I broke this mentality last night when we chose a Persian restaurant for dinner and I chose to substitute the rice for grilled vegetables. 

Everything about that meal felt good and enabled me to feel pretty good this morning too. I started my day off with eggs, spinach and feta and a slice of white bread, and I’m going to have a protein shake before going to see King Lear at BAM at noon.

Hopefully by loading up on protein this morning I’ll be able to make better choices in choosing a restaurant after sitting through a three hour play.

The concept of planning a higher carb day (but not recklessly high) breaks the idea of having a “cheat day”. Cheat days always end up as “cheat weeks” and even “cheat months” for me. It might work for some people, but I can’t just go crazy one day a week and expect to go back to normal the next day.

The cheat day mentality signals that you’re doing something wrong for your body, while increasing carbs to boost metabolism is actually benefitting it.

KBF

Eating Crap Will Make You Feel Like Crap

For the past few days, I’ve been a little more lenient with what I eat, and by lenient I mean I just ate whatever I felt like eating. I actually danced the entire way to Carvel last night for an ice cream cone. It was bad.

I somehow passed up the bag of bagels on my mom’s kitchen table this morning, only to go to brunch and have donuts for dessert. In my defense, they were homemade donuts. Then I went to my aunts house and ate EVERYTHING there as well.

As much as I regret eating poorly these past few days, I realize that it needed to happen. I needed to feel like absolute crap to realize just how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I’m exhausted, bloated, extremely thirsty, and kind of a jerk. I also get hungry a lot more frequently. The sad part about this whole thing is that I realize that this is what I used to feel like all the time and it’s a very real every day for a lot of people.

The way I feel now shows exactly what it feels like to be undernourished and overfed. It’s not always about what you look like. Sometimes it’s about not wanting to feel like you’re food hungover and wanting to punch everyone in the face, because trust me, when you start to feel bad enough, the rage monster just comes out of no where.

Having a great body is awesome, but it’s hard to have one if you eat crap all the time. Eating junk food sometimes is great, especially in moderation but it’s when it starts to become a more consistent thing that it starts to effect you.

Food is supposed to give you energy so why consistently eat something that’s actually going to take your energy away? It doesn’t make sense and yet we continue to do it just because it tastes good or feels good in the moment. It’s after that moment passes that it starts to catch up and you start to feel the effects of a poor diet.

Looking in the mirror and not liking what you see sucks, but so does being tired all the time and not feeling full from the food you eat. Although these things aren’t fun, they have an easy solution: eat good food that makes you feel good and the rest will fall into place.

KBF

 

Health Shaming: Don’t Let Others Guilt You Into Eating Garbage

Does anyone else ever find themselves apologizing for eating healthy? I know I do.

A few days ago I saw this photo that summed it up perfectly: “Eat a whopper, large fry and soda…No one bats an eye. Eat chicken and brown rice out of tupperware and everyone hohpr1loses their mind.” It resonated at the time, but the more I think about it, the more I see the truth in it.

When I bring my own food to my classes, everyone seems to be looking at me funny. Meanwhile, the kid a few seats over with the value meal from Wendy’s isn’t getting a second look.

I remember in one class, a girl sat next to me who was very overweight. She had a bag from McDonald’s and she was talking to me about all of her various health problems. During that time, I took out my lunch: spaghetti squash and meatballs. Without skipping a beat, she looked at me and said “I could never eat like that”.

At the time, I felt uncomfortable that she had said that. My food was delicious, but was there something wrong with me for not eating what everyone else was? No. Quite the opposite actually. We’ve all been so programmed to eat overly processed, high carb, high fat meals and overlook the fact that it’s actually killing us.

The girl sitting next to me that day had such bad asthma from her weight and was Type 2 diabetic starting at age 16. She had a million reasons for why she was so sick, but the real answer was that her food was killing her and that she either didn’t realize, or more likely just wasn’t willing to stop.

When someone makes a decision to not eat these things, especially in public, people look at them like there’s something wrong. I believe that it’s because when someone choses the healthy option, it exposes just how unhealthy others are being.

The best way I can describe it is like being the only non-smoker in a smoking section. The people who make up the majority of the group feel like it’s the outlier who is doing the wrong thing, but deep down it’s a response to what they feel is judgement. It’s almost like they are saying “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.”

For a while, that mentality bothered me. It made me feel uncomfortable and often led to me making less healthy decisions for the benefit of others. But how stupid is that? It’s just like everyone’s mom always said “if everyone else was going to jump off the bridge, would you do it too?” Obviously not! So why do we let the pressure from those being unhealthy impact our own wellbeing?

I think the best answer is that no one wants to be an outsider. If everyone else is doing it, it really does make you want to do it too. It’s just easier to say no when the stakes are higher, like jumping off a bridge or doing drugs. When it’s food, it’s easy to just say “screw it, how bad could it be?”

This is not an argument to miss out on great, delicious food at a party or other kind of social gathering. It’s a declaration of our ability to make our own choices. The food may be killing you, but you’re ultimately the one putting it in your mouth. Don’t let others make that decision for you, and especially don’t apologize for not letting them.

I’m sick of being treated like there’s something wrong with me because I don’t want to eat junk food that I wouldn’t enjoy all that much anyway. If I eat fast food, I tend to feel sluggish and just downright sick after. For me, food should taste good and make you feel good, and I see no reason why we should sacrifice one for the other.

Food is fuel, and it’s time that we start treating it like it.

KBF