Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Is it weird that I struggle with taking rest days?  Do "normal" people not look forward to sleeping in later, and giving their body a break from hard physical work?
Guys - every week I struggle so hard to force myself to take my rest day.  With my current muscle group split, I rest on Thursdays and Sundays.  Every Wednesday evening (cough*right now*cough), I start turning reasons around in my mind why I should get up and workout in the morning.
Who does that?!?
My alarm goes off at 4:30 AM on Mon, Tues, Weds, and Fri.  It goes off at 5:50 AM on Saturdays.  What's wrong with me, that I don't want to sleep until 6 AM on Thursday?
I've seen a ton of progress with my body in the last few months, and I know that's a big driving force with my motivation right now.  I've also started taking a pre-workout, which makes my workouts much "easier," if you will, to do.
Rest days are imperative for a healthy lifestyle, though.  Not only do they allow your physical body to rest and recover, they also prevent burnout. 
Things I try to focus on on rest days are eating the right, healthful foods, getting enough sleep, taking care of any food prep I need to take care of for the rest of the week, and thinking about how awesome that shoulder workout is going to feel on Friday morning! :)
What about you?  Do you struggle with rest days, or live for them?
What's your workout routine look like?
Am I totally weird?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Information Overload

When I get "into" something, I like to read about it and research it.  That's where I'm at right now with fat loss/lean muscle gain.
I've been researching IIFYM, clean eating, how to most effectively gain muscle, how to burn fat, etc.  I think I'm in a state of information overload right now.  Just for fun, here are a few sentences that I've read in the past few days that stand out to me:
Remember, your body is really smart and it wont burn muscle unless you do something really stupid like running 3000 miles or doing a drastic fad diet.

Drawbacks of Cardio for Muscle Building

  • Burns calories that could be used for muscle growth
  • “Over-training”
Cardio is good for your heart, your mental outlook and controlling your weight, but it can interfere with muscle growth if you're burning more calories that you're taking in.
4. Do INTENSE Cardiovascular Workouts 3-4 Times A Week.
Make sure that you are eating enough calories to enable you to make those improvements and show up better next time you step on stage. Though you might put on a little (note I said a little) body fat, the body fat will come off once you diet down for your next show.
As you can see, there's a plethora of information out there on the lovely interwebs to do one of two things:  either motivate, educate, and encourage me to be better, or confuse the living heck out of me.
Lately, it's doing the latter.
I have enough common sense, and have my own opinions about eating.  From all the reading ahd research I've been doing over the last few months, I think I'm going to work on meeting my macros from iifym with as much clean and healthy food as possible, and making sure I'm consuming enough of that food to sustain healthy muscle growth. (In the past, I haven't eaten nearly enough calories in a day as I should have been eating.  That's a whole other blog post for another day.)  I'm going to lift heavy, and cut cardio down to 4 days a week (right now, I do 6).  I'm going to continue to drink my gallon of water a day, and give a better effort to not letting it all go to crap on the weekends, which I tend to do.
I feel like if I start doing all that stuff, I'm going to have the muscle tone I want and lose enough of the fat to let that tone show through by the time summer 2014 arrives!
What about you?  Do you lift heavy?
What kind of split do you do?
I'm currently doing a 5-day split.
How much cardio do you do each week?



Monday, October 28, 2013

Sugar Free Challenge - Who's with me??

I've always thought that sugar was addicting.  Let me be clear, I am NOT against consuming sugar.  As I feel about life in general - everything in moderation.

But I was reading an article the other night out of National Geographic magazine about why we - as Americans - can't stop eating sugar.  It's in almost everything we eat in this country, and the amount of it that we consume is astounding.  I started reading the ingredient lists of common foods that I eat.  Yep, you guessed it - all completely full of sugar.  Just for fun, check some nutrition labels.  You'll be shocked.  I know I was.

So I got to thinking - how would I do giving it up for a week?  I've tried this before, and I've failed.  Then I found myself feeling like a slave to sugar.  That might be a bit dramatic, of course, but long story short - I'm going to give it another go.  Anyone else with me? 

Here are my guidelines:

1) Can't eat anything with sugar listed as one of the first three ingredients.  This includes corn syrup, since it's basically liquid sugar.

2) Natural sugars are ok: fruit and honey.

3)  Since I'm not fasting from sugar for any religious, or deeper reasons, I'm allowing artificial sweeteners (please save the "you're poisoning yourself" speech.  I've heard it 14,536 times already in my life.)  I can't quite give up caffeine, and I'd have a really hard time drinking black unsweetened coffee.  Ugh.

4) Workout supplements are exempt.  I haven't looked at the nutrition labels of my protein or pre-workout supps, but I'd hope they wouldn't be full of sugar anyway.

So there you have it.  If it's fresh produce, all is good.  If it comes with a nutrition label and sugar or corn syrup is one of the first ingredients listed, it goes either back in the cupboard, or in the trash.  This is kind of a big deal coming from the girl who has the biggest sweet tooth ever.  AND the week of Halloween.  (What am I thinking?)

What do you all think?  Who wants to challenge themselves this week?  I started when I woke up at 4:30 am this morning, but you can start whenever you want.

Aaaaaand, GO!

Keep me posted on your progress!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Getting off Track / Workouts

Sometimes things happen.  Maybe they're within our realm of control, maybe they're not.

But we're human. 

Last weekend, I was terribly sick with the flu.  I came down with it Sunday afternoon around 2:30 pm and didn't get out of bed until Monday evening around 6 pm.  I never get sick like that, and it was horrible.

Then on Wednesday, my youngest son - who has a serious health condition as it is - came down with the same flu virus, but his lasted up until last evening.  Four miserable days of a sick little guy, and being up between 4 and 5 times a night checking on him.

Needless to say, I didn't do so awesome of a job of getting to the gym last week.  I was recovering, then just plain exhausted.  Along with my exhaustion came a lot of worry about my sweet little man, which led to a little bit of emotional eating, I'm not even going to lie to you.

Sunday 09/01
REST DAY - as is my routine. 

Monday 09/02
No Gym - so very sick.

Tuesday 09/03
No Gym - trying to recover.

Wednesday 09/04
Core and Ab Work, though my head was still pounding every time I moved.
30 minutes on the elliptical.

Then, the dang flu virus attacked my Jameson.

Thursday 09/05
No Gym - home with Jameson, and up several times in the night.

Friday 09/06
15 minutes at 7.1 mph, 1.5% incline
15 minutes elliptical
(Up several times in the night)

Saturday 09/07
No Gym - up several times in the night with Jameson.

So as you can see - not great.  But like I said, these things happen.

It's never an excuse to say, "Well, I've screwed up, might as well just take this week off as well."

I can imagine how easy it would be to completely fall off the bus.  I got right back at it this morning.  I had over a quart of water in me before leaving my house at 7:15.  I had a great arms/chest workout, followed by a 3.31 mile run.  I had a healthy morning snack, and am about to eat some protein for lunch.

Life happens.  You have to keep your goals and priorities in the forefront of your mind, and go out and get what you want!  You've got this. :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Body Fat Percentage

If I've learned anything in my intense research and my following of fitness accounts on social media, it's that the real way to measure your physique is by body fat percentage.  Weight is a number.  Height is a number.  BMI is a number.  They don't mean jack squat.  Really, they don't.
A 4'9" girl who's in the gym every day and weighs 150 pounds because she busts her ass and has wicked muscle definition is going to look quite different from her 5'3" counterpart who weighs the same, eats what she wants, and hasn't been to a gym once in her life.  Would you not agree?
About five weeks ago, I ran with a couple girlfriends, and one of them brought a body fat percentage calculator with her for the other two of use to use.  I was super excited to get the result of 20.5%, as I thought I was closer to 22%.
Today, I was in the gym and decided to use the gym's calculator to test again, to see if I'd improved at all.  Today's result was 21.5%.
Now, I don't think I've gained a percentage point in body fat in the last five weeks, but I also don't think I've lost any.  I think it's a case of lack of conformity between the two different brands of body fat calculators.  My best guess is that I'm somewhere between 21% and 21.5% body fat. 
So that got me to thinking, what's average?  I found a couple of sources:
Average body fat percentage for women in the USA
34% - Source
8-15% = athletic
16-23% = good
24-30% = acceptable
31-36% = overweight
>37% = obese
10-13% = essential fat
14-20% = athletes
21-24% = fitness
25-31% = average
32%+ = obese
So that being said, what kind of goal do I set for myself moving forward from this point?

I do feel that I've "fluffed" up a bit in the past month or so.  I know I've eaten more calories than I've been used to, but I've done my best to make them healthy.  I'm going to continue to work towards a body fat percentage of under 20% by Thanksgiving, and hopefully somewhere around 18% by next spring.

Do you know what your body fat percentage is? 

Do you have any body fat percentage goals?

What kind of workouts do you do?

Do you lift?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Workouts: August 25 - 31

I can't believe August is over already!  What the heckballz happened??

Sunday 8/25 - Rest Day, as usual

Monday 8/26 - Arms + 30 minutes HIIT on the elliptical

Tuesday 8/27 - 3.60 miles + legs
(Leg day AND running in the same day?  I'm crazy, yes.)

Wednesday 8/28 - 30 minutes elliptical + a few random ab exercises
My gym finally caught on to the fact that my two week free trial ended three weeks ago.  I was locked out. :(

Thursday 8/29 - 3.35 mile run + arms (I have an actual gym membership now, no worries.)

Friday 8/30 - 30 mins HIIT elliptical + leg day

Saturday 8/31 - 10 minutes treadmill (7.1 mph @ 1.5% incline) + 20 minutes HIIT elliptical + core work

Miles for the week: 8.28
Miles for August: 41.53
Miles for 2013: 338.29

Monday, August 26, 2013

Workouts: August 18-24

Sunday 8/18 - Rest Day
I think taking a rest day is incredibly important, both to rest your physical body, and to take a day and not focus on exercise, but just to enjoy life.

This isn't to say that people who lift and/or exercise don't enjoy life.  But mentally, I feel like we need that break to just relax and not think about it so much.  I still try to eat healthfully on my day off, but I also allow myself a treat. :)

Monday 8/19 - 3.62 miles @ 7.1 mph, 1.5% incline + arms and shoulders

Tuesday 8/20 - 25 minutes HIIT on elliptical + legs

Wednesday 8/21 - 34 minutes of living room cardio - 2 different cardio circuits involving all sorts of exercises such as jumping jacks, burpees, squats, mountain climbers, butt kickers, etc.

My husband was out of town Tues-Thurs for a trade show, and since it's sort of frowned upon to leave sleeping children alone in a house, I settled for my living room cardio.  I pretty much despise it.

Thursday 8/22 - 28 minutes living room cardio - same circuits as yesterday, but done in 4 fewer minutes!

I legit almost bailed on working out today.  As I mentioned above, I hate doing living room cardio.  But I knew I'd beat myself up over it the entire day if I skipped.  Know what?  I felt pretty bomb ass afterwards.

Friday 8/23 - Arms (tri's and bi's) and some ab work.  + 3.65 miles on the tread @ 7.1 mph, 1.5% incline.

Husband's back!  Back to the gym!

Saturday 8/24 - Core work + 60 mins HIIT circuit (from Pinterest!) that almost killed me.

Ok, not really, but my calves are still screaming at me today.  It was tough, and I burned 720 calories! :)

I used to track my workouts on my personal blog.  One of my goals for 2013 was to run 400 or more miles this year.  So at the end of each workout summary, I tallied my miles.  That's what the following is all about:

Miles for the week: 8.62
Miles for August: 33.25
Miles for 2013: 330.01

I'm a very real person, so I'll be honest here.  I ate entirely too much junk food this weekend.  I tend to do that regularly and I always get so pissed at myself for it.  I feel like I'm starting over every single Monday and I hate it.

I'm going to try to plan out my menu and meals for this weekend so I can stay on track better.  I will always allow myself treats on the weekends.  Life is made to enjoy.  But there's a difference between a treat each night of the weekend, and eating a giant sized chocolate bar in two days.

With the three-day weekend approaching, there's no way I can eat like junk all weekend and not slide backwards in my progress.  Send motivation my way, cause I'm gonna stay on track next weekend, dangit!!

Have a healthy week, friends.

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Balancing Act with Food

I didn't get serious about working out before I had children.  I had dabbled a bit, but wasn't 100% committed.
I often wonder how easy it must be for those without kids to plan meals and food.  (I didn't say it wasn't time consuming, because I've seen the amount of time some people put into food prep!)
But seriously, you cook your lean protein and bake your veggies and cook your rice and boil your eggs and put it in containers for the week and voila!  You have your food for the week!
I'm actually going to get more serious about food prep, but for now, I do as much as I can and work to make as healthy of choices as I can.
BUT, the bottom line is that my kids aren't going to eat chicken and spinach for dinner every night.  Nor do I want them to.  They're not on a muscle building diet, I am.

With that being said, I'm not quite ready to be the woman/mom/wife that won't eat what the rest of her family eats for dinner.  In fact, we teach our children that what we cook is what they eat, bottom line.  I'd be a pretty big hypocrite if I ate separate food from them.

So, I cook "normal" foods for my family.  When I say normal, I'm talking about tacos, spaghetti, burgers, pizza.  We also have several nights each week where we eat a meat and a vegetable.  We very rarely have anything resembling dessert.  I'd say we're a pretty well rounded family in terms of our diet.

I just factor in what we plan on eating for dinner that night into my daily macros and work out the rest from there.  Does that make sense?  I kind of work backwards from dinner.  If I plan on eating 30 grams of protein for dinner, I know I have to get my other 70 grams in throughout the day.

This also helps me control my portion sizes.  By the time dinner rolls around, my macros are going to be close to complete for the day and if I decide to gorge on something, I know that I'll mess them up for that day.  I don't obsess about it, but it feels good to fit everything into your macros! :)

Who else out there has kids?  How do you balance your healthy eating (and desire for them to also eat healthy) while making sure they eat something??

Are you more into clean eating, or iifym?

Do tell!


HIIT it hard.

I've been reading and researching a LOT lately.  From many sources, I've seen and read that the best way to burn fat (in order to show off those muscles you've been working for) is HIIT.
For those that don't know, that stands for High Intensity Interval Training. 
Basically, you go balls to the wall for 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, however long you choose your interval to be, then you take it back for another interval.  You repeat these intervals for however long you want your workout to be. 
Make sense?

Check out this chart that shows how long your burn fat after regular cardio (red), versus HIIT (blue). 
An example of some HIIT I did on the elliptical on Tuesday was 60 seconds hard, then 60 seconds "rest."  I use quotations because it's not like you stop moving for the rest period.  You just take the intensity down for that interval.  For example, I went 60 seconds at 160 or more reps per minute on the elliptical for my HII, then for my rest interval, I kept it above 120 reps.  I did that for 30 minutes, at level 7 out of 20 levels.
Thus far, as I mentioned in my very first post, I've been running.  I've been doing endurance cardio.  That was great for me for a while, but I want to burn off a few percentage points of body fat now, so I feel like I need to lean more toward HIIT.
This is why:
My goal is to do several different HIIT workouts and/or circuits so that I don't get bored or burn out.  So if you know of any great ones that really get your heart pumping, let me know!
Ohh, and speaking of heart rate - on my HIIT on the treadmill this morning, I got my heart rate within 4 beats of my max.
(Max heart rate is 220 - your age.  So mine is 220-29 = 191.)
I was holding pretty steady at 183, then on my last interval, it got up to 187.  Holy sweat, Batman. :)



Thursday, August 15, 2013

I don't have time. Bah-lo-ney.

Glad you came back.  :)
One thing that really drives me crazy (like, I want to roll my eyes right in the face of anyone who says it to me) is the excuse "I don't have time to exercise."
Really?  There are 24 hours in every day.  You have a full time job?  You have kids?  You have to cook dinner?  So do I. 
You don't want to get up at 4:30 to work out?  I don't either.  You don't want to go workout after your kids are in bed?  I don't either.

But guess what?  I've chosen to make my health and fitness a priority in my life, so I do those things I don't always want to do.
There are days where working out is the VERY last thing I'd like to be doing.  Before and during my workout, I hate life.  (Not really, but that's how I feel.)  But after my workout, I feel freaking amazing.
Stop making sad excuses.  Make your health important, and get up and move! :)

I may be MIA for the next few days, as I'm embarking on a 72 hour mission to potty train my two year old.  So if I'm not back before Monday, have a fabulous Thursday and an awesome weekend!



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Well, hi.

Hi!  Thanks for checking out my blog.  Wanna know more about who I am?  Here's a brief history of about the last 4-5 years of my life.
In 2008, I was newly married to Matt - my husband - and we moved to Ohio.  I weighed around 155.  I decided I wanted to lose weight.  I got down to 141, then got pregnant with my first son, Hendrix.

After Hendrix was born, I started working out again, but found the balance of a child, a job, and life in general didn't exactly make that easy.  But I did get back down to about 143.
Then, towards the end of 2010 I got pregnant for the second (and LAST, God willing) time with Jameson.  When he was born in the summer of 2011, I weighed around 155 again.

I mean no offense to anyone with the statement I'm about to make, but I had always said that I would never become one of those women who got done having her kids and was fat.  By many standards, I wasn't fat.  But by my own, I was overweight and weighed more than I wanted to weigh.

In mid-July of 2011 (when Jameson was 3 weeks old), I started the Couch 2 5k program.  I highly recommend this program for anyone who wants to start running or get into shape.  I was doing it to lose weight, bottom line.  In October I ran my first 5k.  The following April I ran my first (and so-far my only) half marathon.

I've been running for two years now.  I enjoy it.  But I've also been at a weight plateau for a year.  I've been netting approximately 1200 calories a day (per MyFitnessPal) - that meaning: Calories consumed minus calories burned through exercise.  I'm not going to lie.  There have been many days where I've eaten less than that amount of calories.
That being said, here's where I am currently - August of 2013.  I'm tired of the squishy belly and arm flab. I'm tired of the cellulitis on my thighs and butt.  I want firm abs and sexy curves.  I currently weigh around 128 pounds.
What I'm NOT doing: taking anything to the extreme.  I'm not training for any kind of figure competition.  I'm not trying to get down to some kind of crazy 6% body fat percentage.  I'd ultimately like to see my body fat somewhere around 16%, but right now I'm just focused on lowering it from the current 20.5%.  I'm not currently taking any supplements other than protein, though I'm looking into some.
What I AM doing:  I'm in the gym 6 days a week.  I'm starting to focus more on weight training than I am cardio, though I still try to get 5 cardio sessions in each week.  I'm still tracking my calories, but now am also tracking my macros.  I'm working on consuming more lean protein and less fat.  I'm following a ridiculous number of health and fitness accounts on various social networks.  They're so inspirational to me!  I'm drinking at least a gallon of water every day.  (This has been much less difficult than I anticipated!)
This blog is an outlet for me to grumble, brag, ramble, rant, whatever I want to do about fitness and living a healthy lifestyle.
I'll be back tomorrow with another installment of "Who is Stephanie?"  Stay tuned. :)