Saturday, January 31, 2015

My Injury Story

Over the past year, I have had to persevere through many injuries. And by persevere, I mean stubbornly continuing to work out with injuries when I shouldn’t have been…

It all started in December 2013, around the time that thingsstarted to click for me. I had always been slightly envious of runners in that they could do their exercise whenever, wherever, and that they had entire events (races) centered around their exercise. On top of that, how freeing would it be to run around, wind blowing through your hair, finally having a chance to be alone with your thoughts? With these thoughts in mind (and partly because my roommate was doing it and had seen success), I decided to start doing the Couch to 5k program.

At first, I wasn’t even in good enough shape to do week 1 of the program, so I started out by running certain parts of my route in order to work my way up to starting week 1. This was a wonderful plan, until I decided Maya, my dog, should join me so she could get some exercise as well. I love my dog, she needs exercise, and lots of cool people run with their dogs… so why not? I don’t think most of these dogs have Rottweiler bodies and Basset Hound legs though… which equals super awkward running.

Maya is a very hyper dog, and at around two years old at the time, was still in her puppy phase (to tell you the truth, she kind of still is) and, if dogs could be diagnosed, had a definite case of ADHD. I had to be very careful when running with Maya, because she would suddenly try to dart off in a different direction and her 50 pound body would drag me with her. I tried to be good about holding her leash well and tugging a little when she needed a reminder, but one day I just got really into the run and forgot. Maya caught a whiff of something, darted off to the left, and my body overcorrected and my right ankle twisted. I figured it was just something that happens and continued on.

I tried running a few more times on it (by this time, I had gone home for Christmas and was trying to run there, where there are a lot more hills than the very flat area I live in) but the inside of my leg, near my calf, was in excruciating pain. At first, I attributed it to being a normal pain, but eventually it became obvious that something was wrong. My soon-to-be doctor roomie diagnosed it as being a high ankle sprain.

Me being new to the running scene and never having had an injury like this before, I figured if I just took a week or two off, I’d be good, right? WRONG. A bad high ankle sprain can take months to heal and I had worsened the injury by continuing to run on it.

So here I was, not even a month into my new fitness routine and had all the motivation in the world, but my body was not cooperating. But I am stubborn and figured I’d still be alright exercising. I did stop running on it for the most part (except when I would do 5Ks—don’t do a 5K when a sprained ankle like me, people!) and instead would speed-walk almost daily. Maya was much easier to control on these walks and we were still getting some exercise. I went back to the gym and started using the elliptical and weights and was making good progress without hurting my ankle too much (I still would recommend taking a better break than I did). I also started getting really into Les Mills’ Body Flow, which was nice because there was no impact.

As I started walking with Maya more, I decided to start doing our walks in different places so that we could see some new scenery. We were walking on a trail one day, when I stepped on a stick wrong and twisted my left ankle. Luckily, this time it was the lower part of the ankle, which heals a little bit faster. But now I had TWO sprained ankles. Did I stop working out? No. Because I’m stubborn (or just not the brightest crayon in the box haha).

I finally decided to go to the doctor about my legs in March because my original sprain wasn’t healing (because I was still working out on it, duh) and now I had a new sprain. His advice was the same as I had seen all over the internet:

1.     REST
2.     Ice
3.     Compression
4.     Elevate

That was not exactly the miracle cure I was looking for, but okay. I was to stop working out like I was and come back in three months to see if I had made any progress. I continued to work out but did try to stay off the ankle a smidge more than I had before.

Shortly before I had to go back for my three month appointment, I noticed a sharp pain that ran from just to the right of my knee and around the back of my right leg, into my hamstring. If you look up those symptoms, you will see that I probably had hamstring tendonitis. It didn’t seem to bother me too much while I was working out, but daily walking around at work killed it. When I went to the doctor for my checkup, she finally recommended physical therapy.

I spent basically the whole summer going to physical therapy twice a week and only doing low impact workouts that my physical therapist recommended. My ankles seemed to have healed but my hamstring tendonitis wasn’t getting better. My therapist and I decided that what my body needed most was time and to continue resting it, so I stopped going to therapy.

Around this time, school started up again (I’m a teacher), and I was really worried about having to walk around at work again and ruining any progress I may have made. I sat down while teaching a lot more and had to buy some more supportive shoes and over time it seemed to help a lot. I also started taking ibuprofen regularly and this helped even more.

By December 2014, I hadn’t had much of any pain in a couple of months so I decided I should start running again. This time, I was actually in decent enough shape to start on week 1 of the Couch to 5K program! I worked on it for about 2 ½ weeks and was feeling good about everything, when my left leg started bothering me. I’m not positive if I twisted anything, but I’m pretty sure I had a stress fracture in the lower part of my leg. I have completely stopped running because of it this time.

Having all of these injuries over the last year have been one of the biggest frustrations I’ve ever dealt with. The biggest battle people face when starting a fitness routine is a lack of motivation, but I was motivated to work out every day! But my body stepped in and told me it was not ready for that. With my current injuries (my hamstring has randomly started flaring up on certain days and my fracture is still healing), I am taking things slow. I am not allowing myself any impact exercising for 6 weeks (so that would be in another two weeks from now), and even then I am going to SLOWLY build to doing more impact. I have started taking calcium, vitamin D, and glucosamine to try to see if that can help make my bones stronger. I do work out 6 days a week with Piyo, but I modify when I need to and the program is low-impact anyway. I am doing what works for my body!

My advice if you get injuries? DO NOT do what I did and continue to work out on it. You have to learn to read your body and determine the difference between the good kinds of pains (like when you’ve been doing squats for a couple seconds and your thighs are screaming) and the bad kinds (you have a shooting pain up your hamstring any time you move it). Listen to your body and take things slow! Remember—it’s not about “dieting” and losing weight fast, it’s about making a LIFEstyle change. You’ve got the rest of your life to make your goals. No one else is putting an expiration date on when you have to have lost a certain amount of weight, so you shouldn’t either. I’m not saying don’t have goals, but don’t overdo it trying to make impossible to reach goals!

If you would like to talk to me about certain workouts and injuries, please feel free to contact me! There is a contact form at the bottom of this page.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It’s All About Calories…. Right? NOPE

When you want to lost weight, someone may suggest to you “eat less calories than you expend—that’s all you have to do!” Over the years, I have noticed that the people who have said this to me either have never had to lose weight or have some kind of freak metabolism that does whatever they want it to. So I don’t trust them. ;)

A huge reason why I was not successful in losing weight during my yo-yo dieting phase is that I focused solely on calories. I though that if I ate 1200 calories or less each day, I would certainly need to lose weight because I was using up more than that! Needless to say, when I did that, I usually either stayed the same weight or even gained weight. A major problem with my approach was that I believed that, as long as I stayed in my calorie range, I could eat what I wanted. I paid no attention to nutrition and what food could DO for my body.

Another problem with my approach is that I naturally gravitate towards carbs. I could be a vegetarian if I could just eat bread all day! Eating 1200 calories (not a healthy amount by the way, unless you are already very tiny) of bread is a little different than eating 1200 calories of lean protein, vegetables, and SOME carbs. It goes back to when you were in elementary school and learned about the food pyramid—you’ve got to have some balance!

I am by no means a nutritionist or doctor. But what I have found the most success with is combining calorie (sort of) counting and watching my macros.

What in the heck are “macros” you ask? Macronutrients are what you actually get from the food that you eat (carbohydrates, protein, or fat). The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for a balanced diet is as follows:

Carbohydrates: 45-65%
Proteins: 10-35%
Fats: 20-35%

These percentages of macros are all fine and dandy if you are not trying to lose weight. I recommend changing them up depending on your needs. Unless you are trying to “bulk up,” I would suggest having your carbs on the higher end if you are doing lots of cardio and having your protein on the higher end if you are doing lots of strength exercises. This is MY recommendation—you may see other things on other blogs and websites. Once again, I am not a dietitian, nutritionist, etc. But if you buy a BeachBody program, you will notice that the nutrition guides for each program are different. For instance, my Piyo (which involves a lot of strengthening) nutrition guide involves a lot of protein and little carbs. But my Insanity Max: 30 (which involves a lot more cardio) nutrition guide involves more carbs than Piyo and less protein than Piyo.

The NUMBER ONE recommendation that I have is to never eliminate a macronutrient from your diet. Diets like Atkins or South Beach are terrible for this reason. Your body was not made to function without a certain nutrient and if you try to do so, your body is going to fight back (as it should).

The NUMBER TWO (insert giggle here—I hang out with 5th grade students all day…) recommendation I have is to make sure that the motivational accounts you follow (on any kind of social media) have the same goals that you do. I am not a body builder but I do look at body building accounts from time to time and get jealous of all of the peanut butter and carbs they are consuming. But then I look at their bodies and remember—that is not my goal. Then I hit the yoga accounts and see all the lean bodies, lean meats, and veggies and remember my goals!

The NUMBER THREE recommendation I have is that you always need to put your health first. Do not make your intake of one macronutrient so low or high that it’s going to have negative effects on your health. When I tried to do South Beach at one point, I was not only a horrible person to be around mood-wise, but I could barely function because I wasn’t providing my body with energy and nutrients!

There are a lot of macro calculators on the internet. However, a lot of them that I have found don’t give your percentages, which is kind of annoying. One that I found that works pretty well is Also, if you use MyFitnessPal to track your food (which I highly suggest), you can adjust your macros and keep track of those daily.

If you are curious to what percentages I use, here they are:

Carbohydrates: 40%
Proteins: 35%
Fats: 25% 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Piyo Review Weeks 1-3

My plan each week is to review the current BeachBody program I am using. Since I launched this blog while I was already in a program, I am going to be playing a little bit of catch up in this entry! I want to show you that I am not only a BeachBody coach, but also a BeachBody customer! I am going through this WITH you! I still have weight to lose, I still have fitness goals I’m trying to meet, and I am working on committing to myself and my health!

The BeachBody program that I am currently working on is Piyo. Piyo is a mix of yoga, pilates, and cardio. I chose Piyo because I have done yoga and pilates off and on since I was about 17 or 18. I love yoga and pilates because you really work on your strength and get a good workout, all while stretching and not having to bounce around and trip all over yourself (I may be the most uncoordinated person alive). I have been going to Les Mills’BodyFlow classes at my gym for a while and I thought that Piyo would offer the same kind of vibe, but would be a shorter workout (BodyFlow is around 55 minutes) and would have more variety. Plus I don’t have to drive 20 minutes to the gym (in 5:00 traffic), which is always nice.

Another reason I love Piyo is that it is low impact. Although I can get in lots of yoga positions, my legs get very angry when doing anything involving any kind of impact (I did a few burpees yesterday and my knee has not cooperated since). Because of this, I have to be careful when choosing workouts.

When you get Piyo, you have an option of two different DVD sets (as well as two Challenge Packs… which I’ll get to later). The regular DVD package (which is what I own) includes 8 regular workouts, a bonus workout if you order through me, a workout calendar that tells you the order in which to do each workout, a nutrition guide, tape measure, and ME as a coach. The Deluxe DVD package has everything that the regular package has, plus 2 additional strength workouts, strength slides to use with the strength workouts, and a yoga mat. I wish I had this package but I don’t. L

The Piyo and Shakeology Challenge Pack comes with everything that the regular package has, plus your first month’s supply of Shakeology, 30-day Team BeachBody Club membership, and enrolls you in the Home Direct auto-ship program for Shakeology (you’ll be billed for and sent your 30-day supply of Shakeology each month). The Challenge Pack is definitely the best deal! If you’re feeling extra frisky, there is the Piyo Kickstart and Shakeology Challenge Pack. This includes the same things as the regular challenge pack, but starts you off with BeachBody’s 3-Day Refresh Kit, which kick starts weight loss. I have not personally used 3-Day Refresh because I have already worked toward good eating habits, but this kit is a good start for anyone who does not have good eating habits and wants to reset their body before beginning a program!

Now… onto the workouts themselves. Here is a list of each of the workouts and where they appear in the program:

Define: Lower Body (weeks 1, 2, & 3)
Define: Upper Body (weeks 1, 2, & 3)
Sweat (weeks 1-8)
Core (weeks 2-8)
Buns (weeks 3-8)
Strength Intervals (weeks 3-7)
Drench (weeks 4-8)
Sculpt (weeks 5-8)

What I like about this program, and many other BeachBody programs, is that it builds. If I am doing a program for 8 weeks straight, I am going to hope that I can handle a much different workout during week 8 than what I could during week 1! Although I do really feel it when I’m doing Define: Upper Body and Define: Lower Body, they are obviously less intense than Core or Buns, which are introduced a little bit later.

Here is how each of my weeks has gone so far:

Week 1:
Monday- Align: The Fundamentals
Tuesday- Define: Lower Body
Wednesday- REST (Piyo wants me to rest on Fridays, but Wednesdays are long for me so I moved it)
Thursday- Define: Upper Body
Friday- Sweat
Saturday- Define: Lower Body
Sunday- Define: Upper Body

The first day is just to get you into the right alignment with some of the moves. If you are someone like me who is familiar with basic yoga moves, I would not include this as my first workout. I would do it before starting the program and then “begin” with Tuesday’s workout. However, if you are not as familiar with the moves, this workout is a MUST! The problem people face with yoga-type workouts is that they don’t understand the moves. This is your chance to learn them!

I quite enjoyed Define: Lower Body. It’s about 24 minutes or so and was a good workout without killing me. However, at about 18 minutes, Define: Lower Body is a little short. It’s still a good workout, but I liked to either combine it with Define: Upper Body or some cardio (there is a bonus TurboFire Low HIIT 20 workout that comes with the DVDs that I thought was an excellent warm-up for this workout). Keep in mind—I may be at a higher fitness level than you. The Define workouts may be JUST what your body needs.

Sweat is a GREAT workout. It’s about 35 minutes and you will SWEAT. This is probably my favorite workout out of the ones I have done so far. It’s got a lot of classic yoga moves SPED UP. It’s great!

Week 2:
Monday- Sweat
Tuesday- Define: Lower Body
Wednesday- REST
Thursday- Core
Friday- Define: Upper Body
Saturday- Sweat
Sunday- Core

This is the week that I actually started combining cardio and the Define workouts. Whew! It made a huge difference in my calorie burn and I was exhausted by the end of each workout.

A new workout is introduced during this week- Core. I hate Core. In a good way. You know how everyone tries to skip leg day? I will do legs for DAYS before I will work my abs. I just don’t like it! But Core is an excellent workout. I just need to suck it up and think about the wonderful abs I’ll have later! J

Week 3:
Monday- Define: Upper Body
Tuesday- Buns
Wednesday- REST
Thursday- Core
Friday- Define: Lower Body
Saturday- Sweat
Sunday- Strength Intervals

There are a couple things going on in week 3 that are worth mentioning. This is the last week that you’ll do the Define workouts. You can tell as Core and Buns are introduced that the Define workouts are definitely not as intense. I’ll miss them a little bit-especially Define: Lower Body. These are definitely workouts I will pull out when I am done with the whole program when I am craving a short workout!

You are also introduced to two new workouts this week. Buns comes first. Holy moly will your buns be screaming by the end of this workout! Buns not only works your buns, but really your whole lower body. It’s like the big brother of Define: Lower Body. At the end of week 3 comes Strength Intervals. Today was my first time doing them and WOW they were killer! This is definitely where your cardio comes in and it is high intensity! I had to follow some of the modified moves because I couldn’t quite bounce around like the instructor (Chalene Johnson) was, but it was a really GREAT workout!

Well that is what I’ve though of Piyo so far! If you want to know about weight loss factors since the program is more strength than cardio, as of this morning I have lost 5.8 pounds during the three weeks I have been on it! My arms are getting more defined and I can see some definition in my abs wanting to peek out! I can also tell my pants are fitting much better after I got a little wild with the sweets over the holidays. I have more energy during the day and have been falling asleep much better at night! The key is to stay consistent—I have not missed a day of Piyo yet and I have tried my best to stay on track with my nutrition.

Please let me know if you have any questions about Piyo or are interested in starting Piyo! It may be the perfect program for you!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Clicking Point

Although I am only 25, I have spent many of my years yo-yo dieting and making promises to myself that I couldn’t keep. Like many other girls, I started disliking my body around the time I hit puberty and didn’t understand why my hips were starting to get bigger (in my mind, this was fat) or why other weird things seemed to be happening to my body.

When I was in high school, my yo-yo dieting began. I didn’t understand health in the least bit and my idea of a diet was to eat half a can of tuna for lunch and the smallest dinner possible. When I was a junior in high school, I actually did get pretty small (didn’t think I was at the time, only basing this opinion off of my adult mind looking back at pictures) but it didn’t last very long. I loved soda, Little Debbies, and fried foods and I saw nothing wrong with that. Even though I was a size 6 and less than 120 pounds when I finished high school, I still had the image of a fat girl in my mind.

In college, I actually did gain a lot of weight. By the time I got out of college and had taught for a few years, I was about 164 pounds and size 12 was tight on me (I’m 5’3”). Occasionally, I would decide I was going to go on a diet, throw away all my junk food, and buy a bunch of Lean Cuisines and 100-calorie snacks. It would usually last about a week. When I looked back at pictures of that unhappy high school girl, I wished I could be that size again and actually appreciate it.

I had gone to the gym in college sporadically (I’m talking maybe one-two times per year) but didn’t work out for a while when I graduated and started teaching. A little over a year and a half into teaching, a friend convinced me to join her gym and we started going a couple times a week. It tapered off when I saw no results though.

Each time I started a new diet or started going to the gym, I saw no immediate results and gave up. I am an immediate gratification type of person. I didn’t understand that it wasn’t dieting OR exercising, it was BOTH that would lead to weight-loss. It wasn’t just low-calorie or low fat that would lead to weight-loss; it was an overall healthy lifestyle.

Shortly before Christmas of 2013, things clicked. Not only was I not happy with the way my body looked, but I had no energy, I was out of breath walking up the stairs to my apartment, my poor dog was gaining weight because I was too lazy to walk her, and my stress levels were ridiculous. I knew I had to change—not just to “get skinny,” but because I was unhealthy and was no longer at an age where my body was resilient enough to just keep going normally without the right care. Yes, I was only 24 at the time… but that’s just it—I was only 24 and my body was feeling like it was in its forties!

When I started working out around Christmas, I started off a little too strong and ended up with some injuries (post about THAT journey coming soon), but I prevailed. I found workouts that I could do that wouldn’t affect my injuries, I started reading about macros, I increased my intake of fruits, vegetables, and protein, and decreased my intake of CRAP (soda, cakes, white breads, fast food, etc.). I have still had some ups and downs, but I did lose 20 pounds in 2014 thanks to my change in lifestyle!

What was the difference this time? Why was I able to see success this time, when I didn’t all of the previous times?

  1. I realized that there is no overnight fix. It didn’t take a week to gain all of this weight and to create a bad body image—so it wasn’t going to take a week to fix it. I got out of the “diet” mindset and got into the “lifestyle change” mindset. I would not be starving myself for a few weeks, then begin eating normal CRAP again because I was suddenly skinny. I would never again have a diet full of crap, whether I got skinny or not.
  2. I realized that, in order for me to be successful, I had to give in to my cravings every once in a while. If I told myself that I would never have a sweet or a cheeseburger again, I would give up like all of the previous times. In order for this to be a lifestyle change FOR LIFE, I had to understand that even healthy people have unhealthy food—they just don’t eat it all the time. Because of this, I allow myself one cheat meal a week. It’s enough for me to think about when I have a bad craving (“Don’t eat that… remember you get to have __________ on Saturday and that is soooo much better!”) but not enough to undo all of the work I have done that week. I am not striving to be perfect, I am striving to be healthier and SANE.
  3. I realized that I wanted to take it slow. The problem with most diets is that you do lose weight, but you go back to eating what you were eating before and you gain it all (and usually more) back. I knew that, if I wanted to keep my weight off, I would have to eat in a way that was possible for me to keep up for the rest of my life. This means that my weight would not come off as fast—but this is the whole point in a “lifestyle change.” If it takes me forever to get to my goal weight but then I don’t yo-yo right back to my original weight, I am perfectly fine with it taking a while!
  4. I realized I had to do it my way. If you read my About Me section, I mention how I was terrified in gym class growing up. If I had started this journey with an intense workout routine, I would have given up very quickly. I am able now, a year into my journey, to commit to something intense but it took me a little while to get here. I started by walking my dog 2-3 miles every few days (on a sprained ankle, mind you), going to the gym to use the elliptical and very light weights, and doing BodyFlow (Les Mills’ yoga/tai chi/pilates-kind of a less intense version of Piyo) classes at the gym. I also started trying to be more active in my daily lifestyle—I walked around my classroom a little more while I was teaching, I parked a little further from the store, and I started taking my dog to different places to explore with her.
  5. I surrounded myself with motivation. I am an instagram addict, so I started following a lot of people who were on the same journey as I was. It’s hard to eat a piece of cake as your scrolling through pictures of nothing but people working out and eating salads, right? I subscribe to Fitness and Women’s Health magazine—not because they have particularly great articles… but because it’s also hard to eat a piece of cake as you’re reading “How to Get the Best Abs.” See what I mean? I also created a motivation board, where I mark out each pound I lose. On the board are pictures of ME at a time where I should have thought I was a great size, other women with healthy bodies, and inspirational quotes. I see it every time I open my closet, and it is a constant reminder of the work I am doing and what I have to look forward to!

As I say in my About Me section, I am definitely no expert on weight loss or healthy lifestyles. I still have some bad habits to get rid of, but I am taking it slow! You may read this and think “This girl started when she weighed 164 pounds and thought she was big.. I wish I could be 164 pounds!” It’s not always about your starting weight, it’s about how you feel. I was UNHEALTHY. My body was full of nothing but soda, sweets, and fast food and it had to stop. I was also completely sedentary. Don’t let your starting weight being different than mine think that you can’t do it—you can!

If you’re having trouble getting motivated or are motivated but don’t know where to start, PLEASE feel free to contact me! Below you will find a contact form that you can fill out to contact me!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Official Blog Launch!

I am officially launching my blog! This blog will be my space to write about my fitness journey, as well as my journey as a BeachBody coach! I’m currently working on the Piyo program and will be posting my reviews as I complete each week of the program. I am loving the program so far and look forward to sharing my thoughts about it with you!

Many people with whom I have shared my news of becoming a coach have asked what that means. It means I am here to support anyone who wants a motivator! I will be setting up challenges to help get groups of people started with BeachBody programs (P90X, Piyo, Insanity, 21 Day Fix, etc.) and to help them stay on track along the way. If you are interested in BeachBody and any of its programs, please fill out the contact form below and I will be there to help you get started on your fitness journey!

If you would like to know more about me and my own fitness journey, please see the About Me section. I am glad you stopped by and hope you will continue to be along for the ride as I share my thoughts!