My personal story with fitness could be described as a roller coaster. In high school, I swam competitively and was in amazing shape. Swimming and all physical activity came to a halt after high school, and soon into my college career, I experienced horrible anxiety for the first time in my life. The weight I had gained between high school graduation and the onset of anxiety very quickly fell off due to a loss in appetite with the onset of anxiety. If any of you have experienced anxiety, you know how horrible it is to feel like you have no control of your body and mind sometimes. I went on a medication that caused me to very quickly gain A LOT of weight. I was two pounds under 200 pounds after about 9 months of being on the medication and I was absolutely disgusted with myself. Obviously my anxiety had subsided due to being on medication, and so I felt fine (other that my weight). I went off of the medication and the weight slowly dropped, but I was still very much over what I was before weight-wise. This was when I would say my fitness journey began.

Like a blind puppy, I thought that doing cardio would do the trick. I was a complete cardio bunny for about a year, never touching a single weight. I went to spin class twice per week and I used the elliptical twice per week. What happened physically? Pretty much nothing. I also ate whatever I wanted with bouts of “clean eating” in between. At this time, clean eating meant significantly lowering my calorie intake for a week, and then when I couldn’t take it any longer, I would give in to treats. Not an eating disorder kind of bad, but just an uneducated kind of bad. Ladies, do not starve yourself!! It doesn’t work long term. At all.

When Instagram came out, I began following IFBB competitors and fitness instructors. This was when I really began to discover how to eat properly and get the most out of my workouts to get HEALTHY and LOOK BETTER. Another factor in upping my game with fitness was the fact that my wedding was approaching and I wanted to look the best I could in my dress. 

I started to take Bodypump classes in 2010, a class that involves a full body workout using weights. This was when I started to see a huge change in my body. I religiously went to Bodypump class three times per week, sprinkled with a little cardio in between. 

My fitness life continued to improve after I got married, and I got in the best shape of my life. I cleaned up my diet, I was consistent with it, and I never tracked calories. I ate until I felt satisfied.

Fast forward to my divorce. Much like the results of my anxiety detailed above, I dropped a lot of weight due to stress. I was already in great shape, but I got so skinny. My divorce caused my routine to take a VERY big hit for a long time. And what happened? I gained weight. A lot. 

After the dust subsided, it was time to get back into working out and living a healthy lifestyle again. I snapped out pure survival mode and I got my shit together. I am still not to the point I would like to be at, but I am in a good place now.

One big change that rocked my lifestyle occurred about a year ago, when I eliminated all animal products (except for some fish) from my diet. I am still re-learning how to get the best nutrients, eat enough, and keep my energy level high. But I feel great. I feel lighter, less bloated, and my skin is clearer. Adopting a gluten free (and sometimes paleo) and mostly vegan lifestyle is hard. But so worth it!

The constant theme in life is change. You have to roll with changes to thrive. Trust me, it is still hard for me because I, like most people, am a creature of habit. If something rocks my world, my first instinct is to hole myself up and stop everything. But I am working on changing that, because it doesn’t do any good. I have adopted change in my workout routine and it has done wonders for my mental and physical health. I will go into more specific workouts and exactly how they change in another post, but here’s what my week usually looks like:

Monday: Leg Day! I vary my leg workouts each week so that I’m constantly challenging my body. 

Tuesday: Abs and yoga. I recently started taking yoga and LOVE it. It’s important to give your body some rest and not do the same intensity in your workouts everyday.  I’ll do a 30 minute ab workout while I wait for yoga class to begin.

Wednesday: Arms and cardio. Same goes for arms. I change it up each week. When I do cardio, I always go for a HIIT workout, no matter what. 

Thursday: Legs again! Vary it up from Monday’s workout.

Friday: Back, chest, and cardio. 

Saturday: HIIT cardio.

Sunday: Arms, varied from Wednesday’s workout.

This might seem like a lot, but the gym has become my happy place, and because I do not do a high intensity, similar workout everyday, it keeps my body challenged yet not stressed. My Tuesday night yoga class is so relaxing and rewarding to get in touch with my body (that sounds so pervy and weird). It’s just as important to stretch your muscles and relax as it is to flex and lift weights. I am learning that the magic really happens when you surrender, listen to your body, and relax (yoga). 

My biggest tips for adjusting your routine and living a more healthy life:

+ If you’re just getting started with working out and eating healthy, take it one step at a time. Do not go all in, or you’ll be destined to fail. It took me a good six months to start going to the gym again each day. 

+ Drink lots of water! Try replacing sodas and juices (and alcohol) with water when you can. I like to add fresh lime juice and mint to my water – it tastes so yummy!

+ Stay consistent. Change takes time.

+ Purchase the right tools and items for working out, and set and reward milestones with new clothes or shoes. See my tried and true favorites below!

One: Wearing the right sports bra is the most important clothing item when it comes to running. At least for me. Big busted ladies, the Shock Absorber does just that! This is the ONLY bra I can wear on its own while I run. 

Two: Probably the only logo top I own. But it’s Nike! This top is so breezy and comfortable for any workout. Plus it’s cute. I wear it to run, to yoga, and during weight lifting. 

Three: Who doesn’t want a pretty yoga mat?! This mat has all the bells and whistles…I know, it’s weird to say that about a yoga mat. It’s slip resistant, it’s LONG, which is great for us tall gals, and it’s nice and cushioned. 

Four: Asics shoes are my tried and true running and weight lifting shoes! Nikes are cute and super stylish, but they are not as supportive as Asics especially when it comes to running. Don’t skimp on shoes! I have three pairs of Asics and they have lasted me a long time. I usually treat myself to a new pair every 9 months to one year. The pink Asics in the top photo are these ones (the new version). They are gel shoes, but they are lighter on support. I mostly wear them for weight lifting. 

Five: Hair ties are another VERY important factor when it comes to exercise. I like my hair up, secure, and out of my face when I workout. These ties are not only pretty, but they don’t cause breakage and they hold your hair in place. Done. 

Six: These are a cropped version of the leggings I’m wearing above. I love Zella leggings because they’re very nice quality, they don’t show your booty when you get into the downward dog pose, and they’re just as cute as Lululemon leggings without the price tag.

Seven: Good socks are hard to come by! These ones are ah-mazing! They have just the right amount of compression and support. Sounds silly for socks, right? I have all sorts of issues with my feet, my socks being too tight, too loose, the material rubbing and giving me blisters…but those problems never occur when I wear these socks.