Making the Best of It

It’s been a while now…but I’ve got to confess that it seems that lately everything has gotten in the way for writing in my blog. And by mostly, I mean guilt. Guilt? Yes, read on.

Lately, I’ve felt lack of motivation to workout hard and follow my clean diet 100%. Such lack of motivation made me feel silly for even thinking about writing about fitness stuff. How could I possibly write about workouts and eating clean when I wasn’t doing it myself? The reality is that I was not feeling my best because stress had taken over me.

Feeling this way is of course, a real concern for me. I spent days trying to figure out where I tipped my balance and why I’ve felt so out of whack. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve workout all along, I’d be bored to tears if I didn’t hit the gym, but my drive and intensity were just not there. Then comes the eating part; I’ve snacked on junk food here and there and I’ve had several (many) cheat meals on the weekends that make me feel sluggish and tired the next day.

I don’t mean for this to sound as an excuse, but with a full-time work schedule, there is times, especially August/September and May/June,  where I’m so exhausted when I get home from work, that the last thing I want to do is workout or eat healthy. My brain and body are fatigued.  And, guess what I want when I’m tired? I want to eat! I want EVERY.SINGLE.CARB on available on planet earth. Then after I eat, I want to sleep. The problem is I can’t nap because then I won’t sleep at night-I then dream of work scenarios. Great, just great!

So this is what I’ve figured out, when I don’t eat clean aka when I eat junk food/gluten/trans fats/empty carbs/simple sugars etc. My body goes through a lot of inflammation. So I bloat, I get ‘puffy’–I don’t look like my normal self, so then I become sad because I don’t like the way I look and I definitely don’t like the way I feel. My vanity gets the best of me when my clothes feel tighter and I get a tummy pooching out. I then push myself to get the gym, but once there, I realize that I’ve got no drive because my hormones are altered from the junk foods. I just go through the motions not pushing myself. Once I return home, I find the treats and say to myself, “I eat just one cookie,” which turns out to be that I eat everything I can possibly get my little hands on.  And there you go, just like that; I keep fueling my vicious cycle! I eat poorly, so I consequently, feel and perform poorly. Just think of it as a junk food hang over that takes days to clear out of your system.

Since day 1 of working out, I’ve always kept a workout journal in which I would write down my workout plan for the next couple of weeks. I’d write my weight improvements added number of sets etc. but I stopped writing in it for the past 2-3 months. I figured, I kind of already know what movements I’m doing for the day once I’m at the gym. But with my lack of motivation lately, I have no other choice to go back to logging in my workouts. I’ve noticed that when I write down my workouts. I am better focused, because I’ve got a plan. For example, I struggle to push myself when it comes to arm day. So last week, in an effort to get a good workout, I quickly looked up an old arm workout plan and decided to redo it. Turns out I had a great workout that day! If I see it written, I think of it as a task (blame the Virgo part of me), so I must complete it so I can sort of ‘check it off’ and move on.

My second goal was to get better sleep. I know that I was having irrational cravings and overeating because I was fatigued. And, since I share my home with my love, it would be unfair to completely cut out all of the so called temptation foods from home. So the better solution was to get quality sleep. And how to you get quality sleep, you ask? Cut down on the caffeine. (Gasp) Whaaat?? Ah yes, that is especially hard for me. With work being busy and all, I found myself drinking multiple cups of coffee throughout the day. And even though I can fall asleep with no problem, I had light sleep and vivid dreams (mostly made up work scenarios). So I quit coffee and switched over to non-caffeinated herbal teas. I felt like death. It was all too much for me in a really stressful time, so I decided to drink black tea or half decaf and half regular coffee in the am only. And even though I might feel sluggish mid-day I held strong on not consuming anymore caffeine. This alone has made my sleep has been loads better and I am more focused at work.

Along with dropping my caffeine consumption, I keep a Gratitude Journal, in which I write down 10 things for which I am grateful. It can even be mundane things such as “I’m thankful for this journal” or more meaningful things like “I’m grateful for my family-they always make me feel loved.” I then write down 3 nice things someone did for me today and 3 nice things I did for someone else. Shifting your focus on the positives always helps me relax and consequently, I sleep better and stay asleep.

By addressing my rest, I now feel more energized to workout harder. Keeping my workout journal up-to-date defiantly keeps me accountable for my workout goals. With rest and enough physical activity, my eating habits are loads better; I don’t feel a need to eat every cookie on earth! Although its’ definitely a struggle, every day, I feel more empowered to keep making healthy choices for myself.  I know that everyone, especially me, will have slip an up here and there and that’s ok. The important thing is to acknowledge them and start to make changes. And with that in mind…today I’m going to have an AWESOME Chest and Back day!!!

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Awesome Resistance Bands Workout

Bands for you, bands for me

Pick a flavor, any flavor

Let’s talk BANDS, resistance bands that is! They come in bright colors, they’re flexible, they look fun, and you think, “Oy the possibilities are endless with these babies!” You end up buying them, and then you’re like what the heck? how do I use this wiggly thing?

But oh my dears, those wiggly things are a great investment!

Resistance bands are great for toning and overall body strengthening. They allow your muscle fibers to elongate and to stay under tension throughout the concentric, when you shorten the muscle-such as when you curl your bicep, and eccentric movement, lowering movement-bicep curl when arm comes down  to the start position. Thus, it increases your strength. These bands are great for when you travel, are new to exercising, you become a new momma or if you are recovering from a light surgery. They are fairly inexpensive ($10-$20) and a super light weight/non-bulky. These things are muy fantastico!

Colors and their meanings:

Yellow-light resistance

Green-medium resistance

Red-medium to heavy

Blue-heavy resistance

Black–extra heavy resistance

If you are a newbie, I would suggest to start with a yellow. If you need more resistance you can always shorten the straps and that will add more resistance automatically. I suggest to keep rest periods short, very short. I’m talking about 30-60 seconds rest, kind of short. Start with 3 sets and work your way to 4 sets. I normally would suggest to pair up your exercises into super-sets, but because you’d need to set up the bands accordingly to each exercise, that just wouldn’t make too much sense. However, there are 2 exercises that are in a superset format (see Monday/Thurs: D1 and D2, Tuesday/Friday C1 and C2). And that is because the set up of the bands are about the same in both exercises. I recommend visuals to see where to place the bands, so YouTube it up beforehand.

Here is the breakdown:

Monday and Thursday:

A.) Resistance band Squats 12-15 reps x 3 sets, take 4 seconds to lower yourself (eccentric) and 2 seconds to come up (concentric). Rest 45 sec and repeat 2 more times.

B.) Resistance band Standing Good Mornings. ARCH your back a tad then start (NEVER round your back!) 3 seconds folding forward, 1 second retraction to upright. (you def need a video on this one). 8-10 reps x3 sets. Rest 45-60 sec.

C.) Resistance band Deadlift. Same goes here, DO NOT ROUND your back! Arch your back a tad, bring shoulder blades back, then you may begin with 3 seconds lowering, 2 seconds up. 10-12 reps x 3 set. Rest 45-60 seconds.

D1.) Resistance band Shoulder Press 6-8.Focus on holding it under tension. 3 second going up, 3 seconds down, pause 2 seconds at the bottom of the movement, then repeat for 6-8x. Rest 0.

D2.) Resistance band Lateral Raises. Same deal here, shoulders are stabilizers, and strengthen best when under tension. 2 seconds to ascend and 3 seconds to descend. 10-12 reps x 3 sets. Rest 45-60 seconds.

Tuesday/Friday:

A.)Resistance band Bench Press. (Alternative to a bench: Coffee table, exercise ball, floor). 3 sec to lower the band, 1 sec to push up it up. 10-12 reps x 3 sets. Rest 45-60 sec.

B.)Resistance band Rows (seated on floor). 2 seconds to pull, 4 seconds to retract. 12-15 reps x 3 sets, rest 45-60 seconds.

C1.) Resistance band Bicep Curls. Focus on squeezing your bicep at the top portion and slowly lower) 10-12reps x 3 sets. rest 0.
C2.) Resistance band Tricep Extensions 10-12reps x 3 sets. Rest 45 sec.

D.) Resistance band Upright Rows. 10-12reps x 3 sets. Focus on bringing the bands up to your collar-bone and lower within 4 seconds.

Drink a nice cold WHEY protein shake or eat a nice piece of fish/chicken/lean beef with a big ‘ol bowl of veggies right after and feel content!

Happy future workout days ahead! 

Mirla’s past was, What?.. covered in chocolate, potatoe chips and diet coke??

Let me tell you why I decided to start this new  blogging project…

I started working out not too long ago. Waaaa? Really?? Yes, really, it’s true, this year marked my two year anniversary of ever lifting a dumbbell in my life. My best friend from high school can testify that I WAS the laziest person ever. I was so lazy that we would hang out in the living room instead of her room because she was on the 2nd floor and that meant climbing stairs… I know, I know, pathetic! I will confess that now that I look back on that memory, I can’t seem match those past images with who I am now. In my mind, I feel like I’ve always been the way I am now. Well, anyhow, what I am getting at is we all have it in us to be fit. No matter what stage you are in life.
We all need that ‘fire’ to spark up our reasons to workout. I know this too well. Two years ago, I was going through a really rough patch in life. I was, among other things that I won’t bore you with, was overweight for my size–I’m tiny 5’1”, in a new state, knowing no one, job-less and away from my family. I was so depressed.  I ate a lot of junk food. Loved chips, drank Diet Coke, ate candy like no one’s business and refused to eat normal food. I felt like shit. I tried to eat salads or whatever ‘healthy’ foods I saw in the store, but it tasted all too bland for my palate. I would eat 1 meal and just couldn’t make myself to eat more of the same type of foods. It’s a hole that you just can’t seem to get out of. I would look up information on diets and workouts in magazines and on TV, but honestly it didn’t matter because even though I had a gym membership, I was too self-conscious to get myself there. I knew I had to do something asap!
That’s when I started to do some yoga. I started with a Monday class. Keep in mind I had no idea what I was doing or what to expect, I set my mat toward the very back of the studio and just copied what everyone else was doing. And guess what?? I loved it. So I went back the next day, and the next, and the next. I followed that pattern for about 6 months, unfortunately, I didn’t lose much weight (~2 pounds), I just got more flexible, started to sleep  better, but most importantly I started to feel more comfortable in he gym setting. After yoga, I would head over to the dumbbell racks and grab a 10 pounder and do some bicep curls. When I felt someone looking at me, I would turn bright red and put the dumbbells away and leave. I then decided to hire a trainer. Money well invested! I learned all about healthy eating habits, vitamins/supplementation and proper form when exercising.
After about two months of eating clean, weight lifting 3x/week and doing HIIT’s (high intensity interval training) 2x/week. I made huge improvements in body composition. I fell in love with the idea of having the ability to make such changes in my body.
Having had said that, I know the challenges that people who are trying to lose weight face everyday, It’s hard work, but you’ve got to search deep in you to find your reasons to make the necessary changes. Maybe it’s just for you? for health? for boyfriend/husband? for family? for _____________?
What ever it may be, I promise it’s all worth it. A month from today, you’ll be glad you ever started.
Until then, train smart y’all!