Wellness Refocused Education: Does stretching make an impact?

I’m sure many of you have been told that stretching and warming up as well as cooling down are an important part of your workout. Have any of you ever really thought about why or if there are better ways to warm up and stretch?

Would you laugh if you learned that you may want to stretch on a daily basis even if you’re not exercising?

There are a lot of activities that we do that can put stress on our bodies, many we don’t typically think of such as sitting or standing for long periods of time or walking. Crossing your legs or sitting on your wallet can actually be a literal pain in the ass…and lower back.

Just like there are different styles of exercise to achieve different health goals (i.e. strength training, endurance training, etc), there are also a variety of stretches with unique purposes, but first what are we stretching.

Our skeleton is compromised of  206 bones, which makes up about 20% of out mass (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016). Our skeletons are “divided” into two sections: axial and appendicular portions. The axial includes the skull, vertebral column and the thoracic cage. This section of the body has 80 bones. The other 126 bones are found in appendicular portion, which includes the pectoral girdle and the upper limb, the pelvic girdle and the lower limb. This section of the body is what helps us with mobility (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016).

Our bodies have different kinds of muscle tissue, but for this post, we’re talking about skeletal muscle also known as voluntary muscle (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016). Skeletal muscle attaches to bones and during contractions they pull on the bones or skin and create movement. The amount of work a muscle can do is based on stimuli acted on the muscle and the muscle reacts and adapts. Overload helps the muscle increase strength and endurance.

There are three functional classifications for joints:

  1. synarthroses – immovable joints (ex. skull bone – cranial and facial bones)
  2. amphiarthroses – slightly moveable joints (ex. pubic symphysis – pubic bones)
  3. diarthroses – freely moveable joints (ex. shoulder – scapula and humerus)

Within these classifications are structural classifications: fibrous, cartilaginous and synovial. Synovial are considered diarthroses.

The way we move is determined by our range of motion or ROM at our synovial joints (Page, 2012). A synovial joint is where articulating bones are separated by a membrane of fluid. These joints are reinforced with ligaments. There are sixkinds of synovial joints in the human body:

  1. Hinge
  2. Pivot
  3. Plane
  4. Saddle
  5. Ball-and-Socket
  6. Condyalar

“Joints are the weakest part of the skeleton”, but there are ways to stablize them (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016). The shape of the bone plays a small role in stablization whereas ligaments and muscle tone  are the most important for stablizing the joint. Muscle tone in this sense is defined as “low levels of contractile activity in relaxed muscles that keep the muscles healthy and ready to react to stimulation (Marieb & Hoehn, 2016).”

It’s clear that stronger muscles assist our joints, but does stretching prevent injury or even soreness post-workout? Well, there’s research on both sides, but first what kinds of stretches are there to utilize?

There are three kindsof stretches: static, dynamic and pre-contraction.

A static stretch involves holding a muscle in specific position to allow and create tension. This style stretch is repeated and can be done on your own or with a partner.

A dynamic stretch is an active stretch will moves a limb through its full ROM. This style of stretch can also be repeated and done on your own or with a partner.

A pre-contraction stretch involves a contraction of the muscle being stretched such and can be performed with resistance provided by a band, strap or partner.

Both static stretching and dynamic stretching commonly suggested in training, however, studies show that dynamic stretching may have more benefits than static stretches.

A 2009 study examined the effects of dynamic and static stretching on vertical jump and activity of the muscle tissue. Researchers found a signification increase in activity in the muscle tissue after participants engaged in dynamic stretching in comparison to static stretching (Hough, P.A., 2009). “In this investigation electromyographic activity was significantly greater after dynamic stretching compared with static stretching indicating an increase in muscle activation post dynamic stretching.” Dynamic stretching engages the muscle in a movement, versus holding it like static.

This ties back to the amount of work a muscle is capable of is determined by the amount of stimuli placed upon it, repeatedly. It’s hard to say if while the dynamic stretching had more of an impact than static stretching did if it was a combination of positive factors that contributed to the improved jump.

Researchers also found that there was an increase in neuromuscular mechanisms, meaning the contact between the brain and muscle fibers were able to increase communication. Dynamic stretching may better assist in preventing injury because of the potential growth of muscle fibers and the impacts on strength.

A pre-contraction stretch, may be suggested to assist ROM and flexibility. Similarly to dynamic stretching, muscle activation in this kind of stretch may remain the same or increase after the stretch is executed (Page, P., 2012).

The kind of stretch can determine the amount of benefit and overall stretching may play a role in decreasing injury in certain sport disciplines. However, post-workout muscle soreness or “delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can occur after single bouts of high-intensity running and/or unfamiliar activity (Herbert et al., 2011).” This is the body’s reaction to a new activity, which can include doing the same exercise with a different load than previously used such as increasing weight or changing the repetition range or even variations of form. The way the stretching is incorporated into programming can play a role in the amount of benefit.

Literature from a review in 2017 found that acute stretching versus long-term chronic stretching could have different affects on performance, DOMS and chronic injury in endurance runners (Baxter et al., 2017). The review found that much of literature argued that acute stretching during a warm-up may have actually decreased efficiency. Other research examined in the review found that joint stability was a result of muscle strength in general, not acute stretching.

Other research examined in the review argued that engaging in chronic stretching wouldn’t hinder immediate performance and could increase flexibility (Baxter et al., 2017). However, even chronic stretching research came back to discussing the important of muscle strength and stiffness in relation to joint stability.

The same review found that many studies were investigating the benefits of static stretching, not comparing benefits of variations of stretching, which would give different results or incomplete results.

Other research that I found interesting has looked at the exercise interventions – not necessarily just stretching, but incorporating exercises that contribute to prevent. A review on the effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries sought to determine if exercises such as strength training, stretching, proprioception or a combination of these could reduce acute or overuse injury. They examined 25 trials that included 26,610 participant with 3,464 injuries and determined that strength training in general “reduced injuries to less than a third and overuse injuries could be almost halved (Lauresen et al., 2013).”

This I found this interesting because the components of dynamic stretching are similar to components of strength training such as shoulder circles and arm circles, which can be done with or without weight, squats, which can also be done with or without weight. There are some dynamic stretches that are just stretches such as leg swings or neck flexion/extension.

This past spring, when I got back into a structure lifting routine I had less low-back pain, less muscle spasms and tightness and less likeliness of my SI dislocating, which meant less trips to the chiropractor. She explained that exercises like the back squat, even with light weight helped elongate the muscle and stretch it out. I had been seated more often than I ever had been while in school and that was causing an issue for muscle and joints because it meant that it wasn’t being activated as much.

I used a dynamic warm up without my workout and I incorporate components into my lifting, even though I’m doing a prewritten program. My favorite dynamic warm up is of course for legs:

  1. Hip abduction with a medium resistance band (both sides): 10 reps
  2. Hip abduction with a medium resistance band (both sides): 20 reps
  3. Forward hip height knee lifts with a medium resistance bands (both sides): 15 reps
  4. Standing kickbacks with a medium resistance band (both sides): 10 reps
  5. Side hip height knee lifts with a medium resistance bands (both sides) 15 reps
  6. Banded forward hip hinge: 2 sets of 10 reps
  7. Banded barbell squats with just the bar: 10 reps

I do this before I start my workout, but I’ve also incorporated some of these into my routine. I always warm up large lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench press, over head press – mostly, anything with a barbell. I’ve utilized banded clam shells – and those are no joke.

There’s importance in developing strength and flexibility in both joints and muscles, but I think the research shows that it can come from a number of source. It’s not just about one kind of stretch or just resistance training. Together these can lead to less pain and a decreased chance of daily injury.  Regularly activity can also increase circulation by assisting blood to flow into your muscles.

I’m pro-stretching, but I think it needs to be dynamic and it should compliment what you’re doing that day in the gym. My upper body/back day warm up is very different than my lower body warm up.

Do you stretch or do you focus on multiple movements in your programming to assist in muscle and joint development?

❤ Cristina

References:

Claire Baxter, Lars R. Mc Naughton, Andy Sparks, Lynda Norton & David Bentley (2017) Impact of stretching on the performance and injury risk of long-distance runners, Research in Sports Medicine, 25:1, 78-90, DOI: 10.1080/15438627.2016.1258640

Herbert, R., de Noronha, M., & Kamper, S. (2011). Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. The Cochrane Database of Systemtic Reviews, 1-50.

Lauresen, J. B., Bertelsen, D. M., & Andersen, L. B. (2013). The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 871-877.

Marieb, E. N., & Hoehn, K. (2016). The Skeleton. In E. N. Marieb, & K. Hoehn, Human Anatomy and Physiology (pp. 199-250). New York: Pearson Learning Solutions.

Marieb, E. N., & Hoehn, K. (2016). Muscles and Muscle Tissues. In E. N. Marieb, & K. Hoehn, Human Anatomy and Physiology (pp. 278-320). New York: Pearson Learning Solutions.

Page, P. (2012). Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 109-119.

Hough, P. A. (2009). Effects of Dynamic and Static Stretching on Vertical Jump Performance and Electromyographic Activity. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 507-512.

Perrier, E. T. (2011). The Acute Effects of a Warm-Up Including Static or Dynamic Stretching on Countermovement Jump Height, Reaction Time, and Flexibility. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 1925-19231.

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Bikini Body Guide Week 1 Completed

Today I completed the first week of Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Istines. It has been a great week in the gym and in the kitchen. When I first decided to purchase the 12-week program, I really had no idea what to expect. I honestly thought it was going to be a joke, but I couldn’t be any happier with my decision to try it. Since I had decided to not compete this spring because of the cost, I was feeling really lost. I’m very goal oriented and I like structure in my routine. My friend Sarah (fit_badger15 on IG) suggested I try BBG because it would give me the structure I wanted, but it would be also allow me to get some of the lifting in that I like. Lifting was my biggest concern. I love picking up heavy things and putting them down, I wasn’t really sure how weights would fit into this routine.

Here’s what I have learned about the program and what I like:

It kicks your butt if you put in the work.

When I work out, I want to be challenged and lately I hadn’t been feeling challenged in the gym. I was changing it up, I was increasing weight and mixing up the number of reps, but I wasn’t feeling the way I wanted to in my workouts. With BBG program every day is a designed as circuits, except for steady cardio days. The circuits are intense and have forced me to push myself harder than I had been. Monday was leg day and I can’t remember the last time I had really felt leg day the day after, day after.

They’re time efficient.

I work two jobs and can’t remember the last time I ate dinner on a plate, instead of in tupperware. I needed something that I could without feeling like I spending hours in the gym. This week I have gotten up every morning at 530 and dragged my booty to the gym with coffee in hand. Some mornings were harder than others, but I felt amazing when I was done. The best part, I was done in 30 minutes and then home in time for a shower and breakfast.

I’ll actually get results, it’s not some gimmick.

My mind is probably messing with me, but I can already feel a difference. Slightly see one too. I was down half a pound on Wednesday when I weighed myself and it was a pretty good feeling seeing the scale move. It was an even better feeling when I went to buy new jeans today because mine are too big. Sarah’s results from doing both sections of BBG (week’s 1 to 12, and week’s 13 to 24) have been awesome. Obviously, everyone’s results will be different, but it makes me hopeful that busting my butt over the next few weeks will bring some serious progress. I’m sitting at 153.5 pounds and the goal at the moment is 149.5. I think it’s reasonable and definitely possible.

I’m able to do my own exercises on top of BBG.

I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to continue heavy lifting during the program and I have learned a couple of things. 1. I don’t want to do my own leg lifting on leg day because circuits are enough. I mean crawling would be more than likely if I did extra. 2. I can do extra on arm day and 3. I can throw in an extra leg day on Thursdays when I do cardio.

I can follow IIFYM.

I don’t need to follow her nutrition guide. I can still flex diet, which has been solid all week and has contributed to my half pound loss this week as well. I’m able to make the decisions I need to without feeling like I’m not going to have results. I can look at cake and eat it too.

I’m excited for the next 11 weeks because this is something I can follow and something I look forward too. There are millions of women also following these workouts so I can easily ask questions or talk to others about their progress. It’s a huge sense of community.

Stay tuned for more updates. I’m going to do a weekly update on BBG and every few weeks post a new photo with my progress. I’m ready to get out of my funk and get moving along!

Have a great weekend :]

❤ Cristina

I make myself a Monday morning person.

I used to hate Mondays. If I could, I would sleep through Monday, skip over Tuesday and start my week on Wednesday, but I’m sure I would dislike Wednesdays then too. Not everyone is a morning person and I have my moments of dragging ass too, but last year I started doing my workouts in the morning a few times a week. I started slow with only a day or two, and then worked up to three or four- depending on my work schedule.

At the beginning of the summer, when I started prep, I knew I wanted to fit two workouts in a day and sometimes I worked at night. Bring on the morning cardio and lunch time lifts. It was definitely a struggle at first. Monday and I were not friends at all. However, after a few weeks it got easier. I also noticed my mood improved, I was more likely to be on time or early to work and on days I also worked out on my lunch hour, I was more productive in the afternoon.

The past month since my show I haven’t done many morning workouts, I’ve fit them in, but not as many as I had this summer. To finish the year I’m getting back to my morning workouts, and making sure I get a morning workout every Monday until the New Year. Last week I got 3 morning workouts in and I honestly felt better and back on track. This week I have the same goal. I also want to get my lifts in and fingers crossed, but I want to get to a gym class if I can squeeze it in.

This mornings workout was a solid 30 minutes of steady, high resistance cardio on the arc trainer. It was followed by a cup of black coffee, egg whites and an apple. My lunch workout was legs and lower back. I PR’d my squatting weight to 110 pounds, it’s only a 5 pound increase, but holy hell you notice the 5 pounds! My morning flew by, and I can’t believe the amount of work I get done. I also hit my water goal of 150 ounces.

When I workout on Monday mornings, I feel like I have my life together, even if that’s far from the truth. I’m going to definitely bring my morning workouts into the New Year. I’m still working on my goals, but maybe hitting 52 Monday morning workouts should be added to the list? What are you all looking to add to your goals list?

 

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Morning cardio, my abs want to come through!

 

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❤ Cristina

 

9 weeks official

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Here is a photo to show that 20 days is a ton of time to make changes. This is only a 2 pound difference. I’m officially 9 weeks out til show and I couldn’t be more thrilled, scared, nervous, excited, hopeful. I have been busting my butt and it’s going to pay off. Even if I don’t look “perfect” I have come so damn far.

Here’s something from Shel Silverstein:

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Happy motivation Monday beautiful people!

There have been some ups and downs

This past week has been filled with some ups and down. I’m a little more than 9 weeks out til my show and I’m still steadily losing, but with the lose does come frustration. It’s mentally exhausting having to keep up with the changes. I’m not trying to complain about my loss. I can’t be more excited, but at the same time I didn’t realize my body composition would be what it is.

I’m going to be pretty damn honest right here, but I have a consultation with a plastic surgeon in two weeks for both a breast lift and implants. A few years ago, I probably would’ve laughed at the idea of implants and maybe would’ve made a few horrible jokes, but with the amount of breast tissue I’ve lost, this has now become my option. As you’ve all seen from my pictures, at my thinnest I was small breasted and at my heavier, I was pretty large breasted. I went from a 34B to a 42D and now I’m at a 34D with a ton of excess skin. This is one of the main downers of the week. Figuring out clothes that fit my top half has been difficult to say the least. I have some dresses that no longer fit well in the chest because of this loss. My body has gone through a ton of changes, and I couldn’t be more proud to have come so far in the past two and half years, but this whole journey has been about decisions. Eat healthy or not, go to the gym or sleep in, change it up or do the same thing. I want to feel comfortable in my clothes and out of them. I’m hoping the doctor will agree that I don’t need a huge addition, but something that makes me look full and will allow me to feel proportionate.

I’m excited about the appointment because it means I’m almost done losing weight, but I’m very nervous because surgery is a huge deal.

Some of the positives of this week, however, have been just as powerful. I haven’t weighed myself since the beginning of the week, but I can see changes already since changing my daily carbohydrates and adding two days of HIIT and two days of steady cardio. I added a few pounds and PR’d weighted squats with 95 pounds on Wednesday. I had the best cardio workout Wednesday morning in the dance room and I had the room all to myself. One of the perks of being up and in the gym at 6 am :] My competition suit has shipped and should be here Saturday! My protein powder was on sale and should be here this weekend too!

So for every one thing I get frustrated with, there are bunch of things I have reason to be excited about… Like buying a size 6 dress on my lunch hour :]

Here are some photos from the week to recap. I’m excited for lifting tomorrow on lunch and then an action packed weekend involving everything, but working out.

Transformation Tuesday photo. 2007: Freshmen year of college, 2011: Senior year of college, 2014: August 20th prepping for my competition

 

Size 6. New dress for the fall :]

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Dance room :]

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OMG it’s almost here!

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I take sexy post cardio photos

I hope everyone else enjoys the end of their week and beginning of their weekend!

 

❤ Cristina

Morning timed run

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Since I worked yesterday, my boss is letting me come in late today. However, I feel asleep at 830 last night which resulted in not being able to sleep in this morning. So off to the gym I went! I ran for time this morning. Decreased my speed and increased the incline. I’m down another half pound bringing my loss this summer to 18 pounds and my new weight to a solid 156. I’m 10 weeks out for my show and I’ve recalculated my macronutrients to fit my new BF%. I’ve also changed up my workouts adding 2 days of steady cardio and 2 days of HIIT to my 5 days of lifting. I’m working with two different friends to make sure I’m getting the most out of the next 10 weeks.

I’ve ordered my suit, booking my glamour appointments, and practicing in my heels. I am so damn excited and I can’t wait to take those progress shots right before the show.

I hope everyone else has a great Monday!

❤️ Cristina

My first timed 5K

Today I ran my third 5K, but my first timed race. The first two were considered “fun runs” i.e. Color runs. While I had time those myself with my heart rate monitor and running app for my phone, I never felt the pressure to run a race and hit a specific time. I had goals for myself, but without a huge time clock at the end I didn’t feel this sense of push like I did tonight.

My goal was to run 3.1 in 31 minutes or less. My mile has been averaging 9:30 so I thought this was a pretty solid goal. Well, I ran 3.27 in less than 32 minutes (I’m waiting on my official time to be posted). My first mile was 8:53, and I blame this on lack of resistance as well as wanting to get away from the pack. I love pushing my boundaries and running that hard didn’t hurt, but when I checked my HRM I was sitting at 187 bpm. It happens all the time, but I was like holy crap, I should slow down. Slowing down is an issue for me, when I try to adjust my pace I really screw it up in either direction, too slow or too fast. Head phones in my ears I was waiting for the coaching alarm to say my mile and pace… When her little voice said “1 mile pace 8 minutes and 53 seconds,” I was like no wonder I feel like I’m going so fast; it’s because I am!

During miles 2 and 3 I had asthma attacks. Now, I don’t have an inhaler because only ridiculous things set it off and it was a fun medical condition added from my weight gain. I ran passed a woman with the strongest perfume and while I had been controlling my breathing, one inhale of that and I was gasping for breath trying to my throw up. It was the worst feeling ever. I actually stopped running and put my hands in the air to open my lungs.

After a minute I got back on my merry way.

The second attack happened when I passed a man wearing cologne. I am so proud for choking back my quest bar.

After the coaching voice went off that 3 miles were complete, I took everything in me and pushed as hard as I could to finish. My lungs wanted fresh air and my body wanted to lay down. The best way to finish faster is to go faster. I ran the last stretch with a pace of 8:27. When I was done I laid on the ground and gulped down a bottle of water.

I hadn’t trained for this race like I usually do since I have been working on my lifting and hitting new weight PRs, but I’m pretty pleased with how I did. Now that I know the route I can practice for next year and hopefully get faster. I have another 5K in October. It’s the Color Run, so it’s another fun run, but I’m still very excited about it. My bib collection is coming along nicely. So is my racing shirt collection 🙂

Below are some pictures I took tonight of race things!

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And here’s a little throwback Thursday to my first race!

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I hope everyone else had a great Thursday! I’m gearing up for before work HIIT by heading to bed early!

❤️Cristina

These past few days…

I don’t even know if I have all of the words to describe how the past few days have been, but here are some that I can think of…

Exciting

Frustrating

Hopeful

Happy

That seems like a good list to start.

I joined Team Beachbody last week and before you say anything negative, hear me out. I received a notification on Instagram from a Beachbody coach saying that my pictures showed my dedication to fitness and I was inspiring. Again, these are not typically things I think of, but I guess they may be true. After talking with her, she explained that she was a part of health and fitness group on Facebook and that the point was to inspire each other to keep pushing through individual journey’s of weightloss as well as share experiences, recipes and ask each other questions. I was skeptical at first because you should be, but she said it was free if I wanted to leave the group I could. Ok, I think can handle that.

So I joined the group and instantly fell in love with it. First, it’s called Team Boom, if that doesn’t excited you- I don’t know what will! Second, we were having conversations about eating styles and macro counting, lifting, cardio and so much more. I was commenting a lot and while you can’t help everyone, I wanted to. She reached out to me again and asked if I would ever thing about joining the business side and becoming a coach. I never really thought about it until her asking me, but there are a few upsides to being one: the discount on Beachbody products, connecting and networking with a group of like-minded people and making a few dollars to help pay for competition fees. I figured why not, I could use my fundraising experience to help me out.

It was the best decision I have ever made. I talk to my “coach” Jackie everyday in some way. She answers questions I have an doesn’t get frustrated when I ask too many. The health and fitness group inspires me to push harder and bust my butt. I’m down 11 pounds in 31 days, not too shabby if you ask me, but talking with these people is pushing me to keep going and kick ass over the next 16 weeks.

Beachbody and Team Boom support aside, my workouts have been ok since I’m having some issues with my right knee. I would’ve liked to go harder in cardio today, but I’m seeing my chiropractor tomorrow and I would much rather figure out what’s wrong than injure myself further, but I’m almost positive it’s from cable leg extensions, them tricky bastards. Here are some photos from the past few days that kind of highlight what’s been going on.

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Flex Friday. It’s small, but you can see an outline of my baby bicep :]

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I discovered PB2 and PB2 with chocolate. This is plain Greek yogurt with PB2 chocolate and Bear Naked Protein Granola. So damn good.

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Today’s workout. It was a cardio day and I had started on the arc trainer, but was having some tightness in my knee so I switched to a 9% incline walk at 3.1 mph. This is my “I’m not happy about this, but it’s done” face.

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I reorganized the pantry and realized I have a sad obsession with nut butters. Yep, I do. And sometimes I eat them straight from the container.

 

I’m looking forward to my new chapter with Beachbody and Team Boom. I’m looking forward to my workouts this week and my eating. I have some pretty tasty things cooked up for tomorrow. I hope everyone else had a good week, and has a great Monday… I know, Monday’s aren’t really all that great, but you have to be positive!

 

❤ Cristina

Check-In- 18 weeks out

I haven’t checked in yet, but I’ve got some pretty exciting news. I’m down 7.5 pounds since I started eating cleaner, more often and lifting heavier. A definite NSV, I bought a dress two months ago on sale with weightloss in mind and now it fits, and other things are fitting looser. I’d say this is an accomplishment, especially since I was skeptical about weightlifting two years ago when I started getting my butt in gear and losing weight.

I’m down a half inch in my waist and while that’s not a lot, my shoulders, arms and legs are looking leaner. I can see the tiny muscle I have peeking through since I’m cutting fat.

Surprisingly, keeping my eating schedule hasn’t been hard and I’m only consuming between 1,400 and 1,600 calories a day with 50% being protein, 30% carbohydrates and 20% fat. Thank you MyFitnessPal for tracking my macros! I have never eaten so many leafy greens or consumed so much water in my life, but I’m really enjoying the foods I’m eating. Don’t get me wrong, there was temptation when there were cookies in the office, but why kill my hard work for a junk food? Aside from variety, this has pushed me to eat things I never ate before like seafood. My love of sushi doesn’t count, but now I’m making baked haddock and steaming up shrimp.

I’m still running on cardio days and the hills through the city are getting so much easier. My running compared to last summer has drastically improved and that’s made it so much more enjoyable. Headphones in and I get complete tunnel vision. I also added tabata to my cardio routine today. It’s 20 minutes of ass kicking that keeps your heart rate up and has you moving in quick bursts, not something I’m a huge fan of, but 300 calories burns is appreciated!

I have one rest day (after leg day) during the week, and I’m working out the other 6 days. Days like today where I have the time, I’ve built in two workout sessions at the gym: one during my lunch hour and one at night. Depending on meetings, sometimes I’m up early to knock it out before work at 8 am.

Progress is slow, but it’s progress nonetheless. It’s encouraging to see the weight falling off and even more encouraging talking to friends who are excited for me, who are going through the same process, who are competing in the same show.

I can’t wait to see what happens over the next 18 weeks!

It’s not a huge muscle and that’s not important, the fat is melting off and the definition is coming through!

❤ Cristina

 

Let the countdown begin

This is the post where I state my goals for the next 16 weeks, but I know they will slightly change so here are my goals for right now (bikini competition is 20 weeks out).

  1. Use My Fitness Pal daily to track my carbohydrate, protein and fat ratios
  2. Work out 6 times a week and make it a priority
  3. Use weights more, and get over my fear of the weight room
  4. Take weekly photos to track progress, these will be Monday’s
  5. Weekly weigh-ins to track weight loss, these will be Monday’s
  6. Weekly measurements to track inches lost, these will also be on Monday’s
  7. Lose at least 10 pounds in the first month

So now that my goals are laid out pretty clearly, here’s where I’m starting.

Weight: 174 (according to my doctor last Monday, June 9, 2014)

Bust: 35″

Waist: 31.5″

Hips: 41.5″

I definitely gained back some of the weight I lost post tonsillectomy, but I’ve maintained a size 10, so I’m not complaining- completely. I have 16 weeks to get my butt in gear and become bikini competition ready.


 

I’ve changed my eating schedule to 6 times a day:

Breakfast- 7/8 am (depending on the day)

Snack- 10/11 am

Lunch- 1/2 pm

Dinner- 4/5 pm

Snack- 7/8 pm

Second Dinner- 10/11 pm

 

Here’s an example of what I’m eating. This is from today’s menu.

Breakfast: 2 corn tortillas, 2 eggs, steamed broccoli

Post workout snack: paleo protein shake with almond/coconut milk blend unsweetened

Lunch: Chicken breast with brown rice and basil pesto sauce

Snack: plain Greek Yogurt with Bear Naked granola and honey

Dinner: Gluten Free chicken sausage and Brussels sprouts, no salt added ketchup

Second dinner: Beef plain, small apple, 1 cup of watermelon

88 ounces of water/liquid

 

The ratios I’m trying to hit are 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fat. This breaks down to 256 grams of protein, 256 grams of carbohydrates and 57 grams of fat. My ratios were close with 40% protein, 31% carbohydrates and 29% fat, but I was no where near the grams needed. When I put my goals into My Fitness Pal it calculates what you need, but I know this first week will be the week I get used to eating differently. I’m still eating gluten free and as clean as possible like the paleo diet, but I’m incorporating some grains such as brown rice, quinoa and steel cut oats. Immy suggested rice cakes for low fat snack that can help add carbohydrates to my intake. She also said not to worry too much if my fat ratios are a little higher; especially if the fats are healthy fats from foods like avocado.

This is going to take some getting used to. Here are some pictures from today.

I made Brussels sprouts for the first time. I steamed them and that’s it. I wanted to make sure that I liked the taste and the texture. They remind me of cabbage, kinda. I had them with my chicken sausage, so they had some ketchup on them, which was pretty good.

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6 pieces is a serving

This morning I tried a new class. It’s called Intense Toning and was it ever. There’s no cardio at all, which is great because I wasn’t looking for cardio. The class works all the muscle groups and incorporates body weight, free weights and weighted bars. The instructor was pretty awesome and I will have to take this class again, just not next Saturday… It’s race day :]

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This evening had to work my part-time job  and I was curious about how much we burn by walking around the store, either helping customers, straightening or because there’s nothing to do. In 4 hours and 24 minutes I burned over 700 calories. The average person burned 70-85 calories an hour while watching TV. So I definitely think of this as exercise.

20140614-214623-78383283.jpgLastly, Day 40 of 100 Happy Days: my planner. This thing keeps me organized and I know it’ll be my best friend over the next 16 weeks.

 

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Are you getting ready for the new week? Do you have summer goals?

❤ Cristina