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Finding the balance of physical and mental health through adventures and fitness

Tag Archives: goals

Don’t doubt yourself. Try to not let the doubt of others fill you either. But, are you ready for the things you want to accomplish? I’m not just talking about your health, but in general, everything you want – do you really want to put your words into action or are they just words right now?

I talk about goals a lot because I feel better and more in control when I have a goal in mind – either continuous or deadline driven. I have a mostly Type A personality meaning I like structure, but I’ve also figured out how to go with the flow and be more fluid with my methods and goals. However, not everyone is like this and that’s completely okay.

Whether you realize it or not, as you think about tomorrow, next week, next month and next year you are going through The Stages of Change Model. I first learned about this model in my psychology course last fall, since then, it’s been discussed in five out of nine of my program’s classes.

Some background…

In 1979,  James O. Prochaska developed a transtheoretical model of change in a study that compared 18 different therapy systems and reviewed about 300 therapy outcomes. His model categorized the systems of therapy into five processes of change. “These processes are differentiated along two dimensions.”

1. verbal and behavior categorized the change process according to application – therapy that relies of verbal interaction or behavior manipulation.

examples: feedback and awareness of a problem like smoking, education about a problem like smoking

2. experiential and environmental categorized the change process by the individual’s experience or the individual’s surrounding environment

examples: finding new coping mechanisms instead of smoking, removing triggers like ashtrays and cigarettes

In 1982, Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente worked together using Prochaska’s model to examine self-change and therapy change in smoking behavior. Their study was titled: Self-Change and Therapy Change of Smoking Behavior: A Comparison of Processes of Change in Cessation and Maintenance. It was published in Addictive Behaviors volume 7 that year.

The sample was small, but there was a mix of gender (29 males to 34 females).  Smokers who quit on their own (n=29) were compared with two different groups of smokers: an aversion group (n=18) and a behavioral-management group (n= 16). The sample was random with self-quitting participants recruited through various methods like fliers, advertisements and newspaper – remember, this is 1982. Participants from the two therapy groups were recruited randomly as well through fliers handed out after meetings.

Within seven weeks of quitting all subjects were given a change-process questionnaire verbally with all responses recorded on tape. They also answered a variety of smoking history and demographic questions. They were told they would be interviewed a second time within six months.

From these responses, Prochaska and DiClemente looked six verbal and four behavior process of change, and three stages of change (decision to change, active change and maintenance).

Here’s what they found:

1. Attempts to quit among the three groups were similar, gender didn’t necessarily make a significant difference among the three groups either.

2. The group that did see signification differences (p < .01) were from the behavioral-management group. These participants were older with an average age of 42, the age range varying from 30.4 years to 53.6 years. They smoked for a longer time than the other two groups with a mean of 25 years and a years-as-a-smoker range from 14 years to 36 years. These participants were more invested in quitting this time.

When looking at the different processes of change they found:

1. Individuals who quit on their own rated feedback, stimulus control and social management as less important than the other two groups.

2. All three groups rates self-liberation as quite important, however, the aversion group said it was more important than the other two groups.

3. The behavioral-management group rated counterconditioning as more important than the other two groups.

During the follow up they found:

1. Two-thirds of all subjects remained abstainers.

2. There were no differences in proportion of successes and relapses for all groups. Looking at the variables such as age, education, occupation, years smoking, etc. didn’t have any significance.

When speaking to participants who relapsed:

1. They struggled to find other coping mechanisms to deal with personal problems like consistency with exercises or health-related physical activity.

2. Some said they believed the habit was under control even with the relapse.

3. Some said they missed the habit.

Prochaska and DiClemente conducted new study a few years later where they used a sample of 872 smokers. This study was an extension of the first.

This model of behavior change is taught in all areas of the health field from psychology to sociology to nursing and public health. While I don’t blatantly tell my clients they are going through this model when we have our screening, I assess them with this model.

Many who talk with me are usually past precontemplation and contemplation – they’re ready for action, however, some are still determining the right course of action. It’s not about how bad they want change, it’s about being ready for change and finding the right way to go about making changes to their lifestyle.

There are some cases where a client and I will discuss their goals and I’ll say, I think these are great, but be aware that it’s possible that they may change, that you may realize there are other things that will assist with these goals that may become more important for the time being. This isn’t too discourage them, but to let them know that I’m acknowledging that goals can change and that as their coach, I think it’s okay. An example may be the client who says they want to lose weight, but doesn’t realize that they have a poor relationship with food. The goal eventually will be weight loss, but for the moment it’s about working on building a better relationship with food so it’s not used as a coping mechanism or so that they don’t restrict themselves and feel incapable of adhering to their nutrition goals. We will work on stress management,  meal planning, meal creation and setting micro-goals that work towards a healthy lifestyle that assists weight loss for eventual weight loss over time.

It’s completely okay to not be ready for a goal, it’s also completely okay to change your immediate goals in order to work towards the bigger picture.

When we think about our goals and what we want out of life, what direction we want to take, we also need to look at the driving force behind it. I always ask my clients why their goals are their goals. The responses have ranged from “I want to be able to get on the floor with my kids” to “I want to be stronger”. There are also some who say they want to lose weight because they believe they will be happier or feel better when they have.  I have said to them that size doesn’t equate happiness, but if being a healthier smaller size means that they will be more outgoing and their mental well being will improve – then yes, it’s reasonable to say that you believe you may be happier when you’ve lost weight.

But for all clients, regardless of their reasoning behind their goals, I ask them to dig deeper to make sure that their goals are truly something they want.

Living a healthy lifestyle is more than the time that it takes to lose weight. It’s more than the time it takes to learn to allow freedom and flexibility. It’s about building lasting habits and truly implementing and learning positive behaviors.

Now, that’s not to say that you won’t ever “mess up”, you won’t ever not want to eat off plan,. It’s human to have set backs. It’s human to take a break. It’s crazy to think that every day has to be perfectly lived towards these goals. I don’t believe that’s realistic, but it’s about small behaviors that add up over time that make meaningful change.

I challenge myself often to remind myself why I’m back in school, why I’m coaching, what health means for me in this moment. I want you to think about your why’s, your life, your plan  – are you ready? Do you have the support around you? Do you truly support yourself to make the changes necessary to accomplish whatever it is you want to?

I hope you can see the greatness inside you. There’s nothing more rewarding than the light bulb going off when something finally clicks for a client or they start seeing the greatness I see in them.

I wish for you empowerment in the New Year. I wish for you that you allow yourself time as you start to figure out your next steps. Don’t rush – good things can come slowly, we just need to learn to be patient.

❤ Cristina

 

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Let’s define success.

We define our perfect world all the time, but is that what success actually looks like? Is that what success would feel like? Perfection?

For some, success means working out five days a week and eating on track every day. For others, it means being on time or early to everything they have scheduled. For most, it means never allowing or embracing the moments they fall short. Never allowing something to be misplaced. If a mistake is made they consider starting over and over and over until they just don’t start again.

We confuse success with perfection and we have every right to confuse the two. When we think about our goals, we see them in a perfect world scenario and we don’t want to think anything less. Society also tells us to not dream of anything less. When I speak to potential clients about their goals we talk in a perfect world scenario and as they become clients, I dive deeper. We talk about the perfect world, but I ask them what would make this week successful – is it really about checking everything off the list or is it about the attempts made? Is it about just getting out of bed on Tuesday or acknowledging when something isn’t working for them instead of just assuming they’re the failing piece of the puzzle?

I’ve worked really hard to allow myself to fall short or fail when seeking to accomplish my goals because I don’t believe it’s true failure when I can’t reach out further after exhausting myself. Failure is not  when you have to find a new route or seek a secondary solution. Failure is giving up completely. Failure is say I can’t when in reality there’s nothing stopping you, but yourself. I do think everyone has greatness in them, somewhere. I also think everyone’s greatness is different and is defined by some limitations whether physical or mental or pure lack of interest, but there’s something inside brewing. Remember greatness and limitless are two different things.

Most people I’ve talked to don’t talk about failure in this way, just like they don’t redefine success weekly or reevaluate their goals midweek when it seems a wrench has been thrown in. Many I’ve spoken with believe if they can’t accomplish the immediate task before them then they have failed. But the way I see it, they just didn’t find the right solution for them.

I define success by defining failure. I’m starting to define both by defining my fears.

I’ve been listening to a lot of TedTalks and podcasts from leadership to investigative journalism. It really depends on my mood. The TedTalks are more towards leadership and thought process. I want to watch a video and see the person’s body language; how they engage with an audience and the gestures they provide to the language they speak. Podcasts are more for running errands and hanging out around the apartment. Something to listen to casually, but not have to be glued to my television.

A recent TedTalk I watched was from Tim Ferriss called Why you should define your fears instead of your goals. We goal set to develop strategy to work towards growth, but rarely do we talk about our fears and how to overcome them in order to achieve new things, work towards the eventual goals that are being prevented from being a thought to begin with.

Ferriss shows the audience a model to evaluating and understanding your fears. After listening and then rereading the transcript it made sense. You need to start by listing your fears, so here are two of mine that I’ve been working on recently

  1. School – not being smart enough for the sciences in my program
  2. Utilizing medication over holistic approaches – the past few months have left me with chronic stress and hormonal imbalances related to anxiety

After listing them, you need to think about them long and hard, then define them. Ferriss says “you’re writing down all of the worst things you can imagine happening if you take that step”. He suggests that you should have 10 to 20 bullet points.

So let’s look at my first. School.

  1. I could fail a class
  2. If I fail a class, I would have to retake a class
  3. I would have to spend more time study than desired
  4. I’ll waste money if I’m not able to do well
  5. What if it takes longer than I have planned?
  6. What if I don’t fit in with my other classmates because of my background and previous education?
  7. What if an interest isn’t enough?
  8. What if others don’t understand why my degree is important to me?

Ok so, there’s 8, but you start to get the point.

I decided to go back to school because I don’t believe that just a certification gives someone the full understanding to help people with whatever the certification is. I think you need personal experience and a little more textbook knowledge. I have personal experience with my own health and fitness journey. I’ve tried a number of different approaches to nutrition and fitness. In my professional career, I did goal setting, strategy development and implementation in a fundraising setting, but those skills are transferable. The only thing I felt I was lacking was a formal education. I choose public health because it was well rounded from looking at the physical implications of health to psychological and social implications.

Before going back to school I contemplated the list above, but I never wrote it out. I thought about it alone, in my head. I talked it out with friends. JP and I had a number of conversations. I still talk about this list with friends even though I’m going through courses and I’m doing well because part of me is waiting for something to happen. I don’t really know what, but that’s where self doubt comes into play.

The next step is to “prevent”. Ferriss asks the audience to consider what you can do to prevent anything on the list from occurring or if not prevent, what could you do to minimize the probability.

So, school. To prevent failing I can make sure I’m studying and asking questions when I don’t understand the material. To prevent over studying and making myself feel wiped out I can look at my study habits and determine what is the best method to learn the information at hand. Every course may take a different strategy and in some cases, I might not be able to prevent over studying. I can re-evalaute my timeline periodically and check in with the academic support team to make sure that I’m on track for the timeline I have planned. Somethings are just out of my control because I can tell you now that most people ask me why I went back to school and don’t understand why I wouldn’t be satisfied with just the certification to be a personal trainer.

I want to make sure that I have a better understanding than what’s provided through the organizations that offer these certifications. There’s nothing wrong with them, but I also know that I don’t want to just provide someone with a workout plan. I want them to understand why they are executing it and I want to be able to dig a little deeper if we find that some methods don’t work. I want to find a solution for the individual, and I believe that having a more formal education will help give me a baseline to do that.

The fourth step in fear-setting, as Ferriss calls it, is to list out what you can do to “repair” if any of these do come fruition. If school takes a little longer then I just need to redetermine my timeline and understand that another degree is a lot, but worth it anyway. If I fail or do poorly in a class, I can retake it and yes, that would suck spending more money, but my prevention plan should’ve been better and this would be an opportunity to reevaluate…again.

After these steps, he asks the audience to consider the benefits of attempting to act upon these fears. He lists things like confidence, emotional growth, financial growth, etc.

Going back to school pushed me out of my comfort zone. Taking these courses is making me think in a new way and relearning how to learn material and study. The first section of anatomy and physiology started to connect the dots of the interdependence our organ systems have on each other. It reinforced what I knew about mental health and the mind – total body connection. It reinforced what I knew to be true about my own mental health and how hormone function greatly impacts more things than we ever consider. My courses on public health have pushed me to think about all parties involved and how the actions of one person have an immediate impact on their own life and the direct connections they have, but also the indirect connections they have on the world around them and visa versa. So even if I don’t get an A in every class, even though I want to strive for perfection in this case, I know that I’m still learning and challenging myself.  

Next, think about the cost of inaction. If you don’t do anything to chip away at these fears.

Honestly, if I hadn’t planned to go back to school, I wouldn’t be coaching right now. I wouldn’t be considering adding personal training to my resume and I wouldn’t be willing to connect with people in this way to support their journeys – whatever those may be.

I also wouldn’t have ever known if I can learn this way, understand this information and be able to assist people outside of sharing my journey. If I didn’t decide to go back to school and then act on that idea, I wouldn’t have been able to change career paths. Whether I go back to fundraising in a different area of the nonprofit sector or not, I’m no longer stuck on a path that was unfulfilling and causing me stress and anxiety. While there are new challenges, these challenges are less than those before.

So. moving on. Let’s think about our goals. Let’s define success and failure and be realistic with ourselves, but let’s also think about how our fears developed and what we can do to change them. We doubt ourselves a lot and when those around us place doubt on us, we continue to prevent ourselves from seeking our full potential.

Can you imagine what we could accomplish without doubt and fear?


I know I’m not alone in feeling that some days I’m just keeping my head above water. I’ve said it before, and I’m gonna say it now too, every day is what you make of it. If you have an outlook that it’s going to be a good day the chances are a lot higher that that’s going to be true. The same goes for negative thoughts going into a new day as well. I make lists to keep me organized and to give me some sense of control. I’m the kind of person that needs to see things being checked off as they happen. I’m not unique in this way, they call those people Type A.

I keep a handwritten calendar and a digital calendar just so I always have a place to write things down at all times. My handwritten calendar is at home and sits on my desk or in bed with me while I do homework or client check-ins. I keep a notebook on me at all times so I can jot down ideas as they come and go, mostly for stress relief, but sometimes just to write something that I’m thinking about. I blog because writing helps get everything out of my head and onto a screen so that I can reread it and make sure that I’m able to make some sense of it.

But through my lists, calendars and words sometimes it’s seems like I’m just going through the motions. Sometimes I feel like there’s a current pushing against me and pulling me down. And sometimes it’s in my head. I tell my clients it’s about stepping back and saying “no one is making you do all of these things. These are things that you want for yourself, for the long term, to better your opportunities.” And sometimes I remind them that it’s it’s OK to sink to the bottom and look around before bobbing right back up to the top.

Today I’m reminding myself of this. I just need to make sure that I get a big gulp of air just in case I sink down again.
Two weeks ago I was given my work schedule and I was booked for full-time hours. I wasn’t hired to be full-time, that’s not part of the plan. I’m going to school full-time and I’m coaching at what I consider to be a full-time caseload.  Working a retail job full-time was never part of the plan. I pointed this out to my manager and he told me that he felt bad because he knew I wasn’t making a lot. I told him I never approached him about getting more hours so he should’ve never assumed that this would’ve been OK – he needs to ask me before adding this many hours to my plate. I told him that I would try to handle it because I didn’t want to put him in a position since the schedule was already made, but the sinking feeling has been happening on and off. For those who don’t work retail – part-time is about 20 to 30 hours, but I was supposed to be scheduled for about 25-27; full-time is 30 to 40. The past two weeks I’ve been booked for 36ish hours, not including breaks.

I’ve got a lot going on, I like it that way, but after being on leave for so long it’s an adjustment being this busy again. I’ve been steadily chipping away at my lists and making sure I can check things off, but as each day passes and to-dos are completed, more are added to the list. Because I recognize that I was going to become overwhelmed, I decided to not take on 12 clients this month. I had a few clients tell me that they wanted to take charge and go on their own, something that I definitely encourage. It’s an opportunity for them to take with they’ve learned and apply it on their own terms, but there’s also allowed me to downsize slightly. For me this meant instead of 12 I took on eight individuals. That’s a manageable number, some of them are reoccurring and some of them are new, which means they’re on different check-in schedules.

Today started as an amazing day and I’m going to try to finish it that way, but right now as I’m writing this I’m frustrated. I’m stalled in one of my papers, and struggling to get the words out. The other paper I have no issue with and the outline itself is about the length of the paper supposed to be. But – I have a few chapters of reading I need to get done too and discussions. Just because there’s a paper to write doesn’t mean that the rest of the work is paused.

I was supposed to have therapy today, but since we went to an every other week schedule, he took me out completely. I need to send him an email to reschedule, but I also need to look at my calendar and see when I have time. Sadly I fear that I won’t have time for at least two weeks because of class and my outside-of-the-house job. I had some things I wanted to talk to him about – classes and work, personal things like prep and JP. I talk to JP and I talk to friends, but being in therapy is different.

I just wanted the break from everything. I love the gym because it gives me a place to release energy, but that doesn’t mean I have the chance to get thoughts out of my head – that’s what therapy and writing are for.

Right now, I don’t want to go to work because when I finish posting this I’m going to be highlighting through journal articles for my paper, which has had to evolve into something more broad due to lack of accessible research. I can think of all the other things I need and want to get done. I’m working on dividing my list: things that NEED to get done and things I WANT to get done. Ultimately, I WANT to get the dishes cleaned and out of the sink, but that can wait until tomorrow. I’m sure some of you could argue that I didn’t NEED to go to the gym, but ultimately – I did, that’s part of the plan. I did cut off two exercises for timing and went as hard as I could with what was on the agenda.

So the plan for the rest of the day is to at least pretend to breathe, make a cup of tea, knock out at least another paragraph of my paper, set a timer to work on client work and head off to work for the night. I’m bringing a text book to work tonight to read at least a chapter and check that off the list.

I have two more shifts this week and I have Friday off from my out-of-the-house job, which will give me time for writing my papers and client work. If I can just make it through this week, I will be gold.

On a positive note, even with this frustration I don’t feel anywhere near as stressed as I did months ago. That’s still something.

❤ Cristina


You Are Enough.

That’s what this series has been called. It started with feeling in between. Feeling that I was in between going through the motions and picking myself up off the ground.

Dragging myself out of bed and crying on the kitchen floor.

blacking out. flashing back. struggling to be present. be mindful.

In the past seven and half weeks I’ve watched a lot of Disney, colored a lot of mermaids, eaten a lot of cookies, drank or drunk…hmm… consumed a lot of almond milk lattes. Tried a few burgers, walked around a lot, lifted more than I ever thought I could and working towards enough.

It’s more than just saying you are enough. I mean of course you are. But enough of or for what? If we eliminate the external validation, which partially caused the start of this mess, then you only need to be enough for you. But where is your bar? How high did you set it? Why is there so much prove to just yourself? When did the bar get that high?

I’ve been working on leveling the playing field. Bringing my own bar just a tad bit lower and working on building up to reach it without standing on my tip-toes. Does this mean I’m not capable? Did I say that is the better question? No, I’m capable, but when you set yourself up for failure it doesn’t matter if your WonderWoman, you’re going to burn out.

The expectations I set for myself professionally and personally were higher than the ones that others placed upon me. I know I can do great things when challenged and the bar before was too low. I was able to jump over it and that wasn’t the game I wanted to play. But it was more than the bar not being where I believed it belonged. It was the external forces that kept pushing the bar up and down and not allowing me to keep it steady.

The build up that became the trigger. I know, we’ll get to that later, maybe no today, but later. I promise.

The past few weeks I have found structure again through implementing PH3 from Layne Norton that bodybuild.com offers. I’ve modified a few things such as eliminating blood flow restricted sets because I would rather take them out than do them wrong. Even with the elimination of some of these sets, I have added volume to my total and I can feel and see change occurring. Structure makes me feel secure and looking back to September I was losing that security. It’s not that I lost the drive or motivation, inside I still had it, but when mental illness is another factor it doesn’t necessarily matter how much drive and motivation you have. Sometimes your knocked on the shower floor struggling to wash your hair. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I’m not ashamed to say that there were days that getting out of bed was the first step and getting the shower was a win, but getting out of the shower was triumphant.

Incorporating this lifting program took the task out my hands and provided me with something to follow while I focused energy on other things. It’s something I found challenging, something I found interesting. I can’t wait to get back to designing my own programming, but for the past 7ish weeks utilizing this program allowed me to take a slight backseat while I took the reigns on my nutrition and mental well-being.

I’ve figure out the appropriate ratios of macro-nutrients to maintain and sustain myself. It took a lot of playing, but I’ve figure out where my body likes to be and what that means for living life as well as what that means for when I do jump back into the pool and prepare to compete again. Understanding your body’s chemistry is powerful. This is something I’ve been working on with some of my clients – how are you feeling during the day, how are you feeling after eating specific foods, are you hitting your macros or nutritional goals? Health is more than the scale and in some cases more than measurements. It’s a feeling. It’s being able to step back and say “I feel good overall”. Acknowledging that the decisions you make can have an impact on your whole body like joint pain or bloating or fatigue.  As important as being a “healthy”body fat percentage is, these things I believe are just as important. If you can feel good, that’s half the battle.

As I’ve figured out my nutritional goals for this phase of my journey, I’ve been able to take more control of my feelings and look at myself most mornings and say “I like what I see, I like how I look just living life and lifting all the things.” No, I’m not in a bulking phase – I’m not 100% comfortable with that kind of eating and gaining right now. I’m in a slightly higher maintenance, but since I’ve minimized cardio, the total of calories in and calories out is pushing me into a very slight caloric surplus most days. Also, #cupcakes. I want to try all the cookies and cupcakes.

I’ve found purpose again. I’ve said this a bunch of times before. I never thought I would want to coach. I never thought I would be good at it. But, as more people have asked for help, I’ve reflected on what I’m capable of helping with. I know some people don’t understand health or life or goal coaching and that’s fine, but it helps people people realize their potential. This kind of coaching helps them create a plan or strategy for the week, breaking it down to be manageable – taking their whole life into consideration, not just the goals.

That’s what makes someone successful right? Checking off the tasks on the to list, no matter how small. No matter if the goal is to monitor body feelings or go to the gym three times this week where it fits, checking those tasks off makes you feel like you’re building onto something to reach something bigger.

I’ve been baking and writing and figuring out if I can truly eat enough cookies in the week while maintaining my measurements #thelimitdoesnotexist

More importantly, I think this series is coming to a close. I’ve been enough this whole time, I knew it in my heart – somewhere, but it was something I needed to determine for myself. Because my head and heart don’t always talk to each other. It was something I needed to measure in white chocolate cranberry cookies and almond milk lattes. I need to connect the lines and color in the mermaids to make the ocean look less intimidating. I needed to see if I could pick up the heavier bar and move it around without a lot of support to guide me.

I am enough every day. Even when I don’t believe it. Even when those around me don’t make me feel it.

So, please don’t stop dreaming. Please don’t stop reaching.Please don’t ever think you can’t. Please don’t ever think you aren’t worthy. You are all that and more. You are more than enough.

❤ Cristina

 


Is when everything you’ve accomplished doesn’t feel like work. There are some weekends when I have my game plan written down and I sigh at it because running errands and laundry just aren’t appealing. Not that laundry magically became fun this weekend, but for the first time in a long time I enjoyed my weekend.

It started Friday at the Big E. Living in Massachusetts there is no state fair, instead there is a large regional fair instead. I don’t go to these usually because you spend an absurd amount of money of bad games, greasy food and you end up with a stomach ache. However, there was a free concert that I couldn’t pass up – Brett Eldredge.

I made a plan for myself and I stuck to it. My plan was to eat well during the day and have a treat at the fair. As we all know, fairs are notorious for having the most ridiculous foods like a burger between two donuts. Who comes up with this stuff? After walking around, I decided nothing was actually that appealing to me. I was slightly disappointed, but I also know what will happen to my stomach if I try to consume foreign foods. My compromise was a gyro loaded with onions, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce.

It was probably one of the best gyros I had ever had, including at a restaurant.

After settling at the concert venue, I took a round of selfies and played on my phone until the show started. This side by side was a result of my selfies.

This also reminded my why I learned to compromise at places like the fair. I still had something tasty, but I didn’t go nuts and over do it. I have told my friends many times that my one fear is going back to where I was. But I know that with the knowledge and willingness I have I probably wont. I managed to get in 8K steps on my fitbit just from 3 hours of walking around at the fair and back to my car; I don’t think I would’ve done that much a few years ago if I didn’t need to.

After the drive home and crashing in bed, Saturday was bright and early and my booty was in the gym. Happy cardio Saturday? 98 floors of the stairmaster to start my day because #growabooty.

Following my cardio, I took my booty home for some sweet potato pancakes (recipe up shortly) and a trip to the farmer’s market.

It’s about a mile away from my apartment and it’s some pretty awesome local business there.

Some jumbo zucchini!

The prices aren’t half bad either. With the items I bought at the market I made my version of ratatouille served with a side of focaccia bread topped with sundried tomatoes and mozzarella and 4 ounces of chicken. Seriously, date night with myself is pretty damn awesome.


I sweat I did more than workout and eat. I also did the laundry and cleaned up my apartment. I watched 4 movies while cleaning. I haven’t watched a movie in the living room, during the day in forever. I managed to get in almost 13K steps too. Not too bad for a Saturday of adulting.

I was riding the struggle bus a little this morning – at first, but only because I actually slept in. By sleeping in I mean I work up around 8. I know that’s not sleeping in for most, but it was kind of nice to just be in bed for a time later than 6 am.

It’s week 8 of Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide. I’m still going strong, but today I modified the circuits for arms and abs because of the space I had at the gym. I had no issue in the free weight area or getting on a machine, but dropping to plank wasn’t ideal this morning with the number of us in the gym. I did get a solid workout in by incorporating some of her exercises with dumbbell, barbell, rope and cable workouts I like to do. I ended the session with three 5-minute sets on the stairmaster. I guess that’s my favorite cardio machine lately.

A week and a half before starting BBG again vs. half way through week 7.

I follow up the afternoon with another trip to the Crompton Collective and lunch Birchtree Bread Company with my friend Eva. It’s about a mile away from my apartment so I took advantage of the gorgeous day and walked. Music in my ear and fitbit on my hip. For once I had nothing to do today, so I got to enjoy downtown and not rush through lunch. And of course we saw the best things and we wanted to buy them all.

Two mugs I actually bought :]

I did end the day with some meal prep and chili cooking in the crockpot, but for once I didn’t feel like if I didn’t prep I would fail during the week. I did a lot this weekend, but I didn’t feel a time crunch like I normally do. I mean I’m actually sitting on my couch writing this on my laptop, not in bed from my phone – which is where most of my blogging happens. I’m glad this weekend felt relaxing because this week will probably not feel like that. With 2 visits and 3 receptions/events with meals on the calendar I may slightly loose my head.

My meal planning is going to need to be on point and my gym schedule will be sporadic, but it’s going to happen. I will get my booty in the gym and I will get my fitness on. I guess I’ll just have to look forward to Saturday night when my work week is done.

Time to set my coffee pot and get ready for bed. Tomorrow is an early to rise kind of morning for a gym session and then off to Boston for work. I hope everyone else had a good weekend and enjoyed Sunday Funday. Let’s crush this week.

❤ Cristina


My whole journey has been a string of figuring out what works for me at a specific time. Once I’ve figured it I stick to the plan as much as possible until it doesn’t work anymore and then I figure out what is going to work from there. The past month like I mentioned last time had been a pretty crazy roller coaster and I finally feel like I have a handle on things. This past week was great as far as food and workouts and I now have a plan going forward.

I had tried the Bikini Body Guide in April and had pretty great results, but I had gotten bored around week 10 because I missed heavy lifting. I had wanted to stick to the guide so much that I wasn’t doing much of my own workouts outside of the guides. That drove me crazy.

I decide to restart BBG because I’m not happy with the little donut that is around my lower waist. I have a few pieces of clothing that aren’t as comfortable as they were before and I know that I can’t just stay stagnant and hope that shit changes itself. You want change, you have to change. Well the past week I got a handle on my meals and yesterday I re-started BBG 1.0 with Legs and Cardio, my right glute is especially feeling it today. I also wrote out my meal plan for the week. There’s a woman I follow on IG, her handle is @leanneislosingit, and I’m taking a play from her book. She has pretty much the same menu every day. I’ve decided to do this for Monday through Thursday because if I know my macros are perfect, why mess with them. I will have a little more fun with my macros on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Monday

Breakfast

  • Kodiak Power Cakes + egg white in the mix
  • 1 whole egg + egg white on the side

Lunch

  • 1/4 brown rice
  • 6 ounces chicken breast
  • 85g broccoli
  • Wholly guacamole

Dinner

  • Healthy multigrain sandwich thin
  • Turkey burger
  • 1 slice of pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2T sriracha mayo
  • 85g brussels sprouts + 100g asparagus

Snacks

  • apple + 2T peanut butter
  • light and fit strawberry Greek yogurt
  • Whey protein shake
  • 15g caramel rice crisps

 

Tuesday – Thursday

Breakfast

  • 2 egg whites + 1 whole egg
  • Joseph’s pita + 2T fat free cream cheese + fresh salsa
  • 100g sweet potatoes

Lunch

  • 1/4 brown rice
  • 6 ounces chicken breast
  • 85g broccoli
  • Wholly guacamole

Dinner

  • Healthy multigrain sandwich thin
  • Turkey burger
  • 1 slice of pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2T sriracha mayo
  • 85g brussels sprouts + 100g asparagus

Snacks

  • apple + 2T peanut butter
  • light and fit strawberry Greek yogurt
  • Whey protein shake
  • 15g caramel rice crisps

After two weeks of driving to work with a real commute, I now have a good idea of what the evening drive looks like so I have a plan for my workout schedule.

Saturday is my day 1, or the equivalent of Monday’s on the guides, which means Friday is my rest day. This is pretty much perfect because evening traffic on a Friday in Massachusetts is about as much fun as having drinks in Hell. For the first six weeks of the guides I will be able to still fit in Zumba on Monday nights because Monday workouts are the equivalent to Wednesday’s Arms and Ab days, so my legs will be ready to go for some shimmy and shaking. Wednesday is equivalent to Friday’s total body workout and this is where I figured out I can add 3 sets of heavy squats and 3 sets of deadlifts. I may be a little extra sore on Thursday’s, but I can stretch it out during cardio. If I feel that I want to get more arm work done as well I can add some arm work on Sunday’s before cardio, since it’s after legs. I prefer to rotate the muscle groups I work and that’s why I was so nervous to add anything last time because when I did, I was crawling to the bathroom for a few days… No bueno.

 

First 6 Weeks

Saturday – legs and cardio

Sunday – cardio

Monday – arms and abs, Zumba class at night

Tuesday – cardio

Wednesday – full body, added squats and deadlifts

Thursday – cardio

Friday – rest day

As far cardio, the guides suggest light cardio especially for those who aren’t used to working out, but I prefer HIIT or interval running and sprints. I will probably add a lot more miles on my shoes this time around, but I know low intensity isn’t always a bad things either.

So here’s my comparison photos. The left is when I started BBG the first time, the middle is when I finished and the right is Day 1 – yesterday.


I’m basically back to where I was in April and it’s only a few pound difference from June, but I gain my weight in my middle. My goal is to get rid of the donut around my lower waist. It’s also to balance lifting and these guides. As my body gets adjusted to the soreness of the circuits again, I can better determine where else I can add in lifting. I don’t want to lose strength like I did last time, it was devastating to have to build back up to where I was and even now I don’t feel as confident that I’ve built back completely.

A last addition to my overall health is to set outside of fitness goals like giving myself time to read or going to the museum. Since I have one job now, I have a lot of time and because I’m getting my workouts in during the day on my lunch hour I have even more time at night. I’m hoping these goals will help keep me occupied and on track because I eat when I’m bored, let’s be honest a lot of us do.

August goals:

  1. better balance of lifting and BBG workouts
  2. hit macros every day
  3. discover a new hiking trail
  4. visit a new art museum
  5. consume at least 4 fruits and veggies a day
  6. blog moreeffectively

What are your goals for August? 

❤ Cristina


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’m going to start out by saying that when I started bikini prep in June, I was optimistic, but terrified. I am driven by deadlines and goals; I thrive on a challenge. However, I was worried that I was my goals were hefty. I originally wanted to get down to 135 for this competition. I started at 174 pounds and have lost 19.5 in 13 weeks. At 154.5 pounds I am wearing a 6/8 depending on the article of clothing and a small or medium top, again depending on what it is. I have clothes from my freshmen year of college that fit better now and I weight around 30 pounds heavier. I never realized how much lean muscle mass I actually have or had the potential to build. With that being said I re-evaluated my goals and decided 145 pounds for this show would be considered success. I have 9.5 more pounds to go until I reach this goal and 8 weeks until the competition. I believe I can do it, 8 weeks is a ton of time.

In the first 85 days of competition prep this is what I accomplished:

  • 19.5 pounds loss
  • 3.5″ loss in waist
  • Down 1-2 dress sizes depending on article of clothing
  • Gained knowledge about nutrition and food as fuel
  • Learned even better time management
  • Built relationships and developed connections with other gym lovers
  • Gained confidence in and out of the gym
  • Increased strength

There are so many other things I have gained from lifting that are not physical. I smile way more often than I used to and I have learned to love myself through my ups and downs. While I have been working on self love for a while, lifting has really pushed me to understand myself better. This summer has been amazing and it’s sad that it’s over, but this fall is going to be equally awesome.

So my question for all of you is, if you had time or if you learned to make time, what could you or would you do with it? I never would have thought that in 85 days I would lose almost 20 pounds and be on my way to my first bikini competition.

Below are some new photos of my progress. Bring on the next 8 weeks!

 

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September 5, 2014. 154.5 pounds. Size 6/8 pant.

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20140906-171008-61808182.jpg❤ Cristina


I’ve thought about what to write for the last few days and I think I know what I want to say. I’m not scared to fail, but I’m scared of not trying and therefore not knowing if I could’ve succeeded or failed.

I have failed a lot in my life, in many different parts of my life. You can learn from failure and not repeat the same mistakes, if you’re smart. By not trying, you are ultimately telling yourself that you aren’t good enough to succeed. You aren’t worth working on and your goals are worth pushing harder for. Maybe this extreme, but I see giving up and not trying as worse than failure because failing means you at least took the steps to accomplish something.

I’m down another half pound and while some might brush that off as nothing, I’m looking at it as a success. I’m now 156.5, which is 17.5 pounds lighter than I was at 21 weeks out. I’m almost a size 6 and I was a 10 when I started. Mentally, I’m still up in the air when I receive unsolicited opinions about my body, my food and my workouts, but I feel for the first time I’m doing something because I want to. Of course my weightloss journey has been about me, but this competition is about going out of my comfort zone, trying new things, trusting a process I’m continuously learning about and lifting heavy things and putting them down.

I was never been someone who would get excited about dead lifting or lifting until failure, but it’s something I thrive on. I love setting a goal, crushing it and setting a new one; while losing fat and gaining some tiny bits of muscle. I am surprising myself all the time with what I have and can accomplish. Having the ability to fail doesn’t mean I necessarily want to fail, but to me it means that I understand I have a lot to learn and that I will learn from my mistakes and failures.

Tonight’s workout is a great example of failure and success.

After meeting this fantastic women named Laurie a few weeks ago, and working out with her this past Friday I learned about drop sets. Tonight’s sets were back and arms. I think this was a perfect wake up for me and my lifting partner because we could feel what it was like to low row higher than our usual weight as well as bring the weight down to where we were when we first started in July. It was easy to laugh at how light the weight lower weights that we mocked used are. For example, we did dumb bell shoulder presses; I used 20, 15 then 10 pounds. I was always the girl in the back of the weight class using 5 pounds, I now use 15 pounds for many dumb bell workouts. I was shocked at how light the 10 pound dumb bells were. We also started using the squat rack, which has made it easier to increase weight and not fear potential injury. While these are clearly successes, low row kicked my butt when I prepped the first set for 70 pounds and I’m sure I’ll feel it in the morning!

Just knowing how far I’ve come in the past 10 weeks makes me hopeful, excited and curious about the next 11 leading up to the show.

I’m not going for perfect, I’m going for the best version I can present at the time. I can always do another show. I can always do more training post the show. But before I get ahead of myself, I’m going to work as hard as I can to make this version awesome.

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This is from yesterday before I weighed in this morning!

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This morning HIIT cardio and weigh in 🙂

I hope everyone else had a great Tuesday!

❤️ Cristina