In 2016, I asked my friend Alicia to write about what it was like to be a college kid trying to be fit, and trying to figure out what health meant for her. She wrote three posts.
Her first post in her own series talked about her past and how she got to where she was. She discussed her own eating disorder, but that she didn’t even recognize the behavior as a problem. She mentions that even though she had been diagnosed, recovery had been brushed off by professionals and it was left up to her and her parents to determine the next steps without guidance.
Her second post talked about preparing for her junior year. Getting ready for the semester and how she was planning for it. She made some suggestions for others based on what worked for her.
In her third post, Alicia talked about mental health and school work and the transition of her boyfriend moving out of the state to head to graduate school while she was still in her undergraduate career. She talked about how even though she planned for the semester, she still found herself making new plans.
She says she’s not a great writer, but when we talk all I can think of is how her perspective is important, even when the conversation is all over the place. During a recent conversation I asked her to think about writing again. She’s a senior now and almost done with school. In the past year, the meaning of health has changed for her. Her thoughts about her career after school have changed. The way she talks about herself has changed.
Below is her fourth post.
I’m a busy person.
I am one of those people who cannot sit still, I have to keep myself busy, whether it is homework, lifting, cooking or working. I grew up in a family of workers. My mom works two jobs and my dad owns a business and works three part-time jobs. I currently work three jobs and am a full-time undergraduate student. As you can see, I often barely have time to breathe. My mindset typically as a student is to do homework, go to work, get a workout in and strive to do the best that I can do.
When it comes time for a break from school, it is hard for me to deal with it. I do pick up more hours at my jobs, but I often come home and feel like I’m not being productive because I don’t have school work to do.
With having a month off of school for winter break, I found myself actually bored (I was shocked myself). Realizing that I had so much time to do whatever I wanted was honestly very hard for me to grasp. I am a planner. I like to plan my days because it helps me not to feel rushed throughout the day especially if it is busy. When I looked at my days and saw that I only had to work a 5 hour shift and nothing else, it was shocking. I never have time to myself, I don’t give myself even 10 minutes sometimes to sit down and reflect on the day, even though that is something that I like to do.
Shifting my mindset to not being busy is often very hard for me. I don’t go out much, I am very introverted, and that is one of the reasons that I work and stay busy with school work. While I was on my winter break I would stay home typically with my dog #DogMomLife. I was able to give myself time to go to the gym because I had more than an hour. I didn’t have to worry about having to rush through a workout.
I had a week to myself where I worked a very little amount of hours and got to spend time with my boyfriend who was in from Connecticut. For once, we got to enjoy time together and again, not feel rushed. There were days we got to spend the whole day together, not everyday because my work schedule, but it was still more than we’re used to.
Classes have just started and the realization that this is my last semester of my undergraduate career has finally set in and I’m having to shift my mindset again.
My mindset goes back to school comes first. I have to get back to being busy, to planning my days out in my planner, and trying not to be overwhelmed. However, this semester – by planning my days out, I’ll make sure that I have at least a half hour to myself where I can go to the gym or just meditate.
Having a different mindset is not a bad thing, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Changing mindset to fit your current life can spark your motivation, push you forward and help you reassess the direction you want to take.
It’s been about a month since I’ve written on here, but let’s be honest, that was a recipe – that’s not real writing.
I’ve said it before on Facebook more recently, but here as well – I write when I feel compelled. I write when I feel it’s the most beneficial to me. I feel like this is something I always write when I’m coming back after a hiatus of not writing as well. But sometimes I need the reminder of why I blog or why I don’t, and I think you do to.
This year has been all over the place. I think it started with adventure and a new high. A new direction, a path that I was excited to take and discover. I felt that I was going to learn more about myself and the biological world that I had barely scratched the surface of. I’m sure some of you sat there and thought, well damn her life’s a mess – I’m pretty sure I said that a few times from my living room floor.
Academically, I have pushed myself well out of my comfort zone. This pursuit started so I could better meet my clients needs. I had been asked many times to help with weightloss and meal planning, I had been asked to coach people to help them create a healthier lifestyle, but people were asking based on my experience alone. For me, that’s not enough. I don’t think you can just have an education, and I don’t think you can just have experience. You need to blend the two and be open minded to learn more and learn often.
I’ve taken some classes that are straightforward like anatomy and physiology, and I’ve taken some that are more fluid like nutrition and sociology.
With finals I started to feel slightly burnt out, but that’s normal after writing thousands of words, reading through dozens of studies, studying for hundreds of hours and filling up multiple notebooks. It doesn’t matter if you take one course or five courses – it’s brain power. Along with my classmates, I had been saying I was ready for this semester to be over, but I’m also so excited and ready for next semester.
My courses: medical microbiology, chemistry and epidemiology. Eleven credit hours. All in person. All night classes. There are going to be some long days because I still work three days a week in a doctor’s office. I will also be starting an internship.
I start an internship for my program that should last for at least half the year. It’ll total roughly 300 hours at least. it combines my love of health and education along with serving specific populations – in this case, children. I think if we start the conversation while their young and the parents are involved, then positive habits can be created and in a fun way that doesn’t make them seem so tedious and boring.
On the more personal end of things- yoga, lifting and running have helped me get back to feeling like I did before with my activity. I’m feeling good about the ratio of ass sitting to mobility. I’m physically feeling more comfortable in my skin and have been working on getting my strength back up. I know the upcoming semester will be a little more unique as far as scheduling because I will have some long days shifting from work to internship to class to coaching, but that’s part of goal development. At different times, some routines make sense and others don’t. I’ve gotten better at not fighting it, and going more with the flow.
Since October 1st, I’ve run 76.62 miles. Nothing ground breaking, but a lot more than I had been running earlier this year because it wasn’t necessary to my training and I didn’t feel it in my heart to do so.
Eating has been normal. Indulging in a lot of cocoa and some treats that are only available at this time of the year. However, I’m creating a balance. I’m making the decision to indulge versus mindlessly doing so or feeling guilty about it. Stress hasn’t felt out of control, aside from the standard academic stress – I’ve been meditating a little less than I was before, but I also don’t think that’s a bad thing. My meditations have also changed, which wasn’t something I was expecting.
It’s been three months since I’ve been off birth control and hormonally, I’ve noticed a lot of change. My anxiety is different, reactions to similar situations are a little different – I feel less wiped out and that has been the biggest change.
Sitting down writing this out is weird because in my head I think I want to share what my next steps are, but then part of me goes who cares? That’s the honest truth. I’ve always had both thoughts in my head, but the one always overpowered the other. I think about what is different, and I think I finally realized the answer.
I want to help people and that’s not a bad thing, but it also means that I forgot I can help someone indirectly by sharing my perspective.
On Facebook, I’ve started to share more about my interest in public health, my investment in organizations on campus, what I’m writing and talking about in class, but I’m going to start doing that here too. Writing has never been something I felt like I had to do, it wasn’t something that was an outlet for me. After talking with friends and doing a few too many videos on Facebook, I’ve been missing it.
My goal is to be more active in writing because I do enjoy it, but I need to protect it so that it doesn’t feel like an emotional burden. Some part of me also believes that there are people who click on my posts to actually read them, not just skim them to see if I’ve fallen on my face. So there’s that – the indirect way to help someone else.
I’m not putting a schedule out there for writing, but my promise to myself is that I’m going to sit down more often. I have a few recipes in my drafts folder I’ve been meaning to finish as well. So that’s on my to do list during break.
I have a list of things I want to do over the break before the spring semester starts. There’s no penalty if things don’t get crossed off, but I have a wish list, but that’s for another conversation.
The fall semester starts in 9 days.
I’m feeling excited. I’m feeling anxious. I’m feeling relieved.
I’m excited about the fall because it means more flexibility. I know there are people who think this is a piece of cake, but remember the grass always seems greener on the other side – there are still things that aren’t all sunshine and daisies. I have a good balance of everything that is important: work, school, boyfriend and myself – not necessarily in that order and not always in the same order.
One thing that is hard for me is to sit still. I know I need to relax and give myself a break, but it’s really hard. I thrive on structure and being busy. This year has been a damn rollercoaster and it’s the most time I’ve ever had to myself.
While summer classes were very busy and left little wiggle room, since finishing them at the beginning of August, I have found myself with time to slow down if I choose too. That has been quite the challenge.
I think about the summer and my mind races – I don’t know where to start. This isn’t what I expected my summer to be, but that doesn’t mean it was bad.
I ate more than I intended, but I don’t really regret it. Yeah, I had days where I will look at JP and poke myself, but really, this was the first time I wasn’t saying ‘no’ or pushing back. I probably should’ve said no more than I did, but I’m moving on and you should too.
I’ve said before that you can a lot about a person through how they write during certain times. When it’s been rough it reflects in my writing, when it’s getting better it also reflects.
I look back at June 17th and a reread that post – found here. I agree with that Cristina. I shake my head with her because I still feel parts of her. The parts that are in disbelief that I ended up here, but sometimes I don’t even know where here is. I know that sounds confusing, but I think some of you can relate.
Sometimes when I think about my future I see one thing, but the reality becomes another. Each day brings something new and we should embrace it. Embrace the risk and see what happens – that’s the hippy side of my thinking. The other side of it is calculated, like, yes, of course you ended up here and if you turn this way you can take this path and if you turn this other way there’s another path. This summer I became better at blending these two thoughts. I don’t always need to be calculated and sometimes it’s just not going to happen.
Thinking about what I wrote in regard to balance in June – that Cristina needed a nap and a cup of tea, but she was trying her best. If only she knew what was in store during the cross city move. However, July was better and August even better as I crashed then got back up and found some kind of routine that I could make sense of. For the past five weeks I’ve had a solid workout schedule that makes me feel like I’m balancing fitness Cristina with all the other Cristina’s. We still have breakfast together, but on Sunday’s I lift while he stays in bed, however, he’s been going running while I go to the gym. On week days, I go to the gym when he leaves for work, so I have about an hour for my meals to settle – I’m not a fan of lifting on a full stomach, I definitely prefer fasted like I do on Sunday’s, but that’s just my preference.
Adding yoga a week and a half ago was a really good idea because I’m already feeling a difference in my back, so I’m alternating it with my lifting and running – still taking a rest day somewhere in the week…wherever it makes sense for that week.
I believe in bagels – you can read about that here. I believe in working hard for what you want. I believe in jumping and taking risks. I believe in making minimal excuses and breaking down barriers. I also believe that my grind is going to look different than the person beside me. It won’t always be understood and that’s ok.
I wrote less this summer because I didn’t feel I needed it like I have in the past. That is a risk for me. That is new. I’ve connected in other ways that were just, if not more, meaningful. However, it made me uncomfortable to feel like I couldn’t share my day. If you meet me in person, I won’t talk much until I am comfortable with you and then it’s going to be late nights with liter and a half bottles of wine. I think that’s what happened. I was so comfortable talking to a screen, forgetting that people are on the other side. This summer I relearned how to communicate in a way that I felt was safe. That meant more journaling and letting experience happen with maybe a photo or two to capture it. Below are some photos from this summer.
I’m taking my bagel philosophy and charging full on into September. We might not talk like we used to, but I can’t wait to take you with me.
To celebrate the ending of prep, I went to brunch on Sunday with my boyfriend and got the most amazing pancakes ever – Blueberry Pecan and Mascarpone. I went with a large stack because YOLO and I ate the whole stack – no regrets!
I did get egg whites on the side because protein is necessary. Since we had brunch a little later than we normally brunch, we didn’t eat a late lunch or an afternoon snack. We actually took a nap when we got back home from Boston, woke up and went to the gym and then came home to make dinner. We had a pretty lean dinner – chicken and veggies, this is pretty standard for us. It balanced out the carbs from the morning, but we also like chicken and veggies. We did try a new gelato. Full fat and all. But we stuck to the serving size and enjoyed it. I was mindful of what I was eating and logged/estimated to the best of my ability. I had asked Alaina to give me some loose macros so I would have a guide and I didn’t really go over them. I used this day kind of as a refeed day, and then jumped right into my new macros on Monday to start my reverse diet.
For those of you who don’t know, a reverse diet is when you intentionally add nutrition back into your daily eating plan slowly. Many competitors do this after a show or full season of shows. It’s important that you increase slowly so that you don’t gain fat or gain weight back too fast. Everyone’s body is different and can handle different amount of nutrition at a time. This is an important step after season because stage weight isn’t always the healthiest to maintain year-round. Even those who are naturally lean shouldn’t be at stage weight all the time. Reverse dieting helps you get back to maintenance, which in some cases may be higher than where you were when you started your cut. Many think this is bro-science, but it actually makes a lot of sense scientifically if implemented correctly. There’s a number of reasons to conduct a reverse diet; while my macros never hit below 1,400 calories during prep, they were low for me. So this is something to help bring me back up to a sustainable number of macro nutrients.
This is the first time I’ve ever done a reverse diet. As you know, I’ve been losing weight for over four years so this concept is completely foreign to me. But unlike my refeeds, I’m really excited about the process of reversing and eventually maintaining my weight. This is a huge change for me and another opportunity to learning and research so I can take on the next part of my journey.
Alaina has been pretty amazing with designing my macro nutrition goals so that I was never hungry; always content, but so that I was at a point where my progress was going to be steady through prep. I knew that I would be in good hands working with her for my reverse. For the first week, we decreased my protein by 5g to keep our numbers with 1g of protein per pound I weight. We hadn’t decreased my macros for the last few weeks of prep and my protein was a little higher. This kept me full, but it’s now appropriate to adjust it. We also increased my carbohydrates by 13g. I know for some this doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you think in terms of food, this is caramel rice cake or half a banana.
When I weighed in yesterday, I was still at my show weight even with the increased in macros. This was exciting for me because it means I’m adjusting to the increase in food and my body should be able to handle more nutrition than when I started my cut.
I shared on my instagram a lot of the foods that I was consuming this week. Similar to my prep, I was able to eat out as well as eat meals I prepped at home. Throughout the week my boyfriend and I managed to cross off a few restaurants we’ve been wanting to try. We live long distance and it’s a pain in the butt because the list is forever growing, but we were able to make some good choices and have fun while he was home.
On Wednesday, we checked out Wahlburgers in Hingham. It’s the original location and it’s a burger joint, which only makes sense for them. They have a few sides that aren’t fried, but not many. As I was looking at the menu I noticed that the burgers they offer are pretty large, mostly 1/3 and 1/2 pound burgers. However, the kids menu offers a 3 ounce burger. I called to see if adults could order off the kids menu and to ask what the lean to fat ratio was for the meat they use. I was told “yes, anyone can order off the kids menu.” I was also told they use the standard 80/20 lean to fat ratio for ground beef. A quick google search told me that for 3 ounces there is 15F 0C and 22P in a serving.
Knowing what my macros are it was a no brainer to get a kids burger. This way I could eat it in true form with a bun and all. Instead of fries I got an entree mixed greens salad, which was high in volume and helped keep me full. Taking all parts of the meal into consideration I could estimate the macros and still accomplish my eating goals for the day.
On Friday, we went out to breakfast for bagels at a locally owned place that my boyfriend used to frequent in his college days. I had never been there before even though I live down the road and have lived here for four years. I know I’m ashamed too. Just like with Wahlburgers, I checked out the menu and found that they had cinnamon raisin bagels – my favorite. They also make the cream cheese there. They had a maple raisin cream cheese and I won’t lie I was sold when I saw it. I didn’t even consider another cream cheese. To find the nutritional value estimates I looked at a few chain places like Dunkin Donuts as well as brands you find in the store like Thomas’s Bagels. I took an average of what I had found and determined the macros I would use for the bagel. I did the same with the cream cheese. I usually get dressings on the side and I figured I could do the same with the cream cheese so I could portion it out myself. They actually serve it in a 2 ounce cup with is 4 tablespoons or 2 servings of cream cheese. So this was a lot easier to figure out than I thought it would be.
Alaina and I agreed that my reverse for the first week was extremely successful. I enjoyed everything I was eating. I never felt like I was having to choose one food over another. It’s the same philosophy I had during prep – it’s not never, it’s just not right now. We were able to have a lot of fun and going out for date night meant a lot. Since I’m not on prep, I was able to bring alcohol back into my daily diet. I had decided to do a dry prep because I wanted to make sure I was eating enough and not wasting my nutrition on liquids. I count alcohol and I believe that anyone serious about tracking should. For macro counting, there are a few ways to track alcohol. I deduct carbohydrates when the nutritional value isn’t provided.
For beer, many will scan into My Fitness Pal or you can easily search the number of carbs in a Pale Ale. However, for liquor, carbohydrates are converted during the distilling process. They still have “energy” or calories, so to find the macros I take the calories and divide by 4 – 1g of carbs is 4 calories. Some people deduct from fat. I prefer not to do that because peanut butter. Something like bourbon doesn’t reflect carbs because of the distilling process, however, Bulleit Bourbon has 109 calories for 1.5 ounces so for this I can determine that I need to keep 21g of carbohydrates aside for this.
Determining the carbohydrates in liquor helps me decide how I want to have a drink; is it something I want to mix or have neat. Bourbon is something I drink neat, so I don’t need to be concerned with added carbohydrates than what is determined from a serving. During a reverse it’ll be easier to fit alcohol in, but it’s not something I usually splurge on anyway. We like to do more pairings and had actually set a aside a few bottles of beer we really wanted to try post-prep.
Since this first week was so successful we’re increasing my fat by 5g and my carbohydrates again by 10g. My protein is at an appropriate level for my body weight so that will not be increasing anymore. I’m interested to see how my body handles the food this week.
As far as my workouts go, I’m still lifting six days a week. I have three days of cardio and it doesn’t exceed an hour and 20 minutes. This week my cardio is staying the same as last week. My lifts are relatively the same. We did change a few exercise sets to alternate with high and low rep weeks because I found myself exhausted after an upper body day this week and that’s not the point of my workouts, especially now. I think being a little tired is fine, but not exhausted. I’m also not cutting anymore so I want to make sure that my workouts are appropriate.
I know for some people being in the gym that many days is tough. It’s not realistic for everyone, but for me it’s my alone time. It’s the time of the day when I know my only focus is me. So this schedule works for me.
I have a few work lunches this week; one where I don’t have any control over what’s provided and another where I do. Throughout my prep I handled work events very well so I have no concerns about these during my reverse. It might be a little easier with the increase!
Below are some other photos from the week. It’s weird to see how the body adapts and changes, but I don’t mind being a walking science experiment.
Talk to you soon!
An onlooker actually intervenes and suggests that the words being exchanged are really harsh. So if it’s mean to say to someone else, why is it okay for us to say to ourselves?
There are days that I stand in the mirror and I’m like “yes, badass” and there are other days when I look in the mirror and just feel disappointed. I work out about 6 days week. I track my meals and eat according to my goals. I focus on nutrition, not calorie counting. I try to be positive because I know where I was, but many days that’s a struggle.
Personally, I fear that I will gain all the weight I have lost back. At a size 6, I know I can lose a little bit more fat even though I constantly hear about how thin I am. After all, I know what lies under my clothes. My biggest fear is that all the hard work that I have put in the past few years will be a waste. Somehow, I rationalize that being mean to myself or being negative will force me to work harder. In all reality, I think it just makes the pressure build up.
I know gaining back all the weight wouldn’t happen. I know I wouldn’t actually let that happen. I’m smarter with my workouts and my eating now. I know about nutrition, and I have more knowledge than I did when I first started this journey. However, there are times that I want that burger WITH the bun or that double scoop of ice cream with ALL the toppings.
Why is it so hard to not be so negative or hard on myself? Why is it hard for women in general to not beat themselves up? I don’t have the answer, but check out the video and ponder this for yourself.
The past two weeks have been a little trying for me personally and it’s been affecting my workouts and my eating habits. I don’t like making excuses for sticking to the plan, but I’m only human and we all have those times when we need a break and reach for the burger.
My workouts were pretty solid around my birthday, a few days after the last post, but then my boyfriend lost one of his friends. He was devasted and I felt lost trying to be his support system. We had always talked about what we would need when having a hard time with life, but there was nothing he could’ve told me that would’ve prepared me to help him through his roaster coaster of emotions. The went through all of the stages faster than light.
I was exhausted and wasn’t sleeping like I usually do. It was easy to over do it on the coffee in the morning and sleep in past my alarm because I had been up late the night before. There was actually one morning where I slept through two alarms, woke up and fell back asleep while sitting up – who does that?! This girl!
I didn’t meal prep and it’s true what they say “fail to plan, plan to fail”. This made grabbing a breakfast sandwich on the way to work easy, it made going out to dinner even easier. I would grab a protein bar, but we all know that those aren’t meals. They aren’t all the nutrition we need to fuel our bodies. After calming down and getting some sleep, I’m back on track with my water and food. I’ve been slightly bloated since my body is readjusting to clean eating, but this week has been solid.
I weighed myself this morning because it’s Wednesday and that’s my day to benchmark. I had only gained 1.5 pounds. So hello 154! I’m actually not upset about this like I know I would have been if this had been a year ago. That’s progress. I mean, I was thinking I gained a small child since the bloat was so bad. Hands in the air, praise something holy that’s not the case!
To keep myself in track, I’m changing up my routine again. I’m still going to be lifting heavy, but after talking with my friend Sarah about the Bikini Body Guide I bit the bullet and bought it. After a quick skim, I was sold on the exercise circuits and the schedule. I do a lot of the exercises currently and that made me relieved… One less thing to learn. I can still lift extra if I want to. I can also adjust the weight or resistance for the workouts to my personal needs. It’s a 12 week program and I’m only using the workout guides. I’m still following IIFYM. I’m hoping to adjust my macros when I hit 149. So a 5 pound loss. I know it’ll be tough, I’ve been struggling to get under 150, but this is something I’m hungry for – pun intended #carbsoncarbs. If I work hard and stay focused while having fun I know I won’t feel the same pressure I did during prep. I also believe I’ll learn to handle my stresses in a more effective manner.
This is my journey and it’s challenging at times, but I’m excited to change it up. I’m excited to work over the summer and bring a better package to competiting this fall. Stay tuned to see how my progress looks with the new routine!
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?