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Four things my friend did to lose 45 pounds

November 20, 2015

Perseverance. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think about my friend Melisa. She came to me in August and said “I want to get fit”. And so it began, her journey to fitness. Changing your life and deciding to get fit is not easy, but it’s worth it. Her effort has helped her lose 45 pounds!

For many women, working out may be about looking good. But what about being healthy? Is that more important? I believe so. Regardless of how I look, I want to live a healthy lifestyle.

There are a couple things I have noticed about Melisa since she first started working out. Deciding to change your working out habits and eating habits is not something that occurs overnight. It’s a process and you have to work hard at it. It requires commitment and a good group of friends that will encourage you on the journey.

Changing your attitude. 

When Melisa first started, her opinion about herself tended to be negative. When I announced the workout, I could sense defeat. “Are you sure I can do this? I’m not sure if I can?” It took a change in mindset. Over time, her attitude began to change. Just the other day when, we did some resistance training, she said, “This is fun! I’m going to do the harder level today.” That’s so exciting. It’s all about attitude. Tell yourself you can do this. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. People can cheer you on during a workout, but at the end of the day it’s up to you to decide whether you can do it or not.

Small things matter.

When Mel first started to lose weight she was really excited. She tried to weigh herself once a week. On the weeks where she didn’t lose as much as she wanted she seemed a little sad about it. But recently she has decided that she has come so far that she needs to celebrate the small things. Maybe your goal is to lose ten pounds or maybe your goal is to lose 80 pounds. How are you ever going to get there if you don’t celebrate the small things? Enjoy the journey. Enjoy the process. Every pound you lose, you’re chipping away at that final goal.

Don’t worry about others.

When Mel first started with me she was really concerned about what others at the gym would say. As women, this is a struggle that almost everyone deals with. What will other people think of me? Are they looking at me? What are they looking at? It’s hard. I know, because this is something I used to struggle with too. But when you decide to just focus on what you are doing and how this workout is for you, it will go a long way. Melisa gets into a zone.  She starts the workout and zones everything else out. She is focused and motivated to finish each workout.

Encouragement from friends.

It’s important to have friends to keep you accountable during the week. But it’s really important to have friends at the gym that will encourage you. Melisa is such an awesome encourager when it comes to encouraging others to push themselves. She also lets me yell at her during the workouts. I can tell that my encouragement helps her a lot. When she thinks she can’t go anymore and I tell her she’s got this, she gives that extra push. Find a friend to go to the gym with you and encourage one another. Push each other to keep going. You can do this.

I am so proud of Melisa. She has come such a long way. It was a series of tough decisions, but she did it. If you want to change your lifestyle, take the steps necessary to make it happen and believe in yourself. You can do it if you’re willing to put in the effort.

My First Visit to Crossfit

July 15, 2015

Three years ago, I lost 40 pounds and could barely walk a block around my apartment. I was so weak and frail. I felt like if the wind was strong enough, I might blow away and never be found. So I asked myself: Do I want to keep living like this or make a change? I just wanted to have the strength to do normal things again. I realized I needed to do something and fast.

I decided to try a free class of Crossfit at Crossfit 214. I’ll be honest, when I walked in I wanted to walk right out. Oops, sorry, wrong place. Everybody had their shirts off. Six packs, sweat, grunting, people looking miserable. Did I really just sign up for this? But I was intrigued. Why would people ever come back to this? Obviously people come here for a reason.

I stayed. I was encouraged by the way people were encouraging each other. I remember a guy on an air dyne, a bike with a cool looking fan attached, he was intense. Then the guy next to him was yelling, “You got this, don’t stop, you’re owning it.” Then the guy went faster and faster. I mean forget the fact that he was about to break the bike, the guy next to him did not leave his side and encouraged him to push his limits.

As I stood there staring, my class was called to start. I don’t remember what the workout was that day. I think I erased that part from my memory. We started off with a light jog and I was like, “Okay, I’m good for the day, or for the month.” But then the class began. It was burpees and then wall balls (hitting the target on the wall with a huge medicine ball). We were going to repeat these movements for about ten minutes. I thought, this is going to be easy. I was a gymnast, this is dumb. Boy was I wrong.

The coach at the time (Tyler) told us to take it easy, decrease the repetitions if needed, and hydrate. Ok, got it! Can we start now? The timer on the wall was counting down. 30 seconds in, I thought I might die. Going as fast as I could. 2 minutes in, I was going to die. The coach never left my side, he encouraged me to do what I could. He told me that it was ok if I couldn’t finish. I could barely exercise for two minutes. I think I ended up working out for about 4 or 5 minutes. I just sat there and thought, I’m never coming back to this place. The coach talked to me for a while, told me that it would take time. He said I would get stronger over time. He told me to not give up. After 30 minutes of just sitting there, I decided, okay now is the time. I’m not giving up. It’s my body and I need to take care of it. 

The rest is history. I’ve been doing Crossfit for three years now. I’ve never felt stronger and healthier. As soon as I changed my lifestyle so many things changed. I started sleeping better, having more energy, feeling more confident, craving healthier foods… the list goes on and on. This lifestyle change inspired me to become a personal trainer so that I could help people of all backgrounds. Now I have a class at Crossfit Mettle for women of all backgrounds. My goal is to provide:

Community: A place where women can feel encouraged and inspired. A safe place where women don’t feel judged and they can come to exercise and have fun.

Encouragement: Words of encouragement so that we can keep pushing and not give up.

Constantly varied: Different workouts each time the women come in. The same workout routine everyday can get really boring. By changing up each class, you’ll look forward to a new routine each day and you’re body will always be challenged.

Programming: I program my workouts according to where my athletes are. I modify and plan all the workouts ahead of time so that there is a routine for the women each session.

Fun: With a group of girls. It’s always a fun (crazy) time. Music jamming and lots of laughing.

I want to provide all the fundamental things that allowed me to come back to Crossfit that second time. Don’t give up. It may not come as easy as you’d like it to. But, it will. Practice makes perfect.

Two Fun Cardio Workouts

June 26, 2015

As soon as I passed my test to become a personal trainer the first person I called, was my sister. I asked her if she’d be willing to let me train her. She said yes. What an awesome sister. I have learned so much while training her. She has always been so supportive.

I love trying out new workouts on my sister. She’s always open to trying new things, but she really hates workouts that involve cardio. I mean let’s be honest running can get kind of boring, unless you grew up running or playing soccer. The elliptical or the stair master can get boring, especially if there is no television in the room (first world problems).

When I do cardio with my sister, I try to be creative with the workout routine. You need to increase that heart rate so that you can get the benefits that come along with cardio (burning FAT).

If you’re getting bored of your regular cardio routine then you should try these two workouts:

Cardio Circuit training

  • 1 minute of jogging in place
  • 1 minute of butt kicks
  • 1 minute of jumping jacks
  • 1 minute of high knees
  • 1 minute of jumping squats

Rest 2 minutes after performing this circuit. My sister did 5 rounds of this circuit, but you can do less rounds.

Sometimes we do jump rope for 1 minute instead of jogging in place. Figure out how many minutes you would like to spend doing cardio, pump up some good music, and then try this cardio circuit. Be creative and choose your favorite movements. I particularly, love to jump rope (maybe I’m the only one who loves to jump rope).

Burpee fun

  • 20 Jumping squats
  • 20 squats kicks
  • 10 burpees
  • 20 lunges (1o on each leg)
  • 20 squats
  • 10 burpees
    • 4 rounds

This is a challenging workout, so when I began training my sister we started off with 2 rounds. We slowly worked our way up to 3 rounds and then 4 rounds. If you haven’t worked out in a while then try 2 rounds, but do half the repetitions of this workout.

Both of these workouts can be done without any equipment. Try it out at home when you don’t want to go for a jog outside or you don’t feel like going to the gym to get on a machine.

“Girls Only” Summer Boot Camp

June 22, 2015

If you haven’t already noticed I love working out. I also love sharing my love for working out with others. After starting my blog, I realized that a lot of people were interested in working out, but they didn’t know where to begin. In an earlier post I talked about some benefits of exercising. Here are some of the reasons why exercise is good for you:

  • More energy
  • Healthier heart
  • Better sleep
  • Improves self image
  • Combats depression

I decided I would offer a bootcamp for some of my friends. I wanted to share my love for working out with them. A lot of them were excited, but a lot of them were also nervous. Nervous that they might not be able to do the workout or look dumb doing the workout.

I wanted to make the workout accessible to all kinds of ladies that were at different levels. It helped that they all knew each other and that they weren’t afraid of sharing their concerns or asking me questions about the workout.

Different intensity

I had three different intensities. The first level was for ladies who had not worked out in a while. Ladies who were trying to get back in to the rhythm of exercise. The second level was for people who wanted to try something harder and that had been exercising regularly. The last level was for people who workout consistently and wanted something more challenging. What I liked about this setup was that each individual chose their own level according to what they wanted to get out of the workout. We went through each of the movements and then each person decided which level to go with.

Partners

Having a partner during your workout to keep you encouraged and accountable for your repetitions goes a long way. Even when the ladies thought they couldn’t finish the workout, having a partner to encourage them to do one more round was awesome to see. I really enjoyed hearing the ladies tell each other they shouldn’t stop and that they could do it. It was such an encouraging atmosphere.

So, here is Level 1 of the workout we did on Saturday:

The first partner went through each movement and then the second partner watched/encouraged them. Then the second partner went and the first partner watched/encouraged them.

Try this workout at home. If you want to do less rounds, then do that. If you want to do less repetitions of each movement then you can also do that. Make it your workout. Tailor it to your needs. Share your experience in a comment below. If you have questions, ask away.

Nobody is Perfect

June 17, 2015

My husband and I have been on vacation for 9 days, today. It has been so awesome to take some time off to spend together and explore new places. We haven’t taken a vacation this long in 4 years. Vacations are awesome, but it’s hard for me to get away from my routine. I like routine and it’s hard for me to be adventurous.

When I realized that we would be on vacation for so long, my first thought was: “Does that mean I won’t be able to workout?” Um…Duh! It’s Vacation.

Everyone needs to get away every once in a while. A time to recharge and spend some time with the ones you love most. It’s hard to get away for some people without worrying about all the things you’re leaving behind. Work, Pets, Working out, Your house. Sometimes, it’s necessary.

I realized that I needed this time to relax. I can sit here and pretend that I worked out every single day and ate super healthy, but I didn’t. However, I did make some good choices when it came to staying active:

  • Hiking
    • We decided to hike all the way to the Hollywood sign to take some awesome pictures
    • We hiked the Redwood National Forest
    • We hiked to the top of a waterfall in Oregon
  • Walking
    • Every chance we got we walked instead of driving the car around everywhere. We got to see lots of cool stuff this way.
  • Eating
    • Although we did eat ice cream, donuts, and pastries (occasionally), we tried eating at healthier places for one meal out of the day. We picked some local restaurants that had local/organic produce. They were amazing.

Tomorrow is our final day of vacation. I took one day at a time and enjoyed every experience. We went from San Diego to Seattle in ten days. We stopped in:

  • San Diego
  • Hollywood
  • Santa Monica
  • San Francisco
  • Red Wood National Forest
  • Portland
  • Newport
  • Seattle

We saw beaches, forests, vineyards, and mountains. All the views have been breath taking.

I promised myself that I would just relax and enjoy every minute. I can truly say that I am guilt free. I didn’t workout every day for an hour or eat Paleo. Now, I’m ready to go back to San Antonio and enjoy the rest of my summer (in the gym)! San Antonio, here I come.

You Are a Runner, You Just Don’t Know it Yet

June 11, 2015

I’m not a runner. I have always told myself that. I did gymnastics from age 4 until 15. As a gymnast, we never did long distance running. I was pretty good at sprinting, but when it came to running a mile at school, I thought I was going to die.

In second-grade, my P.E. teacher made us run a mile for time, and I remember thinking “I’m going to die, I’m going to die,” for the entire ten minute mile. No one ever told me that I couldn’t run long distances, I just figured that since I struggled with it that I wasn’t good at it.

My body wasn’t trained for long distances. Gymnastics focuses mainly on short bursts of effort. So, obviously I wasn’t going to be good at long distances, I never practiced running long distances. I didn’t know that. I assumed that since I trained 6 times a week for gymnastics that my training would make me good at all types of exercise. WRONG.

So as I got older, every time someone said they enjoyed running, I would instantly say, “I’m not a runner. I don’t run long distances, that’s not for me.”

Last year in September, a friend encouraged me to run a half marathon with her. I told her, “No way. You’re crazy.” The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized I had never really given running a chance. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. So here are a few things I did to overcome my fear of running.

Talk to others

I knew lots of people who had run half marathons. Most people found a training schedule online. I asked a lot of people which websites to look at, and I picked one that looked good for me. I had four months to train for the half-marathon. One of my coworkers did an iron man in the past (swim, biking, then run 26.2 miles). He knows a lot about training, so at lunch one day I picked his brain. He had so many good tips and told me about some good trails I would enjoy and explained about staying well-hydrated during runs. I took all the information I learned from others and I applied it. I also printed out the training regimen and put it on my desk so that I could see what I needed to do each day.

Get a training partner

It’s always good to have a friend that will keep you on track. One of my close friends would run with me once a week. She consistently texted me and asked me how I was doing. Many times I felt discouraged, but she encouraged me to keep pushing. It was always fun to run with her on the weekends because I knew she waiting for me at the park. She was also faster than me so it pushed me to run at a faster pace. Find a partner and ask them to keep you accountable and meet them to run or workout with you. Encourage one another.

Stay on track

I love checking stuff off on my daily planner. I planned out which days I would run during the week and how many miles a day I needed to run. Every time I came back home, I would write down how many miles I did and how long it took me. I also loved putting a big fat check mark next to the run after I completed it. It made me feel like I accomplished something. Of course, there were weeks where I didn’t want to do it, and frankly I was over it. But then I remembered why I was doing this in the first place.

I had a goal. My goal was to run a half marathon. I had told myself for years that I couldn’t do something before even trying it. But I could do it with some proper training.

Nobody wakes up the day of a half marathon and decides, oh hey, let me run a half marathon (unless they’re some type of olympic athlete). Most things in life require practice. You can’t say you’re not good at something if you’ve never tried to do it or trained for it.

With some practice and some confidence I showed up to that race, ready to conquer it. I completed my first half marathon in 2 hours and 3 minutes. It was so rewarding, as I crossed that finish line tears fell down my cheeks. I was so excited that I was able to finish the half marathon and prove to myself that I WAS a long distance runner.

Ask the right people for guidance, have someone keep you accountable for your training, and stay on track. Go conquer that race you’ve been wanting to run, or that group class you want try, or that gym you want to go to. Try it out!

What To Do with Negative Thoughts While Exercising

May 28, 2015

Have you ever had those workouts where your mind is consumed with negative thoughts? I’ve had times where I feel like I’m not going to make it. I’m either tired or discouraged, and I feel like I’m just doing the motions waiting until it’s over.

Your mind is a powerful tool. There are occasions where I’m physically fine, but negative thoughts creep into my mind and I keep telling myself that I can’t do it. On those occasions, I end up slowing down during the workout or stopping until I can get it together.

When I first started working out at Crossfit, 3 years ago, the amount of negative things I thought were debilitating. I remember thinking:

  • This workout is way too hard.
  • You’re never going to finish this workout.
  • You’re the last person to finish this workout. You suck!

I couldn’t even finish the very first workout I did at Crossfit. We were doing a modified Crossfit workout, but halfway through the workout my negative thoughts consumed my mind and I just gave up. I was disappointed in myself. I couldn’t believe I had just thrown in the towel. That day I decided that I wouldn’t let my negative thoughts consume me.

So, here are a few tips for training your mind to think positively:

Tell Yourself You Can Do It

During my workouts, I have to consistently tell myself that I can do it. This may sound stupid, but the best thing you can do is say it out loud. When I’m beginning to think I can’t do it, I start telling myself, “You can do it! You can do it!” When I train my sister sometimes I ask her, “Do you think you can you do it?” If she says “ummm…”, I tell her to repeat after me, “I can do it.” I consistently remind her that she can do it. She has trained her mind to think positively, and now she makes workouts look easy. She never gives up anymore.

Count Down Your Repetitions

When I think that I’ll never be able to finish the workout, I always remind myself to take one repetition at a time. It helps me to countdown. If I have to do twenty reps, I countdown. It makes me feel like I’m making progress and that I only have a few repetitions left before I’m done.

Don’t Compare Yourself

When I’m at Crossfit, it is so easy to compare myself with others. There will always be someone stronger and better than me. It’s inevitable. But I shouldn’t let that consume my workouts. Just because I’m not as fast as someone doesn’t mean I suck. I’m working out for my own reasons.

I workout because it really helps me feel good. I like leaving workouts feeling good, not feeling bad because someone was better than me. So, it took hard work, but I had to learn that people were at different levels than me and that didn’t mean I sucked. Even though many times people around me help me work harder. I always try to remember that I’m working out for me. Not for the people around me. It’s my health and my workout. It’s ok for me to take it easy on some days. It doesn’t matter what people think about me, and it’s ok if I’m the last one to finish the workout—even every time.

I can’t say I’m perfect at always thinking positively, but I’ve gotten much better. I use my workouts as a time to encourage myself and tell myself that I can do it. After a workout, I feel like I can conquer the world and my workouts are full of positive thinking. When you change your thoughts and your motives, it really helps you finish strong.

Working Out While Babysitting

May 25, 2015

I really love babysitting. I enjoy it so much that last week I decided to babysit my two nieces from Friday night to Saturday morning and then babysit my coworker’s daughters from Saturday afternoon until that evening. Basically, I spent two whole days babysitting.

Babysitting is a blast, but I also enjoy running on Saturday mornings. During the week, I go to crossfit and then Saturday and Sunday I like to run. What kind of babysitter would I be if I just left the kids and went for a run? A horrible one. Most of the time I like playing pretend with the kids, watching movies, baking and playing hide and go seek. Kids have so much energy that it may seem like there is never any down time. But, usually there are 20 minutes here and there where the kids finally get tired. Sometimes they just want to watch T.V. for twenty minutes or sit down and read for a while.

So… I decided that in those twenty minute time frames that I would squeeze a work out in. It wasn’t running, but it was still a fun little workout.

Here is the workout I did on Saturday morning:

  • 20 basic squats.  (above)
  • 20 Narrow Basic Squat with a kick back. (Alternate legs while performing this exercise and perform 20 on each leg) (below)

I repeated these two exercises, 5 times. 

Processed with VSCOcam with kk2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with kk2 preset

I did this workout in the living room while my two nieces were watching a twenty minute T.V. show on the couch. My one year old niece occasionally looked at me with a face that said… you’re pretty weird. My five year old niece asked me what I was doing and when I said exercise she said she wanted to join. She showed me her jumping jacks, push ups, and crunches. She was so excited to workout with me that she didn’t even want to watch the show.

Many times we think that we don’t have any time to workout, but I think we all have more time than we think we do. Try working out while you are watching a show or while your kids are watching T.V. The workout doesn’t have to be intense. Just get your body moving!

Some Advice I Gave to a Total Stranger

May 22, 2015

I run at a small park near my house on the days I don’t go to Crossfit. I love that park because it’s small and quiet. I was running at the park one day and I kept crossing paths with a middle aged lady.

Every time I saw her she looked at me weird. I kept wondering if my shirt was inside out or maybe I had gum in my hair. I must have crossed paths with her 3 times and she would not stop starring. She would even turn her head to look at me when I passed by.

On my last lap around the park I was walking to cool down. There she was…again. Staring at me. So she waved at me to call my attention. I was thinking…. Oh… I must know her. So she walked up to me and said, “Can I ask you a few things?” She said she had seen me at the park several times. She said, “It seems like you work out a lot and you look fit.”

She told me that two months ago her doctor had told her that she had type II diabetes. The doctor told her that she was overweight and that she needed to start working out. He didn’t really guide her in any direction as far as diet and exercise went. He was basically saying you have diabetes, so get healthy!

She had no idea where to begin. She didn’t know what kind of exercise to do or what to eat. So she decided to walk at the park every day after work. She was walking for half an hour every day. And after a month, she had lost 20 pounds. Then she started to walk every day for one or two hours. After two months she had lost almost 50 pounds.

So her question to me was, “Am I doing this whole working out thing, right?”

I barely knew her, but I was so proud of her. She wasn’t given any guidance as far as what to do, but she took initiative and decided to get healthy on her own. She found the nearest park and just started walking. She wanted to make sure she was working out correctly and didn’t want to injure herself.

So here is the advice I gave her. According to the National Academy of Sports Medince, your workout should include three phases:

1. The Warm-up Phase

2. Conditioning Phase

3. Cool-Down Phase

Warm-Up Phase

The warm-up includes:

1. Stretching

2. Cardio

The warm-up phase prepares the body for what is to come in the conditioning phase.

I started off by showing her a few stretches for her legs since those are the muscle groups that are important for walking. I showed her a hamstring stretch, calf stretch, and hip flexor stretch. Here is a good website for walking stretches. 

During the warm-up you increase your heart rate and respiration rate, this prepares you to exercise. I told the lady to begin with the stretches and then walk slowly for 5-10 minutes. If you are running, then you can warm-up by lightly jogging.

Conditioning Phase

I could blog for years about this phase. There are many different kinds of training. Circuit training, resistance training, kickboxing, zumba, crossfit, etc. Every one finds there own niche. In this lady’s case she had found love in walking. She said she enjoyed it and loved the results she was seeing.

The only advice I gave her here was not overtrain. Overtraining occurs when some one performs excessive amounts of exercise without proper rest or recovery. I told her to be careful with walking one or two hours at a time. Overexertion can lead to fatigue and fatigue can lead to injury. Her body needed rest. I told her she could split up her walking into two sessions. Maybe 30 minutes and then rest for ten minutes and then continue with 3o more minutes. If her body was in pain she needed to stop, rest, and recover.

Cool-Down Phase

The cool-down stage includes:

1. Cardio (to decrease heart rate)

2. Stretching

The cool-down phase allows you to decrease your heart rate/respiration rate and bring your body back to a steady state.

If you think about it, during exercise your body goes through a lot of changes. Your heart is pounding, your sweaty, out of breath and if you stop exercising all of sudden your body doesn’t know what to do. You need to increase your heart rate and breathing, slowly. That’s why it’s good to walk (or jog) at a slower speed to allow your body to go back to a steady state, slowly.

You can follow the Cardio with some stretches. You can stretch all those muscles you should put through some strenuous exercise. I told the lady at the park she could do the same exercises she warmed up with to keep it simple.

 

I taught that lady everything I could in ten minutes. She was so excited. I told her she was awesome and I admired her hard work and dedication. She was persistent and motivated to get healthy. I hope her story inspires you as much as it inspired me.

Recipes

My Husband, The Chef

May 20, 2015

Where do I begin? My husband is amazing. He is so supportive in all that I do. We have been married for almost 5 years now and it has been an amazing journey. He’s awesome at everything he does, especially cooking. He has always been a better cook than me. I don’t have the patience to cook.

When we were dating he would do a lot of experimenting with different recipes. Sometimes they were not that good. Especially the time when he made me eat raw beans. They weren’t raw, but they were pretty hard. But, practice makes perfect. Today he prepares delicious dishes without using recipes.

Every time I ask him what he used to make a dish taste so amazing, he loses me five minutes into the conversation. He is just too good, I can’t even handle it. I encouraged him to make a website with some of his awesome dishes. He hasn’t added many recipes on the website in a while, but the recipes on there are amazing.

My favorite recipe from the website is called Vaca Frita. It’s a cuban inspired dish. I grew up in Miami, where there is a big cuban influence. When we visited Miami for the first time, 5 years ago, he tried Vaca Frita for the first time. He came back determined to re create the dish for me. He makes it every time I miss home (every three weeks). It’s so good. I would eat it every day if I could.

The best part about this recipe is that it makes a large quantity so we have plenty of left overs for the week. Every time I take left overs to work people ask what that amazing smell is. Check out the recipes on his website: Vicariously Paleo. The recipes are all delicious. I know because I’ve tried them all.