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An Update On My Fitness Journey

Over the past few months, I’ve made some changes as far as my fitness goes. I’ve tried so many new things that it’s been a lot to follow. This post is a documentation of what I tried, why I tried it, and where I am now!

When I lived in Syracuse, I didn’t venture outside of my fitness bubble much. As soon as I set foot in Urban Life in July of 2014, I didn’t try much else. There were a few reasons for this:

  1. I LOVED going there every day–the coaches and members were like family to me and I never wanted to miss a workout there! (I could honestly say a million amazing things about my time there and all that it brought me as far as personal growth, connections, knowledge, and athleticism, but that could be its own post.)
  2. I was suuuper into CrossFit and wanted to be good at it, and trying non-CrossFit classes didn’t seem to align with that goal.
  3. There weren’t a ton of options in Syracuse. Sure, there are gyms, but the city is not exactly a hotbed for innovative fitness companies.

When I got to Charlotte in July 2018, all of these things kinda went out the window. I was entering a transition period where I wanted to try new things, and that trickled into my fitness journey. I was questioning if CrossFit was still the best thing for me (even though I was really enjoying my membership at CrossFit Dilworth). I was presented with a LOT more opportunities for fitness classes, and I was seeking new connections. All of this lead to the perfect storm of me branching out and trying new things with my fitness.

In October 2018, I decided to take a break from CrossFit and try a Mind Pump program, so I got a YMCA membership and purchased MAPS Strong, a 3-month lifting program. I quickly realized that I missed the energy of group classes, but I stuck it out for the full 3 months for the sake of finishing out my investment and building my metabolism. The program had fun, interesting and effective lists, and I learned a lot by doing it, but going to a gym and just lifting is not for me.

When it was over, I decided I wanted to get back into group exercise and try a variety of fitness classes. So many gyms offer a free trial (one day, a week, X number of classes) or a deeply discounted first month. I’ll save my in-depth analysis of each class/gym for another day, but I tried:

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I had a great experience at each gym I tried, but I missed having a home base. I don’t love the feeling of not having a gym membership. I like to have a plan in place as far as my workouts go, and just bouncing around didn’t feel quite right to me, so I started thinking about what gym I wanted to spend most of my time at so I could get a membership again.

As soon as I dropped into a CrossFit gym I knew I was ready to come back. Doing CrossFit makes me feel like an athlete. The movements require a lot of skill, the environment is high energy and competitive, and the Open was calling my name.

So as of February 2019, I am participating in the CrossFit open and back to being a member at CrossFit Dilworth! I plan on doing CrossFit at least 4x/week, but I also plan to continue trying other fitness classes. I really enjoyed Yoga One, F45 and Crown Town Athletics so I will continue dropping in at each of those from time to time. I also plan on trying:

When’s the last time you tried something new with your fitness? And if you’re in CLT, tell me: what else should I have on this list to try?

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Finding the Motivation to Run

I hear from a lot of people who get into ruts with their fitness. Some days it’s much harder to get out the door than others. We’ve all been there! The good news is, there are ways to break that rut and get your motivation back.

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  1. Sign up for a race. Like the saying goes, put your money where your mouth is! Having a goal in place (that you paid to participate in) serves as a great motivator. It’s also pretty painful and discouraging to race without proper training, so setting your eyes on the goal will help get you moving. And pro tip: try signing up for a race that donates to charity. Pick a cause that’s close to your heart and think of the people you’re running and fundraising for! You’ll feel good from the combo of sweat and positive karma.
  2. Run for time rather than distance. Sometimes the mileage looks daunting. Change it up and run for time instead! Tell yourself you can turn around at the 15-minute point and you’ve got yourself a 30-minute run.
  3. Enlist a buddy. Why does hanging out with friends have to center on food and/or drinking? Instead of going out to dinner, ask your friend to meet you for a few miles. Chatting with a friend makes the miles pass quicker and setting a meeting time holds you accountable. Bonus: your running friends are actually interested in hearing you talk about running (which can’t be said for the rest of the world).
  4. Go for a pub run. Is there anything more motivating than knowing there’s a beer waiting for you at the end of your sweat sesh? I feel like society has hit a point where going to the bar red-faced and sweaty in your gym clothes is now socially acceptable (no? just me?). That said, it’s also a great way to try new places and new running loops. For my Syracuse readers: a local bar, Kitty Hoyne’s, hosts great pub runs on Wednesday’s!
  5. Find a new podcast you love. Music is great, but a podcast can really take you away! You can listen for entertainment or learn something new.

How do you get motivated? What’s the “why” behind your run?

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Morning Workout + Breakfast Recipe

Starting my mornings on the right foot sets the tone for my whole day, meaning I almost always wake up to a killer workout and healthy breakfast. The following workout can be done at home without equipment, and the breakfast recipe can be thrown together in 2 minutes then refrigerated the night before. So you can roll out of bed and right into this – what excuse could talk you out of that simplicity?

MORNING WORKOUT (1)

*skater jumps: http://www.stack.com/a/skater-jumps

*jack and jill sit-ups: lay down with left leg raised, toes to the ceiling, and right leg hovering straight out parallel to the ground. Touch left toe 25 times then reach for right foot 25 times (small movement, like doing crunches). Switch legs and repeat.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

Are you a morning person? What’s your breakfast of choice?

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Success Beyond the Scale

How do you track fitness and measure progress? The easy (and often discouraging) answer is the scale. Most people have one in their bathroom and can weigh themselves daily without much time or effort. Maybe this works for you – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I know a lot of people that it doesn’t work for, which is why I’m diving into ways to measure progress beyond the scale.

I like to think that your health and fitness are more than just a number. I’m also someone who can see dramatic fluctuations over the course of a day depending on how dehydrated I am or if I ate something I’m sensitive to, so I know that I can’t trust a scale to be my end-all-be-all. Take for example that I weigh the same today as I did 4 years ago in college when I was only running. Today I can dramatically outlift my 21-year-old self. I can outrun her in distance and speed. I have noticeably more muscle. But if I was looking at the scale, it would look like I’ve spent the last 4 years in the same place. So what are some other ways to see progress and know you’re getting fitter and healthier?

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  1. Take progress pictures. Open up instagram and search any fitness hashtag – you’re guaranteed to see a plethora of before and after pictures. How motivating would it be to have some of your own? You don’t have to post them for the world to see (unless you want to, in which case, go you!) but they can be a powerful tool to keep you motivated and ensure you’re on the right track.
  2. Time yourself doing the same workout once a month. This will work for class-style workouts like spinning, crossfit, HIIT, orangetheory, etc. It’ll also work for running if you pick the same route each time. You might not see progress each and every month (we all have bad days) – but overall you should see your times getting faster. You may also notice yourself bouncing back from the workout quicker or getting less sore. If not, it may be time to look at your eating and sleeping habits or evaluate how hard you’re really pushing yourself.
  3. Start a lift cycle. Test for your 1 rep max for a certain lift (back squat, deadlift and bench press are all good places to start). Then start a cycle to get stronger at that lift, working on it for a few weeks (depending on which cycle you choose) and retest for a new 1 rep max at the end of the cycle. Again, if you don’t see progress with a routine like this, it may be time to look at your eating and sleeping habits.
  4. Check how your clothes are fitting. Tighter in some spots and loose in others? Could be a sign that your workout is working (or not working) for you.
  5. Track your motivation and energy levels. How do you feel? This can seem more arbitrary, but if you journal your energy level and feelings toward your workout, you can see progress this way as well. Higher energy levels and getting to the gym without struggle? You’re making progress.

This list is a simple compilation for the average gym-goer. Of course, there are more invasive/expensive/complicated measures for fitness like VO2 max, body fat percentage testing, etc. I’ve never tried any of them but I’d like to one day. For now, I’m going to continue enjoying the journey and keeping an eye on where I’m at my own way. If you’ve tried anything you really loved, comment below!

How do you track fitness and measure progress? What milestones have you celebrated along your journey?