My Work Out Plan: Arms & Abs

[ I roll a lot of my work outs into one, but I try to separate, “leg and back day” from, “arms and abs day,” because it’s good to give your muscles at least a day to recover after weight training. This post will focus what I do for arms and abs, my next post will focus on my favorite, which is leg and back day! ]

I start my work out by warming up– for me this means walking to the gym, which is about six or seven minutes from my house. Depending on the day, I pick my poison, and by poison I mean cardio. I am very injury prone, and so I often have to modify or switch up my routine so that I don’t get hurt. On the ideal day, where I am feeling strong and pain-free, I do about 25 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), generally on the treadmill. Other days, I do about 35-60 minutes of moderate to light cardio, either by walking uphill, jogging around my neighborhood, cycling class, zumba, hiking, swimming, or elliptical. The good thing is that I genuinely enjoy all of these activities, but the general rule of thumb is to pick something you will do and enjoy doing regularly. 

After my cardio, I stretch and ease into my arms & abs. I like to incorporate yoga into my stretching, so this can take a little bit longer than your average post-cardio stretch. I found this neat-o video, that does not belong to me, on youtube, which pretty much sums up what I do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAKaKgmn76E

 

AND THEN I WORK IT OUT! 

Since I’m already on the mat, I do my mat routine first. I do a circuit of the following about four times, resting for a few seconds in between each exercise. This usually takes me about ten to fifteen minutes. For example, I do 15 reps of squats, move on to pushups, and eventually do 15 more squats and continue on until I’ve done a total of 60 squats during the fourth circuit.

-Body Weight Squats 15 reps

-Push-Ups 5 reps

-Lunges 10reps (10 on each side) 

-Crunches 10 reps

-Burpees 10 reps

-Mountain Climbers 10 reps

-Russian Twist 10 reps

NOW IT’s TIME TO PUMP SOME IRON! 

I do the following with 10lb dumb bells, but as I gain more strength I will increase to 12, then 15, etc.

Similarly to my mat workout, I do the following in a circuit. Either three or four times.

1. Romanian Deadlift: 10 reps

2. Shoulder Press: 8 reps

3. Bentover Row: 10 reps

4. Floor Press: 10 reps

5. Curls: 10 reps

6. Lateral Raise: 6 reps

7. Overhead Extension: 10 reps

  • When I finish the above, I walk home as a cool-down. Sometimes, if I am still feeling tight, I will foam roll and stretch again when I get home. I also use ice if any old injuries are flared up or aggravated during my workout.
  • I also make sure to eat plenty of protein before and after my workout, as well as drinking lots of water before, during, and after.

 

*Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer or a fitness professional, I am merely posting what I feel works best for me in my daily routine after participating in team sports for my whole life, as well as working with a trainer in the past. 

Please consult your doctor, so on and so forth, because I am not recommending anyone do or don’t do this, I am just saying what has worked for me in getting toned up throughout my weight loss 🙂

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment if you have any questions about my routine 🙂

Bye Bye Muffin Top!

-Kenzie

Workin’ the Menu: Breakfast Edition

If you have ever even thought about losing weight or making a similar food-related lifestyle change, then you know that one of the most difficult things to navigate is a restaurant!

Ordering can be incredibly tricky; Steamed veggies may actually be coated in butter, servings are hard to measure on giant white plates, and your waitress just might roll her eyes if you ask for more than one substitution– However, one of the biggest things that I have learned on this journey is that you will not make it unless you advocate for yourself! 

To say I love brunch with friends would be an incredible understatement— There is something magical about convening with friends with a bubbly mimosa in hand after an action-packed weekend. The anticipation before the food arrives while you discuss the week that lies ahead, the scent of warm biscuits and gravy wafting through the kitchen. I love being with loved ones as we sit around a table talking and laughing, lingering long after the bill has been paid because we’ve enjoyed ourselves so much. The problem with brunch, however, is that the usual suspects are often laden with calories, fat and other ingredients that may try to derail your successes if you let them.

I have tried out the menus in several different restaurants in my area and realized that even though the dishes may vary, almost all of them have some tasty and guilt-free options lying within.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy breakfast and brunch without giving up the social aspect, or put a halt on my progress:

Beverages: 

-Coffee (easy on the cream and sugar, sugar!)

-Iced Tea (Sweetened with stevia, if at all)

-Mimosa (If you simply must have alcohol before 1:00pm, then mimosas are a surprisingly low-calorie way to do this. One serving rings in at four points!)

-When in doubt, water it out! Zero calories, refreshing, and if you are at brunch on Sunday there could be a chance you could use some proper hydration anyway!

Something Savory: 

-An easy way to get a ton of protein and veggies is a classic egg scramble or omelette. I ask for egg whites only, load up on extra veggies if it’s an option (I love mushrooms, tomato, bell peppers, and spinach).

-I love a side of Canadian bacon– a serving is usually only one point and most restaurants have it.

-If I need toast, then I ask for them to let me butter it myself, this way I can accurately portion and track how much I am putting on it.

-Chilaquiles or Huevos Rancheros are also delicious– I just ask them to skip the sour cream and cheese. If possible, I add extra salsa, cilantro, or lime to bring up the flavor. Both are packed with protein and they usually keep me tided over until dinnertime with a snack in-between.

-I try to skip out on avocado or only have a little bit of it because it is pretty heavily packed with calories (despite the healthy omega-3’s).

-If none of these things sound great to me, then I will try to split something with a friend and be mindful to stop eating when I am full.

Something Sweet:

-Most restaurants have fresh fruit that you can order on the side so this is a really common go-to for me.

-On the back of the menu, under the sides there is also typically oatmeal or cream of wheat as an option. I try to flavor it with cinnamon and stevia, or a minimal amount of sugar. This satisfies my sweet tooth and it keeps me full for a long time due to the fiber in the oats and the protein in the nuts that it usually comes with.

Etcetera:

If these tips don’t fit, try to look for something that you can keep track of easily.

I think my most helpful tip for breakfast out with friends is to avoid foods that are heavily coated in any type of sauce, syrup, cheese, butter, or gravy. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for modifications, nicely of course, and do your best to advocate for yourself. If you feel guilty for being a nuisance, then leave a good tip and thank your server, and yourself, for helping you to make healthier choices that all add up.

Got a good tip for eating out that you want to share? Please let me know in the comments below.

Bye Bye Muffin Top!

-Kenzie

Inspire 80 by practicing 20

IMG_1671There are two times in nutrition/fitness where 80/20 is a commonly used form of lingo. In nutrition, people refer to the, “eighty-twenty,” rule, as another way of saying, “moderation.” The belief here is that if you eat well eighty percent of the time, and indulge twenty percent then you will maintain good health without feeling deprived or like you are adhering to a plan too strictly.

On the other end, the fitness end, there is another, “eighty-twenty rule,” which refers to the balance between nutrition and exercise. In this sense, your diet is of about eighty percent importance while fitness training is about twenty. In other words, “You can’t outrun a bad diet.”

I had a really strange, yet wonderful morning this morning. I think I was taken over by a body snatcher, but it all worked out for the best.

 I was having a really difficult time sleeping last night due to throwing my back out, and I felt like laying down was just making everything feel worse. I actually only slept about four hours last night after getting off of work late. I looked at my clock and it was five in the morning and I had my alarm set for 8:45. I didn’t want to wake my roommates up and I thought about how wonderful a hot-tub would feel on my back.

I did something crazy! I got dressed, filled up my water bottle, wrestled with my tangled earbuds, and drove my ass to the gym. I got there at 5:30 and I definitively decided today that hell must have frozen over. 

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to sleep. The old me (the me from, like, a month ago) would have taken half a sleeping pill and some ibuprofen, fallen back asleep, most likely missed my first class of the day, eaten a crappy breakfast because I was running late, and then felt groggy, grumpy, and exhausted for the rest of the day, overreacting to every little thing.

I was going to just lift a few weights and then hop into the hot tub but once I got to the gym I decided to do a little warm up on the treadmill. That warmup ended up with me running for 30 minutes, walking on an incline for ten, and then going on to do a leg workout.

Once finished, I went to change and headed to the hot tub in hopes of relieving my back —which actually felt a lot better once I got moving.

After the hot tub I thought about how I haven’t gone swimming in a long time and I thought about how great the cool water would feel on my skin. Previous, old, cautious McKenzie would have been intimidated AF to get into the lap pool, especially into the lane that’s not dedicated for self-proclaimed slowpokes–that lane was being occupied by elderly aquajoggers. I did a lap in the “medium,” lane, and then two, and then I grabbed a kick board and swam for almost twenty minutes.

I rinsed off, took a lovely steam and then headed home.

Once at home, I had planned to just eat a bowl of sugary, yet low-point cereal but instead I opted for a half an apple until the sun actually came up so that I would’t piss my roommates off from making “real” breakfast at 7:00am. 

A little while later, I opted for a hearty/healthy breakfast burrito with egg whites, black beans, bell peppers, onions and chicken apple sausage. 

I meal prepped lunch, found quotes for an Essay I have to write this evening, and squeezed in a few minutes of yoga.

Wednesdays are my busy days, with class, babysitting, class, and then work, which keeps me out of the house from 9am to 10:00pm each week. It was so nice to have an extra three hours to get stuff done so that I’m not as stressed later in the day.

Back to my original point: Because I exercised and started my day off in a wonderful way, I felt inspired to eat a clean and nutritious breakfast. By eating a filling and protein-packed breakfast, I felt inspired to pack a clean and light lunch with snacks. 

Come dinner time, I will feel good about my choices earlier on in the day, and most likely want to spend the extra time I will have, on grocery shopping and preparing a healthful dinner.

 By practicing the, “twenty percent,” part of exercise early on in my day, I feel inspired to continue on with the, “eighty percent,” referring to diet the rest of the day. Additionally, if I do happen to want a treat in the evening— I’m looking at you Halo Top 😉— then I will feel good about it, knowing I made 80% great decisions leading up to that.

My whole point here is that by stepping out of my comfort zone this morning and trying something new that would help me feel better, it started a total chain reaction of wellness that I will carry on throughout the remainder of the day. I hope this inspires some of you to step out of your own comfort zones in one way or another today.

Will I still be this productive, and quite frankly, not myself tomorrow? Who knows!

But that is okay, because I am just taking this journey one. day. at. a. time.

Bye Bye Muffin Top!

Tracking & Forming Habits

I’m a person who has a hard time seeing progress or staying motivated unless there is tangible proof that something is working. For me, setting a variety goals and tracking them has been a fun and rewarding way to stay engaged in my journey.

Here is a list of my favorite ways to track everything from inches to pounds to hours of sleep. I also included a few things that make it easier for me to stay on track when the unexpected occurs.

  1. #1 is the Weight Watchers app. This is the only part of the program I pay for and I am 100% obsessed. The interface is super user friendly and there is a HUGE community of support on the app’s “connect” feature. Users can post questions, motivation for others, recipes, etc. and there is always someone there to cheer you on or give you feedback. It’s been extremely important to me in my journey because it serves as a way to keep me accountable and occupied if I am feeling bored. In addition to the social aspect of it, I also keep a daily tab on my weight and log all of my food there to keep track of my points as well as see a visual chart of lbs I have lost.
  2. Happy Weight- this app is unique in that it shows the rate you are currently losing, where you will be if you continue losing at that rate, vs. at your goal rate, etc. it also shows you a “daily moving average” of how much you are presumed to weigh if you factor out water weight or extra lbs from a heavy meal. It keeps me realistic about my goals.
  3. A cloth measuring tape! I use this at least once a week to take measurements that I write down on a calendar. It helps to see an inch or two has been lost even if you don’t lose weight in a week or you gain some muscle.
  4. My Fitbit Alta! It’s great. It syncs right up with my Weight Watchers app, the Fitbit app, and allows me to participate in challenges against myself, or others. If you allow it, friends can also see how many steps you take so there’s an element of accountability to ensure you aren’t a total couch potato.
  5. A scale- because duh!
  6. A food scale and a set of measuring cups- these are so handy. Seriously. Who the heck knows what an oz. of anything looks like? I know I don’t. The guesswork is removed and portion control becomes a breeze. (I got my food scale on amazon for 13$)
  7. A gym membership. If you can afford it, it’s great for numerous reasons. Since this post is about accountability, it’s super motivating to see the same people at the gym each day or to meet a friend there.
  8. A nearby butte to hike. On days where I don’t feel like going to the gym at all, I try to plan a hike with friends to ensure I’m still getting exercise.
  9. A yoga mat & some hand weights. Similarly to the butte, this gives me a 0 excuse mentality for at least doing some yoga or a small home work out when I don’t feel like venturing out.
  10. A water bottle- I love my hydroflask. My water literally never gets warm, and it keeps me drinking water all day long simply because it’s sitting there.
  11. Ziplock bags, Tupperware, and a lunch bag (I love the ones by PackIt. You can put them in the freezer and it removes the need for an ice pack). I try to carry around some basic snacks with me at all times so that if the hunger monster hits I’m prepared.

Got any additional tips for motivation or tracking your progress?! Let me know in the comments below.
Bye bye muffin top!

Xoxo Kenzie

Self Care Bootcamp

In the midst of school, work, family drama, depression, anxiety, and life in general, it seems silly that one of the things we forget to do the most is take care of ourselves. 

I realized that the premise of every sleep-over party I had as a child was rooted in acts of self care: Painting our nails, watching our favorite movies, eating a delicious snack we all enjoyed, spending time with friends, and generally just carving out time to have fun.

The very things I used to do because they seemed better than anything else have seemed to go by the wayside, in favor of running errands, doing homework, and being busy for the sake of being busy- and what I used to view as fun and relaxing has over time become more like a chore.

The thought of exercising or spending a day in the kitchen can feel like some impending task that I need to accomplish, rather than a thing I participate in because I wholeheartedly enjoy it.

In working towards dealing with my depression, I’ve found that it has been more difficult to tell myself to relax and enjoy something, than to keep going going going until I feel like stress itself will rip me apart.

I’ve had to make an active effort and sometimes involve friends for some encouragement, but I’m finally at a place where I can identify the types of self care that I enjoy and that I try to do at least one of on any given day.

The root of all productivity is to give ourselves a better, more successful life- to be as happy as possible- so why do we fail to take stops along the way and allow ourselves to be happy and relaxed, here and now?

Of course, moderation is key to anything so doing these things all day long and neglecting responsibilities is never a great idea- but if you are an anxiety ridden, type-A, perfectionist like myself, then you will find the challenge lies in doing what feels like “nothing.”


Here are some of my favorite ways to practice self care:

  1. Go for a hike, alone or with friends
  2. Pick a recipe, and make a home-cooked meal that involves more than two ingredients- no microwave allowed!
  3. Get my nails done (or DIY that shit!)
  4. Get a massage (Self massage is good too!)
  5. Journal- bullet journal, regular journal, any kind of writing and self reflection. Writing a daily gratitude log is a great place to start.
  6. Watch my favorite show- if Netflix asks, ‘if you’re still watching’ then you might be overdoing it a little.
  7. Take a nap!
  8. Go to my favorite bar, sober, and alone and dance.
  9. Take myself on a date: movies, dinner, hot tub, sleep.
  10. Art- I prefer painting or collaging
  11. Ted Talks!  [Recently discussed with some friends how if Ted were personified he’d be the ideal life partner]
  12. Drink a cup of warm, calming tea
  13. Put a nice scent in my essential oil diffuser
  14. Do my makeup for no one but me
  15. Read a new book, or an old favorite
  16. Thrift shopping
  17. Walking outside with a dope playlist
  18. Sweating it out in the sauna
  19. Yoga [or what I think resembles yoga]
  20. Drinking green juice
  21. Rubbing Aveda ‘Stress Relief’ all over and inhaling deeply
  22. Adult coloring books
  23. Spending time with uplifting friends
  24. Meditation [Still figuring this out]
  25. Foam rolling
  26. Face masks
  27. Using LUSH bath products
  28. Do a daily emotional check in- written or otherwise
  29. Counseling! It’s the best
  30. Repeating a mantra that makes me feel grounded and confident.