How to combat motivation slumps

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In my last blog post (written months ago) I discussed my struggle with staying motivated and how I simply felt burnt out.  Since then I have taken several steps to work myself out of that slump.  At this time of the year a lot of people decide to throw in the towel and “start fresh” in the new year.  New year new you right?  Maybe this is true for those who are truly, internally motivated to change but perhaps not for those who are externally pressured to “get fit”.  Or maybe you are someone like me who was in love with the grind but lost that spark somewhere along the way.  Wherever you may be in your journey, below is a list of things to consider as you work to revive that love for the grind:

 

1. Reevaluate your priorities

Working out has been a numero uno priority for me for years and this year it finally hit me that I needed to prioritize other things in my life aside from the gym.  I still kept working out as a top priority, just not number one.  Perhaps you have other things going on in your life that are more important to you right now and the gym may need to get stood up an extra night or two.  And that’s okay!  Being realistic with your priorities can at least help you justify why your gym visits have slowed down.  Maybe you’re not motivated to go to the gym because you just simply don’t want to be at the gym!  You’d rather be helping your best friend get ready for her wedding, or working an extra couple of hours for that raise.  Whatever it is, just be honest with your priorities and own it.  When getting fit is truly a top priority you’ll make the time and you’ll make the visits worth it.

2. Switch up your routine

Having the same lifting routine, using the same cardio machines, and even going to the same gym can get boring.  I had been doing the same lifting split for months and just simply got bored.  I decided to actually write down my new split and plan to change it every 4 weeks.  This kept some structure in my routine (which I need) but it was a new structure and knowing that I was going to switch it in 4 weeks gave me that sense of deadline like “hey next month you may not be doing kettlebell swings so you better swing the shit out of that kettlebell”.  Maybe (definitely) I am the only person who thinks that way.  Either way, even just writing down my plan gave me a sense of direction and goal which motivated me to follow through.

3. Ditch the cardio machines

Maybe you are one of those people that loves cardio machines and props to you if you are but I honestly get bored AF most of the time.  I’ll still do the stairmaster every once in a while but the thought of getting on the treadmill, bike, or elliptical… snooze city.  Here is a list of ways that I have been getting in my cardio that doesn’t involve a machine:

-Real stairs: Pick up 25lb plates and go up and down the stairs at your gym a few times.  If your gym doesn’t have stairs use a step and do a few rounds of step ups

-Sleds: Throw a couple of plates on a sled and give that baby a push in between your lifting sets.  This is by far  one of the quickest ways to get your heart rate up fast.

-Bodyweight HIIT circuit: You can literally make up your own circuit and just go hard for 30-60 seconds and rest for 30-60 seconds.  An example would be burpees for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds, box jump 30 second, rest 30 seconds. 20 mins of HIIT is a quick and effective way to burn dem cals.

-Battle ropes- Pick these up and slam them on the ground a few times, feel the burn and repeat.

…Jump rope, boxing, supersets, medicine ball slams, swimming, tire flips.  You get the gist.

 

4. Try a new gym or activity

In addition to switching up my lifting split I also switched back to my old gym.  You’d be surprised at how much just a change of scenery can make a difference.  And if it’s just the whole idea of a gym that makes you want to puke, try a yoga or tabata class with a friend, go for a hike, try something new that’s active!

 

5. Give your body a rest

Maybe you feel unmotivated because you are just as exhausted physically as you are mentally.  Sometimes you just need to take a step back.  You’re not going to *lose all of the gains* if you take a little gym vacation.  You may be surprised with how your body responds to rest.  Even if you get a little fluffy after some time off, that time off may be just what you need to reset and refuel that energy.

If you have struggled in the past with staying motivated, please share in the comments below what steps you took to gain your motivation back!

 

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Finding balance: Where I am at

Balance

After competing in two bodybuilding shows last year I set a goal for myself to hang up the heels for a while (most likely indefinitely) and focus on finding a healthy balance in my life.  For those who aren’t a regular follower, I have been a bit more active with blog posting and Instagram lately, particularly with the “fitstagram” posts.  I have been a bit more active for two reasons. The first reason is to motivate.  More people have been asking me for workout advice or healthy meal ideas and while I am no PT I love to share whatever I can!  The gram or my blog are both great ways for me to keep track of my recipes and have reference points to share with others or to even revisit myself!  The second reason is to hold myself accountable.  If I have a certain “fitness” goal in mind it is often helpful for me to share my journey with the public (aka like my mom and 3 friends).  So aside from this larger goal of *balance*, I recently set a mini goal for myself to cut down for an upcoming fitness workshop and photo-shoot + my trip to Vegas where Mr. Olympia is hosted, but I have found myself slowly losing motivation.

I want to look dope AF at this workshop and in Vegas where I will be surrounded by some of the most well known athletes in the industry, but at what point will I just be happy with where my body is at?  I have come a very long way this year when it comes to self image/ self love/ balance/ whatever people want to call it these days but it’s weeks like these that I realize I am not quite there yet and that this isn’t just a situation where I am going to wake up one day and be like “Fuck yes I will never have a negative thought about my body ever again”.  Lately I’ve just felt tired.  Tired physically.  Tired mentally.  My 5am lifts have turned into 9am lifts, or no lifts.  My daily cardio has significantly dropped (side note I don’t need to be doing a ton of cardio I just used to really enjoy doing it).  And my “diet” is starting to feel like a diet and well, I am just tired of feeling like I am always on a diet.  For anyone who has ever tracked macros before, aka “flexible dieting”, you’ll realize that once you know the science it is always ingrained in your head even when you try not to track.  Can’t a girl just get a healthy acai bowl for breakfast which is filled with superfoods and micronutrients and not worry about the fact that half of her suggested carb intake for the day will be used up?  Maybe it is the heat, or maybe it is the fact that I haven’t started my new job yet and my usual routine is off, but right now my motivation is in hideout.  I know if I were to just throw in the towel, stop working out, and eat like shit I would feel 100x worse after about two days so that is not going to happen.  However, this lifestyle is tricky and the motivation isn’t always there for me.  Hoping once I get back to my regular routine this week I will feel refreshed but in the meantime I would love to hear if other people trying to live the healthy grind have went through this same type of funk, and how they decided to handle it 🙂

The Burger Diet

Okay so it’s not exactly a diet but just a little experiment that I decided to do last week.  Hopefully that title grabbed some attention though 🙂  I recently shared on Instagram that I was starting to get sick of my diet and that goes against everything that I preach so I decided to switch it up a bit, particularly adding lean beef and turkey as protein.  I incorporated 1-2 healthy burger creations into my meals every day last week.  The results? Very satisfied.  My current fitness goal is to slowly lean out and I really didn’t change up my current calorie intake or macro split.  If anything I added a bit more carbs this week.  I was easily able to incorporate a lot of delicious burger-based meals into my diet without steering off plan.  If anything I actually felt leaner by the end of the week.  I didn’t weigh myself before and after because I like to focus more on how I look and feel to determine progress and the goal here wasn’t to show a decrease on the scale.  The goal was to show that your diet does not have to be boring to be healthy.  It’s sometimes hard to distinguish between being hungry v.s. not satisfied which is why I needed to mix things up a bit.  This was a fun way to mix up my diet and satisfy my burger cravings!  Below is a recap of my favorite creations from the week:

 

The Good Morning Burger

GoodMorningBurger

13F/30C/38P

Lean beef patty (4oz)

Ezekiel sesame bread

1 egg over easy

1 slice turkey bacon

1/2 light creamy swiss Laughing Cow cheese wedge

 

Burger Caesar Salad

BurgerCaeser

9F/20C/31P

1/2 cup kale

1/2 cup romaine lettuce

Lean beef patty (4oz)

1 medium tomato

Bolthouse Caesar Parmigiano dressing

Joseph’s flax whole wheat pita

 

Turkey Tacos

TurkeyTacos

9F/38C/38P

Lean ground turkey (4oz)

2 lettuce wedges

1/4 avocado

~15g fat free mozzarella

1/2 cup rice

1/4 cup black beans

1 tablespoon salsa

 

Portabella Mushroom Burger

PortabellaMushroom Burger

1F/42C/44P

2 Portabella Mushroom caps

Lean turkey patty (4oz)

1/4 cup zesty diced tomatoes

~28g fat free mozzarella

4oz sweet potato “fries” (baked)

1 tbsp Xyla chipotle bbq sauce

 

Cheeseburger Flatbread Pizza

Cheeseburger Flatbread

13F/37C/27P

Flatout spicy italian flatbread

62g no salt added tomato sauce

2oz lean beef

~28g reduced fat cheddar cheese

1/2 cup romaine lettuce

1/2 medium diced tomato

Bolthouse Classic Ranch dressing (2 tbsp)

*this might have taken the gold for the week

 

Let me know your favorite comfort foods; I’d love to share more healthy alternatives!  I am thinking pizza creations for my next experiment….

Time is not the problem

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And neither is money. Prioritization is the problem.  I always hear people blame time and money for their unhealthy habits and I am here to tell you that you CAN find time for the gym and you CAN eat healthy on a tight budget, it’s just not your priority.  People often like to use time and money as an excuse to feel better about their decisions.  This pertains to any goal in life, not just fitness.  Would you ever starve your puppy because you didn’t have time or money to feed him/her?  Yes I went there.  But you get the point.  If you have a health goal, or any goal that is truly important to you,  I promise you you will find time.  When I tell people that I workout at 5am they always tell me they could never do it because they are not a morning person.  Well let me tell you that neither am I.  In fact, I have to set my alarm 30 minutes early so that I can press snooze 3 times until I forcibly roll out of bed.  I then proceed to take pre-workout, aka a shot of caffeine magic, and it is not until the magic kicks in that I feel like a human.  I do this because my work hours are unpredictable and getting my work done is also a priority so in order to make sure I tackle both, I choose to workout in the morning.  I am not saying that working out at 5am is something that anyone else needs to do.  My point is that there are 24 hours in the day and a lot of ways to get your workout in.  Even if it’s a 20 minute at home exercise video.  Find whatever works for YOU.  People are always looking for the “quick fix” when it comes to getting in shape and the reality is you actually have to put in the work.  Make some sacrifices.  No “quick fix” is maintainable. All the skinny teas, 10 day detoxes etc may give you a temporary “weight” loss which will probably consist mostly of water but keep putting the money you don’t have for your healthy diet towards quick fixes instead of nutritious foods ;).  Okay so that was harsh but it just drives me crazy when people continue to buy into these marketing gimmicks.  Once you start taking the time to plan ahead, you’ll realize that healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive.

This goes back to prioritization.  Unless I am doing a major stock up, I typically spend anywhere from 60-80 a week on groceries which consist of lean protein, veggies, fruits, whole grains etc and this covers my meals for a full week.  So lets take $80/7.  That’s $11.42 a day for ALL meals.  I typically eat 8 small/medium sized meals a day so that’s $1.37 per meal.  So just to put this into a bit more context… I’ve spent more money on 1 salad from a local shop downtown for lunch (shout out Roche Bros salad bar) than I spend on a full day of food that I pack.  Now I am not someone that buys everything all organic/gluten free etc which I realize can be more expensive but I would bet that one would still get their bang for their buck if they simply take a few extra minutes to plan ahead and be smart with their grocery shopping.  This is, if it’s a priority.  So moral of the story here… be honest with your priorities.  Did you really not have time for that workout or was it just not a priority at the time?  And let’s be clear I am not lecturing people to go get their workouts in and go grocery shopping, just start being honest with what’s truly important to you at the time.  Try this: “No, I didn’t get my workout in this morning because I prioritized margaritas with friends last night and I am too hungover”(said by yours truly). But hey, nights out with friends are important too and at least I am being honest with what’s important.  If I have money for a night out at the bar, I have money for egg whites and chicken.  So before you decide you don’t have enough money or time for something, think about if time and money are the real problem or if you simply don’t want it enough.  I wanted to end this post on a lighter note but someone needs to tell it how it is, especially in a society where for some reason people are afraid to be honest, and instead make up excuses upon excuses, justify their decisions and just wait for things to be handed to them.  With a topic I feel so strongly about, you will always get tough love from me.

My Experience With Bodybuilding

I mentioned in the spring that I would write about my experience after my first show and then just never got around to it because life happened and then before I knew it I was back on prep.  Two shows later, I am ready to reflect on my overall experience with bodybuilding.  I have a lot to say so bravo to you if you actually read this entire novel.  Before I get into too much detail, I want to reiterate that this is obviously just my PERSONAL opinion (hence the title) and everyone’s experience with competing is unique.  I took a difference approach when prepping for each of my shows.  In fact, I would say they were almost totally opposite approaches.  For my first show I followed IIFYM (if it fits your macros).  My coach provided me with the amount of protein/carbs/fats I should be reaching per day and I filled them as I pleased.  I lifted 5-6 days a week and did minimal cardio.  The most cardio I did was 4, 30 min HIIT sessions per week.  My second show followed a specific meal plan.  My coach told me what to eat each week and adjusted as necessary.  I lifted 7 days a week and reached 2 hours of cardio per day by show time.  I wouldn’t say there is a right or wrong approach as there were pros and cons to each of these approaches.  Now, with that background, I am ready to dive into the good, the bad, and the roller coaster ride that is competing.

PROS:

Show Day

Getting up on stage was one of the most rewarding experiences.  You put blood sweat and tears into transforming your body and get to show off all of your hard work.  I really love setting a goal and actually following through with it so competing was a really satisfying accomplishment for me.  Also, I am typically not a girly girl so it was fun for me to get all dressed up for the day in sparkly shit and have my makeup done beyond a layer of eyeliner.

Meeting New People

Aside from all the glits and glam, I got to meet a lot of really great people with that same passion that I have.  I not only developed new friendships but also have learned a ton about fitness and nutrition from a lot of really smart people.  There will always be a firehouse of information out there related to this industry but I feel that my experiences have taught me a lot about what my body needs to be healthy and I am so grateful for that.

Inspiring Others

The amount of positive feedback I have received is amazing.  Selfishly, I went into bodybuilding to focus on myself, not realizing how much my journey would impact others.  No I am not a sponsored athlete with 50K+ followers on Instagram,  but having just one other person tell me that I inspire them is pretty frigen cool.  I’ve recently been getting asked a lot of questions about my opinion on certain training and/or diet topics and while I am no nutritional coach, I could talk about this stuff for hours and love that I can share my opinions with others in hopes to motivate,inspire, or just provide some sort of direction.

 

CONS:

Show Day Part 2

This is literally the longest effing day of your life.  You put so much time, effort, and money into preparing for the stage.  I am talking food prep, training, posing, money spent on suit, accessories, tanning, hair, makeup, the list goes on. And guess what?  You spend 99% of the show day sitting and waiting.  You get about 30 seconds on stage to convince a panel of judges that all of your hard work and dedication was worth it.  When really at the end of the day the only persons opinion that really matters is yourself.  You could be in the best shape out of everyone in your class but if you don’t present “the look” that the judges are looking for that day then no hardware for you.

Post Competition

Self image is something that I personally struggle with (shocker) and that goes for a lot of other females, and males.  So for me, I am not sure the whole competing process is the best way to heal that.  I am super competitive so when I walked away from my first show with nothing, as much as I like to pretend I wasn’t upset about it, I was pretty bummed.  I walked away from my second show with two trophies including winning my open class and in the moment this was extremely gratifying.  But guess what?  My body isn’t going to stay stage lean forever and now I have to deal with the mental battle of accepting my body at its “normal” state.  And depending on how you plan your post show diet, your metabolism can get super effed up.  My last show ended right before Thanksgiving and I was on a pretty tight meal plan so my body was not happy with me going from 0 to 100.  I did not reverse diet like I did with my first show and it resulted in a pretty quick and heavy weight gain.  Do I regret not reverse dieting?  Sometimes.  However, I told myself after this show that I would give my mind a break from feeling like it was on a diet and that is exactly what I did.  This “lifestyle” can become obsessive and I found myself missing out on a lot because I didn’t want to have a drink or eat food that I didn’t personally cook.  I was constantly feeling the pressure to keep my body in the best shape it can be in because I made the decision to share my journey with friends, family, social media, etc.  There have been times that I feared going out in public because I thought I was going to get judged for my actions or image.  In general, the whole “off season” “on season” bodybuilding cycle really messes with my head so I’ve personally set a goal to break that cycle this year and find a comfortable balance with my body where I am happy and healthy.

 

SO NOW WHAT?

Will I ever compete again?  I currently have no plans to.  At least not in the near future.  Right now I am just focusing on enjoying life in my mid twenties.  Working hard in the gym.  Working hard at my job.  Spending time with the people I care about.  I found that prepping for shows sometimes interfered with my focus at work and my relationships with friends and family.  For me, if I can’t balance my relationships and my job while preparing for a show, it’s simply not worth it.  Competing is something you really have to be all in for.   I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, health and fitness is a huge part of my life, but it’s not my entire life.  There is a reason it is called a “lifestyle”.  For some, competing is a part of their lifestyle and I fully respect that.  For me, I see bodybuilding as a piece of the puzzle, a key milestone, in my journey to being the healthiest version of myself that I can be.

Bikini Competition Prep, What I Have Learned So Far.

mealprep2

So as a lot of you may know at this point, I have decided to compete in a bodybuilding show.  No, I am not trying to transform myself into Hulk Hogan.  I am competing in the bikini division.  Give “bikini competitor” a Google if you don’t know what that means.  I have always been focused on being healthy and took the next step to change my lifestyle about a year ago.  As I started to really change my diet and pick up those heavy weights, I noticed a big difference in how I looked and felt.  I decided I really wanted a challenge and to see just how far I could push myself.  I made the decision last summer that I wanted to compete.  And after several months of building muscle, here I am, half way through my contest prep diet.  So, here are a few things I have learned throughout this whole process:

1. It is a lot easier said than done to have a balanced social life while on contest prep.

It just is.  I can’t drink and it is really difficult to go out to dinner if the restaurant does not provide nutritional information.  Even if the restaurant does provide nutritional information, there is a good chance that the information is not 100% accurate.  I am sorry but if I am spending thousands of dollars (yes thousands) to bring my best package to the stage there is a good chance that I am going to do everything that I can to make sure my diet is on point.  Yes, there is the possibility of me taking my tupperware container to the restaurant but I have to admit I feel slightly rude doing that.  And let’s backtrack to the part when I said I can’t drink.  This is probably the most difficult part of prep for me.  And I say that in full confidence that I am not an alcoholic.  I am however, a 25 year old woman who enjoys a night out with her friends in the city every once and a while, or a wine night here and there.  But can’t I still have fun going out to the bar and not drinking? Yes, sometimes, but when you workout at 5am everyday it’s hard to put on your “turnt up” face on a Saturday night as you wait for last call.  I will say, if I ever decide to compete again, this is an area that I certainly need to work on.

2.  Not everyone will understand what you’re doing, or why you are doing it, and that is perfectly okay.

I try to avoid explaining why I am not drinking or why I am avoiding the cookies in the office as much as I can but I am truly bad at lying.  So I have had to explain to a lot of people that I am on a contest prep blah blah blah and there are two common reactions I have received. First, “wow that’s awesome good luck”.  Second , “so, you can’t just have one cookie? one drink?”.  I used to get super frustrated with response number two.  I quickly realized that they aren’t trying to bring me down and that they probably just realize that I do in fact want that glass of wine and they just really wish I could have one with them.  I am still learning all the ins and out of prepping for a bikini competition, so why should I expect that others understand what I am even doing?  I have received a ton of positive feedback throughout this entire journey from family and friends and I know they want nothing but the best for me.  I’ve concluded that my lower carb intake bitch is just taking over from time to time and it will eventually pass. 🙂

3.  It is important to engage with other competitors or people within the industry.

A lot of competitors will work with a local coach, be a part of a local team and have teammates by their side throughout their entire prep journey.  I on the other hand am working with an online coach who is located out of the state.  Now, I wouldn’t change my coach for anything but I realized quickly that this meant I would really have to go the extra mile to do a little extra research in finding out what the right show was for me and getting additional in person posing help.  More importantly, I feel like having people that you can connect with about the process is really important.  This really goes back to my first and second points listed above.  Not everyone is going to fully understand what you are going through, and that is okay.  In fact, even your fellow competitors will most likely have a totally different prep journey than you.  However, despite the slight differences in your diet and exercise leading up to the show, you’re all reaching for similar goals and will most likely all be spending more Saturday nights in chugging BCAAs and protein shakes.  At least if you choose to spend most of your weekends in you’re going to want someone to bond with over your mutual grandma-ness.  It is also important to point out that this prep feels like a second full time job (a very expensive second job), so I can’t help but talk about it more than I would like.  I am sure people are sick of hearing me talk about food and the gym which is why having others in the same boat to vent to that can directly relate makes things a little easier.  This is actually part of the reason that I started to blog, so that I had a platform where I could share all of my thoughts throughout my fitness journey and whoever wanted to read it can and those who don’t care don’t have to read it!  My last point here is that you may actually learn something from speaking to someone else.  There are A LOT of opinions out there when it comes to bodybuilding, dieting, what to eat, what not to eat, and you may not agree with everyone but you can gain some valuable knowledge by talking to people that have either competed in the past or are involved with the industry somehow.

Now, if you’re still reading this then I am thoroughly impressed.  I’ll be sure to follow up after my show in 5 weeks to give a full reflection of the experience.  My opinions that I stated above may even completely change by the end of this week 🙂  That’s just what this prep has done to my brain!

How I Turned Pro- Gym Selfie

Okay, so I used to be that person who would scroll through my news feed and roll my eyes any time that I saw a gym check in.

First official gym selfie before building season

First official gym selfie before building season

I thought to myself, “congratulations you are at the gym no one cares”.  I would think the same thing when I saw a picture on Instagram of someone sweating after a tough workout.  But really, what is the point of social media if you aren’t sharing with others the things that you enjoy?  How is checking in at the gym any different from checking in at a restaurant or bar?  How is posting a picture of yourself in the gym any different from posting a picture of yourself in the car?  I’ve come to believe that gym selfies, or selfies in general, are not so much attention seeking but rather a representation of confidence and pride.  Now maybe there are a couple of instances that are an exception here, but I would say very few.  For someone like me who is working towards a fitness goal, taking pictures is really helpful in determining progress and if I want to share my experience along the way then why shouldn’t I?  I mean, why do we really follow people on social media anyways if we aren’t interested in what is going on with their life?  I posted my first “”gym selfie” the other week, not because I was fishing for likes, but because I was excited about my journey thus far and like to keep myself accountable.  Looking back now, I think all of my eye rolls were just my way of trying to cover my own lack of self-confidence.  I also realize that not everything needs to be documented on social media and that it is important to live in the moment. If a selfie here and there makes that much of an impact on your day than perhaps you need to reevaluate your priorities.  SELFIE-ON PEOPLE!