Weekend Outdoor Workout

Hi everyone,

In light of my long seasonal work hours this weekend, I’m posting my favorite outdoor workouts that keep me in shape when I don’t visit my gym. They’re simple, and they don’t require any extra equipment.

Cardio 

Running stairs: Your heart rate increases and the constant climbing and descending pushes your muscles to work harder. You get the cardiovascular activity as well as the muscle-building. Because of the step incline, the activity is engaging more of your leg muscles and is easier on your joints. Not to mention running stairs is great for toning your glutes.

Trail running: I personally want to encourage trail running over pavement due to the extra cushion on the joints. I’ve had experience with shin splints, and the thought of running on pavement makes me cringe. Trails are also more therapeutic, given you are surrounded by forest coverage and nature as opposed to traffic and cement.

Uphill sprinting: This is a great shorter, high intensity cardio workout

HIIT

If you have a park bench or something similar:

  1. Single leg step-ups
  2. Tricep dips
  3. Decline push-ups

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If you want to really make your arms burn:

Commandos: these are done just with your bodyweight, and they are great for toning

Push-ups: these are a standard arm workout with no equipment and done with bodyweight

For your abs:

Mountain climbers: These are so effective for the abdominals. I usually really start to feel them at 30-40 reps!

Straight leg raises: Be sure to support your back by placing your hands slightly underneath

Ab bikes: I prefer to do these slow to really target my abdominals correctly. I often see people rushing through these and I never find them as effective that way!

*For the ab exercises above, make sure to keep your core engaged the entire time to get the best possible tone*

Legs:

Squats: These are so common because they’re great for building your leg definition as well as your glute muscles. I like to get really low with my squats to better train all of my leg muscles, including my hamstrings.

Lunges: I do either reverse lunges or walking lunges, depending on space. If you have a lot of it, aim for doing 20 walking lunges each leg in one set.

*With squats and lunges, be sure not to let your knees come over your toes in sake of your form*

Ready to get outside and sweat? Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly

Strength Training Myths + My Workout Tips

What’s on my mind: the idea that girls will bulk if they lift anything over 10 lbs.

I wanted to try to help this clarification, mainly because girls and women often find it questionable when built men say females won’t bulk. How do you know for sure? It actually has to do with the fact that women have much lower levels of testosterone than men. However, if you’re looking for other reasons to ease you into heavier weight training, I’ve come up with the reasons I told myself after research as well as reliance on qualified professionals.

Women tone through heavier weight training as opposed to “bulking” like men, because they don’t gain the added mass on top of the muscle. The result is toned muscle. This is a great thing, for the fat that surrounded the developed muscle reduces, and you are left with a toned physique.

It should be noted that reps and sets make a big difference to the type of training you’re trying to do, as well as recovery time. Some are training with more weight and less reps for more muscle, and some are doing less weight and more reps for more endurance. It really depends on you. Simply lifting heavier weights will not make you bulky, in fact, it’s important to increase weight to continue gaining benefits from your exercises. Your body will adjust to a stagnant routine, and you will be left with zero progress. 

Bulking is calorie dependent. If you eat more calories than you are burning, then there is a chance you will experience weight gain. And sometimes when you start lifting heavier you have a higher appetite, so make sure to follow the next tip: diet.

It’s a false assumption that increased gym time or adding weight training to your routine means you can slack more on your diet. This is not true at all! I have personally experienced myself needing more protein with my new workouts, but I focus on eating clean. Eating clean and working out will get you so much farther than you think. So much of what you see in the mirror comes from what you’re eating in the kitchen! It is said by trainers that diet is 80-90% of your fat loss. 

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I also need to pay special attention to the seemingly universal rule that women should do sets of 10 reps. It has been ingrained in our heads that we shouldn’t do more than 10 reps, when in reality we could probably do 30 per set with those small dumbbells we always carry to our corners out of everyone’s way. Listen to your body and also listen to qualified trainers that could give you a free consultation at your local gym. You may be surprised with what your body can do. 

There’s no universal workout routine for everyone. People have different body types, fat distribution and problem areas, as well as metabolisms. It’s not realistic to compare your workout routine to someone else’s to achieve your desired results.

Also take note that women you see on magazine covers that specialize in weight training also take supplements to enhance their muscles. Not everyone takes supplements. I personally just use protein powder, a plant-based one from Vega, in order to increase the protein missing from my pescatarian diet.

Your personal genetic makeup plays a huge role in how your muscle develops, as well as fat reduction. Everyone loses fat in certain places in a certain order. In other words, if you are trying to focus on two specific areas as priorities, you might lose the fat in other areas first due to your genetic makeup. This process takes time.

If you’re looking for an even leaner look, integrate cardio into your routine, but don’t overdo it and deplete the muscle you’ve worked hard for. I like to do no more than 20 minutes of cardio at my gym sessions.

There is also the theory that men and women have to train differently. This isn’t entirely true. I go through workouts with my trainer or with guy friends in the gym and I’ll do the same exercises as them. Yes, I will be using less weight, but that’s because I’m not strong enough to do the heavier weight with correct form. So do not avoid workouts thinking they are gender specific, because this is also a myth.   

Bottom line: train the way you want to train. There are many different types of training to choose from, however, adding weight training can only benefit weight loss and toning of the muscles. My current mix of training is as follows:

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) : lots of jump squats, mountain climbers, etc to boost my heart rate up

Weight training: personal training with heavier weights and getting new material!

Cardio: believe it or not I actually get very bored doing cardio now. But when I do I like to do 10 minutes warm-up doing sprint intervals on the treadmill or the elliptical, and then often end weight training with 10 minutes on the stair master. This gives me a variety. Sometimes my shins bother me from the treadmill, so if you have the same issue, choose a lower impact cardio workout with the bike or elliptical.

Yoga and Pilates: I love yoga for flexibility and Pilates for toning and core. I would highly recommend integrating them into your weekly routine, and there are plenty of online videos to follow if your schedule doesn’t allow time to go to a class. 

I hope these tips and clarifications helped anyone deciding on a new workout routine! Feel free to ask questions on the above content in the comment section below.

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For my fitness journey, refer to my Instagram. My username is @kmzwicker

Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly

Affordable Gym Gear and Where to Buy it

What’s on my mind: Ways of getting quality and fashionable gym gear, without the high cost. Interested? Read on, because these stores contain beautiful bargains. It’s all about the bargains.

First off, I want to love the gym gear I work out in and feel comfortable, because I’m doing a lot of movements that require both flexibility from me and the fabric. Getting super low for squats or doing shoulder presses, quality gym gear is key.

The top places I have found steals:

  1. TJ Maxx/ Marshall’s: These stores have the best deals. I find brands such as Nike, Under Armour, and Athleta in the fitness sections. Recently I got a pair of Nike cropped tights for $29, regularly around $85. You save a ton of money scouting these stores. Another thing to look for are zip ups and sweatshirts. I have also gotten my protein shaker, jump ropes, yoga mats, as well as free weights from one of these.
  2. Costco: I know Costco is a beautiful place due to free food samples, but the clothing section is actually pretty sweet. There are regular brands such as Calvin Klein or Adidas, and then less known brands that have recently collaborated with Costco. Ladies: the tights featured in the above photo are from Costco, a brand called Tufts Athletics. I bought two pairs, each for $16.99. They are super comfortable and flattering on, and the patterned one is fun to wear to weight sessions.
  3. Nordstrom Rack: This one is lower on the list because this store is such a hit or miss for me to find something, and usually the gym gear is shoes not clothing. Then again, I am very picky about running shoes in terms of arch support. However, if you want to snag a pair of Nikes for maybe $60 or less, go here.
  4. Target: So Target carries a lot of gear made by Champion, and I have on occasion gotten tights from there that lasted a long time. I find the brand to fade faster than higher end ones like Nike and Adidas, but the cost is super reasonable.
  5. Amazon: Shout out to those addicted to Amazon prime for fast deliveries and bargains. You find some really good gear and workout accessories on here. I purchased a spiked foam roller for my shin splints in college, made by a company is Utah. One of the best things ever, although rolling out shins is not a pleasant thing.

Another sidenote: I did work for Athleta for a year, and I absolutely love their clothes. The quality is amazing and the clothes are completely functional. However, it didn’t make the list because I wouldn’t consider the store “affordable” for many people. Athleta is a great store to splurge on. The reason why I own 5 pairs of yoga pants (as well as tights) from there and some tops is because I had a 50% discount as an employee. If you’re looking for a retail job and live in the gym, consider working there because you’ll be covered for a while.

These are the places I think of for the best deals on workout gear. Why buy full price when you don’t have to?

Where is your favorite place to get gym gear? I’d love any other recommendations for steals. Comment below! xx

-Kelly

 

Swapping Cardio for Weights

Hi everyone,

We all have an idea of what it means to be healthy. Eat right, workout, live an active lifestyle within an increasingly sedentary society. Seems simple, right? What if you are doing these things to live that healthy lifestyle, but begin to lose the results? Change is then going to become the solution to your problem. It was for me.

Being a college athlete for four years, I was always doing mass amounts of cardio training, mostly on the tennis court. Hours were spent in high intensity competition or repetitive drilling. Weight training and HIIT workouts were also included in team workouts, however, cardio was the dominant exercise. If you’re curious what happens when you graduate from this lifestyle and try to establish a new routine, I’ll share what I learned in this time period about fitness.

I have always been dedicated to the gym, mostly going 6 days a week without fail. When I graduated this summer I continued going on 45 minute runs and doing very similar weight training, and I saw myself hit a plateau. My routine was stagnant. I’ve been doing personal training for two weeks now, a program I never associated with because I didn’t think I needed to be coached to workout. Let me clear this up. You can utilize some training sessions even if you’re a gym junkie.

By no means am I saying personal training is essential to meeting your goals, it’s just a challenge that will only bring benefits. I am doing all new workouts that test me in new ways, and, most importantly, i’ve completely switched my workout routine ratio of weights to cardio.

My former tentative post-graduation fitness routine:

  • Cardio approximately 45 mins a day
  • Weights 2-3 times a week
  • Mat workouts (abs, glutes, etc)
  • *to note: I was using primarily free weights just up to 10 lbs

Current routine:

  • Cardio just 3 days a week for 20 minutes
    • Mixing it up between the stair stepper, treadmill, stair runs outside etc
  • Weights up to 4 days a week
    • Every day is working different muscles
      • legs, arms, back, shoulders, glutes
      • Beginning at heaviest weight for true form and decreasing weight each set of reps
  • I try to incorporate a pilates or yoga class once a week, because stretching is key to preventing injury. I also love the relaxation part of these, given the strenuous nature of weight lifting.

I’m going to be 100% honest, I’ve never been pushed this hard in the gym with weights. Tennis was so heavily based on endurance and how long I could last during match points, I didn’t spend a lot of time on the machines. Now I spend most of my time on them.

The best part: There are only benefits. I haven’t found any reasoning to second guess the investment of personal training or the swapped routine. I have more energy because weight training fatigues only my muscles, instead of making me feel sluggish. My muscle composition is already improved. I’m learning a lot more about what my body needs from workouts, to better compliment my other healthy habits.

Another awesome part about all of this: I’m never bored. There are days I skip cardio because I don’t need it. At a certain point, cardio begins to take away the muscle you work so hard for.

muscle > fat 

strong > everything?

I was careful with the second bold statement above, because there’s nothing “wrong” with anyone’s body. Everyone has different genetics. I just personally wasn’t satisfied anymore with just being “fit.” Because what is fit? I’m a person that functions off of constant improvement and balance (Libra issues). Now my gym routine is included in that as well.

It’s slightly uncomfortable at first to put my trust into another person to push me to get better results, but the truth remains that I didn’t know enough about what it takes to gain proper muscle composition. I wasn’t aware how helpful it was to keep a training journal to record progress and BMI updates. I didn’t know the potential of my own body. Someone had to tell me to stop running and get on the bench.

I’m not going to fully dive into the gender discussion about girls’ incessant need to complete cardio sessions, because I’m guilty for that blind reliance as well.

The women I admire most and follow through web content and Instagram lift weights on a constant basis. Weights are your best friend. Cardio is an accessory to weights. Looking at it this way has really helped me move forward.

Sometimes you need a little assistance separating myths from facts.

Effective this week, I’m going to be adding workout routines, gym gear posts, as well as on-the-go nutritious meals that I stick to on a weekly basis.

I’m really excited to be expanding my content and posting more regularly, and thank you so much to those who have already been following for more!

Comment below on your favorite workout, or your next fitness goal you desire most.

Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly

 

 

 

 

Fitness: Without the Gym Membership

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Hi everyone,

For the past three weeks, I have been in the moving process. During this time I have not been going to the gym for workouts. I have to admit it has been a strange experience, given my consistency with this routine! I am now happy to be scouting for a new gym to join, although this decision has a few factors to consider. This transition has got me thinking about the individuals that may be in the same position.

For those on vacation or who live a lifestyle that requires traveling, finding alternative ways to getting a workout in is key to staying in shape and being healthier. There are so many substitutions if one does not wish to obtain a gym membership.

Reasoning individuals do not go to the gym could include:

  • Finances: Obtaining a gym membership does require a financial commitment, whether a small or large monthly expenditure. This definitely depends on the gym and what it offers.
  • Convenience/proximity: Depending on where you are located, you could have limited to no access to a gym that would be suitable for your schedule.
  • Work: Some individuals work long shifts that do not allow them to set aside the time.
  • A general disinterest:Everyone is different and obtains different goals, therefore some individuals do not have an interest in exercising.

If any of these factors sound familiar, perhaps you could get more creative with your options to boost your interest or make time for physical activity.

My methods for the past three weeks:

Main tip: Utilize the outdoors.Whether you have 20 minutes or an hour, the outdoors do not have a closing time.

My personal favorite outdoor workout is a long hike. My feature image is emphasizing the beauty of the outdoors and how a good view and good company could make for the best workout. Hiking gets your heart rate up on steep hills and you get the fresh air, as opposed to doing cardio indoors.

Running and walking are great for cardio. I go on walk/jog stints in intervals to get my heart rate up. I prefer doing interval training rather than just jogging because it brings more of a challenge for your body. Also try to choose a route with some hills as opposed to training solely on flat surfaces. This will work your calves and glutes more going uphill. 

HIIT (High intensity interval training)is one of my favorite types of training. If you are not familiar, HIIT is basically shorter periods of more intense exercise with less recovery time. If you are in a crunch for time, this would be a quicker workout on the days where you have a super busy schedule.

BodyFlow is a common gym session offered with gym memberships, however, BodyFlow includes a mixture of Tai Chi, pilates, and yoga, all exercises that can be completed at home with minimal equipment. It would be wise to invest in a yoga mat for the extra cushion and stability with these flexibility exercises, although a softer surface would suffice as well! These are body and mind workouts, and allow you to also relax your mind from outside influences. I would highly recommend incorporating them to improve mental health.

Weight training: In order to work with weights, equipment is required. Buying free weights is a one time purchase and would definitely help succeeding in working out at home. Balance balls, bosu balls, benches, and even small pieces such as strength bands could also be great investments. As opposed to getting these in sport stores, try shopping in the clearance section at stores such as TJ Maxx or Marshall’s. I have saved so much money simply by going to these stores.

I do a mixture of the above workouts when I go through transition periods without gym access. I currently have these pieces of equipment:

  • Jump rope (quick cardio and warm-ups)
  • Medicine ball (great for HIIT, squats, and lunges)
  • Yoga mat
  • Ankle weights (for glute exercises)
  • Free weights (I personally own 5 and 8 lb weights that are easy to transport)
  • Strengthening bands (prevention of injuries)
  • A roller (I swear by these! Proper stretching is so important for healthy exercise. I use my roller especially for hamstrings and shins)

Due to the internet offering so many programs, public figures that specialize in weight and fitness training have done workout programs online. Examples of these figures could be Kayla Itsines, Jillian Michaels, and even the P90X series. If you don’t have the time or finances to go to the gym, these programs are also a one time purchase.

Don’t underestimate YouTube. This platform hosts countless fitness videos and routines available at any time. I have on occasion used Cassey Ho’s Pop Pilates free workouts via YouTube during busy times such as finals or while on vacation without gym access.

As far as the factor of disinterest, workout out is much better when you actually enjoy it. I am not a person to recommend going to the gym to spend an hour on the elliptical or getting on the stair stepper with a book. There are a lot of options to choose from, and you may not be experimenting enough to find what you like best and what gets you the best results.

Being a person that is very consistent with working out, I think there is a type of workout everyone would enjoy. My advice is to aim to achieve a balance, and not to get stuck in the same workout routine that you dread finishing.

If you are on vacation: Take a long walk on the beach. I absolutely love doing this because it’s a natural exfoliation for your feet as well as being a killer workout for your calves and muscles to push through the sand. You also have a view!

I hope these tips helped for those debating on how and when to incorporate exercise into their lifestyle. Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly

 

Reasoning to Ditch the Weight Scale

Hi everyone,

I’ve been very into posting about mental health topics and self-esteem lately due to the volume of literature I’ve been consumed in! I do believe that a healthy state of mind brings better  productivity and overall happiness.

Self-esteem is often connected to weight. Weight is often measured through the scale. Today I am going to share why I never look at the scale to determine my progress to meet my body goals.

Every year we go to the doctor’s office for a check-up (or maybe more often), and they often weigh patients. This makes sense completely, and this is the only time I step on the scale throughout the entire year. Why? Because it’s known to be an obsessive tool to measure your contentment with your body.

When I used to step on the scale in the gym or following my sister and mother I would always be surprised with my weight. I always fluctuated, and I often weighed more than I thought I would. I am an athlete, and muscle weighs heavier, but in a world of scrutinizing behavior and tragic self-loathing in terms of weight loss, even I had brief negative thoughts.

Muscle composition is healthy, and height also plays a major role in weight. I stand tall at about 5 foot eleven inches. Coupled with muscle from weight training, I have technically gained weight. Despite the number that reads off the piece of metal, I love my body more than ever. If that sounds off, you need to step off the scale and stop using it to determine your body image happiness.

I go off the mirror and how I look and feel to determine my happiness with my fitness results. After four years of being monitored with weight training and occasional nutrition plans I never felt completely satisfied throughout my college career. Now that I have complete control, I just use visuals.

Using the number on a scale is basically comparing yourself to others. I’m an athletic girl who is fit skinny, not fashion skinny or rail thin. I do freelance modeling in clothes that I feel comfortable in. I follow my own style and I practice a well-balanced fitness routine to cater to my whole body and mind.

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The scale is a negative thought that rests in your mind. You may never reach the goal you want from a number because your body proportions don’t match. You will soon focus on the number and possibly alter your lifestyle and diet, and become more and more unhappy. If you do reach the number, you may continue lowering it as your negative obsession spirals out of control.

Don’t let a machine run your life. A scale is an object. There are countless times I have been in a  locker room where there is a line to step on the scale, and I can practically feel the sense of hope and anxiety of people in that line as they await their number.

When is the last time you felt great about your body? Was it on a run outside, or a particular outfit you put on and loved? These small details and activities matter, and matter more than a number.

If you want the facts about scales:

  • They will be slightly different in reads, making the number inconsistent
  • They are very sensitive to clothes, accessories, shoes, etc
  • It matters what type of surface they stand on
  • They don’t give you any distinction of fat versus muscle composition

Does the above sound appealing?

Labeling yourself to a narrow vision of beauty by using a scale is just selling yourself short. You will not be the same as the person behind you with different proportions and varying genetic gifts from mom and dad.

I see body image and weight management this way: I workout and find ways to enhance my natural features as opposed to losing overall weight. Work with what you have and you might be pleasantly surprised with the result. Focus on what is positive and what you do like about your body, not what you wish you would change if you could.

Focus on how you feel and what your body visually looks like instead of trying to achieve a label or number. Using the scale to achieve the “perfect body” is so opinion based. What is even the perfect body? This is simply a comparison you would be happier without.

Consistent obsessions with weight scales has caused:

  • Development of eating disorders
  • Depression
  • Poor body image issues
  • Obsession of diet and calorie counting
  • Blindness to real results due to the number

There are ways to boost your self-image while going through your progress to the body you want. Wear a wardrobe that you feel confident in, eat to fuel your body and do not limit your food intake to reach an unhealthy goal. Eat regularly, and if you need to make changes in your current diet start with one or two foods to gradually eliminate and go from there. It’s all progression, not an immediate result.

Weight does not determine beauty.

The scale does not aid you in a healthy lifestyle. It should not run your life, nor should it bring you your primary validation to achieve your personal goals. If it helps more, have tunnel vision at the gym and focus on you, don’t focus on others around you that are at different stages and obtain varying physique.

I hope this message found you all well, and you will put yourself first before a self-deprecating path of weight measurement. Embrace what you have to offer, and love your body. Thanks for reading! ❤

-Kelly

 

 

Healthy Outlets for Stress and Anxiety

Hey everyone,

Given it was just the Fourth of July (if you are in America), stress and anxiety don’t seem to be current worries. However, when you get back into your work or school routine and multi-tasking on a regular basis, you may need to check up on the ways to re-set yourself.

I use the term re-set because many of us seem to run at 100 mph, at maximum efficiency to maintain our productivity.

I have always been known by my peers to be a sort of blur on campus, given my university schedule starting at 5 or 6 am every morning. Being a college-athlete had amazing pros, but the cons were definitely present as well.  My typical college day would be as follows:

  • 5 or 6 am weights
  • 2 hour practice directly afterward (until 9 or 10 am)
  • Full day of classes until late afternoon (maybe 3 or 4 pm or so)

After my classes I had a window of time to do my homework, any errands, laundry, cooking, and prepping for the next day.

I am happy to report this is no longer my everyday routine due to the fact that I’m graduated. However, if you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed, I understand that feeling for it somewhat encompassed me for four years straight.

Checklist for reducing stress and anxiety:

  1. Organize yourself. Time management is essential to stay stable in a busy routine. Dry erase boards are great to write weekly due dates and events, I swear by these! Planners are also great and portable. You can keep one in your school or work bag and even used color coding for various events. Color coding makes everything more obvious when you’re skimming through your obligations.
  2. Think ahead, always. If you’re a very busy person, preparing for the next day(s) will only benefit you to avoid forgetting details or scrambling at the last minute. Whether this is putting fresh outfits in the car or meal prepping, taking the time to do these tasks ahead of time will make you feel less rushed.
  3. Don’t shut out friends and family when stressed. Chances are many of your school friends are feeling just as stressed, just maybe not for identical same reasons. It is helpful to be able to release your stresses to a good friend or family member and talk through what is making you feel overwhelmed. The process of releasing bad energy is not necessarily the content, it is actually just the releasing part. Just talking through things helps you feel more centered, which is why we sometimes come to realizations ourselves in a conversation, when the other person technically didn’t help us get there.
  4. Incorporate things that make you happy throughout a long day. If you have break times, bring headphones to listen to music or communicate with someone to take your mind somewhere else for a few minutes. I often drew something on my hand in the same spot whenever I was feeling super down and out of energy, and I would look down at it and trace it with my fingertips to relax me. Whatever these small things are, they can work wonders to keep you focused in a healthy way.
  5. Set aside time to do some activity that relaxes you. This is so important. Just like when you’re on a hike and you know the view or lookout at the end will be insane, you need something to look forward to in a day of obligation. Taking a bath with candles and a book, sketching, writing, whatever creative outlet or activity that pulls you away from obligation. Make this time completely for you, and maybe even turn your phone off if it is blowing up. Some other ideas: yoga, pilates, or meditation. These are slow-moving activities that bring you a lot of self-awareness and care for your body. Below is my provided gear for a yoga and core class at my gym, and a new book on scientific writing that I’m super intrigued by :).

Just like the list above, if you find yourself to be very into making lists, make sure they are prioritized in need of importance. For instance, if your laundry can wait another day it might be better to do your homework or work and get to bed at a more reasonable hour. Often times, errands can be completed on weekends (which sounds awful), but if you’re busy during the week you will be pleasantly surprised how many hours there are in a day when the weekend rolls around.

A very scheduled routine can be your best friend. Routines make you develop a rhythm that you can stick to. I’m not saying you can’t have two cups of coffee in the morning instead of one because I would be a hypocrite, but the overall message is to establish a beneficial relationship with the clock.

Forms of expression: Above I mentioned sketching and reading, but art in general really can increase a relaxing state of mind. I love to look at art pieces because they bring me inspiration, and distract me from reality. Below is my favorite piece of art to date; a graffiti piece on the Bondi Beach boardwalk:

SYD art

“I was once of the world, yet I am not of this world.”

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I stress organization skills in this piece because organization gives us a sense of control. When we feel in control we find motivation a much easier thing to obtain.

Letting stress literally take over your body isn’t healthy. Mismanaged stress causes an imbalance of emotion and a likely result of an energy deficit. This can be the outcome if you do not embrace what is causing you stress. There is another alternative.

To briefly go all scientific on you, stress isn’t all bad. A stress response is created in the brain to tell us that that we need more energy than our current capacity. This evokes a somewhat panicked reaction, however, it can also act as a stimulus for positive change.

The possible benefits of stress:

  • Improvement of memory: Have you ever noticed a sudden clarity of a decision while under stress, or a major boost of recall to answers during an important exam? Stress responses can actually sharpen your memory and help you focus. This is short-term. Extended, long term stress can make your memory foggy. These are totally different.
  • Turning stress into motivation: Think of this as transforming stress into positive energy. This also includes awareness. You know the stress is there, so change it to be positive. Stress as motivation can help you make hard and fast decisions, and be more productive under pressure. This in turn boosts your confidence and mental toughness, two very sought after qualities for any kind of profession. Again, this is a healthy dose of stress.
  • Stress as excitement: We experience stress in exciting situations as well, it is not just a survival tool. When we finally talk to a person we like (for the romantics), or when we conquer a major fear, we feel some sort of stress. This stress can feel like the pre-stage of adrenaline that makes our lives more interesting. Achieving this stress can bring us fulfillment and happiness.

Long-term stress: Stitch is adorable but this is not a good situation.

Stitch GIF.gif

From above, there are positive things to draw from short burst of stress. Long-term stress is not healthy exposure, so practicing how to harness and transform it into a positive outcome is key. Take the time to find what works for you, and incorporate these methods  into your everyday routine. I hope this provided insight to the background of stress and how to find healthy outlets. Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly ❤

 

Healing Skin from the Inside Out

Hi everyone,

I wanted to share my research as well as personal experience on the correlations of skin issues with diet and lifestyle choices. Of course there is a plethora of information on the internet on this subject, so I’ve taken to the wisdom within book pages. I love to sit down and read a book cover to cover (weirdly I have done that in one sitting), rather than always finding solutions on the internet.

I also just got a public library membership, with an official card, so I rented 7 books of various topics to cater to my post-graduation relaxation :). I’ll mention quite a bit of information that I found to be insightful to the association of skin with these factors, so bear with me as I pull it all together at the end.

A summary of what needs to be considered for the process of healthier skin:

  • Sleep quality (and even better, regulation of sleep schedule).

Pictured below is Copper, who sleeps in more than me, and he’s modeling beauty sleep. He gets a lot of compliments at the dog park, and his sleep addiction probably helps that.

sleepy cop

  • Establish any skin allergies or sensitivity through patch tests
  • Eliminate any products that cause any reaction or discomfort
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Drink water! Try to go for 8 glasses a day (tea also helps if this is difficult, it is for me as well)
  • A dedicated balanced diet (I aim for 80% clean)
  • Incorporation of exercise to relieve stress and sweat out toxins
  • A simplified skincare routine free of strange “skin-clearing” ingredients
    • I will discuss skincare in more detail in a future post
  • General relaxation (this is customized)
    • Relaxation can be yoga, meditation, reading, etc
    • Focus on stress-reducing activities
  • Most importantly: Look at your skin as a reflection of what you put into your body on a regular basis. Our skin is our largest organ, so take care of it!

This is emphasized by nutritionists everywhere: You cannot have healthy, radiant skin if your diet heavily consists of processed foods, and foods that contain high amounts of trans and saturated fat, as well as sugar. The more fruits and vegetables and nourishing foods you add into your diet to replace the bad forms of fat and sugar, the better your skin will look.

There has also been a constant debate between dairy and pores/acne, and the consensus is that there is an association. A good way to tell is to either keep a food diary or take a mental note of how your skin looks after regular dairy consumption. I tend to avoid dairy regardless because I don’t like lactose.

My dairy fix: (customize this to what works for you!)

  • The option to substitute regular milk for soy or almond milk
    • My exception is a splash of half & half in my morning coffee (compromise!)
  • Quantity control
    • At a restaurant, an olive oil-based spaghetti with parmesan just on top would be a better choice than a three-cheese macaroni. This way you would have cheese, but not over-do it.
  • I mix up my breakfasts, so I will only have eggs maybe twice a week
    • No cheese, my favorite is actually with dijon mustard and garlic powder (might sound weird, but if you’re curious I can add it in a future post recipe)
  • Sorry about the bad news, but pizza has a lot of cheese…
    • Make the pizza yourself. You can even get thin flatbread to reduce the bread intake and make your own sauce base, as well as control the amount of cheese.
  • As for ice cream, in general I wouldn’t make it a habit due to the sugar spike and dairy overload. I hardly ever have it. Whenever I do have ice cream I get it in a shop in a cone, because cones are everything.
    • My substitution: I LOVE applesauce. Unsweetened with cinnamon on top. I actually consider this a dessert because I love it so much but this probably isn’t a thing.
  • Yogurt: Another food I limit in consumption. There is also a lot of sugar in yogurts now, so I would recommend getting it unsweetened and adding honey, nuts, or berries to it yourself. We all have time for that.

***********

The book I rented is called The Clear Skin Diet by Alan C.Logan and Valori Treloar. Given that these authors consist of a certified physician as well as a dermatologist, I found the book to be of high credibility. And it does not promote prescription medication as the #1 solution.

This book is mostly comprised about the knowledge behind skin issues such as acne and inflammation, and the many reasons why these problems arise. The book also covers all of the methods and medication dermatologists recommend much more often than advice on a healthier lifestyle and diet. The main thing to take from this: don’t try to take a pill for everything.

In addition, The Clear Skin Diet goes over ways to improve your sleep, develop a relaxation routine, and focus on your diet and exercise into your daily routine. The combination of these things are full-proof for better looking skin. The issue is sometimes the process takes longer to show results as opposed to a harsh topical a doctor hands to you.

You cannot heal your skin from the outside in.

The Clear Skin Diet touches upon the Japanese diet to make a comparison to America. It’s probably a spoiler which country has better looking skin, right? Right. Japan for the win.

Some reasons why they are winning:

  1. Green tea consumption. Green tea contains phytochemicals that act as natural antioxidants for the skin. They have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, this type of tea prohibits the production of bad bacteria. *Also: a note for coffee drinkers, green tea has 1/3 of the amount of caffeine than coffee. If you’ve already had your morning jolt and need more energy, green tea would be a great choice. Just don’t drink it before you try to sleep and then blame insomnia (me).
  2.  Ginger- also an anti-inflammatory. This has been used traditionally in Asia for approximately 2,500 years. Incorporating ginger into your diet would be useful, and it also settles your stomach. I carry ginger chews called Gin-Gins (cutest name ever) with me on plane trips when I’m traveling a lot. It also makes sense why ginger ale is a common order on the plane by those who had too much fun the night before…
  3. Fish and seafood over other protein sources like red meat
  4. More fruit and vegetable intake. If you’re a visual person, aim to pick something of each color of the rainbow. If you’re making a stir-fry, get a yellow, green, and red pepper. If you’re making a fruit salad, choose fruits of all colors so the salad looks prettier and you can show everyone afterwards. The idea here is that different colored fruits and vegetables give you different nutrients and vitamins.

Pictured below is a standard dinner I make for myself. Brussel sprouts, teriyaki tofu, onions, and mushrooms. I only use olive oil as a base and I put in garlic and liquid aminos (which I love far more than soy sauce). I often pour this over wild rice or quinoa.

Veggies .jpg5. Less sugar. This is huge for skin, because sugar can increase hormones that stimulates sebum production, which leads to acne and skin issues.

6. Less animal fat, trans fats, vegetable oils

7.  More fiber, anti-oxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids

A key thing to remember is processed foods spike your insulin levels which can also lead to acne and inflammation.

Lastly, on the book note, the end incorporates healthy recipes for reference. When trying to make a change in diet, I recommend renting cook books or going online for ideas. It makes it easier to go to the grocery store with meals in mind.

General grocery shopping tip: Shop the perimeter of the store in majority. The processed foods packed with hidden sugar and bad fats are located in the middle aisles. Abort mission. I took a picture in the grocery store to prove I’m not a poser. It features my blue keds!

Grocery cart.jpg

On a serious note, it’s a huge self-esteem blow when your skin is not looking its best. I wanted this post to inspire those that need solutions to invest into more quality options as opposed to immediately rushing to the dermatologist.

If these above methods do not work and your skin condition is more severe, by all means take necessary measures. Do what work for you. However, at the end of the day, medications are created in a lab. Ingredients matter as well as side effects. Take care of yourself, and look after your long-term health of your skin in priority over the short-term.

I hope this post found you well and provided some useful tips. Skin research has always been a sort of side interest to me, and I wanted to bombard any potential readers with everything I’ve learned!

If you have any questions/comments, feel free to use the comment box below. I’m more than open to giving advice or expanding on any points made above.

Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health Benefits of Traveling

Welcome to my health and wellness blog!  As my first post, I wanted to share my favorite moments from my fall semester study abroad trip to Melbourne, Australia.

I was in Australia for five months at La Trobe University, including my week bus trip to New Zealand. Studying abroad is an amazing life lesson as well as an overall enriching experience.

Melbourne was a 50 minute tram or bus ride from La Trobe University. It’s known globally for its coffee and artistic scenes. Below is the downtown Melbourne waterfront, and the bridge is lined with locks from previous visitors (like the one in Paris!) ❤

Melbourne Night

Okay, so let’s break it down to why traveling benefits our health:

  • There has been a link between traveling and decreased risk of heart attacks and depression. It also stimulates your brain function.
  • Traveling alters our standards and customs of living. When we change our environments, our minds become more open to change itself, broadening our view of the world and what we can achieve in it.
  • Traveling means unpredictability. As we adapt to plans and itineraries being more flexible, we become more mentally flexible!
  • Empathy and our sense of awareness are benefitted as we expand our perspectives from our inner worlds and personal problems. We see and experience the suffering and cultures of others, and we become more empathetic.
  • While traveling in a different country, you are subjected to their food. Adding new nutrients from various foods your body isn’t used to is a health boost.
    • Featured below: My first cannoli in a Melbourne night market, excellent hipster humor outside a laid back pub with killer beer battered fries, and my personal favorite being the melbourne style cappuccino.
  • Traveling gives you so many opportunities to be active in different ways. Whether it is hiking to breathtaking views or simply walking around through the inner depths of the city, you’re moving your body.
  • Culture shock is a package deal when traveling somewhere new. This teaches us patience and actually enjoying the act of stepping out of the comfort zone. Speaking of comfort zones, potentially poisonous snakes and rocky cliffs would fall in this category, so sorry mom and dad, this happened….

    There were unstable cliffs on the Great Ocean Road, I kissed a fake snake because I felt like it and snakes were actually venomous so there was a sign to tell to foreigners that it wasn’t just a myth.

  • Friendships/relationships with people abroad: Last but definitely never least, building friendships and relationships will be cherished past these trips. Additionally, you will have places to stay when you’re passing through on future adventures. Perks of having international friends 😉

I have zero regrets from my traveling experiences. Well if I’m being honest, I could have done without being told my bags were over the weight limit traveling back to the states. Having my Australian friend ship me a bag was a little problematic, but mistakes often happen in airports, right?

Overall, traveling gives you the opportunity to gain new perspective. Gaining perspective helps approaching situations differently. It’s healthy to be able to be more open, more willing to try new things.

Another point is modesty. The world is massive, full of life. It’s full of issues, but also respect and beauty. Gustave Flaubert once said “travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”

Occupy this world with respect, openness, and willingness to let go of the control and embrace something you’ll never forget.

Thanks for reading and I’m excited to write and connect with you all! xx

-Kelly

Why I started a health and wellness blog

I have decided to create a health blog because I love to write. I love to research, organize myself, utilize pro and con lists, and journal about my thoughts that keep me awake at night. I’ve always loved to write essays in school and I think poetry is a form of art. Do you?

I think literature has an incandescence. It’s ignited from the tip of a pen or the flurry of fingers on a keyboard. Connecting through these platforms is a gift of the current century.

I think health should never be outdated. It should never be seen as a prescription bottle or the number on a scale. It’s a feeling, and a progressive one at that. One can improve their health every day, mentally and physically. There are many ways to do this, whether it is recommended from the ancient temples of buddhism or hidden in the coasts of the mediterranean. I love my passion for living a healthy life, and I want to be a part of a much larger inspirational community online that motivates people to feel the same way.

Being mindful of one’s behavior is so important, not merely to function or perform, but to thrive. I’m so excited to share my thoughts to readers about so many ways we can make a healthy difference for ourselves!

xx

-Kelly